It’s finally here… Mental Chillness by Ductape Halo is now available. Released on January 21st, 2021 to celebrate a new era of peace as the new American President is inaugurated. Reviving some old favorites and introducing new classics. Listen or purchase on Bandcamp.
I play fast acoustic guitar, with songs that rock out about internal struggle and powerful vocals from the depths of my soul. I’m good with that. – Dan Victor
The music video for “Silk of the Snow” set to be the first single of the record. It was filmed during the snow storm December 16th, 2020. There were 22 takes, on 6 locations in one night that didn’t start shooting until 11PM.
The songs all tie into the advocacy work I want to do, speaking about mental health and the benefits of music to deal with mental illness, depression and anxiety. All the songs relate to experiences I have had and thought it would be a great way to entertain, while bringing awareness & fight the stigma, shame and guilt that many go through. We are not alone. We all have a voice within that we need to express. This sets us free.
DVD Concerts, Episode 6 — Miu and Maira perform 4 songs (Moon River, Desire, Moliendo Café & Never Gonna Give You Up) and talk about their process on Dan Victor Does. They are dancers, singers, musicians, artists and entertainers that show us how to have fun and ignite the imagination. These two capture an authentic enthusiasm for their craft, which is apparent and infectious to their audiences.
Since 2019 they started seriously picking up trash and dancing with it in such called Trash Outings (www.dancetothepeople.org for more info). The trash found was later used in elaborate costumes and in choreographed performances. 2020 has been a very productive artistic year for Miu and Maira, for they added ukulele playing to their performance. They have been showcased regularly at different parks and community gardens, such as The Hercules Garden, in which they met the Open Mic Host, Dan Victor.
Watch and listen to the four music videos from their set:
•“Moliendo Café“ or Grinding Coffee, on ukulele sung in both Spanish and Japanese, is a Venezuelan song by Hugo Blanco, a number 1 hit in Argentina 1961.
•“Never Gonna Give You Up“ on ukulele with synchronized dance routine to the words, originally by Rick Astely, famous for the “Rickrolling” internet meme, was learned for a friend’s moving away party, without any knowledge of the joke, made it a heart-felt tribute.
Grateful for having Miu and Maira for the sixth episode of DVD Concerts and conclusion to Season One. It was so exciting to work with dance, in addition to music performance. They exposed me yet to another way to work with creativity. It was by-far, the longest shoot, with costume changes, different lens, mic set-ups and post-production, offering many challenges, but yielding some incredible results I’m very proud to share. These talented women leave a lasting impression on your mind, with a smile on your face and a song in your heart. Follow Miu on Instagram and Maira on Instagram. Check out DanceToThePeope.org for more great content.
Getting excited about my current live set up, seeing how my music is finally being realized. I have an album almost done, my live performance is getting very close to where I want it & confident with my creative choices.
I play fast acoustic guitar, with songs that rock out about internal struggle and powerful vocals from the depths of my soul. Ductape Halo.
I’m good with that. I don’t need to make excuses for not having a band or style or playing to what’s currently trending. I’m doubling down on myself. Whether it is currently apparent or not, I have absolute faith that the music is undeniable. My skills continue to improve as I practice every day. I see where it’s leading and it is making sense. I’m going down a path I know is the right one, confident I don’t need to rethink my approach.
There is no time limit. There is no comparison. It simply is. So grateful I came back to singing, playing guitar and sticking with practicing the songs over and over.
The practice has taught me so much about the arrangement, solving issues I didn’t realize were there, taking time with it daily. Technique has improved where I thought I had plateaued.
In closing, I was always second guessing myself and calling it critical thinking. At some point, choosing a lane was necessary, I was just uncertain to what it was that would make me happy, so I tried on many hats. Then I looked back at my life and recognized it was performing my own music that gave me the greatest joy, and I now believe putting effort into that with intense consistency has and will improve my quality of life. Grateful for so much. Thank you to those that support me and God for guiding me through some dark times.
Yes, I relate to the pressure to produce content for validation of its value, to test response, with likes vs. reach. Placing meaning in that can be a trap as considering the source of that judgement, the reality of its true exposure and the format of the platform. There is etiquette to observe and it can all be too much.
I do as much as I can, as an artist not just in content but as a publisher. It is a balance between respecting the audience and my own goals. I seek to produce things that I want to exist and then share them. Is it successful? Does it resonate with someone else? Did I optimize people’s ability to find it?
As I write this, it is an answer to a question I have been asking myself. Why do I create?
I think you are expressing yourself very well and understand not wanting to be judged on appearance. There is something else that I want an audience to consider. Does it still matter if there isn’t a face attached to it? Does it matter on its own? I believe it should.
I think we are in an accelerated social experiment, learning rapidly what works and doesn’t in real time. Social Media is a reflection of our society, exposing its weakness, effecting itself, a record of our impulses and careful planning. Putting an appearance of ourselves that looks authentic, yet is composed with consideration to how someone might perceive it, is a clear example of our process to deceive with the intention of being liked.
There is a true transparency when we step back and distance ourselves for perspective. I don’t want to absolve myself of how I participate, but attempt to be mindful of my contribution to the human narrative. I am not just the star in my own movie, but a member of an assemble cast of the largest blockbuster epic to come out of this universe.
Potential is found through discovery. When I was a Senior in high school, it seemed to me that I was headed in the right direction and my future was bright. The difficulties of my childhood had been overcome and worst days were behind me. Nothing could be further from the truth.
There were many times in my life that were pivotal in the development of my current status. I look back on the times I wish I had made different choices, or acted with more for-thought, and wonder if it could have happened any other way.
I was counting on becoming someone other than I am. I believed I was someone else. I was unable to perceive, but with such great perception, I missed what was right in front of me.
During elementary school, I used to go to the resource room in the middle of the day. The teacher spoke loudly that it was time for me to leave the other students behind to go to a special class by myself. It seemed I would spend so much time alone, but this wasn’t my choice. They said I had perceptual problems. I had a learning disability. The truth was more complicated. I am bipolar, but it was more. My parents were going through a divorce, which impacted me greatly, but it was the constant crisis in my mind that distracted me from making mundane choices.
I still struggle to understand the nature of my existential dilemma, which had been aided by substance abuse in an effort to protect the pain. It has taken time away, I have gotten older and regret the time I lost. I wish I was further along than I am. I have just 10 months clean and very proud of that, but wish I hadn’t had to devastate myself to learn a lesson that seems so obvious to other people.
It comes down to what I wanted and how I saw best to achieve my goal. The goal was to feel no pain, but it seems enduring pain is a part of life. There are some things that can’t be avoided. The rain must be weathered so that nourishment and beauty can bloom. I learned too slowly that some of my beliefs were flawed. The perspective I cultivated didn’t served me, but it kept me distracted from the pain I was enduring without realizing it. I wasn’t doing anything to change the cause of pain. Just subduing it.
Understanding has always been important to me. Lessons and insight are easier for me if they happen over and over again. 1993 was my Senior year of high school and had figured it out only at the end of the journey. It seemed people liked me. I was accepted, in a band, on my way to art school, having a girlfriend, my own car, good looking and appreciated by my teachers. I had overcome only after so many years of torment in school – the fights, the bullying, getting an A on the Physics final exam. Like a movie, those challenges had been met. And most of all, I had time on my side. But a lot of time, I made mistakes, missed out on opportunities, hurt friends and family, been irresponsible with money and health, risked my life with foolish whimsical impulses.
When I think back to the year I turned 18, from age 45, I have regret because I wish my choices had yielded different results. I don’t have a family or a solid job or living situation or love. I have a lifetime of experience, which is what i valued. A romantic view, that with all romance, ends in tragedy. A good story needs ups and downs, otherwise the payoff isn’t as sweet, whatever the outcome. The real value of what I take away from the 27 years since then is wisdom. I wish it had come sooner, but I’m not sure I could appreciate the significance of the knowledge.
Many things escape my understanding, which again, may seem obvious to others. Like who to trust or who it is safe to love, or what does it even mean to love someone. Romance seemed to mean fulfillment at one time, enlightenment seemed to offer freedom. Music was like a dream. Art was a philosophy with an identity attached. But how do you nurture desire, a motivation to motivate, a purpose to the depression that constantly lays in wait?
It is the day after Christmas and has hit me quit hard. This time last year I was addicted to cocaine and spent the day alone with a plate of lines instead of turkey. I need to remain grateful that isn’t where I am today. Writing this with gratitude is a productive place to put the pain. To admit being depressed, but channeling it.
I don’t know where I will be exactly, but I have ideas about where I want to be. I want to perform my music. I want to make movies and documentaries. I want to speak about mental illness. I want to inspire others to do what brings them joy. I want to live in the woods within reach of culture. I want a happy, healthy comfortable life that may still offer a difficult future, but at least I have a firm base with security. I believe it is important for me to know what I want. I wish I wanted to be in love, but I’m not sure I do. I’m not sure how easy it is for me to trust or want to be around other people. Time will tell, so I focus on what I am sure of. I want to be sober and create. Perhaps the echo of 1993 is calling out right now, but I’m still contemplating what I want to say when I pick up the phone.
DVD Concerts, Episode 5 — Adam Kautz, drummer, musician and NYC scene aficionado, performs some songs and talks about his process on Dan Victor Does. Watch the full performance and story he shares on this episode of DVD Concerts.
As Adam likes to say, I introduce him as a friend first and neighbor second, Mr. Kautz has a huge impact in the world he inhabits. He has been around the world as a touring musician with many bands, participated in a vital part of New York City culture and been a been a fixture in our community. A very inspirational and fun-loving guy to be around. Favorite visual artist is Keith Haring, favorite musical artist is Jim Morrison of The Doors and animal he would most like to be is a Golden Retriever in New England.
He currently resides in Bushwick. Brooklyn, where he has lived for the last ten years. Having grown up in Florida, but born in New York, he says this city was always an inevitable destination for his creative interests. Adam has been playing music since grammar school. He asked his father for a guitar and drum-set for Hanukkah, which he got with the condition he join the school band. It has been a passion for music which has been pervasive his whole life.
Adam is a collector of gear, records, organs, art, amps and objects which he creates a wonderland-like environment, which extends to his wardrobe, style and can be observed in the external habitats he cultivates. The Neverland Ranch, one such space, is a converted vacant lot he transformed into a punk-charming palace to perform and chill with zero fucks given.
Adam curates musical acts into an outdoor show he calls The Matinee which starts and ends early, but rocks during daylight with respect for the neighbors. If you live here, you are invited, but if he’s DJing, don’t ask him to put on a song. There is a sign clearly posted that says, ‘No Requests’ and that we play punk rock here.
Part of the DVD Concerts series started with Dan interviewing the artists upstairs and afterwards Adam would host a “Secret Show” with those performers. So all of the artists that you have seen on this podcast has also been a part of The Ranch.
After the first wave of the quarantine lifted, Adam introduced me to The Hercules Garden, a community space that he helped convert from an empty lot, with the rest of the local community. It was a magical place we all contributed to and were able to express ourselves artistically, while connecting with our Bushwick neighborhood. Marcus Vigilance began The Garden in memory of his dog Hercules, who was also an institution on the block, but passed away during the pandemic. Adam and I hosted the DN’A Open Mic during the late summer months to allow all to have a platform for 10 minutes on the stage we constructed collectively.
His album “Even If It’s A Dream, Who Cares” celebrates the mystical qualities that a dreamer like Adam cultivates and cherishes. It is a sentiment that I admire and whole-hearted approve of. Give a listen to his work that opens a door to his musical aesthetic and vision that extends to visual and experiential expression.
Grateful for having Adam Kautz for the fifth episode of DVD Concerts. Watch and listen to the music video “Die By Your Side“, a selection from his set. Follow Adam Kautz on Instagram and Youtube.
It was 1999. I was laying in bed drunk, stoned and miserably depressed. I had lost my will to live, exhausted from the extreme effort it took to function. I just wanted to give up, I wanted to die, but didn’t have the courage to commit suicide. In a desperate moment, I asked God to give me a reason to live. I didn’t have any religion, so I didn’t expect a response, but i did get an answer. Music. It just popped in my head. I was a musician, so it made sense, but it gave me some purpose. It became my higher power. That was when I was 24 living in Philadelphia. I took it as a sign to make some changes.
I moved cross-country to San Diego, believing it to be seasonal depression and to pursue a career in music. I was riding high, drove the entire way in 4 days. When I got to the sunny paradise, my troubles followed me. I was arguing with friends and even more isolated and depressed than ever. I couldn’t enjoy the seemingly endless summer. I realized there was something wrong. I went to my first psychiatrist. It was the first step on a long journey to seek a diagnosis that finally came 5 years later. Bipolar Disorder.
During those first 5 years, I struggled with substance abuse that has lasted most of my life, a self-medication when the many medications I was tested with didn’t seem to help. Nothing felt quite right. But I continued to make art and music. Creating had been a constant while I endured what felt like I was being experimented on. I came to understand the stigma of mental illness, the lack of understanding medical professionals possess, the ridicule of family asking why I can’t just snap out of it. I just did my best and it was all I could ask of myself.
Even after my diagnosis and the mood stabilizer, that seemed to work with my lifestyle, it was difficult to stay balanced. I got to enjoy a life I felt I had missed out on in my 20’s, but I kept drinking and using drugs and didn’t want to go to therapy. It would eventually take its toll. But all the while I had been playing in bands, writing music, took part in numerous art scenes in Brooklyn, performing all over the Lower East Side. I was surviving for music, but it wasn’t enough.
I became the Editor in Chief of Popdust, a pop culture website, interviewed artists and musicians on a live stream show I produced and directed, and was a guest on Cheddar News. As my success grew, so did my addiction. I was on a manic wave that lasted over a year. I eventually lost my job, my friends, family and sanity as a result of not taking my illness seriously. Again, I was exhausted. It was twenty years later.
In April 2019, I wanted to commit suicide. The impulse had never been so strong. I was trying to talk myself into doing it after I made an angry post on Facebook about my brother abandoning me. The regret was so intense, I thought I had ruined any chance of a relationship with him after he unfriended me. I had no one to call. I stopped talking to my parents, believing they were all out to get me.
So I dialed 911 and begged them to admit me into a mental ward of Beth Israel, where my bipolar support group met. I had no health insurance and lacked the ability to take care of myself. I waited 17 hours in the psychiatric ER, during which I was punched by another patient. A doctor eventually came over and asked if I was ready to go home and mentioned I didn’t have health insurance. I said loudly, “Are you refusing to treat me because I don’t have health insurance?” They found me a bed soon after that.
While the story doesn’t end there, and my struggle with addiction would continue after a relapse, I began a new chapter of my journey of healing. While I was in-patient, I realized I needed to advocate for myself. The other patients needed help too, because the doctors and nurses couldn’t understand some of our needs. During my stay, I felt the healing power of music once more. A therapist was able to let me play a guitar, while under supervision. Strings, shoelaces and pens were monitored as closely as razors, considering all to be potential tools of self-harm for those under suicide watch. I cried while I played my song Hideaway, I had written about self-isolation and shared a song with an elderly woman who sang the Blues. It lifted our spirits, feeling hope, like our suffering had meaning. When we have a reason for living, a personal connection to something greater than ourselves, to something that connects us, it makes the struggle worth it.
At the end of 2020, I’m over nine months clean, still making music, and advocate for mental health through my website DanVictorDoes.com, sharing the healing power of art and music to manage mental distress. My story is not over because I decided my struggle gives me more than it takes. I remain grateful for the experience to understand myself better and I’m excited to see what gifts life has yet to offer.
I share my story because there are many misconceptions surrounding mental illness and how debilitating this disease can be. There needs to be more compassion for those of us that suffer. Many don’t know where to turn. Perhaps it seems overwhelming, but there is help within reach. You are not alone.
If you suspect you have a problem, find a doctor. Get recommendations by those you trust to find a reliable psychiatrist. Build a support network. Pier groups are wonderful, not just for those with mental illness, but loved ones. Find out as much information as you can. NAMI.org helped me discover resources in my area.
DVD Concerts, Episode Four — Tony Island Baby performs 5 songs (Curse of November, Talking in Your Sleep, Daddy Never Knew, Hits Hits Hits cover by Fat White Family, and I Know a Place) and talks about his process on Dan Victor Does. Watch the full performance and story he shares on this episode of DVD Concerts.
Tony grew up in Asbury Park, New Jersey. He worked on the boardwalk and would bring his typewriter with him to write stories to stave off boredom. He grew up in the shadow of Bruce Springsteen and the desolation of the surf city. So making music on his own came natural.
As a child, he won a writing contest, which he was awarded with a pizza party at his Teacher’s house. For some reason the teacher whispered in Tony’s ear that he didn’t belong there, which he thought was odd since he already ate his slices. But what did she know? The eight graders who judged the contest believed he deserved his pizza prize and they outnumbered her. Although, Tony admits, this did leave a lasting impression.
Not long after beginning to make music, Tony set his sites on New York City. CBGB‘s, The Ramones mythology and music scene of Greenwich Village called to him and was compelled to answer. He would visit on weekends, underage until he finally moved up to begin performing in bands and DJing in clubs. After 15 years, he still calls NYC his home.
Writing is a daily practice for him, sometimes two pieces a day. When Tony writes a song, he begins with the words and the story, which later is put to music. When he is on hold, it is a good moment to come up with some chord changes that marries well with his verse.
I thought I heard some Conor Oberst, which Tony confirmed he had collected all of the Bright Eyes records, even ones you had to call up the radio station to get. Bob Dylan was a clandestine influence (Uncle Robby as Tony refers to him) as he found The Best of Bob Dylan record in a snow bank. It must have been fate.
Tony Island Baby is putting out a new album entitled “I Let The Dogs Out” on December 19th, 2020 – to celebrate the 35th anniversary of his birth.
DVD Concerts, Episode Three — Chango performs a Live Set: “A que vienes wey?” and “Demonomania”. He also speaks to us about his process on Dan Victor Does in his native language, Spanish. Pure Energy, Electronic Music, Mexican, Producer, Rapper… Luchador. Watch Chango on Episode 3 of the next DVD Concerts.
Chango was born and raised by a subwoofer, and bass pushed him out of the womb. Because of his upbringing, he’s been attracted to low frequencies and the underground sound all his life. Growing up he listened to metal, industrial, cyber punk and psytrance. Some of his influences include Ministry, Skinny Puppy, Isao Tomita – The Bermuda Triangle, and Nine Inch Nails.
A bald eagle flew him to New York and began playing music in the subway. He used to have a drummer, but immigration took him and ICE deported him. So he stayed and continued to play by himself. Chango hired other musicians to fill out the lineup for performances. The last shows were not in the subway, but at venues, international concerts or festivals.
Chango is everyone. Chango is all of us, not just one person, it’s a collective of musicians and artists. Chango is a conceptual project that has the opportunity of exposing themselves on the greatest stage ever, the subways of New York City.
He is very proud of Mexican heritage and the reason why he chose to speak Spanish during the interview. I provided English subtitles in the video. There are no borders, no one is illegal, he feels very strongly that we are all connected and no one is better than anyone else.
Grateful for having Chango for the third episode of DVD Concerts. Watch just the music in the video “Chango Live Set”. Follow Chango on Instagram.
Happy Halloween! Celebrating 10 years today. “Amongst the Dead” EP by Ductape Halo. Dan Victor (vocals, guitar and bass), Shamari Rocka (keys), and Stevie Kings (drums) played on this album, which kicked off a musical relationship with Steve for many projects and years after. Michael Benham joined on bass soon after. It was recorded at Steve’s apartment in Bushwick at “The Castle”, right next to the band called U Say USA. It was a 5th floor walk up and he lived at the top floor. All we did was play music, smoke weed, drink coffee and beer. The album release was at Spike Hill in Williamsburg, Brooklyn on Halloween 2010.
There was something magical at that time, instant nostalgia. It was the beginning of something. Occupy Wall St was still a thing, unemployment lasted years, and jobless even after it ended. Best and worst of times. Really got to make a documentary or something. Through adversity we find our strength. It is still true today. You can find the EP on Bandcamp.