So hi there. According to the weather app, there’s currently a blizzard in Baltimore, and most, if not all external functions of the things I do outside of building stuff and writing about it are cancelled, so hey, longer than usual missive. Of course, considering that the past few posts have been 15 words or less, that shouldn’t be hard, but let’s stretch out and write, shall we? Today’s topics: trade shows and giveaways. For those who are more visually oriented and don’t like words, yes, VF is taking part in our first ever giveaway and yes, it is because of the NAMM show out in sunny Anaheim. If that’s what you’re after, look at the above image, find Pedal Genie on either Twitter or Instagram and follow the directions. Now here’s my thoughts on the matter, or at the very least how it all came to be.
So VauxFlores is turning five this year. Wow. That means it’s been five years since we left San Francisco, three years since we left Costa Rica and our third year in sunny Baltimore. Much has changed. Yet somehow the constant has been this here cottage industry. Could be worse. Of course, while things have grown substantially since I was first inspired to try to make a go at building boutique pedals there’s still few things that we’ve yet to do – for instance, giveaway. Or for that matter, seriously pursuing an external distributor of our wares so that we only have to concentrate on building and not marketing, which we hate so much. Of course, as an independent builder, I’ve learned that the cold approach to the usual brick and mortars don’t especially yield much – a handful of sales, consignments and the less than fun task of following up with various shops to keep track of inventory. Lesson learned – independent predilections aside, in order to make it in this industry, you kind of have to play the trade shows if you want the big orders – and therein lies a dilemma.
Going back farther than 5 years – more like ten or more to when I was halfway through college I’ve kind of been just a little biased against the commercial music industry. Starting in high school, I began keeping a list of gear that I just couldn’t live without, primarily culled from Musician’s Friend catalogs and primordial gear pages – often putting off numerous projects and recordings because I just couldn’t live without a certain piece of gear, as if the sound I was after would magically be derived from simply owning something. In college, that list got even longer and grandiose and with the aid of my first credit card, a couple things were even crossed off said list, leading to more things being added to it, as well as a small, but significant debt that was only recently paid off. Then, shortly after the release of my first album, things changed – I was left just a little jaded with the industry, angry that my naivety allowed me to think that a single self-released record would do anything without the proper channels for distribution, and it didn’t matter how much gear you had, few things wouldn’t change that unless you had the right connections – which, for downtempo techno artists attending college in rural Ohio before the whole sound cloud thing came to blossom, just weren’t there. Things got noisier. The country got angrier. The web got friendlier to DIY folks and spaces and for a good clip, I was content to tour with just a backpack consisting of my laptop running Max/MSP, a small midi box and a mixer, selling hand-painted cd-r’s and tracking where they ended up on Discogs. Ah, happy days. And while I would dabble in a piece of gear here and there, the list was long gone as I continued to do my thing with processed field recordings culled from mostly interesting places.
What stopped that? Two things, mostly – largely the collapse of a DIY-friendly world wide web in favor of algorithms that encourage you to pay for views and me attempting to release a solo record of my field recording comps – again – hard to exist in a vacuum – try harder to make impression on labels, release more, etcectc – working on that. Not to mention that at the moment I’m enjoying building things more than writing, yaddayadda. Now back to that dilemma. I want to build and not have to worry so much about marketing. Meaning I need distribution. Meaning I need to attend these gear conventions and not be that poor looking sap with a single pedal board, my tiny, but awesome amp and a Home Depot folding table. I mean Moog brought a freaking cactus garden to their exhibit this year. Don’t quite have the resources or capital to go big quite like that – not to mention that I just don’t know enough super large name axe-noodlers who would agree to spend a week with me and my folding table. Not to mention that the current convention comes at a pretty bad time for yours truly. Lots of deadlines at the day gig, and a blizzard on top of everything.
Enter Pedal Genie. Cool guys, all said. And as we speak, they’re currently repping VF at NAMM by way of some colorfully-dressed genie girls – find them and post about them and you’re entered to win. Not in California? Just retweet and tag on the Twitter and the Insta. More to come on said topic, but happy for the leg up. And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some stuff to build and a baby to take out to play in the snow. Will be in touch.