Archive for My Life

Photography (Part 1)

Ahd Child

Many years ago, I got my first digital camera as a Christmas gift. I don’t remember the make and model, but I believe its max resolution was 3.1 megapixels (which seemed pretty high at the time - similar to how my 2GB hard drive seemed vast once). At the time, I didn’t know anything about photography – I anticipated using the camera to capture pictures of friends. Being the geek that I am, I of course read the manual from end to end. It was my eagerness to test out all the features I’d read about that lead me to set my camera to macro mode and approach a berry-laden bush that was in my path one day.

I took several close up shots of the berries, but one in particular ended up being an absolutely amazing shot. It was perfectly composed so that the berries formed diagonal lines that were guided the eye around the image. It was perfectly focused so that the naturally occurring chaotic arrangement of berries appeared to form several distinct layers. It was perfectly exposed so that the rich, red color of the berries was immediately drew a viewer’s attention. And, it was a complete accident.

The berry shot was a very fortunate and significant accident. After taking a shot like that, how could I not want to take more? Of course I didn’t expect shots like that to always simply happen, so I started to research photography. I read everything about photography that I could find on the internet and I sat around in the Barnes and Noble cafe, taking notes on photography books that I couldn’t afford to purchase. Of course, I quickly determined that to really move forward in photography, I’d need an SLR. That same year, months after getting my first digital camera, I moved back to film. For my birthday, I got the cheapest, fully manual SLR that Ritz Camera had to offer.

I did learn to develop black and white film (though I’ve forgotten all of that now) but I only had limited access to a dark room, so I did most of my shooting on color film. Fortunately, around this time, Snapfish.com came into existence and offered insanely cheap developing by mail. Despite this, I ended up spending tons of  money on developing and camera accessories over the next few months. Gradually my film shooting slowed down, and eventually, as funds ran out,  it stopped.

Over the years since then, I’ve continued to learn about photography and to shoot with digital point-and-shoot cameras. I always went with Canon’s Powershot A line because of the many manual features the A cameras have, but still, a point and shoot camera does not offer the level of control that a true SLR offers.

Recently, I finally got a digital SLR. Though I never stopped taking pictures, with the level of quality and control the dSLR offers, I feel like I’m making a return to photography. I’ve been posting regularly to my once-dormant Flickr account and I’ve been making connections with other photographers. I still have a lot to learn about photography and I am excited to learn it.

I’d love to hear your story of how you got into photography. Let me know – post a comment.

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Mice, Men, and Delays

The best laid plans of mice and men oft go awry. My plans haven’t completely gone awry, but days after posting about my plans for 2009, a possible delay has come up. Not all delays are bad ones, and this one in particular is quite good. I am moving my studio. The new space will be larger and a better fit for a studio – but moves take time. Already, the effort of preparing the new space has left me no time to work on the site upgrades I was implenting for my year of free releases. I will still aim to start releasing material in February but that deadline will be tougher to meet than I had anticipated. Well, stay tuned.

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New for ’09

In July of 2006, I released my first album, Meeting of Minds. In April of 2007, I released a free EP, Rough Drafts. In August of 2007, I released my second full length album, Reverse Psychology. I think 2 1/2 albums in 2 years is pretty good, but then you didn’t hear much about music from me in 2008.

Well, 2008 is just about over probably over by the time you’re reading this, and I’ve decided to change up the way I’m doing things for 2009. Previously, my process has been to create rough versions of songs, figure out which ones are being used on the next album, then finish those songs. In 2009, I will be working on completing 1 song at a time. Every song I do complete will be available for free download online. There will definitely be some sort of podcast available, but I haven’t decided if it will be a part of this blog, my main site, or if the songs and related info will be posted in a new, seperate blog.

Two songs are already just about complete and several others are close to completion. Before I start publishing these songs, I need to complete some site renovations and deal with moving my studio, so you likely won’t see anything until February at the earliest. Once I get started, my intention is  to publish songs frequently – at least every few weeks – though I’m not planning to aim for the insane 1 song/week that I’ve heard of some people striving for.

For those of you who know my music (or those of you who don’t), if you have any ideas for a site name to go along with this concept, please leave a comment or send me a message.

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Now

I haven’t felt the urge to blog in a while. I’m not sure why. It’s not because of a shortage of topics – somewhere among my possessions, there is a scrap of paper with a list of blogging ideas that I didn’t want to forget. There have been times when I forced myself when I didn’t feel like blogging, resulting in random irregular updates and tons of never finished posts, but this time, I decided not to. I figured if i didn’t want to blog, then I shouldn’t. I don’t think it’s just been the blog, I’ve been going through a partial internet withdrawal.

Oh, I’m still online all the time, but lately I’ve been much more of a passenger on the information superhighway (why don’t people use that phrase anymore) than a driver. I haven’t been blogging, I haven’t been posting in many forums, I haven’t been publishing youtube videos like I planned to.

My withdrawal is partially due to computer issues. After a recent upgrade, my video card failed. I could’ve moved back to the old hardware, but that would require a reinstallation of everything to move back to the old stuff, then another reinstallation when the replacement card came – and this would be on top of the re-installation I already did when I upgraded in the first place. So, I sent the card back and waited computerless. After what seemed like a really long wait, I got the replacement card, put it in, and my computer was up and running. For two days. Currently I’m waiting for the second replacement. In the meantime, I’ve had the use of my lady’s laptop, but it’s not the same. I’m used to using my own computer with my own settings, programs, etc.

Will I be blogging regularly when my computer’s up and running? I don’t have a clue. I will be posting some stuff on youtube though. I have some video of Philly singer/poet Rhapsode performing at this year’s Odunde, a short stop-motion film I made with a friend of mine, and video of myself performing at The Knitting Factory in NYC from last month.

Who know what else the future will hold . . .

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My Dance Story

I am a house dancer. I haven’t always been a house dancer – I haven’t always even known what house music is – but now I’m a house dancer. Lately, I’ve been running into a lot of people from my dancing past. It’s made me reflect on my dancing history, so while it’s on my mind, here’s my story . . .

The early years

I grew up listening to hip-hop, reggae, and soca, but I was not much of a dancer. As a young teen, I never went to clubs and the parties my friends threw usually involved a bunch of us hanging out at someone’s house, so I never danced in public. I didn’t start dancing in public until I started visiting colleges toward the end of high school. Some of the colleges I visited threw parties for their prospective students – I can still remember awkwardly two-stepping through those nights. Once I started college, I got more comfortable on the dancefloor.

Until my second year in college, I never did more than two-step. Over the summer after that first year, I visited Barbados with my family. While I was in Barbados, I saw a guy dancing to soca, and something clicked in me. I suddenly understood how to move my waist to the music. After that, when they played reggae or soca at college parties, people knew to find me on the dancefloor. The girls loved it because they knew I could dance and that I did it because I enjoyed it – unlike some guys who simply see dancing as flirtation and foreplay.

Circles

I was living in Philadelphia in the summer of 2000. I was still learning the city and I was just getting used to the idea of going to clubs. One night, I went to 700 Club with some friends. It was a while before I realized this, but it was really a life changing night for me. Now, 700 Club is known as a hipster club, but back then it was a lot more mixed. Cosmic Cat, who later became one of my favorite Philly DJs, was spinning that night. One of my friends introduced the group of us to a girl that she knew. At some point in the night, I was feeling the music and I started doing this step I had learned from watching breakdancing on TV as a kid. I only knew the one step. The friend of my friend came up to me and yelled over the music.

“Do you battle?”

I wasn’t really sure what she was talking about, so I just yelled back, “No.”

I don’t know if this girl misheard me or what, but her response was, “Aight! Let’s go!”

She stepped back with her arms wide, pushing people back as she moved. Within seconds, there was a big circle cleared in the middle of the dancefloor. She jumped in the circle and started dancing. I had never battled before, but at that point I would have felt stupid backing down, so when she stepped back and looked at me expectantly, I jumped in and did my thing. Looking back now, I can’t imagine myself not looking silly that night. I did my one breaking step and I did horrible imitations of the cartwheels I had seen Capoeristas do. I have no clue what else I did, but the two of us went back and forth several times, so I guess I did throw some other moves in the mix.

At the end of the night, as we left the club, random people kept walking up to me, congratulating me, giving me pounds, etc. I had an amazing feeling – it was one of those times when I can say I was truly high on life. While I was battling that girl, I was caught up in the music and the moment, but it was the ego stroking that came afterward that originally made me fall in love with the circle. When I walked into that club I only knew the friends I went there with and the one girl I was introduced to. When I left, I was the center of attention and it felt like everyone loved me.

After that, I started going out to clubs regularly. At first I’d go with my friends, but they never wanted to go out often enough to satisfy my dance craving, so eventually I started going out on my own. When I started going out on my own, a whole new world opened up to me. I’d walk into a place full of strangers. I’d see a circle or I’d spot other dancers and we’d form a circle, and then suddenly we were friends. It was instant community. Once you share a circle with someone, there’s some kind of bond. You might know nothing about their personal life, their home life, etc., but you know something important about them. You might not even know how they look – there were plenty of times when I didn’t recognize someone, but then when I saw them dance, I instantly remembered our last meeting.

House Music

Over the time that I was getting used to dancing in circles, I gradually became aware of house music. As a child, I never heard of house music. Later, I was under the impression that house music was like techno – excessively loud, mind-numbingly repetitive, and annoying. When I finally understood what house is, it was kind of like watching a movie that just had a plot twist. You start thinking back to things that happened earlier and understanding them in a new light. I realized that many of the songs I had heard on the “urban” stations as a kid, songs I loved back then, were house music. Some of the music that Cosmic Cat was spinning was house. That Baltimore club music I had gotten into a few years earlier was a particular style of house. Some of the music I loved so much at Crimson Moon was house. The more I thought about it, the more I could see that throughout my life I’ve been in love with house music even though I didn’t know what it was.

Before I was aware of house, my aim was to learn to breakdance. When I saw breakdancers, I tried to study and learn their moves. At home I would try to learn to stand on my head and to do the six step. As much as I tried to learn, I never felt comfortable with many of the movements. My awareness of house music ushered in a new stage in my dance journey. I realized that house was the music I felt most comfortable moving to. It inspired me to try things I’d been unable to do when I was trying to breakdance, and now they felt right. I started learning Capoeira, which has greatly influenced my style of dance, around the same time that I was becomming aware of house. Also around this time, I stopped caring about being the center of attention when I danced. If I was surrounded by good music and other dancers, I was happy. When a good DJ spins house music, you feel the music in a spiritual way. When you’re in a circle of dancers, you know you’re sharing that feeling with others. The world outside of the circle starts to disapear.

And Now

There are people would be shocked to hear that I don’t dance to reggae anymore. Now, it’s strange for me to think that it’s been 8 years since I first stepped into a circle. I’m constantly growing as a dancer as I learn from other dancers and try new things. After a three year break, I returned to Capoeira this year. Capoeira is making me stronger and more flexible. Capoeira and dance, they each help prepare me for the other. When it comes to dancing, I have no idea where I’m going. I’d love to continue to learn and develop, but outside of that I’ve never had goals. Dancing is just something I love to do.

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True Story

I should have written this down the morning after it happened, but i didn’t. I did my best to remember the conversation as accurately as possible. It’s all paraphrased, but you should be able to get a good picture of the night. Keep in mind – none of this is exaggerated. It really did happen this way.

A few weeks ago, after my usual Sunday partying, I went to a diner with some friends of mine. Afterwards, it was too late for a lady to be walking alone, so one of the other guys and I walked with another friend to a hotel where she was staying. When we got to the hotel, the three of us stood outside, continuing our conversation for a while. While we were talking, a random guy walked up to us with his hand out in a gesture of greeting.

Random Guy: Hi. How you doing?

The three of us stared at the guy for a moment. We were standing outside in the middle of the night and a guy none of us had ever seen before was standing there, greeting us like we were at a cocktail party. I looked him over. From his age and dress, I figured he was a drunk college student or recent grad. I warily shook his hand but I stayed silent, waiting to find out why he was approaching us. The other guy, my friend, shook his hand and gave him a funny look.

My Friend: Have you been drinking or are you really that friendly?
RG: No, I just moved back into town and I’m trying to meet some people.
MF: Ohhh, you’re back in town?
RG: Yeah, I just moved back.
MF: Yeah, I remember last time I saw you was at that party. That was a wild night! You were real drunk!
RG: Uhhhhh . . .
MF: You probably don’t even remember. Don’t worry – I won’t tell anyone about that night. You were so drunk!
RG: Uhhhh . . .
MF: So you’re back now?
RG: Yeah, I just moved back here. I have a place on 19th and Arch. So where you guys coming from?
MF: We were just hanging out with the guys. You just missed Rob and Dave. Mike moved out of town not long ago, yeah, he’s gone. I’ll tell all the guys you’re back.

Here, my friend used the names of the other people we had just been hanging out with. I changed the names cuz yall don’t need to know them. The girl and I were just standing there this whole time with no idea what to say. We were fighting hard not to laugh cuz we didn’t want to ruin the conversation. Random Guy was really confused. He had no idea who my friend was but my friend’s tone was so matter-of-fact that he wasn’t sure.

MF: Man, I remember that party! That was a crazy night! You left with that girl. I know you’re probably embarrassed. That’s just between us. It’s good to see you though.
RG: Yeah, I moved to Wisconsin for a while, now I’m back – right on 19th and Arch.

(I don’t remember if it was Wisconsin he was back from, but it was one of those middle of nowhere states)

RG: So what are you guys up to? Are there any parties going on now?

At this point, my friend and I discussed several parties taking place at a combination of real and made-up clubs in the area, giving him “directions” to each one.

RG: You guys wanna go party some more?
MF: No, I’m gonna go smoke some crack. You ever done crack?
RG: No, I just smoke weed?
MF: Weed? Nah, that’s too weak. Is it laced weed?
RG: No, just plain weed.
MF: You gotta lace it. PCP, heroin, cocaine, crack, that’s real drugs
RG: I’m right on 19th and Arch. you guys wanna hang out?
MF: You got crack?
RG: I’m trying to invite you guys to my place to smoke some weed.
MF: Nah, I’m gonna head home and smoke some crack.

Random guy walks off.

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Dancing

Look what I found while I was messing around on YouTube. Someone posted video of me dancing.

I’m about to get a video camera of my own, so look for more video posts in the future.

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Interview

Recently, I was at a mass interview/discussion with some other artists. Here are some of the questions we were asked along with my answers

Where did your name come from and what does it mean?
When I was younger I had dreams of being a grafitti artist. I wanted to put up these meaningful symbol-filled murals and stuff. The first step, of course, was coming up with a tag. I made 2. The first was already my generic internet tag. I came up a way to write it that I thought looked good. The second was Ahd. I liked the word “odd” as a name, but I couldn’t write it in a way I found apealling, so I went with an alternate spelling. “Ahd” was the short version and “Ahd Child” was the full version. The way it’s written in my logo is the same way I wrote it back then. When I started making music, I went by my internet tag first, but many people didn’t seem to know how to pronounce it, so I switched to Ahd Child (which isn’t a whole lot better in that regard, but oh well).

How and why did you start writing/poetry/music?
It seems like a lot of other people (at least in hip hop) were inspired to start rhyming by one particular person. I had no plans of writing poetry or music. I started writing poems in high school because one day I had an idea for a poem. Years later, after I hadn’t been writing for a while, I got an idea for a verse. I got home, finished writing it and recorded it using an instrumental from a CD single (remember those) and a free program I had downloaded. From that point on I started writing and recording songs for fun. As time went by, I got better and began to make my own music. Eventually I realized that this was something I could take seriously.

Why do you share your work (on stage, in writing, etc.)?
When I first started making songs, it was for fun. I’d share them with friends to hopefully get good reactions, and that was it. I just wanted people to hear this cool thing I made. Nowadays, of course that’s still part of the reason I share – it feels good when people complement your work – but it’s not the only reason. In every song I make, I try to communicate some idea or emotion. I try to make people see things in a way they haven’t before. I share my music because it is what I have to say to people – it contains my words to the world. It still feels good when someone says “I like your song” but it feels better when I hear things like “you really made me think.”

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