I’d planned to record an album in Malaysia, but soon was swallowed by something else.
The same old streets and scenes back home were replaced by something way more profound.
What I tried to do creatively with intent would sit on a hard drive unfinished. What I didn’t try to do would just come out of me as true as the sun rises.
This video takes an inside look at one of the songs on Isles.
In Asia, I learned to pray.
Maybe the rest of the time I’d been faking it.
It doesn’t matter what religion, but there has to be a moment when it all makes sense, even if it doesn’t later.
This alter, from a temple in Chiang Mai, Thailand, made it easy to see the divine.
The only rule for living abroad - travel often.
What I noticed when I first started collecting sound and video on my travels, is that the video footage is like memory; fragmented, filtered, stylized.
I began to see my experiences as a giant collage of sounds and images, jump-cuts, freeze frames, and moments in reverse.
This video captures a train ride from Yangon to Bagan, in Myanmar.
I can watch a film and forget the plot a week later.
The sheer variety of cultural experiences, languages, ways of life, and cuisines in Malaysia sometimes required a journal to keep straight.
Just in terms of food, my tastebuds had to learn a completely different language. Going to pasar malam (market) was like going to school. Eating at a mamak (roadside Muslim food stall) always required a refresher. Eating Chinese was like erasing everything I knew about Chinese food.
So I just got used to not knowing, and that became a wonderful mechanism for openness and feeling alive in the world.
I’d been to Kuala Lumpur several times before, but living there had its own learning curve.
At a distance, it looks like something out of a science fiction film. I would often find myself on the roadway, or in a friend’s apartment, compelled to train the camera on the cityscape.
Though the architecture was always alluring, capturing the steaminess, the density, and frenetic pace on video proved difficult.
KL always kept me wanting more.
Where am I? Where did I just land?
Obviously, Malaysia. But why am I here? What do I hope to get out of it?
Who the fuck knows?! There has to be something else going on somewhere else. And maybe that something else is better than where I’m at right now.
The jungle was where I needed to go. And so I went …
I arrived in Kuala Lumpur in early 2010, having left my life in San Jose, California behind.
Malaysia was exotic, wild, and surrounded by jungle.
This video, taken in an Indian temple in the historic city of Melaka, gives some insight into the experience that was to come. There is no clear, immediate reckoning here. The sound penetrates your mind and works its magic across the years.