Days in the life of a songwriter 30

Well well, it’s been some time …. . Sorry!! So the mic shoot-out video that I did with Felix MacIntosh from Tigersonic studios has finally been uploaded. We were comparing a Neumann U87, an Oktava 319 and 219, as well as an AKG C3000 and AKG 414 to a Royer style modded MXL2001 (mod performed by me) and we threw in an SM58 for good measure. Check out the mic shoot out video here. I’ll be doing a little mic mod post pretty soon.

We also went to the 12 Bar Club on June 7th and played a gig where we tried out some more brass on songs and welcomed Sarah Mann on trombone into the fold. Joe Carter on trumpet also showed off his skills and even threw in a muted trumpet solo. We were impressed. Nick added some new keyboard sounds, there was a touch of electric piano (a rhodes type sound) and even some organ in a song called Lilly. The new sounds came from a module by EMU called Proteus 2000. I used my Seagull acoustic on the night for which I have just ordered a new custom made bone saddle. Sounds kinkier than it is. We were sharing the evening with Jordan Reyne who is an industrial folkster from NZ who did impress everyone with her dark songs and nifty use of her loop pedals.

I have discovered a couple more licensing companies (for Film/TV and ads) and am in the process of offering them some more songs to hopefully bring in some dosh sooner, rather than later.

Apart from that, Jordan is actually working hard at creating a new website for which is supposed to go live fairly soon. Excited!! Yeah!!!

One thing I’m working on at the moment is a song that is close to my heart. It’s a project that is to do with Norway and I am looking forward to some collaborations with some old friends there. I don’t want to say too much at this stage. But will keep you updated here. I am very excited about this and even though I did use the word excited in the last paragraph, I don’t get excited very easily. Honest.


Days in the life of a songwriter 29

Right, it’s been 5 weeks, how did that happen? I went to two Jordan Reyne gigs in that time, one at the Dublin Castle in Camden and one at the Slaughtered Lamb in Clerkenwell. I probably prefered the second one but only because the sound was better. Jordan was great on both nights. Amphibic played a gig at 93 Feet East on 29th of February. We had Ben on the drums, Nick on piano, Imogen on cello, Rachel and Tom on violins and myself on singing and guitar duties. The sound was good, even though our sound check was slightly compromised by not having everyone there and Ben managed to arrive during the first song and blend in halfway through that tune, which actually worked really well. It was an early slot and some people missed it because of that. We were on from exactly 8pm till 8:30. A friend got in touch the next day, saying they got there at 8:29 and were told, we were only playing for another minute!! And sadly, they were bloody right.

Met up with our Finnish drummer friend Jari the next day and had a drink with him and his grilfriend down Notting Hill way. He’s going to supply some drum recordings from his studio in Finland.

We also went to see the Tall Poppies at Home House, which was a night set up by a lady called Sefe Greg. There was also someone who would be fantastic on any X Factor type show (but very good really) and an offering more to our liking, called ‘The Cellophane Flowers’. Just checked the gig was on March 6th….

On the 14th of March I went to the Phoenix, off Cavendish Square, for a day of songwriting-master-class-fun with Martin Sutton who has been doing this very thing (writing commercial songs) for a number of years. Met a few interesting characters and some nice folks and had a pretty good day, including writing half a song amongst about 17 of us, within about 15-20 minutes. I was quite impressed by our collaborative effort. I have since dug out some old and good songs of mine and am giving them a once over ‘Martin Sutton’ style. The main thing for me, comes down to, ‘not settling for the first thing that springs to mind’ type of approach. Trying different lyrics (or melodies) for a given line in the song. He told us he was pitching a song to Barbara Streisand at the moment. I thought, wait a minute, I’ve got a song for Barbara too ……Oh, then I left my guitar in the pub, which i noticed when I was going down the escalator’s at Oxford Circus, ahhhhh.

My mate Atul had his musician’s meet up at the Comedy Pub on the 18th, so I went along and gave my two cents’ worth of wisdom if asked (and also when i wasn’t asked, well you know if you know me….) There’s a link to Atul on the right hand side here.

Finally got round to repairing an old Drawmer Compressor (DL231 since you asked) and I might keep it as it is a pretty smooth sounding piece of kit in engineer speak. Might sell my Symetrix instead. The Amek BC2 strip is working but it’s not as great as I was hoping it would be. So will stick to the old Alice preamp for the time being. This week I’m going to up the ante by buying a version of Komplete (Native Instruments virtual instruments collection). Almost enough of the geek talk, but also got my old Oktava MK219 out, which hasn’t seen any service the last few years, upgraded the transistor in it and a few capacitors (the grille went years ago), and it really is a fantastic mic. Just waiting for some brand new brass mesh. I will be doing a mic shootout over at Tigersonic studios with Felix Macintosh there in two days’ time. I will take along my Royerised MXL 2001 and the modded Oktava 219 and possibly my Sennheiser MD421 which works great for me on vocals too.

I think that’s it for now, next installment in about 2 weeks I reckon, be good.

Forgot to mention that Aussie company Hook, Line and Sync has accepted some Amphibic songs for their catalogue. So hopefully there will be more synching going on soon.

Days in the life of a songwriter 27

Just got last year’s diary out to see what I did just before Christmas 2011. It’s been so long. It’s slowly coming back to me now, diaries are a god-send.

Industrial folkster, Jordan Reyne, had tipped me off about a music industry party at the Water Rats on the 8th of December. I was glad I went, as Believe-in-Digital gave us a few free drinks and I checked out one band that I liked. They are called Belleruche. Then there was a carol singing thing at St Mary Aldermary’s, just opposite Mansion House tube, which was lovely, they had wine, mulled wine, mince pies, cake and candles and I was slightly concerned that the new vicar and his crew might be burning down the house (church). Anyway, well done to James for enticing us to come along. We got louder with each carol.

There was one more industry schmooze event at the Electricity Showroom, but apart from having about 2 and a half chats to as many people I didn’t get anything out of it, so left early. Almost on the home stretch to Christmas I told loads of people to come down to the Prince Alfred in Maida Vale on the 17th of Dec. I think about 12 did and believe most would agree that a good time was had. Just before I headed into Christmas hols, where I traditionally leave the country, a small present to myself arrived. A Proteus 2000 by EMU which was dirt cheap on fleabay. It’ll make it possible for us to have some fairly cool Rhodes type sounds (electric pianos for the un-initiated) on stage soon. The box can do a lot more but that’s more for recording at home….. Right, there will be another update tomorrow bringing us to the Here and Now……

Days in the life of a songwriter 26

Went to see a photography exhibition by Venetia Dearden. It was down in Brixton and we had to stumble along Coldharbour lane to get to it. The gallery is called Coldharbour London and is a great space, I think it used to be a print factory. At first I wasn’t sure about the angle the artist was coming from until I realised that the art was commissioned by a fashion house. Then it all made sense. Well almost.

I think I have mentioned that I have done some work to bring our track Dear Caffeine back to life. It has piano and violins in there now. Nick came round on Thursday night to check out the piano parts and we were joined by Rachel on violin who I met when she was busking near the Tate Modern. It worked really well and as we’ll have Tom join us on violin for the gig at the 12 Bar Club, I spent a few hours double checking the violin parts (one and two) and saving them as PDF documents so I could email them to Tom last night. I work in Logic and I might do a ‘How to’ blog post soon.

Sunday morning started in great fashion as we had two tracks played on Amazing Radio. In case you’d like to check out the show, it was the Amazing Chill on 20.11.11. Charlie Ashcroft played ‘Boy Doesn’t Meet Girl’ and then ‘Rocket Boys’ in hour two. He was filling in for Matt Jamison. They broadcast nationally on DAB and are on the olde net(te)… Then we were off to the Ideal Home Show as my partner’s company were one of the sponsors. She had to do an interview (on camera) for them, so it turned out to be a media heavy day. Sunday night mate Olaf and I went to the Bowery in New Oxford Street to check out Jordan Reyne’s gig there, supporting Marina Celeste of Novelle Vague fame. There’s a link to Jordan’s blog on the right. Jordan does celtic folk with an industrial edge. She uses machine noises and also samples her own guitar as well as voice. Visually, imaginge Pippi Longstocking living on a seafarer’s graveyard ;-). Marina Celeste had a lot of female admirers and two very good musicians with her. Das Fluff, who were also supporting, were a mix between Sisters of Mercy, Devo and Nina Hagen.

Okay, Monday I rehearsed with drummer boy Ben, down at the Imperial College before I went to Camden for Justin Wayne’s (link on the right) musician’s clinic at the Hawley Arms. I had submitted a track to be played (amongst other demos) and got to meet a couple of interesting people. One management person and Alex Kerr-Wilson who organises smallish industry showcase gigs in London. I though it was time well spent. Also met mate Atul there and had a couple of pints as a bonus. The Dead Saints had travelled from Manchester and provided some merry laddishness that was good fun. Oh yes, the 12 Bar Club gig is next week on the 1st….. laters.

Days in the life of a songwriter 19

So yes, walked around the peaks in the Lake District near Kendal. We actually got to see Scotland from up there including some wind turbines on the sea. I had to suffer a bit due to  inadequate equipment (shoes) and general lack of fitness. Well, we took the half seven train to get back to London, only to be held at Rugby as some inconsiderate (or possibly reckless) person had stopped trains in and out of Euston by being under a train near Harrow. We ended up sharing a taxi to avoid getting back even later. This guy shared the taxi with us: He is a saxophone and cello playing classical composer, check him out. His name is Martino Scovacricchi.

I had been looking forward to Tuesday as Ariel Hyatt from CyberPr in New York was going to give a talk at PRS headquarters in Berners Street. She brought along some interesting panellists. Stephen King from Zimbalam (digital distributor), Matt Jamison from Amazing Radio, James from Deezer (online music platform growing like f***), Mark Muggeridge from Evil Genius (promoter and manager) and last but certainly not least, Jordan Reyne (singer songwriter who is making a living with her music by mainly performing online!!!) She is writing a book on this topic so keep your eyes peeled. Ariel’s talk was very good, all about what musicians need to do these days to survive and work towards making money from their art without the help of big record companies. The room was packed by the way, so yes, interest was great. Stephen King’s presentation was strong too and I will seriously consider his company when it becomes relevant in the near future. James from Deezer (who are already a big player in France) made a good impression but didn’t have an easy email at the company where he can be reached at. I think everyone was very interested what Jordan had to say especially as she wasn’t trying to sell a platform but was doing what a lot of people in the room aspire to do!! Playing music, making a living after ditching the day job, respect.

Afterwards we were all led down to the Champion by Atul and some banter and drinking of amber liquid ensued. Got to hear a great story of how one of the people present met Michael Jackson’s mum. Told the guy from Amazing radio how his CEO is married to my mate’s cousin. Mentioned my idea of possibly promoting some gigs myself to Lydia the pixie (Red Rose) and the Tall Poppies and Ariel took my address to send me the new version of her book as I had given her some grief about the typos. Oh, and also met an interesting podcaster from Suffolk. called Peter Clitheroe.

Right, playing a gig at the Luxe at Spitalfields market on Sunday and still need to finalise the line up…….. More on possibly playing some online gigs later. There will be some ‘How to do stuff’ sections as well soon!