“My name is Charles Ray Hastings Jr. I do lots of stuff.”

“..it’s insane that over the years we’ve had so many women support local music but not be involved with performance.”

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album artwork from piece called, Long Live Nothing. 

About Charles by Charles

  • My name is Charles Ray Hastings Jr. I do lots of stuff.
  • I write for www.yesclash.com,
  • I’ve published three chapbooks, had fiction and essays published in books and things, write a lot for different projects I’m working on.
  • I play guitar and do vocals in When I’m Older, The Sometimers, and Latin For Truth.
  • I write, record, and release solo albums through TS/AL Records; a collective I started and curate with some friends.
  • My main instrument is guitar, but I dabble with everything but full drum kits.
  • I’m a shithead savant that works hard to keep creating.
  • I can drink too much sometimes due to depression and severe anxiety.
  • You can call me whatever feels comfortable for you.


AH:When I first started going to shows I remember seeing you play music. It wasn’t until later that I found out you had been playing shows for some time. How do you think the local music scene has played a role in your feelings toward music? Has those feelings changed over the years?
CH: For about five years my feelings for music was deeply rooted in our local scene. I poured a lot of time, money, energy, and love into the scene; from the kids coming out to the bands playing.

After Latin For Truth started touring a lot, the local scene got pretty dark and the positive, safe vibe disappeared. Now I can look back on the end of an active Latin For Truth as a reflection of our scene.  It was directly connected to the washing out of the local scene. A good local scene is a nurturing space for young adults and especially a band trying to tour and make records on a national scale. If the scene is destructive, it’ll eventually get into all the bands and participates.

The scene is going well now, but I now work in personal relationships and think less of a scene. People grow up. move on, and throwing all your time, money, and energy into a weird social construct is pretty destructive. You’re just replacing one church for another. So I try to think of people as people; not puzzle piece to an inflatable or deflatable social construct. So many people in our scene and music scenes everywhere need nurturing outside of dudes yelling on stage.

Also, it’s insane that over the years we’ve had so many women support local music but not be involved with performance. I feel complex feelings about having a music scene. It seems to only reward those making the noise.

AH:I have watched you play in multiple bands, as well as listened to some of your solo material, how many different bands have you contributed to/ been a part of?
CH:Serious bands that practice, make plans, execute those plans outside of the studio, I’ve been in five or six bands. Production wise, I’ve been involved with a ton of bands and local artists.

AH:Explain the key differences in your solo material vs. group material
CH:My brain moves pretty fast when it comes to music. I also like doing music any spare moment I have. So my solo material is me moving as fast as I want, no conversations about choices on songwriting or composition, and no taking breaks for other people. It’s just me chasing songs. Cool thing about solo material is the lack of genre guidelines. I just create whatever I want to hear. There’s more freedom in solo material.

Band stuff moves much slower. If you have more songwriters, you have to wait on them to write stuff. It’s more fun with a band, but way slower. Much more laborious. Any time you get more than one creative in a room to work on something there’s micro-politics.

AH:When you first became interested in musicwhat inspired you the most? (Bands/artists/books/etc.)
CH:Not sure what the original thing or musician was. I was listening to normal small town teen stuff around then. Everything from Nirvana to Incubus and whatever was popular.  It was literally the first thing I was ever good at, so initially it was a thought of, I love music. Wish I could play guitar so I could write music.

I asked for a guitar for a few years and a few weeks after my sixteenth birthday, I got one and lost my mind. I practiced ten hours a day for a year straight. I bought a Stevie Ray Vaughan biography right before I got my guitar so that might’ve had something to do how serious I took music as soon as I got an electric guitar in my hands.

I’ve always felt like, in normal life, anything outside of my head, that my 6’4 frame has been stuffed into a small steelbox. So maybe anxiety is what inspired me the most. I can stretch out and enjoy myself when I play music. The rest of my life is me making apologies for being who I am.

AH:Has that changed from what inspires you now? If yes, please include.
CH:My musical inspirations have become more acute. You study music more than you enjoy music after you consume so much of it. I consume it for different reasons; whether it’s production notes, lyrical content, composition, auditory textures, harmonic colors, etc.

I like not knowing how a thing is done and a lot of music can be picked apart if you’ve developed an ear. Now I listen to free jazz, hip hop, and weirdo stuff like Tom Waits and Nick Cave. So it’s jazz and strange auditory textures and literature and watching old videos of intellectuals. All those tend to incite something creative in me.

AH:For me, my life experiences have really pushed me to be more creative. Do you have a moment/ moments that define your creativity?
CH: All my moments really. From personal history like my father being in prison all my life and being homeless after high school to every day bullshiting at my day job.

I try to stay “on” at all times. Just let everything move through me. I don’t think art is a thing of singularity, but more about reappropriating stimuli into interesting composition in a format of my choice. I’m no special butterfly. I’m a dude who takes stuff in one end, processes it, and throws it out in an interesting way. That’s why I write, sing, record, draw, etc. all the time. Getting inspiration is as simple as finding pain when you’ve got an abscessed tooth. Just open your mouth and let the wind blow.

AH:Anyone who keeps up with you as an artist can see that you produce material more often than most, what drives your productivity?
CH: The only thing that keeps my brain from unfolding into an existential death lotus is creating. Specifically getting lost in the process. I like focusing on the mechanics of composition and production so I don’t have to process my oblivion. I’m obsessed cause it’s alleviation from depression, etc. I’m like cartoon character on the inside pretending to be real without music, so I do it a lot to deal.

AH: Has there been a project/projects you felt were not received the way you hoped they would? Positive or Negative.
CH: Most my projects. I’ve learned you don’t create for an audience, because a rejection of your material can turn into a rejection of you. The way I measure my own material is asking myself, Would I be blown away if a local band put this out.

Sometimes I need to be reminded that most people don’t think about music as much as me, and that’s okay. So I feel bummed about most my releases, but eventually get over it and get back to work.

AH: I recently read one of your written works discussing views on the local music scenes. From what I read, your writing caused quite a strong reaction from one of the readers, would you like to discuss that? Did her response make you feel differently or did her reaction strengthen your feelings?
CH: I wrote a piece about punk rock being a homogenized heteronormative white dude format in very broad strokes because the average reading level of a person who would click on an article is pretty low. Some twenty-four year old from California who isn’t involved in music got very upset and wrote a counter essay calling me a poser. I returned with writing a diss track about myself called, “I’m a Poser.” I didn’t think any kind of intellectual response would get through and I wasn’t going to answer an insult with an insult.

I wrote an essay on a genre of music slacking with production skills and new ideas because I love that genre, and she just fortified my beliefs.

AH: I struggle from fear of allowing my work out into the universe due to how people may respond to it. Have you experienced fear like this? How do you handle criticism?
CH: I think people sometimes mistake my shamelessness as confidence. I just don’t have any shame. I create to feel better. The more I carve out my social niche as an artist, the more I can create. I throw out everything into the world. Art is useless in your head.
I take in criticism, usually have an honest conversation with myself to see if they’re right about their criticism. Sometimes criticism can shed light on something you can’t see at the moment. Another way to motivate yourself into “letting go” of your art is think of this:

Is it more painful to never push your ideas to find more like-minded individuals and eventually, the supreme comfort of patronage, or is it more painful to endure criticism, the short prick of a prick?

AH: I know that music is not your only medium, what other mediums do you consider prominent in your life?
CH: Writing and visual art.

I feel like writing saved my sanity. As you get older, people no longer hit you up to hang out. Something about hitting twenty-eight intensifies any loner tendencies you might have and writing is a very lonesome thing to do. Not in a negative way, but a way where you finally have to deal with exactly who you are. It’s good for you. It’s hard though.

Visual art is everything from working on pen and ink drawing, graphic design, and video directing and editing. This is the less strenuous medium. I prolly think as much while doing it, but it feels like less.

Visual art is like dancing and writing is more like intense therapy. Glad I have both.
 

AH: I have a younger brother that is passionate about music. I feel like it is easy for young musicians to get very discouraged, if you could give him or any others advice what would it be? 
CH: Learn to enjoy the process. When you learn how to effectively do one thing well, you can take your process and apply it to anything you’re curious about.

I never quit because the other option is misery with no outlet at all. Art reciprocates all the energy you put in. Not many constructs do that. You just have to seek out why you’re doing it to stay on point.

AH: Can you tell me about When I’m Older?
CH: We’re a noisy pop depression band. We make punk music close to the emo spectrum, but with more references to weed and no misogyny in our lyrics. At the moment, we’re a three or four piece, not sure if we can say who the new drummer is. Not sure if he’s going to do it full time. Relationships within the band, we’re a group of friends more than a band. We don’t do band things aside from making records and playing shows. Most our interactions are centered around our collective depression. That’s why people like us. We’re pretty open about our anxious miasma and our dislike for most of society, but we do it in a chill stoner way.

I think the dudes in this band love me outside of music and care outside of the music about one another, so it’s nice to have that as an adult musician.

AH: Favorite lyric you have ever written?
CH: I’ve got a couple of hundred songs in my catalogue but I always laugh when I hear,
Loved you like Jesus loved the nails. from the Wolf King EP I did with my friend, Natalie.

AH: How has visual art been incorporated in your life as a creative? Has visual art always been something you have been interested in? How does it compare to other mediums?
CH: I started out with visual art. In high school, I won state art competitions and had a chance to go to art school. I didn’t follow through because of music and I was couch surfing my entire senior year. But I still use the rules of art composition with songs, albums, and videos. Line, shape, colour, texture, tone, form, space, and depth are all a part of composition in general. It just takes a little bit of abstraction to work it out. Visual art, like pen and ink work, is a muscle memory thing. I do it without thinking too much. So comparatively, it’s less labor, more room for abstraction, and captures moments and ideas a little better.

I stay fairly sharp with it because I usually do a lot of promotional design for each release and most of the shows I play. It’s an everyday thing really.
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A tortilla monster eating the work schedule. Photo and tortilla by Charles

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Bay of Babes(solo record, Life is Hell When You’re Broke and Dumb EP, 2015)

Baby, Make Me Feel Like Trash(solo record, Donald Chump, 2015) 

One Knew, Nothing New

Charles Ray’s Inspiring Playlist:

Follow: 

Currently working on a mixtape of hip hop stuff. This soundcloud account I upload new mixes to almost every day. My soundcloud is really where I post unused demos or songs for a few weeks to send to people. If you follow me there, you’ll prolly get to hear all kinds of cool stuff if you’re interested in the process of demo’ing and fleshing out ideas through different production techniques. “

 -Charles

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