Monday, May 31, 2021

The real reason why I quit drinking coffee

About a year ago I was drinking anywhere between two and four cups of coffee a day. Suddenly, I stopped completely.

Last May I followed a routine... I'd wake up and listen to Nirvana's album "Incesticide" while outside  throwing a tennis ball against a wall. At around 3:00 PM I'd tune into "The Michael Kay Show" and continue on with my day.

Click to listen

I've been a Nirvana fan for a long time and even taught myself how to write songs using open chords after watching their "Unplugged" over and over again.

At this point I was starting to lay the groundwork for recording an E.P. of Nirvana-styled music and the biggest focus was to figure out how to recreate the vocals of Kurt Cobain.

If you listen to Incesticide, there are some wild vocal parts that venture into areas of cartoonish. Almost like a cat attacking their enemy with melodic wails.

After about a month of this tennis ball routine, I tried to see if I could replicate this vocal style, and within 10 seconds of trying, I blew out my voice badly. So badly, that it took 3 weeks for my vocal cords to heal. Over this period of time, I avoided coffee completely, because caffeine tends to do more harm than good in these situations. 

At the same time, I had several dental problems (that have since been solved, for the most part) that added to the pain. One of the issues was an exposed nerve.


And this is why I initially stopped drinking coffee. I posted a video on my "Mind of Mike" YouTube page that has been mildly successful where I talk about how qutting coffee has changed my life.

It's been a full year since and I haven't had any. Although I have tried "Iced Matcha" from Dunkin twice since then.

Once my voice was back to normal, I started tracking demos. I started by writing songs only with fuzz bass and drums. One of the most useful exercises for me was to record a complete Nirvana song by myself.

I recorded a cover of "In Bloom" and the process helped me understand more fully how to approach the task of emulating Nirvana's songwriting and style without hurting my voice.

By using my naturalistic vocal timbre and trying to uncover the melodies that Kurt Cobain's deep-fried vocalizations so often obfuscate, I was able to reach a happy medium.

One some songs, like "Heart Shaped Box" and of course throughout the Unplugged, you can hear him sing in less abrasive tone. Whereas, on Nevermind his voice is really "boiling nails" as Dave Grohl once put it.

 One of the biggest revelations for me, as a "singer-songwriter" was to realize that much of the music I listen to (and enjoy) myself features vocal parts with a conversational tone. Sort of like how your voice sounds when talking to a friend, just with some added melodic intonation. 

I'd even go further, and say when changing your voice into different registers,  you create music that might even be less accessible for the average listener. Just some food for thought.

You can check out the results of my E.P. of  Nirvana emulation on both Spotify, and Bandcamp. - Mike

Check out my E.P. "Can't be Anyone but Myself"

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