Days in the life of a songwriter 32

Where was I? Let’s talk about something I started recently. The kitchen sessions. I did dip my toes a little bit last year, when I recorded myself playing a song (Can You Take Me Home) on an acoustic guitar in a friend’s living room. But the idea is, to turn this into a regular feature, using a little video camera that records the vid plus the audio in decent quality in our kitchen about once every two weeks. The camera is a Zoom Q3 and the only other accessory you need is a tripod. Almost any tripod will do. The first one I did, was a song that talks about Peter Gabriel. It’s called St Peter and it’s up on the old Youtube if you click the link. The guitar is an Alhambra classical guitar which I borrowed from a friend, it’s a lovely guitar but my own classical is making its way here as we speak. Probably crossing France at the moment.

I shall keep it fairly brief today, as I need to get back into mixing my Norwegian project, more about that later. I managed to read a few books on mixing in the past year and if you would like to up your skills in that department I recommend you read these 3. Especially in the order given as each one gets more involved and technical than the one before. The first one I read was The Producer’s Manual by Paul White who is also the editor of Sound on Sound magazine, pretty straightforward with good advice and tips on how to record stuff as well. Then, go on to Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio, Mike Senior, who does write articles for Sound On Sound, has a wealth of experience when it comes to mixing, and basically gives you failsafe recipes on how to do it, in a hands on manner. Lastly, there is a book, which, if read first will only confuse you, but if read after the aforementioned ones, will give you a wealth of information about why you actually do things the way you do them and what else you could do and how you could do it in a different way. It’s called Mixing, Concepts, Practices and Tools, by Roey Izhaki, who teaches at SAE amongst other bodies. I’m not making any money from this, just thought I’d tell you which books worked for me. If you know how to monetise this, tell me.

So, about to wrap up for the day, but a friend has asked me to write a few lines about a friend of theirs and their up coming release. The band is called ‘Woodman Stone’ and the new offering from them will be officially released on Monday 25th of March. I believe they hail from Leicester as that’s where they recorded “Someone Else’s Dreams Will Fill Our Home” (but not sure). Their songs spring forth from their dreams and they came up with a bit of a myth concerning their origins, apparently they came into this world in a post apocalyptic post 3rd world war type of scenario, there must be some time warping going on that I’m not entirely aware of. Tom Robinson of 6 music wasn’t put off by this conundrum, but I guess he skipped the reading bit and went straight for the music. Good man. The music is quite a mix of pop styles with an electric indie folk feel. Especially the vocals give it a folk twist for me, as the vocals seem less produced than the instruments. So yes, good songwriting skills well recorded, see whether it’s your cuppa. I’ll add an itunes link here next week.

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Days in the life of a songwriter 31

Okay, just sat down for about 10 minutes to see if I could come up with a list of things I would like to talk about. Yes, made a list almost all the way down an A4 sheet.

I don’t think it really matters where I start, so let’s just dive in somewhere. Well, musicians usually do gigs once in a while, or all the time if there is no day job to distract them. Some even manage to do both. Now, if you aren’t famous already, and you aren’t playing covers, chances are you aren’t making a lot of money. You might be losing money! By the time you and a couple of other fools (i.e., the band) have rocked up at the venue, you are a few travelcards down, you will be spending money on drinks and you might have had a couple of rehearsal, which means 30-50 quid per rehearsal and a few more travelcards …… yes, you are right, down again. So let’s say 30 people make it to your gig, that means the venue will give you about 30 pounds, or 40 if they are feeling generous. Well, you can see where this is going. You have just made a loss. (At least that’s how it is in London)

Here’s where a new-ish thing is coming to the rescue. Second Life has been around for a number of years, but for people like me who aren’t into gaming or most things virtual, I didn’t even know it existed. Thanks to my friend Jordan (Reyne), I was introduced to it. She has been playing gigs on there for about 2 years I think. Anyway, she invited me to a special morning, where 3 acts from London performed in succession. First Jordan, then me, then Maxdymz (industrial metal). That was back in September 2012. Since then I pretty much started playing my own gigs by the end of October and now have a couple of regular slots in this virtual world. In case you are in the dark about Second Life or SL for short, it is a virtual world that you can explore using an avatar. You can walk, fly, travel and be teleported to places, a bit like in the old Star Trek. So, if I play a gig, people see my avatar on stage and I see their avatars arrive at the venue. They can use local chat to communicate and they can even tip a muso, using SL’s online currency, Lindens. The audience then listens to me singing into a mic in my room and my guitar plugged into my little mixing desk.

I was hooked up with someone who spends a lot of time in SL. And she agreed to be my online booker (I call her my pimp), which is a total blessing, as it is not easy selling yourself. So, if someone else does it, greatttttt. If anyone wants to book a gig, I’ll say, please get in touch with Secret (Rage) as she has all the dates. Well, you can see, you can play gigs without leaving your room or your pyjamas behind!!! You can’t get rich, but you can make a few bob, to help you out a bit and once you are established, even get a fixed fee from the venues. It’s still all pocket-money, but every little helps and people who like what you do will follow you onto other platforms too, like Facebook and so forth. You are spreading the word.

In order to be able to do this, you need: a microphone, an instrument, a small mixing desk, a decent (external) soundcard, headphones. And you need to find someone on SL to let you stream audio into this virtual world. I pay 1500 Lindens a month for it, which is 3.75 pounds. And you need to download a little program that will stream your audio to that person’s server. There are various small ones around. I use something called BUTT.  Image

You can see my avatar (or avi) doing a gig at a venue called Key West in Second Life above. If there is anything you’d like to know, that I left off, or whatever, leave a comment and I’ll add whatever it is, provided I know the answer.

Managed to update the info on Bandcamp as well, where you can buy all the new songs. Put more stuff on Soundcloud as well, and have started doing kitchen sessions, where I play a song in simple acoustic fashion in our kitchen and put it on Youtube. Right, next blog post soon, and if you have a minute have a look at the updated Amphibic website as well.

Next blog post soon.