Fly Mode – Odd Nosdam – 2009

I had this idea in my head in high school that I wanted to go to Princeton and major in English. Each year of high school took me further and further away from this goal. I could not keep it together for more than a week. Eventually I got kicked out of public school. St. Thomas gave me a chance after seeing my grades and test scores. They told me that if I could prove myself during summer school, then I would graduate on time. So I pulled it off. Of course, summer school went fine. If there are crises or rapidly changing scenarios or bizarre challenges, I can do just about anything. It’s the normal, consistent routine that’s the problem for me.

As the regular school year progressed, I started missing school and getting into trouble again. But the school treated me like I would pull it together in time. They had this college week thing where representatives would come from a bunch of colleges and universities. You could set up an interview with them where you could go through your interest in the school. Then they could tell you what you needed to do to enhance your chances of being accepted. I set up an interview with the Princeton representative.

Just the idea of meeting with someone from Princeton was a sobering thought. I really did pull it together for a short time leading up to this interview. But I was definitely nervous as the time approached. And so I went to the interview. And we got through the formality of meeting, shaking hands and sitting down when the man doing the interview interrupted me to tell me my nose was bleeding. So I excused myself to go to the bathroom, and I never went back to the interview.

So I told myself all kinds of stories about this. And it has become part of my drug addled teen mythology. But honestly, I hadn’t done any drugs in months. I used this perceived failure as an excuse to go on a self-destructive binge that got me kicked out of St. Thomas and into a treatment center. For years, I have been telling the story the other way around. Like right before the interview was when the binge started, and that’s why my nose bled.

So I heard this song for the first time about two weeks ago. And something about it made me think of this story. And it seemed so out of character for the tone of the song, but maybe it isn’t. There something sad happening there. And the noise that it starts with is probably the feeling I had about the whole thing. Just wanting to run away.

So this morning I am on my way to the new job that I am fairly nervous about, and I’m listening to this song. It’s a big company. I don’t seem to do well with big companies. I find them kind of stifling I guess. Or maybe I just like to make things more difficult. I always feel sort of rejected by the whole corporate environment. I do much better with start up software companies. More freedom. More creativity. More impact on the overall direction of the company.

So these are my thoughts while I am driving in today. And it occurs to me that a startup sounds an awful lot like a band. I don’t want to get into an established commercial music venture or cover band for the same reasons. I want the freedom of controlling my own creative ventures. And then it occurred to me that the motivation behind a startup is the same as an Indie band. You follow a set of principles based on a mythology that is awfully similar. A startup has merely to have a good idea and some people that are willing to devote 70 or 80 hours a week to this idea to be wildly successful.

And this is all tied into this thing that has been becoming very clear to me as I have been writing this blog. The concepts behind this mythology are lies. And I have been saying something pretty similar to the thing I was saying the other day in my entry for Make You Sing when I have been going on interviews at startups during this round of unemployment. I keep giving this little speech:

“This would be my 6th time at this stage of development for a startup. And none of them have been successful. They all have good ideas and then something happens like a downturn in economic conditions or a lack of capital keeps the company unresponsive to the changing needs of the customers.”

No wonder startups haven’t been interested in me this time around. My experience is like a reality check that they aren’t going to be the rock stars that they think they will become. Because this little Indie company doesn’t have the connections to the people who will invent the new inflated value that gets them over the top. We are all being duped by major corporations that we will have this corporate success, but the truth is they don’t even have to kill our dreams anymore by telling us that we don’t have what it takes. If we are still on the hook with the corporate mythology that we will become start up moguls or Indie band crossover rock stars, then we will run up our dreams on our credit cards. Being in an Indie band is no different than being in a software startup. We see the Trent Reznors and the Microsofts of the world and it makes us dismiss all of the more modest stories as losers that just didn’t try or believe enough to make it happen.

So I am pulling into the parking lot and I am messing with my nose because it itches, and I pull my hand down and I’ve got a handful of blood. I’ve got a ridiculous nosebleed. I start feeling that ‘gotta run’ panic. Like I’m just going to turn around and go home. And then I start laughing. “What the fuck difference does it make?”

So I went inside. I had a conversation with the security guard about where I was supposed to go while holding my nostrils. He kept looking at me like I was a nutcase. So I laughed and asked where the bathroom was. It took me about 10 minutes to clean up and make it stop. Then I went upstairs and met the development manager who had been waiting on me for a while. I told him and the other new guy the story. They didn’t find any humor in it.

Odd Nosdam has these great techniques for bringing life to electronic sounds.  Even the parts that sound disjointed and robotic have an organic element.  And it’s odd to think of the tools he’s using as instruments like a guitar is an instrument, but everything sounds so analog.  And yes, he’s using a lot of loops of analog devices, but it’s not like the end product isn’t an original song.  It’s even heavier this way.  A bunch of recycled sounds from the piles of audio refuse.  It’s more collage than sampling.  And most of the work has so much more emotion and depth than I would normally expect from music like this.

Then I realized that this song makes me think of that story because the sound has all of this irony packed with sadness. Like here you are human. Have another human experience. The pillars of salt are all around you. The eyes of stone peering out from the lost.  You can find the eyes of Medusa to stare into, but it won’t be because she tricked you into looking. It will be because you had to know how you were going to lose. So have a fistful of blood. All roads lead through the corporation.  But laugh because even the snake headed corporation can’t have your soul if you don’t let them.

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One response to “Fly Mode – Odd Nosdam – 2009”

  1. Awwww, this makes me so sad for you. I hope your second day is better than the first. I think it’s more culture shock than anything because you can certainly do the work or even deal with people you don’t connect with or have much in common with. ((((((hugs)))))

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