stop using my computer right now

A letter came from Epson yesterday. I use a desk top PC of Epson exclusively to work for my music because the CPU load and the size of data are huge. The letter told me to stop using my computer right now, or it would cause a fire. Yes. It is recall. I’ve using the computer with no trouble at all for six years. As I’ve written here before, our new song is about to be completed. The rest of work is to record chorus and to mix down. And now, they told me to disconnect the computer and send it to the factory. Why now? What’s this? A joke?

 

Episode From Surviving in Japan / Hidemi Woods

Audiobook : Japanese Dream by Hidemi Woods On Sale at online stores or apps. Apple, Audible, Google Play, Nook Audiobooks,  43 available distributors in total

Everything happens for a reason

Thankfully, my pain subsided. I couldn’t sleep soundly though, because I awoke every time my knee touched the bed when tossing. It still hurts when my knee brushes inside my jeans. Less pain gave me room to think about why my fall had happened. Everything happens for a reason, right? Before I fell, I was thinking about work of the day. Because of the fall and the consequent pain, I couldn’t work. That means, I deduce, I have been going forward my work too fast and I should hold it up. It took two years to record vocals alone and six years have passed altogether since I started to work on this song. How can I possibly work any more slowly? Which means there is a different reason? Only thing I came up with was to change the place where I put the bathroom scale that I fell from…

Episode From Surviving in Japan / Hidemi Woods

Audiobook : Japanese Dream by Hidemi Woods On Sale at online stores or apps. Apple, Audible, Google Play, Nook Audiobooks,  43 available distributors in total

born in that shabby van

I awoke exhausted. I felt all energy was drained out. My strain of the holiday season had snapped and I thought that was the reason. Finally I found a website where I could watch US TV shows in Japan for free and I watched ‘The O.C. Season 2’ online last night. As they have an expiration date for viewing, I watched three episodes at a stretch before going to sleep. Another possible reason for exhaustion is the intense hearing of English for many hours. My physical strength is not enough even for TV…

 The expiration date for free online viewing of ‘The O.C. Season 2’ is approaching and that led me to an OC marathon. I watched three episodes today too. Watching ‘The O.C.’ evokes my memories because I used to live in OC. My apartment was in Anaheim and I would often go to the mall in Newport Beach. A big difference between my life and the show is that I didn’t get there by one of those gorgeous cars. I always took the free shuttle van of the mall. The van was a completely ragged, worn-out vehicle which seemed to be a miracle to run so fast on Interstate 5. The windows, interior, the floor and the door all clattered and looked on the verge of falling apart. In a way, it was totally a thrill ride. But I should thank that van for what I owe. My new song for which I have been working now was born in that shabby van…

Episode From Surviving in Japan / Hidemi Woods

Audiobook : Japanese Dream by Hidemi Woods On Sale at online stores or apps. Apple, Audible, Google Play, Nook Audiobooks,  43 available distributors in total

soundproofing

dig

I recorded chorus parts for our new song. I do all the recording in my apartment, and as the soundproofing is not perfect, I need to be careful about the timing. It’s no-go when windy or rainy. Noisy kids or a car vendor around the building balk the recording. And I set a cutoff time for the nighttime because the wall to my next-door neighbor is too thin. I was going to finish recording the chorus in one day, but when I woke up, it was already four o’clock in the afternoon. I was absorbed in recording, but soon it reached my cutoff time. I couldn’t finish it. Still a long way to complete the song…

My chorus recording update -I was determined to finish it by the end of the day. But I accidentally stayed up late on the previous day and got up with lack of sleep. I got down to work hurriedly, even without washing my face, because of the cutoff time I have written about. Somehow, the recording didn’t go smoothly due to lack of sleep. I made a wrong configuration to the chorus tracks by mistake and had to record all over again. Then, soon came the cutoff time. I couldn’t finish it after all, yet again…

 

Episode From Surviving in Japan / Hidemi Woods

Audiobook : Japanese Dream by Hidemi Woods On Sale at online stores or apps. Apple, Audible, Google Play, Nook Audiobooks,  43 available distributors in total

struck by an idea

Next to the building I live in is a parking lot. One of the cars plays the car stereo explosively loud and disturbs my sleep from time to time. Last night, the car played it in a low hum all night and my sleep disrupted all the way. As soon as I got up this morning, I rushed out to the parking lot to locate the car. No car. The lot was silent. I took noise of traffic on the far road for the low car stereo. I may well have paranoia…

 

While having lunch today, I was struck by an idea of a new song. It doesn’t happen so often. I felt exhilarated, but sadly, that feeling got replaced right away by the fact I am a slow worker. It’s likely after ten years from now to get it materialized. Besides, I have been working on a song, which I wrote six years ago…

Episode From Surviving in Japan / Hidemi Woods

Audiobook : Japanese Dream by Hidemi Woods On Sale at online stores or apps. Apple, Audible, Google Play, Nook Audiobooks,  43 available distributors in total

I stay alive without giving up

These days, I’ve had nightmares about living in
a deserted, out-of-the-way place repeatedly. In
them, I was forced to join a dreary folk festival
in deep snow with a handful of local people, or
I was surrounded by uncivilized people whose
language I didn’t understand, or I lived in an
ancient, old-fashioned building. Those dreams
seem to represent my vague unease for
moving to my new place that is located in a
remote, mountainous, snowy region.
I’ve completed a song I’d been working on
for seven years, and I’m about to move out the
apartment I’ve lived for nine years. I’m moving
to a whole new town where I have no
acquaintances, and I’ll start promoting our
latest song and recording a new song. From
then onward, I don’t know how my life goes. I
believe it will be wonderful as long as I stay
alive without giving up. I will enjoy and cherish
every process to a new step, which hopefully
would be the better one…

Episode From Surviving in Japan / Hidemi Woods

Audiobook : Japanese Dream by Hidemi Woods On Sale at online stores or apps. Apple, Audible, Google Play, Nook Audiobooks,  43 available distributors in total

dead serious

Our new song ‘Sunrise’ has been completed
and sent out to a distributor. It’s finally
released and available worldwide, that I’d been
hoping for a long time.
The distributor put up the song on online
stores such as iTunes and Amazon MP3. I had
looked forward to seeing ‘Sunrise’ displayed
there.
When I was looking around them, something
caught my eye. They categorize songs
according to genres. ‘Sunrise’ is categorized in
six genres, like pop/general etc. One of them is
miscellaneous/comedy. They felt a sense of
comedy in ‘Sunrise’ when they categorized it.
It’s interesting because I wrote this song being
dead serious with a deep theme…

Episode From Surviving in Japan / Hidemi Woods

Audiobook : Japanese Dream by Hidemi Woods On Sale at online stores or apps. Apple, Audible, Google Play, Nook Audiobooks,  43 available distributors in total

It was so funny, ironic, stupid and joyful

Photo by Dmitry Demidov on Pexels.com

When I decided to go back to the mix down
from the mastering of our new song in order to
boost its overall volume, I prepared to take a
few more months to complete it.
Once I accepted the delay and released
myself from constraint called time, things
presented a new twist. I had compared the
volume of our song to other CDs with the
stereo components. Our song came from the
computer through the line-in of the stereo,
which meant I compared the line-in sound to
CDs. Before going back to the mix down, I
burned the song to a CD as a low-volume
version because except for the volume, the
mastering went perfectly.
It happened when I checked the sound of
the CD. The volume was as high as other CDs!
It had been indeed boosted already during the
mastering. I just compared it in a wrong way
through the line-in. I had been struggling with
the volume for a couple of months based on
my false judgement.
When I heard our song at the right volume, I
found out how silly I was and laughed out loud.
At the same time, I burst into tears for
indescribable joy. The only remaining problem
to complete this song was the volume. Now
that the volume was boosted, the song’s
completion was within my grasp.
Looking up at the ceiling of my room, I was
loudly laughing, crying, then laughing, and
again crying, with tears falling down. It was so
funny, ironic, stupid and joyful…

Episode From Surviving in Japan / Hidemi Woods

Audiobook : Japanese Dream by Hidemi Woods On Sale at online stores or apps. Apple, Audible, Google Play, Nook Audiobooks,  43 available distributors in total

Time is relative like happiness

Photo by David Bartus on Pexels.com

I found that the problem I’ve been tackling,
which is to boost the volume of our new song,
could be solved by redoing the mixdown. But
it’ll take a few more months to complete.
Also, I feel reluctant to tell my partner that I
need more time to complete the song. I
thought about an extreme.
What if I were the only human on this
planet? If there were no one else besides me, I
would redo by taking as much time as I want
until I reach my satisfaction. Time is relative
like happiness and bears meaning simply in
relation to others. Come to think of it, our new
song is written just about it. While I’ve been
working on it, I ignored what I had written
myself. So, I decided to go back to the
mixdown. Considering the song’s theme, it was
destined to take time…

Episode From Surviving in Japan / Hidemi Woods

My Robot Band hr657

Photo by Kindel Media on Pexels.com

Year of 1984 was one of the bitterest years of my life and also a major turning point. After I was able to join the band of a locally acclaimed young man, the band had been striving to become professional in Osaka, which is the biggest city in the western Japan. While I had unwavering confidence in the songs we wrote, we constantly had difficulty in finding desirable members. Except for him and me, other members had come and gone, and we couldn’t materialize our ideal sound with any of them. Even a gig was almost impossible with just two of us being permanent members.

My partner and I couldn’t waste any more time searching for apt band members who shared similar passion as ours and played exactly how we wanted. As the solution, we came up with the idea to use a rhythm machine and a sequencer in place of human members. Those gadgets were the cutting edge of music instruments at the time and had just appeared on the market. We thought they would be perfect band members who realized our sound as we requested because we were the ones that put data into them. We weren’t sure about the passion side of machines, but at least they would commit and wouldn’t quit like humans did. Because personal computers were still in the floppy disk era and not strong enough for music, we connected a rhythm machine, a sequencer and synthesizers with cables to play a gig. Added to the machines, I was on the keyboard and vocals, and my partner was on the guitar and vocals. There formed my robot band.

Although it had seemed perfect, we faced quite a few obstacles to play in the band with machines. Let alone it cost heftily and carrying them around by two of us without a car was a daunting physical challenge each time, it took enormous time to enter the whole data of our songs into them. As thumb drives or hard disk drives were yet to come, we needed to record special signals sounding like ‘beeeeep, bip, beep, bip, beep’ into a cassette tape to save the data. The data consumed one cassette tape per song, not at one go although the signals were long. I once inadvertently tripped on one of the cables which erased the whole data that I had spent all night inputting. The worse troubles awaited us at the gig. The innumerable necessary cables and cords made setting and preparation for my band far more complicated and time-consuming than other bands. One single wrong connection would break synchronization. On one occasion, the machines didn’t start and we couldn’t play but stood still on stage because one of the stage staff pulled out one cable by mistake. On another occasion, one of the machines suddenly uttered “Pi!” and went silent in the middle of playing. Furthermore, I needed to put a specific setting for each song on the several keyboards during every interval between our songs. Because the stage usually went dark between songs, it wasn’t easy to see the correct buttons and switches on my keyboards. A stage staff person once came up on the stage to help me with the setting by lighting over my keyboards with his lighter. The venue strictly banned any use of fire and he was harshly reprimanded for that afterwards because of me. Through those unpredictable chilling experiences, I basically feared every time if songs would start without hitches instead of enjoying gigs whenever I was on stage.

Still, harder trials existed. Other bands mostly consisted of college students who played as a hobby not for a career. Their attitude toward music was incredibly easygoing and they were just having fun on stage. Their songs were frivolous likewise. Yet, they were able to draw a large audience since they had friends on the campus so that their gig was usually a big hit with a livened up crowd. On the other hand, my band was just two people standing surrounded by numerous instruments and machines, and singing serious lyrical songs. Because we didn’t have friends to gather, the audience were strangers who had no interest in our playing and just waited for our gig to end.

That was also the case when we took part in a live contest. To make matters worse, a contest was sometimes fixed where the winner had already been decided. As I didn’t know that the contest was only held to give that winner the credential before the label signed a contract with the prearranged winner, I was appalled when we lost to a really bad but pretty singer.

I had gotten to loathe live performance by those experiences. Not just loathe it, but I had gotten to break out in a cold sweat on gigs. Since then, we have performed live less and less and have done none these days. I guess that shows how much I learned the hard way. To this day, the nightmares I have most are that I am playing on stage. However, my robot band has been transformed since it got off stage. The machines turned into a personal computer with software who has been my important partner to create my music. Thanks to it, I have been able to embody exactly what sounded in my head. A long period of time later, my robot band eventually made my dream come true.