Mocha Lab: Stories in Music

23 Feb

show and tell records

My first big record obsession was when i was a toddler. I had a series of “Show And Tell” records. You put them on a special little record player and they tell you stories which i listened to in rapt wonder. By the time i was a boy i was catapulting around the room to The Story Of Star Wars, or a Superman Stories record. In middle school i found a book in the library that had old Shadow radio show scripts and after school i’d sit down in front of a tape recorder and do all the voices. I eventually would set up a bunch of props to use as sound effects and play a certain song at the beginning for the theme music, as well as improvise commercials.

In high school i discovered the concept album, but even before that i would fall asleep to a cassette playing random songs i’d recorded off the radio (which at the time meant h0lding my cheap cassette player up next to my clock radio) and imagine stories linking the otherwise unrelated songs.

I like telling stories and i like doing it through sound.

As a young man i made a bunch of conceptual theater works. They were stories and somewhere between theatrical and kind of progish music (yes, i know, i am a total dork). They were definitely interesting and different for what they were, if not overreaching, overdone and a bit rough around the edges technique wise, although some served me quite well. And then, one day, i stopped. I had run into a brick wall creatively, these projects were becoming a bit ridiculous and not actually being pulled off well enough. I started making entirely different albums. I changed my name to Mocha Lab. Each album still had a theme, but the theme was more in the genre, style or approach. This turning point was one of the best things i ever did artistically, as my skill in my craft began to take leaps.

But i still wanted to tell stories and could not shake that.

I had no desire to make some kind of archaic concept album, all proggy and vague which takes the listener 20 listens to figure out what’s going on. That was great for adolescence, but it’s interest had waned. With some maturity had come the notion of not beating around the bush. What do you want to do? Then do it and don’t shmuck about at it. If you want to tell a story, then simply tell a story.

So i began the use of narration for these particular tracks. Instead of sung vocals, you can just plain tell a damn story.

Here, for example, is a ghost story of sorts:

Now, after over 12 years, i’ve started telling longer, multi track stories again. (see Cthulhu: The Funksical and A Melancholy Tale From The Icy Lands, as well as the upcoming album The Silver Key and the multi media theater show The Fallen) It works much better now as i have vastly more mature, sophisticated and interesting approaches and sensibilities then i once did.  However, it’s become clear that stories through music is a particular and defining trait my music will carry and the exploration of different ways to go about it will continue to fascinate me.

A retelling of the story of Cain and Abel:

1 Comment

Posted by on February 23, 2011 in Uncategorized


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One response to “Mocha Lab: Stories in Music

  1. matthew

    February 23, 2011 at 5:28 pm

    One of the main reasons I treasure your tunes. The melding of story and song is becoming a lost art as so much of music is turning to muddled diary. Glad the flame is alive somewhere.


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