- Entertainment and Media
iTunes Pop/Rock Release: Moon Palace by Author Jacque DArtichoke, J.D.
Author/Musician and Tennis Teacher, John Holtz, J.D.
From Old School Frontman to Author, Musical Journeyman
Good evening Ladies, Gentlemen, Music Lovers, and wonderful Apple consumers! Please lend me your ears!
In the early eighties, I dabbled with piano and chess tournaments. Regardless, I soon quit both to become a tennis player before I got any good at key striking nor queen capturing. I became an accurate tennis marksman, instead. I am presently a tennis teacher in Sausalito, San Rafael, and San Francisco.
As a senior at Lowell High School, I formed a rock band called DisCHord. I brought back a small Casio synthesizer from Hong Kong, where I represented the United States in international tennis competition. I happened to link up with a brilliant, Hispanic electric guitarist classmate whose strumming reminded me of Carlos Santana’s. Our bassist, “Sir Lee,” used the lower chords of a regular electric to do most of his talking. The plaid upholstery of the substitute keyboardist’s car was quite memorable.
Enrico and I wrote the music and lyrics. I messed around with the synth's various sounds and all-too-predictable drum machine, concocting simple sequences. I often hummed the guitar licks that Enrico easily transposed to music.
I made a stab as an amateur frontman by rasping up my teenage voice to the max, like Richard Marx. I donned a suave leather jacket that bolstered my confidence. It kind of got me into the character of a lead singer who wished to belt out his pent-up frustrations and dreams, alike. The Lowell High yearbook captioned me as “An Elvis Look-Alike?” Little did the editors know that I would dedicate more time becoming a competent writer than a musician.
During the Lowell High Talent Show, I crooned a riff with a perfect ascension of pitch that I had never before replicated in practice and will probably never duplicate again. Talk about immaculate timing under the pressure of an eagerly anticipating audience! Right before Enrico’s guitar solos, I shouted out one of my better, canned catalysts to incite a crowd’s favorable reaction: “Tell her how I feel, Rico!” DisCHord received an onslaught of virally accelerating applause.
We cut a demo onto cassettes and sound reels at Emerald City Productions, San Francisco.
The rival band, that I ditched due to their refusal to modify aggressive behavior, smoked so much dope that their music sounded discordant. They were bullies who weren’t very quick cross country runners.
Our band even hired a limo to take us to a highly publicized, secret party hosted by an amazing socialite named Jane. Neither the party nor Jane actually existed, even though I wrote a song called “Jane’s Party” to commemorate the occasion. We really went to my Mom's house, where she made us sandwiches.
*Fast forward almost 30 years LATER from musical dormancy!:
*****In March, 2015, I distributed with Tunecore.com a pop/rock EP on iTunes entitled *Moon Palace by Jacque D’Artichoke*, my writing nombe de plume. iTunes link: https://itunes.apple.com/album/id965402998 (You may listen to free snippets of the music, here!) I composed this EP mostly on the Garageband application of my iPhone. Several of the tracks might be ideal for movies, television commercials, as well as radio airplay.*****
Tonight, I would like to talk with you about the high energy of some of my current passions, including my digital singer/song composing, book writing, and the expanding world of “techie electronica music.” High energy propagates humankind’s survival instinct, especially, but not necessarily, when its intentions are harmonious with those of others.
High Energy Tennis
My songs are high energy, kind of like the adrenaline rush of serve and volleying to clinch an NCAA Division I, varsity collegiate tennis match. As in broader life, the tennis player knows that he is his only and best, true ally. He reminds us that everyone in life is a solitary, grasping fighter. We must sometimes exercise desperate measures to triumph over a whole universe ranging from fierce nemeses to unconvinced bleacher folks. Expert racquet handlers have blazed a path of fiery anarchy, cut-throat annihilation, and glib desertion of a vogue sport’s all-too-unspoken code of ethics, while making tennis’ image all the more formidable. Unstoppable energy!
High Energy COFFEE
The daily stimulus of coffee, the unsettling fury that activates the grind within, artificially generates the high energy that a writer/composer thrives upon. Coffee fosters a bee hive rustling upon consciousness. One must circumnavigate the potency to think promptly! Sherlock Holmes should have discarded his snuff box without weaning himself off this more benign commodity of choice! Starbucks is a wireless oasis of infinite thought gestation!
High Energy Author
I’m also an author who has self-published three books, most notoriously The Ascent of a Barbarious Court Squatter, available on Amazon.com and Kindle.com. Besides an exercise in poetic self-reflection, my 150,000 word door stoppers are entrepreneurial overtures in free market capitalism that blossom innovation, individual perspectives, and work ethic. http://www.amazon.com/The-Ascent-Barbarious-Court-Squatter/dp/146370898X
I would arise at 4 a.m. daily and pound a can of “Go Girl” Energy Drink so I might read womens’ minds. After writing from 4 a.m.- 9 a.m., how could one not manage to write an additional 4-6 hours from 9.a.m.-5 p.m.? Even though I would have been glad to, I did not have any inclination to tie myself to the chair with therabands!
High energy describes the frenetic compulsion of cranking out three books to reflect upon internal cures for longstanding loneliness, when the shortcut might be to find a nice gal and go out on a date. Ideally, our inner bubbles should bridge with the outside because external realities validate our internal emotions.
In the avant-garde, Ascent of a Barbarious Court Squatter, I contend for practicality’s sake that we can run interior, one person shows, when necessary. Four personas experiencing various existential dilemmas vie for dominion over the self and our best chance to tackle adversity, alone. These characters compete for first, second, third best, and worst chance to champion human consciousness. Particular personas are better suited to combat various dilemmas than others. The Ascent...also discusses a lay person’s analysis of G-d and philosophy of the human condition in the abstract, several social conscience advocacy platforms from a progressive lens that I find virtually irrefutable, and spatial aesthetics of the Great Bay Area. All of these components of the psyche obliterate our obstacles. They enoble us to act with integrative resolve.
My novel transforms the perpetuity of effervescent stagnancy into kinetic energy. (Wow, that is a mouthful!) Brimming stagnancy is a nonchalant theme within my riveting music. The album’s first track, Cosmos Dangling, boldly acquiesces, “Your inertia leads to nowhere discernible.”
The Ascent of a Barbarious Court Squatter illuminates how to tackle the adversity of limbo internally, regardless of external thwarts and realities. Four often humorous personas we adopt encompass the competitive sports mindset. I invite you to explore the four funny characters with confidence: Jacque D’Artichoke, G-d, Sir Arthur Stackerazz, and The Eghost-- perhaps one of the most colorful personas in modern literature.
These four personas manifest a positive mental/emotional paradigm shift that can metamorphosize one’s world with a wholly new outlook. As I relay in The Ascent of a Barbarious Court Squatter, I view this new lens without my entire collection of Hanes briefs... A redhead lifts them during the rejuvenating process in the law school laundry room because I place a purple bell pepper... Yes, you could say I was free ballin’.
In The Ascent of a Barbarious Court Squatter, I delve into some of the nuances and statuesque fixtures of NORTH BEACH, San Francisco, like no other author has nor probably ever will. It takes an assortment of personas just to make one’s way through that colorful labyrinth, and out- maneuver misadventure in the process!
Jacque compares the aesthetics of tennis and surfing on their respective merits-- and comes up with a surprising conclusion!
High Energy Law School and High Energy Writing Three Books
High energy can describe haphazardly grinding one’s way through the pressure cooker of law school or the 12 re-writes within the post-revisionary epoch of multi-volume book writing. It is normal for authors to go way green with all the baskets of tossed recycling. Our 10-foot, fade away jumpers of crumpled drafts into the wastepaper basket rarely miss. They prepare me for the TBA-- To Be Announced! Our narrowed outlooks under such self-imposed intensity become so taxing that it appears as if the world has run out of coffee. G-d forbid!
Digital Music Composition
Digital music v. traditional instruments
***So back to electronica music composition: Are digital song writers on the phone or computer real musicians? That is a loaded question. It is true that computers sometimes generate pre-programmed, musical “loops” or sound patterns. At the same time, we can also create original scores from pre-recorded notes and live vocal recordings-- even without a keyboard larger than a phone’s screen display.
During the occasions when I layer pre-programmed melodies into multiple tracks that sometimes sport less original scores, is it true that I am not reinventing the wheel by merely throwing down pre-existing beats that happen to be in sync with each other?
Yet, why should creative musicians have to rearrange the wheel to have merit? Just like computer programming musicians, traditional musicians don't invent the instruments that they train for years to manipulate. They are merely skilled practitioners of an instrument with finite capabilities. Unless you are Jimmy Hendrix on the electric guitar or Herbie Hancock on the keyboard, you’re not otherworldly. Why should there be a double standard for creating electronica music? FYI, I don’t have a 64 key MIDI keyboard yet, nor an external microphone!
Until recently, the digital genre didn't even exist except for elite musicians. There wasn't powerful enough software for the average hacker to compose anything. Now the accessibility and complexity of computer generated music is remarkable. There are software programs like GarageBand (that I use on my iPhone and Mac).
A built-in, fully-fledged, electronic recording studio is available to this ordinary iPhone experimenter in my one room shack on the hillside near Mount Tamalpais, where the idle bed takes up virtually the whole room. It is amazing how in the palm of my hand, many different sounds play harmoniously together when "stacked" on multiple tracks like “lego block assemblage.” Through trial and error and listening for resonance, if not merely subconscious skill in undisciplined music theory, I may stumble upon decent mixes. While it is true that I would never be able to play all of these actual instruments and arrange them like the artist formerly known as Prince, why do I have to be that skillful to still sound relatively hip?
Moon Palace EP Track #4: Who Took the Cheese?!
My final (and, I think, finest) composition on the album is an operatic rock number called, “Who Took the Cheese?!” that I wrote last month on my iPhone 6. Up-tempo, blaring and melodic electric guitar grooves and solo rival advanced, actual strummers. I sing a Nigun (wordless melody) that slowly accelerates into a cathartic series of inspirational creshendos. It reminds me of lamenting the Shtetl’s simultaneous dispersement (like Fiddler on the Roof) and involuntary confinement. The drum track with plenty of cymbals meshes nicely with the guitar pluckings. Let’s just say that one must tip-toe around the topic of taking anyone’s cheese-- for granted or otherwise!
I won’t reveal just how many push-ups this author pushed out to get into shape for my upcoming music video, Who took the Cheese?! Let’s just say that I resemble the Incredible Hulk-- post shirt-splitting! I just would like to find someone special to run away with the cheese (for the upcoming video and in real life, alike!)
Moon Palace EP Track #2: Lone Bear
I composed a pop song called “Lone Bear” and its accompanying YouTube.com video on my iPhone 4s. I copyrighted the keyboard riffs when I was a teenager, but the cassette I sent into the United States Library of Congress disintegrated! The new version of the song is about my Highlander Bears Tennis Team from Cal Riverside that I played on and a mysterious woman who makes me “powerless without her” even though I otherwise affirm my potential “power.”
The Bear metaphorically parallels the varsity tennis player who is named after it: “Forging through Riverside’s championship lineup, snarky paws snare invisible fish! Far past the boulders wedged beneath the current, your racquet’s hoisting out-of-luck prey.” Refrain: “Palm trees are swaying from the look in your eyes. Snout is snarling and your “wrrr-arrr” whirls me 185!” Another cool verse is, “I’m in awe of your wingspan’s jurisdiction.”
In the Lone Bear by Jacque D'Artichoke YouTube.com music video, shot long after I played collegiate tennis, I emerge half naked from the Pacific with a black Nike bandana, replete with white “swoosh.” I have nine cups of Starbucks coffee symmetrically arranged around my overheated laptop with my topsiders outstretched on the table in my makeshift writer's office. (I oblige a barista’s request to remove my feet from the table after the take!) I smack three Open level tennis serves in a row that hit the opposite service line and skyrocket three feet up the fence’s catch tarp. I won’t even get started upon the unbridled zeal of my dance moves. And, I foolishly vault a forbidden fence at the zoo for close grizzly bear footage. Please don’t try this at your zoo. If you don’t get eaten, you will probably get arrested.
If the bears had eaten me, some people might have been sad. Some people would have felt that a fool who wanted to become one with the bears had gotten his just desserts. Others would become happy that the bears might receive a tasty organic treat. (Because I sometimes eat organic vegetables, you can say that I've been grass fed!) But enough about “Lone Bear” by Author Jacque D'Artichoke!
Moon Palace EP Track #3: Loopety Loop Betty
I composed a dance/electronica number on my Mac called “Loopety Loop Betty.” The tune uses a lot of sampling and would be dynamic in New York, Tel Aviv, or San Francisco nightclubs! The mix begins, “Cook maroont azivia hoont! (“Look at me like a dog,” in Yiddish!)
The song explores the complex profundities within human relationships: “How can I dare look you beyond your eyes?...Can I please prove myself to you?” A deep voice boldly resonates (and one interpretation is that it almost pleads), “FAITH IN HUMAN EQUALITY.”
Moon Palace EP Track #5: Johnny West Portal
I wrote another song on my Mac called “Johnny West Portal.” The tune is a balance between dreamy hip hop and a pop/rock chorus. **It has a sly verse that indirectly suggests the image of something fun falling all over the place! "Your fuchsia shoulder straps of that dress should take a bow!" Another verse is, "Cascadation envelopment is this writer's salvation!" In another words, a woman's hair perchance falling all over my face or other anatomical subset!
“Johnny West Portal” is about the frustrations of not always engaging in meaningful communication with people I care about, romantic pining, and sensationalizing my relationship to my childhood home, in San Francisco, from which I may not return. Fortunately, I still frequently meet my Mom at third party locations, although a German Shepherd has replaced my residing there.
The YouTube.com music video of “Johnny West Portal” accentuates the deserved harmony between races, utilizing the imagery of horses. It also spotlights me sprinting steps to the top of a stadium in Berkeley, CA., called The Rose Garden.
Unique Diving Position for Microphone
It is funny how an awesome, $2500 computer has a less expensive, built- in mic that is strategically wedged between the two rectangles. When I’m not crooning into the iPhone’s included, tiny headphones, it’s like I have to go down on the computer just to sing into the darn thing. And no one can understand all of the lyrics because they are slightly muffled! Then again, some of the greatest songs of all time are unintelligible. (Louie, Louie by the Kingsmen, for example.)
Please decide if you think digital music measures up with live resonances of traditional instruments, including various degrees of the originality factor, or if you believe it lacks substance. I’ll bet that you will remain in suspended disbelief from my high energy, iTunes LP, *Moon Palace by Author Jacque D’Artichoke*, which came out March, 2015. iTunes link: https://itunes.apple.com/album/id965402998 (You may listen to snippets of the five songs for free, here!)
My novel on Amazon.com and Kindle.com, The Ascent of a Barbarious Court Squatter, hilariously shows how to achieve optimal energy results by tackling adverse scenarios with appropriate personas inside all of us. This is your black book of witty, worldly strategy to buffer the self--to internally steamroll heady challenges! http://www.amazon.com/The-Ascent-Barbarious-Court-Squatter/dp/146370898X
Thank you, and please pass along this squib to your friends and Family! *Signing off for now, and Happy Spring! ~Author and Digital Pop Musician/Composer, Jacque D’Artichoke, J.D.
P.S.: My topspin forehand isn’t too shabby, either. It actually is quite the whupping, unperturbed, crackler of an option! :)