When I am jamming with other people, they motivate me and kinda help focus what I am doing. So, I am always bouncing ideas back-and-forth with them, trying to see where their talents and interests are. If half of the group is into a specific style of music, that gives me a vague reference to work from. I know what will work and what won’t.
My improvisational skills are kinda crappy, though. Ironically, I need people to get out of my way and let me work alone when I am writing original music. Cutting & pasting jam sessions into songs kinda works. If I have no one to work with, I am kind of at a loss. The music can go in all sorts of different directions. So, finding my own “sound” can be difficult sometimes.
I am trying to shape what I do into a cohesive sound of my own, without tying my hands too much. I would like to maintain the freedom to play whatever that I want. Near as I can figure it, I guess that I kinda sound a little like Beck with a weird bass setup and tapes, maybe.
My working process and available resources probably have more to do with any real style that I may have than anything else. I don’t have a drummer. So, for percussion I must rely on drum machines and whatever found objects that I can bang on. I do not have other band members. So, I rely on recordings of myself on guitars, noises, and sampling, to fill out the sound. I dabble quite a bit in plunderphonics.
Compositionally, I like the free jazz “cut & paste” approach of artists like John Zorn, Carl Stalling, Magma, Cardiacs, Omoide Hatoba, Boredoms, Melvins, Ruins, Mr. Bungle, The Mothers of Invention, etc. and “mixtape style” of the Butthole Surfers, Ween, Faith No More, David Bowie, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, etc.
I like a mixture of Hi-Fi and Lo-Fi in recordings = Mid-Fi! But, I prefer a specific squashed compression sound found on early Primus, Ween, and Butthole Surfers records. I was able to ask guitarist / producer Paul Leary once about how he achieved that sound for the Butthole Surfers. He said it was due to cheap tape recorders, and only having one microphone. So, I think they recorded directly from their preamps a lot. I know that Primus did. That works great for me, since I only have shitty cheap microphones anyway.
Vocally, I have a kinda nasally high-pitched voice that I never liked. It’s kind of a bit like Neil Young, Wayne Coyne (Flaming Lips), Kurt Cobain (Nirvana), Curt & Chris Kirkwood (Meat Puppets), etc. I try to give it a little bit of a Tom Waits-like growl on the lower end. I also compensate for my voice with cheap microphones and whatever vocal effects that are available, trying to bury it.
Visually, of course, everything is very cheap by necessity. I like papier-mâché and cardboard props and sets. Puppets and miniatures can be very useful, too. Green screen, data-bending, and other cheap effects.
My mixed-media paintings and artwork kinda have a cheapniz aesthetic, too, I suppose. I use stuff from thrift stores, garage sales, dollar stores, and found materials a lot.
I tend to visualize the exterior world, the “real” world, in black & white colors. A cold, decaying, dying, world.
The interior world, the world of the mind and imagination, by contrast, is warmer and more colorful. It is vast and endless.
I will probably post more about my gear setup & playing techniques later.