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.


Days in the life of a songwriter 24

Haven’t seen the film Self Made yet but will hopefully rectify that this Saturday as it’s showing at the BFI. Managed to see Jari play with Sanai Joe’s group at the Archangel and met a few of Sanai’s friends too. I shot a video of them doing one song on my new Zoom Q3 (audio and video recorder) just to practise a bit. This was after my dentist ‘Tom” had given me a lovely new filling, he replaced an old one. On Thursday I went down to the Imperial College, met up with Ben in Beit Squad and had a little try out session at the Jazz-Rock society’s studio. Jake joined us on violin and it sounded pretty good.

On Saturday we went to a huge bonfire/fireworks display in Maida Vale, courtesy of our mate James whose flat borders this big garden where some pros perform a fantastic show every year. We came with booze, saw the show had a few drinks, met old pals and towards the end I played about 4 songs, as I had wisely brought the old Seagull acoustic along. A songwriter named Lucinda also played a couple of tunes on the very same geetaarrr. Had a great lie-in after that, yeah! Then went down to have a wander round Portobello and ended up in the kitchen and pantry place off Kensington Park Road, great sofas.

I quite like baking bread and I like using wild (slightly different) ingredients. I have this new stuff called Masa Harina, it’s what middle and south Americans use to make tortillas. Anyway, the variety I bought killed off the yeast in my dough (I tested this out on Monday in little test bowls!). Obviously the bread I made using about a quarter of Masa Harina, didn’t move at all. In short it didn’t rise. Now I know better.

Tomorrow I’m going to dip into the World Travel Market, surprise a couple of old faces and maybe meet a few new ones. Got out my Gibson 335 copy (it’s a Vintage VSA 535) a few days ago to run through songs in the set using the little Vox amp. This guitar still blows me away. Maybe I should get in touch with the makers and see whether I can strike a sponsorship deal. Anyway, also got the tap delay out (geek alert), it’s called Head Rush (by Akai) and got back in the swing of using it. You can tap a button with your foot to tell it the pace of the song, so your delay will be in sync. Love it!!! 🙂 Okay, don’t want to freak you out. Invite for the new gig on December first is coming soon.

Almost forgot. Last thing.  Sorted out a profile on Sonicbids where you can submit your music in order to get into festivals. Well, we are on it now and managed to submit to SXSW just before the deadline. Here’s our profile, Amphibic at Sonicbids. We are slowly getting there, when it comes to online presence.