Riker's Mailbox

Sunday, August 22, 2010

SpinTunes: An Epilogue

I won.



In what bizarre universe do I find myself, where I'm able to get involved with this great group of people, all of whom are imposing talents in their own right, and stand toe-to-toe with them? What is this ridiculous sense of validation and pride I'm feeling? What the hell, man?!

It's taken me a bit too long to sit down and start writing this; I've had an unexpectedly busy week and I also needed a little time to get used to the idea that SpinTunes has concluded, and that somehow I managed to come out on top...

I've already gone into great detail about the songs I wrote, most recently with a bookend post over at the Artifiction forums, so this is just going to be a bit of a"closing thoughts and heaps of thanksgiving" post.

First and foremost, I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Sid Brown, my dear friend and collaborator on "My Daughter" and "Lovers, Fighters, Survivors". Without your contribution, my entries would have lacked their most important essences. Thanks, buddy.

I want to say something to all of you who were involved in one way or another. I toyed with the idea of making youtube videos for each of you, but not everybody has an account; I might still do it for those who do, but for now I'm just going to say everything to everyone here.

To my competitors:

I'm honored just to be among you. I know this contest doesn't have the exposure that Song Fu had, and that it's just in its fledgling stages, but in a way that makes this even more meaningful to me that we all had a part in it. This feels like the beginning of something that will continue to grow and inspire musicians and songwriters for a long time. I really hope it becomes something magnificent.

The following notes appear in the order our profiles are listed over at the Spintunes blog...

Edric Haleen: You, sir, are the Unstoppable Force and the Immovable Object. Dave Leigh once said that you never got the recognition you deserved in Song Fu because of the young trending age of the voters; people wanted nerdy pop songs and didn't recognize the raw talent you possess. I'm glad to see that this contest was able to acknowledge what a damn powerful songwriter you are. Not to mention your unrelenting positivism and ability to motivate and entertain everyone around you. Thanks for setting the bar so high.

Kevin Savino-Riker: um, hi!

Denise Hudson: Denise, Denise, Denise. You were my secret partner and, to borrow a term from Native American culture, my spirit guide. I was a little nervous about entering the contest, and might have only stuck around to do shadow entries had you not been there to be my training wheels and my sounding board. Thanks so much for helping get it through my thick skull that I could do this stuff too. Also, this paragraph would be naked without a mention of the absolutely delicious music you've penned. I'm proud to say I know a writer and performer as good as you.

Ross Durand: We've exchanged correspondence recently since making it to the final challenge together, but I don't think I ever quite told you that I was scared of having you as a final opponent. Your songwriting, playing, and vocal stylings are all things I envy and strive toward achieving in my own music. Thanks for writing great songs the whole way through, especially at the end. I hope to hear a lot more from you.

Sara Parsons: I think you might be the most established YouTuber out of everyone who took part in this contest. I'd heard of you and listened to your songs long before I even joined up at TMA. Because you were in here, I felt like I was up against a bonafide celebrity of the new independent music scene. I cannot get enough of your music, and it's still a novelty to me when I think about how we're now acquaintances... that I can just hit you up on Twitter and you write me back, knowing who I am. I still want to write that "I got killed by a werewolf" song with you.

Mick Bordet: I only recently discovered that you got a shadow in for round #1, so I'm sorry that I haven't had more time to get to know you and your music, but for what it's worth, I like what I heard and have to compliment you on managing a unique approach to the Superhero topic. I hope you'll be back for the next SpinTunes!

Gödz Pöödles: Russ, Rhod... you two are famous, infamous, notorious, and a handful of other -ouses, all of which are crucial to being the songwriting contest superstars you are. You guys are among the most conditioned and professional acts I've ever heard and you've always encouraged me. It means a lot to be a newcomer here, and be taken seriously by seasoned veterans such as yourselves. It's always a pleasure chatting with and listening to you!

Emperor Gum: Graham, you got a bit of the short end of the stick during this contest, but I've always been impressed by your ability to take a clarinet and turn it into a rock n' roll instrument. Nobody can touch the uniqueness of your songs, and while they're not always crowd-pleasers, I've taken special care to pay very close attention to your music - you're always up to something devious, it seems. That's a trait I enjoy quite a bit.

Bryce Jensen: Dude. Your shadow blew me away. You're another guy that I knew nothing about as this contest was beginning, but I'm looking forward to hearing your future works. You have a way of harnessing your voice that impresses and humbles me. You should submit covers for all the other challenges from this contest. I really wanna hear what you have to come up with.

Ryan Welton: You were a surprise to me; when I heard "Underdog Blues" I thought to myself, "wow, a lot of people here just met their match". Your song didn't get the reception it deserved, and I'm bummed that we didn't hear back from you after round #1. Regardless, the song you did share with us was entertaining, funny, and it sounded fantastic. Please come back for Spintunes #2.

Governing Dynamics: Travis, I'm glad we became friends between all the challenges and among all the tweets flurrying about; you're the songwriter I had the easiest time relating to, and as such it was especially hard for me to hear you absolutely nailing these challenges in ways that I couldn't manage. Please understand I mean that to say that you're the songwriter I strive to be when I'm putting my mind to full arrangements. I think I can learn a lot from you. I hope you won't mind when I start poking around asking for input...

Jenny Katz: Where do I begin? You are the most delightful surprise. You wrote my favorite songs in both the rounds in which you participated. You are still in heavy rotation in my ipod, and I find myself singing your songs all the time. You music is so good, I think I have a crush on you because of it. We were deprived of your work far too soon. Seriously, I love your music. I love your voice. The harmony in "Miss You" brings me to tears. I can't give a higher compliment.

JoAnn Abbot: JoAnn, it's the same compliment you've gotten everywhere, from everyone, but it's amazing that you walked into this with empty hands and produced the songs you did. You have a soft but powerful soul in your voice, and you found a way to make music out of scarcity. Unbelievable. Thanks also for being so fun in your interactions with everybody! You're a treasure to have here.

Bram Tant: Bram, you left a bigger mark on Spintunes than anyone else, and you did it with one absolutely hilarious and inventive song (and a couple butt-cheeks). You're fearless, and I can't wait to see what you apply that fearlessness to next. Don't ever stop.

Boffo Yux Dudes: Tom, I think people often get to distracted by the humor to ever pay attention to the fact that you and Allan are two of the most versatile songwriters I've encountered here. You consistently (all the way back to Song Fu's past that I've listened to) come up with songs that each have their own identity and uniqueness, while maintaining a certain quality that could only come from you. Every song of yours I listen to gives me the strange paradoxical feeling of "who the hell wrote this?/Boffo Yux Dudes totally wrote this..." Thanks also for getting my sense of humor when most others miss it.

"BucketHat" Bobby: Bobby. Mr. Matheson. Dude. You were someone I was thrilled to befriend back when I joined TMA. You have mastered a genre of your own; that's in many ways the greatest achievement a songwriter can strive toward. I have always held you in the highest respect, and am still caught off guard that you told me my opinion and praise meant a lot to you. Dude! It's the other way around! I'm the one who's supposed to be incredibly flattered to be complimented by you!

Heather Miller: You're another one whose songs work their way into my head. I cannot tell you how many times I've walked into a bar since round #2, and my head kicked off with, "...right on target, right on cue..." You've gotten under my skin in a good way. It's also been especially delightful reading your song bios; you're a great writer - prose and music. I think I need to start listening to your radio program; I suspect I'll enjoy it quite a lot :)

Gorbzilla: Another Song Fu veteran whose music I always liked. You've got a great rock n' roll voice and it's supported perfectly by your guitar work. I need to give you a special shout-out for "Superhero Song" - it was one that I was fascinated by, even before I knew anything about the character you chose to pay tribute to. I really appreciate it when a person can convey enough through a song that it piques my interest and inspires me to investigate it further. That song was a great achievement.

The Offhand Band: Mark, even before I started reading your song biographies, I could tell that you put more effort than anyone into the science of songwriting. Every single nuance, every note you compose is given meaning by the notes that surround it... I can't really articulate exactly what I'm trying to say, but I hope you get it from my fumbling around the point I'm trying to make. Your songs are chock-full of thought. Lots of people can 'design' songs, but the design tends to stick out more than the song itself once all is said and done. You're good enough at design that even though that design is doing its job the whole way through, the *song* is what stands out. I was especially impressed with your instrumental outro in "Another Universe", and I'll echo the sentiments of others when I say that "Ballroom Dance" was the best song of Round 4.

Steve Durand: Steve, I feel bad not having something more original to say here, but I'm going to have to reiterate something I think Travis already said about your music: I can't help but feel cool listening to it. You have a sound unlike anyone else and you do things with those horns that put most of us to shame. You've achieved a style that has so much vibe and substance - those undefinable qualities that can't be named themselves, but can only be hinted at. Your songs are just dripping with (good adjective).

Charlie McCarron: You're another composer I was very, very afraid of when this contest began. I knew about 'Grey Matters' before Spintunes came to be, and I was just awestruck by the sheer magnitude of your creative mind. And despite that, your entries in this contest had an unexpected tenderness and delicacy to them; the best way I can describe it is to say, it takes a lot of muscle to have such a gentle touch. Your music is brilliant and haunting. I need to hear more from you.

Caleb Hines: You're possibly the most creative musician and songwriter I've ever become acquainted with. You possess an unparalleled dynamic range in your songwriting, and can deftly weave incompatible influences into a coherent and above all, enjoyable art form. I sincerely believe that I'm addressing a pioneer in the next generation of the Jonathan Coultons and They Might Be Giantses of geek music stardom.

Jon Eric: Yet again, I'm saddened that we didn't hear back from you after round 1; "Superman Sneezed" earned my vote because amongst all the other competition, yours had a surprising emotional impact. Your chorus was deceptive in its simplicity, and it hit me hard. I think you'd have done something really noteworthy in round #3, and I'd love to convince you to give it a shot.

Danny Blackwell and Brian Gray: Sorry for lumping two together here, but I have the exact same thing to say to you both: you guys wrote from a pathologically twisted state of mind in your respective songs, and they were both guilty pleasures because of it! I'd really like to see you join the competition next time around - I think contests like this could benefit from your flavors of off-kilter creativity.

Dr. Lindyke: Dave (and William, who I secretly suspect is a repressed alternate personality trapped in Dave's mind... why else do you hide him from us?), my gratitude goes to you twofold. Not only were you more dedicated to this contest than anyone as far as I can tell despite not being officially entered into the competition, you were also a significant motivating influence to me. You kicked me in the pants when I was hemming and hawwing about joinging Song Fu 7 before it met its demise, and that momentum stayed with me as Spintunes came about. You have always 'gotten' me as a songwriter, and your consistently kind words were more supportive than you know. You and Denise both convinced me to write my own way, as opposed to falling into the trap of aiming for what I think others want. Your prolific songwriting is an inspiration. You write so often and so consistently well... I harbor an affectionate jealousy for the works you produce. Thanks again.

To Travis and the judges:

We wouldn't have Spintunes without your commitment and passion toward music. I'm sure I'm speaking for everybody when I say, thanks for giving us a place to push ourselves.

Travis Langworthy: You're the big boss. The man with the plan. Thanks for standing up and building something for TMA out of the rubble of Song Fu. You took on a task that was going to demand a lot of your energy and patience, and you did it remarkably well.
I owe you for presenting me with such an invigorating and infuriating way to occupy all my personal time these past two months.

Heather Zink: You made a great scapegoat :-p Your reviews best tapped into the perspective of the listening public - the people who come to enjoy what we're putting out there. Thanks for getting me in touch with that.

Julia Sherred: Jules, your reviews and rankings came as the product of so much consideration - you managed to nail the logistics of impartial review and you provided more constructive information than I could ever ask for. Thanks also for your making the listening parties something to look forward to!

Joe "Covenant" Lamb: You're the senior songwriter of this community (not an age joke, I swear), and your talent and experience brought a great value to the contest. I have to thank you especially for representing a viewpoint of songs as sound and feeling, not just poetry and theory.

Sammy KABLAM!: If there's one thing everybody loves about you, it's that you shoot from the hip and rarely miss the mark. Your input always went straight to the issue, and you were never afraid to tell us where we needed to expend a little effort. I can personally attest to this improving my songs as the rounds progressed.

Niveous: You were, and still are, a bit of a mystery to me, but your Nur Ein pedigree was evident in your judging. You had an acute sense of what worked and what didn't in everyone's entries to the extent that I cannot disagree with anything you had to say, positive or negative, in any of your reviews of anyone's songs. You have a keen ear; thanks for letting us borrow it.

In Conclusion:

That was a whole lot of words. But I felt that I owe those and more to you all, so I'll beg your pardon and get this thing over with.

I know this contest isn't "big" in comparison to what else is out there, but it means more to me than I know how to convey. I have never had a better education in songwriting than what I received from running this gauntlet. You guys have all helped me reach the next level in my music, and for that, I'm indebted to you all. I'll be riding this high for a long time.


  1. YAY! Now to get my video and stuff I requested so that I can feature next month on Geeky Pleasures :P

    I'm glad this was such a good experience for you. I am looking forward to reading your reviews when you sit as a judge for Spintunes 2.

  2. JoAnn Abbott5:03 PM

    I'm going to be glowing about this for the next week, so that isn't the sun in the east, just my grin!

  3. Anonymous5:04 PM

    you did good. real good.
    and that is an amazing compliment to receive. particularly when i felt that i kinda bailed a bit on you and was not very Forthcoming. It is hard for me to be trusting and good with other people and you have been one of the folks who has been very nice and patient with me.
    if I the things I say ARE good for other people, it's because I have had good examples lately. It's been a year of good karma. So keep spreading the cameraderie and support. We have a good group of very accepting people. :)

  4. Jules,

    Now that the big blog post is out of the way, I can get my crud together to submit to you. It's high on my list, I swear!!

  5. I thought this first round of SpinTunes went much smoother than anyone should have expected. When the judges didn't get pissed during our little 'Drive By Mooning' stunt in the early days told me that it would be a fun ride.

    Kev, it's been fun getting to know you thought your music and in the amazing artifiction chat sessions that tend to bring out the best and looniest in people at 3 am. I still wonder if Joe or Bram ever sleep, since they're 5 hours ahead of us.

    Wear the belt high, and put the trophy in a place of honor. You've earned it.

  6. Kevin, much congrats once again and thanks so much for the kind words! It's really been an amazing ride and an honor to get to "hang out" with all of these cool people. :-) Looking forward to what the future brings!

  7. Way to go Kevin!!! Wow! I'm so proud! We all are!

  8. Graham Porter (Emperor Gum)12:29 PM

    Aw. [tips hat]