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  • Talon Stradley

S1E6 - State of the Collective

Hello, and welcome to Newton’s Dark Room Presents. Folks, today is a special day for all of us here at Newton’s Dark Room. It is our one year anniversary since we went public to the world! Exactly 365 days ago, we had our debut performance at Cafe Sevilla in downtown Long Beach, California. It has been an incredible year.

Now, this may be our one year anniversary for going public, but Newton’s Dark Room as a collective has existed for hundreds of years now.

Every year, on February 20th, we give a State of the Collective. This serves as a recap for past years, a recognition of member’s accomplishments, and a brief look into the future of the collective.

While we have done this for many years, this is the first time it will be recorded and broadcasted to the public. So, without further ado, the 2019 State of the Collective. *Ahem*

Dear friends, chosen family, fellow artists, robots, space beings, cults, caretakers, interns, small orbed creatures, and Rex, the Exterminator who isn’t really a member of this collective but is here for the speech because he is still hunting rogue rumbas that infested our home, this has been quite the year.

On this date, one year ago, we performed our first three morceaux at Cafe Sevilla. Let’s give a round of applause to Sumpra Pepnia, Crash, the Cosmic Crackshot, Jack the intern, and everyone else who contributed lyrically or musically to that first performance.


We performed a lot this last year. After Cafe Sevilla we had our show at Rebel Bite which was followed by the Bring Your Own Chair Backyard Concert that we hosted last June. As I’m sure everyone remembered, that was a memorable show that ended with a big jam session of fans and musicians alike just playing whatever instrument they wanted. Truly, the way music was meant to be played. Let’s give a round of applause to our neighbors on the mainland for putting up with that.


The Backyard Concert was especially special because soon after that, we released our first batch of recorded music. First, we had Pepnia, the story of a group of kids escaping to an island filled with artists, written by none other than Sumpra Pepnia. We also released both Crash, and Eat a Rainbow, reimaginings of Crash’s original compositions by our resident in-house Artificial Intelligence, AI 4-82. These three EP’s did a fantastic job or introducing our art to the world. Thank you for that.

Following those releases, we played shows at The Prospector, Portfolio Coffee House, and 4th Street Vine with artists like Fellow Robot, DCHAV, Sofa City Sweetheart, La Troienne, Shiro, and so many others. Let’s give a warm round of applause to everyone who played alongside us this last year.


Let’s not forget our wonderful Calisland Caretakers who recorded such a beautiful, intimate record while we were all away. You’d think I’d know this by now, but sometimes the best of art is in the most unexpected places.

Finally, we had our New Year’s release, Found Voice Calling. This was a personal song for me and it would not have been possible without the help of everyone here who helped me get that off the ground. Sincerely, thank you. And thank you to Sophie Rivera and the Cult of the False Morning Sun for their fantastic job on the music video. You have truly helped bring us into the modern age.

Throughout last year we released some of your stories and lives on our podcast feed, Newton’s Dark Room presents. We also had guest spots on other podcasts like The Psychic Wave and Bundy the Podcast. Another thanks to them, who supported us back when we barely had anything to support.

All in all, we released 24 songs last year, played 7 shows, and released 8 podcast episodes. We also set up the infrastructure for our Newton’s Dark Room. The websites, podcast feeds, the day to day things that make all of this possible.

Now that’s what we’ve been up to, but let’s take a look forward. As I’m sure you are aware, last year had a major focus on music. This year, our plan is to be more podcast focused.

Our first step will be monthly updates. Like we did in January, this year we will be releasing an update to the public every month to let them know what is going on out here on Calisland and what we are working on. That will be released on the Newton’s Dark Room Presents podcast feed.

Also coming to that same feed later in the spring, is our first ever venture into Audio Fiction. I don’t want to give too much away for the people listening at home, especially while it is still in development, but we have officially entered production for that. We will be releasing five episodes, likely in April, and we are beyond excited.

We also have our first venture into Non-fiction podcasts. We are working with the new public radio station KLBP to highlight local musicians and the effort they put into their music. We are still working with KLBP on that, but that show will premiere on it’s on podcast feed and on the radio in the near future. For those listening at home, we will send out an update episode as soon as that is off the ground.

And that is everything that is in production. I know many of you are continuing work on writing and preparing new pieces and content for the future. I cannot wait to hear what you create and I cannot wait to share it with the world.

Thank you, once again, for everything you all have done. This has been an incredible year and we look forward to many successful years to come.


That was our State of the Collective but we’ve been up to more than just giving a speech. We’ll get to that in a second, but first, let me tell you about our twitter. For those who don’t know, we have a twitter! @newtonsdarkroom. Here, you can find out about what we are working on, chat with the curator, and hear all about the podcasts we’ve been listening to. We just started actively using it in the last couple of months, so go check that and give us a follow! You can find us on all social media @newtonsdarkroom.

Ok, now back to the update.

We tried something different during the first week of February. As some of you may know, the weather has been… interesting this winter. Really, really interesting. And by interesting, I mean horrifying, absolutely horrifying.

Luckily, we live over on Calisland, just off the coast of Southern California. This meant that we didn’t have to deal with subzero temperatures like the rest of the country, we just had rain. While we are grateful that was the worst we got, we also aren’t huge fans of the rain. in order to get to the mainland we have to take our own ferry which gets very choppy during a storm. Plus, it doesn’t have any cover so you just get soaked.

Rain has an effect that makes everything seem more cozy. Blankets are much more comfortable when it’s raining. Windows are also really great, we don’t appreciate windows enough. The point is that it can be difficult to stay focused in the rain. So we decided to challenge ourselves. We tried to see how productive we could be without ever getting out of bed. It was the perfect plan, you get to get stuff done and you get to be cozy.

The problem with perfect plans is that they probably aren’t perfect in practice.

For some people, this worked fine. We have some writers working on future projects and they just sat in bed and typed, easy enough. I’m currently working alongside Sumpra Pepina for a new non-fiction podcast we are producing alongside the new Long Beach Public radio station KLBP. We had set aside the day for editing, which is probably the easiest part of the process to do from bed. The biggest problem was communicating while we edited. She ended up setting up a camcorder above her shoulder looking down at her editing apparatus. She’d make some edits, play the piece, record it all, take out the tape, and just chuck down the hallway. Luckily my room was at the end so she didn’t need to worry about precise aiming. If she missed, I would grab my souvenir plastic chomping dinosaur toy I got from the natural history museum and picked it up. Then, I watched the tape, saw her amazing work, and shouted back my thoughts.

It was inefficient, but we were able to get the editing done.

The people who took it the hardest were the musicians. We have a couple bands tracking for new releases and this day hit them hard. Recording equipment is difficult enough to manage in a studio, let alone in a bed. And it is near impossible for a band to record a song all at once when each member is in a different beds in different rooms. I don’t think we’ll be hearing any of those bed tracks anytime soon…

The rain also caused unforeseen damages to our in-house Artificial Intelligence, AI 4-82. Normally the shed out back does a decent job of protecting the hulking, wire system that houses our AI, but there was a leak. And lots of sparks. Thankfully there wasn’t a fire, you know because of the rain, but the caretakers did have to spend their day making repairs. Bless their hearts, they were the only people who didn’t get to stay in bed. We do not pay them enough.

All in all, the day was… mostly a success. We got a decent amount of stuff down and we also stayed warm and comfortable. If nothing else, the challenge helped to bring the collective together.

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