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Thursday
Nov282013

THANKS

To everyone who has entered in to the conversation about faith and art, to everyone who pushed back against the urge to judge someone else, To everyone who walked Inland this year, To everyone who made a choice to give lavishly and help friends in Africa and The Philippines, To everyone who came and sang along with us in bars and theaters and fairs and churches, To everyone who encouraged me to walk with confidence down the creative path I walked, To everyone who has looked harder at the world and thus entered it with compassion and grace, To everyone who helped Jars of Clay and The Hawk In Paris rise above the noise, To everyone who steps into the light and exposed their human story, that others may be free from shame and guilt, To everyone who made the world a better place whether by thought, word, or deed....

 

THANKS! - Dan

 

 

Tuesday
Nov052013

THE HAWK IN PARIS (a primer)

If you have been following me on Twitter(@scribblepotemus) or Facebook (Dan Haseltine Music), you have heard about The Hawk In Paris.  It is a collaboration between Matt Bronleewe, Jeremy Bose and myself. 

Many people are curious to know why such a project has to exist given the creative outlet that Jars of Clay has been over the past 19 years.  So I thought I would take a moment to give some context for this project, how it evolved, what it is, and what we hope to accomplish through it.

 

The Beginning:

Matt Bronleewe and I met in college, and it was only a short time after meeting that we began working together on studio projects.  In fact, Matt was very influential in the formation of Jars of Clay, as his thumb print is all over almost all of the songs written for the self-titled Jars of Clay debut record. 

When Jars of Clay left college to pursue a career in music, Matt stayed behind and finished walking down the college path, and although we continued to be friends, we did not reconnect until we joined forces on the first Plumb record.

Once that record was completed, our creative paths divided once again, and we did not work together again until, on a whim, Matt called me to see if I wanted to write and see what happened.  I have long been a fan of Matt’s work as a producer and writer, and jumped at the chance to reconnect.

So we gathered one afternoon in his studio and wrote the skeleton of a song called, “Curse the Love Songs.”  Our intention was to write without any parameters or genre guardrails.  It was a grand experiment, and it almost worked. 

After writing the song, we lived with it for a few weeks.  I have a distinct memory of walking around the streets of Seattle with the song playing over and over on my iPod.  It was just voice and piano at the time. 

Matt had been collaborating with Jeremy Bose for some time, and we both wondered what he could bring to the song.  So we sent him the track and asked him to develop the idea further.  The result was a cinematic dreamscape that set the stage for the melancholy tone of, The Hawk In Paris.

Jeremy Bose was also a college friend whom I had worked with on the original versions of Like a Child, and Lovesong for a Saviour on the FRAIL demo.  Jeremy actually played flute and recorder on those songs.  So it was equally wonderful to reconnect with him.

I had heard he had become a music genius, a mad scientist of sorts, and was pleased to find that this was true.  So the three of us formed and began writing more and finding some footing as we stretched ourselves to become The Hawk In Paris.

 

So, what IS the Hawk In Paris?...

If you want a musical or genre classification, we are calling it, “dark pop music.”  And it is the result of trust, passion, and creative innovation.

Matt and Jeremy and I have a chemistry that yields electronically grounded, intelligently crafted pop music with a melancholy thread woven through it.  It is just what happens when we gather together. 

Our collective musical histories that span folk, electronic, classical and arena rock from the 80’s mix together and the sound it makes is The Hawk In Paris.

Our motivations were simple.  We just wanted to work together and see if we could enjoy the freedom of working on music free from any of our normal “day job” limitations.  We had an empty canvas, or an empty music hall. 

When I listen to the songs, I smile because they represent a part of me that has largely been untapped.  The songs come from a deeper place, and a younger place then most of what I write.  I love pop music.  I love it as an exhale.  The records of my youth, Abba, Depeche Mode, Duran Duran…etc, all had a chance to have influence on these songs, and I like hearing their echoes in the music.

I have always stood by my single criteria in songwriting, which is to never lie.  I write songs about everything, sex, love, broken hearts, dancing…etc, and write what I know.  It serves me well in the writing of The Hawk In Paris.

The music is free of mission.  It is free from listener prejudices that have stilted quite a bit of my music over my career.  It is a chance to begin something new and something inspiring as I reach 20 years in the music world.

 

What do we hope to accomplish?

Well, the first thing we hope to accomplish is to release the album into the world.  We have been working on this project for nearly 2 years.  The songs have evolved and have finally found their place on the full-length record, “FREAKS.”

In the last 2 years, I have made two records that I am exceptionally proud of.  I have two records that speak well of my creative vision, and execution.  One of those records is, INLAND.  The other, “FREAKS.”

We don’t have any particular message that we want to get across to listeners.  We want them to exhale and enjoy the music.  We want them to become wrapped up in the production and cinematic quality of the sound.  We want them to be able to have pop music that isn’t lowest common denominator sludge. 

We are not naïve to the fact that music doesn’t really sell anymore.  It is telling that 37% of all records that release on iTunes sell only 1 copy.  Do we still want to sell records?  Absolutely.  We do because we believe in the listening experience. We believe that artwork and sound and poetry can change the way we see the world.

Since we no longer have record companies and big budgets for marketing, we rely almost entirely on word of mouth.

We even started a Pledge Music Campaign to give fans some tools to tell their friends about the project, and make bigger investments into the art of The Hawk In Paris.  We hope it works.  As I write this, we are holding at 74%, and we only have about a week to complete our funding goal.  If we don’t make the goal, things get much more difficult. 

We are a self-funded, self-made, self-promoted, marketed, designed, delivered business.  There are no safety nets.  Only  us.  Only you.

Other goals:  We would love to hear this music accompanying film, helping to draw emotion into a scene in a movie trailer or a powerful scene in a television show.  We want to hear this music in the clubs, and convertables in the summertime.  We want this music to find it's way into your world and draw a bit of nostalgia and life back into your environment.

So… I hope this helps give context into what we are doing.   If you want to get involved, it would mean a great deal to us.

Here is how:

www.pledgemusic.com/projects/thehawkinparis  or visit: www.thehawkinparis.com

Thanks -Dan

Tuesday
Aug272013

INLAND...

  “You, you were a sailor who burned your ship and walked on…”  

Every act of leaving is also an act of entering.  We don’t have the luxury of finding ourselves nowhere, ever.  We shake the dust from our feet and take a step.  It isn’t that we forget the step before, or that, for the sake of the lyric, forget the ocean where we thrived until we languished in familiarity and comfort, as if it were the womb itself.  We take it with us.  We walk with it far enough until we reach the point where it serves best to bury it in the ground where it becomes roots in the soil.

 It would be appropriate to conclude that our comfort is a burden we carry.  After all, can a person dismiss their fears in such a way that comfort is no longer a paramount desire?  And what is more comfortable than the place where the paths have been chosen and worn down and deepened by our own feet?  This place where the ocean speaks a common language and the birds sing familiar songs is home, until it isn’t.

In the public square, anyone who would speak of comfort as a disease, some form of slow narcolepsy, would be laughed at until they were stoned for heresy.

We do like our patterns, and our routines, which are also good until they aren’t.  Until we have the privilege of being tossed ashore with nothing but our life experiences, and told to start walking away from what we know, Inland. 

Inland as a metaphorical destination is the place we don’t know anything about.  It might even be a disservice to call “Inland,” a destination at all.  It is, more accurately described, a direction. 

A new job, a new school, a new love, a new way of speaking to an old love, a new place, a new anxiousness, butterflies in the stomach, a new path.

What does it represent for you?  

Tuesday
Aug272013

WELCOME BACK

Hello!  Welcome back.  Now that INLAND is officially out, I would like to jump back into the tall weeds with everyone.  I will try to post a bit more regularly to this site, but as with any "new years resolution' type declarations... we will just have to see.  

 

Keep coming back, and we will dig deeper into the world as I see it.  All the Best -Dan

Monday
Jan072013

Artistic Evolution

I have stretched the limits on space between blog posts.  But alas, it is a new year.  That seems reason enough to write something.  I took my Christmas lights off of my house yesterday.  I took part in a Christmas tree burning tradition last night, and I believe I may have seen the last of the stray plush reindeer antlers on the entrance ramp to Interstate 65 as I drove past this morning.  Christmas is over.

The work of making something more of this year than was accomplished in the last has taken center stage.  The inventory of things done and left undone has been considered and now it is time to formulate the plan for achieving our various successes.  

The New Year brings promise of reinvention.  We do not have to be the same people we were mere weeks ago.  We do not have to fall prey to the same trappings that diminished our self worth, or motivation.  We can “rebrand” so to speak. 

We can take the proverbial razor to the bumper stickers that told the world what we cared about last year.  We can burn the old concert t-shirts that represented our tastes before we had matured to the present. 

We can laugh in the moments when our friends would have expected us to frown.  We can cry instead of seeking safety behind our stoicism.   We can seek understanding in the situations we might most often have dug our heels in and wasted valuable resources trying to honorably defend ourselves. 

In other words, we can change.  

The topic of change has been the centerpiece for the on-going conversation in my creative circles.  Artistic expression is, after all, a living process.  It is real time evolution.   “Evolution,” is the important word to consider.

I recently sat down with a collection of well-crafted songs that had made it through the creative crucible that is the recording process.  These songs had pieces of my heart and soul woven into them.  They had fragments of a life story sprinkled throughout.  They had the sweat and the tears and the pains of hard labor giving them weight and worth.  These were the songs that would make up the newest Jars of Clay record. 

These songs matter to me.  But they are part of a connected and historic idea that has spanned nearly twenty years.  They are songs that are poured from a cistern that has been known to hold a certain kind of drink. 

Whether the brand is as it should be, a representation of what we truly are, or whether it is a misconception born out of the need to easily label something in order to embrace or dismiss it, is of little relevance. 

The fact remains, Jars of Clay has been called a “Christian” band for a long time.  It has been truer in some years than others to what people believe that label actually is.  We have chosen the title and despised it in equal measure.

I honestly have never encountered a more vague and misinterpreted label so subjective in its usage to be deemed utterly useless in the public forum as the label, “Christian.”

But I digress..   What is real, is my desire for artistic change.  That is, to put it another way, “artistic evolution.”   It is different from cutting off the past completely and disregarding heritage and tradition for the sake of something new and untainted by familiarity. 

That is not evolution.  Evolution implies a deep connectedness to the past.  It says, that I have learned something from all that I have been through and experienced.  It gives value to the under-formed ideas of young spirituality and zealous faith.  And it gives credence to the nubile artistic expressions that often solidify an artist’s identity to soon in their careers.  Evolution takes that past and draws from it in order to inform the future.   Some artists will cringe at what they created early in their artistic lives.  Yet every song, every wardrobe choice was part of a deeply satisfying conversation they were having.  They may not believe what they once believed and wrote about, and they may not use the same words, or care for the same ideas, but they were no less valid in building a life of honest discourse.  I don’t cringe.  I don’t think the same, or write the same, or care for the same things I did twenty years ago.  (And we can all be thankful for that. )

It remains to be seen whether a band like Jars can carry our history with us into the places we long to go.  It remains to be seen whether we can join the bands at Coachella or Bonnaroo or have our music performed along side of Mumford & Sons and The Decemberists. 

My hopes are strong that it is valuable to listen to artists that have learned something over their years.  Maybe as valuable as listening to young artists that are theorizing about what the life they have yet to have lived will bring.  It is all in the balance. 

When we finally complete the work of these songs, and send them out into the world, we hope people will not find a new line drawn in the sand.  We hope people will find a group of artists willing to sit and have the conversation about what we have done and what we have left undone. 

We have learned a few things.  Lesson one,  do not hide.