Wednesday, December 28, 2016

One

and on looking back,
crest, and wintered
and risen
past the pistol spoke race
and on looking back,
the glass and streak
and now youthful spite
that oh, how so wasted,
the halls of static,
just afforded
color bleed and eroded 
with nails that sail from
ignorance amassed.

to be understood,
ah, yes, to be understood
and still,
it's only as well spun
as this offered silence
and hand warmed
love could say,
say sanity. 
say vanity.
it was never so easy.
the wind, coughing
on my shoulder,
the taps of those
haunting lisps
that seem as though
you could still touch them,
hold them, say wait
it wasn't so long ago.
and it moves, it blows
again.
and night,
reading disgust,
the wails of dishonor,
and proud,
so close up the shop,
the town has spoken,
crowd-less, voted.

one.

Call for Performers!

The next 2 Fridays (Dec 30th and Jan 6th), I am hosting an open mic at :

Cafe Ballou
939 N Western Ave, Chicago, IL 60622
(773) 661-2391
from 7:00 - 10ish

It's a great little neighborhood joint that is in need of some support, so please come on out.

Get some drinks/food, and bonus, it's B.Y.O.B. so no high liquor costs!


Looking for performers also, so please, sign up! 

All types, music, poetry, comedy, whatever! 

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Things I Use


Killing a bit of time, non creatively. Recorded two new songs today, so decided to take a break and do something mindless. I had been meaning to write up this list for some time now. So here is my list of essential software I use for mostly doing all the creating stuff. Too lazy to link them.

HitFilm Express . Excellent, free video editor, with hooks for editing, post processing, color grading, etc. Full featured, with purchasable content packs (or a $350 pro version). Trumps Adobe Premiere for my needs.

iSkyVideoSoft Converter . Been using this for years. It's paid, but worth every penny for me. Constantly updated. Basically converts every format of audio or video to any other format, perfectly and painlessly every time. Comes with profiles for file types (mp4, avi, etc) or even exporting to specific device types for ease of us (i.e., android phone, iPad air 2, etc)

LogicPro X . My DAW of choice, what I use for all my music production. As well, plugins I love - iZotope Ozone (mastering), Positive Grid Bias (guitar sim), Amplitube 3 (guitar sim), Peavy Revalver 4 (guitar sim), iZotope Nectar 2 (full vocal suite), Hornet AutoGain & Spikes (gain rider & non threshold based compressor-esque), T-Racks (compressors/leveler/maximizer/eq), Valhalla VintageVerb & Room (reverb sims)

CollageIt Pro . Excellent app for quickly creating a photo collage.

PhoShow Gold . Full featured slideshow app (osx and win), with purchasable transition/effect packs. Use it all the time.

Skrivener . Great tool for authors. Allows you to organize your chapters/notes/storyboards/characters in multiple ways, provides publisher friendly exports/etc.

Dropbox . Keep all my notes, song exports in sync. Run it on my pc's, laptops, and mobile devices so I have access to everything (although the apps kinda suck. no folder syncing, iffy with updated files that don't auto save to device). In this area I also use a few SimpleNote based client apps - but they are os specific using a simplenote storage DB backend.

Google Drive . Pay for 1TB monthly, so I back up all my music arrangements (like 20 GB for 80 songs), videos, photos, etc here.

Evernote . Also on the notes, I do use this for tracking/organizing everything I write/send/promote/etc. The marketing in this can be way heavy handed (and the constant pushiness to sync your notes).

OmniDisk Sweeper . Beautiful little tool for seeing exactly where your space is being eaten on your mac.

Photoshop (Essentials right now) . Nothing really to add.

Silver Efex Pro 2 . Recently free-wared by Google, a great little Nikon tool for adding effects (B&W and old film/camera) to your photos. While true photogs will opt to not use presets, this works great in a pinch when you don't need to tinker too much manually. Actually, you still can tinker with levels, exposure, etc here too if you want.

Android Studio & Xcode . For developing android & iOS apps. Pretty self explanatory.

Libre Office . I track all the songs with their ad copy, state of recordings, instrumentation, etc through a spreadsheet. How business like of me.

Apple Motion . Hidden in this app is a really great set of color grading tools for video at an affordable price.

Monday, September 5, 2016

One Small Step

Such a huge albatross hoisted from the body. Today I sent out the first batch (76) songs to other prospective artists to contribute. That quantity was rather arbitrary - at some point a few months ago some internal alarm went off and said "time to stop recording new things and finish what you have". So I obliged and spent the following two months deciding on the overall effect chain, etc.

Now, those have been wrapped up (in honesty, there is one song collaboration that requires a bit more tuning, but it's a trivial update on my end). It gives me such a sense of peace to know I can now go back to being a carefree songwriter and less a stressed engineer/producer. So, what's next.

First thing, I need to upgrade my osx to El Capitan. I had been avoiding it for months due to compatibility issues with some of the effects plugins I use. Lots of my music software is somewhat esoteric and built by small teams, so when Apple inevitably decides to break everything with an update, sometimes ye olde plugins take a while to get updated, or worse fall by the wayside. Hopefully everything still works, and if not, I suppose it's ok as those songs are finished, and the new ones will just avoid those plugins. El Capitan is needed for my iOS app, since Swift has changed a bunch and I need to upgrade Xcode and Swift for the app.

So I need to finish the iOS app (it's really early on) and the android app first. Android is almost done, really only needing AWS S3 to be added for the music/image storage (currently I am hosting the songs elsewhere, but it's not a wise final resting place for them). Then, get back to songwriting/recording, and back to casually working on the novel as well. 


It never ends (thank the almighty).

Friday, September 2, 2016

A Lesson in Time

When I first began this project late last year, or at least conceived of the idea in a long car ride, through fall, much of the approach I dreamt up was naive at best, occasionally disastrous at worst.

Ideas happen most any time, and I wanted this to be a pure dissolution of idea to song in as easy a way possible. If I were laying in bed and an idea struck, record the basics and don't worry about finishing the song at that moment. That way I'd never hinder the creative process, and I could keep creating reams of song fragments that would be able to be easily polished later when I was feeling more mechanical, less enigmatic.

This turned to be mostly a terrible approach. While I ended up with 75 songs shards rather quickly, I hadn't thought about many things that ended up in forcing me to spend months actually finishing those songs.

I hadn't quite perfected my effect chain, and this was the most egregious misstep. While it may sound trivial, this part ended up costing me so much time as I constantly experimented, tweaked, and grew my ears in an attempt to find the best way to produce the music. I switched mics, guitar sims, compressors, and more since my last album, and now having near 100 songs meant that every time I found a new approach, I had to retro-fit every fucking one before I'd be happy.

And, outside of the engineering issues, I found something else I hadn't really thought of. Magic. Magic can sometimes only exist in a small, finite window of time.

I went back and listened to the demos of the songs, and noticed that sometimes what ended up recorded months later somehow lost some of the original magic. I slowly came to the realization that sometimes its best to not let things sit and grow and think they will be easy to fix later. And, although I wasn't quite that callous (thinking it would be easy to fix), I didn't quite comprehend how hard it would be to pick up a tender ballad months later and try to capture the exact sound I had when I wrote it and it was ripping my heart out.

And as well, with creative pursuits, sometimes it's so hard to go back to something that feels from a different lifetime when there is new on your mind. As life changes and songs fall from new branches, the last thing you want to do is spend a week eq'ing and re-compressing the same damn vocal line from 3 months ago.

So, as I stand on the precipice of the next wave, I won't make the same mistake. No more dangling infant concepts left to mature under the weight of countless others. Finish the thought when it comes. Letting things linger and fester sometimes can make them near irreparable.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Way of the Future

Over the past few months, as I've worked on the music, a tangent thread has run in my mind, wondering how to possibly release this album.

Surely 365 songs won't fit on a CD, won't kindly fit in a single Amazon album (at least I am guessing). Besides, I hadn't been convinced that was the best way to distribute this. Thought maybe a nicely branded USB stick, but that doesn't make it easy for anyone to listen to. There is this blog, but checking a website daily seems rather pase now-a-days. Finally, there's the likes of Soundcloud, et al, but that seemed so anti-climactic, feeding a single song a day down the raging river of daily Soundcloud releases.

Then about 2 weeks ago, the idea hit me. Build an app around this. So, that's what I did.
The Android app is wrapping up development right now and will be released soon, and I'll get to the iOS app in the next two months. Basically, it's an app that plays the daily song, shows artwork, notes, news...what you'd expect. And for those that wish to purchase it/donate, will get access to the full 365 song library to be played at will.

I think this app came out really well. So excited to share it. I actually built my own font for it, so here's a photo of my handwritten font.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Management sucks, obviously.

Managing this project is mostly unwieldy. Or, i have it down to a process, but it’s time consuming. After generating a final mix, I have to track the order of all these files as they need to be released in series. Alphabetic won’t cut it. 
I have all these things tracked in a LibreOffice doc, and added a series column I can sort by. However, Logic X and Ozone just produce the filename, as I don’t know the release order as I create songs. So I created a little Ruby script to parse the spreadsheet and rename the files in order. Pretty nice, as I can decide at the zero hour after months of writing how to release and quickly re-order everything. Yippee. 
Coming soon, a really cool new idea I had for releasing the album. Exciting! 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

A Simpler Time

One year ago, the release party had already passed. Somehow, possibly through a willful ignorance of properly checking the date, I missed the actual anniversary of August 1st. Curious, as nostalgia is a piston.


Being almost 100 songs deep in my current project, that album of a paltry 13 songs seems like several lifetimes ago. Almost precious that I spent so much time on a baker's dozen. But that was so much more than just the album. The planning, the rehearsals, the exhaustion, love, anxiety. It was something most likely once in a lifetime for me.

I haven't re-watched it in full since I edited the video, so I suppose it would be appropriate to do it in the next week or so. Anyways, cheers to that night, that life.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

To Dream or Not

I don't tend to dream very much, or at least recall much of a dream upon waking. I'm guessing I must at times be having some level of intense dream, because often I wake up very agitated.

The one thing I can say I do often is wake with ideas. For this reason, I always keep a voice recorder and tablet close by. When I was younger I used to think I'd just remember my midnight ideas and thoughts, but after years of wasting them in the wee hours of night never to be remembered in daylight, I started making sure if something seemed interesting it was recorded in the easiest fashion.


Last night, woke quickly in a hotel bed with mostly an entire short story on my mind. I quickly typed it up on my Surface in Skrivener (excellent little program I'm currently using for my novel). This story though was self-contained and suited well form short form. Almost a sci-fi cautionary example future type of thing. Typed much of it up last night and it just needs a few rounds of filling in the details and editing and then hopefully I can get it published somewhere before whatever real future occurs overtakes this imagined one and renders it obsolete.
Come read about the state of the first 75 songs on songaday2017.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

2016.06.04 - Live at Elbo Room

Chapter One

Chapter One.

He had turned the tea kettle on early that morning, at some point before the dark had completely retreated back behind the scotch tape snapped blinds. The morning was lingering, long and hard, slow and scratched down the back of his throat. Or maybe it was screaming a bit late last night, possibly alone with eyes welded shut amongst the long heeled chat boxes that melted formless just beyond the safety of eyelids. But the morning, she still laid there sullen and demanding. Wake up, be a part of this.

He placed his thick bulk headphones clenched against his skull and wished away more time against. The song was linear. In one ear, and the next, and moving strictly from beat to beat in a way that made perfect sense. It was all there to see, only the fools could somehow trick them selves long enough to believe it was magic. If there was magic, he was sure it was somehow lost long ago in the way the thing was captured. What was pounding now against this morning head was just a byproduct. A remembrance. Something that those who weren't a part, those that never were could only ever pretend to understand. And he knew it. But, in terms of helping forget, it's as good as anything else.

Inside those headphones, aside from artifact given by people possibly too high to remember, spiked a high squeal.

Again, this morning, well she wouldn't stop. Fast retreating toward the day siren that would punish those who lay in bed, forsaking the green and blue of that big world outside. He fumbled for the equalizer. Tune out the squeal. It was starting to hurt.

Nothing, no, nothing helped. It was there. Ever present. Buried amongst the drums and guitar and vocals so ever slightly off pitch in a way that used to be deemed human, was the high, screaming, squeal.

Fuck. He slide the fader of the treble to near invisible in a lazy fashion, brushing it against the slowly descending values. The overall impression of noise became so mudded, but there, spilt in stereos for both ears, was that fucking scream. A witches wail. He shifted in bed, kicked off the blanket. It was too hot anyway. Eyes slide up the pulsing red numbers of the air unit slammed awkwardly into the side window. 70 degrees. Indoors always feels so much warmer. So, no blanket.

Then, acceptance. Fuck it, bad gear. Audio interference. Something causing feedback. Fuck if he knew, and he didn't care. Not enough sleep, love, time, regret. Whatever. This wail would now be a part of the music used to forget.

Song three went by, as did four. He wan't moving much, or paying mind to anything. Last night was a blur anyways, and he's sure there was something said that was off. That feeling that slowly slices up your guts when you know you said something, to someone. Offensive? Maybe. Fuck, probably. This though wasn't the time. He was thirsty. Have to use his legs and rise, possibly, no, fuck, most likely, walk up to the fridge. So, headphones off.

Fuck, the tea kettle. Right.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Summer show schedule

Starting to book some gigs for the summer.

Saturday June 4th @ Elbo Room, 10-12.

Saturday July 9th @ The Store, 10:30-12:30

More to come,

and see you there!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The kids may be alright

In 2010.

Cancer had come back, and I was in the later rounds of chemo. Months of being sick, burning pain; Hairless, implanted tubes directly into my veins making me unable to shower for weeks at time. Unable to stand, most likely close to some form of death.

You have time to think, often, and it's not usually positive things sitting top of mind.

One of the things I kept thinking about was music. I had given up, abandoned what had moved me my entire first 20 years of life on Earth. My expression, my passion, my creativity. So I had vowed, in my bed that if I could beat that demon cancer I would get back to music.

See, every time I perform now-a-days I know I am on borrowed time. It is a gift that I am able to be up there, and I know deep inside no matter what happens, I am living something that I made a promise to myself to accomplish in the darkest of times. No matter how short this life ends up being, I did not give in to the fear of musical failure.

Anyways, in 2011 I began to take music much more seriously. Hopefully began to grow into my skin, my voice. For my life prior to then, I had a different way of looking at music. I never heard the flaws in my songs cause they were only ever ideas waiting to be snatched up by someone who cared and would help transform them into what they could be. Somehow I was looking for people that could see what could be and help create that dream, partners in crime. But now, after realizing you can't place your dreams in others, I began to grow into myself, and since then have been working constantly to be whatever concept of the best me I can be.

Anywhoo, all this for some context. Here is a smattering of music from my childhood. A mix of around 150 songs I had written mostly from my teen years. These were done on old Tascam 4-tracks, 80s era boom boxes, and fledgling versions of the new fangled Cubase digital recording software. Growing older, it's really nice to be able to become comfortable with the imperfections of youth, and now, I am wholly proud of these regardless of their shortcomings.

mark's wild years - analogue - 1986-1995

mark's wild years - the digital age 1996-2008

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Eulogy to my Father, Vidas Joseph Mikunas

Something had been wrong for a long time. The thing about dementia is that it changes your perception of someone. You know, consciously, that the person you are talking to is not of sound mind, but it's so hard to detach yourself from what you are hearing. What is being said.

For the last years, our father had descended down that hellish spiral of dementia. Life had become uncontrollable for our Mom and Dad, and, although it happened fast, in daily life the change was so gradual. Behaviors would alter, statements were made that didn't make sense, and it started to take it's toll.

It's so hard because the person you loved is changing. A human being that you recognize, have known your whole life is not the man you once knew.

When death came Wednesday morning I wasn't prepared. At all. Nothing is ever the way you imagine it to be. We knew it was coming, but it still presented such a shock. That morning, seeing him in the room.

For so many years he spoke of starting a new life. Living in a warm climate, learning a new trade. Within the confines of his resilience there were times I believed he just may pull it off. He was a survivor in the most honest sense of the word.

My father was a complicated man. He was a study in extremes. And as I've grown older, I've come to truly appreciate the dynamics of his being. He was such a sensitive soul. His exterior was often gruff and defensive, but inside he cared and loved as much as anyone I have ever known. But you had to know how to read him. He never made things easy - never took the easy way out of anything. And it made him strong.

And that he was. He was the strongest man I've ever known. The demon of addiction runs through our family and he was not immune. He fought and beat alcoholism, and kept fighting as his body gave way to several heart attacks, strokes, seizures, diseases. Doctors, and believe me he had several teams, would be in awe of his rap sheet, and his resilience. Paul and I used to joke that we thought he may never die. Every Christmas season for most of our adult lives had extended holiday hospital stays, but every time he would come out. And over time he even seemed to get stronger.

In the early years, I remember mostly our family road trips. Us piled into that grey Chevy station wagon burning all direction across the American countryside. Stopping at motels, hotels, diners, under sheets of rain and through red clay canyons. To this day I love road trips, that sense of adventure that he instilled in us. The love of cartography, the fearlessness of new towns - I never felt worried with him leading the way. He had a way of taking control of any situation. In youth football, he had no trouble telling our dimwitted mammoth of a football coach what he really thought, and soon found himself on the coaching staff. He was not afraid of anyone. At least if he was, I never saw it. The man in his 60s and poor health got into a fight with a hospital security guard in front of us. He was known everywhere he went for how he wasn't to be messed with. And you know, as much as it caused problems, I was always secretly proud inside that he took nothing from no one.

And while I do have to say he could be such a bastard, I have really come to appreciate how special he was. We all had our share of fights. But we always made up, and eventually we began to share deep late night discussions. I really began to know that the more he fought meant the more he cared. As they say, my father didn't suffer fools gladly.

Later in life he discovered painting, and so quickly got so good at it. He found passion in art, in poetry, in things he denied himself when he was young. He was a brilliant man that never found exactly where or how to channel his talents and it frustrated him. He got frustrated by authority, by his inability to find his calling. He dabbled with photography, architecture, truck driving, police work - he changed jobs constantly. The thing is though he never gave up.

I remember when we lived in that English Tudor condo on Karlov He held a dream to own a seat on the board of trade. He worked feverishly to reach that goal, spending hours driving a truck and free time trading. In mid-life he switched up again to enroll in college and complete a life long dream, gaining his degree, something that made him and us eternally proud of him. He cherished education and knowledge. And I thank him for passing that down to us as we do our children.

The last several years of his life, he spent taking tireless care of our Mom and Grandma, while being in ailing health himself. He was helping with his treasured Kylie, taking classes studying the craft of painting, and spending his nights late researching a variety of subjects, always learning, always ready to debate me on the latest technological trends or philosophical musings he had unearthed.

For the last few months we hadn't had much contact with him. It hurts so much to play the what if game, but we knew his mind was no longer at ease with the same reality we exist in. But every day he was and is on my mind. He cast such a long shadow, taught us so much about how to live. Taught us the single most valuable gift you could give someone was the one you took the time to make. Taught us to record everything you could for you children and their children's children to see. Taught us to view the world with a watchful eye, for not everything is always so kind. But most of all he taught us to be men.

I am so grateful he lived to appreciate what an amazing person Kylie has become and Max is growing into. His grandchildren meant the world to him.

I spent the last 2 days trying to think of how to honor him. I never really got the chance to ask him his dreams, his hopes. I only know bits and pieces of exactly who he was or wanted to be. But what I do know is he was a truly unique, loving, and complex person. Someone who fought for what he believed in. He faced horrors most of us couldn't imagine and always came through dreaming of tomorrow. Any time I go through something difficult I look to him for inspiration, and I want to win each war, to know that I am as strong as he, and to make him proud. And I think that is how we honor him.

Even writing this eulogy I struggled with keeping the honesty of the darker content. But you know what, I realized this is my Dad talking through me. He was honest with his opinion and did not lessen the weight of his words. And he gave me that. So I will give my gift of my true thoughts to him, and hope that would make him proud. Because a man is only as good as his word.

I will miss him always and know that the things that moved him move me as well. May you please find peace in your rest. I love you Dad.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

"Don't Leave" by Max Mikunas

An incredibly proud moment. 


Out of nowhere Max asked to perform for me his first song he ever wrote! I had no influence on this. It is a piece for bongos called "Don't Leave' with his own made up transcriptions. My emo lyrical style seems to have rubbed off on him at tad, but damn, what a moment this is. Not joking, thinking of having this framed. This is better than any trophy or such to me.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

To pose the question, another way

spearmint green
and frosted black.
the pavement,
chipped up against the boot.

"lost?"

"no...no...i think I know where I am now"

where were you?

months,
minutes...
uncomfortable in the skin we borrowed.
set aside time for television,
it's something that always feels cheap and easy.
the phone sat motionless for
the better part of the
time I could remember.
violet light,
cast across the bed as night
slowly fed upon day.

"the pills help"

"why...why?"

"i suppose, i guess it hurts less and less each time till one day...it just becomes...you"

there was nothing left
to swallow
in the glass. stammered, she
started a bit uncomfortable.
I had nothing left to say.

"Remember",

I whispered.

"i don't write love songs"

The Giving Tree

Read Maxie Shel Silverstein's "The Giving Tree" before bed tonite. What an incredibly moving story, how the world needs someone like Shel again.

 It's funny, I just read critiques that some people believe that story enables materialism and narcissism, others believe it's about co-dependence, others think its a happy story about giving. But can't it just be a portrait of how life can just be. Not good or bad, but painful and true with good and bad and love and loss. That some times people don't realize what they are taking from you no matter how much you give, and that you love them so maybe, sometimes you accept that, even though in the end there isn't a happy ending. I don't understand why everything has to be so black and white. Art can be grey, uncomfortable, and honest. I don't know truly what Uncle Shelby's motivations were, but I always thought he was a master at storytelling that often found truths without being preachy. It's so exhausting how compartmentalized everything has become.

 As for Max, he thought it was a nice tree. I guess maybe that's a bad lesson. I trust one day he will learn to see that maybe the boy wasn't so kind, but that comes with time and I'll let him learn that.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Live on the Flabby Hoffman Radio Show

Tune into today at 1680 am on the radio or streaming live to mobile devices and computers at http://www.que4.org around 2/2:15

I'll be a guest on the Flabby Hoffman Radio show talking about the new 365 song album, music, and maybe even just life in general. Maybe play a tune.

If you got something to say to me, make it public! You can call in when I am on at 312-985-7834 and Flabby will answer it on-air, letting me chat.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Elbo Room 2.26.16


2016 - 2- 26 - Elbo Room from Mark Mikunas on Vimeo.

What an amazing night. First, thank you to Eric Sands and John Barnicle for playing with me. You guys are amazing and we have real chemistry - It truly is an honor, and I would play with you guys forever. I mean it. Second, thank you with all my heart to everyone who came out. You made this night magical. I know not everyone could come, but you were in my heart and I missed you dearly. God, I am on a high I never want to come down from. There is something about performing that transcends existence. And apparently my voice sounds better sober. Who knew. Photos and videos coming.

Edit: I want to add I have such an amazing family. God, I have not been the best relative, I know that. But you all came from so far to watch. I owe you so much. So much. I love you all.
How about that. Rebecca F playing here tonight too.

Even more reason to come!

Almost Showtime

All set up and waiting for the boys for final rehearsal before heading to the Elbo Room.

Never matter how dark things can get: life, people can tear through your soul. But there is always lady music. This moment right now - though I get sick and panicked and the silence pounds my temples, makes me feel so alive. There is nothing I would be rather doing in the world (aside from time with Maxie).

 Only live once and I will never stop doing this no matter how old nor ridiculous I get. I'm a committed fool...

Guitar, snow, rice

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Under the kissing tree

under the kissing tree
he waits, always
cherry moon and
hands burnt of promise.

The night stars
cold and distant
lips cracked
throat whispy
eye puffed and no,
won't quite say

there's no one to listen
anymore
on the wicker weed,
snap,
cotton, soft and gentle retreats.
the air a heavy
breed of empty
he walks.
walks,
silent and withered.
sick, beaten,
this must be what he
deserves

no one and no one
and nothing
the scarlet fielder
boundless
the emptiness opens
wider,
yawning
screaming inside
he can't handle
so much pain,
forever and always

the music is so distant
to share? for share?
yearning.

"this is terminal,
isn't it"

no one. no one

calling.
echo. tinder of echo,
something.
left at all
the shovel clangs
against the earthy stone
now, child,
it just a matter of moments
long, solitary moments

Little Prince Cafe

It's been so long, but never forgotten. Things have changed and for now what is essential will be invisible to all eyes. There remains a movie though, honoring the memory of LPC and the amazing Richard Stromberg. Please enjoy and remember.

 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The album of the year update

I've started a blog about my current project, writing an album of 365 songs to release one a day next year. It's coming along amazingly, I am more proud of these songs than anything I have done before. They are honest, varied, and will capture a year in the life. Please join me.

Check out the journey here.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Laying the past to rest

Working hard on the new year long album and in preparation for upcoming shows, going to be shooting a whole bunch of new photos and videos.

However, I did want to have a good final version of the album release party vid, so I uploaded a new, sleeker version. Trimmed up a bunch of unneeded stuff and made it much tighter. But the past is past and that lifetime is officially done, so on to a new and brighter future!

August 1st 2015 . Dogs Bark at Strangers Album Release Highlights from Mark Mikunas on Vimeo.

Show @ the Store on March 10th

Very excited!

For my show at the Store on March 10th, I got the amazing Justin Purtill to play a set.

I recommend everyone get out that night and check it out! More details coming after the Elbo room show next Friday.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

So, go see a show. Anything.

Being onstage is a frightening thing.

There is so much to hate about our current time, our current city. The news, media - people who stand to gain from keeping masses in fear, eyes clicking and fingers swallowing each disaster du jour. It is so easy to loose sight of the good. I flirt with canceling my Facebook account weekly.

But Chicago, our city, people.

On the way to the Creative showcase last night, I used a lift sharing service. Waited in anachronistic kindly weather, nerves dancing with every wisp of the wind.

As we drove, the driver noticed my guitar. So we spoke, and he was an interesting cat. A rapper that goes by the handle Patman. We shared stories of creating, struggling - being robbed of creation by those who don't see the world the same. A simple cab ride. We exchanged cards, made fleeting promises of collaboration. Rap meets rock or something like that. Wasn't going to hold my breath though.

The venue was sleepy at 7.30, save a few performers. Introduction, all of us instantly understanding, and anxious. In a good way I hope.

So the night would go, hours spent watching people of all ages, races, backgrounds and styles come together, like some makeshift meteoric civilization. All helping each other, respecting each other, sharing our own voices in this one small room that now feels infinite. We watched so many performers, on stage, as the audience  would ebb and flow. Watched them pour their souls out to strangers, in real time. No photo filters, posed selfies, corrections after the fact. People who are doing this for love, for passion. No one making money, no one being coached, no safety nets.

It's so easy to forget. It's so easy to stop breathing. It will happen if you let the river guide you. I think it is worth it to fight. Every day across this city there are writers, artists, painters, actors, musicians, sharing their stories in a unique way you will only ever get to experience that way exactly once in life.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

2016 mic shootout

Been working on my newest album. More details to come on that, but I've been auditioning all the mics in my stable to find the perfect tool for the job. In the past I've usually just taken my most expensive one at the time and gone with that. I know that's a terrible way of approaching things, but I fell victim to the  "I must get the most of what I paid for" maxim. This time however, I am actually being smart about the whole affair.

So, I took one of my newest songs, an R&B number in the style of Michael Jackson and tried each mic on my voice at different distances, with the only effects being a noise gate and a bit of software compression. Here are the results.

Heil Fin (near) - The mic had an awful lot of proximity effect. I couldn't seem to manage it - With every open variation of my mouth it seemed to have a different eq curve.  It has a great sound reproduction - bright and crisp, but overall a bit thin. Excellent for micing the acoustic guitar however.

Hell Fin (far) - Still some mic proximity effects, but much less. However, in order to minimize them I got pretty far away from the mic, and at that point there was too much air in the sound that I couldn't seem to adjust well with EQ. I've determined this is a great live mic and excellent for instrument micing, but not my favorite vocal recording mic.

MXL 990 - This to me had a more full sound than the Heil. An excellent overall reproduction that wasn't too finicky. It sounded somewhere between a condenser and an SM58.

MXL  4000 - This has a nice overall tone, a full sound a bit bright, but really sensitive. I couldn't seem to compress it well as it was too spikey. Good for me doing very controlled, whispery type vocals, but surely not right for rock. I had to sing too self aware to make it usable, killing the vocal feel.

ATR 30 - For what I considered an old throw away mic, it was surprisingly decent. Overall a bit flat and missing some high end, but in a way it sounded kinda vintage. Decent low end.

SM 57 - To me, with my voice, it sounded a bit thin and a tad crispy in the high end. Clear sound. Could see using this for harmony or gang shout/backing vocals.

SM 58 - As expected, good all around. For me it was missing a tiny bit of fullness and that nice crisp sound you get from a condenser.  Didn't quite pop the way I wanted.

The winner. MXL 990. I had kinda written this little mic off as I bought it years ago and at the time I didn't really spend much time with it. However, when doing the roundup (and bearing in mind it's my specific voice), it consistently captured the feel I wanted. I tried it on rock, ballads, blues, etc. and so far it has been up to all tasks marvelously. The only thing I haven't tried is highly aggressive vocals, but if it falters I always have the shures to step in.

Friday, January 1, 2016

All time favorites video games

I'm writing this on my Christmas gift to myself, a Surface 3. I am captivated by this device. Throughout the years I have owned tablets (android and iOS), and never regarded them as much more than pretty toys. Especially the iPad. While a decent tool for web browsing and some semblance of creative work (certain amp sims, drawing tools, etc), the crippled mobile os's never made them usable like a real computer (don't get me started on trying to transfer files or play random non-Apple sanctioned video file types on them). In terms of real music recording production, video editing, programming/development, they are pretty much worthless. Anywhoo, this Surface is everything I dreamed a tablet could be, and more. It runs the actual Windows 10 OS, so all manner of real programs are usable. And, as an added bonus, it is surprisingly capable at gaming. I run emulators, app store casual games and real, honest to goodness Steam offered triple A titles from a few years ago. Mass Effect 2, Crysis, Far Cry 2, Oblivion, etc all run perfectly on this little wonder device. So in lieu of my re-kindled interest in gaming, I got to thinking about finishing my long in the works favorite games of all time list. This isn't necessarily a list of what I think are the best games ever made. It's an amalgam of the best, the most nostalgic, and my most beloved.

Without further adieu:

There is no order to this, aside from the first 3 positions. Those are the undisputed champs.
  1. Civilization 4 - PC
  2. System Shock 2 - PC
  3. Half Life 2 - PC
  4. Mario Kart 3D - 3DS
  5. Alien Isolation - PC
  6. Outrun - Arcade
  7. Donkey Kong Country - SNES
  8. Super Castlevania 4 - SNES
  9. Unreal Tournament 2004 - PC
  10. Streets of Rage - Sega Genesis
  11. The Elder Scrolls - Skyrim - PC
  12. Altered Reality - Commodore 64
  13. Adventure - Atari 2600
  14. 4th & Inches - Commodore 64
  15. Sid Meir's Pirates! - Commodore 64
  16. Painkiller - PC
  17. Sonic the Hedgehog - PC
  18. Super Mario Land - Gameboy
  19. Day of the Tentacle - DOS
  20. Bioshock - PC
  21. Thief 3 - PC
  22. Deus Ex - PC
  23. Peggle - PC
  24. Jumpman - Commodore 64
  25. Might and Magic : Clash of Heroes - Nintendo DS
  26. Advance Wars - Nintendo DS
  27. Wii Sports - Wii
  28. Wii Sports Resort - Wii
  29. Guitar Hero 2
  30. Need for Speed Porsche Unleashed - PC
  31. Grand Theft Auto 5 - PC
  32. Super Mario Brothers World - SNES
  33. Simcity 2000 - PC
  34. Mean Streets - Commodore 64
  35. Spy Vs. Spy 2 : Island Capers - Commodore 64
  36. Might and Magic: Gates to Another World - Sega Genesis
  37. Links 386 - PC
  38. Terminator: Future Shock - DOS
  39. Doom – DOS
  40. Elder Scrolls - Oblivion
  41. Ghostbusters - Commodore 64
  42. Knights of the Old Republicublic 1 & 2 - PC
  43. Crash Bandicoot - Playstation
  44. Aliens (Activision) - Commodore 64
  45. Driver - Playstation
  46. Summer Games II - Commodore 64
  47. Punchout - Wii
  48. Ghosts & Goblins - Commodore 64/Nintendo
  49. Ultima Underworld 2 - DOS
  50. Plants Vs. Zombies - PC
  51. Diablo 2 - PC
  52. Zombies At My Neighbors - Sega Genesis
  53. Out of this World - SNES
  54. Dragon Age Origins - PC
  55. Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego – NES
  56. Jet Moto - Playstation
  57. GFL Championship Football - Commodore 64
  58. Gabriel Knight – DOS
  59. Carmageddon - DOS
  60. Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis – DOS
  61. Civilization 5 – PC
  62. Contra - NES
  63. Kings of the Beach – Commodore 64
  64. American Mcgee's Alice - PC
  65. The Saboteur - PC
  66. Resident Evil - Playstation
  67. NFL Gameday 97 – Playstation
  68. Stalker: Shadows of Chernobyl - PC
  69. Interstate 76 – PC
  70. Tecmo Bowl – Nintendo
  71. Wonder Boy – Sega Master System
  72. Sonic CD – Sega CD
  73. Tomb Raider – Playstation
  74. Quake - DOS
  75. Leaderboard Golf – Commodore 64
  76. Crysis - PC
  77. Space Harrier – Sega Master System
  78. Golden Tee Golf - Arcade
  79. Vette! - Dos
  80. Warioware Inc. - Gameboy Advance
  81. The Sims – PC
  82. Castlevania – NES
  83. L.A. Noire – PC
  84. Night Trap – Sega CD
  85. Mass Effect 2 – PC
  86. Clive Barker's Undying – PC
  87. Batman Arkham Asylum – PC
  88. Doom 3 – PC
  89. Redneck Rampage – DOS
  90. Left 4 Dead – PC
  91. NBA Live 2K9 – PC
  92. You Don't Know Jack – PC
  93. Alone in the Dark – DOS
  94. Mortal Kombat 2 - SNES
  95. 4D Tennis – DOS
  96. The Oregon Trail – DOS
  97. Nascar Racing – DOS
  98. Microsoft Flight Simulator 98 – PC
  99. Star Wars – Dark Forces – DOS
  100. Defender of the Crown – Commodore Amiga