Cover reveal for Michelle Hauck’s “Steadfast”

You might recall I wrote a musical a while back that got me into grad school, which led directly to me no longer updating this blog daily. I’ve now written an epic fantasy novel, which features lots of what I’m calling musical appendices. The book is finished, the music is in the recording process.

The publishing process is tiring. I encountered the following author during a process called Pitch Wars. It’s a twitter thing, and it’s really cool. She’s helping to mentor a select few, which is how I came across her profile. She does this out of the kindness of her own heart. Probably.

She plays a lot with gender expectations and loves huge, epic worldbuilding. Which is kind of my thing. Go check out her stuff, maybe even purchase some awesome. You deserve awesome. Because you’re awesome.

Everything below this line is from the cover reveal press release for Steadfast by Michelle Hauck.

It all starts, of course, with getting hit with the writing bug. You have an idea for a story. You bravely sit down and write it. You learn that you don’t know how to write quite yet and you begin to gather experience plucked from other writers farther down the road. 

A manuscript or four later your craft has improved enough to land an agent. Your brilliant story goes out to the scary land of editors and may or may not sell. But you persist. You write other stories if the first one fails. And eventually you make your first sale for, say, three books.

Now you are faced with the scary fact that you need to write your first sequel and carry on a story line. You get the wonderful news that the characters you adore will live on. At the same time, you are full of anxiety that a sequel is a daunting thing and you’ve never tried one before. Bravely you forge forward and write a sequel that meets your editor’s approval. 

A new first appears now that you conquered the other challenge. You now have to write the ending book of a series. You have to take all the characters and all the obstacles you created and bring them to, not just an end, but a highly exciting end. Once again you doubt your talent and ability. You plunge forward nonetheless. And you succeed.

Cover reveals. Release days. Publishers Marketplace announcements. All those days are great days, but they are blips on the actual journey. The true test is the challenge you meet everyday to go out and do what scares you because you might fail– and see yourself instead succeed. 

So a cover reveal is not so much a celebration of art as it is a celebration of spirit. Another test passed. Another doubt proved groundless. A forging forward on the journey of you, whether you are a writer or something else. 

Proof I climb this mountain in the form of a third cover for my Birth of Saints series. Thank you for being a witness and may you climb your mountains. 

 Do what scares you my friends and face those challenges.  

Against an angry god whose only desire is to wipe out all life, what hope is there to survive?The army from the north has left a trail of burned and captured cities. In trying to stop them, Claire and Ramiro unleashed the northern god, Dal, but now they face two monstrosities and no amount of honor or hope can stop the killing as Dal grows in power.

Searching for a miracle, Claire finds the elders of the Women of the Song, who might teach her a thing or two about using her voice magic to fight back—if they can put aside their own problems first—while Ramiro searches for truth in his dreams, leading him to the northern priestess Santabe, the only one who could share her knowledge of Dal and the mysterious magical Diviners. 

Claire must unite the Women of the Song in the face of utter destruction, and Ramiro must decide how far he will go to get the answers he needs to defeat the rampaging god.

It will take nothing less than a saint to rise and face the leviathan before they all become martyrs. (unofficial blurb)

Steadfast releases December 5, 2017

Enter Giveaways to Win Signed Copies of Grudging and Faithful:

A world of chivalry and witchcraft…and the invaders who would destroy everything.

The North has invaded, bringing a cruel religion and no mercy. The ciudades-estados who have stood in their way have been razed to nothing, and now the horde is before the gates of Colina Hermosa…demanding blood.

On a mission of desperation, a small group escapes the besieged city in search of the one thing that might stem the tide of Northerners: the witches of the southern swamps.

The Women of the Song.

But when tragedy strikes their negotiations, all that is left is a single untried knight and a witch who has never given voice to her power. And time is running out.

A lyrical tale of honor and magic, Grudging is the opening salvo in the Book of Saints trilogy.

Following Grudging–and with a mix of Terry Goodkind and Bernard Cornwall–religion, witchcraft, and chivalry war in Faithful, the exciting next chapter in Michelle Hauck’s Birth of Saints series!

A world of Fear and death…and those trying to save it.

Colina Hermosa has burned to the ground. The Northern invaders continue their assault on the ciudades-estados. Terror has taken hold, and those that should be allies betray each other in hopes of their own survival. As the realities of this devastating and unprovoked war settles in, what can they do to fight back?

On a mission of hope, an unlikely group sets out to find a teacher for Claire, and a new weapon to use against the Northerners and their swelling army.

What they find instead is an old woman.

But she’s not a random crone—she’s Claire’s grandmother. She’s also a Woman of the Song, and her music is both strong and horrible. And while Claire has already seen the power of her own Song, she is scared of her inability to control it, having seen how her magic has brought evil to the world, killing without reason or remorse. To preserve a life of honor and light, Ramiro and Claire will need to convince the old woman to teach them a way so that the power of the Song can be used for good. Otherwise, they’ll just be destroyers themselves, no better than the Northerners and their false god, Dal. With the annihilation their enemy has planned, though, they may not have a choice.

A tale of fear and tragedy, hope and redemption, Faithful is the harrowing second entry in the Birth of Saints trilogy.

About the Author:

Michelle Hauck lives in the bustling metropolis of northern Indiana with her hubby and two college-going kids. Besides working with special needs children by day, she writes all sorts of fantasy, giving her imagination free range. She is a co-host of the yearly contests Query Kombat, Nightmare on Query Street, Picture Book Party, and Sun versus Snow. Her Birth of Saints trilogy, starting with Grudging (November 17, 2015) and Faithful (November 15, 2016) and Steadfast (December 2017)  is published by Harper Voyager. Another epic fantasy, Kindar’s Cure, is published by Divertir Publishing.

Find her on twitter at @Michelle4Laughs or at her blog.

Zaub’s Excuse Mui Soars

Zaub - Excuse MuiIt’s always hard to start these sorts of things out. Like, should I say Zaub is a band? An ensemble? A collective? I also want to avoid words like fusion and eclectic. Those are old terms that don’t really mean anything, as far as I can tell. All musicians combine past with present to find new ways to express their voice. It’s all music, period.

So, that said, I’m going to avoid trying to classify Zaub too finely. They bring a lot to the table. I’m also going to call them jazz rock, even though that kind of puts a sour taste in my mouth. Most concrete labels do. But the jazz here is so strong, and so is the rock, so that’s about as good as it’s going to get.

They have a very strong Middle Eastern flavor, brought of course to the forefront by frontman Toofun Golchin’s impressive compositions and masterful playing. His lead guitar is often answered by Yunus Iyriboz, both of whom come from a strong background of playing bluesy stuff in international modes and rhythms. Max Whipple plays a bass with a ton of strings, and Colin Kupka brings extremely strong jazz and solo chops into the mix. Finally, the infallible duo Dan Ogrodnik and Amir Oosman, who also play together in Rhein Percussion, round out the cast of Zaub’s third album, Excuse Mui.

The record begins with the sonic equivalent of grabbing someone by the collar and making them sit down next to a pair of speakers. Listen up, people, seriously! It’s a great attention-grabber, and really sets the tone for the rest of the 4-track album. You’re going to get some soft moments, but a lot of Excuse Mui really rocks. Most of the time you’ll be listening to various incarnations of Toofun’s secretly catchy themes and melodies. He’s really found common ground in both jazz and Middle Eastern styles by acknowledging the repetition of themes in rotating timbres used by both traditions. That, I think, is my favorite part of this record. Thanks in large part to smart playing by Dan, Amir, and Max in the rhythm section, the transitions between each tune’s sections/movements happen so smoothly, I guarantee you’ll be surprised at least once to find you’re in some new, soothing little musical realm with no earthly idea how you got there. This is music, after all, so who needs earthly ideas anyway? This music soars.

It’s a wonderfully consistent album in terms of quality, but you’ll hear that soaring quality particularly in solos. Collisions features a great guitar solo, and Levitation opens with really lovely world percussion from Dan, plus it has an epic return to the A section that’s maybe one of my favorite moments of the album. You can hear this is in the video linked below.

Ode to Ornette in particular has a great vibe to it, and while I wouldn’t really call it “free” jazz, it’s definitely reasonably liberated. This tune actually sounds a lot more like bebop to me, thanks in large part to Colin’s superb solo. This is one of those songs that always makes me wonder what the hell happened to epic sax solos in rock songs. A really well-done subtle outro takes us to the final track, which finishes up the album.

In the interest of musical combinatorics, Zaub successfully merges virtuosity with the rule of cool. Deceptively earworm-ish melodies and internationally inspired rhythm structures make Excuse Mui a fresh, satisfying sound. It’s well worth a listen. You can find more about Zaub in the links listed below:

Official Website:!audio/c1577

Thanks to Austin Antoine for You’re Very Welcome

The new album from renowned underground performer and Hodgepodge artist Austin Antoine does not disappoint. Produced, mixed and mastered by the talented Mister-he and sporting a gorgeous cover by Amy LeeYou’re Very Welcome opens with a sense of narrative foreshadowing, teasing the listener with things to come. Vocal processing, lush production, anything goes. You know we’re sonically referencing heroes here, just as the opening monologue suggests, but you’re not sure which ones. Is this Andre 3000 at his most spacey? Gambino at his most theatric? We’ll see.

Wasting no time, Antoine’s first full track is the classic banger, self aware on several levels. We discuss the artist’s place in the scene; we’re assured the artist is young and strong, connected but humble. The rhymes flow, the chorus bangs, the beat bumps. This track knows what it is, and Antoine wants everyone to make sure we know where we’re at.

With Streets of Broken Dreams, Antoine starts to throw the listener some curves. This beat swings pretty heavily, and one can almost imagine some old music-man with white gloves, a cane and skimmer hat, airing out biting sarcasm as if the suffering performer’s woes are just another part of the show.

As the album progresses, it seems like Antoine starts to introduce this crazy new idea where he’s more than “just” a rapper. He’s a performer, and he’s got the pipes to prove it. I love when an artist has put some real thought into their track order, and it’s no accident that the hints of Austin singing toward the end of the woo-me track Summer Days leads into the astoundingly soulful interlude, Kelsey. Contrapuntal, a cappella melodies sung entirely by Austin take us deeper down the rabbit hole, exploring into what hip hop means besides some dude rapping over beats. With You’re Very Welcome, Antoine is taking the listener through a lesson in first impressions. Every artist has a journey that transcends genre, and few albums I’ve heard capture that concept as well as this one.

Got a problem with his singing? Unless you’re Nas (or even then, maybe) you better get over it. That’s the message in Rahzel/Aaliyah, a raw callback track that says, who gives a shit? Austin knows where he’s coming from, and he knows he can freestyle circles around anyone who steps to him. How many rappers out there can use the words “Guinness World Record” in their list of accolades? He’s been killing it for years, but this album is a new step for Antoine. He has accomplishments to back up his confidence. Listen to POWER!!, and tell me you’ve heard anything like this before. Just like with the intro, we know this style is coming from somewhere, from Austin’s heroes, but amalgamated into that dope freshness that speaks for itself. Hell yeah he likes video games, and hell yeah he’s watched Dragonball Z, and hell yeah he can rap like a beast.

You’re Very Welcome represents the new breed of artist. We don’t know if it’s hip hop. We don’t even know if it’s a record. It’s a work done by an individual who is navigating this strange new experience of becoming a performing adult with integrity amidst peers who don’t remember a time without email. Austin has really captured a moment here, and demonstrated tremendous personal growth in a truly relevant release.

You can follow Austin on his website, SoundcloudTwitter, Facebook, and Instagram. You can find him on Hodgepodge Records, and you can pay what you want for You’re Very Welcome at his Bandcamp.

Austin Antoine

Come see my band Madapple play our debut show in Hollywood!

Sassafras Saloon Wed 11/19

I am very excited to announce my amazing new band Madapple will be performing TWO SETS for our inaugural performance at the super cool Sassafras Salloon in Hollywood! The show is FREE and goes from 9-midnight, and it’s in the part of Hollywood where parking isn’t completely impossible. Hope to see you there!

Expect more updates about Madapple as we build up to a tour some time this summer. And hey, consider adding us on Facebook or Instagram. Thanks, hope to see y’all there!

The new Boss RC-505 and my cover of Swimming Pools (Drank) by Kendrick Lamar

The Boss RC-505 Loop Station is my newest purchase, funded in part by my Patreon page, which is amazing. I also have a new SD card! That’s three milestones down because of my Patrons. Woohoo! Thanks!

The RC-505 is my first real looper, as in not a delay pedal like my old also-Boss Giga Delay. It has five channels, each with a mix fader, a stop/start/rec/overdub button, and an edit button which is related to post-FX. There’s another knob for pre-FX and three memory slots for those FX, which is awesome. It has a built in customizable metronome and, best of all, PHANTOM POWER!! This means for the first time in my life I can loop using my nicer, more powerful microphones. Serious game changer, as you can see in the above video I’ve just released!

The ability to stop and start tracks is a huge deal, and really allowed me to delve into Kendrick’s song. It’s much easier now for me to cover full songs, meaning won’t have to pull a Spy Vs. Spy any more like in the BANKS video (as much fun as that was).

Swimming Pools (Drank) is really amazing. It turns the hip hop/club trope of having songs about alcohol on its head. Instead, the song is about the peer pressure to drink when you don’t want to and/or have already had too much. The production on the track is extremely lush, so you can see in the video how much I’m riding the Boss pedal’s reverb levels for different sections of the song. The track almost sounds like it’s underwater. Like in a swimming pool maybe. Do you see what they did there. DO YOU SEE WHAT THEY DID THERE.

Anyway, it’s an awesome track and the second verse is like one of my favorite things ever. Figuring out each one of these songs is always a really fun puzzle, and that’s why I love doing this. Can’t wait to see how my channel progresses now that I’m learning this new gear!

(Although, if they’re not foot pedals any more, what are we going to call them? “Hey, check out this new station I got” just sounds weird, am I right?)

My Parody and How To Avoid YouTube Content ID Detection

My most recent video “Parody” is about the frustrations of copyright trolls on YouTube. This video is now the subject of an ongoing battle with copyright trolls on YouTube. It’d be funny if it wasn’t so annoying.

Based on Pharrell’s “Happy”, I thought it would be safe under the Fair Use Act as a form of commentary on the legal hurdles of the song and any other major label tune. It turns out that’s not the case. Even though I’m complaining about the copyright of the song, monetizing the track means they can still claim the melody (I guess?) and they can take it down if they want to.

One of the most frustrating things about Content ID, which is YouTube’s content and metatag crawler, is that the appeal and dispute is set in increments of 30 days. 30 days to acknowledge, 30 days to appeal, 30 days to wait for the claimants response to your appeal. Of course they always wait as long as they can to respond, or if they know they can’t refute the dispute, they don’t ever say that. They just let it lapse, which takes, you guessed it, 30 days.

In the above video, since I’m not commenting on the song directly (I’m making fun of the dumb lines and non sequitur metaphors, but I’m not specifically stating they’re bad) and I’m not specifically refuting the heart of the work (my song’s not called “Crappy”, which would be a direct response to the theme of “Happy”), I’m probably just out of luck.

Three things you can do to avoid Content ID on YouTube

  1. Record every part yourself. If you re-record every part yourself, especially if each track is distinctly different (as they are here since I do them all vocally instead of using the same instruments as the original), Content ID will have a difficult time recognizing the similarity to the original.
  2. Don’t tag your video with identifying content. If you put the name of the artist and/or song in your video tags, Content ID will flag you even if you don’t have any content in your video. What’s hilarious about this is that, in your appeal for an erroneous identification, there is no option that simply states “This video was mistakenly flagged”. Seriously. Their system makes constant mistakes, but they refuse to admit it. Weird, huh?
  3. Don’t put the name of the artist and/or song in your video title. Same as with the tags. Since Content ID isn’t good at identifying your song if you re-record all the parts, it will use your video title to try and see if you’re using copyrighted content, even if you aren’t.

You’ll notice these tips will negatively affect your search results in a big way. This is certainly not accidental. And if you’re doing a straight cover, odds are it will still catch you on word recognition in the lyrics. But I believe the above is correct because, after watching this helpful video directed at videogame reviewers, I avoided the above three steps and had no problematic claims on my video. They want you to think their crawler is some uber-accurate identigod, but mostly it just reads whatever you type in your description, tags and titles.

It wasn’t until about a month after the initial release and my social media views were drying up that I added the tags and extra info in the title mentioning the words “Pharrell” and “Happy”, after which my video was quickly hit with three different copyright claims. I’ve successfully disputed two out of three claiming the Fair Use Act, but unfortunately EMI Music Publishing/CASH/UMPG Publishing has chosen to reject my dispute and reinstate their claim. The page in which this all happens looks like this:

Parody copyright dispute screenshot

I have now re-appealed my dispute, which is identical to the first one and which I adapted from the video linked earlier. It reads like this:

This recording is a parody and form of commentary and critique and uses no source material from the original recording. As an acappella recreation the audio is transformative and by sending this very notice becomes relevant to the critique of the piece and its legal status inherent in my parody. The video and audio were created entirely by myself on my own property. My parody is considered Fair Use by both YouTube and Federal Copyright Law. A Fair Use parody does not legally require the copyright holder’s permission, and I have every legal right to upload original content in the form of a parody. For further proof and information on Fair Use, please refer to: and additionally Thank you for taking the time to verify the clips to see that my usage does not violate copyright.

Five reasons this sucks hard

  1. I will probably have to wait another 30 days (or close to it) to find out what their response is.
  2. Their response is literally at their whim. They just click whatever they want and aren’t accountable for their choice at all, even if it’s illegal.
  3. If they reject my dispute, even if their rejection is illegal, I get a strike on my YouTube account. Three strikes and they delete your account.
  4. They can get my video taken down at any time, even if that request is illegal.
  5. We are all arguing about, literally, nickels and dimes here. I make almost no money off of ad revenue because I’m just not popular enough. These arguments are entirely for the principle of the thing. I just hate to watch bullies win.

Parody is going to reach 1,000 views faster than any other video I’ve made. That isn’t much to them, but it’s huge for me. Just let me put up my video and not have to deal with these jerks who are making the most ironic copyright claim in history. Thanks for reading, and I hope you learned something. Or, if not, at least enjoy the song :)

Go Embrace Release by Lindsey Lollie

A new video from choreographer Lindsey Lollie and dancer Jordan Saenz with music by me. Every sound you hear is sourced from samples of Lindsey reciting the three title words and manipulated using things like EQ, resonators and about three tons of delay. Enjoy.

Rarely seen Bill Hicks interview on Austin public access channel

“There’s no difference between good music and good comedy. It’s entertainment. And entertainment is suspension of time and space, so that you realize your true nature, which is spaceless and timeless.”

Rarely seen video of the prophet himself on a tiny public access channel in Austin. He had just had his big break, a standup routine he filmed for David Letterman, censored from the episode. He had announced his retirement from American comedy clubs. At the time this video was filmed, he had known he had cancer for nearly five months. He never mentions it.

Mexico, an original song and a cappella music video

First of all, I don’t know if we, as a species, will ever truly figure out how to spell “a cappella” in a way that we can all agree upon. I’ve chosen the proper Italian, and will probably take a hit to my search results because of it. Which is fine; it’s about attracting the right search queriers, not the most. Also “queriers” shouldn’t have a red line under it, Google. For shame.

There are a lot of exciting things going on. I’ve been enjoying running my YouTube channel, and will eventually do a post about what I’ve learned. This site is also in dire need of a redesign due to that and also just because I’m tired of this one. It should help me get excited about posting more again.

Speaking of segues, here’s an original song I wrote and recorded as an a cappella multitrack music video. The song’s called Mexico. More soon!