State of the Fanet, Fall 2019

It’s Me Again

Hey everyone, Joe here. As you can tell by the fact that you’re reading this, the blog is back! With that comes quite a few other changes here at PFM and honestly I’m not sure what they all are yet? This is sort of a statement of intent more than a series of announcements, but I hope you’ll read through regardless if you’re interested at all in the stuff I’ve been doing over the last year or so.

I think starting with a bit of backstory is appropriate. You may be aware that earlier this year our interview podcast Like For Like went on hiatus. This was due to a few different factors --schedule changes, conflicting projects, a general lack of motivation on my part-- and I’ve been craving that constant interaction with new people online (and with my amazing friend-hosts!) lately, so expect to see that come back in some form by the end of the year. I wish I could give you more info on that front, but you know, statement of intent and all that.

My part in the Great Schedule Change Debacle of 2019 was due to the (rather fortunate in hindsight) loss of a day job. Before I found employment again, I used most of February and March to write what ended up being an entire EP for my solo musical project, Mapper. Throwing out everything I had written up to that point was a tough decision, but I guess I needed a fresh start with the project to match the upheaval I was experiencing in my work life. Man, spring is really not my season.

Hashtag Feels Like Summer

By the time summer hit I was in full studio-mode at home, spending pretty much all of my free time illustrating maps (please buy my maps. VALIDATE ME) and recording music. Not having a weekly podcast to record, and falling on some admittedly tough times in the social department, meant I wasn’t really talking to anyone outside of a few family members. Yeah, you can see where this is going. As June was rolling in I found myself with a bunch of stems, some maps, a few commissions, and (cue hype siren) ...crippling anxiety!

Before I could even finish mastering “loves” I found myself getting physically sick as a result. I’ve never had the strongest immune system, but for nearly an entire month I dealt with a barrage of minor medical issues which combined to make a sort of constant-existential-dread machine. I’m happy to say that after some therapy, dietary changes, and a concerted effort to not become a literal hermit I’m doing much better. Those of you who deal with anxiety or personality disorders might understand how a simple case of something like vertigo can make you feel absolutely sure that you’re dying. Mostly I’m just glad it ended so I could finish the album.

Okay, shake that one off. It gets better, I promise! After the Mapper EP released (to the mild acclaim of like one guy on Youtube) I got back in touch with Alex to work on some music he had been holding onto. Throughout most of July and August we tracked parts of his upcoming debut, They’re Closer Than You Think, and a few days ago we finalized the arrangement, fighting the urge to add increasingly reverberant layers of ambience to what will already be quite a task to mix. I honestly haven’t been this excited about putting out a project since our old post-rock band put out Beta. Seriously, this project has been an absolute joy. Which helped put something into perspective for me...

People Are Like… Good, Yeah?

No, I mean it. I realized about a month or two ago that I had taken for granted my whole life that I would have a friend group. An honest peer or two. An impartial but caring sounding-board. It turns out if you just pour literally your entire self into your hobbies/hustles/whatever it’s bad for you. This is probably obvious to most of you, and I’m sure it was to me at some point, but over the last year or so I guess I’d lost sight of that little truth-nugget. As I spent time working on Alex’s album though, (thanks also to Michael and Steven!) I found myself confronted with the fact that none of what I’d been putting my time into lately was worth more than the relationships I could be building instead.

So I started spending more time with family, getting closer with some awesome nerds I work with, and just generally opening myself up to the world around me instead of staring at metrics and analytics. Things are going pretty well since then? I’m not sure if this perspective shift is permanent, but I’m holding onto it as tightly as I can. I even started reading; Jenny Odell’s How To Do Nothing was actually a powerful catalyst for that change. It helped define what I think I already knew I needed.

Anyway, I said all that just to say that I’m ready to revisit my original goal for this Plantastic Fanet Media thing; which is to say, I’m going to try to do more stuff with other people. I’ve always wanted this to be a repository for not only my own projects, but all of the cool shit my friends do. In the last year I’ve met even more creative people, artists, and generally beautiful minds. I want to make stuff with them! In part because it’ll be fun, but also because I apparently need more social interaction to just like… survive daily life.

And that brings us up to date. Sorry for the brief detour to edgelord corner, but I know it can be helpful to hear that other people are dealing with similar stuff. If that’s you, please take care of yourself and get whatever help you can. You are not alone and it does get better. Okay, now onto the fun stuff.

The Stuff You Came Here For

The next big release from PFM will be Alex Alston’s debut album, They’re Closer Than You Think. Mix and master for that album should be done in a few weeks, so expect to see that some time in October! Alex really opened himself up on this one, musically and lyrically, and (while I’m pretty biased) I think that’s translated to a powerful record. It started as a simple acoustic EP and after we added layer upon layer of granular noises, guitars, and improvised percussion it developed into this genuinely full expression of Alex as a musician and of myself as a producer.

In the meantime, Alex will be getting more actively involved in that good good content that you all crave! Every week or so (we haven’t really settled on a schedule yet) he and I will be putting up blog posts here. Most of these will be simple reviews, and most of those will be music-related, but I’ll be trying to work in some long-form posts about topics that interest me as well. That should be the bulk of what you’ll see here for the next couple months.

As I mentioned earlier, we’d love to bring back Like For Like as soon as possible. With our current schedules, and with Jonathan busy on a top-secret personal project, the podcast won’t be coming back in exactly the same form. We’ve got some exciting ideas about where to take it, but the initial goal will be to get some more local guests from the Austin-San Marcos-San Antonio area (get in touch HERE if you’re interested) and to follow up with some of our previous guests in a new format that’s even less… interview-y?

The next Borhedille’s Book of Belongings is also in production! I’m about a quarter of the way through writing for it, but I expect the editing process to be pretty lengthy, so the release date is looking like some time in winter. The primary challenge has been editing the existing text (which you can check out HERE) so that it only uses SRD content. For those of you unfamiliar with Wizards of the Coast’s open source policies, this would mean I can actually sell the release here at the SHOP rather than DM’s Guild. I’ll be putting up more info on that (and some previews) as I get further into the project.

I think that’s all for now. Thank you so much for reading through this and/or being interested in any of the crazy jumble of projects under the Plantastic Fanet name. There’s always more to come and we want you to be involved too, so stay in touch! You can follow me on INSTAGRAM and TWITTER, or check out my music on YOUTUBE and SPOTIFY; you can also follow Alex on INSTAGRAM and TWITTER (Spotify coming soon!). Hope you all have an amazing Fall season and we will see you soon with some blog posts and other random stuff!