Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Artwork for my new album.

The art work is finished for my upcoming solo album. It's quite an uncomfortable feeling for me to bare my soul and record songs for posterity, but with no other creative musical option on my cards and some downtime. I felt it was time to take a big deep breath and just do it. I'm very pleased with the results.

For the artwork, there was no question but to work with Kenneth. He was the first person to listen to the tracks and gave me some support on continuing with my ponderous soul searching songs. He came up with the theme of baring my soul and not having anything to hide behind. We toyed with the concept of nudity and nakedness, and at one point thought of shooting me naked surrounded by all the instruments I'd played. With the fear of other people listening to my songs, the nudity was the least of my worries, but we abandoned the idea.

One summer evening when we were kicking our heels we went for a drive to the Dunaskin Industrial Heritage Centre. I don't think its open any more, but you can still get in and wander around the old buildings and all the industrial age machinery from the coal mines there. We wandered around with his dog Ruby and took influence from a bygone age.

A few days later, Kenneth sent through the draft album cover with the title "bare buff". I couldn't come to terms with nudity, nakedness and laid bare as an album title without thinking of sepia tinged shots of me staring into space like a pre raphaelite poet. Bare Buff means naked in a more archaic, joking, colloquial Scottish way, which I was much more comfortable with.

I found the artwork a little sparse initially, but it slowly grew on me. It has a darkness and the broken crane gives it a theme of interrupted productivity. There is also light at the end of the tunnel and hope on the horizon. Trying to build a future on a rusty history. I think it is as good a visual representation of the album and where my head was at when I recorded it as I can imagine.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Early morning with Tamira on English Breakfast Radio

I set my alarm clock for the first time since I left the office job today. Tamira had scored an appearance on English Breakfast Radio. The drawback was that we had to cycle out to the docks at the north of the centre just after 7 in the morning. Tamira surprised me by being wide awake!!! The truth was that she hadn;t been to bed which seems to have been the way to go... she was a lot more awake than I was.

There are real benefits to getting up this early.... the weather was lovely and the sun was just rising:

We went in and met Neville and he introduced us to the other guys. It was much more relaxed than our last radio appearance. The guys really welcomed us in and were keen for us to get involved in all aspects of the show. I think I embarassed Tamira by being a little too candid about some of the songs about her love life, but I think it made good radio. The guys were great. They played two of the tracks from Tamira's CD. There was lots of banter and they put us on the spot a few times but I think our 'eh's' and 'um's' fit in quite well the atmosphere they create. We also played one of Tamira's songs live and did our cover of Crazy Train.

By the end of the show I;d had enough coffee to feel human and we went to a cafe and had a chat with the guys. All in all a great experience. I'll probably need a siesta after my early start though.

You can stream the show from here

Sunday, April 10, 2011

My Dutch TV debut

At last week's Jam a great guy came in called Alex. He was Malaysian but had spent a lot of time in Australia and he had the best of both destinations. He was a singer, guitar player and songwriter and he was over in Amsterdam as part of a TV series called Vakantieleifdes(Summer Love) The program reunites holiday romances to see if love blossoms on home turf. As part of the program they had decided to film Alex plying his trade in Amsterdam, so they chose a few of us to come back to CC Muziek Cafe on Saturday and be filmed playing with Alex.

On the Saturday I turned up, not quite knowing what to expect; it was very much off the cuff. The TV crew turned up. They were all great people and it was good fun watching how these things come together behind the scenes. We were snatching 15 minutes between the main bands to quickly run through a few songs. We'd decided to do one of Alex' songs, Another Brick in the wall and Hotel California. Luckily Ali came in, as he;s a much better guitarist than I and he can do the Eagles solos justice.

We got set up and Alex started playing his own song. I was playing along before and they were filming before I'd even worked out what key he was playing. It sounded great, but from my perspective I wasn't doing much. Ali took over and did Another Brick in the wall and Hotel California.

A few weeks later it was on the telly. Watching it online, it was edited very well and my fear that I looked a little useless was unfounded.

You can watch it here.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Jamming with Sandra and Manuel

Sandra and Manuel joined us this week in the Jam Session. It gave it a great boost. We did an excellent version of Ramble On by Led Zeppelin. I played bass and made the mistake of knowing the bass part. I don't play bass often, so my Bass playing finger stamina is pretty low. We kept it going for about 15 minutes and because I knew the bass part, I hadn't worked out the underlying chords, so I had to just keep playing through the pain.....

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Day 2 - Mixing Fonz

I'm back in the control room. The control room is a big comfy seat in front of my speakers with the laptop on my knees. I've got 4 tracks to mix for Fonz and then 6 to master. I was a little apprehensive as I've never done this for any type of music other than rock and pop, but luckily everything still works out the same and they are sounding great. The electronic element means I can get away with a little bit more production in the vocals without it sounding too polished.

I think the result is really good. It is still rough and human like my other stuff but it's applied to a genre where things are often a little smooth.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Sandra's back!

The sun has returned to Amsterdam and Sandra has come with it! She's on good form, having learned some great songs to play with her wonderful guitar playing boyfriend Manuel. Look out for the three of us doing a great version of Ramble on by Led Zeppelin in pub near you(If you are in Amsterdam that is)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Day 1 - Recording Fonz

It feels great turning the living room into a recording studio again. I have great memories of recording Sandra and then Tamira in a similar setting.

First up is the guitar:

He's using a virtual amp and effects, so we don't need to worry about microphones and isolation. This means we can monitor the whole thing on a wedge monitor as he's playing and get a bit more feeling about the playing. Headphones can be annoyingly restrictive.

Alfons is a pretty good guitarist, so it;s a pleasure to watch him exchange 80's metal riffs with more modern hip hop beats. We decided to record various guitar elements for all the songs and then build a guitar part from what we like later:

It's going well, and we're flying through the tracks. Once the guitar is recorded, we move onto vocals. This is always a tougher affair. Most of the tracks have a rapping section, which are quite challenging at the best of times. Eventually once we find our groove, we're getting full takes without mistakes.

Before we know it, it's 8 O'clock and we've been working hard for 7 hours solid. The rough takes are sounding good and we think it's best to call it a night. I can't wait to get the tracks mixed and see how good I can make it sound. The type of music(Hip hop/Rap/crossover) is a far stretch from what I'm used to working with so it;s a real challenge.

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