The Operating System

FIELD NOTES :: Now Playing on Nomadic Nightbus Radio:: Jack "Kennedy Karate" Wants YOU

I’ve had one hell of a time in Nashville.   I lost my virginity and my pride watching and listening to some insanely talented musicians playing on Broadway.  My man on the scene, Christopher Walken,  got an eye opening interview with the reverendJesse Lee Jones at Robert’s Western World.  I was welcomed onstage at the Grand Ol Opry to see Elizabeth Cook perform at the history venue.  Nashville is so rad, I think I wanna buy a shotgun and find a wife.
In this episode, we’re thrilled to introduce you to the newest member of our expanding FIELD NOTES roster : Jack Kennedy, aka Kennedy Karate, who will be sending us documentation in sound, sight, and word form from the road, as he travels the country making collaborative recordings with those he finds in each stop of his journey. This tour, and its documented trail of sound, come together to form Nightbus Radio — which you can follow in intricate detail here, in blog form… but that just begins to scratch the surface.
I found out about Karate Kennedy in that way famous to the rhizome: CuriousJohn posted something about his journey and process on twitter or facebook or so on and I got excited, and immediately responded that he would be perfect for field notes. Gotta love the rhizome – I was able to get in contact with him in less than a day after that first transaction. Boundaries … bah! That’s so old paradigm.
The first thing that made this a beautiful relationship is Kennedy’s approach to collaborative creative practice in music and in life — as well as to the use of social technologies to facilitate a viable existence for himself with creative production (and its documentation) as his focus, rather than a pleasure made secondary by a traditional labor model,  exemplifies the type of  creative agency we are committed to modelling and making visible via this platform. I were unsurprised to find that he had been named one this year’s Soundcloud Fellows — and became doubly thrilled to share his process and journey with our community, as in so doing he (and we!) can demonstrate the sort of collaborative consumption and distribution that is changing the landscape of possibility for all of us.
[Sidenote: If you’re an avid social media user, a music junkie, a musician, or dj, then perhaps you are familiar with Soundcloud, the online audio distribution platform — and perhaps you  even use it (I do, shocking I know).  Or perhaps your musician friends have sent you there? Soundcloud is part of the social tech/sharing economy revolution: a service and application with full usability across mobile platforms that allows not only musicians but anyone and everyone to create, distribute, collaborate, and dialogue on audio recordings of any type. The platform’s mission to “unmute the web, inspiring the world to self-express through sound” begot the founding of a Fellowship Program in 2011, highlighting projects that “inspire, engage, and communicate the unique breadth of sound.” Soundcloud provides visibility, programming, and financial support up to $5000 to encourage each “sound creator” in their work.]
That being said, Kennedy is a beacon of not only possibility but, goddamn, having a good time while he’s at it. His unique brand of humor and musicality make us happy to know him and know people like him, and happy to encourage others to find him when he comes to their town.
For now, we’ll leave you with some selections from Nightbus Radio in Nashville and Asheville… now in cities that rhyme! and a short interview with Kennedy so to get you better acquainted. Welcome aboard!
Sunday we wiped the crusts from our eyes and headed back to Asheville.  When we walked into Bon Paul And Sharkey’s we met a quiet and somewhat intense girl with a guitar case.  Her name was Rachel Sauls and she played us a few songs, which I recorded.  She also did a brief interview and spoke about Jesus.  He sounds like a lovely guy…
NightBus Radio by kennedykarate
Who is Jack Kennedy / “Kennedy Karate”?
Pony level pop star, song smith, music producer, independent recording artist, corporate sell out, radio producer, self employed philosopher, amateur comedian, nomadic stranger (not strangler), Amateur Zen Buddhist
What do you make?  How do you make this thing?  Why?  What are the questions that drive you?  
I write pop songs on my laptop.  Usually they sound too left field for mass consumption, but sometimes I get one in the ball-park.  As far as what drives me, sometimes I write a song for a person I care about and send the song to them without telling them why.  Usually I get a response like “hey thanks for sending me another song, I’ll try giving it a listen when I’m not busy with the kids.”  Then I send them a song called “Fuck Your Kids” and they take the time to listen, but it doesn’t have the initial desired affect. 
Writing a good song gives me a buzz.  When a song takes shape and starts sounding great, like “Hey Jude” great, the world starts looking up.  I can look people in the eye for a while and buy all the drinks. 
Recording technology grew 2000% in the last 10 years.  I remember using a 4 track cassette machine and thinking “I wish we could do this on an airplane with headphones.”  Now we can!  As a result a lot of recording happens in kitchens over dinner, in huts on beaches, in Starbucks or anywhere with Wifi.  This has made collaborating with different people so easy to do.  I have back packed through Morocco, Thailand, Israel, and most of Europe with a microphone and laptop, just enough to write big, dumb, pop song or take a field recording from a local.
Nightbus is a band I began in London.  We are like small, super dysfunctional family and I miss them all very dearly when I am not in England. This NightBus Radio project is a fun way for Hannah (the singer) and I to stay connected from far away when we cannot get together regularly and write music.  She records the voice overs for the show and will occasionally sing songs I’m working on with others.  She has the most beautiful voice.
When and where?
I ran away from home when I was 16 to join my friend’s band. We were called the Uncommon and we played Cure covers with a few originals.  We were the toast of Thousand Oaks, CA. After High School I briefly attended UC Santa Cruz to study Marine Biology.  I started a band called the Jedi Youth League, lost interest in school, and moved back to southern California.
I began interning at a notorious recording studio in Hollywood on Fairfax.  3 weeks in the owners told me they had fired the entire staff and wanted me to hire a new team and get the studio running.  I was 19 and a complete idiot.  But I learned to say “yes” first and figure out the incidentals later.  I worked at that studio for a few years, learning how to enginneer, buying various controlled substances for artists, and trying to write songs in my spare time.  We had some great session while I was there. There were lots of Death Row Records acts like snoop and mack 10 as well as classics like Taj Mahal.  One night I had to tell Suge Knight  to leave his master tapes because Death Row had not paid the bill.  Cray Cray. 
I moved to Santa Barbara and began writing commercials and producing the morning show for a little radio station called KJEE.  This introduced me to more mainstream pop music as well as an early digital audio editing bay.  Working at KJEE also introduced me to the idea of being a radio personality.  At that time, I had no personality.  But again, I just said “yes” and did my best.  It was really fun and I recorded an unlistenable solo record called “Unicorn.”
After KJEE I landed a job producing Carson Daley’s radio show in Los Angeles.  It was salary and I usually was off work by 11:30 or noon every day and we never worked Fridays.  (i also helped start an early version of a  band called Silversun Pickups, that’s another story)  I took advantage of all the extra time and money by writing and recording as much as possible. I finally got a record deal, quit my job, and moved to London.
In London, I focused on mastering my laptop skills as a producer.  I became obsessed with the idea creating a number 1, worldwide smash single, with nothing other then a set of headphones and a laptop.    I began collaborating with anyone and everyone in London and France.
I found myself with some decent production and songwriting skills and no real responsibilities.  So I started traveling and recording people.  While spending a month in Morocco I recorded some indigenous Berber musicians in a beach town called Imsoune.  These kids were so grateful to have a recording, much less see a microphone, and I felt I was getting out of my comfort zone and growing personally.  It was good for everyone.

I came back to LA about a year ago to regroup and really see the USA.  I had never traveled around except some big cites and the pacific northwest.  So here I am exploring the country that invented freedom. Oh Jack, really? You’ll get to love this irony as much as we do. We promise.
What’s next? 
I am on the fence between dropping out and moving to New Caledonia or getting my own variety show on Comedy Central and moving to the Upper West side.  Maybe I need to find some “balance” as my existential counselor says. I’m hoping to make music in South America, India and someday, New Jersey.
Kennedy Karate / Nightbus on Soundcloud
on You Tube
Nightbus’s first single with Universal coming soon
Jack says : my closest thing to a hit
oh hey! check out this Wired interview
film and tv credits

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