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Old 08-06-2011, 05:15 PM   #1
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graspin shootin stars, like a dog chasin cars

So i have been meaning to make a kind of life update for quite a while, mainly because i enjoy reading other peoples and because i want to start whoring myself out to the community here. I think it is going to have to be a multiple part thing and i will probably jump around a bit, so get used to it.

When i was 20 there was a morning that i was up all night playing poker and as i sat there with the sun glaring through the window trying to fall asleep i sat down and started watching concert footage, i think it was H.A.A.R.P by Muse. I was sitting there thinking that that would probably be the most awesome thing to do, as i'm sure many have imagined before me.

At the time i was about 180k in debt to my brother because i had been running like aids and was borrowing money against some investments i had made and had kind of lost a lot of the passion i had for poker. That tends to happen pretty quickly when you are getting raped.

Anyway, as i was sitting there, i was thinking that really there was no fundamental difference between the person on the stage and myself and that if i wanted it enough i could achieve a glimpse of what that might be like. Not playing to 50,000 people of course, i am a pretty realistic person, but more the ability to develop a context in which i could express myself, which is quite appealing if you're used to turning off your emotions to play poker, at least to me.

The next day i decided to pick up the guitar again. I had had a few lessons as a kid but mainly i had focused on piano as my primary instrument until then. Piano had been the only thing that has really stuck over the course of my life, the only real constant as i changed from obsession to obsession, but i figured that i wanted more movement etc in the performance; guitar was clearly the way forward. I started practicing A LOT.

You can hear the sort of stuff i was composing on piano around this time here, simple nice waltz kind of music:

Still, i wanted to translate this kind of theory and technique into the context i wanted, something i am still working on a lot.

Over the next year i played quite a lot and tried to work out how i was going to actualize this dream. I moved a few times, seeking other musicians, but nothing really panned out. Musicians are notoriously hard people to befriend unless you know a couple and then your network instantly expands. It took me a very long time for this to happen however. I would go out every night to watch bands i liked, hang around until after the show and attempt to 'pick up' musicians. Turns out that is much harder than picking up girls, trying to let people know you like what they're doing but you see yourself as equals and want to spend some time getting to know each other.

Over the next couple years, i continued practicing a lot until i was about 24. Then the dream kind of died down a little. I was frustrated that no one i met seemed to want to get on board with my plans, and as poker started to improve, my dreams faded like a high school athletes old tennis shoes. Packed away in boxes of increased profitability, growing alcoholism, and a healthy obsession with running, it became fairly easy to just let the dream fade.

Later that year however, everything started falling apart. I started going legitimately crazy. I had become rather obsessed with someone and that didn't pan out for a series of retarded reasons, i cracked one of my ribs snowboarding, and i lost a bunch of money playing poker. With none of my moderating influences around, i realized that the only constant was once again music and that nothing had changed with that.

I began to realize that i had basically been dealt aces to have such a continuous constant passion over the course of my life, and that to not pursue it would be akin to folding the aces preflop because sometimes you get stacked.

I rekindled my focus and began trying to work out a structured method. I would have to learn to sing to achieve what i wanted in terms of self expression. I suck at singing but i began a daily vocalizing routine and that began to make some improvements on my tone. It was also reassuring to learn that you can at least get 'ok' at singing simply by practicing (a lot of people have this misperception that you can either sing or you can't).

Eventually in Montreal i met a couple people at an open mic at McGill university. I had kind of scoped the place out and decided i would try to network some there. I met a girl there who was a great singer and we started hanging out some, playing some white stripes songs together in my apartment (her singing, me playing guitar).

The first performance we did together at an open mic was great, but like i said, i hadn't sang and i was really just playing guitar chords and a few blues licks. Still it was great to get out and start playing music in a live environment that wasn't classical piano.

I knew that i would have to get up on stage and sing at some point, but i didn't feel like i'd ever be ready. I had quite a high aptitude at the instruments i was playing at this point, and it felt really retarded to just go on and suck. I knew that going on and sucking was by far my best play to get the experience and confidence i would eventually need to fulfill my dream, but it is a hard pill to swallow to just go on stage and be like 'well, i'm not good at this but best way to learn it is by doing it!'. I really didn't want to play covers though but eventually i realized that it would take me so long to have original songs written that i would feel comfortable singing live for the first time. I had been trying to write songs for quite a while but nothing was ever really working that well. i had some cool ideas but didn't really understand anything about song writing. Really, i still don't, but i am improving rapidly in that area. It can also be studied which is something i'm just realizing.

I heard about a low key open mic at a place called Burritoville.

I decided to scope it out to see if it was a low key enough environment but when i was there i was just like *** it and drank a bunch of beer and decided to play a couple songs on their piano.

not me in the photo obviously!

Anyway, Burritoville went great. I started with 7 nation army -

(this is from like a year and a half ago) and told everyone to be percussive in whatever way they chose. As people banged their beer glasses against their tables and stamped their feet to the beat, i knew that this was going to be awesome. I ended up splitting my hand open doing a glissando slide and there was just blood all over the piano and i'm wasted and people are like WEEETJKELJTE and i'm like *** YEA THIS IS AWESOME.

I also sang a cover of "Where did you sleep last night". This recording is from earlier this year and with the main guys i'm playing with atm now. I will talk about that later though.
You can hear singing wise i have no real idea what i'm doing, but am starting to care less about the expression part.

Anyway, Burritoville went great. I wrote in my journal:

The biggest thing that has happened since i last wrote was that i played my first open mic singing at Burritoville on March 7th 2010. It went very well. I sang and played 7 nation army and Where did you sleep last night? and both went really well. The audience was small and almost exclusively musicians and a couple comedians, maybe 12-15 people. I got blood all over the piano when my finger split somehow doing a glissando in a solo. Blood ended up all over the piano keys. It felt pretty good to see when i opened my eyes at the end of my last song and people were clapping and asking for more. I didn't miss any notes or any lyrics, i just closed my eyes and got as into it as i could.

When i went home i was very giddy, stamping around like a little goblin; i got some rhubarb pie from Le Maine and then went to Barfly where i got very drunk then i headed home and told my brother i was probably experiencing the best day of my life. It was probably true.

It was at this point that i decided i would need to more aggressively recruit a band to play with...

Last edited by alexeimartov; 08-06-2011 at 05:41 PM.
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Old 08-06-2011, 06:20 PM   #2
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Re: Chasin shootin stars

Awesome post. Really looking forward to hearing more.
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Old 08-06-2011, 06:32 PM   #3
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Re: Chasin shootin stars

really good read, looking forward to reading more!
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Old 08-06-2011, 07:31 PM   #4
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Re: Chasin shootin stars

Originally Posted by LordRush View Post
Awesome post. Really looking forward to hearing more.
+1 good stuff. Really enjoyed both songs.
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Old 08-06-2011, 07:42 PM   #5
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Re: Chasin shootin stars

saw the thread and the OP, got excited

did not disappoint
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Old 08-06-2011, 11:20 PM   #6
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Re: Chasin shootin stars

Rock star poker player. Keep it up, looking forward to reading and hearing more.
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Old 08-06-2011, 11:28 PM   #7
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Re: Chasin shootin stars

my best friend and me were playing music before we got into poker. we slowed on poker like a year ago and rented a house to play and make a cd. sick to see we are not the only one

now that we have money its more possible to make something in the music world

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Old 08-07-2011, 01:03 AM   #8
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Re: Chasin shootin stars

niceee. i like your waltz btw. very crisp and on point.
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Old 08-07-2011, 01:47 AM   #9
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Re: Chasin shootin stars

like the guts on display in this OP
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Old 08-07-2011, 04:18 AM   #10
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Re: Chasin shootin stars

Yeah man this is cool. You obviously play great and are good at arranging songs for the piano. As far as the singing goes, it sounds to me like you have decent pipes but are trying too hard when you get up there. I personally think you'd sound better if you tried to sing a little more naturally (about 20% as emotive as present), but that's a question of taste and maybe you're just going for something different with your singing than what I'm talking about. Anyway, that's my two cents: tone down the emotion (especially the growl) in your voice and let your great playing take center stage. Definitely keep posting, too; compelling stuff.
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Old 08-07-2011, 04:22 AM   #11
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Re: Chasin shootin stars

Hey Martin,

You can play. You can play really good, seriously.

You cannot sing, yet, but that's OK.

I see you have a future in music, you have the passion. Meet more and more musicians as you can for sure.

There are many here on 2p2, meet George aka geormiet, a long time 2p2er and helluva limit poker player:

Keep working at it, looking forward to updates.

Take care and good luck,
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Old 08-07-2011, 04:25 AM   #12
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Re: graspin shootin stars, like a dog chasin cars

Originally Posted by alexeimartov View Post
It was at this point that i decided i would need to more aggressively recruit a band to play with...

A boy band?
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Old 08-07-2011, 04:58 AM   #13
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Re: Chasin shootin stars


As someone who has always intended on playing music for the rest of his life, it's been pretty crazy seeing Martin just continually blast towards his volition, and funny to hear him ***** about how far behind pace he is throughout it all in spite of my astonishment.

The Drake was pretty sweet
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Old 08-07-2011, 05:53 AM   #14
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Old 08-07-2011, 08:49 AM   #15
Strummin' along
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Re: Chasin shootin stars

Can't wait to read more. You're such a good writer.
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Old 08-07-2011, 10:28 AM   #16
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Re: Chasin shootin stars

Very impressive on the piano. I think your voice has strong potential.

Looking forward to more songs.
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Old 08-07-2011, 03:28 PM   #17
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Re: Chasin shootin stars

Nice post, I always enjoy reading your posts (batman street poker was amazing), and I'm glad you have found something productive to be passionate about in addition to cards. I enjoyed your cover of Where Did You Sleep Last Night, Nirvana's cover of that song from unplugged is among my favorite songs, and I think you did the song justice. Your vocals obv need a lot of work as you concede, but I agree with bldswtrs, your singing certainly isn't terrible and I think with some work could be very good.
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Old 08-07-2011, 05:02 PM   #18
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Re: Chasin shootin stars

Nice playing Martin. Good luck
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Old 08-07-2011, 05:25 PM   #19
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Re: Chasin shootin stars

I knew him when!
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Old 08-07-2011, 05:30 PM   #20
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Re: Chasin shootin stars

So rewinding a bit, around late 2009 or so i read this thread on 2+2 "Ask me anything about being a music scene micro celebrity". I found it pretty awesome that Steve Albini was posting on 2+2 and had made an ask me thread. That was that though. Interesting read, back to the grind.

However, floating around in the back of my mind, i had had thoughts that i should possibly consider sending him a message asking him what was up etc, that i was a 'micro celebrity' in the internet poker world and that i would love to have a chat.

Steve Albini rocking out

The idea marinated in the back of my brain for at least a month, despite my subconscious giving me little hints that it was time to cook the beef. Eventually one night around Feb 2010, i was pretty drunk, and just decided '*** it' and sent him a msg asking if i could come make him coffee. I linked him to my own ask me thread in case he wanted to scope me out before hand, and said i'd really appreciate the opportunity, i could provide my own accommodation etc, and would have no problem working whenever he desired (obviously for free). I did have some knowledge of recording at this point but ultimately had no idea about how most analog equipment worked, not that you really ever deal with that as an intern.

He sent me back a msg essentially saying that you needed to go to audio engineering school to intern at EA but that he'd just move someone down the list and i could come August 1st if i wanted despite having limited expertise. It's funny how often these 'ask while drunk' things seem to work. Its a little like when you come home wasted and go on Facebook and start sending some girl you haven't seen forever some seriously dirty messages like 'i want to ravage you right now' and you're like 'man i can't believe i just wrote that i am going to regret this in the morning' but then they respond and are like 'mmm that sounds good...'.

Anyway before i get sidetracked... Osheaga music festival was on the 30th and 31st of July and i had tickets, so i sent him back a msg saying August 2nd would work a lot better for my schedule, and 'hey man, you understand cos its the music right?!'.

Then i realized that was incredibly retarded given the opportunity that had presented itself, kind of like ejaculating into the gaping maws of a gift horse, so i sent him another msg saying "sorry about that, i'll be there on the 1st". Still, missed Arcade Fire, Black Keys and the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. Next year i thought.

Now i gotta mention here, please don't bombard Steve w/ msgs trying to network with him and ****, he is very busy with work and combined with that, being married, and possibly loving the game of poker more than i do (which is saying something!), well, you know.

Anyway, with that out of the way, i schlepped off to Chicago and subleased with some people there that i knew through a mutual friend.

My first day at the studio i arrived early. It was a little chilly. I wasn't exactly sure how to go about entering the place. I mean, there's clearly a door in the bottom left, but i mean more like 'err hello? um... yea... its martin... um yea the new intern'. This is the entrance:

It doesn't exactly scream 'come inside and get your vocals EQed! we love you!'.

As i stood there, a punk band started unpacking their stuff out of a van. They were pretty happy to be there and pitched me on their gig later that week. As we stood there, exchanging small talk over a cigarette, Steve came down in a blue jump suit which i think really sums up his view of what his job actually entails, a belief that is that it is more important to get someones car to function as it was designed than to give the impression that one works for NASCAR. The band talked to Steve for a bit then pitched him on coming to one of their shows after work, to which Steve gracefully replied "what do you think the last thing a whore wants to do at the end of a shift?". That seemed to work pretty effectively.

I was like, hey! i'm Martin! and he was like cool, our Assistant engineer will run you through everything. Thats what happened. It turns out the most important part of 'everything' was 'fluffy coffee', a beverage i would come to both love and despise.

Fluffy coffee is a combination of three main elements.
1. Putting cinnamon into the espresso grounds.
2. A full pint of frothed milk.
3. Maple syrup.

To make the fluffy coffee, basically you dissolve maple syrup in a flavoured espresso and then pour it into a cup of frothed milk.

Now thats pretty easy, but as the assistant engineer warned me 'dude, it seems easy but you wanna get this right because when there's an 8 person band and everyone wants a ****ing fluffy coffee all at the same time and you're trying to froth a gallon of milk with this little espresso maker, you are going to be stressed out'. That definitely did occur.

Anyway, after downing one of these 'for research purposes' (also this was my first 10 am day of 'work' in 5 years, COFFEEEE), i went about helping clean, take out trash etc, while attempting my best impression of Casper the friendly ghost. I spent some time just wandering around, scoping things out. My impressions of Electrical Audio are as if someone took a level out of Quake 1 and turned into a recording studio.

this room is awesome, the ceiling is SO HIGH

I don't think it was until lunch time that Steve actually realized i was the person that sent him a msg on 2+2 and he was like "OH, you're that Martin!". Electrical Audio is a big place though and goes through plenty of interns, interns that basically try to be invisible, so its no surprise Steve just kind of glosses over the new recruits in his brain and focuses on his work. Anyway, we had a short chat and then we got back to our respective jobs, me taking out trash and cleaning floors, emptying ashtrays (there are ashtrays EVERYWHERE, i imagine its basically a requirement for a lot of the musicians Steve records) while intermittently lurking in the background of a session in Studio B that a young band 'poundcake' was trying to do a 1 day recording in.

Cool guys, you can check out there music here, i don't think any of this is from that session though. It was pretty cool, they were so excited to be recording there (they were basically my age) and although you're certainly not meant to instigate conversations with the artists, these guys were asking me all about what music i was into etc. They managed to get their whole recording down by the end of a long day (say 9 pm? i stayed way later than i had to) and then they invited me out to their car so they could test it on the sound system in there while we smoked a bowl. Done! Then we went out and listened to some crazy Rock Polka band, got wasted and that was the end of day 1 at EA.

I would say the biggest realization or general feeling i continued having at EA was that the people were really no different than myself. They just happened to be doing it.

Last edited by alexeimartov; 08-07-2011 at 05:43 PM.
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Old 08-07-2011, 06:07 PM   #21
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Re: Chasin shootin stars

Great thread, please post more. I'm dying to start music and a band, and might just do that in a few weeks.

It's not always easy to go and start looking around for people to play with and to have the balls to just throw yourself in and give all you got. For a few weeks tho, the desire is definitly here in me, and this thread is a great motivation. So, F it, in septembre im in.

Thanks man.
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Old 08-07-2011, 06:25 PM   #22
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Re: Chasin shootin stars

cool thread, subscribed!
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Old 08-07-2011, 07:10 PM   #23
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Re: Chasin shootin stars

great thread in the making. reading martin on life is always great.

brag: martin will be playing music at my wedding ceremony provided my fiance doesnt fall for his aussie charm and runaway with him the days prior
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Old 08-07-2011, 07:31 PM   #24
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Re: Chasin shootin stars

Originally Posted by thatpfunk View Post
brag: martin will be playing music at my wedding ceremony provided my fiance doesnt fall for his aussie charm and runaway with him the days prior
then you could do your own version of 'where did you sleep last night'.
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Old 08-07-2011, 08:07 PM   #25
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Re: Chasin shootin stars

Martin, you're stupid talented at basically everything, and have mastered anything you've ever tried, so I'm glad you're in the process of shedding your residual doubts and reservations about music. If your jaunt at Electrical did anything for you, I mostly hope it let you realize that the way to do something is to do it, not to spend your life figuring out a way to do it. We built this studio, hell, I built my entire career, by deciding to do it and getting started.

I mean hell, I would kill a kid in front of his mom to have your natural musical abilities (or Oscillator's for that matter), and look at me, I've made a stack of records and go on tour a couple of times a year. I didn't let a turtle's dexterity with my instrument or a voice like a shoe squeaking on linoleum stop me.

I don't know what the Australian word for Linoleum is.

Anyhow, great reading. Don't forget all us little people when you're famous. I mean guitar-famous, you're already poker-famous.
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