Steven Archer Rants

Shit Man….You Old

Shit man… you old…I started this whole music thing way back in 90, when I started DJIng at clubs before I could legally be in them at 19. I stated my first band in my early 20s and didn’t start Ego Likeness until I was 28? or so. At the time I thought I was too old to really have much of a career doing this. In August I will turn 50. And the record I will be dropping this year is the most fully realized thing I’ve ever done. I remember reading that Michael Gira didn’t start The Swans until he was 30. And there are plenty of new and old scene artists, some in this group that are 40+.“Ok, so, what’s your point? This music is for old people?” No, don’t be an asshole. The point is that it’s never to late to do the thing you love. And if anything, starting later in life gives you a bit of an advantage in that you have a much more mature (hopefully) outlook on life. Which goes a long way when it comes to writing lyrics and how you deal with the professional aspects of the whole thing. There’s an old saying ,”youth is wasted on the young.” I’ve never been fond of it, because I feel like I did a lot of great shit when I was younger and used the time to develop skills I still use. But there really is a lot to be said for the sense of self and… “I don’t give a fuckness,” that comes with time and perspective. I am in no way saying one is better than the other. Each side of the coin has a lot going for it. But for those of us rapidly aging it’s easy to dismiss the desire to do X thing as childish. And it’s easy for young people to look at older musicians and assume that they aren’t able to bring new elements to music, or that it won’t speak to them. Which is a shame on all accounts. Personally when I was a kid, I never listened to music aimed at young people. And as an artist I couldn’t write for kids if you put a gun to my head. Make what you make, keep it honest, put it out into the world, repeat, and eventually it will find an audience it resonates with.

https://stoneburnerofficial.bandcamp.com/

Trade Secrets Are Bullshit

This is less of a rant and more of an observation. A while back I was on a thread with a musician and they were complaining about people asking what gear they use. And someone piped up “don’t tell them, it’s trade secrets.Which to me, and hopefully to you, is just silly. Because as we all know, it’s not the gear, it’s what you do with it. Garbage in/garbage out and all that. Each of us probably has a couple of tricks, or pieces of kit that they use that others might not, and it may solve a specific problem for them. Which is fantastic. But in the end it all comes down to the ideas. I started thinking about this because I just saw a thread here asking how music reviewers do their thing, if they have a system for it. And I’ve seen a few others asking how to do X or Y thing and the people who know about that are more than happy to jump in and get into an otaku level of detail about how it works.I’ve been also thinking about the small but aggressive backlash I’ve gotten on some of these posts, and I think I figured out something that those people might not get. I do it for the same reason so many people here are willing to help and be transparent with their shit. *Sure you don’t like the way I word things, too bad, be the change you want to see and write your own column.*It comes down to love. The people who want to share their information with you, myself included, LOVE what they do. They have poured themselves into learning how to do it. And they want others to get just as much out of it as they do. In the end, that’s the entire motivation. Also, there a couple of simple facts that everyone should keep in mind.1. Ain’t none of us big enough to worry about trade secrets. We are in a tiny corner of a genre that the mainstream world doesn’t even market to anymore.2. When you raise the water level for one person it raises it for everyone. Let’s say someone you help becomes the next Nine inch nails. And suddenly the spotlight is back on this style of music. Well, that’s fucking great for all of us. Because that means the available audience is much bigger. TL;DR: help others when you can. Trade secrets are bullshit.

Superpowers

Steven Rants: you’re a superhero get your shit together….Superpowers. All of you are superhero’s you just don’t know it yet. (Some of you may, but then you won’t need this.) My hope is by the end of this you will see and understand what I mean. And this is a big ass hall of justice. Here’s what I mean. We are all different superhero’s with different powers. Some are Superman, some are the green lantern, some the wonder twins, and there are a few, but not many Batman’s… batmen? Battsmen? Batmens? Now, your superpowers… they ain’t all that compared to being able to fly. (If you can fly drop me a line, we should talk.)So the first thing you have to figure out is what your super power is. Here, let me give you some examples.*im picking people that I feel comfortable making statements about. I’m not picking favorites.

1. Ken, Super-Kens power is that he’s really good at social dynamics. He can get along with most people, and he can get people from all over the place to support his ideas, join a group like this, and out of respect for him and each other, not act like dicks.

2. My buddy Ian who just joined this group, one of his super powers is he knows synths inside and out, literally, he tears em apart, puts em together and brings them back to life.

3. My wife Donna, if you need to know anything logistically about touring in a van, she can tell you how to deal with any situation that comes up. She can do a 12 hour drive, set up, play a show, be nice to people, sell Merch, crash for four hours and do it again day after day, all while not letting her fibromyalgia keep her down. When we take big bad industrial bands out as our opening acts I sit then down and say ,”look I get that you’re tough as shit and all that, but you need to understand that D has bigger balls than all of you put together, and if you forget that, or don’t jump when she says jump, you’re going to be in for a bad time. Because if she tells you to jump, there’s a real good reason that you probably just don’t see.

4. Myself (I get to be in this list because it’s my damn list and I came up with the idea. Bite me.) I’m ridiculously tenacious, and I have total faith that the things I make are good and matter. Once I have an idea I will do anything I can think of to bring it to life, learning new skills, putting the time in to make it happen, because I have always been poor and have never been able to afford to pay people to do them for me. Also, possibly my best superpower, and one anyone can learn to do… I have no shame. None at all. I will pull every available string, and use every available connection to push my agenda. Because I believe that strongly in the quality of my ideas and work. “You think you’re that great huh?” No, but I’ve busted my ass, I’m good at what I do and I think it’s interesting. There are tons of people better than me, which is one of the reasons I’m willing to be so shameless trying to get my shit out there. Because doing this is *all I know how to do* I have no fall back plan. I get that attitude puts some people off. But fortunately not having any shame, I don’t really care much. “Ok, cool Steven, so what?” Chill. I’m getting there, relax, put your feet up, and most importantly, stop interrupting me. So, let’s step back and look at the big picture. You make this shit that you love, art, music, whatever and you want to disperse it to the widest possible audience, because otherwise what’s the fuckin point, right?This is where knowing what your powers are comes in. Purely from a marketing standpoint point, look what Ken has done in, what, two years? He’s put together a great blog, he’s made this group come together from all over the world. And consequently, because he’s a good guy and is putting all this work in, his market share, his “Ken” brand is skyrocketing. And because of all of that, when he wants to put his band on the road or get some remixes, or even just ask for help he’s already got his foot in a shit ton of doors. Just by doing what comes naturally to him. Because NETWORKING, BRAND RECOGNITION and your brands REPUTATION matter as much if not more than actually being good at what you do. (Kens good, natch)I mean shit, how many people do we know that are really good, but no one knows them, and how many horrific acts are out there playing garbage music for people? Once you figure out your superpowers you can use them to jumpstart your career, or at least keep it moving. For instance put out just a stupid amount of material over the last year and a half, along with 19? 20? Videos, a book, and however many paintings. And each of those helps get my projects in front of more people. It also helps showing people further up the ladder that I’m active and keeps people aware of my shit. I was speaking to someone recently who said ,”when I got back into doing X thing, you were one of the first people I ran across because you can’t *not* run across you.” So, for good or ill, my whole brand or trip is here for all to see. And if people don’t like it, so be it, it’s me, and I accept that result. The point is this. There’s a good chance that you have one or two things that you are really good at. In some cases you might just have a great personality, some of you might be batman and have just a shit ton of money, use that shit to buy promotion, or whatever. Know how to fix synths? Make sure everyone knows, maybe you can help an artist you like in exchange for an opening slot on a tour or a remix or some shit. Because one thing about super powers. No matter what you can do, there’s always someone who can do some shit you can’t. Figure out how to leverage that to your advantage, make yourself available. Because to the person who *can’t* do what you can… you really are a fuckin superhero. And that shit fuckin matters.

I find myself yearning for sonic texture paintings. Stoneburner/Carrion/eHpH

Lately I have really been immersed in music that takes me somewhere. A picture of sound that swirls and shakes me. Something where I don’t focus on the words or melody but drown myself in the image from 1000 miles away. Trying to see it all. Here is some of what is taking me there.

Stoneburner – (Beauty Is Terror) I feel like watching this project from Steven Archer is like seeing a blacksmith always sharpening a blade with a whetstone. Each album just keeps getting cleaner and sharper. You really can see the sound itself gain more technique and mastery with every release. It builds on itself and takes new shapes. In particular the vocals on this album are both more of an instrument but also crisper and more distinct.

Beauty Is Terror – Title track slams hard out the gate. I’m hit first by the construction. The efficiency of every sound there. Nothing overpowers or takes away. Keep yourself from fucking up. The cymbal crash sounds seem to strike at just the right moment to feel like the sound is cooking but the tempo is in reality a steady medium groove. This song feels like the early moments of an origin story. Someone just coming into their power in defiance.

Are You There The Way I’m Here – This his me like a concrete brick sledge hammer. It’s so different from everything Stoneburner. It’s smooth, sleek, sexy, it’s almost like Peter Gabriel doing triphop industrial. Again I love the connected story of this record. It isn’t so much the lyrics as the natural progression of each songs sound. Two stars synchronized across the black.

London – I love when songs are places. When you hear a song and are immediately been to a place you have been. Wet old brick walkways in a dark city full of tight alleys. The doubled vocals here, one electric and buzzing. Another chanting and organic to make a glorious effect. This song is a reflection, both the puddles on the street and the way it leaves you thinking about actions.

I know I often gush about Steven’s work, but I really believe this is the best music I have ever heard him produce to date. Take my recommendation and buy it. You won’t be sorry.

https://stoneburnerofficial.bandcamp.com/

Carrion – (Testament Ov The Exiled) If Stoneburner was a hero’s journey rising then Testament ov The Exiled is the hidden horror lurking in that alley. It drones and stalks, but with the smoothness of a predator you never see. Whispering to you. Just the quick glimpses of Flashing yellow eyes in slashing distortion. It’s the atmosphere that builds the horror here. Like an old Vincent Price movie that never needed to show you the monster to scare you. This is music to test your bravery against. Light a single candle. step outside the comfort of your door, and test the strength of your courage.

https://officialcarrion.bandcamp.com/

eHpH – (Infrared) – This is a turbulent time, you can taste it in the air. Division and fear are everywhere in the soul of America. This album takes that tension and spins it into thread. Weaving a tapestry. Heavy use of samples and thick pad sounds. Who says you can’t dance and think at the same time. This is a sound hungry for revolution. Fernando’s vocals come from behind a distorted shadow but ring clear. The fighters of freedom wear masks and carry an axe. I love challenge and FLA dance beats.

https://ehph.bandcamp.com/album/infrared

Steven Archer Rants: Writers Block

One of our most popular segments the thoughts and musings of Artist, Writer, Musician Steven Archer (Stoneburner/Ego Likeness). This time discussing writers block. A topic that has surely plagued me the last two weeks.

https://stoneburnerofficial.bandcamp.com/

The Creative Block

This is for those of you who identify as artists. You know who you are.

Maybe you do it as a hobby, maybe full time. But that is how you see yourself.

“But Steven I don’t see myself as that.”

Then don’t fuckin worry about it. You’re either saying that because you really mean it, and that’s totally fine. Or you’re saying that as a way of staying safe, so that if someone calls you on something that you make you can say “well I’m not really an artist.” In which case, you are correct. You’re a student, (totally fine, we are all students) someone who just doodles for fun (also fine if you enjoy it) or a coward (much less fine, commit to the bit, let yourself get hurt.)

The medium you work in, or the tools you use are irrelevant. They do not define your job. They might from a marketing standpoint, but not internally, inside you’re just one of the tribe.

The physical act of making the thing, it’s a just a small part of your real actual job which is… ideas.

Playing ,”what if,” or “make believe,” or whatever you want to call it.

“But Steven I do photorealistic illustrations.”

Good for you, it’s still the same thing, because you are drawn to specific things to do those illustrations of. What you put out into the world is still influenced by you and your aesthetics if not ideas.

Why am I talking about this?

Because some of you are running around saying “I have a creative block! I can’t come up with new ideas!”

Shut up.

Of course you can.

You already have.

You have tons of ideas, and if you don’t, then you may want to reevaluate how you see yourself.

Because, again, it’s your job.

Here’s the situation.

It’s not that you don’t have ideas.

It’s that you are scared to implement them because you are worried you will get laughed at by…. someone?! Who, dunno.
But for some reason you just don’t see yourself as the type of person who does ,”X.”

Too bad.

The world needs more ,”X.”

And if you are reeeeeeally really stuck, and just can’t produce something you’ve already done, the problem isn’t the ideas, it’s you.

Garbage in, garbage out.

If you keep rehashing the same shit, it’s because you aren’t feeding your brain new information. Pick up a book. Pick up ten, twenty, five hundred, live other people’s lives, write their songs, paint there stories, look through their eyes.

You need to be fascinated by things.

And the more things that you are fascinated by, the wider the range of ideas you have to draw from.

Otherwise you’re not making art.

You’re performing a trick.

It may be a good trick, but if it’s the only one you know, then that’s all it is.

It’s a craft.

A series of actions that anyone can do that will eventually yield a similar result.

Like basket weaving.

Which is, again, totally fine.

If you want to weave baskets, fuckin do it.
But don’t run around expecting applause.

Because in the end, art is as much about the person that the work is filtered through as it is about the work itself. And the wider the width and breadth of your interests and knowledge the larger the vocabulary you will have available to express your ideas about a wider range of subjects.

“But steven, all I do is paint the same thing over and over with vaguely different permutations.”

That’s not art.

Even if people put it up on their walls.

Now, the fact that you have convinced people that your trick is worth spending money on and putting on their walls… that could very well be art. In which case, well fuckin done.

*Yes yes, baskets can be art.

Look, I get it, you vaguely feel attacked, so you want to try to pedantically find little shit to bitch about, because if you can tear down one aspect then hopefully the rest will fall down and you don’t have to take it seriously and you can keep just farting around and blaming other shit for your shortcomings. But that is just Soooooo fuckin tedious. If you used the time and effort you put into your defense mechanisms to pop a few humility pills and just got to work, we wouldn’t even be having this hypothetical conversation.

Really. Try it.

Or keep making excuses while knowing down in your secret heart that you’re just a coward.

Steven Archer Rants ” Getting the Word Out”

https://stoneburnerofficial.bandcamp.com/

This was my advice to a friend who is frustrated that his new band hasn’t been getting the attention he feels it should.

And he’s right, it’s good shit, he’s an established musician. It should be getting out there more.

“The best results I have had are by doing advertising.

It’s not particularly expensive and it does work.

You know, for fans of “x,y,z”!

It’s gonna be hard during all of this, to start a new band. Since there’s just no way to get a foot hold.

Were i you, I would do a few things.
1. Pay for advertising. Do a slow burn type thing. Spend $200 for a month of Facebook advertising directly fans of similar acts.

People who see something over and over are more likely to click it. Because it seems familiar.

2. Focus on making videos. Get creative, I shot that video I did for Inertia creeps in about two hours. Same with the light.

3. Don’t let your frustrations out in public. It’s just a bad look. The last thing you want is people checking out your band because they feel pressured to.

Regardless you gotta post about that shit all the time.

When I have something new out, I try to talk about it every day.

But people are gonna miss it anyway.

I did a bunch of videos for Belligerence and posted them everywhere for months.

A few weeks back I posted one, and a good friend and fan reposted it saying “new material from Stoneburner!”

It’s easy to get locked into the idea that everyone sees everything. But most people don’t. There’s just too much information out there to keep track of.

Particularly now with all of the bullshit going on. Every day there’s a new thing to talk about that isn’t your band.

So you gotta werk, gurl! “

Steven Archer Rants #9 Ten Rules For Artists

I’m a full time artist.
I have been for the last 10 years.

But I’ve been doing it my whole life.

My wife is a horror author (look up Donna Lynch on amazon if you’re curious).

We have multiple music projects that have run the last 20 years. Touring, releasing records etc.

I have a children’s book and a few others books out there, I do cover art for our publisher and used to do illustration for weird tales.

I make the majority of our money by selling art to customers directly through Facebook. And do commission work that runs from 300-17,000.

If you’re looking for advice it’s this.

1. If you really want to do the thing you have to build your life around that idea. You have to be willing to sacrifice your comfort and sometimes relationships in order to get there.

By which I mean, you have to want to do it enough to be willing to stick with your hopes and dreams and not become part of someone else’s.

And by build your life around it, I mean exactly that. We live in the middle of nowhere to keep costs down. We don’t and won’t have children for the same (among many other reasons.)

2. It will take infinitely longer than you feel like it should.

I’m pushing 50, we have managed to stay above the poverty line for the last 6-7 years or so.

3. And I can’t stress this one enough.

You have to put in the work.

I mean all the fuckin time.

I’ve done thousands of paintings, even more sketches, dozens of sculptures, released 50+ records, written hundreds of songs, played shows without number, curated art shows, owned a gallery, written music for NASA. And on and on.

Even now, I get up every day and I go into whatever studio makes the most sense and I work. I take a break to eat at some point, and then I work until I pass out.

It took a long time for my wife to really get that what I do is more important than everything, including her. I love her very much and I am always there for her when she needs me, but I am not always going to be around.

After 20+ years of this, touring together etc we have a pretty good system.

4. Make as much work as possible and give it away. Just get rid of it and move on to the next.

Learn to work fast and fluid. Don’t make your work precious.

Make it, get rid of it, forget about it.

When I put an album out, I do the standard promotional stuff, videos, whatever, but I’m already working on the next one, and probably thinking about the one after that.

5. We live in the future, take advantage of that.

A few years back I did a tarot deck, each card hand drawn. It took two and a half months to do all 78 cards.

It was worth it, they look great and it’s sold well.

A year or so later I got an iPad Pro and an Apple Pencil. I did an 60 something page illustrated book on it in two weeks.

Or, I blocked out the majority of a record for one of my projects while on tour for another by writing it on my iPad in the van. When I got home I dropped all the pieces into the studio and finished the rest in a week.

Take advantage of other shit too.

I block my paintings out in my iPad. Set up my projector and spend a few hours laying out a dozen pieces with graphite directly on the canvas to paint later.

I could do it the old fashioned way, but why bother? It ends up the same and this saves me time.

6. Read.
All the time.
Working in a painting? Listen to an audio book.

The more information and ideas you have in your head, the larger variety of ideas you will have to put into your work.

Human brains are connection machines. Learn to use yours.

7. See a therapist, if you need to get on meds, get on meds. The idea that artists need mental illnesses to be creative is ridiculous.

And the idea that meds make you less creative is also ridiculous.

If you go on meds and that happens you’re on the wrong ones. Talk to your doctor and find the right ones. It may take time and multiple tries. But it will be worth it in the long run.

My wife and I are both mentally Ill, and we have worked our asses off to get well enough that we are able to do what we do without year long gaps caused by depression or worse.

As she says “I am not creative because of my mental illness I am creative in spite of it.”

8. Don’t fall into the idea that drugs make you creative.

By all means, experiment, do the thing. I’ve done plenty and I don’t regret it.

But drugs aren’t bringing anything new to the table. All they are doing is scrambling your brain chemestry. You can get there on your own.

Though you may learn a thing or two from your explorations.

9. I said reading, but I also mean keep working on your education. Learn constantly. Be curious.
I am forever fascinated by how things work. And I spent a lot of time learning about that kind of thing, because it’s interesting and you never know when it might be useful.

And finally
10. Know thyself.

Really.

Spend a lot of time thinking about your motivations. What gets you off? What do you love about art? Why do you want to do it? Why do you do it? Why do you love your life? How can you contribute to the world? What makes your voice special? (And believe me, you better find something or you’re not going to work hard enough to get your work out there.)

You have to deeply love being you, or at least believe on a fundamental level that what you are bringing to the table matters.

Otherwise, why bother doing it?

If you need my bonafides, here’s a link to a bunch of prints so you can see my painting chops.

https://egolikeness.bigcartel.com/category/prints

You can look up “ego likeness” or “stoneburner,” (the electronic industrial band not the sludge metal band from PORTLAND with the same name) if you are interested in the music.

And if you want to know more about my other shit, you can hit my personal page, it’s all there.