things I thought about fame when I was a teenager

When I was around 18, maybe 19, I signed a three-song contract with a producer in NYC. We were going to make three songs and shop them to labels, and see if I could make it in the mainstream music industry. Spoiler: I don’t think he actually shopped anything to labels–he was kind of a shady figure, and I was glad to stop working with him after our contract was done.  But anyway, early on, he asked me to think about what kind of music I wanted to make, what kind of brand I thought I wanted to be, that kind of thing.

And I considered the idea of being ‘marketable’ back then, about picking a style on the basis of what seemed likely to become popular with the biggest music crowd. But I decided I didn’t want that.  Because if I ever became famous for music someday, I’d want to be famous for making the kind of music that *I* loved, even if it wasn’t like other people’s music. If I had the choice between world-wide fame for music I couldn’t be proud of, or making good music (according to my own personal aesthetics), I’d rather make good music.

I still feel like that. Anyone can be famous for something, as long as you don’t care too much what it is you get famous for, and you’re willing to do anything. If people are listening to my music, I want it to be because they actually enjoy it, because it’s good, and not because I set something on fire for publicity and became a worldwide curiosity who also happens to make music.

Although I am potentially willing to set some things (safely) on fire, for publicity, for fire performance reasons. (Because I do spin fire, and might someday want to incorporate that into a performance.) ..But I doubt it would turn me into a worldwide curiosity, or ever overshadow my music, because frankly I’m not that impressive at firespinning.

Back to the point though, lately I’ve thought further about the desire to make good music, promote it, and promote it in ways that still make it about the music and the stories told by the music. I’ve wrestled with the moral/aesthetic implications of my alternative modeling hobby insofar as it impacts the message of my music, when I use these nifty images of myself to promote my music. On one hand, there’s a lot of crossover  between the aesthetics of my modeling projects and the music I do. On the other hand, I am aware that the images themselves* hold a lot of artistic value in themselves, and there are some who first get drawn into Psyche Corp. by the story created by these images and the snippets of backstory they’ve seen written on the Internet–before they’ve ever heard any of the music.

I have to ask myself, Am I okay with that? How will I interpret this? Is it really a world and story that I am creating, as an artist, and simply manifesting in different forms–music and visual? Or is it that the integration of my ‘visual work’ in promotion of my music needs to be done more carefully, in order to avoid taking attention away from the music? What is more important for Psyche Corp.: the story, or the music? If, hypothetically speaking, Psyche Corp. ever became disgustingly famous, would I rather it be for the story, or for the music?

I guess that’s a tough question for me, because I’ve enjoyed and invested artistically in both those things.

After some thinking tonight..I think at the heart of it for me, there’s always a story I want to imagine inside the structure of one of my songs, to make them come alive, but I’ve also wanted people to be able to spin their own stories out of those songs, even if it isn’t the story I imagined when I wrote the song. Maybe the puzzle of connecting the imagery with music and backstory is helpful there.  It’s a collection of things that come from the same world but don’t follow any linear narrative, and might not be from the same timeline. There’s a lot of room there for someone to slip their own story in.

..but, on a more practical side, Psyche Corp. is technically a band/music project, insofar as bookings are handled. I’m not sure that this necessarily matters for artistic vision purposes, except that the division of resources should probably go predominantly toward making music-type art for the Psyche Corp. ‘story’, since that is the business end of how Psyche Corp. sustains itself. Visuals used for promotion are also practical, I suppose. But I don’t think the practical perspective is the one I should use for deciding the moral/aesthetic implications of mixing visuals from alt modeling and music.

That said, I have to conclude, after overthinking this far too long, that what I do in my alt modeling hobby is completely not the same as stapling a penis to a crucifix and setting it on fire as a publicity stunt. I’m glad I settled that.

*which are often the product of collaborations with incredibly talented fashion designers, makeup artists, and photographers, all of whom have as much role as myself–if not more–in crafting the final image.

Songs like shark attacks and lightning deaths

Disclaimer: This is a ramble, a speculation, and not backed up by hardcore analysis of anything, so take it with a grain of sea salt!

You may or may not be familiar with the phenomenon of sensational (but rare) causes of human death (such as by shark or lightning strike) receiving far more media attention per incident than more common causes of human death (like heart disease, car accident, and lung cancer). Moving away from death, you might also see tons of shares on social media when it comes to people attaining incredible amounts of fame and success in Hollywood seemingly overnight, which may potentially psychologically inflate how familiar/common those things are in your mind, making you decide your chances of making it in Hollywood are actually pretty good (I mean, come on, there are like, so many famous and rich people in the news and on movie posters in every theater right? It must not be that hard to become famous and rich).  And maybe you’ll also be more tempted to buy sharknado insurance, while we’re going with this idea train.  This is probably because commonly-encountered things are perceived as more likely to happen, except that on the Internet, it’s often the less-commonly encountered (but sensational) things that end up getting shared over and over, making them quite common indeed…in your newsfeed.

In the field of controversial opinions on controversial subjects, this may sometimes mean the Internet gets clogged with a very vocal minority, which doesn’t necessarily represent the views of the more moderate majority. I guess this isn’t exactly the same as outrageous/sensational but rare stories getting inflated over and over because they’re so strange/fascinating/a-guilty-pleasure; but it could fit into outrageous/sensational, and it could fit into rare/minority. It’s just that they’re probably not shared by the moderate majority, but because they get shared so assiduously by the people on more extreme sides of the spectrum, with relative quiet from the moderate majority, one might start to think that these more extreme opinions are the majority consensus–if one spends too much time on the Internet and not enough time interacting with the general public offline.  (I really don’t intend to pick out any one issue, but am purposely aiming for general and abstract here. Also it’s entirely possible that the vocal minority is the one “in the right” and the moderate majority is actually the less ethical/fair/good party with respect to the particular issue at hand.)

Anyway, I was thinking about these things as I thought about all the dysfunctional relationships and serious mental health/substance abuse themes that seem to be the subject of a lot of popular songs (thinking about American songs because I’m less familiar with songs that have non-English lyrics). Now, although the prevalence of borderline personality disorder in America is something like 1.4% according to the National Institute of Mental Health, I feel like far more than 1.4% of popular love songs depict relationship dynamics that are reminiscent of the unhealthiness of borderline personality disorder-affected relationships. BPD is a disorder often described as involving emotions felt at a greater intensity than experienced by the ‘normal’ person, and additionally, where the emotions are so strong and out of control that it interferes negatively with interpersonal relations. One could imagine that writing a love song narrated by a “character” with this disorder might lead to a more intense and perhaps sensational work of art.  Intense and sensational and very unlike the reality we commonly encounter. In other words, you end up writing a shark attack / lightning casualty song, and it may have appeal to the general public for similar reasons.  I’m not saying this is bad, but just speculating as to why such songs become so popular.  Let me be clear: I want to emphasize that if you suffer from that disorder and/or simply have strong feelings about love, writing a song is a wonderful way to express yourself, and I think it’s a brave thing for anyone to be truly genuine about how they feel.  I respect that a lot. I don’t at all intend to imply that a work of art that depicts an unusual experience is ‘bad’ or less good than depicting a normal experience.  Art isn’t about trying to be normal (unless that’s the intent of the artist, I suppose), after all.

There are also plenty of songs that depict everyday, common experiences, which also become popular. But I suspect they become popular for a different reason. For instance, a song describing a healthy, happy love story arc might become popular because people feel good listening to it.  It brightens their day, and they like that.  Sharknados do not brighten your day. We share happy songs with our friends who are feeling down and need a pick-me-up, or with lovers to bond, but sharknados are usually not shared as a pick-me-up for someone who’s feeling down.  However, I am going to share a sharknado with someone right now, to bond, now that I think of it.

I guess this leads me to speculate about what sort of sharknado song I should write about next, being that I’ve already written about post-apocalyptic child soldier robot romance, buildings that go insane, wars between Wonderland and Oz, mass population-level mind control via neural implant viruses, and kissing on the moon.  But I’ll have to do that another day, because it’s time to sleep.

Reports from Wonderland / Addam Bombb’s Jabberwhompy Remix of Psyche Corp’s Wonderland

The Guns of Wonderland…

“Mr Spider? Yeah, this is Wolff. You got the munitions order?

Whoa buddy, take it easy, what’s not making sense? You know why we’re doing this, you’ve been in on it the whole time.

Right, it’s not standard powder, but I told you – that shit doesn’t burn in Wonderland. Look, forget what you know about multiverse theory, the same physics don’t apply universally to alternate reality-streams. That’s why shit’s all in color on the other side of the rainbow, why everything’s ass backward behind the mirror.

Point is, neither Oz nor Wonderland have ever had guns before, nobody ever tripped over the right compound of bat shit and brimstone to make the sparkly boom-boom. Can you really imagine these dark age dipshits going to war without a technology shove? Bunch of fucking tweedle-dumbasses, I don’t want to be in the room while they work out the Kalashnikovs.

No, look, it’s simple. C’mon – we’ve got total narcissists with weak, corrupted administrations on both sides, and both of them dealing with internal rebellions. Both Her Travesty and the Wizzer *need* to invade a whole ‘nother territory, just to get up enough stones to beat their tax bases back into submission. It’s all eat or be eaten out there, and their Catch-22 is our our ticket to Emerald City if you get my meaning.

You’re still stuck on the fucking powder thing? Ok, look like i said – the regular old gunpowder we’re used to in this stream doesn’t burn in Wonderland or Oz. Otherwise they’d probably have bombed each other out of existence by now. We lucked out – happy accident so to speak, finding a combustible enough compound. Think of it this way, you can make it here safely, without anybody blowing a hand off like ‘backpack guy’ in Munchkinland there did when he stashed a lit bowl in his medkit.

No, I don’t know why we can still breathe the goddamned air in Oz! Fucking monkeys have wings there, it’s not outer space. You don’t need to worry about it, you ain’t going with me.

Oh yeah I’m going – I have to go. It’s my job to make the pitch to both sides, work the paranoia, make them both think they’re behind the other in the escalation. Yeah, and then supply the ordnance so they can behead each other more effectively while we count our emeralds. So it’s a dirty job, screw ’em.

Why are you so worried? Look, even if you got stopped with a shipment the stuff won’t work here, just say it’s a bunch of dummies you made up for a Hollywood thing. They’ll think it’s drugs, but they’ll be just as surprised as we were to discover that the powder compound is based on *aspirin*! That shit doesn’t burn on this side of the looking glass!”

buy the remix :…

Thanks to everyone who contributed to the Kickstarter! You rock!

(The above story was inspired by “The Guns of Avalon” by Roger Zelazny, a part of the fantastic Amber series – and of course the song and settings are inspired by Lewis Carroll and L. Frank Baum stories.)

Brilliant email from a fan (and professional mathematician) concerning the previous post.

It is now canon that 1% of the market share of Psyche Corporation (on certain planets) is more than 20 times the annual GDP of any country today. So the full market share on those planets is more than 2,000 times the annual GDP of any country today, giving us a lower bound of 30 quadrillion dollars in 2010 prices.

How big is Psyche Corporation relative to the Shadow Court-era economy? I’m going to go on a limb and say 1%. Relative to today’s world that’s $750 billion a year; relative to today’s America only that’s about $150 billion a year. That puts it in the same category as Wayne Industries in the DC universe.

So if we interpret “certain planets” to mean everything, it means GDP in the Shadow Court era is 3 quintillion dollars.

Now, the question is what the population is. I don’t think it’s ever been canonically established. Assuming 40 billion in the late Commonwealth era, that would put GDP per capita at $75,000,000. So we need to figure out growth rates.

The Commonwealth had approximately zero growth; GDP per capita was never canonically established either, but we can estimate it by comparison with other SF worlds, or by asking questions like “What do they have that we don’t?”: near-immortality, no diseases, fast and cheap planetwide transportation, very low political corruption, devices for recording and transmitting thoughts in dreams as cheap household items, environmental sustainability.

So say $1,000,000 in the Commonwealth. GDP per capita today is about $11,000 give or take, so it’s 90-fold growth; in reality it’s more because the world economy isn’t environmentally sustainable, and things like CO2 emissions are significant shocks to future GDP. The Neo-Luddite War is said to be about 400 years from now, and that’s 1.1% annual per capita growth not including effects of going zero-carbon. Long-term growth average in developed countries is about 1-1.5%, so 1.1% is in line.

If you project 1.1% into the post-Commonwealth era, that’s just less than another 400 years to multiply GDP per capita by a factor of 75. So that would mean the Shadow Court is about 400 years past the recovery from [the fall of the Commonwealth].


..Also, another justification for the million dollars: it means that the separation in tech level between the Commonwealth and first-world countries today (a factor of about 25) is similar to the separation in tech level between first-world countries today and where the countries that are first-world today were in the late 1700s or early 1800s.


Yep, he just determined the relative time distance of the Shadow Court from the fall of the Commonwealth based upon extrapolations of projected annual GDP growth in conjunction with my post (from a few hours ago) valuing the size of 1% Psyche Corp. market share compared to today’s national incomes. He then tied in where we stand with respect to the economy at large in comparison with Wayne Industries from the Batman universe. Mathematicians frickin’ rock.

A public statement from the Psyche Corporation

Strange rumblings have come from the Psyche Corporation executive board.  As some of you may know, the musical group known as “Psyche Corporation” is merely a small PR initiative sent into your present from a larger dream-manufacture corporation based in a future which does not yet exist.  However, we do, on occasion, receive memoranda from the Corporation proper.

The presence of Psyche Corporation music in your time period was originally calculated to have only mild psychological effects on future generations, but it turns out that we have created enough of a ripple into the future that it is starting to upset prediction models.  This risks fully 1% of the Corporation’s market share on certain planets several thousand years from now.  In case you don’t realize how much money that is, let us assure you, it is more than any nation of Earth can currently generate in 20 years.

Drastic changes are called for.

Item one:

The original PR front-woman for the Psyche Corporation early subliminal marketing initiative has been dismissed.  It is the unfortunate truth that her dedication to the Initiative was always questionable, on account of all the time she was spending within the dream-design hardware R&D department, a department in which she has never been qualified to work, despite her wild claims.  We will not discuss her name anymore. 

She has been replaced by Psyche Chimère, a senior marketing associate from within the greater Corporation.  Psyche Chimère’s background lies extensively in economic models, markets, and future-branding.

Psyche Chimère is not a medical scientist.

Item two:

We at the Corporation, and Psyche Chimère in particular, respectfully request that the rumors of a medical scientist being part of what is a plain and simple marketing and brand loyalty initiative, be stoppedWe appreciate the importance of medical scientists in your society, especially given that you have not yet undergone the nanite revolution.  However, medical scientists have no place in our marketing initiative.  We are in the business of music and marketshare.  We are not here to make insightful statements about diseases or biological mysteries present in your world.

Please treat all interviews and articles on Psyche Corporation referring to any scientist members, neurology students, or molecular engineers as heresyIf you have written such an article, please accept our apologies on behalf of our former front-woman for causing such confusion in the first place.  The former front-woman and Psyche Chimère do bear some vague racial resemblances, and so it is understandable that rumors might surface about Ms. Chimère that rightfully belong to her predecessor. 


Item three:

The divisions of Psyche Corporation are shifting.  We are finding out that butterfly effects of one or two of our YouTube videos on the official channel ended up causing small civil wars and the election of an unqualified narwhal to political office, several hundred years into the future.  As such, select videos have become a controversial matter for our executive board in the future.  Therefore we have privatized them on our YouTube channel.  However, it turns out that merely watching the videos is perfectly fine.  Something about the videos being on our particular YouTube channel is the key factor causing these events.  So do not panic.  We are simply trying to avoid creating conditions known in the future to lead to a devastating intergalactic turf war over tree goats.




Wishlist for ‘new’ music gear

Preamp: Apogee Duet (the original, not version 2), hoping to find a nice second hand one of good quality (and hoping it does not cost $400).  However, some of the reviews seem to say it stops working after a couple years, and that new software updates have made it incompatible with new DAWs.  So I’m torn.  My second-hand MOTU Traveler has been doing me good since I got it five years ago, even though I still don’t really understand all the buttons (came without instructions, being second hand and all).

DAW: Logic 8, since supposedly the newer versions are not so compatible with the Apogee Duet..

Microphone pop filter – Will check out Rogue Music, they usually have stuff like that.  Or I can keep singing into a piece of cloth stretched over a bent coat hanger.

Vocal  mic – Audiotechnica AE5400 hopefully a decent second-hand one can be found somewhere.  Because on Amazon it’s ~ $379, and while that’s not horrible, I do not have much disposable income.    Got it on eBay.

In-Ear wearable monitor- I think I already have a thingy that might allow for monitoring via headphones connected to a little box, but something more wireless (and earbud-like) would be good.  I wonder if there’s some kind of cheap transmitter that can plug into the headphone jack and do that.

USB Remote control – To start and stop my tracks myself.  Got it.

In light of the questionable difference between ‘upgrading’ to Apogee from the Traveler, I’m not sure I necessarily need the rest of this stuff, though it would be nice.  Would also be nice to have a studio recording mic that is better than my AT4040, but the AT4040 is pretty good already, for what I can afford.    Logic 8 looks really nifty to play with, but I don’t know that I’d get it unless I had a nice preamp like the Duet to go with it that was compatible and all.  As I look around, it seems like what I already have is not too shabby, given that I’m not a millionaire and can’t afford thousand dollar microphones.