Late resolutions

I realise it’s not seasonal anymore to declare fresh intentions for the year, but I just spent twenty quid on a bluetooth keyboard from Tiger that has a shortcut for a dollar sign in place of a pound so I thought I’d give it a spin and try actually writing something with it.

So yes, this might be a poorly structured post. Please bear with!

There are many, many things I’d like to do this year. After a trip to New York in January to visit my lovely friend Jonny, I realised that maybe I’m not so scared of flying at all; big planes are better are taking off than spindly budget airlines after all. That’s the secret! And if you fly further, they bring you wine! Therefore, I need to travel more, and fear less. Not every penny needs to go into the ISA (although the raising of the allowance is clearly a good thing, it also means it’s nigh on impossible for me to fill it, so no treats for achieving this come April!)

I need to start running again. I had a day off today and forced my way outside. I was shocked by how fine I felt. And then I started running. It was hard – I hadn’t run up the notorious hills of Greenwich Park for a couple of months – but I also managed to make it to the final furlong without a stitch. And that to me is an achievement. (I got a stitch in the last bit, but that’s okay, I didn’t stop.)

In New York I started making Touchcasts again and remembered how much I enjoy talking to a camera. I don’t enjoy admitting it. I’m going to change this and start as I mean to go on; I LOVE TALKING TO YOU VIA A LENS. I WANT TO BE CLAUDIA WINKLEMAN. Or at the very least, I’d like to get to the point where other people want me to work with them and let me give it a go outside the confines of my bedroom, using something other than my iPad delicately balanced on a hazardous pile of books and paper.

My blog is becoming less of a blog, more a brain landfill. I’d like to get it back on track and post more regularly; about friends’ projects, comedy, those videos I mentioned. Things that matter to me – and others. I had every intention of writing my thoughts on No More Page 3 and then I didn’t.

Bake, cook and be a good host – that’s something that’s always on my to do list. I tell people all the time they should come for dinner. I need to follow up on this!

Gig again – I go through periods of playing guitar a lot, and then not at all. I miss writing songs and I miss gigging. But I can’t bear the pay to play culture and I don’t always like playing solo.

Go to an improv class. I’m not a comic, but I need to push myself a bit more. No one tends to believe this; I can be quite introverted and have to work hard to talk to new people. I’m quite jokey and people think I’m nervous because of it – they don’t take me seriously and when I do act seriously, the change can scare them! And I need to go to ‘things’ – be it a recommended event in Time Out magazine, volunteering to be an extra or getting behind the camera (as well as in front of it).

It’s not an exhaustive list, but it does sound exhausting, doesn’t it? Wish me luck – or better still, share your ideas for how I can get started! (Thanks!)

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The New Year list

I’m deliberately not calling this post ‘New Year’s Resolutions’ because I don’t think I need to change who I am – and nor should you – but because I’m a fan of a to-do list and this is a good excuse to create an ‘action plan’ for 2014…

2013 has been, for the most part, fine. It’s gone ridiculously fast too. There were big changes at the start and end of the year (I got dumped by email in January – ouch) and changed jobs (moving to EastEnders in late December), but for the most part I feel like I’ve coasted along.

However, everyone should take a moment to think about the good bits as well as the disappointing receiving of electronic communications and so here are a few of the highlights…

#Team NCA

The BBC Radio New Comedy Award returned in 2013 (we got a BBC Production Award nomination for the 2012 multiplatform element that I produced which was pretty cool) and I found myself without a budget so recruited a big batch of amazing volunteers to help film and edited each film myself. The core group of Producer Tilusha, Production Co-Ordinator Tam and Production Management Assistant Isma were bloomin’ hilarious and wonderful. And of course the most fabulous Executive Producer Alison Vernon-Smith and the stylish (and talented) Production Manager Hayley Nathan. My favourite production of the 18 months I spent at BBC Radio Comedy.

Grainne & J-Bugg shake up the Beeb

I found two excellent, talented friends in the new Radio Comedy bursary writers…

A Summer of gigs!

Thanks to Elena Dana, I finally started gigging in London, even making my jazz debut. And I got a new telecaster… now to get an amp (see 2014 to-do list…) I also wrote at least three songs I can count among my favourites.

Making my own damn icing, thank you very much

When I baked in the Get Flat in 2012, someone else was around to do the icing while I made the batter. My early solo icing efforts were watery and rubbish. Then one day, thanks to a Primrose Hill Bakery coffee buttercream recipe, I cracked it. (Although I did have a massive icing fuck-up the other day and had to buy the pre-mixed stuff for a Xmas party at Grainne’s but never mind…)

Comedy! Comedy! Comedy!

I saw some amazing shows and met some hilarious, lovely people this year. People who made me laugh included: Bridget Christie, Phil Wang, Steve Bugeja, Rob Carter, Katherine Bennett, Kate Lucas, Adam Hess, Tom Craine, Joe Lycett, Dean Sekhon, Peter Brush, Grainne Maguire, Mae Martin, Nick Helm Sarah Campbell, Nish Kumar, James Bran, Joe Davies, Ivo Graham James Acaster, Dane Baptiste, Jonny Pelham (and many, many more – go and check them out…)

Producing a book… sort of

In the New Year the BBC will be releasing an iBook about writing for Radio Comedy that I produced… I’ll post more about this in 2014!

Anyway, 2013 review aside, there’s loads for me to be getting on with next year, so here’s some stuff I’d like to do in 2014…

  • Buy amp to go with new telecaster (rather than playing through mixing desk connected to computer speakers)
  • Finish painting bedroom – there’s no longer a reasonable excuse for the large unpainted patch behind the wardrobe!
  • Cook a wider variety of foods (other than jacket potato, pasta and homemade sauce and stir fry)
  • Invite friends over more regularly to share wider variety of foods
  • Apologise less for the way I look
  • Be less passive when someone judges the way I look unnecessarily
  • Buy more cushions for my large sofa
  • Keep up the exercise and resist chocolate/ice cream temptations!
  • Practice guitar more
  • Find rhythm section to play with me and Reece (who I’m working on songs with)
  • Get keyboard out again
  • Record more music – and record it better
  • Read more on my Kindle
  • Find permanent contract
  • Renew ISA
  • Fill up ISA
  • Invest in more loose leaf teas
  • Save up for Canon 5D
  • Be better at getting people together – but not feel so guilty if I don’t
  • Enjoy self as much as possible
  • Blog more!

There’s definitely more – most of that reads like a shopping list! I must have January sales on the brain….

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?

New Let’s Buy Happiness single alert!

I’ve been waiting for Newcastle’s Let’s Buy Happiness to release their debut LP for about  two years now.

However, I think us fans have done our time now and so do the band, if the online debut of the album’s first single is anything to go by.

Here it is – Run.

I’ve heard this live a few times and it’s always gorgeous, but they’ve clearly made the most of being in a studio. Give it a play and feel those sublime waves of guitar ambience and vocals wash over you… and, when you think it couldn’t get any better, four minutes in a divine build in the music, with extra crunch from the guitar takes things even further.

SERIOUSLY THOUGH GUYS, WHERE’S THE ALBUM ALREADY?

Who are The Wanted?

If I ever have a daughter I would probably have ‘The Talk’ with her. It wouldn’t be the typical ‘Talk’ of sexual education, or of boys in her peer group. It would be about crap boybands such as The Wanted, something along the lines of; “you are not following them! Here, have this Radiohead album instead. That Jonny Greenwood was a right looker in the nineties. I’ll buy you a poster if you like?”

And here’s why:

  • The Wanted pick fights with One Direction. I’m not a ‘Directioner’ (I’m 24), but I’ve seen the Tweets directed at 1D (who are an acceptable boyband, even though they cannot dance). They’re the tweets of a band needing to create headlines by forging rivalries.
  • Lack of decent tunes. I don’t like their singles, so imagine what an album filler track would sound like…
  • They released this music video:

Why is there a random shot of a girl in her underwear with her friend? The camera barely sees her face (in a shot later in the film it gazes tantalizingly instead on her midriff). Despite the ‘LADS! LADS! LADS!’ image the guys are trying oh-so-hard to portray, they are still a boyband and boybands are marketed at young girls. So why objectify one? WHO IS THIS FOR?

Oh, and finally.

  • My daughter would have better taste.

I may have briefly mentioned that 1D cannot dance, but hey, they have a sense of humour.

So yes, future takers of One Direction’s (or the future equivalent’s) crown, this is the blueprint for sucess. Humour, squeaky clean faces and a good songwriting team – step away from the pint glass (or ‘Jar’ one of The Wanted call it in the ‘We Own the Night’ horror posted earlier).

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!

Harkive 2013

On 9th July 2013, Harkive will be welcoming music fans from across the globe to share their listening habits. A ‘Life in the Day (of my iPod)’ if you like…

I only just found out about it through founder Craig Hamilton, but I’m really excited that he dropped me a line about it. (You can follow the project on Twitter here.)

The idea is to keep a record of everything you listen to on the 9th July 2013. You can do this in spoken word via Audioboo, Soundcloud or Youtube, or write it all down via Twitter, your own blog, in an email or by using a contact form on the Harkive website – details are all here. Stories can be submitted up until the deadline on the 16th July, before the stories and information is gathered and sifted through to create a complex view of how we consume music today.

Harkive logoIf the project proves a success, Craig hopes for it to become an annual worldwide event, in the vein of the hugely popular Record Store Day. He’s already had coverage in one of my favourite music blogs, Popjustice, and there’s also support from Wichita Recordings and the Glee Club, who are providing prizes for some of the best stories from the day. In time, the yearly submissions will show how the way we discover and listen to music is changing – it might even be a way for us to share how we’re listening and get ideas on how to find our new favourite bands.

So, if you see me tweeting my listening habits with the hashtag #Harkive, you’ll understand why!

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…