Thursday, 30 May 2013

If only I could create an album with some PVA glue and a toilet roll tube...

I knew recording an album would take a lot of time but who would have thought that a year later the thing still isn’t finished. Holy facking crop circles!. In April 2012 I stepped into the studio to record an album with my band ( The Martyrs). I was on a strict timetable, intent on releasing it before my departure to Australia in October for a well-earned break.  I was dreaming up the single launch for July and the album launch to follow in September. Now we’re in May 2013 and we’ve finally said “Yes, master the damn thing!”.  This week we invited a photographer to take some pictures of us to adorn the album sleeve and next week we hope to shoot the album cover--a picture that mainly contains ketchup so it shouldn’t be too hard to organise, right? RIGHT?  Maybe now I can go back to my dreams of organising the single launch. Are these really my dreams? Disturbing.   

When do I get to do the fun stuff again? Like play gigs and drink beers. Soon, soon. We’ve just got to listen to the CD to see if the order works (will anyone even listen to it in this order in the end? Will anyone even listen to it?), decide on how many folds we’d like in our digipacks, get the artwork and content typed up and ready (what should I say? "Thanks mum" and all that, or just keep it aloof? Get the album printed and make sure everyone’s name and instruments are spelt right (Amanda Lynn), pay people (£££) and put on a show.  D.I.Y bands eh, such fun!

Speaking of the single launch; a date will be announced soon...stay tuned!

Friday, 17 May 2013

The Oxford Country Folk Songwriters Circle

What do you get when you ask a bunch of musicians to sit in a semicircle on stage, play songs in turn and talk about their music to the audience? Not only a great night of music, but the Songwriters Circle-a unique night of unplugged music hosted by Dava of Swindlestock and Olly Wills of The Epstein
I’d been to their previous night in April when Dava mentioned he would like to invite me to play one of them.  At first I couldn't think of anything more horrifying. Sitting with other musicians talking about the meaning of our songs and why we wrote them; awkward.  I was worried it would look too staged or resemble a chat show and be a bit cringey for the audience. How wrong I was.  Watching the musicians play a song each, and hearing the other guestsquestions about their songs and style was interesting. After all, this wasn't musicians being interviewed by fans or uninspiring reviewers. This was musicians being asked questions by other musicians.  And this is the genius of the night.  Where musicians can sometimes be insecure, arrogant or competitive, in this setting they are quite the opposite. 
Photo by Pier Corona
And watching them listen to each other so intently seems to hold the audience captive--when else do you see some of your favourite musicians sitting on stage listening to some of their favourite musicians? And for me, it was a great pleasure to be sat right next to Huck, Matt Sage, Dava and Olly and hear their songs.  It is rare and intense to be sat so close to someone as they sing their heart out. Olly sang a song about his Grandmother’s funeral that brought me close to tears and Matt Sage told us a story of young love with an academic which brought us close to tears of laughter as he sang out ‘I trained a spy’.  Huck and I met up a few hours before the gig and had a nostalgic afternoon playing through Huck and the Handsome Fee songs. We decided to perform The Fall and Staggerlee. It was great to have the opportunity to sing together and a reinvention of the Fee is in discussion (although it would have to be an acoustic version named the Handsome Two, of course).

So, if you get a chance to make it to the next Songwriters' Circle then I highly recommend it.  You won’t be disappointed.