On the internet waves this week…

It seems that the promo for Becoming is starting to make a couple tentative tricklings-down from out of that mysterious, nebulous expanse otherwise know as the music media. I’m sure that people who are cooler than I am would never admit to the small joy that comes with being featured on an independent pop broadcast from Valencia, but I am not one of them. So here the couple things that popped up this week:

A while ago, and I mean a whiiiiiile (because this was planned for the launch of my album when my album was still expect to be ready earlier this year) I had a fat old chat to Floris Groenewald for his podcast The Flow. Floris has honed his skills of getting to talk about themselves and I was a willing subject… https://iono.fm/e/497462#

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I also have a song on the afore hinted at Toxicosmos – an independent pop show out of Valencia and broadcast around Spain and the internet…http://gb.ivoox.com/en/21766196

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And that is that. Happy Saturday morning everyone! And don’t, like me, take your eyes off the milk for your wife’s coffee when it is warming up on the stove.

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Untitled (a music video)

A while back I was chatting to Julien, my press/media guy, about which song would be good to lead with for the new album. While, in my little corner of the music world, I don’t think that it is necessary to release a ‘single’ or anything like that, it does still seem like a good idea to have a song which you can focus on in the beginning. Julien suggested the song Untitled, reasons being that it comes in at under 3 minutes, which is perfect for radio, and it was also the song that he had gone back to for repeat listens when he first listened to Becoming. And, if possible, could I make a music video for it?

Now I have a fairly undistinguished history of making music videos. Aside from the ones I make at home, any attempts at making a music video have always ended up without a music video. The Road, On My Own and my cover of Nirvana’s Something In The Way all had a start, with footage being shot and animations being developed. Then they all fizzled out in the face of, I dunno, life, the universe and everything.

This time was to be no different. The only thing I can say from my initial attempts to make a video for Untitled is that at least we didn’t actually do anything. Any wasted effort was contained to a single discussion over a very nice pizza and a single cancelled shoot date. But I was still left needing a video and so after some contemplation, and a friendly check-in from Julien about how this was coming along, I came upon the idea of revisiting something that I had made a few years ago.

When I visited Berlin for the first time, I was obviously taking a lot of photos on my phone and eventually saving them on my computer. One day, when scrolling through these saved images, I noticed that when you went through them all quickly in succession they made a really cool kind of stop-motion movie . So I cranked up Movie Maker and started importing photos and by the end of my trip, using my song Seasons as the soundtrack, I had a really cool slide-show-slash-music-video.

It has been more than three years since that first trip to Berlin (crazy!) and I reckoned I had enough photos to try make a similar video for Untitled. Did I ever, 13000 of them. It took me a couple of days to go through them all, pulling out sequences that I thought would work. That left me with about 4000 which, over the next few days, I whittled down into something that made at least a little bit of narrative sense (using Adobe Premiere, of course, because I am now a pro). Finally, with some very helpful feedback from my friend, the intrepid journalist and budding documentary maker, Helene Dancer, I rounded it off and stuck it up on YouTube.

The end result is, I think, is a great snapshot of my last few years and it gives a sense, in some way, of the distance that I have travelled. And in  I think it also fits quite snuggly with the themes of the song itself. So take a look…

 

And here is the video for Seasons, the prequel if you will…

All The Swedish Things

It’s not every day that this happens! The Swedish artist Lar Bylund just made a suuuuper cool cover of my song All The Things. He got in contact with me through Reddit after I posted my All The Things (live in the kitchen) video and asked if I’d mind if he recorded a version of the song. The result is an awesome, languid rendition with a voice that would fit very nicely alongside the like of Chris Isaac, Del Shannon or Lee Hazlewood.

You can find out more about Lars here.

Album is done :)!

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After three years of work, my new album is complete! It is called Becoming and will be officially released on 10 November. Even though it felt like each stage of the recording, mixing and mastering took longer than expected it has been a really great experience. I learned a lot and I think (I hope!) I progressed as a musician and self-producer. Now it is just a matter of looking forward to the response. ARGH!! THE RESPONSE!! I say am looking forward to it but of course I am also quite terrified that no one will like it or, probably even worse, that no one will even notice. The joys of trying to be an artist, musician, human being, etc.

Below is Becoming’s opening track. It is called The Days of Our Lives. Yup, just like the soap opera. I suppose I could have called it something else but when a name sticks, it sticks. It is a thing to try and decide which is the right song to send out first but as this one was invariably the first track I would play for any friends who visited during the recording it is seems a fitting introduction.

Practice time!!

practive setup

With my album just about done it is time to start learning all the songs. There are quite a few different parts on the recordings and I have been trying to figure out how I can include them in my live show. The drum and atmospheric parts in particular are really hard to reproduce live. I’ve been doing some research into including a sampler in my live setup and I eventually settled on using a Launchpad Mini (the square grid of buttons that you can see in the pic).

The Launchpad is designed as a controller for Ableton, which is the audio software that I used to the recording my album. You can set up various clips within the software and then trigger them via the buttons on the Launchpad. The trickiest part so far was trying to get the software to speak to my loop station so that everything would playing be in time. After a couple days of googling and experimenting I finally figured it out. Now it is just the small matter of piecing all the songs together: figuring out what I am going to play and when, what buttons need to pushed and in what order and then trying to do it all without falling over. Once I have got the general structure of a song down I will practice it over and over again, recording my performances and tweaking the sounds and settings so that everything is just right.

With the official album launch on November 10, I am hoping to have the album ready to perform in entirety for a release party on 9 November. Wish me luck!!

All The Things, live in my kitchen with a special guest.

I made this video over the last week or so for my song All The Things.

I have started making a few live-at-home videos so that I can give people, venues in particular, an idea of my performance with the looping, etc. The first two I made were for The Road and for Seasons but then I started to think that too many videos in exactly the same location might get a bit boring. So I put my mind to coming up with something else.

The shoot obviously took a bit of planning. The basic idea was that I would perform the guitar and vocals separately and only use half the frame of each take, layering them one of top of the other. I first shot the guitar scene and then immediately after the vocals. I would keep the camera (on my phone) rolling so as not to bump anything.

One of the most important things was to get the timing right of when the two versions of me would be coming into the scene and interacting with each other. Because I am playing to click-track, it was easy enough to get the timing of my performance right (although I did make quite a few mistakes along the way in terms of when I am singing or playing) but I really had to count the seconds in my head so I could know roughly where the other version of me would be at any moment in order for the interactions to be as natural as possible.

Next, I had to know where the line dividing the room was so that I didn’t end up cutting off an arm or part of my head when walking in and out of the room (this happened a few times too). Finally, I had to shoot at night so that I would have maximum control of the lighting as any shadows falling across the dividing line, or movement from outside, would ruin the effect. Being in late European summer this meant that I was starting to shoot quite late at night and because my computer takes a while to process the footage I could only really do one complete take a night. I would then only find out the next day if everything had gone as planned. In the end it took three full shoots and edits to get it done properly.

Take a listen to the original recording of All The Things on Spotify or Bandcamp.

EuroSpring Tour Dates

It’s been a bit quiet on the ol’ blog front lately so this is just a quick announcement to say that I will be heading off to Europe next week for a quick little tour. I will be mostly in Berlin and Munich in Germany but I also have a few shows in France, Belgium and The Netherlands. All the dates are below and you or any of your pals are in the various areas, please send yourselves or them round.
14/4/2016- Artliners – Berlin, Germany
16/4/2016 – Kallasch& – Berlin, Germany
17/4/2016 – EXIL Cafe – Chemitz, Germany
18/4/2016 – Ofen Bar – Berlin, Germany
19/4/2016 – Kyeso Musikbar – Munich, Germany
20/4/2016 – Shamrock Irish Pub – Munich, Germany
21/4/2016 – Cafe Bar Mellow – Munich, Germany
22/4/2016 – Champions Bar – Munich, Germany
23/4/2016 – Euro Youth Hotel – Munich, Germany
25/4/2016 – Le Local – Strasbourg, France
26/4/2016 – Le Discobole – Colmar, France
28/4/2016 – La Porte Noire – Brussels, Belgium
29/4/2016 – Noorderlicht – Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Also, big big thanks to Dominik Hruby from Compact Collective for his major efforts in putting the Munich section of the tour together.