This is more the story of how I met Ruby Cassidy, aka “Mystica,” from the Philippines, but I will also be including info on the recording of our album, with main focus on one of the 8 tracks that we wrote and recorded, titled, “The World Will Need You.”
While I am using Ruby’s real name, some other names will be either changed or omitted to protect others; some innocent, some not.
For all of my struggles, my life was seemingly going not only nowhere, but maybe swirling down the drain. I had failed at leaving my girlfriend. She poked holes in my condoms, she ended up pregnant, and I was forced into fatherhood against my will.
At the time, I was also going through a great deal of abuse from my main boss, Mark, at Watson Wyatt Worldwide, where I worked as an Administrative Assistant. Most of it was comments about how, “a REAL man would not be doing a woman’s job.” Real class act.
So after work, on my way home to West LA from Sherman Oaks, I would stop at the fringes of Santa Monica to a little club known as Fantasy Island. This club served alcohol and had exotic dancers. Because alcohol was being served, the dancers had to remain clothed.
The club was dark, the music was good, and it was nice to get attention from a pretty lady, even if I had to pay for it, before going home to the yelling and violence that became a mainstay of my future ex-wife’s life.
For anyone wondering, yes I eventually got out of there and away from her in late 1998. But I digress.
THAT FATEFUL NIGHT
I was there one night, just having a drink and watching dancers. At one point, I had looked down and saw the man who plays the magical dwarf of Twin Peaks, hanging out and having a good time. I considered it an omen of sorts, but good or bad have yet to be seen.
That’s when a young, 28 year old woman named Ruby approached me and asked me if I wanted a dance. I agreed, so we went to the benches where the guys would sit down, and the ladies dance in front of them. There is a clear NO TOUCHING policy, so nothing wacky was going on.
She seemed nice enough. But I was there to forget my horrible life, so I didn’t put much thought into anything.
After the first dance, she offered me a free second one, so I took it. Money was tight, and I had a very small budget that was just enough for a beer or two, or a dance or two. I wasn’t going broke.
When that dance ended, she sat down and decided that she wanted to talk to me. Okay, fine.
“So, what do you do?”
This is a horrible question for a man to hear, when he’s working as an Administrative Assistant. I didn’t want to talk bout that, and I was really uninterested in allowing the hard reality of my life into this fantasy world.
“I’m a musician.”
She got excited and asked me what I played. I rattled off all the instruments and noted that I’m a songwriter as well.
She told me that she was looking for a musician to write for her album, and asked me for my number. I wrote down my name and number for her before leaving.
Outside the club’s front door, I told myself that it was just another bullshit thing, and nobody is calling me to write music.
THE NEXT DAY
I had barely been awake for a few short hours, when I got a phone call. It was Ruby, asking if she could come over to talk about her music project.
I agreed that we could talk and that we could get together any time in the morning. I didn’t want my whole day tied up waiting for someone.
She came over immediately and brought her lawyer along with her. His name was Rob* and he was a big-shot politician in Canada. They both were asking me questions about my past and current musical endeavours.
At one point, Ruby perked up and asked me a question after I told them that I played guitar. “Do you play electric, or acoustic?” Except, she couldn’t pronounce “acoustic” properly, so it instead sounded like “aqua stick.”
I thought that pronunciation was cute and we moved on. Remember this rather innocuous detail for way later.
While there was no contract signing, we agreed to work together and we got started right away. This would not be the first or last time that I made the mistake of starting work based on nothing more than a handshake.
THE WORLD WILL NEED YOU
I was in my upstairs home studio, playing chords on my home-made guitar and looking for something. Instead of thinking of chord names, I focused on patterns on the neck.
Suddenly, I came up with something that was interesting, at least to me.
Most pop/rock songs will have things in sets of 4. The verse may have four measures, or TWO sets of four measures.
With this song, I had two sets of THREE measures. This gave it an odd feel that was different from having a time signature that is not 4/4.
The verse and intro wrote themselves right there. The chorus was inspired by music I had been listening to while driving somewhere earlier that morning, which was “Women in Love” by Van Halen. That song inspired the overall feel of the song as well.
I called Ruby and told her that I would have a song ready for her to hear in about 20 minutes. She started writing lyrics, and I began recording the drum machine, bass, and a rhythm track on the 4-track. I left the fourth track open to record our rehearsal run-through.
Just as I finished up work on the 4-track, she ran upstairs with paper and pen. I played the tape for her once, and she made some notes on her paper.
After that, I set up the video camera, hit RECORD on the 4-track, and we ran through the song for the first time. She put her lyric sheet on my hi-hats and we ran through the song for the first time.
The above clip demonstrates a comparison between the first run-through and the final product. In this video, when I am visible, you can see my home-made guitar.
It was an exciting moment, for we felt that we had worked up our flagship song.
We laid back on a futon and played the song again on the speaker system. She said, “That song is so beautiful, I could make love to it right now.”
I replied, “Yea, it’s pretty good.” Her pass at me went completely over my head. So she had me drive her Corvette and instructed me to park at a seedy motel. There, she proceed to clunk me over the head with what she meant earlier. I will leave it at that.
THE RECORDING STUDIO
Once we had 8 songs together, Ruby found a studio in Hollywood, where we would end up going to record. It was Cazador in Hollywood, run by producer and drummer Jimmy Hunter.
We sat with him as he listened to our demos. He said, “That sounds too much like Lita Ford. You can’t get arrested as Lita Ford these days.” He basically told us that our demos were dated. He would later produce it to have a very 80s sound, so his critiques were odd.
Ruby was paying for everything. She would usually make good money at Fantasy Island. Her boyfriend, Rob*, would give her an allowance of about $30,000 per month. He also provided the Corvette. But she was also seeing the CEO of a company at this time, and he was paying her $40,000 per month to pay him a visit on occasion.
Money was no issue, and this album was going to sound great!
MY FAVORITE MOMENT
Two studio musicians were hired to perform on the album. We had the late Bobby Birch, of Elton John fame, on bass. This was not too long after his tragic accident that ended up destroying him. He was a trooper.
We also had Steve Caton, of Tori Amos fame, taking on the lead guitar duties, as well as some rhythm. If you need a primer on Steve’s past work, here’s the song where he shows his more abstract lead guitar work.
We were about to record another song, “It Must Have Been Good,” when Steve told Jimmy, “I know that Dan is the songwriter and all, but I think he should be represented as a player on the album.”
Jimmy fought the idea and eventually agreed, saying, “Okay, but he has to play your guitar. His home-made guitar looks like shit.” Steve fought back, noting that if we used different guitars, then we’d sound more like a band.
It was Steve’s thinking that got my home-made guitar on the album, and his thoughtful argument that I be represented as a player. He was a paid performer and had NO obligation or duty, and he stood up for me.
I am forever grateful for Steve’s defense.
You can hear my guitar in the intro of the song.
As you can tell, my guitar sounded just fine.
A WEIRD TURN OF EVENTS
Once the album mastering was done, Ruby asked Jimmy if she could “borrow” the master tape. He agreed and let her take it, which is something he would not normally do. My only guess is that she clunked him over the head in the same way as me, if you get my drift.
She then decided that she would NOT be crediting him as the producer on the album. He had said something about her “reneging” on their deal. She would list him on the album as “The Mystic Renegade.”
She also chose a really tacky picture of herself to serve as the album cover. To be completely frank, I felt that it was a horrible choice and most uncalled for as front-facing public artwork. I’m no prude, but even I had the understanding that this might alienate some potential listeners.
She had the CDs and tapes produced, and they looked VERY professional, other than the art work. She had also purchased a list of all of the record labels out there where we could send these.
We spent the entire night packing up Overnight Fed Ex envelopes with CDs, photos, and a cover letter. She probably spent $20,000 doing this.
We called all of the labels after the packages had been delivered, and they all said the same thing. They do not accept unsolicited materials, and all unsolicited materials get thrown in the trash.
A BIRTHDAY GIFT
Ruby decided that she wanted to do something special for my birthday, so we went to a photographer and had some photos taken together.
I really don’t know what is more cheesy, between her genie outfit and my ponytail. There is nothing more 90s to me than these photos.
My son’s mother wasn’t too happy about these photos. But her unhappiness was about to be turned into eyes full of greed.
AN INDECENT PROPOSAL
Ruby and Rob* told us that they wanted to become US citizens. They were both Canadian citizens. She had achieved her Canadian citizenship by marrying a wealthy man in Canada.
Their offer, to the point, was that Rob* would marry my son’s mother, and I would marry Ruby. We would have houses next to one another, which he would pay for. He would also give us a monthly salary of $6,000 each.
Free rent and money?
This got my son’s mother very excited. However, I was terrified of the idea, because this is basically defrauding the government. I told my son’s mother that there was no way in hell that we could do this. She eventually gave in.
TOP OF THE WORLD, BOTTOM OF THE BARREL
I had gone back to Fantasy Island, and found that the DJ was playing one of the songs from our album, aptly titled, “Fantasy Island.”
The club owner, Dennis Morgan, loved the song! When he found out that I wrote the music, he was giving me all kinds of “Fantasy Bucks” to spend at the club. I could basically say whatever I wanted, and it would be given to me.
There was even one time where this dancer broke down crying during our dance. She told me that she hated dancing, that she couldn’t do it, and she had to get high to go to work. So I went and talked to Dennis about the idea of having her be one of a team of “cocktail girls” who go around bringing drinks to people.
He loved the idea and took her off the dance floor immediately. The next time I saw her, she was dressed in a half-tuxedo feminine outfit. She was sober, smiling, and very happy. She thanked me, declaring that I not only saved her job, but also saved her life.
This was the kind of power that I had, having written a song that was being played in the club, as well as late-night television commercials.
The world was my oyster. But the oyster was about to get pearl-jacked.
Her boyfriend, Rob*, called me to say that he was bummed that we wouldn’t be able to do their marriage/citizenship thing. I told him that I was really sorry that we couldn’t do that, but that their offer would certainly be able to attract someone who could do this for them.
He changed the subject to talk about Ruby. I told him that I liked working with her. He asked me if there were any moments that stood out as an example of why I liked her.
I told him about the day that she and he came over to my apartment. I said that I found it very endearing how she pronounced “acoustic” as “aqua stick.”
He suddenly said that he had to go, and we hung up. 20 second later, the phone rang again. It was Ruby.
“I heard what you said about me. The ‘aqua stick’ thing. You think I’m stupid? YOU THINK I’M STUPID? I’m NOT stupid! This is the end. We are DONE!”
She hung up the phone.
I was shocked. What just happened? I didn’t say anything mean, and I wasn’t talking down about her.
I had to sit and accept the harsh reality that these people are Narcissistic criminals who only care about themselves and who take whatever they want. Ruby and Rob* weren’t really my friends. They didn’t care about me or my situation.
Had my son’s mother and I taken the up on their marriage/citizenship deal, they would have thrown us under a bus factory. They would have blamed us. And they had money for lawyers. I barely had money for anything beyond home expenses and a few beers at a club.
Needless to say, but I never went back to Fantasy Island again after that remark.
SHOPPING THE CD
I gave it to several people to listen, including music producer Max Norman. I even took it to a music industry event that attendees called “The Concrete Convention.” It normally cost something like $475 to attend, but Megadeth drummer Nick Menza got me in for free. He was a true bro.
I went to this one room, where demos would be evaluated by a panel. There were three people on the panel, and one of them was Simon Cowell. He was using this venue to do a test run to fine-tune his idea for American Idol.
People threw their CDs into a pile. They played the first CD for under ten seconds before stopping it. “Who is responsible for this? A man stood up, and they proceeded to grill him in front of everyone.
At this point, I didn’t want mine to be picked. But eventually, it happened. They listened for almost a full minute before stopping it and asking for the creator to stand. I stood.
Simon said, “Money is obviously no object for you, because this is the most well-produced thing that I’ve heard in this setting.”
He asked me about the band, and I told him that we didn’t have a full band yet; that it was just me, the singer, and some studio musicians.
Then, given the context of American Idol, which is singers with no band, he said the strangest thing to me.
“If there is no band, then what’s the point?” I argued that we made a pro recording so that we could attract and retain top-notch talent for the band. This was a quick and acceptable answer, but I was smart in avoiding telling him the truth about the drama.
Besides, I didn’t care about anything more than getting professional evaluations and opinions. And I got one.
I ran into Simon in the parking lot, and he apologized for being so aggressive. We shook hands and went about our separate ways.
The day, so far as I was concerned, was a success.
Once I got my professional critique and validation, I considered the project closed. Done. Finished. There would be no more. It would be years before I could listen to the songs again.
Ruby would go back to the Philippines with the master tape and all of her money, to start building her entertainment/drama empire. She would re-work the songs to be more club-themed. Basically, using the vocal track over a weird beat with sirens in the background. It sounded like shit.
I would be left with a professional reel of my work, along with some hard feelings and horrible lessons learned.
I spent the longest time wondering why Ruby would rip me off like that and hurt me in the process. Over time, I came to realize that this is just the kind of person she is, and there is no way to change any of it. There would be no making up or fixing anything.
I never got paid any cash. Maybe she thought that sex was payment enough, but it really wasn’t.
These days, she’s still an “entertainer,” although more along the lines of someone you might see as a guest on Jerry Springer. In some of her latest videos, she begs for money and cries. Her videos get massive down-votes. It seems that being young and pathetic fools people way more than being old and still pathetic.
The above video was posted just two hours ago. I picked it because it is new and it has no crying. It says in Tagalog, “WE THANK FACEMASK BECAUSE WE ALL LOOK THE SAME AND THE SAME BEAUTIFUL! HAHAHA!”
She is very self-conscious about her looks and the damage caused by aging.
IN THE END
Once we had started working together, I felt that we could have been a good music writing team. It could have turned into a solid enterprise.
However, she wasn’t in it for the long haul, and abhors the work that it takes to record an album. So she took the easy way out.
If she is reading this, then she might not be too happy about this and may even ask me to take it down. One of the things that I write about is my own experiences. If she doesn’t like that she looks bad in my story, then she should have thought of that before belittling me and ripping me off.
I would delete this if she paid me for my work, but only after that. I would say that my work on that album was worth US$20,000 at the time, and I would accept that amount today, without interest or inflation.
So if you don’t like this, Ruby, then pay me and I’ll remove the ugly details from the story. Until then, I will never omit the truth about how I was treated. And, for the record, I thought that she was better than all of this. In this regard, I hate being wrong.
Chances are VERY slim that she won’t read this, so it’s mostly a non-issue.
Still, I have a professional reel of my work, and a few lessons learned.
As far as lessons go, I have an old acoustic guitar that I have named “Aqua Stick,” as a reminder that there are horrible people out there who will cause harm to anyone if it works in their favor.
I also happened across a tape that is still wrapped in plastic. It’s the only physical piece of media that I have left from this project from 1997.
Beyond that, I have what I thought were good memories, sullied by the horrific nature of the reality of the situation.
It’s the kind of memory where I am glad it happened, and I also regret that it happened. I suppose this conundrum would prompt a smile from Kierkegaard.
I have TWO more things to end this, for you. The album is available on SoundCloud for free streaming, and you can do that HERE.
The last thing is this video, which is bittersweet. The video is from the first time we ran through the song, recording it to the 4-track. However, the audio is from the album; the final product.
It was kind of easy to sync up, since we kept the same tempo. There was one part in the middle that was written in-studio, so you’ll notice that there is no proper video to sync up with that part.
In the end, even though I got taken for a ride, as is usually the case in the life of an Autistic person, I am still very proud of the work I put into this, as the songwriter, guitarist, and production supervisor.
Thanks for listening, watching, and reading.