My Christmas list

AGH IT’S DECEMBER!

Sorry family… you’re not getting anything. Well you won’t if I don’t sort myself out. Luckily, I started panic buying tomorrow so hopefully it’ll be alright come the 25th.

For the past couple of years, I’ve publicly drooled over my laptop and I finally found time to resume the tradition – I’m in my last two weeks at Radio Comedy before moving to Eastenders, so things are hectic!

First things first – and this is totally career related, right? I’m hoping for a tuning pedal for my new telecaster guitar. There’s a Korg one here that seems like a bargain, although I’m not too fussy – I’d like it to a) work and b) withstand being stood on, as that’s a key part of its purpose.

As usual, I’m hankering after jewellery by Tatty Devine. I have two name necklaces – a plain black ‘Frankie’ and a large tortoiseshell ‘Get Frank’. However, I’m always hungry for more, so I’m hoping for some different takes on ‘Frankie’ from anyone generous enough to give it a go! They’ve also created new charm bracelets, but they’re exclusive to Selfridges in London and Birmingham.

I’m having a bit of a CD renaissance at the moment, so I’m buying music whenever I can afford to – I currently settle for listening on Deezer when I can’t. I’d love the new albums from Lorde, London Grammar, The National (in fact anything from their back catalogue, it’s a guilty former secret that I only get to listen to them on Spofity or Deezer), AlunaGeorge, Arcade Fire, James Blake, King Krule, Laura Marling or Savages. I wouldn’t be disappointed to unwrap Salute by Little Mix. Move is a TUNE.

In terms of cosmetics, I’m always happy with anything by Lush, haircare by TIGI and makeup by MAC or NARS. I’m on the lookout for a new blusher and orgasm or deep throat (no sniggering at the back!) are two suits-all shades that I’d love to try. Get me False Lash mascara from MAC and I’ll be your friend for life.

The two biggest things on my wish list – and no I’m not really expecting either – are a Fender Blues Junior amp and a Canon 5D camera. The former is to go with my telecaster, which I need to be able to play through an amp at long last, and the 5D is so that I can start making films independently of work and branch out on my own a bit more. I currently work with a 7D – which I’ll miss terribly when I leave the Radio Comedy team!

So that’s me, but what do you want for Xmas?

Free gig at The Finsbury – Sunday 13th October

I’m playing a free gig at The Finsbury pub on Sunday 13th October.

It’s completely free and the doors are at 4pm – I’m on at 4:30pm, so hopefully that’ll give everyone time to recover from the night before!

It’s possibly my last gig for a while – I’m hoping to start playing my telecaster at future gigs (I’ll be getting out my trusty acoustic for this one) and I’m desperately seeking a band to play with.

I’ve been jamming with my friend Reece (formerly of the July Days), but we definitely need a rhythm section before we start gigging. Playing with a band is one of my favourite things and it definitely makes me more confident on stage.

You can hear rough demos on my two Soundcloud pages (stupid, boring story to how I have two accounts):

Truth Fiction

Get Frank

I’m not a dictator band leader – I like to work songs through to create something we all have a hand in and feel ownership of. Mostly though, I want to create songs to get people dancing. Simple.

If you want to get involved, give me an email at frankiepromotes@gmail.com – and please spread the word…

See you at the gig on Sunday?

My Harkive – 9th July 2013

I start at 8:00 when my alarm forces me awake and I immediately turn on the radio.

I won’t lie – this is almost permanently tuned to Radio 1, although the track (that even Nick Grimshaw comments as sounding like a ‘rubbish Cotton Eye Joe’) makes me wince (I later find out that this is called Ring A Ling by Sneakbo. This morning it’s mostly chat though – I’m an out and proud Grimshaw fan so this is fine by me. Plus, I’m 24 so I’m still within the Radio 1 target audience. (I know you’re judging me!)

As I head out the door to the district line, I have a listen to a mix of a song I’m working on on my iPod. It might sound odd to some, but I find it useful to listen to my own music (sometimes I find it quite hard) on various devices so I can see if the listening experience changes – for example, my macbook speakers are pretty poor so an iPod is far more preferable. The track in question is called Twelve Feet Under and I’ve put it on Soundcloud and shared it with friends to try and get their thoughts:

Often I listen to a podcast or something from the BBC Radio Comedy output on the tube to work – this morning it’s The Show What You Wrote, which is being podcasted as the BBC Comedy of the Week. However, as it finishes before I arrive, I pop my iPod on song shuffle and on comes the Sufjan Stevens song John Wayne Gacey Jnr.

Later, at my desk, I notice a blog post on Twitter about The Rumble Strips by This is Fake DIY. It includes a Youtube video of their song Alarm Clock, so I give that a listen. I was never a big fan so I listen more out of curiosity than nostalgia. It’s ok, but I prefer the upbeat (but slightly similar) sounds of the dearly departed Larrikin Love.

After lunch I have a major hayfever attack and run out to Boots to get some eyedrops. Trying to take my mind of my swelling, itchy eyes, I take my iPod with me. As before, it’s still on shuffle. The tracks it treats me to are Magic Touch by Golden Silvers, Four Kicks by the Kings of Leon, Night Terror by Laura Marling and Live Wire by Fyfe Dangerfield. I do have some current stuff on my iPod, including Bastille, Lianne La Havas, Bastille, Daughter and Kate Nash’s underrated third LP, Girl Talk – oh and Yeezus by Kanye West, but I also have plenty of older stuff I can’t imagine not taking on the go with me.

After work I hop tubes between Great Portland Street and Angel. My iPod is still in an eclectic mood and plays A New Found Land from Villagers’ (brilliant) second album Awayland, The Look of Love (Nina Simone version), Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up) by Florence & the Machine, The View from the Afternoon from The Arctic Monkeys (who I have never stopped loving in the past nine years), Isobel by Bjork and She’s Lost Control by Joy Division. Naturally the latter sets me perfectly in the mood to see comedians John Robbins and Joe Lycett test out their Edinburgh shows… or maybe not.

Post comedy, it’s back to dashing between underground lines. Impressively I manage Angel to Bromley-by-Bow in three different lines and four songs… although I do chat to my friend Doug from Angel to Bank so technically I only listen to my iPod for the second two lines. These songs are Landfill from Daughter’s Wild Youth EP, Old Stone by Laura Marling, New by No Doubt and, rather perfectly, With You Now by my friend Jake Flowers’ band Oaken Lee. I say perfectly because I’ve just received a message from Jake about Twelve Feet Under.

Don’t forget, you can still submit your listening habits from the 9th July over at Harkive.org now!

Why I moved my ‘big gig’

In my last post, I wrote about a ‘big gig’.

This post is to say that I have moved the gig to Roadtrip & Workshop in Old Street.

Basically I found the pressure of playing with people not necessarily similar to my style, in a large venue with the demand of bringing in a big crowd, too much at this stage in my ‘gigging career’ – I use ‘career’ loosely as a term, as it’s not necessarily an aim for me right now.

I also felt that perhaps the promoter wasn’t doing as much as possible to promote the gig – there was nothing about acts on his website, no official Facebook event (which is pretty standard these days) or mailing list. When I sent him a regretful email cancelling, explaining that I felt I couldn’t bring in the audience he needed and that I had been offered a gig on the same night in a smaller venue (and also offering what I considered to be a fairer payscale) he was clearly pissed off – and that’s ok. I feel bad for cancelling, however I previously felt bad that, despite my own promotion, it didn’t look like I could pull a crowd – but neither could he.

Let’s look at the figures briefly, by way of example:

At the gig, if you brought 15 people or more, you would get £15 and a £1 per person thereafter. The price on the door was £4. Therefore, you would take £15 and the promoter would take £45. I know that there’s a soundman to pay for etc… (venues rarely charge as they get bar takings etc…) but there’s also money from people in on the door who hadn’t come to see anyone in particular – and there’s no door split between the acts for that.

I am currently happy to play for free if there’s no charge on the door. But if I’m having to promote a gig and play a 30 minute set (with little or no promotion from the actual promoter), I think I have a right to earn more. At the same time, I really don’t want promoters to fail, and I’m very ‘green’, but I’m no longer 19 and so up for the exploitation these days.

Here’s a very recent song:

I’m going to invest in a better microphone and start recording and making more effort with my songs – if you want to help me with them, give me a shout…

A big gig

I’m starting to play ‘bonafide gigs’ in London now and all on my lonesome.

It’s a bit harder than I anticipated – first you have to get the gigs, then shamelessly self-promote, go about your day job (mine often involves evenings for recordings or going to comedy gigs) and try and fit in some practice.

At my last gig I was feeling confident after the soundcheck, but then a ten-strong group sat in the front and continued their boisterous conversation as I played – people did ask them to be quiet but they kept talking. Sadly I’m still inexperienced in singing and playing guitar together so it put me off somewhat – I need some mates to come and chuck stuff at me (like in The Runaways movie) while I practice. When you can hear people’s words more clearer than your own, it’s hard to carry on.

The noisy audience members are something I should be used to – every time I do a gig I think ‘if it happens again, I’ll give ’em hell’. Predictably, I never do, not wanting to alienate the more attentive audience members. However, if it’s spoiling the show for them, I owe it to them and myself to sort the situation out – ultimately, however, I think the responsibility is with the promoter to gain control. This is something singer Kal Lavele is the queen of – check out her W.E Love Sundays gigs at World’s End in Finsbury Park. She’s a master curator (and a bloomin’ brilliant songwriter too).

What I figure is, the more people who are there to come and watch and support, the better I’ll be. So, if you’re up for coming along, I’m playing at Rattlesnake on Upper Street in Angel on the 24th June. Doors are at 8pm and it would be lovely to see some people there! I’ve got a couple of new songs for you too…

Tedx Bow

The other day, despite suffering a hangover from a late night Mariokart session, I headed to my new favorite cafe Muxima for the first Tedx Bow event.

The theme of the event, which featured a mixture of local speakers and Screen Ted talks, was ‘From the Heart’, and highlights included Amanda Palmer’s honest and eloquently explained ‘Art of Asking’ for funding her music (she compares it to her former vocation as a street statue performer) and Anise Bullimore’s very moving talk, ‘My body of work: an experience of cancer and art therapy’.

A few talks in, Isaak (who programmes Muxima’s upstairs space) came up to my ‘gang’ of Natalie, Elena and Andre (we’ve formed a mini singer-songwriter group and go on outings and stuff) and asked if one of us could fill a slot by playing. I didn’t really hear much of this conversation, so it was a surprise when I was pointed at… an hour later I was on stage with a borrowed guitar, playing the only three capo-free songs I still remember enough to play.

Photo by Antonio Luca www.aellephoto.com
Photo by Antonio Luca
http://www.aellephoto.com

Aside from two people who spoke all the way through my first song (someone told them to stop or leave as everyone in the room could hear every word they were saying… it was weird having just our three voices at counterpoint) everyone was silent and actually listened – it was amazing. It felt like they had more of an effect on me personally than I could ever have had on them. It’s easier to connect with the words you’ve written when you have the space to feel them; to hear yourself perform them.

Now I know this will come across as pretentious, but when you’re playing an open mic or a gig in a bar and it’s noisy and the monitors aren’t helping you like they should, it’s easy to think ‘I need to get through this!’, particularly as I’ve not performed much recently. However, the audience, speakers and audience at Tedx Bow – the community, I should say – has given me more confidence to just flippin’ do it.

I can’t wait for the next one!

Making music

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.

So, if anyone knows of nights I could play, get in touch.

Here’s the new song, 12 Feet Under.

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
takes flight
‘Cos I’ve got plans to be getting on with

And oh
You laundered marbles ’til you lost control
Oh
Now they’re coming back to trip you, trip you
Oh
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…

London 2012 Opening Ceremony (and much more)!

Some of you may know that I’ve been rehearsing for the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony since April

I’m now in the final stretch, with just two dress rehearsals before the performance itself on Friday. I’m not actually allowed to tell you what I’m doing or even hint at it sadly, but I’ll do some posts after the event to explain a bit more about what we’ve been up to – do comment if you want to know anything in particular (or give me a Tweet).

As well as the Olympics, it’s all go at work. We’re about to go on tour for the BBC Radio 2 New Comedy Award and I’ll be covering some amazing shows in Edinburgh for BBC Radio 4 online, including Just a Minute and Dilemma.

On Friday at 6.30pm, the first episode of the new Chain Reaction series goes out (so you can listen just before the Opening Ceremony). The first pairing is Jeremy Front and his sister Rebecca. The rest of the chain is made up of Chris Addison, Derren Brown, Tim Minchin, Caitlin Moran and Jennifer Saunders (how brilliant is that?). I’ll be speaking to the guest interviewer each week – see how I got on with Jeremy here.

Lastly radio-wise, I’ve also been preparing for The Now Show 2012 – Live! with Hugh Dennis and Steve Punt. We made a silly video to promote the show before recording a show from the current series. The show’s broadcasting live on Monday 30th July, continuing every other week night across the Olympics (that’s six episodes, kids).

Check out the aforementioned video here.

In other news, I’m part-buying a flat in Bromley-by-Bow as part of the Shared Ownership scheme. I’ve never spent vast amounts of sums on anything, so the deposit leaving my savings is going to make me wince like a man hit in an intimate place. I’ve been Pinteresting my prospective furniture. Predictably the majority of it is from IKEA! I plan to bulk buy basics and then shop for more interesting pieces once I’ve replenished my funds.

If you’ve got any budget furnishing links, do share them.

GoldenBoys Launch Party

After my last blog post I was invited to the GoldenBoys launch party.

(Get in!)

I don’t go to many ‘London-y’ events. The last one was a CBS party celebrating NCIS at the Dorchester Hotel. There were cupcakes, champagne, wine and an actress from the show to chat to – a nice event, but a slightly stiff atmosphere.

Luckily the GoldenBoys event was a far more laid back affair. Held in Neo Bar, Barbican, the party was oh so generous with the complimentary cocktails (all renamed with a financial theme). I helped myself to ‘Millionare’s Martinis’ and checked out the site on the laptops set out across the bar. One of the key games on the site is all about gambling on the state of the market – whether it’ll be up or down once trading has ended at the end of the working day. Another is the ‘Millionaires’, another game based on world markets – but, in theory, more predictable than the lottery numbers.

I also got to meet site founder Martin Linham and caught up with PR Adam (who works for event organisers TopLine Communications alongside my sister, Charlotte). When he’s not in the office, he can often be found drumming for Glaswegian alternative rock act There Will Be Fireworks.

Photo of me, Adam and Martin by Sheri Selby

On another note, the event marked the second ‘official’ outing for my Urban Outfitter’s playsuit – a lovely garment in theory (and some might say ‘on-trend’ due the all-over pattern and wide legged pyjama trouser) – but bloody hazardous when out and about. It’s got a zip followed by back of buttons that means that I simply can’t redress myself post toilet-break. Thankfully my friend Sarina was on hand to help with the process!

Keep the invites coming, please!

Make Like A Millionaire

If you won £1,000,000, how would you splash the cash?

That’s the question currently being posed by market traders’ betting site, GoldenBoys. They’re celebrating their launch with a massive competition that gives you the chance to live the life like a member of the financial elite, with a trip to London, 5 star accomodation, Michelin star dining, £1,000 spending money and West End tickets. Obviously, it’s a trip that only a lot of money can buy and, as time is of the essence, the prize also includes a chauffuer driven car (no Oyster card required).

Once the trip is over, the lucky winner will take home a chest packed full of gadgets and goodies to keep them living in luxury (despite a return to the day job).

The competition closes on the 1st May and can be entered here. Before then a lavish party on the 24th April is being thrown to celebrate the launch of GoldenBoys and the announcement of the winner. I’m desperate to blag an invite (hint, hint), although I don’t think I’d make enough of a convincing investment banker to make it past the bouncers…

What would you splash the cash on?