— Hide menu
I’ve just released my new film called, Occult Las Vegas Revealed. It can be seen exclusively on Youtube. I’ve found that most people are somewhat taken aback by the title. It’s amazing how people react to the word “occult”. More than one person has accused me of having some kind of Satanic/Luciferian agenda. Nothing could be further from the truth. I promote no religion because I’m suspicious of all religions. As for the word “occult”, people should consult the dictionary. The word simply means “hidden”.
My goal in making the film was to show Las Vegas in an entirely new light. I’ve lived in Las Vegas since 1999, and right from the very beginning, I could see that there was more going on here than tits and glitz. Vegas is typically promoted in the most superficial of ways. The best example being the now famous (or infamous) slogan, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”. Las Vegas certainly isn’t Disneyland or Salt Lake City. There’s a lot of Babylon going on here to be sure. I do understand why tits and glitz are pushed. Las Vegas is all about making as much money as possible, and the best way to make money is to appeal to the lowest common denominator. But Vegas offers so much more than flesh and fantasy. Once people view my film, they’ll understand that. And hopefully, they’ll never view Las Vegas in the same way again.
Most musicians I know hate DJs. DJs have been around for years, but in recent years, they’ve been elevated above and beyond musicians. Here in Vegas, billboards routinely feature DJs, not musicians. DJs certainly get far more press coverage than musicians. Many of them are quite well paid too. It’s almost as if playing an instrument has gone out of style. For someone who has invested a lot of time into becoming a player, it’s a sorry situation indeed. I’ve watched the DJ revolution very closely for many years. And while I do understand the angst felt by my fellow players, I personally don’t feel it. Quite the opposite actually. The DJ is the best thing to ever happen to me. Why? Because the DJ validated my approach to music. There was a time when one had to have a band in order to be in the music game. No more. Now, one individual can provide a satisfying musical experience. Thanks to the DJ revolution, the band has become a thing of the past. Which is perfectly fine with me since I don’t want to be in a band anyway. So clearly, DJs have made my solo career possible, and for that, I’m very grateful. The DJ made me relevant. And fashionable too.
I play an original style of music which I call Technodelic Jazz. It’s a mix of techno/funk grooves, ambient synthesizers, jazz themes and improvisation. It’s danceable and heavy at the same time; music for the body and the mind; the kind of music I personally want to hear. I believe that I’ve succeeded. Whether anyone else wants to hear this music remains to be seen. Wish me luck.
The last few weeks have been amazing for me. My first musical release has managed to get some national attention. It’s nice to be recognized. I’m basically a one man band, doing all my art completely by myself. Whether it’s writing, composing, photography or filmmaking, it’s always the same thing. I work in isolation, and it’s a mixed blessing. The good part is that I always get the job done. Humans tend to be an unreliable species, particularly here in Vegas where everyone is a flake and you can’t trust your mama. Living in Vegas forced me to become the one man band I am today. I’m obsessed with finishing projects in an efficient and timely fashion, an obsession that most people don’t share.
But there’s a big problem with being a one man band. There’s no one with which to share my ideas. As a result, I don’t get the feedback that might help me to produce a better product. And of course, there’s the very real possibility that because I’m playing every role and every instrument, I’m spreading myself too thin. Is it better to be a jack of all trades or a master of at least one? That’s a very good question, one that I pose to myself constantly. Which means, as with most things, I don’t have any answers. I’ll close on that note. Please follow the link to read the reviews.
Happy New Year! And let’s hope it’s a better one than last year. And forget all about the Mayan calendar, okay? They probably just ran out of tablets.
My year started off with a big bang because my first musical project was officially released on the 12th of this month. It’s called Cryptic Roots. It’s a nine song collection of all kinds of music. I refer to it as a collection because it’s not a physical CD, but rather a collection of music specifically designed for downloading. Stylistically, it’s literally all over the place. There’s a couple of waltzes, Latin Jazz, Euro-Pop Jazz, New Age, Techno/Industrial and what I believe to be the worlds first Goth/Funk song. A mad mix to be sure; I admit it. My goal was to showcase my songwriting. Also, I wanted to make sure that there was something for everybody. Surely, someone, somewhere will find something that works. At least I hope so.
Another reason I presented such a varied mix was because of the reemergence of the single. Now, particularly with the influence of iTunes, music lovers are downloading single songs more than complete CDs. And I’m one of them. I can’t remember the last time I bought a CD, but I’ve downloaded quite a few tunes in the last couple of years. Check out your own music collection. How many CDs do you own where you like every song? Probably very few. Plus, with the world economy being what it is, I’d rather give potential fans the option of buying one or two songs rather than forcing them to buy the entire collection.
Cryptic Roots is available at CD Baby, iTunes, Amazon and a host of other online retailers. It’s also available directly from my personal music store. Just click on the link.
It’s Halloween. And with my dark, morbid mentality, I’m in a reflective mood. The last few months have been filled with a few lows but many more highs. The biggest low was the closing of my store MovieBrat. I opened the store in 2006 and it was a bold, perhaps even somewhat foolish undertaking. MovieBrat sold movies, books and posters. My goal was to create a store that was basically a headshop without the drug paraphernalia. A store that celebrated my love of films, books and images. A store where customers not only came to shop, but to exchange ideas about art. I wanted to create a kind of salon that generated an income. It was a unique concept and there was nothing else like it in Las Vegas. The first couple of years I actually did pretty well. I got a lot of good local press coverage and the public responded in a positive way. But the Great Crash of 2008 changed the Vegas landscape in a big, frightening way, killing major chain stores as well as mom and pop. Though I managed to survive the end of my lease, there was little point in renewing. Las Vegas, once the great boom town, had officially gone bust. Even now, I doubt that the city will ever return to its past giddy glory days. But life goes on.
Enter Raven Diablo.
My first novel, Raven Diablo: Agent of Kali, was published in December of 2010 and it remains one of the greatest triumphs of my life. It’s available on Amazon in both traditional trade paperback as well as Kindle. I began writing it in 2008 as I watched the national and local economies implode. In retrospect, I can honestly say that it was Raven who enabled me to maintain my sanity. As I watched both the world and my beloved business sink, the writing of my novel kept me afloat. The finished product was greeted with genuine enthusiasm by readers and that helped as well. I sold the novel in my store where I was able to gauge the impact up close and personal. Virtually everyone loved Raven, my dark, avenging superbitch with the heart of gold and a thirst for blood. There’s no way to describe the joy I felt whenever I sold a copy. And when customers asked for autographs as they almost always did, I was filled with pride. The biggest compliment was when a customer showed me her latest tattoo. On her forearm was my creation, Raven Diablo. I was stunned and remain so to this day.
Still, the dream of Raven breaking into the major marketplace eludes me. It‘s been said that in order to achieve the legendary big break, the only person you need to impress is the right person. Apparently, I’ve yet to meet that person. At least the person with JUICE enough to turn Raven into a comic book or game or action film franchise. Though I did meet my hero, Clive Barker, and that was a truly magical experience. I’d first met him years ago at a convention when I was still in the process of writing the novel. He was genuinely encouraging to me, telling me again and again that my efforts were “awesome”. I met him again a week ago at another signing. I went for the sole purpose of presenting him with a finished copy of the very novel he had encouraged me to complete. And when I showed him his name listed in the acknowledgements, he freaked out and gave me the warmest hug. A magical moment indeed.
Now, as I approach the first year anniversary of Raven’s publishing, my insatiable thirst for her entrance into the mainstream remains. I have a lot of new artwork and I’ve rebuilt her website. But sadly, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ll probably never achieve that legendary, elusive big break for the simple reason that Raven is just not a mainstream work. It’s strange. The novel certainly isn’t like an abstract painting or atonal free jazz. There’s nothing impenetrable about it. The novel is about a female superhero and crime fighter. She’s a colorful character and there’s plenty of action. I set out to create an accessible, commercial property and I thought I succeeded. But now, it’s suddenly and painfully clear to me that I’ll probably never reach the wide audience that I seek. And it’s all because of what Raven represents. Like the title of the novel clearly states, Raven Diablo is an agent of Kali. She represents Kali consciousness. And that’s the problem.
One of the first people to buy and read the novel was a woman who often shopped at my store. She was intelligent, well read and contemplative. When she finished the novel, she told me that she really enjoyed it. She also told me that as far as any kind of mass success, I was probably in for an uphill battle. She was correct in her understanding that the character of Raven Diablo stands in violent opposition to the patriarchal system that dominates the world. The Man runs the system, and he also obviously runs the marketplace. There’s no place for Kali consciousness in HIS modern world. The Man perpetuates the injustice that runs rampant in the world today, the same injustice that has stained human history with blood since the beginning of time. Kali destroys injustice. So clearly, Kali consciousness is something that must be suppressed and will be suppressed. Little wonder that most woman, particularly in the western world, know absolutely nothing about Kali and what she represents. It’s no accident. Like the song says, this is a MAN’S world. We tend to only know what HE wants us to know.
Now, having realized that I’ve inadvertently created a product doomed to be marginalized by the powers that be, I’ve decided to move on. There’s nothing else I can do. Raven Diablo exists. I created her and presented her to the world in book form. She’s available. But I’ll cease to actively promote her. Raven is a leaf that I now cast to the wind. As I wrote the novel, I often felt the presence of some spirit working with me. For that reason, I consider Raven Diablo to be a spiritual character. Like most spiritual things, the people who are meant to discover her will discover her.
So I move forward, but now in the realm of music. I’ve recently completed recording my very first recording project, a full length collection of original music. I’m a singer/composer and I play the keyboard. I would describe my personal musical style as Industrial Jazz… modern dance music for the brain as well as the butt. I’d like to think that my music is both accessible and commercial. Whether my music finds more success than Raven Diablo remains to be seen.
Stay tuned for updates.