Friday, March 27, 2009

SF Blog #4

Finally, a lazy day, much needed after the exhausting day we had before. Woke up late, Soph took a long bath and caught up with Angie on the phone, and we got to the GDC about an hour and a half before it closed up.

While there, I made the rounds and asked nearly every booth on the expo floor if they were hiring any audio designers or composers. Handed out lots of business cards and CD-Rs, shook a lot of hands, got some prospects and some "check the website for open positions". Hopefully something pans out and I get called by a few of these places!

Picked up as much swag as we could, including a rad rubber bracelet that is actually a 1GB USB thumbdrive with royalty-free audio samples on it, some buttons and stickers, and a couple t-shirts too. Caught up with Rudolf and Alex, gave them the rest of my sampler discs to give out at the booth, and asked everyone how they recovered from the night before. Good thing we ducked out when we did, as everyone went to a third bar after we left and Alex supposedly had to be manually steered across the street so as not to walk into traffic!

Things on that end were going well, with the guys working all sorts of rad Dyson magic on everyone who came by. Soph and I had the munchies and nothing to do for an hour or so, so we went back up to the Samovar tea lounge for something real light and snacky. I got a really great grilled cheese sandwich on ciabatta with sundried tomatoes and pesto and a chilled masala chai, and Sophia got a curried egg salad and apple sandwich with a red tea. We traded sammich halves and it was very nice. Rudolf and Alex joined us for some tea and from there we all shared a cab back to our hotel, where we had made plans to meet for dinner in our hotel's restaurant with the crew from the night before.

Had an awesome dinner with everyone. We ordered two sampler plates of appetizery stuff like baba, hummus, olives and so on, and then I picked up a really cool seafood twist on kibbeh (with crab meat inside instead of beef!) and a tapas sized dish of kofta with spicy salsa. Fantastic all around. Sophia got a really tasty lamb dish as well, which came with a little tub of creamy hot stuff that was sorta like shuta with goat cheese mixed into it, and I had a ball dipping all my kofta into that. Signed off with everyone after a long meal, and ate a really fantastic dessert of of filo dough layers and cheese all covered in honey.

Hoping to get together with everyone tomorrow afternoon for some thrift shopping, food, pictures and hugs goodbye. Ready to go home!!!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

SF Blog #3

Wednesday, the big day. I've got a bit of blood in my alcohol as I type this so please bear with me. It was a huge huge day...which started with us at the teency tiny Dyson booth on the expo floor.

Rudolf and Alex were already there, completely overwhelmed by people coming over and asking about Dyson every 2 seconds. I stacked up a modest pile of my sampler discs and business cards there for them to dole out as needed, and Sophia and I decided to start around the expo on our own after sitting next to them for a while, feeling sort of like a third and fourth wheel (we didn't actually make the game so we were just kinda caught staring off when someone had a question). Unfortunately for me, there weren't many audio people on the floor today - mostly programming-type stuff, and so it became a bit redundant to stay there and hand the occasional card out to anyone who spoke to me, especially as insincere as that comes off. It sorta bothered me after I did it a few times. Sarah later told me a good rule of thumb is to not try to hand anyone a card unless they've had a discussion with you for ten minutes.

We took a break and Soph discovered she had really horrible blisters on her feet from all the walking we had done, and that even worse, they were bleeding. We decided it was best to split from the scene and head back to the hotel to regroup until the awards ceremony at 5:30. Upon arriving, we almost immediately passed out, including myself in my dress pants, dress shirt and tie, which if you have never done this it is not recommended for being extremely uncomfortable. I managed to set my cell phone alarm for an hour before the ceremony just to be sure, and thankfully we got up and out in perfect time. We walked halfway there in search of some food, gave up on that and grabbed a taxi to the center where we caught Rudolf and Alex on their way out. They had not yet changed into their formalwear for the ceremony and we were already sorted on that end, so they went back to their hotel while we anxiously shoved down some low-grade turkey sandwiches and bottled water at the expo stand (ridiculously overpriced, but when you're starving and only have 15 minutes, that's what you do!).

Upon arriving at the entrance for the ceremony, there was a reception hall of sorts with a red carpet down the middle and a desk of people with an RSVP list sort of eyeing everyone. No sooner than 3 minutes after setting foot in the place do they announce "Everyone who is a finalist please line up on the red carpet, everyone else please form a line to the side"...the funny part is we were two of about five people in the entire room who stayed on the carpet. We felt so leet. Haha. Struck up a conversation with the lad behind us who asked what game we were a part of, and when we said it was Dyson, he immediately complimented us with "Fucking awesome game!". We said our names and our game, and were promptly escorted to table 12, which was right next to a table marked "Valve", and seeing this gave me some chills. Then, turning to see how close to the stage we were gave me even more chills, as I knew Tim Schaefer and Hideo Kojima were going to take the stage tonight.

So for a good while there was just a lot of oohing and aahing at all the people who we knew were going to be in the same 20 feet as us, and I grabbed a mini-quiche lorraine and a glass of cab before things got too hectic - had to stay mellow. I started to freak out a little when I realized the OTHER table right next to us was for Little Big Planet. Finally Rudolf and Alex arrived and we all got settled in for what was sure to be an exciting night.

After this, it was a blur of very interesting commentaries and introductions, some really funny moments involving people's award speeches and a cropping error on one of the big screens (which made every clip they showed of a figure speaking in a game look like they were zooming in on their chests). It doesn't even need to be said how rad the little vignettes Mega64 did were, including one music video for "If You're Not Indie Fuck You" which was totally brilliant, and their final vignette which involved them spoofing MGS4 a la their normal antics, only to run into Hideo Kojima on the street, with him shaking his head in disgust for a minute, calling his agent to cancel all his appointments, then lurking around the streets with the Mega64 guys imitating Solid Snake. Genius! Beyond this, Tim Schaefer's entrance was insane - they ran a short 8bit video game mockup of Tim in the back room behind the stage, out of jokes to tell to the audience. So he had to search the room to find some, and ended up leaving with one joke out of a "potential 22" he could've found. On stage, the man could work a crowd more than just about anyone I've seen, totally unassuming and really genuinely hilarious. My kinda guy to be sure, as if I didn't already respect him enough! Kojima kept his spot very short and sweet, and promised to make video games until the day he dies, which is reassuring to lots of us who were aware of him not wanting to do any more titles in the Metal Gear series, and pretty sad about it.

I know, I know, what all of you who even read this want to know is - did Dyson win? Well, I'm sorry to say no, we didn't win any of the three awards we were nominated for. To be honest though, as sad as that seems on paper to say right here, you can't possibly believe how positive all of us are about everything. We are having a blast, we've all made friends with so many really great talented people, and we're getting offers and publicity just the same. Besides, like I wrote before, just being considered as one of the FIVE games out of over TWO HUNDRED for the grand prize was surreal enough. The voice over lady for all the nominee bits before they announced who won even said my name, which was kinda funny. I've been telling every I speak to that I'm just shocked still that this was my very first video game ever and to have it even get this far is crazy.

The good news (or part of it at least) is that Valve has picked up Dyson to sell via their online distribution company Steam, which is a giant step forward for us. The game has already been announced on the Steam site if you'd like to check it out, and we're all collectively hoping to have the game completed and fully released by the end of Summer. In addition to this, I'll be working very closely with Alex and Rudolf to make possible a hardcopy proper release of the music I've done for the game, for those of you who are into it. It may turn out to be a bigger deal than some of my other records, considering the publicity Dyson has received, even now!

Anyway, after the awards show, we banded together with the super-awesome Cletus Clay crew, of Alex, Alex and Sarah along with our own Alex, Rudolf and myself and Sophia, as well as two other folks from Cletus Clay from New Zealand (I actually did not get their names) who were equally rad and are going thrift shopping with us tomorrow! We all ended up in a Jillians, buying each other round after round and having a fantastic time. We decided to break it off to another bar called XYZ and upon arriving realized how insane it really was. Sophia and I were pretty beat, so I downed a shot of tequila with Alex and Sarah and said goodnight. Gave everyone a big hug as we made our way to the cab back to the hotel, where I sit now typing with heavy fingers and a fried brain, ready to shower, have some water, play some Warcraft, and sleep...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

SF Blog #2

Second day in San Francisco was very tiring but loads of fun! Rudolf and Alex were attending seminars at the GDC most of the day so we ventured out on our own. First stop was to get our passes sorted so we could actually go check everything out, and that went well enough. Initially there was some resistance because Sophia's name had been registered wrong and so I showed them my business card (which mentions my work on Dyson) to prove that we were indeed part of the development team. One of the ladies sorting us out was really impressed by my "ambient Shakespeare" t-shirt and wanted to know how she could get one. They misspelled my name as "Brain" on my pass but we all laughed about it and decided to keep it that way since it's sorta funny.

From there we went up a level to this really neat tea lounge called Samovar. We hadn't eaten yet but wanted something lighter so it was perfect. Sophia got a small pitcher of mint tea with a big salad spread, and I went for some tofu in curry with basmati rice (with peppercorns and golden raisins in it) and a hot chai. Quite nice.

We decided to head toward Union Square as there were a few places we wanted to go shop at there, and along the way we found some really cool photograph opportunities, including a really oddly shaped building that ended up being a Jewish museum. Walking further, we arrived at Rasputin Records, an epic 5-story mammoth of a media store, and went straight to level 3 - you guessed it - the vinyl level. We found a remarkable amount of used and cheaply priced wax from all across the spectrum - from an early Bowery Electric EP to Adam Ant's "Friend Or Foe". I even managed to pick up Falco's single for "Der Kommissar", Yello's "Oh Yeah" and the classic "I Wanna Be A Cowboy" by Boys Don't Cry for dirt cheap.

From there it was off to one of Sophia's favorite cosmetic carriers Sephora, and I won't really go into great detail about that since it was all makeup and fragrances and not really anything else! From Sephora we went to Lush, which I enjoyed quite a bit. Lush is a sort of all-purpose bath and body place only all their products are totally organic and unique. I actually feel a bit girly for liking it but they make some really nifty stuff to be sure. We stocked up on some Lush stuff to take home, and started making our way back to the north hall lobby of the Moscone center.

Once there, we sat down (at long last!) and ran into Andrew from Cletus Clay again. It seemed neither of us could get in touch with Rudolf or Alex yet so we hung out for a bit and split since Andrew was way hungry. By this time, we were starving too but we wanted to wait until Rudolf and Alex met up with us to eat. After a little bit, the two joined forces with us and showed us to where our booth will be on the exhibition floor tomorrow.

We headed out to Office Depot and Radio Shack so the guys could get some supplies needed for the Dyson booth, and I made some copies of the inserts for my GDC sampler discs, and bought more blank CD-Rs and sleeves for them too. I get the feeling 50 discs aren't going to last as long as I thought, especially after seeing just how many people are here.

Finally, we ended up in a waiting line at the Cheesecake Factory, which is the first chain restaurant we'd eaten at since arriving, but it never fails to satisfy, with its novel-thick menu and huge portions. Plus, Rudolf and Alex had been after something uniquely American, food-wise, and had already been suggested the place.

We were seated outdoors and since the restaurant was 7 stories up it was a beautiful view. I ordered the first fried food of the week (a buffalo chicken sandwich and some french fries) and Sophia went with a massive chicken salad. I sipped on a coke until I realized it was actually diet coke and that sorta shocked me. We discussed lots of Dyson related ideas, specifically what we'd like to do regarding more detailed sound effects, for the final build of the game. I also explained that I'd like to record possibly even another hour of music and then shape it up with some edits of only the best material.

We split off after the meal, and Sophia and I grabbed a taxi back to the hotel. We were invited to a cocktail party at a bar down the street called Cellar that I really wanted to go to, but we ended up passing on it out of exhaustion. Better to party TOMORROW night, depending on what happens in the awards ceremony. You heard right - tomorrow night is the awards ceremony, so we'll see how well we're going to really do! I'm trying not to let myself obsess on it. Wish us luck!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

SF Blog #1

So...after a long and tiring day...MILIEU HAS ARRIVED! Finally good to say it. For those of you who were afraid I'd die in a plane crash - fear not! I am alive and well.

The trip started on a chaotic foot though - first, we stayed up ALL NIGHT the night before our flight, packing and worried that we'd forget something important. After finally sitting down to sleep for 30 minutes, my cell phone rings: it's Sophia's mother telling us our dog Morgan (who had just boarded at the kennel the day before) had been sent to the emergency vet after having three seizures! We immediately went to the vet to see what was up, and apparently, between the ages of 2 and 5, a dog who has epilepsy can do what's called "unmasking" with their first seizure via any triggered event (in our case it must've been the stress of us leaving town) that will then make her full-on epileptic for the rest of her doggie days. Thankfully, she's been in the vet's care since then and has shown no signs of any other problems and the epilepsy is under control. Beyond that, the treatment is a simple inexpensive prescription that she'll need to take daily from now on. Phew!

So from there we ate some food and I didn't even bother trying to sleep any more considering we had to leave in 2 hours to drive to the Charlotte airport and fly out. Once we got through the airport security and all that, the flight turned out to be one of the worst I've had! Despite being a bearable 5 hour trip, these three catty girls in front of us cocked their seats back as far as they could go, wreaking absolute hell on my claustrophobia and rendering me nearly unable to move for the entire ride. There were also horrible pressure issues and for the last hour of the flight it felt like someone was grinding forks into my eardrums. Not cool!

Finally upon landing and shuttling from the airport to our super hotel, we unwound a bit, ordered some FANTASTIC pizza from a place called Napoli's (we ordered "The San Francisco" which comes with pepperoni, ham, beef, green olives and feta cheese on it) and promptly passed out.

So today we slept off our jetlag and tried to get in touch with Rudolf and Alex (the masterminds behind Dyson) to see how and where we could meet up, which proved harder than we expected! They were already at the GDC and we had a good deal of trouble working out how exactly we had to add their numbers in our cell phones so we could text or call them. Finally we met up and decided to find a place to eat, which ended up being a fantastic restaurant called King Of Thai. I ordered a sea bass in green curry and Sophia got a really interesting pumpkin curry, and we all had a great time. From there we went across town and ended up at a bar called Brick which is conveniently right next door to our hotel. At Brick we met a very nice couple from England who are also in the running at the IGF for a different award than Dyson is. Had a BLAST just talking and laughing with everyone and all in all, just a wonderful time in this new huge city.

Rudolf and Alex, it must be said, are really fantastic guys who I am even more proud to know now that we've met in person. It will be a really great week to hang out with people this rad! I also have a bit of good news regarding Dyson which I'll withhold until I can clear it for public posting by Rudolf...but things are happening!!!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Dyson At The Independent Gaming Festival

So I'm leaving town again! This time, I will be in San Francisco, California for a week to attend the Game Developers Conference. As unbelievable as it sounds, Dyson, the video game I did music and sound work for, has been nominated as one of the five games up for winning the coveted Seumas McNally grand prize at the festival! This could be a huge break for me as a musician looking for a job in the gaming industry, and so even if Dyson doesn't win, there's too many opportunities and too much information at the GDC to pass up.

If you haven't played Dyson yet - you should! It's a totally free downloadable game and there are builds for PC and Linux, with a Mac build on the way. Go to the official site to download the newest build here. Additionally, if you have played Dyson and you like it, please please PLEASE vote for us! Yes, you! You can vote for Dyson online in the competition for the audience award at the IGF by clicking here. Every vote counts and so if you liked the game or the music or both, give us a nudge!

Much like my trip to Germany in 2007, Sophia and I have been able to cover most of our travel expenses for things like flight and hotel, however all the little things still remain, like food money, parking fees at the airport, and boarding my dog Morgan for the week we're gone. The support you give Milieu Music never goes unappreciated, ever, and that's why I am offering anyone who donates $8 USD or more to my little fund will get a TOTALLY EXCLUSIVE MILIEU ALBUM! That's right, this is the very first ambient Milieu record since A Warm Wooden Hollow and the donation drive is the only way you can get it! For more information about donating and the Milieu album I'm offering in return, please click the link below this message.

A pre-emptive THANKS goes out to all of you, whether you donate or not, for supporting my work - it means way more than you know! Also, if any of you reading this would like to meet up with your neighborhood friendly Milieu while I'm in your state, just drop me an email and we'll work it all out.

Three New Coppice Halifax Releases


A very special album, hinted at since Summer of 2008, has finally arrived for preordering. The first Coppice Halifax full-length recording since 2008's tropical-overdose Ocean Lion, Bedroom Carpet brings a much different vibe to the table. Largely ambient but not without some very beat-based tracks, Bedroom Carpet is very warm and humid with lots of sleepy-eyed melodies blipping across a thin line of tape hiss. Written and recorded using only two drum machines, an old Casio keyboard and a four-track tape deck, this is some of my most cozy, playful and analogue music ever made. Very heavily influenced by records like Cylob's "Cylobian Sunset", Aphex Twin's "Selected Ambient Works II" and the "Melodies From Mars" album, as well as things like Kinesthesia, Bochum Welt and even friends of mine Thisket and EOD. This record is currently at press, and will be released on no more than 100 copies in a jewel case with full-color printed artwork (much like Colortone was). ALL ORDERS SHIP ON OR BEFORE APRIL 20.


MML055 / 3" CD-R EP

To hold you over until Bedroom Carpet arrives in your mailbox, this 3" CD-R EP should do the trick! Recorded during the Bedroom Carpet sessions using the exact same equipment, the Moss And Green EP delivers more tape-drenched low-key ambient goodness. Three tracks that get a little more drum-heavy than the album itself does, but still packed to the brim with fuzzed textures and sunny melodies. Music for sitting under a tree in a park while you read a book. Something you might want to bring along for the Summer months this year! Inspired more by things like Mike & Rich, Freescha and Polygon Window, and limited to 50.


AB3 / 3" CD-R EP

The third installment of the new and ongoing AB series, Red Valerian brings you two deep deep tracks of dubby hi-fi ambience. "Red" is quite possibly the most reggae-dub sounding track I've ever done, complete with delayed piccolo snares and thicker-than-honey atmospherics. An elastic bassline rumbles around and textures dress the mix up, making you feel like you're walking through a smoggy city after dark. "Valerian" completes the EP with an almost polar opposite shift in dynamics. Clocking in at almost 14 minutes long, this track bounces along building and building with inviting colorful pads and watery synth stabs, painting a more tropical setting. Limited to 50 copies.