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This Art Gallery is Full of Mirrors

Welcome to the first entry of 33 & an Eighth.  We here at FilthyBroke Recordings are excited to have our friend HD in 360p aka Dustin Kress as our first guest contributor.  "Fearless leader" of illustrious hip hop blog Extraordinary Nobodies since 2016, he released his first EP, (S)erenity, nearly a year ago right here on FBR. We are honored to have him back in our catalog once again with the release of his first full length album This Art Gallery is Full of Mirrors, dropping May 1.  Here we take a glimpse into Dustin's headspace whilst creating this album, enjoy ...

This Art Gallery is Full of Mirrors
By Guest Contributor Dustin

While discussing the release plans for my first full release, This Art Gallery is Full of MirrorsMichael asked me if I would be interested in writing a little bit about the feelings and process that went into its creation. I agreed happily, as I don't often get to speak about what a disaster it can be when I sit down to work on music. I’m not really used to speaking about my art in depth, so I apologize if any of this comes across as awkward (because it sure feels odd trying to speak about a project that I was heavily invested in for half a year). That being said, if you walk away from this article with a good sense of understand as to how this record came to be, then I will be more than happy.

Actually, before proceeding I would like to thank you for taking the time to read this in the first place. Not everybody wants to read an independent music producer harp on about “the process.” You did though. So, thank you. Anyway...

Let me just say that when I first started working on This Art Gallery is Full of Mirrors, I had no concrete inspiration or goal. In fact, the project didn't have its final name until about a month before I sent it Michael's way for mastering. All I really knew is that I wanted to find a way to push the envelope on my sound. I was happy with the (S)erenity EP, but I also felt like the ideas fell incomplete. I could do more. At that point I basically sat down, put the work in producing, and threw ideas at the wall. Concurrently I was playing a bunch of Legend of Zelda games, and the soundtrack had me in love with the idea of incorporating orchestral instrumentation into my otherwise industrial work. I played with it on a couple of songs before eventually putting together “Anxiety & Adrenaline,” the first track on the album. It was at that point that Rajin (credited as Isolationist Complex on the album, and my co-writer at Extraordinary Nobodies) and I basically both said, “That's it, that's the sound to move forward with.” There isn't much else to the beginning stages of production. I had the sound, now I needed songs....

...and a theme.

It’s hard to make proper concepts work in instrumental material, but I’m a big fan of trying to include a grander idea in my work. With my last EP there was a loose theme of finding serenity in creating uncomfortable music. As I started the first batch of songs for this new album, I knew I wanted to find a central topic to connect the songs; moreover, the first thing I settled on was quite a bit different than the final product. This Art Gallery is Full of Mirrors was running with the title Ambiguity Warfare for a while, and was to be centered around conflict in both the societal and individual senses. As I got further into development, though, I realized I was creating music inspired by my mental state at a much more personal level. With every song I tried to take my feelings and experiences and give them a new existence as music. In that process of trying to capture feeling without words, the songs developed a vagueness in which the final title found its origin. This Art Gallery is Full of Mirrors is an exhibit of my private fears, anger, relationship failures, and insecurities; however, it’s being put on display in a way that listeners can reflect on themselves. I didn’t want the album to hold anybody’s hand, or tell them how to feel. The track titles are meant to express inspirations they carry, but beyond that I wanted everything to remain open ended. I would like to think I accomplished that.

Ultimately, I’m not a music producer with a lot of experience or resources at my disposal. This album was produced in its entirety on an Acer laptop with no external hardware. There are no samples, and I played every instrument line on the same keyboard I type with. Achieving the large sound that I wanted was a labor of love, one that was exhausting at times. Fortunately, I had a great group of friends behind the entire thing with me. Thank you Rajin, for taking the time to listen to demos, and suggest changes and track layouts. Thank you Ramon, for your wonderful verse on the second to last track. Thank you Jen, for the awesome album cover you helped create. Thank you Michael and Bambi for giving me a chance, and Michael again for taking the time to lend your beautiful mastering work to my projects. Lastly, thank you to the rest of my friends and family. Without the interest and support you’ve shown my music, I probably would have never explored this avenue of expression. It means the world to me.

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