The Oracle of Apollo Snippets from the life of Apollo Lee

Ready for What’s Next

Tomorrow marks twenty years since I started this puppy. I’ve left this version neglected over the years. For a few years, I’ve been playing around with a redesign. So, instead of posting on what’s already here, I’ve been fiddling around with that redesign. I never quite get around to posting what I’ve written. I haven’t posted anything close to as much as I could have. The quantity and quality of things going on here has suffered.

I’ve been longing for this space again, though. I had a whole fiction in my head that I had nothing to offer. I thought I could only post things that were disposable or that couldn’t matter. I’ve had the urge to reboot everything and start over again.

I held myself to an impossible standard I don’t expect from anyone else I know. I forgot that writing doesn’t have anything to do with whether your social media game is on point or not. It’s not about any strategy to drive eyeballs to anything I’ve monetized or advocated.

I’ve been working under the timid, anxious assumption that I had to have interesting things to say. Writing is work, though. It requires risk, vulnerability, and consistent effort. A writing voice emerges from the void after doing that work, not as a prerequisite. Getting good at anything requires time being not that great at it.

If I’m longing for this sort of thing again, the only thing I can do is show up and try. It’s not about getting it right. It’s about fucking it up and trying again. When you look at your projects and dread working on them, it’s time to change things. It’s time to make a calendar and take small consistent steps forward, slowly.

I’m not going to make any promises. Here’s what I’m going to try in 2020:

  • Post something here once a week.
  • Post something I’d bookmark, or maybe not.
  • Just post.

I’m excited to embark on new projects and revitalize old ones. I’ll just try this for a while and see what happens when I work with intention.

Behringer Model D

I’ve had this deep desire lately to get my hands on a small, inexpensive synthesizer module. During my research, I encountered the Behringer Model D, a clone of the Moog Model D synthesizer. I played with the Behringer recently at a local music shop and had a lot of fun making weird new sounds.

I haven’t felt much like playing around the same way with a software instrument or plugin. Of course, if I remapped some things on one of my MIDI controllers, that would be much easier than it is now. I have this desire to make beginner-level sounds for a while, away from my computer. I’m really enjoying the sense of play that knobs and dials instills.

I’ve been sick most of this week, so I went down to the music shop this afternoon to see if they had this machine in stock. Since it was still on sale for the holidays, I took the plunge and toted the little Behringer home. It took a few seconds to plug it in and power it up. Then, four hours were gone.

I still have no idea what I’m doing when I mess around with this instrument. It’s incredibly fun, though. I’m looking forward to what I’ll be able to do when I know how to use it well.

Dr. Groove

I’ve been researching the new generation of music gear lately, specifically compact synthesizers, sequencers, samplers, and drum machines. Putting together a groove on a small drum machine feels more like play than serious work. What I need right now is play.

I’ve been thinking about ways to create a live set using newer modules like the Korg Volca series and similar instruments. I’m not necessarily looking to spend a metric ton of money to start. Getting started with inexpensive modules will enable me the capacity to swap out more feature-rich modules later. I’ve been sniffing around for some of these modules, either on sale or used.

Long ago, I had, for a very brief period of time, a Boss DR-202 Dr. Groove drum machine. What I enjoyed about this particular machine was how easy it was to play with. I can get a groove going, doodle around with a rhythm here, or an effect there, and end up with something I like pretty quickly.

This afternoon, I was spelunking in a local music shop when I looked in the locked glass case with used gear in it. There was Dr. Groove. I got a great deal on it and the shop threw in a power adapter. I took it home, plugged it into tinny little speaker I had lying around, and started to test it out.

I don’t know how many hours this afternoon and evening I played with this gizmo. I’m looking forward to downloading the manual to find how to get Dr. Groove to send MIDI clock data to other pieces of gear I have.

I can’t wait to see where this new road leads.

The Sweep of Time

I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about time and how days, which seem like they are in infinite supply, seem to creep by, but years, which are obviously fewer, speed by at an incomprehensible rate of speed. It’s astonishing how, when we’re focused on something (or even nothing in particular), the other things going on in the world don’t slow down. We’ve turned our head and now we’re in 2006. A second turn sees us in 2012. A third shows us the world of 2018.

It doesn’t seem to take very much lack of focus to lose huge, irretrievable swaths of time. It just requires you to take your eyes for a brief moment away from the things that really matter to you. Then, things—people, situations, physical items—can be swept along into the past. There is no time to wait and take a breath. We must decide and create specific actionable plans, if our desire is to have some influence on that sweep of time.

What do we do to make the most of our time, while it’s ours to do something with? How do we change our own momentum, our own trajectory, before we turn our heads a fourth and a fifth time and we find ourselves looking back from 2030? We sometimes defer doing things that make us happy and fulfilled in order to focus on things that make us fed and sheltered. How easy it is to allow routine to close around us and hurry us along without our direction.

Fifteen Years of Blogging

Fifteen years ago today, I started keeping a blog here. I haven’t maintained a steady stream of updates over the last decade and a half. I’m working on my plan for 2015. I’m not going to lay out any specifics, though. I’ve done that before and it’s really fucking boring to keep doing it over and over again without any follow through.

I wish I could lay out all the things I’ve learned in fifteen years of blogging off and on, but I don’t actually feel like I’m any better at it now than I was at the beginning of the year 2000. The only thing I’ve learned is that time flies by so fast that, if you don’t actively manage it, it gets away from you. You take your eyes off the calendar and lose your focus for a short period of time and there’s six months, a year, maybe even two.

What I’m hoping to do this year is rebuild this blog, craft a new focus for it, give it a new look and feel, and update it more frequently than bimonthly or semiannually. It’s not really that hard, but it’s super easy to get bored by something you’ve had for a long time. It’s always more exciting to go digging through the themes directories or a new blogging engine than it is to crack open MarsEdit and just do some damn writing.

I have an itch to create — to write words, compose music, flesh out ideas. As a result, I’ve ended up posting updates that didn’t matter at all, for long periods of time — updates about cycling (which I don’t do anymore) or going out to clubs (which I don’t do very much) or other silly things that don’t hold up to the scrutiny of the years. I should be writing about things I care about, things that make me excited to share with the world and add value to people’s lives or passions.

So, I hope this new year sees me post a bunch more things here — maybe music production and songwriting stuff, since that’s what keeps me glued to my Twitter stream and saving things to my bookmarks tool du jour. If nothing else, I’m doing a DJ mix a month for 2015 and I’m going to try really hard to remember to post them here.

I hope 2015 brings you good health, happiness, and success.

Compilations on eMusic

It’s eMusic download day. Deep deep deep house compilations and beautiful stratospheric ambient music. Giant compilations of deep tracks that number 27, or 35, or 50, or 75 for $5.99. Something about the possibility of finding a close-your-eyes-and-float-away song (or 25) that makes these completely irresistible to me.

I’m also supplementing my ambient collection with new albums by artists that I either heard on Edges on KBSU in Boise, Idaho or discovered by meandering through eMusic’s genre page and previewing things that caught my eye. Someday soon, I may congeal my project Ambient Improvisations into a long six-hour mix.

I’m picking out brand new grooves for my September mix, planned for tomorrow. It’ll be the tenth mix in the last year. Tonight, I’ll spend a chunk of time with Ableton and see if I can have something for show-and-tell tomorrow.

Making Excuses

For almost 15 years, I’ve had a blog here. Until today, it hadn’t been updated for almost two years. I have a list of entries I’m planning to write, dated, going back a long time. I’ve been designing a new experience for this site and deciding how many of the large number of utterly trivial posts in the last decade-and-a-half would make that transition.

It’s really easy to look at this site once in a while and get intimidated by the vast stretches of time that it’s gone neglected. I reached a decision today that I no longer care too much about the gaps between the sporadic updates in the last few years and now. I’ve been making excuses, looking for new themes, and procrastinating updating this place.

So, I’m going to try again. That’s all I can promise — to attempt a more consistent schedule than I’ve shown in the last four years. I guess I’m just tired of looking all these cobwebs.

Time to Build a Plan

I’ve been working my butt off lately and started taking an early morning class this week. Tonight, in addition to my homework (actual academic homework for the first time in a decade and a half), I’m going to spend some time working on music.

I play the piano and guitar every day — just to unwind, sing some songs, and whet my desire to write. I meander through chord progressions that might make great choruses and verses, but never quite get anything written down. I love devising with new harmonies, vocalizing through melodies, imagining what far horizons I could write about.

While I’m fixing up my long-lost productivity, I might as well take one of these nifty new little college-ruled composition books and fill it with phrases and fragments, daydreams and memories. It’s better to get moving and make forgettable things than it is to wait and make nothing.

Remembering Wona

With a sad heart and in eternal gratitude for his friendship, I dedicate last night’s mix to the memory of my friend, Mike Wona Warner, who lost his life on Sunday.

This humble set of house tracks starts with his own Ups and Downs, which I discovered yesterday on SoundCloud, and includes a few of his friends. I started mixing last night and just thought about all the conversations, laughter, and music we shared. I hope you all like it.

Apollo Lee – Remembering Wona

Strong Like Giselle

So, a couple of weeks ago, I put together a mix, inspired by Giselle and her third fight against cancer. She knows so many legendary artists, musicians, and DJs that I felt a little shy about sharing this.

This one’s 34 deep house tracks (the number of candles on her next birthday cake), includes a few friends. I hope you like it, whoever you are.

Apollo Lee – Strong Like Giselle

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