Fuck your Brand


I run a creative studio that specializes in branding design, and while I really believe that companies need to invest in great branding, the way a lot of them use their brands seems pretty distasteful to me.

Last week, I looked around my apartment and counted all of the different logos I saw printed, embossed, plated, or whatever onto everything in sight. The microwave, the dishwasher, and the refrigerator all have these big logos on them. The dish soap, the hand soap, the toothpaste all have their own garish logos. (The oven surprisingly has no logo anywhere, good job!)

I don't know why I never thought too much about this until recently, but isn't it kind of crazy that we live with all of these brand names shoved into our faces each time we do just about anything? Isn't it kind of crazy that consumerism is so embedded in our culture that we call tissues "Kleenex" and cotton swabs "Q-tips"?

Isn't it kind of crazy how much of the conversation at the average American family dinner table is product-related? Instead of being content with our belongings and spending our time on more important and personal things, we worry about bargains, sales, and value. It's one of the reasons I can't watch TV anymore. I feel like I'm being patronized. It's constant.

I'm not sure if it's mostly an American thing—probably not—but it seems a little gross to me. And I've totally been part of the problem—just look back at some of my old posts from the Turtle Pie days. I was product obsessed.

I'm not saying I have no interest in anything that companies do. I'm still really into Apple, because Apple has so much impact on the work I do, and I admire the products. I enjoy following Apple.

But as for most everyday objects, I'm trying to simplify a bit. I've been shopping a lot more at MUJI since moving to NYC, which has a strong "no-brand" philosophy, meaning they don't slap their brand name all over everything they do.

I've gotten bottles and soap dispensers from MUJI to replace my kitchen lineup of gaudy soap bottles from Mrs. Meyers and Whole Foods.

Shopping at MUJI can be a little ironic sometimes, because even though they push the whole "no-brand" thing, we're so trained to obsess over products that sometimes I fall into the same trap admiring MUJI that I do with any other company. I think that will fade though once the MUJI shit in my life becomes less new and less of a novelty.

I'm still super passionate about branding—Lovably should make that obvious—but I think companies should choose wisely where they put their logo, especially if they care about the happiness of their customers. I think it can make a big difference difference.

Maybe I'm just insane. Either way, I'm seeing a lot fewer giant logos all over my home, and I like it.

Did any of that make sense?

Posted on November 23, 2015 .

The High Line, NYC (Fall 2015)


The High Line is a linear park in New York City on an elevated section of an out of service railroad line. It runs from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street in Hell's Kitchen.

I took a walk through the High Line on Wednesday, and took some photos to capture a bit of what it's like during the fall season. The weather was about 56º F, with visibility of 10 miles. If it weren't for all of the buildings, I'd be able to see all the way to W 190th Street in Harlem.

Posted on November 20, 2015 .

About the Future of Personal Computing


I've been a strong advocate of tablets as the future of personal computing for a while now. It actually goes all the way back to when I was in elementary school when I would etch user interfaces into the thin pages of my black marble notebooks, pretending that I had some sort of futuristic pen-controlled computer. Teachers would mock me when they saw what was in my notebooks. I clearly remember one teacher assistant looking down at me and saying all too loudly, "stop drawing boxes and start paying attention".

I dreamed of having a Microsoft tablet—the garbage old ones from the early 2000s that ran Windows XP—even though I was always a Mac nerd, and even at that age I should have known how shitty it would be in practice. Shitty or not, it definitely seemed like the future.

Fast-forward to the iPad, which I've had a somewhat complicated relationship with since its launch in 2010. I bought an iPad 2 in 2011 when they were first released, and I used that as my portable computer up until 2013. I had no money for a MacBook, so I made the most of that iPad, even though any laptop would have been much better suited for recording and demoing new music, writing blog posts, and performing at live shows.

I bought a MacBook Pro in 2013, and my usage of that iPad 2 completely dropped, so I sold it without too much thought. I bought an iPad mini 2 a few months later—thinking the smaller size would lend itself well to reading—but that didn't last, and I sold it in May 2014, after just 6 months of usage.

I didn't miss it at all. It's a testament to the utility and staying power of the Mac. iPads are nice, but Macs are necessary. I can't work without one, and I wouldn't even be in the music or design businesses if I wasn't given access to one when I was little.

Silly as I am, though, my tablet dreams came crawling back last February, when I bought an iPad Air 2, figuring I'd soon replace my MacBook Pro with an iMac for work, and embrace the iPad as my personal computer for just about everything outside of recording albums and doing intense design work.

The iPad Air 2 is technically a masterpiece. It's this insanely thin slab that contains the world's information. Information you can interact with and transform with your fingertips. It's a unique instrument—especially when paired with Samplr—and it really does feel like the future of personal computing.

Sometimes. Other times it just feels like a nascence. You could argue that's just because the software is still in its infancy, at five years old, and I would probably believe you.

I spent way too much of my free time last week in the Apple Store at Grand Central Terminal playing with the new iPad Pro. It's probably the most accurate realization of the tablet computer that I was dreaming of as a kid, and I strongly suspected that I would own one of these. I expected that with such a huge screen, and such a wide canvas for creation, my belief that the tablet is the future of personal computing would only be confirmed.

But I ended my week with a much different realization: the computer I want and, more importantly, need is not an iPad, but a MacBook.

The release of the iPad Pro actually made me step back from my strangely perverted childhood love for the tablet form factor, and gave me some more appreciation for a type of computer that isn't promised to be amazing, but has been amazing for a while.

I don't really work in the tech industry, I'm just interested in this stuff, so while I like to bet on which technologies I think are going to succeed and which are going to fail, it's not really my job to do so. I'd love to continue to stand up for tablets as the future, but I have the luxury of being a bystander and therefore able to change my mind.

If I were to put my iPad in a drawer for a month, I wouldn't really miss much of anything. But if I were to put my MacBook Pro in a drawer for a month, my business would likely crumble, and a bunch of my clients would definitely be pissed at me. I'm not saying that nobody can use only an iPad for work, but that I personally can't. I'm only making my life more complicated by trying to stand up for something that isn't working for me. The iPad Pro isn't going to change that, and after a few months of use, I can say that I find iOS 9's split view multitasking functionality hacky and confusing. It can't touch the desktop metaphor we've been used to on Mac and Windows.

Aside from work, the iPad sucks for lots of other things, too. Browsing the web on it is noticeably worse than doing so on a Mac. Sure, reading on the iPad is lovely, but as soon as you have to interact with anything on a webpage, it all goes to shit. Writing on it is obviously worse, though I'm sure a bunch of 'minimalist writers' will beg to differ. If you aren't a fan of the on-screen keyboard (I actually don't mind it on the 9.7" model), trying to strap some sort of shit sandwich bluetooth cover to it is nothing more than an annoyance.

Steve Jobs once said if you need a stylus, you've already failed. I say, if you need a physical keyboard to get real work done on a tablet, you've already failed, and what you're looking for is a laptop. You're just kidding yourself.

Anyway, I'm rambling at this point. I don't like to write about technology much anymore because it all feels so silly and materialistic. We're all lucky that we have any of these devices, they're all fucking incredible human accomplishments, and whatever works for you is what you should use. Personally, I'm done betting on the tablet, because as badly as I want it to work for me, it's just not.

I sold my iPad Air 2 a couple of days ago, and I plan to get a 12-inch MacBook when they update the processors. I'm really looking forward to that.

Posted on November 18, 2015 .

The Birds Will Borrow Wall Street


I'm making a new album—my fourth—and it's gonna be called "The Birds Will Borrow Wall Street".

I've been casually writing for it since February, and I'm planning to start up with a full-time recording schedule in January 2016. I've even picked a release date because I'm apparently nuts (hint: it's almost two years from now), but that date is likely to change based on how the recording process goes.

Unlike my last album, Claye, I'm only announcing the title today. Don't expect me to drop this thing tomorrow, or even a year from now, because I won't be. I've learned through experience that these projects take years of life-consuming, sometimes torturous work, and I'm not looking to rush any of it. Take comfort in knowing that you won't be hearing this album for a very long time. In the meantime, I'm documenting my process on Ego Hole, a government-provided insanity tube, which is always a fun read.

Honestly though, I'm so excited about this album. I've been out of the studio for over a year now, and it sucks. When I was in the final stretch of making Claye, I thought a lot about quitting music for a while after its release. I said that I didn't see doing another album because of how taxing it was, and I believed myself.

The truth is, I fucking love doing this.

I used to listen to Claye a ton, about a year ago, but I can rarely listen to it anymore without crying. And when nostalgia starts to eat you alive, that's a pretty good sign that it's time to forget about what you've done in the past and move onto whatever is next.

For everything that I hate about the music industry—and trust me, there's a lot that I hate about it—I have a huge love for making albums. Nothing I've ever done has been more difficult or rewarding. And as painful as it can be, this is something I need to do, and the day I stop thinking about the next album is going to be the day I'm dead. Even if only a handful of people listen, and I make barely enough money in one year to pay for one week's worth of food, I'm not going to stop, because I know that my best album doesn't exist yet.

So there you go: you now know the title of an album that won't be released for a while. Have fun with that information.

I really do appreciate those of you who followed along when I was making Claye, and those of you who I picked up afterwards. I genuinely hope that everyone sticks around for this one, it's gonna be good. I can't wait for you to hear the album, and thank you so much for just giving a shit about the stupid things I do.



Posted on October 15, 2015 .

Introducing Weekly Meal


Earlier this year, Samara told me about an idea she had to start cooking a handful of meals each week to deliver to homeless people in New York City. I immediately fell for the idea and started to think of ways that we could expand it. Ultimately, I wanted to make something that felt almost like a free restaurant-on-the-go that would be completely exclusive to the homeless. I wanted to make something that would help people feel cared for and included, rather than an afterthought.

Today, we're introducing Weekly Meal together, a not-for-profit project with a relatively simple goal:

We're making and hand-delivering fresh, healthy, and tasty meals to the homeless of New York City every Saturday evening.


In recent years, homelessness in New York City has reached the highest levels since the Great Depression. According to The Coalition for the Homeless, more than 116,000 homeless men, women, and children sleep in the New York City municipal shelter system, and thousands more sleep on the streets each night. With rising rents and an overall lack of affordable housing—the primary cause of homelessness—these numbers are likely to become even more depressing in the coming years.

There are so many problems to solve here, and the situation is far too complex for anybody to simply 'fix' it. Like many New Yorkers, we sometimes buy food for people on the streets from nearby shops and restaurants. We feel like we can do better than that, though. We had the idea to make and deliver dinner to up to twenty people on the streets every week. All of the meals will be home-cooked, fresh, and healthy. We'll be packaging each meal in beautiful, recyclable custom wrapping, along with a hand-written note. Way more personal than fast food.

On top of that, we realized that we had the potential to impact over 3x the number of people if we made the meals ourselves, rather than buying them pre-made. For example, one really good, really healthy sandwich bought from a restaurant costs $10. One really good, really healthy sandwiches that we make ourselves with all of the same ingredients costs just $2.25.

What we're doing here is really small, but it's an improvement over what we were doing before. There are an unbelievable number of humans in NYC who need help, and it would be foolish to think that twenty meals a week will solve the major problems. We're trying to brighten the nights of twenty strangers every week, even if it's just a tiny drop in the bucket.


We're planning to start delivering meals to people in February 2016, assuming we can find an apartment in the city for ourselves by then (fingers crossed!).

To learn more about the project, you can visit our website, weeklymeal.org.

I copied-and-pasted a lot of the homepage for this post, but there's certainly more to read over there—including a menu with all of the yummy meals we'll be making—so I'd love for you to check it out if you find some free time.

As always, thank you so much for coming along for the ride.

Posted on September 29, 2015 .