After years of working in complete and utter obscurity, making albums for absolutely no one, i have made a series of fantastical musical opera albums that have garnered a following who love the series and want to see more. For them i will throw out a little bonus act(s) and hell, i’d love one last waltz too, but in truth, the trilogy is over and i’m leaving New Albion, despite for the first time in my life having a creation that is popular, well liked, is actually purchased and has people coming back for more.
This seems rather stupid if not outright insane.
It’s what’s best for the piece.
What i care about, month after month of making each and every project is the question “What is best for the piece?”
If i end the New Albion trilogy, right here, right now, it stands with distinction. It did not go on too long (okay, matter of opinion, but i don’t think so), it did not keep sadly going long after it’s initial glory days, i did not turn into the kind of artist who keeps some fantasy series going forever because it’s a paycheck, and finally, you don’t have to cry as you watch with each successive album it go down the shitter because the artist ran out of ideas/motivation/fire in his belly. The series that should have ended seasons or books ago.
Walk away now, and none of that happens. The series stands proudly. You want more? Better you want more than wish it had stopped at less.
Besides, i will be better as an artist if i continue to push myself onto new things.
I like the New Albion series, i love it, i’ve lived with it for 3 years now, but i can do better. I know i can if i just keep working… trying… pushing myself… this is not my Song Of Ice And Fire. New Albion has taught me valuable lessons that will serve well as i develop. I cannot develop if i stop here. I am not done travelling. I am not ready to settle down. I have not made my magnum opus.
With New Albion i have arrived at a level of vision and competency i have worked years and years to get to. I have musical projects from when i was very young you will never hear. Caravan… The Dogs Project… okay The Fallen i kept updating for years because i had other folks who kept wanting to make it a theater thing… but that updating for years into new version after new version taught me a valuable lesson: DON’T DO IT. Move the fuck ON.
That early, early work never made it anywhere because, frankly, it wasn’t good enough. My artistic ambition far outwieghed my skill set, the tools i had available, and the maturity of my artistic decision making.
It took me a long time to finally reach the level where i can make stuff like New Albion, but now that i CAN, holy shit, i’m not stopping here. Just think what i could make if i keep going. I have to keep going. To stay in New Albion is to artistically stop in a way that i’m not ready for. It’s not you, baby, it’s me, i’m just not…. ready to settle down.
Basically, it’s best for New Albion if we leave it here, where it has a beginning and an ending and didn’t outstay its welcome. It’s best for me to keep trying new stuff, like a Horror Opera, i mean, see, that? I’m EXCITED about it. I have NO IDEA WHAT THE HELL TO DO and yet i’m SO sure i can do it. That is how i make my best work. That’s how i felt about the steampunk opera. I had an idea that excited me, no idea what the hell to do and was SO sure i could do it.
I’m excited for one last little New Albion forray, but it will be bit… off the beaten track. In the way that New Albion 7 is a different creature than the other New Albions. (I made New Albion 7 because i had decided after the SO that i could NOT make a dieslepunk opera. It was a cute idea, the whole trilogy thing, but after considering it, i decided i couldn’t actually pull of a dieselpunk opera. I didn’t have the sounds, couldn’t make a good jazz era style… oh well. Nice idea but can’t do it. Then i thought maybe i’ll make a single little track. Instead of an opera i’ll just a make a little bonus track that takes place after the SO in the dieselpunk era and that’ll be in place of a dieselpunk opera. No trilogy, just a little bonus track. it’ll skip oevr the part that would have been in an opera, i.e. the actual war.
But then… it went well. I did okay. I enjoyed it. I thought… well hell, i could make something like this for a bit longer. I thought about no dieslepunk opera, just a series of tracks that take place in and around the civil war. No real continuing story line, just a bunch of snapshots. Each track would be like a different issue of a pulp magazine. But in making New Albion 7 i started watching film noir and researching and thinking about dieslepunk things and the fever started to grow.
Then one day i was sick and laying on the couch and i read the first paragraph of the book I-O by Simon Logan. It’s a book of dark, industrial short stories. I read the first two paragraphs, where it described this… roboty thing made of rusty iron who lives in a junkyard. I put the book down, lay back, and John O’Brien appeared before me. And i knew for sure i would going to make an entire dieslepunk opera, come hell or high water. (also my natural father, John Gwynne-Craig had very recently died. And his sister, my aunt Patsy i had grown to really love. I hadn’t known either very long, i’m adopted and raised, happily, in another family, but the whole meeting my natural father thing and then him dying just a few years later was kind of… weird and affected my strangely. It all ended up in the opera although i didn’t see how much i was doing it for a long time.)
Each one of these operas was made with the motivation that nothing, NOTHING was going to stop me. And NOTHING was going to stop me from making absolutely sure they didn’t suck. I was going to make them. They were NOT. GOING. TO. SUCK. And i would fight my way through the bowels of hell itself if i had to.
And that’s why they don’t suck. Because i wasn’t coasting on an already existing reputation. I wasn’t phoning it in for another paycheck. I cannot keep making blank-punk albums that take place in New Albion because that is exactly the road that leads there from here.
So that’s why. I’m going to do a bonus New Albion thing in whatever shape that ends up. I’m going to make a creepy Slenderman Opera (which i going to rule, i swear). At some point after i will begin a new epicy thing, but of course, only if it’s truly what’s best for the piece. Still, i like epics. I think in epics. I want to make Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman. I want to make A Song Of Ice And Fire. (Hell, i wanna make Dr. Horrible. Don’t think i couldn’t do a real Lovecraft Funksical. I know i did the Cthulhu Funksical, and i could TOTALLY go WAY the fuck past that. However, i have no plans to pursue that line of thought at all.)
So: that’s the why. But stick with me, after the bonus act, i’ll have to work REAL hard to keep y’all with me, knowing that the default is often “yeah, but not as good as his New Albion stuff. Yeah, not as good as the steampunk opera. Yeah, but it just isn’t….” That awaits every artist. And the only way past it is to work real hard and grand slam it next time around. Basically, you like this stuff? Well don’t worry. Stay tuned. I ain’t done yet. I’m just getting started. I got more goodies in my bag for you, coming round plenty soon enough.
Oh yeah, and: The Steampunk Opera, with a little luck and people putting it up, might just blow the hell up one day. Maybe one day here, you all would be able to go to the theater and see a balls to the wall performance of the SO. Put it out there. Perform it. And one day…