I started releasing music as “Grey” in 2018 and for the first time in a long time, I was making music that I wanted to listen to. It felt special and it felt right. Prior to releasing as “Grey”, I would spend countless hours working on tracks that no one would ever get to hear. While I had other projects over the years, even a few I was proud of, I never had a genuine platform for releasing this new music. This new music was unique from music I’d made or contributed to in prior years and with bands I’d been in. I’d send tracks to friends and family, listen to them on the bus, and share with people when music came up in conversation. That was the extent of it.
I’m not sure exactly why, but in 2018 something changed. I had amassed an album’s worth of songs I was happy with and decided to take the plunge and release my first solo album. So I signed up with a distributor and pushed my music out into the world in the form of a self-titled album called “Grey.” I didn’t fuss about my name, assuming the only people who would ever hear this album were my close friends and family so I just decided to use my actual name, Grey, and left it at that. The album was a 13-track clusterfuck of weird hip-hop beats, trance music, and an anime theme song remix. It was experimental for me and it was fun.
Two years later I found myself with a small following and a respectable catalog, something around 300 monthly listeners, 4 albums (2 of which I was incredibly proud of), and a few singles. There’s an incredible sense of pride gained from putting your creative work out into the universe and I had never truly experienced it until this point. Inspired now, I started thinking about doing live gigs, what gear I might need, what kind of show I could put on, and how people might respond. I started fleshing out my last album, Eidolon, in Ableton Live in preparation for some kind of live performance and I was starting to get excited.
Then I received a letter from a big shot LA law firm representing a “Duo Artists of a Similar Name” notifying me that I was in violation of their trademark of the name “Grey.” Needless to say here, as it was said at length here, all my plans were brought to a grinding and screeching halt. Quite suddenly everything I had put my heart and soul into was simply…. gone. Poof. Vanished. Like Grey never even existed in the first place. I was devastated.
No one ever said it was easy to pull your damn socks up and get back to it, but it sure helps when people have your back. Digient Collective had my back from the very first moment and Ben quickly started discussing strategy and concepts with me, inspiring me and helping me to see this as something of a creative gift that I only need to take advantage of. Once I dried my eyes I considered re-releasing everything under a new artist name, but that, all of that, just felt wrong somehow. “Grey” had died but this didn’t have to be a horrible thing. Sure, it’s a shame that my body of work was entirely removed from the streaming platforms, but at the same time I always felt like this issue with my name was going to happen. I was not the only Grey, and surely others received similar letters. So now I’m presented with this beautiful opportunity, a gift even, to reinvent myself and take what I’ve learned over the years and apply it to something new and fresh. All those times that I said to myself, “if I could go back I would do x differently…” now I have that chance, a clean canvas, a completely fresh start. OK maybe not completely fresh because I have a few things going for me. I have a vision and direction for what I want my music to be about and it’s clearer than ever. I’m also dialing-into a sound that is uniquely mine with a budding fanbase, as well as the support of Digient Collective. I also have new music. So only a new name remains, and this is my least favorite part of the creative process: naming things.
My new artist name should do a few things. First, it needs to be unique. I didn’t want this trademark thing to happen again. Second, it needs to be clean, memorable and simple. And last, it needs to fit well amongst those that I would strive to compare myself to, artists like Max Cooper, Rival Consoles, John Hopkins, Boards of Canada to name a few. I also had to decide whether or not to release Grey’s back catalog under this new name, but something felt wrong about that. The albums that I had poured my soul into, like “Goodnight, Universe” and “Eidolon,” don’t deserve to be repurposed, as important as they are to me. These projects were like chapters of my life and each song meant something very real, whether it was something I had experienced or a point I wanted to make at the time, not unlike pages in a journal. It just felt wrong to flip through the pages of the past.
To me, one of the most beautiful realities of life is that everything ends. Nothing will be here forever and my art is no exception. So I embrace the destruction to create something new from those ashes.
Before this trademark debacle began I had just put out Saucer, my first single on Digient Collective, accompanied by some amazing audio-reactive visuals from Digient co-conspirator Akenbak. And a couple weeks later, when I received the legal notice about the trademark, Digient Collective was about to release Canal Street, another Grey single that had special meaning to me. Despite the legal mess and headaches, I was really pleased with the way DC was handling these releases and the headaches, and supporting me as well as helping me decide how best to turn the page while respecting my ideas and decisions. Digient gives me time back that I might not have otherwise, time to focus on creating. So I began narrowing down a list of names while also working on a strong track to come back with, with some new analog gear and a renewed sense of focus. I started putting down a new track but the song almost wrote itself. It felt so pure and natural to be working this way, to be able to focus on a new sound that I’ve been seeking, but without the confines of my back catalog weighing me down.
So here we are, at the start again, with my debut single as Daze Gates. I call it Axiomatic. Here I’ve made something that I’m incredibly proud of and furthermore it’s been perfected by a team of talented people at Digient Collective. I hope you all like Axiomatic as much as I do and I hope you’ll stick around to see what comes next from me, Daze Dates.
With all my love and deepest appreciation
Axiomatic officially releases 9 October 2020, with pre-release starting 2 October. Sign up for the Digient Collective newsletter below for a free audiophile download before release, and listen to Axiomatic exclusively on the official release page here where you can also pre-save it to Spotify or Apple Music.