Documenting my work at the intersection of technology and music.

Fourth Strike Song Jam 2023

Every year, Fourth Strike (the record label/not-for-profit music collective behind the garages) does a little community song jam. Participants are encouraged to make one song a week for for weeks. Each week has a theme and some optional additional challenges. It’s a fun, low-pressure environment to practice making music.

🎤Announcing the FOURTH STRIKE SONG JAM 2023! 🎵

The Song Jam is a non-competitive space to complete challenges in songwriting & producing


Running Nov 6 - Dec 10

Join on our discord server: https://t.co/bve5GExAzN pic.twitter.com/OSmnFuzFzM

— Fourth Strike (@StrikeFourth) October 19, 2023

This year I did my best to participate consistently. I’ve put the results on Bandcamp, with the more post-rock songs under Serious Times and the more twee emo songs under a new name, Slow Church.

Update 2024-03-01: The song jam album dropped today. You should listen, there are some real gems on here. Particular standouts are PINK HEART, polaris, Prelude to Avunculicide, and Pure Propaganda.


CHALLENGE: The title of your song must be the name of one of your “most used” emojis

BONUS CHALLENGE: Oops, your phone is running out of storage. Better make the song shorter than 1m 59s!

For week one, I made a little spoken word piece which was what I’d wished I’d said during some mildly transphobic incident (basically a shower argument), and placed it over some sloppy twangly midwest emo guitar. Trying to to channel american poetry club or something like that. It’s cringingly twee.


CHALLENGE: For this week’s inspiration, we’re breaking into a modern art gallery. Your inspiration are the two pieces of artwork below - feel free to take inspiration from one or both of them however you like!

BONUS CHALLENGE: Good artists copy, great artists steal. Incorporate one or both of the “Bonus Sample” audio files in the folder below - you may edit, sample, or rerecord them however you like

The Rothko gave me vibes like the sun, oppressive brightness and heat in a desert or something like that. Meanwhile the second sample is like a de-tuned drone in the Bb/C range that felt similarly oppressive. I decided to detune the instruments to match that sample pitch, and write a chord progression that utilized that pitch somewhere in each chord, keeping it droning through the song.

I added some processing to the sample, and layered in a heavily processed sound of bowing a de-tuned low B on a 5 string electric bass. Added some high-reverb guitar feedback, some Ah’s (thanks to my partner Kathryn for singing), synth strings, and some sax (both a pretty doubling of the string part and some frantic squealy playing and mouthpiece noises, thanks to my friend John). Another friend really outdid themselves with this insane drum part, which really caries an otherwise kinda boring track.


CHALLENGE: Hey new friend! Collaborate with someone you haven’t collaborated before.

BONUS CHALLENGE: Make your song “in the style of” another artist - a fellow jammer, a famous musical act, your mate jim, anyone!

I had plans to do a song in the style of Modest Mouse with a friend. We had some good ideas but were both too busy and nothing ever materialized. But I did finally finish a song I had written back in June, unreleated to the song jam.


CHALLENGE: There is an alien, somewhere. Or an astronaut, waiting. You’ll never reach them, but you could broadcast. We’re making a new “Golden Record” What are you going to send?

BONUS CHALLENGE: The space boffins really don’t want to waste any space on this disc - make it as long as you like, but make it count! Your song must be through-composed (no repeated sections).

BONUS BONUS CHALLENGE: Humanity is at its best when we work together: have each track or instrument be performed/recorded/made by a separate person.

I ended up not doing a song of my own for this week either, but I did contribute a string bass part to someone else’s song: