I had a great weekend catching up with all the people I didn’t see when I was in Europe – and a person or two I haven’t seen in months. Also, some great conversations. My sister told me about a theory that’s got me off on yet another experiment.

The theory is this: if you do something every day for 21 days, it becomes a habit. So if, for instance, you were to exercise consistently once a day for that length of time, you’d end up treating it as something natural, rather than a chore. I’ve seen some evidence of this – it takes me about 50 minutes to walk to work, which felt like an eternity for the first couple of weeks, but now seems to pass in the blink of an eye.

But what my sister was suggesting doesn’t relate to exercise – it relates to mood. Basically, the idea is to try and form the habit of never complaining about anything.

When she explained the idea to me, it got me thinking about the way that I talk. As a Canadian, I feel most comfortable when I’m complaining to someone about something… the weather; my job; the new 21-day no-complaints project I’m trying out. It seems to put other people at their ease, and it gives you things to talk about.

It’s pretty bad for your psychology, though. When I see everything as an opportunity for complaint, I also find myself believing what I say. All the stuff I’m talking shit about becomes a burden, instead of a boon. So I’m trying it: no complaints for 21 days. But it has to be 21 days straight – if I complain once on day 19, it’s back to square one.

I don’t know if I’ll manage to stay focused enough to form a good habit. Still, it’s given me a new perspective on life, and it keeps reminding me how good things actually are. Any time I’m tempted to reach for a negative comment, I pause and think about what I’m about to say. And I always realize that I’m wrong: there’s nothing to complain about.

So there you have it: no music, but a new path into the future. And the bassist of Das Piumas was here all weekend. We wrote two songs (because it’s that easy), so I’m going to try and work on them and get a version of at least one of them up at some point. Exciting stuff. There’s life in this thing yet…

Wow – I read over the post I put up last night, and then, just out of interest, looked at the one before it. And what do you know? They’re exactly the same.

A little disturbing, that. The previous post – which was written long before – uses the phrase “I’ve been away.” It talks about the fact that I think about this project every day. It announces that I’m going to try to work on it more often. All of those things are in the newer post. They’re the same.

Now lots happened between one and the next – I went to Europe for two weeks, for one thing. I’ve had more time at my job. I’ve been alive and experiencing things. And yet when I finally came back to comment on it all, I was at the same place.

I guess as far as FiveFourEleven’s concerned I’ve been in a mental holding pattern, circling an airport and waiting for a landing spot to open up. Obviously in that metaphor I crashed weeks ago after running out of fuel, but that’s how things go.

Well, I hope this is the beginning of the end of that holding pattern. I want to make this site a living thing again. I want to try my damnedest to get at least one more album together before the year is out. And I don’t plan on failing to produce all five records at some point before my plane goes down for good.

And for those of you who read last night’s post and listened to the song: thank you so much for still being out there. It’s good to know the lights are still on. You’re awesome.

Hi everyone. Or to be more accurate, no one. At this point, if you’re reading this, I’m shocked. Consistency is job one on the Internet. I have failed at job one.

I’ve been away. In a literal sense – I’ve been in Europe the last two weeks – and a metaphorical one as well. As I’ve mentioned before, work has taken over my life to a certain degree. Which is fine. But I still think about this project every single day, and wish I hadn’t abandoned it.

Living an entirely different life over the last couple of weeks has been amazing. It’s offered me a new perspective on life. Several, actually. And it’s reminded me anew that I need to embrace the things and people I love. One of those things is music. So while I won’t be able to resurrect this project at the level I’d like to, I’m going to try – honestly – to be around a bit more.

In the spirit of that, here’s a little piece of tossed-off music I wrote and recorded tonight. It’s got unintelligible lyrics which I made up as I sang them. It’s got several guitar bits I probably won’t remember how to play tomorrow morning. It is, in other words, vintage me.

Paris Hotel Wars РIn Barcelona 

And here, to accompany it, are a few pics from my trip. It was a stunning time. I’m stunned.

I’ve been away.

I haven’t left, of course. I’ve been in the city where I live, and I’ve been in my home, but really, I’ve been away. My new job wakes me up each day and then breaks me down or builds me up as it sees fit. This is fair – this is what challenging jobs do. But it doesn’t leave me much time in my body or my mind.

So I’ve been away – struggling to work out where I am, and losing much of my private conscious time to that struggle.

This is not an excuse, but an explanation. I think about this blog and this project every day. I wish I was working on it, and I will again.

But for now, I am temporarily away. So if you’re reading this, it’s a postcard from an semi-expected vacation. I look forward to sending more of these in the coming weeks. Maybe one of them in a while will have an enclosed CD. I certainly hope so. The view is nice here, but I can’t see it yet. Take care.

Not just a shoe slogan, that. I was talking with some of my new coworkers last night about the state of creativity and success, and we agreed that the way to get your voice heard these days is simply to start speaking. Into the Internet.

It’s amazing how much we can now accomplish as individuals or with friends. People make feature films on no budget with digital technology. You can shoot a pretty passable movie with your phone at this point. Music creation and distribution can be accomplished, if you so choose, with a single computer and some hard work.

That was the impetus for this project. From the outset, I wanted to push myself to do the things I always dreamt about doing: make an album (or five). Put it out into the world. See if anyone likes what I like, or is at least willing to tolerate it.

We also discussed Donald Glover, who is a huge inspiration. He’s an actor, writer, rapper, Gap model, and self-made success. And how did he do it, and how does he continue to do it? By creating things he likes and sharing them with the world.

So that’s the lesson I’ve learned, and will need to keep learning: if you want to make something, nowadays more than ever, you have no excuses. You either make it or you don’t; you either offer it up or it doesn’t exist. Ideas are great, but execution is what counts. And the wonderful thing about going ahead and doing what you’ve been imagining and considering for years is that it feels great.

Even though the execution rarely lives up to what you had in your head, it’s amazing to know that you didn’t let fear of failure or embarrassment stop you from trying. And although I’ve lengthened the odds against myself considerably, I’m not going to stop trying.

I’m still thinking about music every day, listening to beats, planning, wondering if I can somehow manage to get this project finished before the year is out. But man, am I busy. So the blog will be shorter and less musical than usual, and I’m afraid somewhat sporadic, for the next little while as I adjust to my new reality.

Here’s my plan: I owe you all 365 posts for the 365 days in (20)11. You will get them. But maybe not all in 2011.

If I don’t finish the music, and even if I do, this blog will keep running strong until all 365 posts are down – from the ridiculous to the dull to the sublime. For now, I’ve got to go. Working.

I was hoping to continue my roll and work on more music tonight, but it didn’t happen. Still, it feels great to be back on the path to making music. I still have a monstrous distance to travel before the Expensive record is done, but it no longer feels like something impossible – just difficult, and everything’s kind of difficult, so that’s not too bad.

The thing is, I have a list of names that I want to turn into songs, but I also have a whole bunch of beats that I kind of want to use, and the two things don’t fit together very well. There’s one track I must have made two years ago now, and I’ve been wanting to turn it into something since then. But on what subject?

One thing I’ve definitely discovered with rap is: you can’t do it if you don’t know what you’re talking about. Granted, a lot of rappers are talking about themselves, and how much money they have, and how large their genitals are, and the horribly, horribly degrading things they’re doing to your girlfriend. But that’s still a pretty clear (and very vivid) subject.

Part of the reason I wanted to make a hip hop record is because I’m inspired by the brilliant writing I’ve heard on some rap albums. The best rappers do what all great writers do – they take what’s in their head and put it into yours. It’s often very visual, as well. You see what they’re describing, and you feel it.

But because it’s poetry, not prose, it’s usually more than just a story playing out in your head. The words and the way they fit together does something, and the lyrics transcend their meaning.

Again, this is only possible if you know what you’re on about. The track I put up yesterday was definitively about September 11th, and the suicidal dickhead who flew one of the planes that day. So very clear. And awful. Today I wanted to make something a little less…awful. Something upbeat and positive. Because I swear, once in a while, for a moment, I actually have fun.

For now, I’m going to give up on music for the night and work my way toward bed. I hope you’re all doing well, and enjoying whatever music creates a new world in your head.

Hello again – I’ve gone and done it. I’ve actually finished something. I’ve turned the track I shared with you yesterday (a flipped sample of myself – meta-hop) into a completed song. With a named name attached. Although I do not in fact name the name on the track, since I don’t believe he deserves too much recognition.

I am referring to Mohamed Atta, the man who hijacked the plane which hit the North Tower on September 11th, leading to the immediate deaths of thousands of Americans, and the eventual deaths of more than 250,000 people on the other side of the world.

The 10th anniversary of the September 11th attacks is fast approaching. It’s still a difficult subject to talk about and understand. I wrote this song not from a place of understanding, but bewilderment.

What happened? How did it happen? Who could have done it? And how is it that, a decade on, wars are still being perpetrated against people who for the most part, I suspect, had nothing to do with the planning or execution of that horrible massacre?

It’s a sombre topic, but one that I think about an unhealthy amount. And here is what I wrote about it:

Expensive – Mohamed Atta

I’m trying to get back at it. I really am. I’ve spent most of today working on music. And I’ve actually really enjoyed it. But I’ve failed to produce anything finished. Still, it feels great to be back in the lab. And to have a day’s worth of breathing space to do it.

One idea I had ages ago but wasn’t foolhardy enough to try was writing and recording a classic R’n’B-style song and then chopping it up and flipping it into a hip hop track. I say foolhardy for a number of reasons. One is that I’m not a very soulful dude. I’m polite, and prompt, but when you listen to a good old-fashioned R’n’B tune, neither of those adjectives tends to leap to mind.

Anyway, for some reason, even though I’m crazy, crazy behind schedule, I thought I would maybe try that experiment today. So here are the two songs. The first was inspired by Charles Bradley, who is an unbelievable singer. The second is a surprisingly ominous little number created out of the pieces of the first. I have no idea who I’m going to rap about on it, but I’d love to hurry up and figure it out.

I’m not dead yet. I’m trying to get back on the horse, and although I keep falling out of the saddle, it’s progress that I’m even attempting to get back on at all.

Expensive – Charles Bradley

Expensive – CB (Working Demo)

Hey all – I’m sorry this blog has fallen by the wayside, as has the project underlying it. I think it’s time to acknowledge that I’m not going to be able to balance my current insane schedule with the demands of releasing four more albums this year.

It really, really pains me to say that. And I hope that somehow things will normalize and I’ll get back on track (and on tracks). But honestly, it’s 11:32 pm, I’m still sort of working, and I don’t think this is an abnormal night.

So here’s the deal: I’m going to try and post here as often as possible. I’m definitely going to make music whenever I can, and I’ll share it with you whenever I do. But I may have to revise the date by which I will put out all these records.

That said, I will put them all out. Even if this turns into FiveFourElevenSlashTwelve (and boy, that sure rolls off the tongue) I promise that, if you should want them, there will be five albums worth of free music coming your way eventually.

I’m sorry to have to do this. It feels like a failure. But the situation has changed, and I’ve got to change with it. Thanks for sticking with me through it all.