Fame: Remember My Name
An Essay By Thomas Park
So, you want to be famous?
I shared that dream. For nearly two decades I composed literally thousands of pieces of music in an effort to become a famous artist. I tried using new ideas. I tried top notch production techniques.
I never really sacrificed my muse to the notion, but I did appear on several monied releases, as well as a set of compilations and other projects that were large and involved lots of press.
In 2017, I abandoned my main music projects, and in 2018, I essentially retired from music. I did this having achieved some notoriety in certain circles, but without having become famous from music.
My desire to be well-known gradually subsided over the years. I began focusing on the art itself. I tried hard to find and maintain my own style, my own voice. When I retired, I felt satisfied, in spite of my lack of success-- I felt that I had achieved great things in the aesthetics department, and that the efforts were worth the time and energy spent.
In my opinion, fame-- particularly fame in music-- is largely fictitious. The rock and roll lifestyle is something that was invented. Very few people ever could or would live that lifestyle. Those who do would come face to face with risks such as chemical dependency, exhaustion, and exposure to a possibly dangerous public.
The dream of rock and roll seems to suggest that one should master a musical instrument, and leave home at a young age. The artist is to meet a number of people involved with music-- other artists, an agent, and so forth. A constant process of recording and touring is to begin, and great amounts of addictive substances and sex are to be had.
This is 2018, not 1950, and I trust that people realize that living for pleasure has its downsides. There was never a high without a low, that is just human nature. It’s how the mind and body work. And sure, sex with groupies sounds fun. How about S.T.D.s, some perhaps being deadly? The difficulty of committing to a spouse? The hardships of raising children while on tour? Not to mention the exhaustion that could come from always being on the road making music.
I recently watched a recording of Elvis Presley singing “Suspicious Minds”, during one of his later tours. When he hit the high note, he seemed to be appealing to us (and perhaps to his wife Priscilla), to trust him, to believe in him. He was an honest man, and did not want to go on living in a shadow of suspicion.
The effect of that piece was somehow lost knowing Elvis’ true lifestyle. In fact, meditating on the life and death of “The King” provides an excellent study for why a person would never, really ever want to be famous.
As for myself, I remain “Mystified”-- a successful netlabel artist. I am known by some, largely not by others. As a result, I can easily walk out of the front door of my modest, affordable home, and not get mobbed by a crowd of people holding cameras or shouting my name.
I can tweet without causing ridiculous controversies.
Best yet, I can work a steady, fulfilling career that helps people, and come home to my wife and our two cats, where I can peacefully drift off into sleep.
You ask about fame? You can have it. I will take security and fulfillment anytime.
I have just published 2 important documents to archive.org.The first contains a list of resources I have made available, in various media, with a public domain license. Public domain means the material is available for use, without restriction:The second contains a list of many scores of sample sets, available for free for listening or for use in compostions:
This mini-documentary describes my troubled relationship, both with H.P. Lovecraft's fiction, and with related projects on the dark ambient music label "Cryo Chamber".
Please feel free to visit, and bookmark this hub for Thomas Park's various artistic activities:
Hear a reviewer's increasing frustration as Mystified continues to release similar music on different albums and labels throughout the 2000-'oughts. In this video, Thomas reads reviews of his music as posted in Vital Weekly, followed by comments on the reviews by Thomas himself.
In this comic exploration of a reviewer's mounting frustration with an musician's redundancy, Mystified Reviews Vital Weekly Reviews Mystified:
For some reason, I keep feeling myself pulled back again and again to a certain time in my life. This was the years 2000-2012, when I lived alone in a low rent apartment in the South Side of Saint Louis.
Life asks us to pay attention to our loved ones, to our jobs, and to our obligations. This was a period of time when I had few obligations, and no spouse.
It really was just me, all day, every day, in this shabby place.
Chippewa And Brannon was where mystified was born.
Part of mystified's development involved the harvesting of field recordings. My collaborator Chris McDill at one point suggested that I stop using purchased sounds in my pieces, and start harvesting my own.
As a result, I was able to capture the atmosphere and vibe of my little apartment in the city.
I tried to convey this atmosphere in many ways. I would use the field recordings as samples, mixing them together. Sometimes there were conscious compositions. Other times, sounds were mixed fractally in a freeware program.
Last night, I dug into my archival drive and posted all of the phonographic recordings I had from that period-- all of them that had not been digitally effected. I released them on archive.org.
Having posted them, I went back to listen. I must admit, these field recordings are indeed the best record of the years 2000-2012 for me. They most accurately capture the vibe of living in poverty in the city. My compositions stretch, mold and exaggerate. The recordings do not.
This was living low and these field recordings capture it exactly.
"The Art Life" is what you just described. I just watched this doc on David Lynch. Its really worth seeing if you can get get a copy.
Thank you, Jack! Small world-- my wife recently had a big Lynch kick (we both watched the Return together), and she shared this documentary with me. Very cool.
I was astonished to see he's still an avid painter, and it really impresses me he's not sharing it with the world. He's a real hands-on kind of guy. Not someone with assistants doing things, like we often see with other well known artists.
A Single Hub For All Of Thomas Park's Media: "Benchmark: Hub": https://archive.org/details/ThomasParkBenchmarkHub
Any djs or broadcasters out there interesting in audio copies of my project documentaries? If so, here they are:
A Documentary Of The New Industrial Movement-- Short But Active:
A mini-dcoumentary about my netlabel, "Treetrunk Records", with some examples of the music there:
The documentary is available for streaming now, and is scheduled to appear in downloadable form in the forthcoming 400th Release on Treetrunk Records.
Special thanks to all who have contributed and listened over the years.
Now and then, someone asks me, "What kind of music do you make"? I have taken some time to create an 8-minute documentary detailing many of my main achievements as mystified, my 15-year ambient drone project. What can be accomplished in 15 years of hard work? Have a watch and a listen:
A brief documentary of Thomas' musical development, covering some of the pivotal recordings he made over a decade ago, and depicting his transformation from early mystified into Grid Resistor:
Given that my posts today are often about mental health, I'd like to add another. A label that released a "Grid Resistor" album (Grid Resistor being my musical act in which I use only machine sounds) wrote something like-- it provided a window to an "obsessive and sterile world".
With schizophrenia came a fear of intimacy, I am afraid, of any kind. My music evolved into an often seamless expression of coldness-- solitary, isolationist, and not at all intimate.
For better or worse, humans need contact, and it's taken years of a kind of deprogramming to combat this sense that it is wrong to touch people or be touched. I know this is a trait that is not uncommon in our society, and I feel bad for the many who suffer from it. I am learning that I can't ultimately put nature off-- nature is powerful, and should be respected.