Happy Birthday, Machine Shop
One trip around the sun for this internet thing
Here we are, Machinists, a year later.
On March 29th, 2022, I launched this humble internet thing, this newsletter/blogsite/song reliquary. I wanted to ditch the overly-loud echo chambers of those other social media platforms and dive into something that felt more personal to me, that would mean more to the people who subscribed. I wanted a place that could be a living archive of the work I’ve done and a place to put down new work; a place to rework old ideas, to have a place to vent my admittedly compulsive need to make stuff. And to build a community of like-minded folks, gathering around, spending their idle moments talking about music and books and movies and things.
And you guys showed up! There are thousands of you, getting my little weekly emails, from all over the globe. Take a gander:
That’s a lot of people from a lot of places! Hey there, India. Looking good, Madagascar. Way to go, Mongolia. Greenland, though. Can we talk about Greenland? A little disappointed in the Greenlanders, tbh.
Thank you, each one of you, for being part of this community and supporting my work. Of course, I have to shout out my paid subscribers — particularly you founding members — for going above and beyond in that support bit. You’ve kept the lights on. You’ve paid the garbage collection bills. The upkeep of The Machine Shop (both virtual and tangible) would be a wreck of a place without you!
(Psst, if you’re not already, would you like to become a paid subscriber? Would you like that kind of attention paid to you? Look no further than the following button to update your subscription!)
So let’s take a look back at the year that was, shall we?
Carson and I made a podcast called Houseguest. In its three-episode life so far we’ve only had one actual houseguest, and that was for our inaugural episode where we interviewed Jon Klassen (and Vera Brosgol, who was skulking).
I shared a lot of home demos with you, some in better shape than others. One that sticks out in my mind is my demo of “Repaid,” a song that would later have deleterious effects on Shara Nova’s vocal folds. Funny, mine were just fine after I sang it.
I wrote a goddamned book! I shared the first chapter of The Stars Did Wander Darkling with you a few months before it came out. I also gave you all first dibs to preorders on its accompanying drone soundtrack, which, incidentally, happens to be my first and only solo record of original songs. Trivia!
I gave you my rules for being a musician, should you decide to be one and needed some tips as to how to behave.
I made you a Christmas mix tape!
I recorded a lot of songs that had never seen the light of day outside of my songwriting notebooks. You guys were kind and generous with your compliments and were also occasionally all, “I can see why this one never made it out,” which was fair.
I had ChatGPT write a Decemberists song and I recorded it, for better or worse.
And so much more. I recently updated the landing page so you can more easily browse the different sections; I invite you to take a gander. Wander around, check it out. It’s cool!
To be honest, I wasn’t sure how this’d go initially. I didn’t want to half-ass something that was purporting to be something worth your subscription fee. I didn’t want to just hand it off, phone it in. I wanted to stay engaged and active, as much as I could. It was a bit daunting at first! But, honestly, I feel like my energies are sooo much better spent here than griping on Twitter or posting random stuff on FB and Instagram (which I still do sometimes). I feel like I’m creating a real body of work here, which is fantastic. I’m excited for the future of The Machine Shop — I’m excited to build on what we started. And I hope you come along for the journey.