Editor's note: The following text was written on the eve of the release of London O'Connor's debut album O∆. He signed to True Panther Sounds this week. This captain's log is presented with its original punctuation and voice.
Its June 23rd. Kind of. Its the night of June 22nd and its spilled over into the AM hours. I am putting out an album tomorrow, my first album. My friends are sitting on the futon where I sleep and staying up and talking so I am sitting over here and writing this until they peace out and I go to sleep. I imagine that after tomorrow I am going to feel a wash of things that will make it impossible to explain how I feel right now, so I’m writing this before they happen. I want to do this every album. For you all. I want to be really honest about what has happened up to this point so you have a record when you get here. And I want to give you one for every album. Its hard for us to be honest about everything we experience here. I get that.
OK so making a great album from your backpack with no label is a myth. It can be done though. This is what that actually looks like:
I worked a job that was utter shit. The kind where you punch in on a clock in the morning and the office looks like its out of office space. They keep AV equipment in the closet in the back. I set up projectors and microphones for dudes in suits and school groups and they pay me money for pasta. Pasta and a really expensive microphone. We are still 2 years out. The Beatles recorded with a U47 Tube microphone amongst some others. There was also this Telefunken microphone, its one of the Mics Channel Orange was recorded with. That mic costs $10,000 alone. However, in the 70s when the technology for that mic became outdated in favor of FET/Solid State mics the schematics for it became less important and an employee from that company took them.
They make a mic with the same body but a different capsule for only 1,000. This is a Black Spade UM17. You can then buy the capsule from a different company and have that installed. You can have a mic that is very comparable to the Telefunken mic for about $1,300. I worked the morning shifts at this Job and made music in the AV closet on my laptop and headphones during downtime at work until I had enough money for that mic. That wasn’t the only job of that nature that served that purpose. I worked for a show promoter too. The best nights were when I got to work at 285 Kent. But usually it was just me working for the sketchy promoter and not affording a lot of food. I bought an OP 1. I then did that again with the best 2 channel audio interface that existed. I didn’t need much more. I was taught that equipment is supposed to be transparent. The same way you don’t think about how to move you hand to turn a knob (you just do it) you don’t want to think about how to turn that knob to get a sound. You just want to learn your equipment enough to where its an extension of you. So I didn’t want a lot of new things. I just wanted the best mic, and the best interface to run it through and then I wanted to do that every day.
YOU JUST WANT TO LEARN YOUR EQUIPMENT ENOUGH TO WHERE ITS AN EXTENSION OF YOU.
There’s a song that you may never hear called “Golden”. I worked on that song for 6 months straight and then decided to never put it out because Oatmeal was better. Thats life. Sometimes you just have to work on things people will never hear to learn what you need to learn. Music is like this giant beautiful staircase surrounded by a waterfall. At first you kind of have to do it even though you suck at it and thats like the period where the waterfall just crushes you. Some people stop then because they don’t like how it feels to do something everyday that you suck at. But really its like that is the time when you get to be really close to the waterfall and feel its majesty and appreciate everything that music is. Thats where you humble yourself and accept that its not about you or about you being great. Its just about wanting to swim in this beautiful thing. And you change until you learn how to swim. And then as you humble yourself eventually that waterfall will push you underneath to the other side. And then you climb the stairs.
The view gets way better the higher you go. You start appreciating music for the language it is. I have a lot to learn. I don’t think there is any limit to how high the staircase goes. But everyday is fun now because I feel I am truly able to express myself with music (it does get better. you don’t always think your stuff sucks when you’re done with it. Eventually you think your old stuff is great too and now you’re just older). We are 1 year out.
All I really cared about was simplicity in music. If you really understand something, you can say it in a simple way. Music is like that too. People add a lot of sounds to what they are doing when the sounds they have don’t make them feel anything and they are trying to fix it with more sounds. Its because they don’t know what they are trying to say. Its better to just know what you are trying to say and then to stop once you’ve said it.
Ok so you work all the time, and you don’t have much time to be cool and go do cool things on instagram, and you are extremely hard on yourself and your art, you don’t eat a lot of food, but you have state of the art Wizard level world class equipment in your back pack (that your art deserves) and you know how to use it. Love yourself. Love yourself for what you are doing and what you are giving and what you are giving up. Even if nobody knows or cares who you are. Even if none of your stuff is online yet. Appreciate your sweet obscurity because it lets you learn freely and quickly. Love that you get to be a fly on the wall on the most beautiful interesting planet and the world won’t change around you or act funny because you are there. Life for the time being, is perfectly comfortable being naked around you.
APPRECIATE YOUR SWEET OBSCURITY BECAUSE IT LETS YOU LEARN FREELY AND QUICKLY.
Believe in yourself. All the time. Even when you are nervous, act from believe in your self and structure your main life choices based not that belief. If you gotta quit a job to be inline with your belief in yourself, do it. If you gotta work quietly for months without anything to brag about or point to, do it. Invest in yourself because you believe. If people around you have a mental position that reflects that they don’t think things are possible don’t take it personally. thats their world. Don’t feel any obligation to take on that mental position just to relate to them. Thats a trap. Build your own ideas and you’ll gravitate to people that that fits with.
Ok this next part is a big part of why I felt like writing this in the first place. This part is tricky. so basically we all like doing things well and feeling like we are in control. And we don’t like feeling vulnerable or weak. And so when we tell people about our lives or post about our lives online we just post the good parts, the look at me I’m Killin it parts. And because of that when we look around we think everybody is killing it. And worse we think, people who feel difficulty like us aren’t the kind of people who are out there killing it. And then we feel really unnatural for the difficulty we feel and feel less able to talk about it. This is a stupid cycle. This is the stupid cycle.
Eventually you just must accept that you are Great and that from your inside look on a great person and greatness, you can see clearly that pain and insecurity are still a part of it. I don’t take those feelings or experiences personally now. I just think they are part of the human condition, like they are a landscape we have to traverse. I identify more with how I behave traversing it than whether or not that part of the environment is there in the first place.
Now when you start really pushing yourself and doing something great you may find 2 things that I found. 1 is that it is within your ability but rather hard at times as you grow. 2 that it is entirely doable despite whatever flaws you have. Do you and yourself a favor and talk to your friends about the difficult parts not just how you feel at the end of every milestone once you’ve succeeded. And be cool with talking to them about everything you do well too.
This thing happens when you start doing things really well where people may start to feel intimidated or insecure around you and project on to you as someone who doesn’t experience difficulty because you are an achiever. What’s really happening is that you are operating at the higher end of your ability and because of that you are feeling more tired and stressed and in need of community. And you may find that community is harder to come by because they are distancing themselves from you because of what they are feeling. This is what happens to friend groups until the friends can all be like, hey we feel stuff and what we are doing is hard sometimes, but we’re incredible. And I trust you and trust being around you even if you are dealing with difficult stuff. Nothing we wrestle with takes away from the fact that we are incredible. It took me and my friends longer to figure that out than maybe it should have so we just all went through this cold winter so to speak. I just felt alone a lot of the time and I could tell my friends did too. I could see it happening but didn’t know how to stop it. Maybe you’ll be beyond that.
NOTHING WE WRESTLE WITH TAKES AWAY FROM THE FACT THAT WE ARE INCREDIBLE.
my best friend Josh is playing the monologue from his novel (the part where he sikes himself up in the mirror to go lose his virginity) into a speak n spell robot program that sounds like the speech in OK computer A robot voice is coming from his laptop saying “She won’t be ready for the fuego” and I am rolling laughing. Ok I am back.
Ok so you have humbled yourself enough to do some practical things to to have a modest but excellent music equipment setup, you have made your life boring enough to train with that setup, you have accepted that doing great things is hard, and that struggling is still a part of you as a great person, you have become secure enough to be real with your friends, you have transcended a lot. You have no limits besides any ones you are still placing on yourself. And now what? Go outside
Roll around. Kiss someone. And also, consider having someone mix your stuff. Becoming great at every aspect of everything takes a lot of time. Decide how patient you are. Build the skills that you love and are patient enough to build and then collaborate with people who have the other skills. Ideally someone older than you who has been able to practice mixing for as long as you’ve been alive. Find your yoda and get them to mix something. Even if its just a song. One great song will do more for you than 5 decent songs. Believe in your art enough to see that its worth building a team around.
Don’t waste your time here trying to be popular. Leverage everything you have to arrive at something of value. If you can do that and maintain love for yourself and those around you, you have a really beautiful life. I was nervous as fuck today by the way. I am putting out something tomorrow that I have dedicated my entire life towards for the last 2 years. I have nearly died twice, I have been houseless, I suffered loss and defeat, I have felt so much joy and excitement and love for this. I have given it everything I believe I can. And now its coming out tomorrow. I’m going to lead the world. —Log out.