If you caught anything of the Podington Bear story, you probably know that there’s some joker somewhere in Portland, Or. USA that made a bunch of instrumental tunes under a pseudonym and put them up on the internet for free, then archived it all in a box set, which HUSH is presently selling. Depending on how you roll, I guess, this is either mildy interesting, or a suspect ambition, or N/A. If you have a sensitive cute meter, the bear face drawing, songs with twinkle bell sounds and a blog with pictures of kittens may well send up red flags. Moreover, the sheer volume of music–One hundred and fifty or so songs in a player window, like tchochkes in a display case–will likely serve to reinforce a hunch about the music being applicable to your interest, N/A, or even an affront.
And so it goes in this information age where music saturation demands hair-trigger American Idol-esque parsing. If you spend a lot of time with and around music, it might increasingly feel like traffic court, which is to say, basically everyone is guilty and the clock is ticking, let’s keep moving so we can go home. Artists and bands who labor over making a case to be heard are afforded a few seconds from a judge (you and I and bloggers and the people compelled to make comments on the bloggers comments, etc.) and more often than not the instinct is, well you didn’t mean any harm, so I’ll reduce your fine. Now get out of my face. Bands are guilty of not trying enough or trying too hard. Guilty of making music that isn’t in league with the A list or aping the A list. Guilty of being preciously sincere or coy and artificial.
With this in mind I can’t say that I blame bands for dressing up in costume, having a shtick, trying to produce a “viral video”, or gaming myspace, or whatever.
All this is simply backstory for one aspect of why I chose to make music as a bear for 18 months. Yes, I am me. Podington Bear.
The larger part of the impetus to be a bear is refreshingly unadulterated. Making music is my personal therapy. It’s something that I can do to get into a really satisfying zone: to feel alive, happy, lose track of time, to feel challenged and creative and delighted. The anonymity part was an emboldening forcefield for that creative state. If you can get past the wrapper — the bear face and the 3 songs a week thing — maybe you’ll hear it?
Sincerely, Chad Crouch July 2, 08
About: Chad Crouch founded the HUSH records label in 1998 and has directed it since. His previous recordings include four albums with his band Blanket Music (2000-2007), one album under his given name (1997), and one EP under the name Toothfairy (2006). HUSH will be celebrating its 10th anniversary at The Aladdin Theatre in Portland with Laura Gibson, Loch Lomond, and Nick Jaina on July 12.