Confession on Creating
I did not graduate from college. I never obtained a degree in graphic design, music studies, or audio & video production. I've been a self-taught early adopter and creator I decapitated my Christmas gift -- an electric robot named Alphie® 2 made by Playskool. I was that kid who took two tape decks - recorded vocals on one tape, took the tape out, played it back, and recording both the playing tape and my second vocals onto a new tape. I had the patience for such meticulous and old media tedium.
I started creating websites since the days of Geocities, Netscape, and AOL. I used Photoshop before Adobe. I changed with the times. I evolved and kept pushing the envelope by continuing my education by reading loads of self-help books, white papers, watching hands-on tutorials, ultimately learning how to be a better producer.
Like many of my friends and other creatives, I was injected with a more than normal amount of residual "creator-dust" at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. I would normally be overseeing event operations, producing and hosting radio shows, performing live with the band, or brunching with my fellow "Manifestors". Yet the "downtime" has proved to be so much more beneficial than I could have imagined. With each visual I created since the beginning of the pandemic, I get better and more optical in my production.
I am not in competition with any other creator. I'm not trying to be like or be anyone other than myself, nor am I trying to impress anyone. I'm a storyteller and my medium choice this time happens to be my own creative design to tell my own creative story.
I create for my satisfaction, first and am always pleasantly surprised when others like my work as much as I do.
LIFE TO LIFE: From this life to the next “LifeTime”
People compliment me on how well I’ve been able to command a stage. Honestly, I got the best initial coaching from some amazing women: innately from my mother, from spending countless hours with my grandmother learning poems and doing recitals with her and from Mrs. Paxton (wish I could find her.) I had the privilege of being advanced enough I was able to get out of class and work with her as a teacher’s-aid. Her goal was to find a song I liked and one that I wanted to sing. She wanted me to be the one to pep the kids up during the SATs that year. At the time, I thought that was a tall order. Mrs. Paxton and I would spent many days after school working on my performance on the “cafetorium” stage.
With all her coaching and showing how to walk back and forth and make eye contact with my audience, I won the 1988 George Washington Carver 6th Grade Talent Show by hitting all those high notes in Sandi Patti’s inspirational song “Pour on the Power”. After winning and still being shocked I beat out a dancer and a kid who did a great Bill Cosby stand-up interpretation, summer came and puberty played its dirty trick on me. I lost my ability to sing or at least my ability to sound pleasing to the ear. I was quiet and socially awkward as heck! If you knew me then, you could attest.
So, my family was insistent upon me doing something “in the arts”, my Aunt Jackie and Uncle Herman loaned me one of my cousin Tracy’s tenor saxophones. I attended at Arlington, Landon and Ribault (all Junior High schools at the time) where played for a couple years (was never as good as Tracy, nor as good as my bandmate that year, Christopher White.
One of my most amazing memories was when I was “counting out” my part and patiently waiting my turn to play during an orchestral performance of the Theme from Exodus. Just before I joined the rest of the band in song, I suddenly cried. A tear fell from my eye so fast it startled me. I started seeing what looked like “wet paint smoke in slow neon motion” form. I later found out I had synesthesia. I thought something was wrong with me or that I had been having a nervous breakdown in front of the band. I just sat there with my eyes closed and didn’t play. Taking in all of the energy and emotion those 13 and 14 year olds were putting out. Man, what an amazing feeling!
Music therapy was needed again.
The synesthesia and it stayed a lot longer this time. It returned during a horrible break-up, a sudden move, a job change and what my therapist at the time called “Adjustment Phase Disorder.” The passing of my maternal grandmother on March 19, 2012. I wanted music to comfort me during her passing and with all of the music in the world, nothing comforted me. I was grief-stricken and created several pieces of extremely digital art as an artist or painter would begin creating or “painting” this work.
After working a full day in the office, I would come to my grandmother’s empty home where there as no internet, no cable and ultimately no desire for any TV-watching. Nights after spending hours rehearsing for Stage Aurora’s 2012 production of “The Wiz”, I would take my iPad, my Dell Inspiron, my iPhone and all of my music apps and began to create each song as if it were my canvas: adding strokes of colour, outlines and sketches — layer by layer, frequency by frequency until I was satisfied.
I've often compared myself to a painter standing at a canvas, preparing my own portions of gesso and adding limited color or abstraction. Some are short and void; while others are lengthy and layered intentionally until they felt right to me and were as comforting as I needed them to be. When the production was complete, I felt it. I knew it in my soul. I would walk away from the digital canvas with satisfaction. I would smile. There were periods were I would work until sunrise and periods where I wouldn't be inspired to create. It was okay either way. I allowed it to be and didn't force the process. I created it and I am proud of its evolution.
It all started with “LifeTime”, but what gave birth to LifeTime was death.
I find it interesting when people die and transition from this “LifeTime”, they never come back and tell us how great or “not great” it is wherever they “are.” We simply go from PHYSICAL to NON-PHYSICAL. I personally do not know or have a recollection of what exists on “the other side”, but I do know what exist NOW in this “LifeTime.”
LifeTime is an homage to a person or being that has come into your life and has imparted something of their life(time) and left you with an impression.
After several years of having the music lay dormant - only played for my ears only, I began to have the desire to share it and make space for collaboration with others who might be interested in its unique yet unfinished state. My first attempt at sharing was back in 2016, when a group of 11 dancers from CooperMorgan Dance Theatre performed 16-newly choreographed works. I sat in on a dance rehearsal where I got a chance to see two long-time friends Dewitt Cooper and Emily Fine Hayasaki lay the groundwork and set choreography to "Trianta (SON LIGHT)", a composition I created a few years ago. The last song on the first volume of the series. Unfortunately, the final work wasn't included in last year's CooperMorgan Dance Theatre concert. It was beautiful to see these amazing bodies move with such grace, intention & focus.
The tracks were originally created with the intention that I would share the music as Creative Commons Share Alike (for people to use and re-mix and that they would make their own derivative works and compositions from the series: to either re-create, re-imagine or remix as they would - only if they maintain the integrity of the story of “professor:clock”. Their work would be akin to a chapter in a book and will ultimately be used in a larger body of work. I envision so much for this project. From charting the music out, to a complete orchestral performance with lights and stage effects. I envision the dancers touring and traveling all over the planet sharing the MOVE-MEANT and the audiences experiencing the sonic frequencies in an audible and cinematic environment. This is why I feel in my heart that the new adventures of professor:clock is my magnum opus. Yet the project is no longer mine. It's ours.