close

Join the QN5 community

close

Please login

Forgot your password?

Tonedeff [POLYBLOG #2]: Time Is of the Essence…

What’s good people!

Greetings to all the new fans and old school Auralarians alike and my sincerest thanks go out to everyone who has been following the Polymer project so far. A ton of stuff has been happening lately, but I finally penciled in some time to sit down and knock the second of the Polyblog series out for y’all who crave the inside scoop. So, without further ado, here you go:

——————————————————————————————

polyblog_2.png


WHAT’S YOUR DEMON?

I suffer from anxiety. I know - add it to the running tally of insomnia, sex addiction and OCD, right? It’s a facet of my daily existence. Sometimes, the slightest thing will make me feel like the world is on my chest and I can’t breathe. I want nothing more than to crawl into a hole and disappear. It’s all just too much and it’s overwhelming.

I used to wonder why my mother always had a beer in her hand growing up. Then I moved to NYC and immediately understood. Perhaps it was the speed of the city or my fervor to accomplish everything at once, or perhaps a combination of both that pushed me over the edge. Factor in my car accident and the tragedy of 9/11 and all bets were off. My nerves were fucked.

I’ve always been “cursed” with a million ideas and not enough time to do them all. An ex-girlfriend from High School once told me I wanted to do too much and I would never succeed at any of them because of that. I alluded to this on the song “Homecoming King”:

“But I know there’s only so much time and inspiration
that could be left in your lifetime and in the world.
Cause you’ve got too many dreams.”

So I’d try to juggle everything at once. I’d be at work, trying to work against a deadline for a large client, designing a cover for my first 12” single, writing a verse for Happy F*ck You Songs, IM-ing with 4 people simultaneously, listening to a CD and brainstorming ideas for a new cartoon series I was pitching - then I’d suddenly feel as though I was dying. I’d struggle to breathe. I’d sweat profusely. Lightheaded. My heart would be POUNDING. Perhaps it was a stroke? No way. Too young for that. Right?

Around 2000-2002, I started having full-on panic attacks. There’s a whole passage in the song “No Hope” that I pulled directly from a real life experience:

“A subway ride, that was once second nature, is now taxing your wits
Asking if this, blast really hits, will a casket be fit?
Frazzled to bits, with prescription Paxil and shit
Trapped in a ditch of a dead-end job, cause you’re two months back on your rent
Laughing - cause if that shit happens you guess that would be it
Eyeing every passenger standing, cause that could be him
So, you sit back and pretend, you’re relaxed and content
Knowing that if you go to today, you unhappily went

This actually happened - as described - on a regular basis. I was broke, unemployed and on Paxil, (that shit numbs your orgasms, btw - so I went off cold-turkey). I left out the part about pounding on the subway window gasping for breath as onlookers thought I was a schizo. Or the time I had to leave a movie theater cause I thought we were being gassed. Yeah, it wasn’t pretty - hence the lyrical omission.

Eventually, I had to learn how to breathe deeply and calm myself. There came a point where I had to let go and allow things to be out of my control. If I was gonna go, I was gonna go and there wasn’t anything I could do about it. The chips would fall where they would. When I finally accepted this truth - I was able to let minor things fall by the wayside and focus on only the most pressing things. After all, I’m only one person and I can only do so much - something I wish I could teach 22-year-old Tone, trying to run an entire label by himself. (Something I learned a little too late).

This credo worked for over a decade. Hell, I even made it through multiple Megashows unscathed. That is, until I worked on Demon.


COUNT YOUR PACES (SIX STEPS)

The concept of “Fast Rap” as a musical sub-genre is bizarre to me. The idea that there are a group of people out there (and there are) that ONLY want to listen to dudes “chopping”, regardless of content is ridiculous. Recently, someone on my YouTube channel referred to the “fast rap community” in a comment - so apparently this exists? Yeesh. Personally, I find it somewhat tiresome, honestly.

“Move In, Ride Out” was my first traditional ‘double-time’ rap ever. Sure, I’d done plenty verses with syllable flips at that point, but never written anything in the ‘bounce’ style people think of when they refer to “fast rap”. Listening back, that was one hell of a first attempt. I moved onto “Most High” with The Plague and of course, “Velocity” on HFYS. Skipped a couple years and then had a verse on “Pervert”, followed by a pair of 6/8 Time-Signature goodies in “Case Closed” and “Champion (Freeverse)”

But that’s literally it.

6 Songs out of 100 that are technically “fast raps” - and I’m forever pigeonholed as “the fast rapper”.

Needless to say, this has been incredibly frustrating for me as an artist who mainly cares about musicianship, quality of writing (wit & depth) and emotional impact (most important), but I’m still driven by technicality in rapping (ie. rhyme structure, enunciation, flow and breath control). So, if I can do it…why not set new standards? And if I can do that… why not do something innovative in the process?

When I was planning Polymer, I wanted to tackle this head on. I knew I was eventually going to have to give the fans an entire collection of fast raps, but I wanted to apply that stylistic approach to my aesthetic and life-experience to make it have a point. I could have written a bunch of gibberish and spit it at blinding speeds and frankly, 95% of people would have been happy with that. Instead, I opted to raise the difficulty and find an artistic application for “fast rap”. When dividing the facets of my personality, it only seemed natural that EP #2 would be centered around my constant battle with Time & Anxiety. My Demon.

O, DEMON!

blg_demon_head.png class=right When I write, I’m trying to uncover my own truths and exorcise them in interesting ways. From the gut. Of the five songs, “Moment” manages to present the concept of Time most adeptly, by playfully posing existential questions and exploring temporal conundrums. This wouldn’t have been possible had it not been for my own personal experiences. Contemplating the passage of time constantly. Trying to do too much, too fast. Literally hiding the taskbar on my computer and removing all clocks from the studio in order not to freak out that I’m wasting any time:

Take notice - not a time out/
So I hide every clock in my house/
I don’t wanna be reminded of my anxiety that when I’m idle
I’m wasting away while I count…down

That’s real shit. It’s the truth. It’s gut-writing.

The song, Demon was an immense challenge as I knew I really needed to drive home the nervousness of Anxiety and in order to do that, I needed to push myself into breathless territory. Here, I hit every 16th-note for nearly 2 minute straight in 6/8 time. With minimal breaths (The first pass is 40 seconds non-stop - try that while exhaling). Not easy stuff. More to the point, this song finds me literally putting the “Beautiful Serial Killer” on trial for all his crimes. When Time + Anxiety are “In bed together”, there’s no more fatal combo.

My favorite lryic on this one comes in on the bridge:
“I feel it when I wake up, like I just exposed a nerve/
Cannot shake this feeling, I left a single stone unturned.”

That’s literally what it feels like when I try to close my eyes to sleep. Constantly asking myself, “what’s the one thing I didn’t do today that could’ve change everything”. They answer never comes. I’m glad I could at least get that off of my chest.


YOUR DAYS ARE NUMBERED

Hardcore blue schoolers have been familiar with “Crispy (192)” since I debuted it at QN5 Megashow 2009 (along with “Sunrise”), and had been wondering when it was ever going to be recorded. I originally wanted to tour with it for a while, so that people could SEE ME DO IT LIVE - no studio or video tricks, no BS, just straight skills on stage. I wanted absolutely no talk about my stuff being “doctored” or “sped up” in any way whatsoever after it dropped it. So, as a preemptive strike, there’s plenty of live footage that substantiates my claims.

The (192) is in the title because I’m purposely raising the stakes by putting a factual BPM out there for the rap nerds to quantify. This song reaches 192 Beats Per Minutes. (For further reference, “Velocity” is only 180 BPM - Yeah, let that sink in for a minute). Still, the interwebs love to throw around the term “fastest”, without any hard data to prove it. Putting hard numbers on things gives everyone a reference point. If this was a stat-based sport - anyone doubting my proficiency after hearing this song and seeing the proof is either delusional or a generic hater - because facts are facts. But more on that later. Wink

More to the theme of the record, speed is always used as a device to demonstrate anxiety. The recording of “Crispy (192) paired with the looming deadline, 3 weeks of sleep deprivation, 3 Japanese Iced Coffees and 2 Red Bulls in 1 night sent my body right back into panic attack land. It was full-on system shock. I pushed myself too hard and paid a price with a full-on physical meltdown - waking up an hour after closing my eyes with my heart about explode, my legs searing with the heat of 10 blowtorches, profuse sweating and a numbness in my arms. For a moment, I felt like I was having some sort of stroke. I couldn’t move at all. It was definitely scary, as I called close friends to make sure that if they hadn’t heard from me in a few hours - something was up.

I felt as though I had been beaten with bats by the entire MLB for 2 weeks after the release. I kept waking up with burning legs and palpitations. After several trips to medical specialists… they narrowed it down to my old friend - ANXIETY. Fuckin A. Had I forgotten how to deal with this shit again? I’m not entirely sure. After a month, I started to feel normal again. The record’s out, the response was great. But at what cost?


CHEW ME UP AND SPIT ME OUT

As some have speculated, there is some truth to “Use Me” being written as a love letter to those who feel entitled to my output. So many people only want to hear me do what I did on this EP, so I gave them what they wanted…and still managed to make a “fast rap” record on my terms. Channeling Gladiator, I wearily ask “Are you not entertained?” Somehow, there are still those that aren’t.

Still, that’s only one tiny application of the song concept. It’s non-specific enough to resonate with listeners in regards to love, parents, friends, coworkers, etc. It’s such a sickening sensation to feel and I did my best to share my personal experience with it without being too specific. I had this hook melody in my head for about 5 months before I knew what to do with it. Once I programmed the drums - everything fell into place and the rest was history.

Ironically, after all the super-charged lyricim on the rest of the EP, “Cinder” is the song I listen to the most. There’s something so alive in it that it has me hit repeat immediately after it ends. Funny enough, it started off as that little add-on interlude after “Demon” that later developed into the finished song after I couldn’t get the melody out of my head. I kept going back to it - so I added some words and boom. After a few difficult days doing vocals, I needed to decompress and started randomly hitting keys on my keyboard when that melody spontaneously happened. Luckly I was recording. That little piece of music so succinctly summed up the entire EP, that it was a no-brainer for an outro. I love when stuff like that happens.


JIGSAW FALLING INTO PLACE

With the release of Demon, you begin to hear the shadow of a pattern emerging that hints at the overall construction of Polymer. There is a grand-design at play here. Folks who were completely thrown off (purposefully) with the EDM-flavor of Glutton can now see where I was going with my all-synth approach.

Frankly, good-ole’ Boom-Bap wouldn’t work with this type of stuff. The ethereal concept of “Time” doesn’t really gel with a soul-sample and scratch hook when conveyed sonically. Every EP reveals another piece of the puzzle - interlocking musically and thematically. Everything in it’s right place.

It’s been 2 months since I released #2 and it’s already been downloaded/purchased as much as #1 did over the span of a year. The Polymer experiment is working - people love the EP format, opportunities have been opening up since I started and I’m able to deliver new music much more quickly and consistently. Hell, I even got a surprise email from one of my musical heroes telling me how much they loved it, which reassured me that I was on the right track, (now if I could just get them to gush like that in public, haha?). I honestly feel like I’m making the best music of my life right now and I can’t wait to get the rest of this stuff to you.

With the release of parts #3 and #4 (ie. the full Polymer album) this year, producing the upcoming documentary, FINALLY shooting music videos and touring - this will be a make or break year for me. 2014 will undoubtedly be my busiest year yet - even busier than my 2004-05 and I hope you’re along for the ride. The difference is that this time, it’s all Tonedeff-focused, which is a big change for me. And a wise man once said that change is good, right? Wink

I will be announcing EP #3 shortly. In the meantime, let’s chat about Demon via Livestream on March 5, 2014 (9 PM EST)

See ya then.
- Tonedeff

Hold onto this moment,
Cause you’re never gonna get it back.


POLYBLOG SERIES [PART 1] [PART 2] [PART 3]

Awesome as always, Tone.

I never realised the extent of your battles with anxiety, that all sounds truly awful. I’m really happy you found a way to express all of that trough music. Polymer has absolutely blown me away so far and I’m not exaggerating when I say it’s my most anticipated album of all time (Yes, even over CATM).

Also..

- Any hints about which hero?
- You’re doing a livestream the same day Homeboy Sandman/I am many are in Bristol Sad

Thank you so much for putting this out there for us to read Tone. It really gives great insight to the creative process of your work. You are an artistic genius. Plain and simple. I’ve never come across any artist of any kind that creates the type of art you do.

I have a sister that battles with anxiety too. It’s hard to relate to what that’s like with an outside perspective, but I can imagine that it’s a daunting thing when it arises. I remember in an older TACM episode that you were talking about exercising regularly (running maybe?)... I know when my sister is working out consistently her anxiety is much better. I manage a fitness center, and people who are consistent have a lot of mental benefits from it (myself included). So stay physically active!

I can’t wait to hear the things to come!

Also… did anybody else have goosebumps reading the “Jigsaw Falling Into Piece” part?

Thanks so much for doing these. Even without these blogs, this format for releasing an album is the ultimate “get to know the artist” way to release an album there is. Can’t wait for eps 3/4 and the new music videos.

I love the polyblogs, thanks for taking the time to write them with so much detail.
Like SCRATCHINlikeDJS said, the whole “Jisaw Falling Into Place” part was really enjoyable to read and it feels good to know that your hard work is paying off and that Polymer is making some noise.
It’s well deserved.

I can’t wait to hear what you have in store for us with the rest of the album.

(Yay for livestream ! I’ll be there !)

Great read. Can’t wait for the livestream and the last half of Polymer. If it’s half as good as the first 2 eps, it will still be fucking amazing

Will definitely be at the livestream provided I don’t have to work.

Cthulhu4Pres said:Great read. Can’t wait for the last half of Polymer and music videos

Great read, can’t wait for that livestream

Keep doing what ur doing, tone. Name one artist that does what you do muscically and express the process/personal shit to the fans. 2014 is ur year, mang!

Polymer is shaping up to be the most emotional and personal collection of Tonedeff material we’ve ever borne witness to, and I couldn’t be happier with the result.

Thanks for an excellent read. I’m so glad everything is falling into place!

Also: documentary!!!!

Love the blogs, congrats on the downloads but more importantly how amazing the music is that you’re making. I suffer from anxiety/panic too so I definitely related to the themes of this album and it perfectly encapsulated those feelings. Can’t wait for the livestream!

Awesome post – well worth the wait! The mixture of complete honesty, insight in your thought process behind the EP’s and hints to future plans is extremely intriguing.
Regarding the artistic approach to Demon, I tip my hat to you. I always thought the “fast rapping” part of Polymer would be my least favorite, as I simply couldn’t see how it could work for an entire EP. Instead, it turned out to be my favorite release of 2013 – brilliant work, sir!

I can’t wait to hear the next one – see you on march 5!

Your always honest with your music, while Archetype will still remain one of my favorites I feel like Polymer will be one of my favorite records of all time even more than Archetype was. Demon further proves that statement.

Interesting thing is that the older I grow, the more I begin to relate to your songs now as apposed to your songs from Archetype. College, dealing with trying to find work, study loans, family issues, and everything leave me stressed out as well, and I often find myself trying to juggle everything all at once while at the same time feel like I am accomplishing nothing. Last semester was one of my most stressful semesters I have had and I’ve been trying my best to get my GPA over a 3.5 in order to better scholarships. I’ve been feeling a lot of anxiety as well and Demon ironically enough as helped release some of that anxiety…along with the stressful as hell semester ending.

Hopefully I can preorder the poly morph Edition while I’m in Japan… In the meantime I got demon and glutton on repeat Smile

The only thing more tightly formatted then a Tonedeff verse, is a Tonedeff post.

Seriously, it’s a joy to read your thoughts; lyrics, blog update, forum post. It doesn’t matter because it’s always amazingly insightful.

Thanks for sharing your experiences with us. As you can tell from those who’ve already responded, it’s not taken for granted.

Tone I just want to say publicly that I have infinite respect for you as an artist…and I always wish the best for you as person…you’ve always been kind to me over the years….

to your happiness and growth brotha…

peace

Tone, as always thank you for letting us peak into your life not just through music but through your interactions with us here on the boards. Anxiety is a mother fucker. I have a very good friend that has gone through the very same things as you. Thankfully he has learned to control it much better the last few years, but it’s something he struggles with daily.

Very proud of what you have accomplished with the last two EPs, and wish the best with some of these new found opportunities (FastCo etc).

Am I the only one who is really curious about that mysterious “musical hero”?
I’ve re-read the blog quite a lot of times, looking for hints that could reveal his/her identity; first of all, Tone refer to the artist as “they”, so I assume it’s a group. In addition to this, I couldn’t help but notice that the paragraph, in which the musical hero is mentioned, is named after a Radiohead song – and there is at least one more reference to them in that paragraph (Everything in its Right Place).
I realize that this could be totally coincidental and that I might be completely overanalyzing, but damn – the thought alone of Thom Yorke reaching out to Tone sends chills down my spine.

Friis said:Am I the only one who is really curious about that mysterious “musical hero”?
I’ve re-read the blog quite a lot of times, looking for hints that could reveal his/her identity; first of all, Tone refer to the artist as “they”, so I assume it’s a group. In addition to this, I couldn’t help but notice that the paragraph, in which the musical hero is mentioned, is named after a Radiohead song – and there is at least one more reference to them in that paragraph (Everything in its Right Place).
I realize that this could be totally coincidental and that I might be completely overanalyzing, but damn – the thought alone of Thom Yorke reaching out to Tone sends chills down my spine.

You just blew my mind.

Just for fun, the title of the paragraph is “Jigsaw Falling Into Place” which is also a Radiohead song.

Jimson11 said:


Just for fun, the title of the paragraph is “Jigsaw Falling Into Place” which is also a Radiohead song.

Yep, that’s one of the two I were referring to. I should have made that more clear.

Two is a pretty frustrating number. Had there been three references, I would’ve been absolutely sure about my theory; had there been only one, I would’ve written it of as merely a coincident. Now I honestly don’t know what to think, haha!

friis are you a super detective or some shit? that would be nuts if alll of tht was coincidence

Hah, “super detective” sure does have a nice ring to it!

But really I noticed it simply because I’ve started to get into Radiohead’s music over the last year or so - to a great extent because of Tone’s recommendation, actually.
I noticed the “Everything in its Right Place” reference immediately since I’m a big fan of Kid A, but I wasn’t aware of “Jigsaw Falling Into Place” until recently; and that’s when I really started to get suspicious.

Past by this and thought of this EP. Hope the picture embeds correctly.

man_time_relation.jpg

Anxiety is a dirty, dirty slut

What would yu guys say is a valid and thuruly encompassing definition for time??