Bryan Hamilton's trials with modernity
Published: November 9, 2011
Producer Bryan Hamilton sleeps on the floor. He has no job and only a few months left in his unemployment benefits. But he's optimistic. "Money's really not that big of a deal to me," he said in a recent phone interview. "It comes when I need it to come."
Hamilton's personality is on some other shit. He's humbled by the cosmos but is extremely self-assured. Some will find him preachy, even cocky. All will agree he radiates peace, even over a telephone. Even when talking about getting fired from Walmart's pharmacy department.
"I don't think I smiled enough?" he says by way of explanation.
He was relieved. He didn't care about the recession or spiraling inflation or our dysfunctional body politic. He was sick of watching people finish 1,000-calorie meals at the in-store McDonald's and then visit him for a Prozac refill. "You're watching how these people just sort of crumble right in front of you," he said. "I guess that's why I wasn't smiling enough."
Hamilton began staying at an ashram monastery off Babcock and Huebner last year. There he lives with and abides with a few Hare Krishna monks, meditating for two hours each morning and then doing community and music work all day. His spiritual pursuits (not a religion, "a science of the soul," he insists) recently led him and pianist Mike Evans (of Karma Trismegistos) to start the first Occupy San Antonio event, he said.
He visits less now as the release of his new album, Welcome to Dreamland, draws near. But he plans to visit drums circles here and in Austin and continue feeding occupiers vegetarian and vegan cuisine with his temple colleagues. Hamilton has no apartment, no bed, and likely no job security. But, he's not worried. "Can you imagine taking a year off without working and just focusing on what you want to do?" he said. "It's been a blessing."
Hamilton's rejections of modern comforts and/or burdens may be polarizing, but his new album is not. The record is a showcase of his and his label's talent (Dreamland Collective Music Group). If you know producer James Lavelle (responsible for UNKLE), you know Hamilton's template: hip-hop beats meets late-night song craft. Like Lavelle, Hamilton incorporates guest spots galore, including rappers Gunshot Hopes and R-E-L, songwriters Jeff Escamilla and DayDreamer, and musicians Thom Soto and Solaroid, among others.
Friday's album release will mark the end of Hamilton's three-year journey to Dreamland, one riddled with a couple dead zones thanks to health problems stemming from a wayward wisdom tooth and equipment repairs and losing his job. But those issues didn't stop him from producing what he wagers is over 1,500 songs. Only 21 made it on the album, the rest are being used for other musicians' projects. Meanwhile, Hamilton's work ethic makes him surprisingly transient even toward his own album. "It's like breaking up," he said. "It's kind of sad, but I really don't listen to the music once it's done." •
Welcome to Dreamland CD release party and Producer Beat Battle
9 pm Fri, Nov 11
The Limelight Music + Drinks
2718 N St. Mary's
★★★★ (out of 5)
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