Friday, January 11, 2013

Tokyo and Mongolia

In 3 weeks I will be on a snowboard trip in Tokyo and in 1/2 months later I have the opportunity to work for the Red Cross in Mongolia for a year.  It's a little unnerving thinking about moving to a place landlocked by Russia and China with winter windchill of -55 C.  

Today I was volunteering at the library and had the pleasure of meeting a lady who was interesting and a great conversationalist.  She was writer working on her first novel and helped me make a decision on moving to Mongolia along with giving me some insights on life and creativity.  

I know this will be a challenging experience and I am still trying to process such a big decision.  But It is not often that opportunities present themselves to us and I believe that the only thing we should do is take them with an open mind.  

The possibility is that I could be housebound by a snowy tundra, batting the 3rd bout of food poisoning, or struggling with an unfamiliar culture.  But then again it could be anything, So I think I need to try.  

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Open Ocean

It was my first time sailing the open ocean.  I was exited and also unsure of how it would treat me.  We began our charter in middle harbour, soon coming out of the heads and heading north.  The wind kept us at a steady 5 knots as we tacked up the coast, the waves were undulating and the sun was bright and strong.  As we moved through the water, the bow breaking through the waves, flying fish shot out of the water and glistened as the sun hit their silvery blue scales.  Their fins making a soft sound like hummingbird wings as they soared.

It can be slightly terrifying and also elating to see nothing but blue when you look all around you.  The boat bobs up and over giant swells and makes you unfamiliar with the feeling of solid ground.  The blue can sometimes play tricks with your head.  What is that out in the distance, is it a whale? boat? or nothing?  Something the skipper made sure to remind us of was the ocean was a dangerous place; "don't underestimate it for a second"he says, "a beautiful day can soon turn tragic if you become too complacent."

Phil had been sailing for over 25 years, an old salty with stories of giant tuna, charters, and epic races.  We all took turns behind the helm and manning the spinnakers and traveler.  The ocean didn't seem so daunting as the sun kept us warm and we would see the occasional school of dolphins playing in the waves or hunting for fish.

We were starting to come close to Whale Beach almost 15 NM off the coast when we heard the sound of the radio.  "All ships, all ships, this is Marine Rescue Sydney we have an upturned vessel approximately (they gave coordinates) close to Whale Beach.  Any vessels in the area please respond we may need your assistance." The skipper looked at us and said we weren't far off and to keep a lookout for the hull of a boat, we may have to do a rescue mission.  He then went below deck to tell dispatch our position.

Marine rescue called us back after about 6 minutes.  "First fish, first fish, this is marine rescue sydney, please respond" The skipper raced below deck to respond.  After about a minute he came back to report.  He said the water police had found the vessel and discovered that it was actually a whale carcass.  We were pretty close so we decided to go check it out.

One of the girls on the starboard side pointed and said; "look i see a shark!" We all hurried over to take a look.  As we sailed past we saw a large grey object circle the carcass. The shark then emerged from the water thrashing its tail and started taking huge bites from the dead whale.  Its lips peeling back to reveal rows of jagged, white, razor sharp teeth.  It was a 13ft great white shark. We stood in awe watching this creature having his lunch. And then I may have squealed like a 10 year old.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Comp Crew and Twilight Racing

We get the most out of life when we take chances.  I have always been a risk taker and will continue to be one, even though there have been a few times when things haven't ended up the way I wanted them.  But I am a doer and instead of just having romantic notions about a situation, I just did it and have now completed phase 1 of a backup plan.  Obtain my competent crew certification and get some experience.  Thursdays are twilight racing at Middle Harbour Yacht club and I have just joined a crew. Mosman is a little far and getting there at 5 on a school night is a bit challenging but so worth it, having the opportunity to race a 40 ft Beneteau.

We have covered all the basics of ocean safety and the rules of the sea. Apparently I'm a natural and have taken to the helm like a fish to water (excuse the pun).  I am still learning the delicate art of reading the wind and tides, and logging in many hours so people will feel confident about my skills aboard.  

 There is still a possibility I may go to Europe next year to work on yachts, but as nothing in life is certain, it is a backup plan for my backup plan.  For now I will enjoy the beautiful weather in Sydney, the lovely people I am meeting and the exiting races in the Harbour.  

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Bacon and Bacon

It's not what we eat but what we digest that makes us strong; not what we gain but what we save that makes us rich; not what we read but what we remember that makes us learned; and not what we profess but what we practice that gives us integrity.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Few Nights With Hiro

 It may sound clichĂ© but Japanese people have been some of the most hospitable people I have met anywhere in the world.  Hiroaki OBA quickly became our ambassador to Tokyo, exposing us to the best the city has to offer in the electronic music world, and giving us an insiders look at electronic music culture in Japan.

“Hey, I’m running a bit late but I’ll meet you at the Ebisu station” Hiro said.  “Not a problem, we’ll head up to the park once you get here” Angus replied.  Three of us were to meet Hiroaki, my friend Nate, a photographer from New York, was with us to take some portraits, Angus and myself. We were to meet in Ebisu first and then head off to Dommune, a small but well-known club in Shibuya, for an intimate pre-sonar set. It was already dark and cold with a fine mist of rain. We walked off to a small cafĂ© about 10 minutes from the station where we ordered a few drinks and sat outside under blankets.  We had been emailing Hiroaki for a few weeks before arriving to Tokyo so we were familiar with his minimal techno sound that incorporates elements of funk and house. “I started making music 10 years ago.  I like to make House and Techno, but it is very difficult to say what is my biggest influence.  A long time ago I listened to a lot of Jamiroquoi. I like funky sounds and synthesizers.”

We understood Yosi Horikawa was playing alongside Hiro at the gig we were attending. Both Red Bull Music Academy Alumnis, who got to know each other well, despite attending different sessions. The event was organized by RBMA japan, as part of their Play! Japan series, and on the bill tonight was a special guest, none other than esteemed producer Chris Clark.

Hiro, chatting to us before going to get a soda mentioned, “Yosi is a very special Japanese artist and I also really like Daisuke Tanabe.  He was with us (RBMA) in London and will also be performing at Sonar.” When it comes to this style of Japanese electronica, it is a tight community in Tokyo, where they all do what they can to support each other.  We had the pleasure of seeing Yosi perform 3 times while in Tokyo (his live set features some really interesting home-made Kalimbas), and caught Daisuke’s funk styling’s at Sonar.  This year, Yosi has had his track ‘Bubbles’ featured in XLR8R and released his Wandering EP on First World Records.

‘I have plans to move to Berlin.’  Hiro told us, ‘I like Tokyo, but there are too many clubs, parties, and DJ’s.  In Berlin there seems to be a more authentic, quality electronic music scene.” Later in the week, we headed over Roppongi Hills, an area of Tokyo known for its party scene. Hiro explained to us that it’s primarily frequented by tourists, and it certainly seemed to have a darker sleazier vibe. Not that there isn’t a lot of great shows on offer, and an interesting selection of clubs. We saw Mike Huckaby and Patrice Scott play the inaugural Resident Advisor: VS party at Eleven, which Angus kept confusing as Womb. Fair enough – the place very much resembled a womb after you had descended 8 flights of stairs through multiple anterooms and side-chambers, into a deep dark basement. The room was shrouded in cigarette smoke and the bass was throbbing, but it was hard to disguise the fact it looked a little empty. The crowd swayed back and forth in between the lasers appreciating the international talent. Hiro is certainly in the know when it comes to electronic dance music in the city, and indeed around the world. He has played some of the Tokyo’s most high-profile clubs such as Air, Womb, Superdeluxe, Eleven and of course Ageha.

Later in the evening, after one too many dangerously priced G&T’s, we jumped into a cab and headed back to Shibuya. Our friend Katie decided in the spirit of the moment to lean out the window and yell in Japanese at passersby. Tokyo is like any city when it comes to partying – naturally everyone else that was out for a good time decided to join in. We coursed along the boulevards of downtown Tokyo as another car decided to race us down the main drag as the sun was rising. Pulling up at an intersection, we heard sub bass throbbing out of the car next to us. Listening closer, it turned out to be a an old funk track, and I couldn’t help but think of how Hiro kept mentioning how he ensured he always maintained that funky vibe. His live show incorporates a number of components revolving around an Ableton brain, and including the well-regarded Elektron Machinedrum. This seems to be a popular workflow, ensuring the set is live sounding enough without sounding too rigid, allowing him to incorporate swinging beats and different, more interesting syncopated rhythms.

Hiroaki OBA - Courtesy of Nathan Perkel

Back at Dommune, after being introduced to Dorian Concept, we squeezed into the tiny club for Hiros set. We stood there captivated, listening to his soulful tech/ house rhythms on the Dommune sound system (perhaps the most crisp and beautiful sounding speaker system so far, a Funktion one), that we couldn’t stop talking about how great it was. We still can’t. The next evening was Sonar festival was due to begin, where we met him standing outside the RBMA tent where people were pouring out of the tent trying to catch a glimpse of a rare Global Communication set. Hiro introduced us to lots of his friends over a couple of beers and we asked what’s next for Hiroaki OBA. “I have a tour in Europe at the end of May for one month.  I just want to just keep making music and let the universe surprise me.”

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Pulpit Rock

A radio play that explores the ambiguous nature of revenge and the possibility of an all-seeing God. Written by Gina Schien with sound design by Jacqueline Labrador for Eastside Radio.  You can listen here.    

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Bird and Brush

You flew to me and sang a song.
Caught up in a whirlwind, wanting, but not knowing what. 
We walked down an unfamiliar path.  You told me you were afraid, tweeted it in my ear. I don’t speak in tweets, but understand, as I was a bird once.  Your mind fearful your words verbose. Wings that have so much to learn.  We grab brushes and paint pretty pictures.  They are beautiful, but you just see your reflection, naive brush strokes and a lack of attention to detail. Sentiment glitters in our chests. The paper slowly dissolves in our hands.  Paint drips on the floor.