The kid & I performing at Noisefest 2015 in Sacramento, CA.
People say raising kids brings out the best version of yourself. I don't know if that's true but parenthood forces you to figure out what you're all about – how else can you choose what to pass onto your kid?
What surprised me were some hidden values embedded deep like sleeper cells – values I didn't even know I held. Experiencing this revealed the difference between the person I've tried to create for myself & the one I've internalized my entire life.
Likewise, for the past two decades, I've crafted a musical identity firmly entrenched in genres that would make any bearded hipster proud. I could tell you that Antennas Erupt! was raw punk energy married to 60's ecstatic free jazz. Garrincha & The Stolen Elk aimed for some unholy amalgramation of Beefheart, Sharrock, Wolf Eyes & ambient Eno.
Then the kid happened. Watching him grow up, seeing
– the first time he heard a pop song & started dancing in his diaper;
– the first time he heard an organ playing a minor chord & begged me to turn it off because it was scaring him;
led to an epiphany: some things are ancient & intrinsic … rhythm, melodic resonance, musical moods & shades.
As a young coolio intent on establishing my identity, I rebelled against many traditional qualities in search of uniqueness & edginess. It's something many artists go through & perhaps a symptom of what ails our society.
But I'm no longer interested in battling my nature to be cool or unique. We tried really hard to temper any weird impulses to make a straight holiday album for our friends & family who supported us in our Kickstarter campaign.
But guess what ... Cosmic Christmas is weird. Because we're weird. Turns out we don't have to try so hard anymore.
The music MKDVB is making now isn't completely unique or unclassifiable but unlike when we were younger, I don't know where it's coming from.
As with parenthood, my guess is some deep internalization of the music I grew up with & didn't even necessarily like or want to hear at the time. Likewise, I find myself craving “deep cut” Viet food, the stuff you don’t see on menus & stuff I never wanted to eat when I was young.
We don't choose our origins or formative circumstances. Often, we rebel & fight against them. But those influences stay with us, for better or worse. If we are aware of them, we can choose how they inform the rest of our lives.
I accept who I am now. By doing so, I can truly choose who I will be in the future. The challenge is to merge those two into a cohesive whole. That is the journey of MKDVB. Thanks for coming along.