At some point last year, I realized that I had racked up a whole lot of new original songs that either got uploaded to my Bandcamp as singles (Cube Land, From the Ground Up, Blood Elf Druids, etc.), or never really left my computer! Coupled with music I’ve done for other projects, that body of music could easily fill out a full album… so I think I’m gonna do it! My plan is to release 2 albums this year: one featuring my original songs, and one video game music cover album. The former is almost ready (I just need to arrange “Rewind” and finish 1 more song that I think would fit nicely with the others)
Concerning the latter, here is my 2nd video of the year: “Meet me above the clouds” (I’m trying my hardest to keep up with this video-a-week thing!! Wish me luck!!) It’s a new vocal arrangement of “Ballad of the Goddess” from The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. I really enjoyed the music from this game; some of the themes were so hauntingly beautiful (Fi’s theme in particular is one that I could listen to for hours on end). I also love how the composers reversed Zelda’s Lullaby and constructed an entirely new piece of music… they are so creative and talented. Since there were only a few lyrics in Hylian, I wrote some additional lyrics and added a new vocal melody in order to extend the song. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed working on it ^__^
Tags: inspiration, kingyo hanabi, masala chai, state of flow, tea, World of Warcraft
Happy New Year Everyone! Being that we’re now 2 weeks into 2013 I thought it’d be a good idea to honor one of my new year’s resolutions: updating my blog more frequently. But being that it’s been quite a while since I’ve done this whole writing thing, I wasn’t really sure what to write about. So I figured I’d write about something that has been affecting me a lot lately as a creative type: getting inspired. Sometimes I don’t like to work until inspiration strikes, but unfortunately this can be quite problematic because let’s face it — sometimes inspiration just doesn’t strike. And when your whole career revolves around being inspired, that pretty much sucks. So over the years, I’ve tried to come up with ways to work around this little problem, and I thought I’d share my most important one:
Baby steps help you reach a state of flow.
Being able to work is all about being in that state of flow where your ability to do a particular activity (and having the confidence to do so) is at the appropriate level for engaging in said activity. The reason we often feel overwhelmed by tasks (despite the fact that we’ve succesfully completed similar tasks in the past), is because we aren’t warmed up yet. So when I am not in the correct state of mind to delve into a creative project, I often take baby steps in order to warm up my brain. Each time you complete a task, you feel a burst of confidence in your ability to be productive. The more of these “bursts” you have, the bigger tasks you can take on.
One of my favorite things about World of Warcraft, is that it is the perfect forum for taking baby steps of productivity and accomplishment. I think this is why MMOs in general are so appealing — They are built to tap into that part of human nature that desires to be productive, in a very consistent and quantifiable way. And while there are a lot of people who get addicted to this type of virtual accomplishment (or the aspect of escapism that an MMO provides), when used in moderation, it’s been a very helpful start to a productive day. I have adopted the ritual of making tea, and doing my WoW dailies while drinking tea and having a light breakfast. Often, preparing the tea takes a bit of time (especially when I follow the Samovar Masala Chai recipe), which I enjoy because it helps me relax. When I finish this ritual, I feel more confident to move onto other tasks. But it’s still a gradual progression. I move from WoW dailies, to household chores (making the bed, washing dishes, etc.), to running errands, to actually getting work done. Sometimes I can skip straight to working, but when I’ve gone for a while without touching a project, the progression really helps a lot.
Especially when you’re in a rut, making a list and tackling even the tiniest of duties is so incredibly helpful when it comes to breaking out of an uninspired state of mind. If you are wandering around in your pajamas and you don’t feel motivated to do anything, just try to pick up one thing and put it back in its place. Then force yourself to go wash a dish. Keep forcing the mundane little tasks until your brain decides to release some endorphines once it realizes you’ve just accomplished something. I’m not even kidding. I’ve had days when I feel like there is no point to finishing projects that once brought me so much joy and inspiration; I’ve felt apathetic and unmotivated. It’s at those times that you have to remind yourself that your projects have not actually lost their merit, you’re just not in the right state of mind. It’s all very chemical — Give your brain that feeling of accomplishment little by little, and it can help tremendously with getting back on track.
Oh, one of my other new year’s resolutions was to make a new video each week. I’m not sure how realistic this is, but I’m going to try my best! I kicked this off with “Kingyo Hanabi”… hope you enjoy ^___^
I think if you’re reading my blog, then you probably know by now that I’m a huge Megaman fan. I’ve mentioned a number of times that I used to record the music from the originl NES Megaman games onto casette tape so that I could listen to them later, and I might have mentioned that I learned how to play all of the themes from Megaman 2-5 on the piano by ear when I was in grade school. But did you know that I also used to subscribe to the Capcom newsletter, and I’d re-draw all of their Megaman comics? I also dressed up as a (girl version) of Megaman for Halloween in 5th grade. And when no one was looking, I’d spin around and pose like Quick Man or Metal Man.
Okay now that I’ve sufficiently outed myself as the biggest nerd ever, please enjoy this metal Megaman 2 medley that I did with my friend Fernando. He rocks, and you should totally check out his channel for great metal covers of video game music. Our medley consists of the intro music, Metal Man’s theme, Heat Man’s theme, a plasma cannon, and wearing a box (and possibly a beanie with a CD taped to the front? I’m not sure, but I still can’t stop laughing whenever I watch the intro)… Hope you enjoy ^_^
I’ve been kind of stressed out lately, and I remembered that when I was younger my friends and I would sing “You’re Nobody till Somebody Loves You” (Dean Martin version) when we were going crazy over midterms or something like that. We didn’t harmonize or anything, we’d usually just sing really loudly and stand up on our chairs. I’m not even sure why it was this song in particular, perhaps because it was fun to sing. Anyways, I thought I’d share it with you all in case anyone needs a boost.
And like I said in the video description, I’m not sure why I’m dressed like a scientist. I just thought it would be a good idea at the time. For science!
Tags: anime, macross plus, voices
I heard “Voices” by Yoko Kanno for the first time about 14 or 15 years ago, and I still remember how mysterious and beautiful I thought it was. The chord progressions and melodies were so unusual to me, but yet so hauntingly lovely that I listened to it over and over again in order to try and understand it. It was unlike anything I’d ever heard before, as is the case with many of Yoko-san’s compositions.
I hope you’ll enjoy our rendition of “Voices.” This is my first collaboration with Kyle Landry, a very talented youtube pianist who covers everything from video game music to classical pieces and everything in between. The non-traditional chord progressions made recording all the vocal harmonies quite a challenge for me, but I learned a lot in the process and am really happy we were able to work on this song together. Anyways, here is the video:
I always find it interesting that one’s perception of apperance often overrides their ability to distinguish things aurally. Back when I was working as an RA, I had a Vietnamese resident who was born and raised in Germany. He didn’t speak any Vietnamese, and had a heavy German accent when he spoke English. But for several months, everyone on our floor assumed that his accent was Vietnamese. Once they realized he was from Germany, people noted that it was almost as if someone flipped a switch in their brains and the accent suddently turned into a very obviously German one. Likewise, when I was in Korea, a lot of the people there had a hard time believing that the Asian-Americans who came to do missionary work there could actually speak English without an accent.
On occasion I’ll get a comment on my youtube videos from a non-Japanese speaking person (or perhaps a non-Japanese person who watches a lot of anime and likes to say they “speak” Japanese because they studied it for a few semesters in college) concerning my “accent.” It’s funny to me because I don’t have an accent when I speak or sing in Japanese since I grew up speaking it. At this point I usually direct them to my last name and point out the fact that I am Japanese. An even more baffling thing is the fact that on occasion I will get a comment about my “accent” when speaking English, despite the fact that I grew up speaking this language as well. When people perceive me as Caucasian, they have a hard time wrapping their head around the fact that I can speak Japanese without an accent, and likewise, when people perceive me as being Japanese, they have a hard time wrapping their head around the fact that I have no accent when speaking English either.
Growing up as a “hapa” (in my case, half-Japanese and half-European descent) I often struggled with identity since people seemed to have such widely varied opinions about my race. On the upside, I’ve found that my own personal experiences have helped me to be more open-minded and able to relate to wider groups of people. I’ve also come to understand that as humans we are such visual beings that we almost can’t help our intial perceptions. However, I still consider it rather foolish to condescendingly tell someone “your accent could be better” if you don’t even know enough about the language to be able to distinguish a native speaker from a non-native one
Tags: are you quick enough 2, megaman 2, quick man
Hi everyone! Today I have a pretty silly video to share with you all. Last week my friend Phuong released his game, “Are You Quick Enough 2,” which is a fun and addictive iPhone game where you can play a ton of Wario Ware style mini-games. So if you like virtually arm wrestling your friends and throwing ninja stars at bad guys, and want to support a fellow hard working indie developer, be sure to check out his game! Also, I thought it appropriate to pair his trailer (which I made sure to fully dorkify with scenes depicting the “wrong way to do mini-games” (as demonstrated by me) with some Megaman 2: Quick Man on the piano (the theme is Quick!! I guess the theme could also be the number 2… or just: games I like). Anyways, I hope you enjoy:
1.) I held a frog in my hand this weekend at a mini-golf course. I also caught a little girl copying me when I yelled, “no hands!!” while riding on what looked like a flying seal from the Mall Carousel. Thankfully her mother was propping her up, otherwise I would have felt like a really bad influence.
2.) One of my theories about the main antagonist in Legend of Korra was debunked after watching the most recent episode. And now that I have to wait one week until the next one, I feel like I’m going through major withdrawl. However, binging on Avatar the Last Airbender (currently halfway through season 2) has helped tremendously.
3.) After a long hiatus that involved a brief stay in the hospital, I’ve finally gotten back into composing, singing and video game/animation music covers. So I hope you’ll enjoy my first collaboration with the wonderful pianist Zorsy. Here is “Inochi no Namae” from Spirited Away (also known as 千と千尋の神隠し if you saw the Japanese version first as I did):
I hope you’ll enjoy my goofy song about the 3rd Game Music Bundle! For as little as a dollar, you can get 5 wonderful game soundtracks: Terraria, Plants vs. Zombies, Dustforce, Ilomilo, and Frozen Synapse (a game that is not about ice). For $10, you can get over 10 additional albums (full of great game soundtracks and chiptunes).
Upon reflecting on the incident I’m about to tell you about, I realized that I wrote a journal entry at some point in my past entitled “milk fiasco” in which I endured a similar liquid beverage mishap. I had to go look this up because I figured it was wholly appropriate. I will copy and paste. Observe shigi circa 2004:
Okay, I’m like the biggest spaz in the world. I’m supposed to hang out with YC today, so I decided to make some lunch before he got here so that I could take my magnesium supplement. For a drink, I was going to make matcha with milk; it tastes like green tea ice cream (Ken’s mother was nice enough to pick me up a bag of the amai matcha, because I couldn’t find it on my own, and nobody at the store seemed to think it existed). And as I’m taking the milk out of the refrigerator, gosh, I don’t even know what happened… I must have let it slip somehow, and the side of the carton hit something, and it basically, exploded. Well, I honestly don’t remember how it started. But I do remember somehow having to catch the carton, and milk flying everywhere… and then I remember seeing the hole in the side where milk was spilling out, and I frantically tilted it so that the milk wouldn’t spill out. But in doing so, the milk started pouring out of the top of the carton.
At this point, there was milk everywhere… all over the floor, and the fridge, and the windows (wtf!?!?!), and me… so I threw the thing into the sink and let it drain out there. And the whole time I was screaming, and the window was open, and at some point I think one of my neighbors walked by while I was tilting the carton, so it probably looked like I decided to pour out milk all over my floor. I must find out which neighbor this was. The worst part is that I seriously can’t remember why it happened in the first place. I think I’m losing my mind. But I did salvage some of the milk, and now I’m drinking amai matcha and it’s good.
And in true mindless random shigi fashion, I closed with this:
Oh, here is a picture of the octopus at Heundae beach. It was nearly as big as Grace.
Yes, I ended the entry about how I poured milk all over myself, the kitchen, and the floor with a photo of a giant octopus.
So now onto what happened today, in 2012. This morning, I decided to mix cranberry and orange juice together, so I got out a cup and started pouring the cranberry juice in first. I don’t know why this happened, because the cranberry juice bottle was not slippery, but for some reason the (very full) bottle slipped out of my hands as I was pouring. In a vain attempt to catch it, I managed to knock the bottle upwards, causing it to slam against the counter. At this point, bright red juice flew out all over the place. It was on the counter, the floor, inside the drawers, all over the things on top of the counter, and me.
So throughout all of this, I was screaming in horror. Then George comes over to see what’s going on, and he sees me standing there screaming in the middle of the kitchen, that also happens to be covered in bright red liquid. That took an amazingly long time to clean up, but perhaps because it was so red, it was much easier to see than say milk, and thus much easier to thoroughly remove it. And the cranberry orange drink ended up being very good.
And just to be consistent with the shigi from 2004, here is a picture of an egg that I painted over at the Librande’s house for Easter. It’s the Sunflower having tea with a friendly ghost.
Have a nice day!