stAllio!'s way
Friday, April 09, 2004 
right now i'm listening to true data at 45 instead of 33. don't ask me why i didn't think doing that with the test pressings. so far it sounds pretty fucking good at 45. spamouflage sounds awesome: it's just that much faster & crazier. blue screen of death sounds good, although some of the "terror" or at least the "edge" of some of the tones seems to be lost. it's still really hard, just not quite as creepy at that speed. packet burst also loses a little something (not too much though). open as raw sounds pretty good at this speed too. but i guess you need to acquire the record to find out for yourself. now i will listen to it all backward.

but enough with all my introspective whining & self-pitying from previous posts (or enough for now!)... now that the records are here i need to worry about actually selling the damn things. & the most important decision to make is pricing.

i got a "limited" pressing of 200. the big decision to make in terms of quantity is that the more you order, the lower your unit price. but at the same time, the more you order, the more you have to sell or else you lose a lot of money & have piles of unopened records all over your bedroom floor. i was more concerned about the latter option, so i went with a pretty small pressing of 200 copies.

this sets my unit cost pretty high (in fact, my unit cost is apparently more than a dollar more than keith used to charge for freakshow records wholesale, back in the day!) so when i start talking to distros, apparently some of them might object to the relative high cost my records. but there's not a lot i can do about that, other than sell them myself (patience; i will work out the details of that soon). hopefully tomorrow i'll get started on contacting distros & shops.

i was going to set my retail price at $10 but drbmd suggested that was really high for a domestic 12". he's right; it is (but i'm not sure it's quite as high as he thinks it is, having found a few domestic 12"s in various webshops for $10-up). regardless, right now i'm thinking that $9 for a 12" record (+ s&h) is not that outrageous, considering it's a small pressing on fairly heavy vinyl (it's supposed to be 140-gram vinyl). that is still kind of high, which is partly why i hope to offset the high record price with the t-shirt/record combo deal.

(speaking of which, i have ordered my next batch of t-shirts from screen monkey; they should be done within a few weeks.
special new shirt options and sizes: we will offer men's sizes M-XXL in black and purple. we will also have a limited number of ladie's cut "girlie" shirts [but only in black, because ladie's cut t-shirts have lame colors].)

is $9 a reasonable price for a "limited" 12" record? if the record is $9 the combo package would probably be $15. i'm just trying to make sure i recoup my investment, since i'm a bit skeptical about my ability to sell them all.

i am now being told that my shipment of the true data 12" has arrived!

stay tuned to awia news for the latest info about this record. i hope to have it available for sale from this site soon, but it could be several days before that happens.

Thursday, April 08, 2004 
still more from connie:

ok, well, i guess i didn't understand your motivations very well. if you are doing what you do because you want attention and affirmation over it, and not just because you love it and it makes you happy to make noise, then you should probably seek out more attention (i.e., sell yourself to agencies that are in a position to help you with that). i don't understand that drive at all, not being concerned with being "famous" or having people i don't know tell me how great i am, but whatever you think will make you happy...

hmm... well either i'm not being clear enough, or my subconscious motivations are glaringly apparent to everyone but me. (although i confess that the previous post wasn't so much responding to your points as just using them as a jumping-off point)

i make art because i am compelled to do so. i've been an auditory person for as long as i can remember, constantly listening to music (even when i was listening to total garbage) & drawn to multimedia in general. in high school i hung out with the punk rock kids or the other "band" kids, & as badly as i wanted to be a musician myself, i couldn't play a rock instrument (other than vocals, which i like to think i'm good at) so i couldn't pursue that dream very well. (although i did start making bedroom recordings right after graduation, despite not playing guitar... i just used keyboard & cheap mics until i later got into 4-track recording & software.) even before high school my friends & i would sit down with a tape deck & play "radio station". how i wish i had some of those old tapes, particularly the early ones where we recorded all the songs ourselves (for the second incarnation, we just played announcers dubbed rock songs from tapes we liked).

so just like you say, my primary, fundamental motivation for making art is simply a love of the artform, mixed with a primal need to create. i do it first & foremost because it brings me some small parcel of happiness. there's just something really satisfying about the creative process, particularly the part when you can sit back & truly enjoy your work, as a listener/viewer (& if you've done it right, this can be more satisfying that enjoying someone else's art, because it's so intensely personal & the piece does what you think it should... & of course, conversely, there's something deeply frustrating about a project that just doesn't want to work. but we'll ignore that for now).

so i do it all for me. maybe it keeps me from killing myself or doing something equally erratic; i don't know. but then, once the artwork is created, things get more complicated. i've always had social problems, being one of the most introverted people i know, despite a deep longing to connect with other people. i'm not necessarily good at connecting with people face to face. but hey, here's some art i've made... maybe someone will enjoy it? maybe it'll even get me laid?

i don't really seek out mass recognition for its own sake. i was making music before there were websites or mp3s... i would share the music with my handful of friends, a few of them might actually enjoy it, & that would be it. i probably wouldn't be any less happy if it were still that way.

but here's the thing: i see all these other artists doing stuff that's somewhat similar to what i'm doing, & they're getting all this fawning attention (from the press, bulletin boards, whatever). some of it is so good that i'm fawning too. but some of it (in my opinion) is only okay, or at the very least is not nearly as innovative, groundbreaking, insert adjective here as the teeming masses suggest it is. i see that & i think what have these artists done to warrant all this attention that i haven't done? do i not deserve this treatment? i'm not really seeking out major attention (if i were, i would at least try to write accessible music), but if other people get major attention for doing practically the same thing, yet i do not, what does that say about me? are they just lucky or am i inferior?

it really does boil down to jealousy, & even moreso it speaks to the low self-esteem issues i've been dealing with most of my life. & ironically, in some ways those self-esteem issues also prevent me from promoting myself more, because on some level i'd rather be unknown than rejected.

anyway, the workday is done & it's time to go home. maybe more to come, maybe not.

connie writes:

i feel bad that you're feeling insecure about it, but i don't really think you need to... i mean, do you really want to judge your success as an artist by popular opinion and how many units you sell? there're plenty of artists, including many that are deemed among the most significant now (whatever that means), that were completely ignored and worse while they were alive/creating. but you know that. i think that you need to decide what it is you really want to get out of your artistic career... if it's to really do just what you want and answer to yourself above all, then i think that you're doing very well; you've already established a name for yourself that's quite significant, especially in light of how little promotion you do, solely on the strength of doing exactly what you want, which is definitely something to be deeply proud of. (remember that mark gunderson was just about as obscure for 10+ years of his career, before he got around to sending stuff to record labels and so on.) however, if you really want to sell 10,000(0) of something and have people dancing in clubs and see ads for your release in magazines and so on, then you will have to "whore" yourself (though i'm not sure it's always to that degree; but on the other hand, having to sign a record contract, what are your chances of having it be an equitable agreement?),

obviously i don't care so much about raw sales figures; 10,000 seems like an obscene amount of units for a truly underground release (hell, i'm pressing 200 of true data & would probably be satisfied if i sold half of those... even 10,000 free downloads would be a hell of an accomplishment). & the concept of seeing ads for my release in magazines doesn't really appeal to me (reviews, absolutely, but ads? i'm not a big fan of advertising in general, & i can't even remember the last time i saw a print ad for a cd or record i wanted to buy). although i supppose seeing such an ad could be a little exciting.

it's not so much that i want or expect to make money or sell lots of records. i'd like to think that those things don't matter so much to me (although i imagine most artists secretly crave these things on some level, & i'm no exception, not because i want or need the money, but simply as an acknowledgment that my art has enough legitimacy that someone other than me or my personal friends would actually spend money on it).

but even still, it's tough to watch attention being showered on other up-and-coming artists when i don't feel like i'm getting much attention myself (no matter how much i personally might love said artists). that only drives home the perception that nobody really cares what i'm doing. naturally i don't expect 99.9% of the population to care or even "get" what i'm doing, & perhaps i'm unfairly comparing myself to others who are intrinsicly more accessible, but there's still that .1% out there that does care about fringe audio art (& not just in a specific style like breakcore or bootlegs).

i could give examples, name names of these young hotshot superstars, but there's little point to that... i have no real artistic crticism of most of them (except the occasional "it's good but doesn't live up to the hype/there are others who are better but without the recognition"), & it strikes me as petty to list them when my only real beef with most of them amounts to little more than professional jealousy.

it also doesn't help that the local noise/experimental/whatever scene here in indy is constantly struggling. since the festivilla closed we still haven't found any venues in indianapolis to host experimental shows (not that i've been looking)... there might be a couple that would give us a crappy weeknight show, but we've learned too well that it's tough enough getting people to attend even a well-promoted weekend show of this nature. now, if i posted a complaint like this somewhere like imn, i can already tell you what the response would be. a bunch of rockers would pipe up with some populist claptrap like "anyone can do it if you promote yourself harder"; i tend to ignore those kinds of comments because i don't think the average rocker truly understands the nature of the avant garde: most audiences do not want to be challenged by their art & feel threatened or confused by art they don't understand... if you're in a rock band there are tons of potential listeners around, if you can only catch their attention. but when your audience is already so inherently small, there's no real way to compete economically with an obvious cash cow like punkrocknight or an '80s club night...

more connie:
definitely... none of those new producer superstars had labels beating down their doors, i'm certain, they went to five or fifty before they got a nibble. labels will not ever hear of you if you don't send them information about yourself (there must be exceptions, but that's about a zero chance, i figure), and it's not necessarily something unethical or whorish to do... if that's what you really want. i would suspect that you would be pretty disappointed in the aftereffects if that actually happened, though.

actually, i have been solicited for a couple compilations (not that being invited prevented me from being cut), & haruo at lost frog did solicit animals within animals for a compilation appearance as well as our forthcoming mp3ep on that label. (then again, it is an mp3ep, not quite the same as pressing up a bunch of copies of anything.... though right now i won't even get into the ethical problems i would face if someone offered to pay me significantly for awia materials; i'll just say that with the band's open membership policies i would have problems accepting money for other people's contributions without some pretty in-depth conversation with the other animals regarding their material & how to fairly compensate everyone involved)

okay, this is getting long... maybe more to come if i get more feedback on the subject.

& you never know, current/upcoming projects like the indy mp3 project, the forthcoming awia release on lost frog, or even my true data 12" will start to reverse these trends. but i'm not counting on it.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004 
i'm getting nervous about the pending release of my true data 12". i sent in the test pressing approval w/final payment on march 31, so i anticipate that the records will arrive in the next couple weeks (hopefully before the april 23 show in dayton, or even better before the doormouse show on the 20th so i can try to get dan to do a trade with me). then i get to start the hard part, which will be trying to get some real distribution for the damn thing, so that i'm not the only one selling it & people who want a copy can actually find one with being forced to get one from me personally.

so yeah, i spent a lot of time making sure this is some of my best material ever, that the music itself would actually be worth spending close to a grand on getting pressed, & i think it is. the test pressings sound great, & the few people who've heard them so far (namely, the bad taste crew) love the record. but i still can't shake the feeling that nobody will give a shit, that i'll sell maybe 20 copies & the other 180 will sit around collecting dust in my bedroom until i just smash the things bobby vomit style.

it's not the money. i've spent a little under $900 on this record so far (& that doesn't include the shipping costs i'll accrue when i start distributing the things). i can afford to lose all that money & not even feel it. but if i did, i sure wouldn't waste more money on getting 12"s pressed. no, it's not about the money; it's about recognition & respect.

wallowing in obscurity is hard. it's hard to watch 18-year-olds who've been producing for a few months pop out of the woodwork & instantly become stars while you're still a nobody who's lucky to sell in the double digits. drbmd & i have had this discussion before. i've been producing under the stAllio! name for about 6 years now (though you can probably ignore a couple of those early releases) & i don't have a lot of fame or prestige to show for it. yeah, i somehow got my name in playboy. i have personally appeared on 3 radio stations (often as part of awia) & have had stAllio! or awia material played on maybe a half dozen more. i have performed live in IN, IL, OH, TN, WI, & PA. i have a dedicated fanbase of a couple dozen people i know about, with maybe a couple dozen more that i don't (yes, this site has served up a couple thousand mp3s but how do i know that the listeners didn't hate them?). but as impressive as all that might (or might not) sound, it hasn't translated to record sales, reviews, event attendance, offers for record deals, or any of that good stuff.

i watch these other artists come out of nowhere & almost instantly get multi-label deals, world tours, & tons of press... & i wonder what is so wrong with me or my bad taste cohorts that we haven't gotten any of those things. i'd like to think that a lot of our stuff is pretty good, so it can't be simple quality issues, can it? all i've come up with so far are the issues of consistency, accessibility, & promotion.

consistency: bad taste has no set sound. sure, we aren't putting out punk rock or emo or anything like that, but seeing the BT logo really doesn't tell you what you're getting. dr butcher md does breakcore & electro with a dash of noise. bobby vomit does harsh noise & turntable experiments. humdrum does hard techno & power noise. we're all pretty much doing our own thing with little regard for what else is happening on the label. we don't "cannibalize" each others' sound. i take that to an even further extreme & make records that don't even sound like each other... in some ways, true data is reminiscent of dissonance is bliss, & maura's milk chocolate bath has some stylistic similarities to awia's mono a mono, but generally i go all over the place & there's no way of knowing what a stAllio! release is going to sound like.

drbmd says this variety, this non-cannibalization, is "what makes bad taste special". in a way he's obviously right: we're just making whatever music we're inspired to & putting it out there. a lot of other labels are highly specialized: a breakcore label, a noise label, a plunder/collage label... these sorts of labels sometimes seem to care more about promoting a certain "style" of music than actual quality; everything on the label starts to sound the same. so artistically speaking, a wide variety of styles is a good thing, but for a marketing/promotion standpoint maybe it's not so good. if everything on your label fits into a predefined set of styles, before long your audience knows what to expect. the label has built up brand identity, associated with a certain sound, & the fans know what they're in for. there are some labels where i know that i could buy just about anything in the discography & not be too disappointed, for precisely that reason. by being so adamantly diverse, are we actually hurting ourselves in terms of marketing? by continuing to do whatever i want & just slapping a stAllio! logo on there, am i actually hindering my career? i don't know, but the only obvious alternative (using different project names for different-sounding material) sounds even worse to me...

accessibility: most of these "big name" kids i've been bitching about (& it's important to take "big name" in context; 99.99% of the population has never heard of any of these guys, as much press as they might get) are making somewhat accessible material. it might not be disposable garbage like most "club music", but most of it is still basically dance music: breakcore, idm, whatever the fuck. it makes people want to shake their asses. now i've made some danceable material too, but then i'll make abstract noise too. i've played for "goth nights" a couple times, & i never seem to learn my lesson: i still play really spastic noisy material, & for a crowd that's expecting saccharine club music, it's too much to handle. they don't get it. there's a pretty good local dnb night at the melody inn... i bet dr butcher md could play there & get a great response. but i kinda doubt i would: i don't make dnb. sometimes i think i forget just how truly weird some of this stuff is to the average person.

promotion: this is the most obvious, & possibly our biggest problem. most of us are broke (i'm the only one with any real money). on top of that, our social skills are poor. i am a social leper, unable to talk to people i don't know, & drbmd isn't much better. yeah, bobby vomit will talk your ear off, but he lives in muncie, &... well, let's just say he's eccentric.

i promote stuff online: here, on mailing lists, on bulletin boards. but i never send out demos to other labels. none of us send out stuff to reviewers, the press, or to shops or distributors; drbmd was preparing to send out a bunch of stuff right before bad taste went on hiatus but that hasn't happened yet.

i don't know what i really expect. do i think other labels are going to beg me to release my material if i don't ever send demos to any of them? are they just supposed to find out about me on their own & be so impressed that they beg me to work with them? the same goes for reviewers, distributors, etc. i don't put much effort into contacting them, so it hardly seems fair to expect them to flock to me. but is that how everyone else "made it"? did all my favorite artists totally whore themselves into getting record deals or distribution? i don't know, but it's an awkward subject to broach. maybe it's just my introverted nature but i feel dirty promoting myself like that...

well this has turned into quite a lengthy bitch session. i'm sure i've lost focus & overlooked some things i meant to post, but right now i just want to end this entry so i can do something else for a little while...

Monday, April 05, 2004 
enough talking about news... let's talk some more about "fan pics" (aka, the phenomenon i posted about last week of "fans" writing your name/logo/domain on their unclothed bodies & posing for photos)

in the most brilliant online sales venture since girls started ebaying themselves off as imaginary girlfriends, a new site called will take custom "fan pics" for you at a low low price! for only $5-10 you can get a pg-13-rated image! now that is cheap! & while they don't post any r- or x-rated images on their site, they do say they will make racier images for a higher price. actually, here's their wording:

The lighter side of all this semi-legal blather is that because we're students and we really need the money, we'll do almost anything for a very reasonable price.

Yeah... anything...

there's no indication of what a "reasonable price" is (what is the running market value for nudie pics featuring your web domain?), but that's a big promise.

i have still not received any fan pics from you, my adoring public (although one very sexy lady has hinted that i'll receive some soon). don't make me hire the naked text people! i want real amateur fan pics; i don't want to have to hire the pros (because you know i'd pay extra for "other parts").

hell, if you're dying to send some pics but are too ashamed of your body, you can even place a nakedtext order for me... or fill out raffle entries for me so i can win a free pic ("risky PG-13 to light R at most"). i mean, i would much prefer real shots of your own body (or your girlfriend, wife, mom, or daughter)... but if i haven't personally seen you naked i'd never really know, right?

wal-mart continues its mission of building megastores everywhere, regardless of whether residents want it there. the king of "big box" stores takes it unethical practices to the next level!

the people of inglewood california fought off wal-mart once, so now wal-mart proposes a ballot initiative to let them build a superstore in inglewood. but that's not all:

The proposal would essentially exempt Wal-Mart from all of Inglewood's planning, zoning and environmental regulations, creating a city-within-a-city subject only to its own rules. Wal-Mart has hired an advertising and public relations firm to market the initiative and is spending more than $1 million to support the measure, known as initiative 04-A.

everybody's against it except for the mayor (& wal-mart itself, of course). though if you lived in inglewood, you might get a different impression. for example, this woman's photo appeared on pro-4A postcards sent out by wal-mart... against her wishes:

Wal-Mart, said Martin, had tricked her into being their poster girl on the piece of mail most critical to their campaign so far. "All of the words on that letter that went out, none of them are true," says the 82-year-old Martin, a retired nurse who lives in a senior complex near Manchester Boulevard. "I didn’t write them. For one thing, the letter says I’ve lived in Inglewood for 50 years. I’ve only lived here 13."

the new york daily news has a feature about soldiers being exposed to depleted uranium.

if you haven't been following the news closely you might never have heard of depleted uranium.

Depleted uranium, a waste product of the uranium enrichment process, has been used by the U.S. and British military for more than 15 years in some artillery shells and as armor plating for tanks. It is twice as heavy as lead.


Depleted uranium, which does not occur in nature, is created as a waste product of uranium enrichment when some of the highly radioactive isotopes in natural uranium, U-235 and U-234, are extracted.

if the word "uranium" makes you think of dangerous radiation, your instincts are correct. depleted uranium (DU) is indeed radioactive, & many believe it is one of (if not the) cause of the mysterious "gulf war syndrome" that hit so many us soldiers the last time we went to iraq.

also note that while the nydn seems to be doing a good job tracking this story (or at least the story of these specific soldiers), it neglects to mention that depleted uranium is illegal and violates a slew of UN resolutions and international treaties. check out this commondreams article for a whole bunch of DU info, like this:

According to a August 2002 report by the UN subcommission, laws which are breached by the use of DU shells include: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; the Charter of the United Nations; the Genocide Convention; the Convention Against Torture; the four Geneva Conventions of 1949; the Conventional Weapons Convention of 1980; and the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907, which expressly forbid employing 'poison or poisoned weapons' and 'arms, projectiles or materials calculated to cause unnecessary suffering'. All of these laws are designed to spare civilians from unwarranted suffering in armed conflicts.

really, the most significant thing about the nydn article is that it's being printed in the mainstream press. but you aren't going to see words like "war crime" in those articles, printed as they are in a periodical that also prints bill o'reilly's column. commondreams ain't never skeered, though:

Professor Doug Rokke, ex-director of the Pentagon's depleted uranium project -- a former professor of environmental science at Jacksonville University and onetime US army colonel who was tasked by the US department of defense with the post-first Gulf war depleted uranium desert clean-up -- said use of DU was a 'war crime'.

Rokke said: 'There is a moral point to be made here. This war was about Iraq possessing illegal weapons of mass destruction -- yet we are using weapons of mass destruction ourselves.' He added: 'Such double-standards are repellent.'

so condeleezza rice will testify before the 9/11 commission this week. this isn't exactly timely news, because it was announced last week: rice & the white house had been stalling & dragging their feet for weeks, claiming that although condi really wanted to testify (yeah right), she couldn't because it would set a dangerous precedent... according to their claims, no chief of staff had ever testified under oath before a congressional commission.

but newsweek has uncovered that lie:

The grainy photograph rolled off the fax machine at the White House counsel's office last Monday morning, along with a scribbled note that smacked of blackmail. If the White House didn't allow national-security adviser Condoleezza Rice to testify in public before the 9/11 commission, it read, "This will be all over Washington in 24 hours." The photo, from a Nov. 22, 1945, New York Times story, showed Adm. William D. Leahy, chief of staff to Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman, appearing before a special congressional panel investigating the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. PRESIDENT'S CHIEF OF STAFF TESTIFIES read the headline over the snapshot of Leahy's very public testimony. The point was clear: the White House could no longer get away with the claim that Rice's appearance would be a profound breach of precedent.

yes, the commission took the smart move of hiring a historian, who actually did some research & proved that history does repeat itself. condi lies, & high-level cabinet members testify when massive failures of national security occur.

what's interesting about the newsweek expose is that it doesn't actually print the photo in question (at least the web version doesn't). sure, it publicizes the existence of said photo, but why not print the thing? hell, even a search through google news does not turn up the acual photo. the yahoo news reprint of the story includes a link to what it cites as the photo, but clicking it only leads to a "newswire photo service" where it's possible the photo is available... but you must be registered & logged in to access the content.

if the mere existence of this photo is newsworthy (& i agree it certainly is), why won't anyone actually print the damn photo?

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