From Sam

My Patreon backers give a small monthly donation, to help fund the creation of my art. They get additional private blog posts. You can join for as little as $2 a month. It’s a really nice way to keep the art flowing.

A review: Mark Seelig ~ Sam Rosenthal

  • July 22, 2017

Journey To Aktehi: Reflections by Matt of MusicTap

This album by Seelig&Rosenthal is alarmingly beautiful and unreal. As if the musicians have been given notes by something we don’t see in the physical realm.  (Help fund the album at Kickstarter)

Every time I listen to ambient music, I let it take me to unknown crossroads within my mind. For me, there are no signs, only unlit pathways no matter how overgrown they may be. I willingly go in trust to those places because they hold wonders. And stories.

With this set of music, I’ve gone to a place that is very hypnotic. I’ve passed by here before but never stepped foot in it. There’s a sense of not being physical, whereas before I’ve generally felt that I’m physically walking or flying somewhere. Strangely, I feel like there’s an orchestra of souls musically wrapping around a central point. I loved being one of those souls attracted to the psychic scent of awareness. Sounds weird, psychic scent, but it’s a drawing of myself toward the blend of spirituality that is swirling like a majesty of clouds. Thick, enveloping smoke of clouds. I felt more than the wisp of those clouds. They were my protective covering.

In “Meditation of the skeleton” I felt a strong sense of life and formation. The wrap of life, with no sense of time (which is important to me, not to have a sense of time), was a rush to the center of my self. I know we’re more than flesh and bone. I know that we’re not accidental. Doesn’t matter how we got here, but there’s a sense of intent and unknown purpose.

Rosenthal’s collaboration with Seelig blends a strange union with that which is electric, with that which is fashioned by nature. Mixed with unworldly chant, that blend feels like a restorative gateway. A return to what we once were. And should be now. We’re far too embroiled in the business of living that we’ve forgotten how to merge with those other souls. 

Journey To Aktehi is more than music. It’s more than brilliant compositions. It’s more than a map. It’s the actual doorway to resolve. To peace. And that’s worth a lot. Especially to me.

– Matt




CD in 6-panel DVD-sized Digipak,
with illustrations by Oscar Herrera.

This album is being supported by people like you, at our campaign on Kickstarter.


Journey to Aktehi Kickstarter. 51%-to-goal, need your support

  • July 18, 2017
Journey to Aktehi Kickstarter. 51%-to-goal, need your support

The Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/samrosenthal/journey-to-aktehi-cd-cassette-mark-seelig-sam-rose?ref=asg0aw for my collaboration with Mark Seelig is 51%-to-the-goal with 14 days to go. Aktehi is an album of trippy, hallucinogenic ethno-organic-electronic music. I was going for an altered-state-of-consciousness feel: a psychedelic trip with the flute and chants of the shamanic main character leading you on a journey of sound. 

I’ve recently added two new pledge levels. One includes a poster of the album cover and the other is for a phone call with Mark (he’s a therapist, consultant, psychologist. Chat about any issue, including life from the shamanic perspective, tribal culture, or playing the Bansuri flute.) 

The most popular pledge level is the $20 early bird CD, followed by the $70 “All the physical things” tier with the CD, Cassette; T-shirt (your name inside the CD). I appreciate everyone’s help in getting towards the goal to make this album possible. The campaign only funds if we reach $7000; every pledge is helpful!

Simultaneous to running the Kickstarter campaign, I am working on music for the new Black Tape For A Blue Girl album. My synth gave me some songwriting advice on Sunday. I posted details in a public post at my Patreon page. You can listen to the drone and read some reminiscing about Remnants of a deeper purity. 

Watch the video on the Aktehi campaign page, and please pledge if you can.
Thanks.
      – Sam

Working update

  • June 22, 2017


(Above: sketch in progress by Oscar Herrera, not the final illustration)
(July 16 update, the Kickstarter is now live)

New music

On Tuesday, I listened to the nine tracks I’ve written since the sessions for Blood on the Snow. I think five of them are good enough to keep working on. I’m setting aside four of them for now. Tuesday afternoon, I worked on more mixing on the track temporarily called “0819 Guitar” (it’s the upbeat song that Brian played drums on, from August of last year). I think it’s together and coherent, now. I sent stems to Chase, so he can work on some bass and guitar parts.

As you heard in my May 27th Patreon post I am working on is a collaboration with Mark Seelig. He’s a Projekt artist who has worked extensively with Steve Roach and Byron Metcalf. I’ve created an album of trippy, hallucinogenic ethno-organic-electronic music. The primary ingredient is Mark’s flute and throat singing, plus a very slight touch of my electronics. It has an altered-state-of-consciousness feel, in the sense that I envision it as a psychedelic trip with a main character / shaman leading you through a journey of sound.

My idea for the cover is a hyper-realistic illustration of the main character / shaman. Even though the music is trippy, I think it is an immediate, real-feeling experience; the flute and voice are hyper-present in the music, it is not gauzy and distant like some music in this genre. Thus a realistic image made sense to me. Oscar (blacktape’s vocalist) is a graphic artist and works in the pencil illustration style I have in mind. We discussed the idea, emailed back and forth with a few sketches for placement and proportion, and he’s now at work. The image above is a detail of his most recent sketch, it is not the final illustration.

I have the mixes finished now. I’m sending them to Howard for mastering, once he finishes some other projects he’s working on.

I plan to fund this album as a Kickstarter, to pay Mark and Oscar for their work (and hey, something for myself too!).

I’m also thinking of including a cassette release within the premiums. What do you think? Did you know that cassettes are a thing? Vinyl is yesterday’s news (again). Now it’s cassettes. They are incredibly cute and totemic. I like the idea a lot more than vinyl. Perhaps it’s because making a cassette cost 10% of what vinyl costs and there’s none of that annoying metal-work process and test pressings. Cassettes can be made in two weeks, rather than the six months of vinyl. But I digress.

If everything stays on schedule, you’ll hear from me shortly regarding the Kickstarter.

Don’t Stop Creating

Part of the habit of working on my own art Tuesday and Thursday (see next post for more on that) is getting the routine/ritual down; I don’t want to get side-tracked during the month of the Kickstarter campaign. I want to keep working on BlackTape material.

When I woke up this morning, my son was still asleep. Since my studio is right above his bedroom, I didn’t want to start making noise. I wrote this blog instead. That’s a productive use of my early morning hours. Now I need to take my kitty to the vet for a check-up. Then I can get to the studio….

Back to the music soon….

I have a new album almost wrapped up.

  • June 16, 2017
I have a new album almost wrapped up.

I’ve decided that the only way I am going to work on music is to work on music! The idea is so simple, but it’s been surprisingly difficult. Life has a way of eating up the time I want to dedicate to creating. Whether I’m spending time working at Projekt, procrastinating when I should be working at Projekt, hanging out with my son, or relaxing with my partner… I find that I’m not working on art often enough. My solution: work on my own stuff on Tuesday and Thursday (whether in the studio, or here writing a blog), work on Projekt Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.

How can I afford to take time away from Projekt during the week? As I wrote in my last post, the record industry is in an ongoing decline as people transition from buying music (CDs/downloads) to getting it for sort-of free (Spotify/YouTube). That genie is out of the bottle, and the result is small labels like Projekt are having a hard time earning a profit. The real issue is the smaller acts aren’t selling anymore (the 5th best selling artist on Projekt represents about 2% of the total income, and it goes down quickly from there!). I find I spend a lot of my time, promoting and working on music I enjoy which just doesn’t make money. As much as it’s hard to say “no” to people, I have to do it. I have to face facts. Time is a scarce commodity. I cannot put my time into things that aren’t earning income. Especially when I could spend that time on my music for you!

Truth is, I get by. I made a few smart choices a while back, including moving to Portland Oregon, which is reasonably affordable. I can get by here as an artist running an indie label. I’m thinking about how much time I have left (aren’t we all?), and where I should invest my time. We each need to do the things that matter to our fulfillment (and “enlargement” as James Hollis says).

It helps the priorities become clearer.

For Black Tape For A Blue Girl and my other recent releases, Kickstarters have succeeded in funding the manufacturing. While that’s not immediately putting money into my pocket, my Patreon page has been helpful as part of my monthly income.

Oh wait, I kind of got off track here. I was writing about working on music. Right! (It’s all sort of intermingled: money – art – time – cats).

New music

I have a collaboration with Mark Seelig. He’s a Projekt artist who has worked extensively with Steve Roach and Byron Metcalf. For last year’s These Fleeting Moments (from Black Tape For A Blue Girl) I asked Mark to play Bansuri Flute on “Meditation on the skeleton.” Now we have a whole album together of trippy, hallucinogenic ethno-organic music. The primary ingredient is Mark’s flute and throat singing, plus a very slight touch of my electronics. I’m not even sure what genre to put it in. It’s not exactly “electronic” because there’s very little electronics. I am not sure if it’s traditional “tribal” because there’s no percussion. Yet it has an altered-state-of-consciousness feel, in the sense that I envision it as a psychedelic trip with a main character / shaman leading you through a journey of sound.

Last year, I recorded an hour of Mark improvising over the skeleton drone; in the previous 30 days, I’ve done a bunch of editing to his initial tracks to shape it into three journeys:

1 he became the wind
2 voices in the water
3 meditation on the skeleton (23 minute version)

My Patreon supporters heard the first 7 minutes of “he became the wind” two weeks ago. All new backers who pledge at Patreon this week also get to hear it. All it takes is $2 or more a month, charged on your credit card.

This morning I spoke with Oscar (blacktape’s vocalist) about the cover. He’s going to work on a super-realistic drawing of the idea I have in mind. After I finish writing this post, I am going to listen to the (hopefully final) mixes of the tracks. I’ve been getting closer and closer with them; I’m almost ready to send them to Howard for mastering. I plan to release this album as a Kickstarter, in order to pay Mark and Oscar for their work (and hey, something for myself too!). Part of the habit of working on my own art Tuesday and Thursday is getting the routine/ritual down; I don’t want to get side-tracked during the month of the Kickstarter campaign. I want to keep working on BlackTape material: write a number of additional pieces for when I begin working on lyrics.

If everything stays on schedule, you’ll hear from me soon regarding the Kickstarter. You can get that sneak preview by supporting at my Patreon page. If the cost of a cup of coffee, once a month, is within your budget, that would be super cool of you! You help give me the freedom to be an independent artist.

Sam

(* The bear above is a processed version of an image from http://www.gobibearproject.org/ )

Downloadable poster

  • May 16, 2017

Hi…. I had an idea! With color printers in every office, I made a downloadable 11×17 poster that you can print yourself. And it’s free!

Black Tape For A Blue Girl: These fleeting moments
How to download: click on the poster link & drag the image to your desktop. Print it on your color printer, or at a local printshop. Email a photo of the poster in your office or home, and I’ll share it here and on Facebook.
Deluxe limited edition CD on sale for $16 at Projekt webstore
Digital download for sale for $6.99 at Projekt’s Bandcamp Page
On sale for one week.


Nice! Nazrin Nasir Ein’s office in Malaysia with the downloadable 11×17 Black Tape For A Blue Girl poster, and also as screen saver!

I want this to be my job!

  • April 23, 2017

From Sam of Black Tape For A Blue Girl:

Hi. I’ve been mulling over this message since I did my taxes last month, wondering how to phrase it. Yesterday, I realized I have 42-minutes of new demos (more about that below); it seemed like a good time to ask.

As you may know, along with writing/creating my music for Black tape for a blue girl, running Projekt Records has been my full-time job since 1991. There was a time in the mid-90s, when Blacktape was the best selling band on the label. Remnants of a deeper purity connected with a lot of people, it sold quite well. I could have pursued music/art as my full-time thing, but I felt the tug of loyalty and obligation to the artists on the label (and the 11 people I employed). I made choices that slowed down my own creation, in service to others. In 2002 I had a son, this was time I gladly spent away from my music.

Along with these postponements of my creation, in 2002 the music industry began a period of amazing turmoil; Projekt’s income decreased year over year, and I kept downsizing to stay ahead of the tidal wave. Years ago I got out from under Projekt’s debt, but I must admit that 2016 was one of my worst years ever for personal income. I was shocked by the meager total on line 43 of my 1040 return. Fortunately, I moved to Portland Oregon four years ago, it’s very reasonable to live here. I’m ok; though I am concerned about the future.

I often say that in a few years, I’ll be forced to retire from the record label business because there won’t be much of a record business left.

Let me tell you, I’m kind of excited about that! I would love to transition from running the label to supporting myself via my own art. It sounds like a challenging and rewarding proposition.

Life is about taking risks and pushing out of secure spots. I went to a lecture by Jungian therapist James Hollis on Friday; I wrote this down, “We die when fear governs our choices. We die when we stop growing in order to have security. We die when convenient securities are chosen over inconvenient insecurities.”

I’ve got a lot of life left!

In 2014, after a five year break, I began creating Black Tape For A Blue Girl music again! With fan’s Kickstarter backing, I released the double-LP These fleeting moments in August of 2016, the 4-song Blood on the snow maxi CD in March of this year, and I’m now working on new songs for the next album.

Over the last four years, I’ve raised $35,000 via six Kickstarter crowdfunding projects. I’m proud of that, both because I’ve created a lot of new music, and because I have passionate followers who want to see my music succeed. But do the math! $35k is not enough to survive on, I can’t live on $8500 a year; especially when that’s all going to manufacturing the CDs / LPs / shirts / etc for my backers. It’s not money that goes into my pocket.

I started a Patreon a few years back. Patreon is a crowdfunding concept where people who love my art and want to see me create more of it support via a small monthly credit card payment ($2-$5-$10) which I use to cover expenses of creation. Ie: pay band members to record, studio rental, gear repair, repressing out-of-print albums, etc. Patreon brings in around $450 a month (before their fees) which helps out on making art.

My dream would be $2000 a month at Patreon.

That would cover my creation expenses, and also a large chunk of of my living expenses. This would mean less time at my computer dealing with trivial emails and other Projekt label stuff. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t stop Projekt. It definitely matters to me, and I work with great artists that I respect. But I am looking realistically at how the business is shrinking. More income from my art would allow me to reduce the part of Projekt that feels like spinning the wheels: putting out releases that maybe make their money back or turn $300 profit.

I’d rather spend my time working on music. Writing lyrics. Shooting photos. Reading books and talking with friends to get inspired.

And you can be part of this. If you can spare $2 or $5 a month to help me be an artist. If you don’t have the cash, I completely get it. No problems. Perhaps you support my Kickstarters, or just listen on Spotify. That’s ok, everyone’s budget fits somewhere into the puzzle.

In talking with my supporters, I realize some have done quite nicely for themselves; they grew up with my music, worked hard and are at a great place in life. It’s nice to hear about people’s success and interesting jobs. It’s nice when they want to contribute a little bit to support me, so that I can make more art. I appreciate it.

Can you be a patron of my art?

On Saturday, I sent my Patreon backers a 42-minute package of demos. They get to hear all the material I’ve created lately. I’ll refine some of those songs and record them with the band for the next album. And some will never be heard again. That’s one of the benefits of being a backer: you get to hear the art in progress.

All new backers who pledge at Patreon will also get the April package of demos. Can you spare the cost of a cup of coffee, once a month, to help me be an independent artist? If you can, that’s super cool of you!
Thanks.

Sam

That time in 2002 when David Lynch said he was a fan of Black Tape For A Blue Girl!

  • November 26, 2016

I have some vinyl for you

  • August 28, 2016

All are limited edition and might run out

To purchase, email sr.projekt@gmail.com with a list of the items you want. Include your snail mail address. I will reply with your total including shipping. Payment via Paypal ASAP.

#1 — Sam Rosenthal: Tanzmusik — handmade cover ($24)
The black vinyl is the 2012 Mannequin Records Italian reissue. The covers are an edition of 100 I handmade, recreated to look like the original 1984 vinyl, with cards affixed to an LP jacket.

#2 — Black Tape For A Blue Girl: The Rope LP — handmade cover ($25)
The black vinyl is ‘new old stock’ pressed in 1986. The covers are handmade in 2016, with color photos glued to a one-color printed black LP jacket. I hand-wrote the album title and signed.

Please note this important disclaimer: Due to the age of the unplayed vinyl, there is some warping. If you are opposed to any warpage on your LPs, please do not purchase this item. I asked the most exacting Blacktape vinyl customer to review a copy. He writes: “True, I like to have a ‘perfect’ record, but still this plays out and the warping issue is not audible. The only way to know it’s warped is to look at it. The warp on mine is not a bother to me. Others might have issues with it, of course. When I replayed my copy with a record weight it was flat warp free.”

Also keep in mind the vinyl has been in storage for 30 years, so the album will need a wet cleaning to remove dust and such.

3 — Black Tape For A Blue Girl: With my sorrows — 10″ clear vinyl ($20)
An ambient sound excursion. Limited to 300 copies released in 1997 by the Italian Amplexus label. 20 minutes of material created from minimal electronics and stripped bare string passages from Remnants of a deeper purity. The tracks are now on the 2nd disc of the 20th anniversary CD.

4 — lack Tape For A Blue Girl: Bike Shop — yellow & black swirled vinyl 12″ ($7)
Limited edition of 500. Only one of the four tracks on Bike Shop appears in this form on the new album These fleeting moments. Moody darkwave with a stirring vocal performance from Michael Plaster of SoulWhirlingSomewhere and drums from The Dresden Doll’s Brian Viglione. Melancholy vocal melodies, acoustic guitar & Moog electronics.

5 — Black Tape For A Blue Girl: The Rope — Tote Bag ($20)
This 14x14x3 inch black tote is perfect for carrying LPs or a supermarket trip.

Sam Rosenthal, album by album

  • January 16, 2016

Like all of my friends, I have been reading endless articles on Bowie. Suffice to say, Bowie’s artistic integrity has been an important part of my life as a fan of music, and as a creator of art.

An email from the local Clinton Street Movie Theatre, included a few sentences that really sums it up, “I read from friend after friend how life-changing and life-affirming this man was to each of them. His brilliance pierced the divisions of nationality and race and age, and united us in an understanding that it is okay to be whoever we are. Bowie was also a marvelous example that we don’t need to be only one thing — we can be whoever we want to be today, and we can reinvent ourselves tomorrow — as long as our core is true and kind and loving and non-judgemental.”

Reading this BBC article, the infographic of Bowie’s discography caught my eye. I love timelines, graphs, & data. I was curious what my recorded career would look like in a similar format.

You can comment on my facebook page.

BlackTapeTimeline

2011 in The New York Times

  • October 27, 2011

The New York Times wrote: “Black Tape for a Blue Girl: If Marlene Dietrich had gone goth, Black Tape would’ve been her band. The ominous chamber-rockers deliver foreboding, throaty growls and cabaret-inflected salvos, a darkly glamorous formula they’ve adhered to since their 1986 debut, The Rope (Projekt). No wonder David Lynch is reportedly a fan. (Anderson)”

We got a show pick! Read the blurb in the New York Times, or below: