Phil's Newsletter #40-41

A real music-heavy two-fer

Previously on Phil’s Newsletter: We talked about sloppy steaks and One Punch Man, plus I geeked out about some effects pedals.

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This week’s guest on OpenCV Weekly was Nandakishor, part of an #OAK2021 team that is creating a quadrupedal agriculture bot which can walk over to plants and water them or spray pesticides. Robots! Plants! Two great tastes that go great together.

Last week me and Satya did a tutorial about Principle Component Analysis and Eigen Faces.

Absolutely Not Sorry

This issue comes with a couple of firsts: Last week was the first week in 40 weeks that I haven’t put out a newsletter. I’m not sorry, I just wanted to make note of it. This ish also features our first every non-Phil-written section, a little something from our friend Brad Sucks about releasing his first all-new album of songs in 10 years.

The deadline for OpenCV AI Competition 2021 is coming soon. Teams have until August 9th at 11:59pm to send in their final projects, and we are abuzz with anticipation. There is so much cool stuff out there that we can’t possibly cover it all, but I’m damn sure gonna try.

As for me, I need a vacation but that seems pretty impossible due to being 1) poor, 2) in the middle of an ongoing pandemic. Instead, I’ve been making some weird monster sounds with my synthesizers. It helps a little bit.

THE MONSTER ASSOCIATION

My new music project is called, as the headline of this section reveals, THE MONSTER ASSOCIATION. Mons. Assoc. makes slow, haunted, reverb-heavy music that sounds like monsters arguing inside your head. I stole the name from One Punch Man. To create the sound I use a couple of Teenage Engineering Pocket Operators (PO-14 & PO-24… so far) plugged into a series of effects pedals cranked to the moon (BOSS RV-6, TR-2, DS-1, etc etc) which are synchronized with my Korg Volca Beats drum machine, then run through my Vox Pathfinder amp.

I’ve been releasing video/audio art under this title on my TikTok page, and YouTube. So far I’ve made 3, they are about 2 minutes long. These will eventually be collected on Bandcamp.

Mr. Delay, I Thought We Had A Deal

I’ve also started working on another DIY project, namely the above little delay pedal based on a classic circuit. There are some really cute effects pedal kits out there in the ~$40 range, that come with all of the resisters and chips and knobs you’d need to assemble the thing. Check out eBay if you want your own.

Brad Turcotte on Releasing His Latest Album, “A New Low In Hi-Fi”

Musician Brad Turcotte, aka Brad Sucks, is a subscriber to the newsletter and a friend of mine. I asked him to write a bit about his experience releasing his very good independently-produced album A New Low In Hi-Fi, which is available everywhere. What follows are his unedited words.

“I’m QUITE relieved to have released this record because I couldn’t finish songs for almost a decade, I just couldn’t get it together. Finally I started a Patreon to work on demos each month and after a year and a half I had a bunch of songs to choose from. That seemed to work way better as a process instead of doing it alone with no deadlines or feedback from anyone other than my own brutal internal critic. 

Release-wise, the music landscape’s changed a lot since 2012. Streaming services weren’t a big deal back then, social media hadn’t completely snuffed out blogs, recommendation algorithms weren’t such a huge influence on listener behavior. For a while in the 2000s it felt like independent musicians had managed to forge their own little direct-to-consumer ecosystem so it’s disappointing that the gatekeepers are back, shaking you down to reach your followers on their platforms.

But still, lots of cool new stuff: music recording and production tools have gotten better, access to world-class professionals (PR/mastering/production) is easier than ever, crowdfunding is very mainstream, I don’t have to code and maintain my own web store anymore, digital distribution is cheap and dead simple (shout out to distrokid.com). 

As I write this, I’m a few weeks into a college and non-commercial radio campaign for the record and I’ve just cracked the charts, which I’ve never done before. Will that translate to any increase in streams or new fans? I’ve always been skeptical it was worth investing in, but since you can see your daily streaming numbers now it’s interesting to take a shot and see what moves the needle. 

There’s a lot of rejection and disappointment you’ve gotta deal with when putting a creative project out into the commercial marketplace so I find it helpful to look at it more as plying my little songwriting and recording trades and growing a small business than anything very showbusinessy. Just out here trying to make an honest living, the lower the expectations the better!”

It’s a really good album. You should buy it.

Phil’s Good Links

TWO weeks worth of good links? ARE YOU READY FOR THIS? You are not.

Whew. OK. That’s all for now. I’m gonna go make some more monster sounds. See you next time. Be good to each other.

— Phil

Wizard Tower Gamma, South of Market, San Francisco, California, United States of America, Earth

08.05.2021

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