muted tones

october 02

today we are cartographers // i needed new units of measure / across / what's left

October is curated by Sarah Renee Bertsch of Chicago: she is atlas, and is currently working with the transaction Ensemble. She collaborated with Chicago's Tiny Hairs for this project.

curator log:

< | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | >

getting the best of me

september 03rd, 2002

there was this really weird moment i had with an old boss of mine where they said “hey, you know, maybe you have ADD? Maybe that’s why you have all this trouble?” And at the time I said, “uh…as far as I know I don’t have ADD. thanks.” But I was really thinking, “are you serious? who asks someone if they have ADD?”

But now, i know that they were just trying to help me figure out my problem. the problem that i constantly talked to them about. “i have no focus, bla bla bla. i wish i could figure out what’s wrong with me, bla bla bla.” I forgot that when you talk to someone about your problems, sometimes they try to help you fix them.

the problem then was that i had too many jobs (at work, at home, in my head…etc.) to do, and not enough support (at work), not enough time, and not an emotional leg to stand on (at home, in my head). so i’d be at work and someone would ask me for something simple like the walnut container and i knew exactly where it was and when i put it there and where i got it from and what they needed the walnuts for and how much it weighed and how to say walnuts in both spanish and french and i think maybe german and how to fix the lid and what the best way to clean it is, but all that would come out of my mouth was “shoe polish?” and trust me, we didn’t use shoe polish for anything. not even the cookies.

so i’m like this idea machine. constantly spitting out ideas for how, when, why, where, what, and uh…who. all the time. just ask my friends. the problem is, i haven’t come up with the idea for how to wrangle them all and put them in their stalls so i can access them and ride them to their logical brilliant conclusions. i usually only get out into the barnyard, and i’m looking at this other idea like…ooooh, she’s a beaut, and i jump down to get the new pretty one and the first one just runs away.

i’m like this with my behavior too. not just with my art and music. i’ll wake up and think, wouldn’t it be great if i could start hugging everyone all the time and then they’d know how much i like them? and then i hug a few people and start thinking, wouldn’t it be great if i went over there and looked at that book about glenn gould. and later i realize i haven’t hugged anyone in days and i feel really sucky.

the point is, i’m trying really extra double college try hard to get this recording done and done well. i think i may have started excercising the muscle that other people use to keep focused on their projects. pretty soon, i’ll be at the olympics lifting 300 pounds with it. just you wait.

and so, because the best of me is always out there on the line, for all of these ideas, sometimes it gets returned late, or with coffee stains. i’m working on not lending the best of me to any more coffee stainers. like sleep deprivation, self-doubt, or alcohol abuse. they always return it late, and have like a million dollars in fines.



the story

august 28th, 2002

Last summer when I moved to Chicago from Detroit, I left behind an amazing community. These were people I worked with, played with, loved, and helped build a strong and supportive community. My time with them was extremely influental in my life. My community not only helped shape my vision, they helped me take steps to make it happen.

One day in February, I received an email from a Collective that was a major support in the community, and for me. That day, I wrote the song I’m going to submit to muted tones. This was the message:

“Dear family, friends, and comrades, V Day 2002

In Detroit we have had very recently a tragedy that
seems incomprehensible by itself, but it also comes at
a difficult time already in our communityís and
collectiveís day to day struggles. We are at a
complete loss without our friends (and housemates)
Oona and Emma, killed in a car accident February 12th.
…….Two of our other friends and housemates
were also in the car. Jason, as his luck would have
it, was thrown from the car receiving only minor
physical bruises, but Jesse has been undergoing many
surgeries. The injuries are all very serious, but his
condition is improving and we all feel very grateful
to know now that he is going to pull through……
In solidarity and struggle,
Trumbullplex Anarchist Housing Collective and Theatre”

Jesse is okay now, last I heard he was making a full recovery, and was walking.

When I wrote the song, I intended for it to simply be for the Collective and Oona and Emma’s families, to express my sympathy and support. I also wrote it to send my support to Jesse in his recovery.

So now, I live in a new incredible community. A musical community that includes The Tiny Hairs. And I asked them to work on this song with me because I want it to develop beyond a specific mourning. I want to add some other feelings, and themes. To make the song more universal or accessible. But I want it to retain the original feelings of hope in a time of loss. And the Tiny Hairs seem like guys who could do all that. Maybe this theory only works in my head. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.



roommatey (arrrrr!)

august 27th, 2002

hey folks,

my dad’s been leaving comments. they’re worth reading. especially the one about tofu tubes.

i worked on the song a bit last night, and it looks as if a longer version will work just fine. i even added a little lead in there. it makes the song 10 times sadder, which surprised me since it’s just about the saddest song i’ve ever written. maybe tomorrow i’ll tell you the story behind it.

after i finished the song, i was playing around with this dress, making goofy alterations as i am often doing, and i had a moment (i have a lot of those, don’t i?). so i yelled into the kitchen where my roommate was doing roommatey (arrrr!) things.

-Jaime, I’m not going to be an artist anymore.


-I’m going to be an experimenter.


-Yup. That’s what I’m going to call myself now. Say it with me ex-peer-ee-men-terr.

-Sounds like fun.

-Yeah, I realised that when i make stuff, i don’t really set out to make anything in particular, I just open my boxes of crap, and then play around with it until something works.

-Well, I think that you might still be an artist.


-I mean my definition might be broad, but I sort of look at it as being a creator.

-Oh. Yeah, and i do create things. Maybe I could call myself god then.

-Yeah. You could be ‘God Renee’.


-Or how about a diety.

-Yeah, but just a minor one.


The dress is looking pretty good. maybe i’ll take a picture of it and post it here.



august 26th, 2002

it was my fault all along.
imagine that.


august 26th, 2002

i can’t seem to get the links to work right. i think it has something to do with the HTML/plain text option. but i’m not sure. i’ll see if i can’t get a hold of mike so we can work it out.


Phase II - planning

august 26th, 2002

This weekend I went to a play And They Put Handcuffs On The Flowers, saw Casey Meehan and The Late Night Radio (they played the party after the play), saw Lying in States at the Wicker Park block party, played a show with the (Richard Nickel) transaction Ensemble in Pilsen, went to a going away party, goofed around with a big beautiful dog named Cleo, and had marathon band practice for the autumn-waking. And that’s after a week playing three shows! I was saying to Allison (the drummer for the autumn-waking and the transaction Ensemble) that being busy like this was the goal I had in moving to Chicago. I had a moment somewhere in there while I was loading in, or setting up, or something - where the phrase “it’s working” popped in my head. Wow. It’s working. Who knew?

We’re trying to get the schedule and logistics worked out for this SRB/Tiny Hairs recording. It looks like we are going to work in small groups, starting with a session recording a new version of the song. As it stands, the song is only about two and a half minutes long. Not a whole lot of room for the Hairs to do their thing. I’m hoping I can stretch it to five or a little longer. I’m going to work on that this week, making sure the song still makes sense in a longer form.

That’s all I’ve got for today.Hope you’re enjoying these last days of summer!


vocoding the human genome

august 23rd, 2002

Word on the street is that a friend I casually encouraged (read: repeatedly prodded with guilt-laden threats) to participate in muted tones is mixing down this very day. Further reports indicate the use of a vocoder. To say that I am pleased is an understatement. I should have the masterpiece in my hands sometime next week.

In case you were wondering, the Bronchitis has its back to the wall, and is wimpering like the sissy it is. It’s only a matter of time until I beat this lingering cough into submission and make a complete recovery. Many thanks for the cards and flowers.

Have a great weekend!

Phase I - complete

august 21st, 2002

oh boy.

I’ve had a heckuva time with this here bronchitis. It’s slowing me down in every capacity. Especially the vocal one. Which is very important to me, being a singer. And someone who chatters endlessly. But I did not let this stop me from asking the Tiny Hairs to help me out with my muted tones project. I handed out a copy of the song in question to all six members of the group and delivered my proposal - albeit raspy and peppered with coughs. Even though they hadn’t heard the song yet, they seemed for the most part enthusiastic about the idea. What a great group of fellas. They are a busy bunch, so things may not work out for us this time around. We’ll see what happens.

For now, I’ve got some serious coughing to do.


< | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | >

1 2 3 4 5