Music, What makes you happy?

Postcards from the Deathbed….talks.


Andrew Gemkow, his solo project is called, “Postcards from the Deathbed.” If you check out all the places on the web to find him you realize that one style of music is not in his vocabulary. Alternative, R&B, Rock, Folk, he has a wide variety of sounds out there, and all of it is great stuff.

His own Bio on ReverbNations says,
“Postcards from the Deathbed is the story of a man who has chosen to hide in plain sight through his use of music to make sense of the world around him and the events of his life that he cannot possibly understand. The purpose of all of this is to allow the truth to flow out though the vehicle of sound; the wording is carefully chosen to protect all who exist within the spaces of these electrons that bind us all as one existence. As the memories slip from the failing mind of an old man in his fate, these postcards may well serve to remind him of memories lost within the chaos of passing time.

The multiple sketches and refinements as they are released here are with the intent to show the evolution of understanding and acceptance of the self and the impact others have had upon his very being. These creations are a shelter within the soul from the storm that rages within the mind. This is me.”

We asked a few questions,
What or who inspired you?
Coming from a family of musicians, they have always been an exceptional source of inspiration to me. My great grandpa Rudy could play anything he heard on the concertina. My uncle Bob played drums in a wedding band. However, my greatest inspiration came from my uncle Ed. Shortly after I began learning violin, he had me stand up on a side table and play the first three songs I ever learned. When I finished, he gave me a dollar, saying, “Now you are a paid professional. It’s up to you to go as far as you want because you can be the best if you work at it.” I keep this in mind whenever I play music for someone else.

What instruments do you play and who manufactured them?
I play any stringed instrument. The physics of a vibrating string has fascinated me since my time studying with Nelle Meintz. She taught me harmonics. Later, when I learned to regulate pedal harps at Lyon and Healy, Peter Wiley introduced me to the bible of tonal physics by Hermann Helmholtz titled, ‘On the Sensation of Tone’.

The instruments I own have been carefully selected for their tonal characteristics and playability within the capabilities of my hands. Let’s just say that it’s unlikely I will ever buy an instrument off the internet.

I play a 2006 Fender Jaguar Bass that I have customized to suit my playing techniques. For example, I played about 30 different jag basses at the time before I selected the one that sounded and played best. It is strung with Thomastick flatwound strings and has a Hipshot D-tuner. I removed the pickguard and custom shaped a rosewood coverplate for the electronics pocket and added a thumb block to accommodate my right hand technique. Everything else is stock.

My guitar is a walnut 1979 Gibson SG. It was a factory “second” from the Norlin era that has had much work done to it over the years by Kagan and Gaines in Chicago and Northwest guitars. After a complete restoration in 2008, I stripped the original body finish to the natural wood and applied a hand-rubbed linseed oil finish. It has the stock “tarback” or T-top pick-up in the bridge and the stock “super humbucker” pickup in the bridge; split series/phase/parallel. Everything is stock except for a bison bone nut.

There are other instruments in the rack, but these two instruments define my sound.

What do you listen too?
My musical taste is eclectic. I listen to all forms of music. My preference is toward music that is innovative and isn’t an emulation of previous artists. “Sound-alikes” bore me. I do enjoy the recognition of an artist’s influences in their compositions; so long as their own style and personality is dominant in their sound.

I also listen intently to what other people are saying. Without this fundamental base in communication, the intent in my own compositions holds no merit.

What makes you happy? sad?

It took me a bit to think about this question. I’m pretty happy most of the time. When I’m not, it usually leads to 3am writing sessions until I can sleep again. It’s the only way that I know how to at least be completely truthful to myself. As long as I have truth, I have happiness. This doesn’t necessarily exclude sorrow, remorse or joy. Truth just happens to be the justification for experiencing all other emotions I feel.

Sadness has come from innumerable directions in my life. It is not an emotion I dwell upon for fear of becoming awash in its consumption. It’s emptiness is the very thing I avoid at all costs. It will have its place in time in its lesser forms, but holds no shelter from the night when it rolls in like a fog. I choose happiness for its limitless reward when continually shared. Sadness brought me nothing but a quick fix, hopelessness and death in all its forms.

But, if one thing makes me sad, it is those who may walk through this life having never known they are alive.

oh… and White Sox fans in a ‘shakin’ my head’ kinda way. Only because they suck so bad at being fans. That’s right, you 35th st. mutts. I said it

We would like to thank Andrew for talking with us and wish him the best of luck.
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