I’m playing a four song set this Easter Sunday (31st March) at All Star Lanes in Holborn.
It’s for the 15 Minute Club and it’s free! So, despite being only a short set, it’s in a cool place where you can eat, drink cocktails and bowl. Plus there’s no work for most the next day so what more excuse do you need?Facebook public event here.
Inspired by a chat with my songwriting friend Elena Dana, I decided to actually put a new demo online on Sunday.
I probably should have written this song a while ago, but it kind of came lyrically/melodically and then I had to be bothered to actually get my guitar and work out the chords (which as always, aren’t complex, so I have no excuse…) and structure it.
I’ve played two open mic slots in London so far and I have to seek out more and be proactive, but I get so scared about approaching people so only have myself to blame. I always say I want to have a band – which is totally true – but equally, I shouldn’t just lay down my guitar and refuse to play it until I do. If I do.
This set of demos kind of reflects the more recent sound. So Far Away was written when I was 20… it’s a bit scary to think that that was nearly four years ago! Escapology was the only song I wrote while in Newcastle, while Hard Candy is a product of the time I lived in Willesden Green in an odd living arrangement that made me decide it was time to aspire seriously for my own place.
Now firmly settled in the Get Flat, I have no excuse not to write, and so I finally wrote the song I needed to write about some of the things that happened in 2010/11. I kind of wish I could do it semi-acapella with accompaniment from one of those rhythmic cup players you see on YouTube.
12 Feet Under I’m on a train
I’m gonna give my body to the Tyne and hope my soul
‘Cos I’ve got plans to be getting on with
You laundered marbles ’til you lost control
Now they’re coming back to trip you, trip you
Resting on your laurels ’til the branches snapped
And the tree on the ground
How it felled you
They’ll have to bury me 12 feet under
For your six feet on top
cos I am
Taking you with me I am
taking you with me
When my neck’s for that drop
And your mother should have warned you to be superstitious
For you’ll be crying out
For her arms
When I’m gone.
Here’s a song from Elena Dana – I used to play this on my Amazing Radio folk show back in the day…
… It’s not considered a landmark year, but the last 12 months have been so erratic, it seems to feel a bit more significant. I’m in my third office in a year (Sky this time, after a great six months at Channel 4) and things are finally settling down a bit. I’m also enjoying being away from my Shoreditch shoebox of a bedroom – Willesden Green has been good to me so far!
However, the settling down bit is scary. Nothing, as ever, is set in stone. I’ve got ten months left of my fixed term contract at Sky so time will tell if I find anything more permanent. I do like experiencing different workplaces – the corporate operator Sky has about 17,500 employees compared to Channel 4′s Public Service Broadcasting 800 (again, approximate). It’s also a very different role to my previous ones.
I’ve not had the chance to podcast recently so I’m hoping to get back to the music in 2012, if there’s a demand for it. I need to get over the North West thing – in Shoreditch I’d go off to gigs and events most evenings but I’m more of a hermit in my new home, perhaps it’s the cold or maybe I’m risking getting too comfortable.
I had one of those epiphanies the other day, the kind that will seem irrelevant to everyone else, where I realised that podcasting and blogging are activites I can pursue independently. I don’t have to rely on anyone else to put my plans into action – but neither to I have to ask anyone. And that’s sometimes dispiriting.
The two things that I’ve loved doing in the past, presenting and music, have required me to find others to help me go further. I can write songs, but I’m scared to play guitar solo, plus I’m not a very advanced player. It’s great to be able to play with others as it makes the whole process more fun, but it’s also nerve wracking to reveal what you’ve written.
The last track I wrote was the first in several months. It’s short and it’s ‘demotastic’; long pauses, Garage band reverb and general poor quality. But it’s the idea that counts, I suppose!
I also would like to move from radio into onscreen presenting. I guess I could do this at home with vlogs but I’d love to film future music interviews and get out and about. Unfortunately this requires assistance so I guess I’ll need to pluck up the courage to start asking people to help out. I’ve always been quite embarrassed to admit how much I enjoy presenting for fear of it changing people’s opinions of me. I enjoy meeting new people, and I like the excuse to find out the hows and whys of music and more – interviewing is the tried and tested method of getting those answers.
Soon, I’ll be revealing my top musicians of the year, so if you’ve got a band you think I should listen to, leave me a comment below.
Since working with Get Frank in Newcastle I’ve decided that sometimes I’d like to be a bit more selfish and play music totally as I envisioned it – or at least certain aspects of it. Sometimes listening to a band can be overwhelming, and you forget that the music you’re listening to is rooted in themes and feelings. Get Frank songs used to be all about the emotions that I felt when writing them – and to some extent still are – but some of them are from a different, past writer and I feel the need to breakaway and do something different.
It can be quite scary to take lyrics to a band and practice them. Playing solo I get to skip this step, and move onto the even scarier stage of playing them straight to an audience. At first I didn’t think I was ready, but if I get some practice in with my guitar, who knows?
The song above is my first rough demo from my ‘solo venture’ as Truth Fiction. There’s a loose (and musically common) concept to the name of the ‘project’ (if you like that term), as some songs will be true to my life and some inspired by fiction. Others will be a mixture. I learnt a lot about song writing from my very valuable time providing supplementary vocals and instrumentation for The Union Choir, from the image-packed lyricism of the songs, to the emotive construction of the music itself. They are one of the best bands I’ve ever known so I’m lucky to have been a part of it, if only for a little while.
For now I’ll continue to record with just me and a guitar performing live in my room. It’s tempting to build up recordings by doing everything closed microphone style, layering with various bits of precussion, but whilst I’m still playing these songs on my own I’ll keep things raw.
Please listen/download Escapology, and let me know if you’d like to hear more.