What's Headphone Hair?
I work as a middle school teacher in Oakland, but my other passion is writing songs. If I think about it, it's been that way since I was a teenager: whatever I was doing, making music was right there behind it all. It's what gets me going.
But over the last five years, this has been changing. I've had my head down in a way that has surprised even me—working on songs before going in to school, like 4AM-7AM, that sort of thing—then again after school. Then late into the night. It's crazy.
And the songs have been coming together in a very real way.
Last summer, I finished my first EP, calling it If this means you... as a way of reminding myself that my new seriousness has been about pulling away layers of old, unwanted identity, and using the creative process to discover more about who I am.
As a project name, Headphone Hair represents the years of growing I've done as a songwriter, the falling-in-love and the giddy disregard of personal hygiene that lets me know when I'm onto something really good.
Why am I doing this?
I'm blessed to be part a huge, multi-faceted community of loving people, who in most cases see me more clearly than I see myself. After achieving highly-dubious viral YouTube nerd-fame in 2013-ish for making Gollum sings parody songs, working with Buzzfeed etc, I kind of woke up one day with about 30,000 amazing subscribers who tolerate the things I do. My family and friends have spent years listening to bad versions of every song I've ever made, thus proving their love.
Woah, my school. The influence of my school community, however has been a huge surprise. Instantly and constantly supportive and interested in my creative endeavors, they make it easy for me to stay serious. Though it's my profession, school has also been the site of much of my development musically. I mean, I first taught myself guitar while teaching summer school at the Heads Up Program. Even now, I work out the majority of my songs at my desk between classes when I absolutely should be grading, and they haven't fired me.
As a result of this community bedrock, I feel compelled to be a serious voice for creative effort and quality, both in the classroom, in our arts programs and also online, where I recently built a blog called Things That Fit which is designed to profile teachers who are also serious creators.
A full album.
This is it, this is the goal. I'm poised to make something really good, but I need help and money. While songwriting has been a pretty solitary endeavor so far, I've learned that the support of other talented people is really what it takes to level up.
Who is on my team if this works?
Frankly, my crew is stacked with stupidly talented people. My friend Greg is a casual piano virtuoso, watch him add straight-faced comic genius to many of the best Gollum videos. My friends Thelonious Elliot and Stacey Gabriel did the art. My buddy Damien—who did this kickstarter video—is also delirious experimental indie-pop savant So Much Light. My soul-partner and longtime creative inspiration-volcano Sus Long is the frontwoman for about-to-be-huge North Carolina folk-rock band Hardworker, who incidentally recently funded their debut album right here on Kickstarter.
Finally, I work closely with friends Rob Marshall and Nic Gracia of The Canvas Group, a production house and studio where I made the first EP. Their talent and rapidly growing body of work speaks for itself. Catch Greg, me, my friend Yaier, and Rob & Nic recording a new song in my classroom this winter (video above).
Basically, with 15,000 this could be awesome.
Yeah, this is the amount of money necessary. It's a lot, but I've learned enough now about production costs to have a real idea of what it takes to match effort and abilities with sound quality. Additionally, I'll need a good electric guitar. It's embarrassing that this hasn't already happened, but I am only a lowly teacher and the good ones are puh-RICEY. Yeesh.
Finally, it's fundamentally important to me that my friends are part of this album. Unfortunately they live really far away, and part of this money will be used to help bring them out here to work with me.
This is so exciting for me to say, except for #4. But #4 is also necessary.
- Any dollar amount contribution will get you already-finished EP #2. I'm so excited about these songs already, and I basically just want to give them to you for taking a look at what I'm doing.
- Early-access to the album before its official release.
- Early access to album singles.
- Oh, god. Personalized Gollum videos. You give me a song, and I'll rewrite 30 seconds of it for you, video-spoof it as Gollum (facepalm) and send it to you to keep forever, hopefully showing it to absolutely no one outside of your close family.
- If you give me some information about yourself, I'll write you a progress report as though I were your teacher--and I think you'll find that you should be putting in more effort in a number of areas.
- Mega-reward: An Ian-date. Ian takes you rock climbing or fishing depending on your preference (and distance constraints, though I'm up for discussion).
- Mega-reward: Ian writes and records a song for you based on an idea of yours.
- Mega-reward: Ian comes to your house to play you and your friends some songs (location must be discussed, if too far a live video or other creative scheme).
How will the money be used?
This is important to understand.
The bulk of this money will be used to pay for studio time, producer costs, mixing and mastering and distribution, but also to pay other musicians to play on it, and to split flights.
Some will go towards a nice electric guitar that doesn't sound like the one you had in your bedroom in high school. Maybe you actually had a really nice one though, in which case go away.
This is a big part of my life, and I'm nervous. It's always scary to take something seriously and ask people for stuff, but I know that I have some of the most incredible humans in the world backing me up.
So thank you, from the deepest darkest cave in my heart.
Risks and challenges
This whole dang thing is risky, but I've been prepping for it for a really long time. I also have faith, and time is on our side. As a teacher, after I'm through teaching summer school, I'll be working all summer on the album (especially since climbing conditions are mostly bad around here in summer months).Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (29 days)