Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Interview With A Human Disaster

Recently, I sat down and did a chat interview with my homie, Mikal kHill, about geekdom, music, mental health, and his new album Human Disaster. Because of the content, I'm posting it here and on my other blog, For the Love of Pun.

Me: Okay, and I know this sounds cheesy, but for those unfamiliar with you, who's Mikal kHill?

kHill:  I am a singer, songwriter, rapper, producer, father, husband, and excellent pancake maker from North Carolina, presently living in the mountains near Boone.

Me: Right on, so since my blog, Halls of the Nephilim, is a gaming blog, what's your geek pedigree? I hate the term "geek cred," because I think it's dickish and elitist. I'm just kind of curious what sorts of geeky things you're into.

kHill: Ummmmmm, my biggest geeky thing is probably that I am an avid collector of Nintendo stuff and I am probably safe to call a "Nintendo fanboy."  I even have a Virtual Boy and all the games.  Haha.  Also, I am sad a lot and read a lot of books in High School when the other kids were drinking, so I guess there's that. The joke I always make is that I spend so much time making nerdy music that I don't really get to keep up like I'd like to with the nerdy stuff i like but the joke is that it's not a joke it's true. 

Me: I know you've played Magic (because you did that dope Planeswalker EP) and have played D&D? What are your thoughts about those games?

kHill: I've played magic since 3rd edition.  I learned to play with my former guitarist, Kevin Morgan, and his brothers.  We would play for hours every day and it fostered a love for the game that waxes and wanes (but mostly because I have to keep myself at bay or I’ll spend hundreds of dollars on cards).  

D&D is something I truly loved, but I was mostly into the story telling, roleplaying and narrative elements, I truly loathe combat in D&D to be honest. Haha. My D&D group met for several years and have moved to various places (and befallen various tragedies) so I dunno if we'll ever truly get to play a game again.

My old DM apparently brought back one of my characters as an NPC in their game...  I like the idea that he's still adventuring somewhere.

Me: It's a nice legacy. I have a few character that my friends have used in their games. 

kHill: Yeah, it made me happy. Haha.

Me: Switching gears a bit, other than producing and such, how many solo projects/groups are you involved with.

kHill: Um, man, that is a suprisingly hard question. Haha. Let me think… Maybe....  5 or 6?

Me: Obviously, you have your solo stuff and my favorite, ThoughtCriminals. 

Sulfur, me, and kHill at the NOFRIENDS Family Reunion show
at the World Famous Milestone Club 
kHill: The ThoughtCriminals, NOFRIENDS, Super Duper Group, Mikal kHill, The GladYerDeads, Two Weeks Notice.... That might be it? Haha. I guess Malibu Shark Attack, but I'm only involved in the live version.

Me: I love NOFRIENDS, how'd you guys come together? Also, for those unfamiliar, who are NOFRIENDS?

kHill: NOFRIENDS is myself, Sulfur, Tribe One, and Adam WarRock.

Euge (aka Adam) and I talked about doing an acoustic project at some point.  That idea evolved into a crew.  Silver Age was his and Niles (Tribe One) thing, ThoughtCriminals was me and Sean (Sulfur).
We had such similar idea and became such close friends as a group that it was natural to do that.

Me: I like that origin story. Could use more radioactive spiders and Ultimate Nullifliers, but it's good.

kHill: LOL

Me: Your music has a reputation for the heavy nature that tends to be the focus.

kHill: It has been said that I can be a bit of a downer.

Me: Of course, that's not what I'm saying, but I've heard people talk.

kHill: Haha.
Me: I guess maybe this should have been my first question, but why do you make the music you do?

kHill: I think I'm the same way in real life that I am in my music, I just tend to be a bit of an...  open book. Whatever is affecting me personally, whatever I am thinking about at the time is going to go into the music. That affects even the "nerdier" things I do, like the Slytherin House Mixtape. I just have a tendency to wear my heart on my sleeve.

Me: Me too, which could be while I enjoy your work as much as I do.

kHill: A big thing for me is I try to make the kind of music I would like to hear, and I try to make music for other folks to relate to.  I am open and honest about myself so that folks don't feel alone dealing with whatever nonsense they are dealing with.  I am always trying to be for someone else what Elliott Smith was for me.  Haha.

Me: That sounds very noble, actually. 

kHill: Eh, maybe in some ways it's selfish.  It means I get to feel less alone, too.  haha
Me: I try not to be this cynical, but even when we do good deeds, there's always a selfish aspect (even if it means we feel good because we've done good). As weird as it sounds, I think it can be both.

kHill: Yeah

Me: Tell me about Human Disaster.

kHill: This is an album I've been working on for several years.  I've released several other albums over the time I've been making it, and when The Snuggle is REAL came out it was actually outtakes from THIS album.  Haha.

The original concept was to make a record that would start out extremely bleak and then gradually build up to a happy ending.  I don't think that's exactly what happened, it's honestly (at times) my angriest work to date. It does deal with, for the most part, coming to terms with myself as an artist and dealing with my depression in a positive way.

Me: I know you talked about it earlier, but I respect the way you deal with depression in your music. 

kHill:  Thank you.  I don't think depression is something to be like...  ashamed of, so it doesn't bother me to talk about it candidly.

Me: People should be able to. Growing up a fat guy, I've pretty much always had issues with it (for various reasons that I don't need to go into here), but not one ever seemed to want to talk about it. In my experience people will acknowledge physical things, but don't want to talk about mental or emotional issues. 

kHill: Yeah, absolutely.  There’s much more of a stigma about things that way.  Which is silly.

Me: To be well, we have to take care of all three.

kHill: Absolutely.

Me: Looking at the preorder track listing for Human Disaster, I see you have several guests on the album. For those of us that aren't on your side of the music business, what's the process of that goes into that?

kHill: When it comes up with guests for the record I just think of my friends and try to imagine who would work best for the track, in terms of voices and stuff. I think of it the same way as adding another instrument to a part. I also tend to try to push people out of their comfort zone while still staying true to what they "are." Usually, I just reach out to someone and say "Hey, I think that you would sound good on this" and then we go from there.

Me: Haha. You know shit gets real when an artist uses quote marks. 

kHill: Hahaha

Me: That makes a lot of sense though. The new album is being released in a few formats. I've got to ask, why cassette?

kHill: My last album, I decided to do it on cassette because (at the time) I was driving this old Cadillac with a cassette player and I just wanted more tapes to play in my car.  Hahah. But once I had the tape, it really reminded me how much I loved the sound of rap on cassette... There's something about it.  I can't explain it, but it just sounds good.
Sulfur, kHill, Me, and Tribe One at
Super-Fly Comics and Games

Me: My last van had a tape deck, and it was fun listening to Snuggle in it. Sadly, my new one doesn't.

kHill: The irony is that I was not a person with a ton of nostalgia for cassettes but once I had a tape of my own, it made me remember the joy of making cassette mixtapes and stuff.

Me: Props for the geeky references with the pre-orders.

kHill: Hahaha. Yeah, I knew the CDs would be totally not-rare, the tapes would be impossible to get once they were gone. So common and mythic rare seemed like the way to go. The tapes are half gone already and the presale has only been going a few day.

Me: I think the pre-order went live around midnight and by 12:05 I had mine pre-ordered (and the common cd). 

kHill: You were one of the first folks who's name I saw in the orders list. And thank you!

Me: You're welcome. It's weird, but I think back to your track "The Moon" and I never hesitate to snatch up whatever you release.
I can't help myself with this one, so I've heard you're probably the anarcho-socialist in nerdcore. Would you care to briefly comment on that?

kHill: Well, it's just my politics lean...  a little past left. Haha. I sorta can't believe it, but you are maybe the first person who's ever actually mentioned politics or that line in an interview. I think I'm sort of politically agnostic, I don't believe in anything.  Everything looks nice on paper, but power corrupts and ruins everything. That said, my idealist side leans towards socialist.

Me: Makes perfect sense to me. Alright sir, thanks for taking the time to do this interview. In closing anything you'd like to say?

kHill: If anyone wants to peep the new stuff http://howcouldyoudothisto.me is a direct link, and all the other stuff (and links to my social media and stuff) can be found at http://mikalkhill.com

Me: I appreciate you talking to me!

kHill: You're welcome sir. It's been a pleasure.

Me: Likewise.

Seriously folks, kHill is an awesome guy and a great musician. Do yourself a favor and go listen to his music, including The ThoughtCriminals. You won't regret it. While you're at it, check out Sulfur and Tribe One too.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Succubus Sunday - Shiklah

Shiklah is the queen of the succubi in the Marvel Universe. She's also Mrs. Deadpool. Learn more about her here.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Cinematic Heroes In A Half-Shell - Leonardo

Recently, I've been in on a big Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles kick. They have a new video game coming out Tuesday, I recently picked up some of their new Heroclix, and I think the new movie looks like a lot of fun. I've read through Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Other Strangeness again, but I'm still not feeling it (though I like the random animal and origin charts).  I've decided to go with an earlier idea of using cinematic unisystem to run a game. I think Angel is the best system to use to build characters. The demon qualities work perfectly to simulate animal mutations. If you want flying, the quality is in Ghosts of Albion and if you want to build a robot, Buffy has you covered. I think it will work nicely. 

I've statted out teenage starting character Leonardo (my favourite turtle). For those of you familiar with cinematic unisystem, what do you think?

Life Points: 77
Drama Points: 10

Strength: 5
Dexterity: 8
Constitution: 8
Intelligence: 3
Perception: 3
Willpower: 4

Fast Reaction Time (+2)
Enhanced Attribute: Dexterity 4 (+4)
Enhanced Attribute: Constitution 5 (+4)
Enhanced Attribute: Strength (+2) 
Hard to Kill (+5)
Natural Armor 5 (+3, limited use, frontal attacks only)
Natural Armor 10 (+8, limited use, rear attacks only)
Natural Toughness (+2)
Situational Awareness (+2)

Adversary: Shredder, The Foot Clan (-3)
Honorable (-2)
Resources (-3)
Teenage (-2)
Supernatural Form (-2)

Acrobatics 5
Art 1
Computers 1
Crime 2
Doctor 1
Driving 1
Getting Medieval 5
Influence 2
Knowledge 2
Kung Fu 5
Language 1 (Japanese)
Notice 2
Sports 2

Maneuvers:          Bonus     Damage           Notes
Dodge                       13           None        Avoid getting hit; -2 against ranged
Punch                       13           10             Bash  
Katana                     13            20/25      Slash/Stab; can be used two handed
Kick                          12            12             Bash

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Curse of Strahd - Session 5

The Party 
Victor Luna (CG human Oath of Vengeance Paladin) - The de facto leader of the group, Victor is a ceaseless hunter and protector of the innocent.

Adrick Balgart (CG human Light cleric) - Cleric of Lathander, branded a heretic, he seeks redemption and revenge against the creatures of the night

Simon Barhorn (CN half-elf bard) - Self-serving, yet charismatic, Simon is the party's spokesperson.

Session 3

Though Simon fell in the conflict, the party successfully defeated Strahd's wolves. Ismark and Ireena fought with particular fervor and impressed the party.

At the gates of Vallaki they learned quite a bit about the village: it's wolf problem, the burgomaster's obsession with festivals, and the political unrest.

The party split up. Victor and Adrick traveled to St. Andral's Church while Simon and the Barovians went to the Blue Water Inn.

At St. Andral's, the divine agents met Father Lucien, Yeska, and sullen Milivoj. They learned of the missing bones of St. Andral and Victor was able to coerce their whereabouts from Milovoj. Feeling for the young man, he gave him some gold to care for his siblings. Adrick learned more about vampires from Father Lucien.

Simon met a kindred soul at the inn, Rictavio, a half-elf carnival barker. The bards and siblings shared some drinks. I decided to use my new drinking rules. Ismark and Ireena managed to get themselves quite inebriated and turned in early.

The party met back up at the inn and shared leads. They decided to retrieve the bones of St. Andral from the coffin maker. However, before confronting him they decided to stop at the toymaker's shop. Gadof Blinksy has become my new favourite premade npc. He's just so much fun to voice.The discovered dolls that looked shockingly similar to Ireena. Simon was able to convince Blinksy to part with one and a Strahd von Zarovich ventriloquist dummy (which I can't wait for Simon to use in Strahd's presence). They also promised to look for "Von Weerg's myasterpiece" in Castle Ravenloft.

The found the coffin maker's shop barred, but Victor broke down the door. They found the man, Henrick, to be a sad lonely sod. He confessed to making a deal with a noble, showed them where the bones were, and let them know about the vampires hiding in the storeroom. The party shouldn't have confronted them. Six challenge 5 vampire spawn verses three 3rd level characters (without magic weapons)... It should have been a slaughter, but somehow they managed to kill one of them and not totally exhaust their resources.

The session ended with a tactical retreat to the bottom of the stairs, bottle necking the spawn on the stairs.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

New Blog

Hello folks,

You might have noticed I don't post as much as I have been recently. While this thing is still my pride and joy (and will most definitely reach 1000 posts by the end of the year), I have a new blog. For the Love of Pun is my non-gaming blog. It's about a variety of topics, from feminism, to body positiviy, to self improvement. While is a place of reason and experience, my bleeding heart comes out quite a bit. It probably isn't something that would interest you folks, but I'm giving it a plug here so that if you notice me slacking off a bit with posts, you know why.

-Justin (Pun)

Monday, May 16, 2016

Darwyn Cooke

I know many of you have already heard, but comic book artist, Darwyn Cooke, passed away Saturday. He was a talented man and will definitely be missed.

Gods... 2016 can go to Hell.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Succubus Sunday - Mazikeen

Mazikeen is Lucifer's consort in DC Vertigo line. She's a daughter of Lilith and commands an army of her siblings.