A Biographical Journey Through My Music Part 1 – Creativity as Therapy

by nielskunze on January 19, 2012

I’ve decided that I’m going to share with you the whole deal.

Among artists, especially those selling their wares, there is most often a directed effort at presenting to the public only the most polished and refined offerings… and keeping the obvious “abortions” well hidden from public scrutiny. This is a perfectly reasonable trend when constructing an image for oneself. If I was focused on producing just such a deliberate musical persona, I certainly wouldn’t share with you what I am about to.

Make no mistake… in many regards these are my abortions, or at least, many of them are. Nevertheless, I harbour great affection for them because they served me well in desperate times. These are the projects which kept me sane– assuming that I am sane.

There is something decidedly magical and distinctly human about the act of creation. To bring forth an expression of oneself, revealing hidden aspects which may have otherwise remained obscure even to the creator himself is liberating and growth-oriented by nature. I have always encouraged creativity in all forms among my fellow human beings. And that is the primary motivation to show you my warts… and to defend their special “beauty.”

As an introduction to my whole musical escapade let me begin by stating that I did indeed receive guitar lessons from the age of ten until the age of twelve. As I was approaching my thirteenth birthday, my music teacher decided that it would be most prudent to have a discussion with my parents about my progress… or lack thereof. In a nutshell, she told my mother over the phone that they (my parents) were essentially wasting their money as I had little to no natural musical ability. Bummer! I quit, and my guitar gathered dust for a few years.

Now, 13, 14, 15… these are the years when a young man’s life tends to get infinitely more interesting… challenging… exciting… poignant… confusing… and just plain difficult. Stupid hormones! Issues of sexual orientation battered my psyche until the ripe old age of twenty-five when I finally conceded that I was gay. As you ask yourself the same question daily for more than a decade, arriving at a different answer each time, you tend to go a little crazy… unless you have a tool for eventually finding your way through…

So let us begin the musical odyssey with a little number which allowed me to express my frustration, keeping in mind that it is rather quite excruciating to be in love and not be able to tell anyone of the fact.

The Bottom

And another speaking of the same troubled love.

Nine Years

I suppose that I should mention that the bulk of these recordings are lifted from very old cassette tapes… we’re talking the 80’s here. Another motivation for sharing them in this format is that it has forced me to transfer them to a digital medium instead of just waiting until the tapes are completely unplayable and thus losing the entire archive of my past.

Returning now to our narrative… My inner world during my teens was definitely dark. I was head over heels in love with my best friend and certain that I couldn’t safely confide that most poignant reality to anyone. I played myself as the victim, for why in the world would I ever choose this for myself?! It was precisely this kind of thinking which led to this next tune which explored and lamented the Cartesian Determinism I wallowed within. This is actually the very first song of my own I ever recorded.

Descartes May Be Right

Listening back to this now, I realize that this is one of the very few songs in which I used a guitar pick… something I very rarely do anymore. The very first line I sang the wrong line and just immediately started the song over. My rule back in those days was that if there was only one glaring mistake it was pretty much a keeper.

Sometimes the songs weren’t at all personal in terms of lyrical content. Sometimes it was just the tone or the theme that expressed my youthful angst. This song is lyrically one of my darkest, telling the story of an old west family starving to death in their prairie home after father got killed in town in a gunfight.

Coyote’s Call

Some of my musical endeavours were not so much songs as what I like to refer to as audio collages. They feature a lot of spoken word superimposed upon musical background. It was Jim Morrison’s American Prayer that convinced me that this was okay to do… I just didn’t have the Doors to back my poetry up… yet.

Okay, this is where it gets weird. My first audio collage was a thing I called Trials in Dementia. I sat down in front of the tape deck with eleven pages of bizarre poetry which questioned everything about love… and how it has a tendency to drive young people absolutely bat-shit crazy. I had also gotten my hands on a ridiculously cheap keyboard with sampling capabilities. My directive to myself for the project was to record an improvisational montage for the entire eleven pages over the course of two days. Here are some of the most noteworthy excerpts. Oh, and there is definitely a strong language warning for these (the fourth one, The Folly of Dementia, in particular)… clear the children from the room before playing them!

TID The Haunting
TID Never Free
TID Call to the Lizard
TID The Folly of Dementia
TID Unfinished

Now wasn’t that lovely? The completed project ran a full 30 minutes… I got a lot of shit off my chest!

I did one other epic poem project in a similar vein, but this one was only nine pages long. It was called Silent Streets: Images of the Abstract. The poetry was written when I was seventeen after having the most vivid dream about a crystal city in the centre of the Earth. I submitted this epic in grade 12 for an English assignment. My teacher gave me 80% on it which I thought was a bit stingy. I mean how many high school kids are writing 9-page poems about crystal cities and such? Just a couple of brief excerpts with a slightly cleaner sound…

Silent Streets

Growing up I always considered myself an atheist; sometimes I’d even go so far as to characterize myself as an anti-theist. Religion had always presented itself as an exercise in hypocrisy. Nevertheless an inordinate number of my songs and poems had God popping up in them… Stupid God! Later in life I adjusted my stance on the whole religion thing, but I can still proudly say that I’ve never in my life been to a church service. This next song has a rather inflammatory title; I fully realize it. It was very intentional at the time I wrote it, but please remember I was just a kid.

Jesus Just Raped My Sister

And this one is about a convict who finds Jesus on death row. I had already mellowed my stance at this time.

On Death Row

I’m going to finish off this section (Part 1) with a link to a song which I refer to as my “coming out” song. It’s a bit of a fast-forward as it involves some of my bandmates which makes it appropriate to lead us into the next section.

Original version of I Remember I Believe

Or click here to move on to Part 2.

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