Way too long!!

Happy New Year!


Anyone else pissed off? This year is gonna be something. If you're mad, don't let it cripple you. Go out and do something - protest, call the politicians who are supposed to represent you, make noise. Personally, I'm going to double down on my efforts and get more organized with my music and communication to you. 

So, what's new?! 

I'm releasing an album of ambient electronic music, "Through My Fingers to the Deep." It's music I composed for RAWdance two years ago and I've been sitting on it way too long. Probably some of the best stuff I've ever written. That comes out Friday, February 3, and will be available for purchase on Bandcamp here

I'm also going to start scoring music for a documentary called "The Corridor," which highlights the first high school in the United States to be custom built inside an adult jail in San Francisco. It’s always an honor to be involved with projects I believe in. 

Shortly after that I'll be working with RAWdance again on a piece that will premiere at the Yerba Buena Arts Festival this summer in San Francisco. 

Lastly, if you are in San Francisco, please come to see The Hurd Ensemble perform this Friday at the Community Music Center. They will be premiering a piece entitled "Grace," which I composed with the ensemble's music director George Hurd for our Nightmare Light project. I've heard a version of it and it sounds amazing. 

Every Rise EP is out!

I am extremely excited and proud to share this album with you. This album is about being let down and having absolutely no way out other than acceptance. What I'm most happy about is that it has a mix of songs and ambient works. I hope you enjoy it. Listening and sharing it with others is an amazing way to support my work. Creating art is one of the few antidotes to the frightening place the world continues to be. 

 

My friend Jesus Beltran and I spent an afternoon shooting the video for 'Every Rise' in his backyard which happens to be Upper Stevens Creek County Park near the Santa Cruz Mountains. We ended up hiking 7.5 miles in the process!  The first cut of the video was beautiful but as I watched it, I was reminded by one of my favorite videos of all time 'So What Cha Want?' There is such a weird, psychedelic nature to it with nothing much to say but playing in the woods. We made it even weirder and I'm so happy with the result. Mystery lives in nature and that's what this song is about. Please enjoy.

NewMoonMixtape!

It's sunny again in San Francisco, for the time being. Sun on my face always gives me a little hope, a boost to remind me that there is so much I'm connected to. I'm so excited to share my EP with you in less than a month. Dan Digs wrote that 'All the Songs' is "a beautifully scratchy, otherworldly beat ballad that is equal parts Yorke and Lotus." A remix will be announced soon!
I made a mixtape(!). It has some folks I love and sounds that I've made over the years. I'm not committing myself to doing a mixtape every month, but I want to do this again because it was a lot of fun. Maybe a theme? Who knows.....

Here's the tracklist:

New Moon - Joel St. Julien

Cascade (excerpt) - William Basinski

Todaitsyew - Knxwledge

Shadow Empire ft. Tre - Jeremiah Jae

hanzomonsen - lee (asano+ryuhei) 

Mariam Dengel - jsj remix

Trees (excerpt) - Joel St. Julien

From One to Nine - Moondog

Email (rough mix) - Nightmare Light

Bending Oddity - ILLER

Horn of the Clock Bike - Saul Williams

Seeds - Moses Sumney

Love - Joel St. Julien

The Sound of Music - Joel St. Julien cover

Soapbox Condo - jsj

That's it. Onward...

 

2016 and much more care

Things have been very quiet on my end, yet the work continues. Hoos Foos debuted my piece "No Safety" at NYC's Spectrum in October. RAWdance brought back "Mine" to San Francisco, and critics loved it. I’m always so happy to be a part of work that can continue to touch folks years after it was released. If you want to hear that work, you can listen here

Most importantly, I’m dropping an EP on March 4th. Then, another one in April with a group I can’t tell you about quite yet. Finally, another full length release of dance music in June! I’m happy to share a song from the album. It’s been a long time since I’ve shared actually songs with people and I’m so excited to share this with you. I hope you enjoy it. Much more soon. It’s going to be a fruitful year y’all. 

Album art, pics, video and a mix to follow!

Fullness

As I formulate what to write here, I'm listening to the mesmerizing sounds of lee. The past two months have been expansive. It started with wonderful retreat at The Walden School where I spent a week with the most amazing musicians and composers. I learned so much and was challenged to take risks and be vulnerable. I am eternally grateful.  

The Goblinarium app is back in the garage for some upkeep, but I thought I'd share the themes from the app!! These are the themes for each character. I'll be posting when everything is back and running to download onto your device. 


Shortly after I arrived back home, I went to a screening of El Canto del Colibri at Frameline 39. Always fun to hear my tunes on the big screen.

 

Last weekend I was so happy to immerse myself in the fruits of another successful collaboration with RAWdance. I'm hoping to share the music with you all in some way shape or form. It's always amazing to connect with like minded artists and develop a sense of trust and love. There is never a sense of editing myself or using the professional boundaries that I use when I work on other projects. This is art through and through...a pure release.  I can't believe they're going to be doing a redux of MIne in December. Some surprises will come from that I'm sure! Here's a little mashup of this past weekend's show:

Through my eyes to the deep Mashup from Joel St. Julien on Vimeo.

Some highlights from the world premiere of Through my eyes to the deep at the Yuerba Buena Gardens Festival July 17-19 2015 in San Francisco, CA. Video by Rhea St. Julien

I hope you are are all being artful in some way. Keep making art, whether it's how you live your life or the medium in which you practice ... keep doing it over and over again. 

El Canto Del Colibri at Frameline, Goblinarium app/exhibit at Google, and a trip!

It is overcast, brisk, and sleepy today. The quote attributed to Mark Twain is dead true: “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” I'm listening to some tunes I just made for the documentary El Canto Del Colibri. It premieres June 20th at the Roxie Theater as a part of Frameline 39. It will also be showing in Berkeley at Rialto Cinemas Elmwood on June 24th (I'll be there!). The tunes were meant to be very minimal to provide movement to the film while not being too distracting. This is a really touching film, and am honored to be a part of it. Here's a teaser of the 45 minutes of music I wrote:

Next up, I got some great news regarding the Goblinarium project. The app is live and FREE to download on your iPhone and iPad. Download it, tell your friends, and download it some more. Someday I will actually have an iPhone 5 or iPad to use the app myself, so in the meantime, please download it for me! If you are in the Bay Area, you can see Goblinarium's public exhibit at Google San Francisco, 345 Spear Street, 4th floor lobby 9-5 M-F, through July 1, 2015. More news about a crowd funding campaign for the next app to come! 

In a few weeks, I'm heading to Dublin, New Hampshire for the weeklong Creative Musicians Retreat through The Walden School. I'll be with several other composers, improvisers, performers, electronic musicians, choristers, and music teachers. There will be master classes and a ton of time to just work with no distractions. I'm pinching myself because I can't believe this is real. I plan to work on my piece for RAWdance, a forthcoming project with Bay Area composer George Hurd and continue to work on my album. I'm excited to share the work I will produce from this trip! 

That's all for now. More to come as always. #CantStopWontStop

 

 

Back at it

It's been a quiet first quarter of 2015. To be honest, it's usually this way. There is a ramp up before the holidays, and then ... radio silence. I always tend to freak out a little bit, but now I am in a place where, despite my hustle, people contact me from time to time. I've used some of that time to work on a project with a fellow composer George Hurd. Be on the lookout soon for that.

I happy to announce three awesome projects I'm working on. The first project is fun: I'm creating music for an app called Goblinarium and it will be launched in May in Google's San Francisco offices. Dragons, fantasy, and encouraging imagination are the themes, so I'm down with that. Especially dragons. I'll be able to share some music after the launch.

Shortly after that, I'll be sending off music for the film Canto del Colibri. I'm really proud to have been asked to work on this project, as it's such a wonderful documentary. It revolves around Latino fathers coming face to face with their children coming out and working to dispel common stereotypes of Latino men, machismo, etc. I get to collaborate once again with a long time friend, Jesus Beltran, as well as working alongside the film's director Marco Castro-Borjorquez. The film will premiere at Framline39 San Francisco International LGBTQ Film Festival in late June. (!!!!!!!)

Lastly, I get to work with my favorites, RAWdance. I'm really honored to have found these creative partners who have been trusting me with their work. In mid/late July, they are premiering a new piece called "Through my fingers to the deep" at the Yuerba Buena Gardens Festival. I have nothing more to write about it though, because it's still in that theoretical phase. 

It's going to be a busy Q2, but I'm not complaining! Creating art and collaborating with new and old friends is pretty fulfilling.

2014: Looking Back

This year was awesome. Creatively challenging and busy. There was never a moment that I didn’t have a project to work on. Every year, more opportunities pop up and I’m so excited to see what the new year will bring. The biggest challenge will be keeping focused.

Recap:

Unnumbered Sparks --- Aaron Koblin & Google Creative Labs, Janet Echelman, CMoore Sound

It is very rare to be able to collaborate on a project that is on such a grand scale and gave so many people the opportunity to listen and interact with sculpture, digital art, and sound, all in a public space. 

Growing Cities 

Writing music to visuals that you see on a computer screen is good fun, but after a while you are wondering how things will translate on the big screen. You have to work despite your insecurities and trust the process. Nothing is more satisfying than seeing it actually come to fruition and experience it on the big screen!

Burn In

Composing music for dance is the best thing ever. If there was a full-time industry of composers for dance companies, I would apply until I got the job. It’s thrilling, collaborative and simply wonderful. A few months after I scored RAWdance’s epic Mine, they commissioned me to write another piece for them, but the turnaround was much faster. Working with RAWdance affords me creative freedom. I can experiment with textures and sounds, make mistakes, and see what happens. This was a true collaborative work.

Collaborations with John Felix Arnold III

I composed very different pieces for three of Felix’s installations this year. All were centered around his world of the Unstoppable Tomorrow. They move from haunting to beautiful. I look forward to continued collaborations even though the artist has relocated back to NYC. The internets makes things so much easier. 

The Future Starts Here

This project reminded me that all of the tunes I write and think are just “throw away” tunes are  actually useful material for lots of projects. I write so much music that gets rejected for one reason or the other. It gets filed away and usually never sees the light of day. When I was sending music for this project, I composed a bunch to try and woo them (which worked!!), but many of the tracks used on the show were drafts I had written prior and then reworked for different episodes. Pro tip: throw nothing away!!!!!!

Shows with Zachary James Watkins, Shanna Sordal, Sung Kim, Chris Schlarb, Danny Grody, Artbeats, etc…

I do not play out as much as I used to, for better or worse. I had the opportunity to play a handful of shows of all varying degrees of weirdness. From noise, to beats, to singing with my guitar, I was reminded how much I love performing. I hope to get the chance to play out much more this year.

So what’s next? I have a few projects that I can’t say anything about yet. I promise more music!

My favorite albums of 2014:

D’Angelo - Black Messiah
Run the Jewels - RTJ2
Deerhoof - La Isla Bonita
Black Spirituals - Of Deconstruction
Thom Yorke - Tomorrow's Modern Boxes
Death Grips - Niggas on the Moon

Happy New Year! xo

Fully Operational

Oh my God. I finally have found some time to figure out how to change my webpage back to its original settings! I no longer have to surrender to the cheese default layout. Phew. Not much to report, but work continues to be done. It's been a great year - can't believe it's almost over! 

If you haven't had a chance please check out the most recent project I had the privilege to work on The Future Starts Here. Lots of my tracks sprinkled throughout! 

More soon. 

For now lift...


The Future Starts Here, Growing Cities update, live performance

I'm very excited to announce that I've composed some original music that will be featured in a number of episodes on the AOL Original series The Future Starts Here. The show will have its online premiere October 23rdat on.aol.com/futurestartshere

Promoting myself and building contacts is a constant hustle. I continually find myself saying, "Do you need music for that?!" or "Did you know that I'm a composer?" It can be awkward at times, but as I've learned and now stand by firmly, you have to incline yourself towards your goals the create space for them to actually happen.


Case in point with this recent opportunity: I run three mornings a week at 6am with a group of crazy people who think it's ok to run around San Francisco at the crack of dawn. It wasn't until six or seven months of being in the group that I began a conversation with a fellow runner, a filmmaker who owns his own small film production company, Mission Pictures. I gasped for air and landed the pitch, "Did you know I'm a composer?"


Months passed, demos were presented, contracts were negotiated and I was asked to write music for 6 of the 8 episodes of the show.


After doing my research, I realize that Tiffany Shlain and her film company the Moxie Institute is no joke, and lots of folks will be able to hear my music on this show. More importantly, I'm proud to have been a part of a show that is concerned with putting out content for the greater good. Having the opportunity to collaborate with such amazing artists was an honor. I hope you enjoy the show.

More news: Growing Cities is going national this week airing on PBS all over the country. You can see when it's playing in your town here. If you don't see your town, more will be added this spring. I'll keep you posted!

Lastly, I'm honored to be playing No Destination live at FFDG on November 1, as part of the closing of John Felix Arnold III's masterwork No Destination. Felix and I will be talking about our collaborations over the years, and his process in making the work, followed by a live performance by yours truly. More info here. Please come out! Felix is a dear friend and an amazing artist. He makes art to become a better human being - what more can one ask?

Gratitude goes up, blessings come down.

No Destination Mixtape

This past Friday my dear friend John Felix Arnold III premiered a show, No Destination, at Fecal Face's gallery FFDG in San Francisco. Felix and I have collaborated on sound and art for the past 6 years. His last show marked an end to his time in San Francisco as he is moving back to the east coast next month. He asked me to expand on some sonic ideas he composed to contribute as a sound installation for his show. In my excitement I went overboard and created a 30 minute mixtape with sounds he created and sounds I've created. It's minimal and raw to provide space for his complex, dense and textural work. I hope you enjoy what's been created. Please share this with others if you enjoy what you hear. xo.

 

New work!

In an effort to keep putting music out, I’m releasing the most recent piece of music I wrote for RAWdance in anticipation for a proper EP (with songs that include singing!) just before the holidays. I love this piece of music and I’m happy to share it with you. If you like what you hear, consider purchasing a copy!

Nothing to fear, nothing to doubt

I have taken this blog for granted and perhaps the internet for granted. I’m rethinking my social media strategy. If I follow through, I’m sure I’ll come up with some fun stuff. I've been blessed to be doing projects on top of my already full schedule. I am not (yet!) a full-time composer. I spend usually over 40 hrs/week working with young people in San Francisco. I come home, hang out with my family, and then work on music/sound projects. It’s sort of crazy, but I've made it work so far.

I recently scored another piece of music for RAWdance’s latest piece, Burn In. The show premiered last weekend at Z Space in San Francisco and they’re performing it again at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on Friday August 8 as a part of their triennial Bay Area Now 7 Performance Festival. There was a great write up in SFGate specifically mentioning my score (blush). It is truly an honor to be able to make music and share it with others.

With that said, I’m playing a show August 8 (I know, you have to choose between me or RAWdance) at Holy Innocents Church in Noe Valley. The show will be supporting Chris Schlarb in the homestretch of his national solo guitar tour. He’s been sharing songs from his new album, Making the Saint. Joining us will also be Danny Paul Grody. I've been secretly following him for years and he is a fellow composer and creates beautifully, crafted meditative music. It’s going to be a wonderful night.

More to come.

xo. 

Excorrigia/Pilgrimage

I recently had the privilege of collaborating with friend and artist John Felix Arnold III. He and I have been friends for about 6-7 years now (what?!) and have both experienced each other grow and develop as artists. I've done some sound design for him in the past while he's helped out my band's album covers, but this was truly a collaboration.

A great deal of Felix's art revolves around a post-apocalyptic world - The World of Unstoppable Tomorrow - a mythology of what is to come, all intertwined with personal and social commentary. If you combined Miyazaki, Frank Miller, Jodorowsky, Basquiat and The Nothing from the Neverending Story, you'd be chipping the iceberg. It is dense, immersive, mystical and surreal all at the same time.

In Excorrigia-The Scourge, Felix asked me to me to make something demonic, like hell. He gave me some initial sounds to mess with and then I had the pleasure of making a crazy sound design with my voice speaking in other-worldy tongues. This was a twenty minute piece so here's an excerpt: 

The second piece, Pilgrimage, was recently at Shooting Gallery in San Francisco. I was asked to write more blissed out tunes. Felix and I both have the same feeling of what is blissed out since most people think it's still pretty depressing. Like minds! I edited Pilgrimage II and made it an instrumental excerpt as there is spoken content that won't make sense unless you are at the installation in person. 

Please go to Felix's website and check out each piece of amazingly crafted and designed pieces. I really look forward to continuing to foster more collaborations! 

 

Growing Cities

Last month I went to the SF premiere of Growing Cities at the Food and Farm Film Festival. The last time I saw a movie at the Roxie was last summer when I saw A Band Called Death and now I was seeing a movie with my tunes in it. Awesome. 

Oh ok.

Oh ok.


The movie was scored in a course of about 6 months all via the internet. We had weekly meetings on Skype and would float cues back and forth to each other via Dropbox. Not to mention lunchtime phone meetings, countless emails and lots of organization.  

The film documents the filmmakers going on a cross country trek to visit urban farms in America. Dan and Andrew (the filmmakers) really wanted music that captured each landscape so as a composer I had the opportunity to write almost every genre of music including bluegrass. That indeed was a stretch! My sole intention was for the filmmaker's story to be told as opposed to having my musical ego stand out. Other than having the learning opportunity of working with filmmakers to create a large work, I got to learn about urban farming, and land use. Our country has so many opportunities to change and learn from all of the amazing people who devote their lives to this cause. Please check out www.growingcitiesmovie.com to learn more about the movie and how you can get involved.

I'm really proud of this work and even prouder that I can use this work to support my daughter's amazing pre-school/kindergarten/almost grade school. On May 28th at the Women's Building in SF we are screening Growing Cities to fundraise for her school's Outdoor Education Program. For more information, please go here. 

More soon as it's my goal to update this on a regular basis...not just about music but about life!


Turn Back to Joy

I am constantly in flux. Expansions and contractions of creativity. I think that’s part of it. Deep and shallow breaths. Taking it all in though...nothing to be missed. If you aren't being stretched, try it out. Stand at the edge and then jump off. The worse that could happen is that you’ll die. You always come back stronger. I think about death the more I risk and realize that it can come at any time. Work on yourself and create!! Just my perspective as an Black American living a lower middle class artist life in the “first world.” I can’t take my privilege for granted as I’ve got family in the “developing world” shining...seeing all types of death and letting life win.  Turn back to joy, which is your birthright.

--- Back to Earth ---

My colleague and friend Connor Moore graciously asked me to be a part of a project. He’s hired me to do work before but he mentioned that I had an “expertise” that he wanted to utilize. I heard "soundscape" then "TED talk" and that was all I needed to hear. What I didn't know was that I’d be part of a design team composed of top notch digital media artists from Google’s Creative Lab headed by Aaron Koblin in collaboration with otherworldly sculptor Janet Echelman. I then found myself with Connor downtown at Google offices in San Francisco and it all became surreal. These guys just put out this video a few months ago and we’re working with them. (!)

The basis of the project was that there would be a huge sculpture suspended in Vancouver's waterfront that would have graphics projected on it generated by users iphones and phones would also trigger sounds that Connor and I created. (WHAT?!) We created a TON of sounds that we thought would express natural elements - air, water, wind, etc. as Echelman’s piece would respond to those forces - interactive and immersive. This project was important to me on many levels but the most important to me was that I was able make ambient music, drones, stuff that I’ve been exploring a lot lately. Most of my experiments ended with me saying, “Why am I making this music? Why are these sounds coming out of me?” By no means did I think this project was the culmination of all of this work, but it encouraged me to keep following my intuition and create what’s coming out of me. F**k whatever’s cool. Just create.

This week the project went live with the beginning of the 30th Anniversary of TED in Vancouver. Connor had the chance to check it out.

Here’s a video he shot of the installation:

Here’s a video about the technology used in the project:

What an experience. What an honor to collaborate with people who just wanted to make something beautiful for people to create communally in a public space.

More awesomeness coming including the SF premiere of Growing Cities on April 5 at the Roxy. I’m creating a demonic soundscape for John Felix Arnold III’s art installation in NYC dropping April 3, then an ambient soundscape for his show at Shooting Gallery in May. I'm playing the Gigantar at The Cultivation of Chrysanthemums at Hare and Arrow Arts May 3. Another commission for a piece by RAWdance to premiere at ZSpace in July. Lastly, I’m working with documentary filmmaker Herve Cohen to created a track for his newest film Life Underground. All in the midst of that, I’m going to start working on an album...and continue being a husband, papa and social worker. NBD.

xo.

Each day I can do a little more and become more of what is true.

I’m happy to share a collage of some improvisations I did playing a prototype of my friend Sung Kim’s amazing instrument called the Gigantar. It’s very heavy and plays like a bass with tons of other perks…on this recording you unfortunately can’t hear the sympathetic strings that are behind the neck of the instrument. Again, this is a beast.

In about 3 months, myself and a ton of bay area musicians are going to get together in curated ensembles and make sense of these instruments together. It should be awesome. I’m really excited. Sung and I are also collaborating on a film by Jesus Beltran called Americano. I think we’ll get to it this summer. (?)

Speaking of Jesus, please check out his baby Desmadre.com. He’s been featuring more videos with my music in them which has been a way for many folks to hear all of the weird sounds I get to make. 

I will be happy to share about a cool project I’ve been involved in next week. :P