Am I Really Every Version of Myself I've Made? (feat. my dad)

  • Submitted on time! Mar 12, 2023
First Words

What a challenging and interesting prompt!

First, the borrowed line is “I’m every version of myself I made.” (Memoir V by Rodolfo Avelar)

Second, I was home for a few days, so I got my dad who likes to write his own poetry and occasionally music to help me out with this one. He’s a mindfulness teacher and a very philosophical man, so he loved the chance to take this line about the “self” and had no trouble composing the poem you hear on this track. Thanks, dad! While I was home we also worked together on the melody for the acapella moment and recorded him singing it.

Beyond that, I got home today and had a few hours to figure out the music to accompany this thing.

At first, I was uninspired, but with persistence a few things started to emerge (ahh the magic of deadlines and accountability to help push you past writer’s block!)

Using one minor chord and different variations presented itself as the only real harmonic movement I wanted. Then came embellishments with other guitar parts, and ultimately the bass on my wall saying, “You haven’t played me in a while,” led me to add some melodic bass moments as well.

However, I feel most of the interesting stuff happened in the mix. I started to have this image of this being like a lost recording from a 60s/70s vinyl from a Buddhist poet and his collective, and that led me to make some strange decisions I typically wouldn’t. I had to tell my audiophile self to step aside and let me make this track dirtier, grittier, less “good sounding” then I’m comfortable with, and that was an interesting challenge. However, I hope it meant I was successful in giving it the chance to match the creative vision I ended up having for it.


Am I really every version of myself I’ve made?

Am I really the story that I tell myself?

Who am I? And who am I not?

I tell myself that I’m every version of myself I made.

I tell the story of my wounds,

I tell the story of my victories,

always craving affection, always craving admiration.

I’m every version of myself I’ve made, and I’m none of that.

I’m just a mental construct,

an edifice of my imagination,

a story that I have created and keep retelling.

Time to stop and look deeply.

Time to stop and ask the questions:

Am I really every version of myself that I’ve made?

Who am I when I am not who I think I am?

And what remains after all that I think I am is gone?

Looking for feedback on

Did I achieve the desired effect with the mix to make it feel like a lost vinyl recording from decades past? Could I have pushed it even further? Are there any guitar or bass melodic moments that worked and/or didn't work for you?


daeclan March 27, 2023 9:17pm

love the dad feature (!) and the general approach, it feels like an album outro. the implication of what your father is saying, and how it echos through your music is so rad. it creates a liminal space, i can almost hear the multiverses spiraling out of this like a never-ending mandelbrot set. really cool interpretation of the assignment, and what a deep introspective instrumental to boot. nice!

Ben March 17, 2023 11:45am

this is sick. it’s a vibe and it belongs on TV and you should get a small royalty check in the mail every month.

I agree with nick and ryan in general about the vinyl sound etc.

There’s def no official or correct way to make things sound old (sometimes the best way to oldify a sound is to have no idea what youre doing and just mess up the sound with “bad” EQing, weird distortion, ugly noise etc), but i think the main culprit that makes it not quite sound authentically antique is that there’s too much variation in qualities.

The talking lyrics literally sound like they were peeled off a tape recorder of some weird underground broadcast from 1970. But the guitar sounds modern, or at best like a pretty hi-fi late David Gilmour strat tone. …Which of course is actually cool: The long lost recovered audio of the voice sits well over the modern guitar, and it’s a like a found footage sound collage piece. Very meditative. But if you’re going for one cohesive piece – like you recovered a vinyl recording of a full piece that already had guitar and vocals, both recorded 50 years ago, together, I’d put them through the exact same plugins/filters. And if you already did that, then… maybe dirty the guitar up even more and put them through even more filters together.

As Ryan said, maybe add some drone (or maybe you can add some dirt and vinyl mechanical noises too to really tie the room together.) Then, like Nick points out, kill the master EQ a bit more. round off the brightness even more than you’ve done. Maybe even throw one more verb on the whole thing just to place every piece in the same room (and decade).

Of course it’s so hard to not go overboard or get cute with this stuff. It’s kind of weird when i can hear the fake vinyl or vhs warp on a song that was produced in the 2020s. Because everyone knows it’s fake, what’s the point, unless it’s being ironic or purposely trying to sound fake or funny?

So I guess my only advice for this part would be: Add the dirt or whatever you do to make it sound old, then cut the mix on those effects by like 40%.

Great work on this. Listened to this a lot so far.

EliasSZ March 15, 2023 3:17pm

This was a fascinating journey. I get both the lost vinyl vibes, but to me, I also felt the vibes of like an intro to an album that’s about to get insanely heavy right after this ends. Or as if these lyrics could literally just be a character’s opening monologue to a scene in a movie as this music plays behind it, with shots of b-role, etc.

No individual moments that did or did not work for me as the experience was a contemplative journey I was happy to go on exactly as it existed. I’m not a mixing minded guy, so I’ll let you audiophiles speak more to that side of it.

Ryan March 15, 2023 1:32pm (edited)

Damn, this is rad. Feels like it should be over a montage in an episode of Peaky Blinders. That big minor chord is a dream.

Love the mix aim — I think it’s almost there but agree with Nick that there are some giveaways. What reverb did you use on the guitars? Sounds pretty modern to me. I wonder if using a big room verb would’ve helped the “lost vinyl recording from a Buddhist poet’s collective” aspect. Absolutely love the fuzzy vocal shadow.

All the chordal stuff in the guitar is A+ for me. I like a lot of the leads, but some of them sound a little post-rock / midwest emo — that’s not inherently a bad thing, but I don’t think it was your goal, so I figured I’d point that out. I think less sliding would help a lot. I wonder what an acoustic guitar droning one or two arpeggios might bring to the table.

Your dad delivers these lines perfectly. Did you guys write the lyrics together? Picturing myself sitting down and getting this deep with my dad right now and I am actually cracking up. Rad that you guys are able to do that.

nick March 15, 2023 12:38pm

appreciate your whole description—great read. and so happy that we now have another dad contribution to ncbc. i think you do a great job building up to the the final question, “And what remains after all that I think I am is gone?” MAYBE it would be cool if the music like, had a little key change either right before that question, or maybe for that final set of three questions? would just love to highlight that moment in the lyrics because i think it deserves it. in regards to the decades-past vibe, i think it’s pretty much there—I would only hop in that master EQ and round off the edges a touch. the current level of hi-fi treble is a bit of a give away.

thanks dad!