I’d been meaning to get around to a post like this for a while, sorry for the epic delay on it.
I’ll do my best to be brief here in the blog because I’ve otherwise also recorded an introduction video that ended up being like 2 hours almost for some reason.
You can watch that here:
What I talk about in the video:
- Getting started playing music & my first guitar
- Reaching out to big-time music producers before even having a band
- Getting involved in recording studios in my teens and ultimately going to college for it
- Why I started CF, the catalyst and the “point” or “message” behind the music
- Quitting your job when the relationships there are proving detrimental to your mental health & why it’s important to have a creative outlet
- The future of live-streaming as it pertains to bands and what you can expect from me from here going forward
So I’ll just touch a little bit on all of those same points here, more briefly, and without all the “um’s”.
I started playing guitar at 13 but I was already someone who enjoyed writing stories, poems and lyrics before then, so pairing the two together seemed an obvious path for me. I didn’t start my first band until high school but by then I had already set my sights on working in professional recording studios and was working towards that goal.
Big Time Music Producers
When I was 13 I googled for Greig Nori’s e-mail address because I wanted to talk to him abut songwriting, making records, and starting a band. I was already aware then of what he did with Sum 41 and I was hoping to work with him in a similar fashion. It’s a funny story; to date I still have not been able to get Greig’s ears on my music, but we’re not giving up just yet.
I started working at Whirlwind Sound recording studio when I was in high school and learning how to make records; It was a co-op position and I was learning from Brian Moncarz who was still pretty early in his career. Nowadays he works with popular bands like The Trews and Our Lady Peace and he’s one of Canada’s best mix engineers. Through Brian I was connected to David Bottrill but the real work didn’t begin until after I graduated from college at 19.
Why I Started Crooked Forest
I was feeling inspired by the stories and music by many of my favourite artists, and I was also going through a lot of personal stuff. Once the pandemic hit, I was afforded more free time than I’d frankly ever had before, and I started writing lyrics again in February 2020 and ultimately trying to pair chords to them.
I quit drinking in March 2021 when I realized I wanted to take a real attempt at becoming some sort of known presence in the Canadian music industry again (I had taken many years away from it). I realized that in order to promote myself I’d have to be true to the message I was trying to get across that was finding its way through the lyrics, which at the time was, to be blunt, “Drinking has been really shitty for me and a lot of people, it makes life harder”.
I wanted to show people that you can make aggressive rock and fun pop-punk without being some sort of addict. And I wanted to show people you can do this with very little equipment and money, which is why all my initial releases sound the way they do.
Quitting Isn’t Failing
When I was going through all my personal drama of last year, I was also dealing with the realization that my employer seemed to want to replace me. That was hard to grapple with. After a series of intimidating and, in my opinion, completely senseless Union meetings, I ultimately got tired of the people who kept questioning me, repeatedly, and quit my job. The way I see it, that’s exactly what they were hoping I’d do, and so, they “won” I guess. I regret quitting, because it’s left me in a really bad financial situation and then some, but, it’s important to know when the relationships you’re in aren’t doing anything to serve your best interests, so I choose not to see this as a failure but as yet another lesson to learn from.
Livestreaming & The Future of CF
On the 13th of this month I bought a virtual ticket to the Death Cab for Cutie live at Red Rocks show which was being broadcast on a platform called Flymachine.
In short, Flymachine blends the video-conferences 2-way communication world with your standard live-broadcast experience. As a result you have the ability to video chat with other fans while the show is going on and take part in the chatrooms.
It really elevated the concert livestreaming experience for me as a fan and I think this is where the rest of the livestreaming world is headed; it’s already been popularized I think by platforms like Twitch but I’d never seen it done in quite this way. If any of your favourite bands are using this platform, definitely check out a show and see what you think of it.
The reason I bring this up is because one of the challenged with starting CF in the midst of the global pandemic is that live in-person shows still aren’t really a thing, and when you’re a new independent artist what you need to be doing above all else is touring so that you can make those genuine connections with listeners; doing everything online is a bit of a nut house.
But that said, livestreaming concerts is here to stay and is only going to become more and more prevalent.
The DCFC stream really set a high bar for what I now view as the top-of-the-line experience for fans. I’m not there yet, though, not even close. But it did make me question in what ways I can use livestreaming to promote myself and how I as an independent artist can make the experience just an engaging and interactive at the same time.
I’ve been doing a lot of testing on different platforms to see the best one to use going forward and right now I’ve settled on Twitch.
In addition to using Twitch to play virtual livestreams to showcase my own music in an accessible and global way all from the comforts of home (or wherever I run the stream from), I’ll also be using the platform to give you all an inside look at my personal recording process, so that if you’re new to songwriting or recording engineering or mixing, and assuming you like what I do, you can learn all the same tricks that I ripped off of professional music producers in my studio days and apply it to yourself at home.
There has been an incredible trend in the music industry over the last 20 or so years that has branded the process in such a way to make musicians think it needs to be horribly expensive to make a record. And the fact of the matter is that’s just not true. I broke down how much all my initial releases cost me personally in my recent “interview” blog post A Stroll With Crooked Forest.
Especially if you’re someone struggling with financial instability or addiction, it can seem intimidating to get involved. But I’m here to show you that it’s not only possible for you to make a record on very little money, but also that you should definitely do it because your voice, your story, and you, matter.
The world wants to hear it, so let’s give them what they want to hear.
I have a lot of music I want to keep working on and push this as much as I possibly can all while I try to get myself back up on my own two feet.
The last year and a half or so has been particularly challenging for me and at times I’ve barely been able to get myself out of bed, never mind reach out to any friends or family or work on any music.
Right now, I’m in the middle of looking for a new job and looking for live show opportunities to push what I already have available for people to listen to.
I know it’s lofty to think that I, at my age, and by myself, can turn CF into a full-time job that makes any sort of real money, but that’s what I’m trying to do here.
So if you want to get involved in any way, send me an e-mail or read my blog Calling For Musicians and Audio Engineers.
For the most part I’m only looking for volunteers at this stage (because, money), but I’m confident we can bring this into something real that has the potential to make a great global impact in a positive way, once we sort out all the nuts and bolts of it.