Just got back from a trip to Australia where I got to see my much-missed family in QLD, complete my PhD thesis review milestone at UQ, enjoy the warmth of the sun, see some friends and celebrate my 34th birthday in Sydney. While in Sydney I got to meet up with Peter Hollo (online friend, fellow musician and radio presenter) to chat about music, ideas and things for his programme 'Utility Fog' for Sydney FBi 94.5FM. You can listen to a replay/podcast that conversation, and the whole show online here.
Bigo & Twigetti has been asking artists on the label to remix each other's tracks, with a compilation of the results being released later in the year. My remix effort was a chopped up version of 'Fighters' by Alice & Michi, a small clip of which you can listen to here on Bigo & Twigetti's soundcloud.
Meanwhile excitement builds (in my mind most of all) for the concert featuring the world premiere of 'Kick', performed by the all-Australian London-based chamber orchestra Ruthless Jabiru, hosted by the Government of Western Australia. The concert will be held at Australia House in London on the 9th of May - information about tickets/RSVP and the rest of the programme can be found here. The concert has been written about in the Australian Times, too.
Just found this under a pile of old scores in my writing room. This mind map is from before the start of Machines, and it's interesting (for me, at least) to see this now after the thing is finished and out, comparing the intentions against the reality. Also shows my penchant for brightly coloured felt tip pens.
... and an extra proud moment to see myself featured inside!
Huge congrats to Pam, it's a fascinating and timely book - I am extremely honoured to have been involved. If you're interested, you can purchase a copy from Amazon, or directly from Oxford University Press.
Here's the lovely lady herself, talking about her research (she even talks a little bit about me at around 3 mins in. Also, notice the soundtrack used is "Core" from Feather Hammer thrown in for good measure! So chuffed!)
Anyone who knows me personally, or follows me on twitter or Facebook, might have noticed that I worked my butt off last year (larger projects of note including the David Bowie tribute EP 'You Can't Hide Beat', the feature length soundtrack for 'Attack of the Herbals' and of course Feather Hammer), and those people also might be aware that towards the end of 2011 I had a bit of personal upheaval, breaking up with my partner of nearly 9 years and moving out of my home. It's been a very weird experience, going through all that emotional muck whilst at the same time Feather Hammer was taking off and so many good things were happening for me, music-wise. Now at the start of 2012, it feels like life has stabilised a little bit and more than anything I want to keep the productivity level up because there's so many things I want to do! A full length acapella vocal album! Finish the dang string quartet! More piano things! Looping saxophones! A polyphonic/polyrhythmic purely electronic math-rock monstrosity! More performances! And, it seems, I want to collaborate with every interesting person that I meet. I'm set for a busy time.
Speaking of busy, it's been suggested that I try and aim to have my PhD finished and submitted by early summer. I'm going to give it a shot, even though the mere thought of all that writing up, on top of everything else I want to be doing, gives me the fear. I know I've been stalling a bit, I always have this idea that my portfolio will be "complete" once my latest crazy musical ideas are done, but people are telling me I have enough music now to write the thing up and be finished with it. Part of me will really miss being a PhD student, in the sense that it's a very convenient excuse to indulge in some intellectual wankery now and then. That, and I'll sorely miss my mentors, and being able to run to them in my frequent moments of doubt.
So, in summary, 2011 was indeed the best of times and the worst of times; I got a lot of stuff done, at the expense of lost sleep and personal relationships, but I am excited and optimistic about what 2012 holds in store. I hope you are, too. x
P.S. - In the next few weeks I will be moving back in my Bedford house to prepare it for sale. Anyone out there looking to buy a quaint 3-bed end of terrace in the Castle Rd area of Bedford? (worth a shot)
- dance on stage dressed in a furry animal costume at a Flaming Lips gig
- compose a demo for Tonehammer
make a musical tribute for David Bowie and have him hear it
- achieve my PhD
present a seminar at Cambridge University
- compose for the Piano Circus
- stage invade at a Morrissey gig
- get a PRSF grant to do something very cool
- perform a live set of Tool covers with a string quartet
build my own studio earn enough from music to teach part-time
- go to Cannes film festival to see a film that I composed the soundtrack to
- remix something released by Nonclassical
- finish a large scale orchestral/choral/multimedia work by the time I am 35
- be involved in the music or sound production on a AAA game (preferably Bioware, Rockstar or Bethesda, but I’m not fussy)
It's not that I want people to tell me I'm great all the time, don't get me wrong. It's just that working in a vacuum can breed some serious insecurity. I was speaking to a colleague about this earlier today and he told me the story of his friend who was such a perfectionist that he would never show his creative work to anyone - so wary of people's judgements made on his unfinished work - and he never finished anything. I can relate to that logic a little bit, but in my context those ideas throw a slightly more existential curve: just like the tree falling in the forest when no-one's around, am I still a composer if no-one ever hears the stuff I write?
It's all a bit sad to admit, really. The romantic ideal composer version of me would not be bothered so much. She would be sure of the quality of her own ideas and sod the rest. Everything she wrote would be formed with a clarity of purpose; it would say exactly what she intended it to say and it wouldn't matter so much what people think because she would have prioritised her own artistic satisfaction above all else. If only I was that confident; if only I was so convinced what I was doing wasn't rubbish... but the subjectivity of my experience leads me to question myself all too often. A few times I have been caught up in a project that at the time I thought had potential to be great, but with a bit of hindsight could clearly see was flawed and weak. A horrible feeling.
But despite appearances, I am not writing this to moan or complain. I'm writing this to help myself get a grip and stop being such a wuss. Dealing with feedback and handling criticism is obviously a big part of the job description and I should use this opportunity to get my priorities straight. Am I writing music to make people like me? Is it just about the money and commercial projects? Am I doing it solely to please and impress a client or commissioner?... or do I actually want to say something that reflects my own feelings and perspectives on shit? Honestly, I want it to be the latter more than anything else.
It may not look like it, judging by the action on this blog/site, but for the last 4 to 5 months I have been working my little bum off: a feature length film score that, when delivered, felt like 40 lbs of my own flesh (I enjoyed it immensely don't get me wrong, but maaan that was a lot of music). In addition, and after almost a year of faffing about, I finished and delivered demos and scores of the string quartet to the players. I also drafted a suite of 3 lyric pieces for saxophone trio, scored and sent. So far I've not heard anything from anyone about any of it - for various understandable and good reasons (people moving house, people becoming seriously ill, assorted technical dramas, etc), but still... nothing.
And I'm doing ok, I think. Im learning to trust my own good taste. It's a work in progress.
Sometimes, when someone tells me they make art, I might expect the stuff they make will be "Ok...". Maybe it's just me and my pessimistic outlook on life, but I often have low expectations when it comes to these things (it's a good way to be, since most of the time I'm pleasantly surprised, which is a nice reaction, right?). These arty people show you their latest thing and you're all "Oh wow, that's great!" but in your head you're not really thinking it's truly great art, only that its great that they are pursuing creative endeavours in general. I've been in bands and struggling to have my music heard for years - some of it not very good at all - so I know what it feels like to be humoured by your mates. And of course you're grateful for it, that's what your mates are there for. We all need encouragement.
But then there are people that come into your life who are so good that they knock you on your arse, and you can't believe they are working day-jobs in Bedford and not being shown at the Tate. A person who forces you to recalibrate your scale of superlatives (that handmade coffee cup you liked on Facebook is suddenly not so literally "awesome", for example). Kristian Purcell is such a person. A proper artist. I also have the honour of calling him my friend.
I met Kristian rather unglamourously, as a result of trolling Myspace for potential musical collaborators. This was back in 2007 when Myspace was still sort of happening, but also sort of starting to shrivel and die. He lived in Bedford, he liked Bowie, he could sing and play guitar. That was enough for us (well, enough for me - I'm sure Matt would prefer the Bowie connection didn't exist, since he has had to endure both of us drunkenly screeching our way through "Teenage Wildlife" at least a dozen times to date. I don't think he finds it amusing, which is a shame since I'll probably be inclined to do this as often as I'm drunk on red wine for the rest of my life). He joined the band, we gigged a little bit, wrote some music together and made a record in the spare room of my house. He worked various day jobs, teaching contracts and working at the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery & Bedford Museum; he wasn't famous or critically lauded or making any money from his wonderful art and it didn't seem right.
I remember when he transformed the Wellington Street house he was living in at the time into a makeshift gallery and invited the town to see (and possibly buy) his work. It was a genius bit of initiative, and Matt and I both felt like arseholes for trying to haggle down the prices of the two small pieces we ended up buying that night. Mates rates? C'mon we're all struggling artists here... I also remember sitting with Kristian in the Gordon Arms a few days after Xmas 2008, having a deep discussion about music and art and what the hell we were doing with our lives. We're both the same age, and we share the same frustrations that stem from being unknown, from dealing with universal apathy on a daily basis, the fears that we might have missed our opportunity to be successful. During the course of that conversation we discussed studying our disciplines again and maybe I should take the plunge with the PhD. Within months that wishful drunken chatter had become a reality for me, a decision that (I feel) has put me on the right track with my career.
Kristian deserves success because his art is great. And it's getting better. If you're reading this and you're not familiar with his work, you need to check it out immediately. If you have the means to, invest in one of his pieces now - they're bound to be worth stupid amounts of money one day (chat to him, he might be able to do "mate's rates"). Comment on his blog, because god knows we all need a bit of encouragement.
And the musical collaboration continues, sort of. There are wishy-washy plans to record new material with the band in the new year, but a far more concrete prospect is a gig we'll be playing together at Bedford Esquires on the 20th of November (this Saturday night). It's more a Kristian Purcell solo gig with me accompanying on piano. I think we're even doing a couple of Helzuki songs from that record we made in my spare room in 2008. Should be fun to bust out the furry red stage piano once again, it's been too long.
UPDATE: GIg has been and gone, and here's a review
Ok, maybe that's a tad unfair - after all, we can't help but be influenced by the world around us, and we live a postmodern life - there is no escaping it. I grew up listening to a lot of The Beatles, around the same age I was playing a lot of Bach and becoming aware for the first time in my life of the power of film scores. Have these things imprinted on my music in any practically audible way? Probably not, but it's all in there... all bits floating around in the big soup in my head.
A good working definition of postmodernism that everyone can agree on is difficult to nail down - I'm not sure what I think of Kramer's itemised list of 'postmodern musical characteristics' ("multiple temporalities"?). Georgina Born puts it simply: a synthesis of modernist processes and mechanisms in popular-culture forms (where modernism is defined as music written to challenge and educate, popular music written to sell or promote). K. Robert Schwarz echoes this idea when, in discussing the creative approach of John Adams, he describes a blending of process-based creation and intuitive response as an "eclectic postmodern" ideology. Certainly all of my favourite composers and artists do this — from Fitkin to Eno, Warhol, Bjork, Bowie, Reich, Bryars, Duchamp and Roy Lichtenstein. Mixing up approaches, consciously blending styles, "pick & mix"ing influences, using impersonal processes but treating or developing the results in an artistically intuitive way.
This postmodern ideology favours a communicative approach. The goal is not to educate or challenge, nor is it to sell or promote. The goal is to connect with a listener; to tell a story or influence a feeling using whatever tools are available. Film composers do this all the time - crossing stylistic barriers, working within cliches, anything it takes to create this connection. If the moment calls for the use of jazz elements, and he or she is not a traditional jazz composer, does this diminish the value of the music? Is it unauthentic? Pretentious? Can composers create music in different styles and traditions and still be taken seriously? Can Jonny Greenwood be a writer of pop songs and at the same time make experimental music, atmospheric soundtracks and then be a credible contemporary classical composer?
Of course he can - because he's a bloody marvellous composer. Music is a language, we use it to say things... and we can say whatever we like. It helps if there is someone listening to what you are saying though, if it can connect with people — at that point where music meets life, in those things that relate to the human existence: patterns, rhythms, melody, the tone of a voice, consonances and dissonances, memory and emotion. All the sounds and ideas that have gone before are now part of the vocabulary.
There is no real incentive for me to compose music that is deliberately challenging and impenetrable - if I were to try, it would be sad and pretentious and I'd probably fail hideously. Admitting alignment with the postmodern ideal is not pretentious, it's the truth about my own context. It's that soup in my brain that's been brewing since I first perceived music as a child, it's my preference to prioritise communication through music, using whatever means. Like Stewie here:
It’s been ages since I have written a blog about my music. I have recently had an epiphany and a bit of a breakthrough in my creative process... I almost don’t want to jinx it by talking about it, but I feel a big blog about it will happen soon. Anyway, feeling refreshed, I’ve starting writing music for saxophonist Lara James - some experimental tech-based things, along with some more traditional lyrical pieces. I’m really enjoying it so far.
Next week is Easter holidays and I have a feature length film I’ve been asked to do the music for. It’s called “My Brother’s Keeper” and it’s by filmmaker Lee Hutcheon. Years ago I contributed some music to his award winning feature “In a Man’s World”, and I’m excited to be working with him again. The film is about a soldier that comes back from Afghanistan a mental case, he ends up taking his brother hostage. Fun fun fun!
Other things I should have blogged about recently that I haven’t mentioned:
• Fitkin’s gig at Kings Place. Awesome gig, really inspiring in many ways. The gorgeous Ruth Wall on harp was absolutely mesmerising. Also, a highlight was hearing the composer perform all three parts of The Cone Gatherers for solo piano. Always a favourite of mine (I was so impressed I decided that I too wanted to play it live, so I ordered the score the next day). The only disappointment was the lack of technology, & the lack of real drum kit.... orchestra snares sound rubbish.
• Les Claypool at Koko. I went to this not knowing what to expect... maybe a bunch of Primus tunes? A nostalgic mosh to Tommy the Cat and My Name is Mud? I went along with Matt and we joked that since I dragged him along to see Fitkin’s show he could drag me out to see this.... In the end, the two shows were actually quite similar. Les is touring with a pair of classical percussionists and a cellist. It was intense... like a fusion of prog, jazz, hillbilly & classical music... heavily improvised around bass grooves, loads of technology on stage (loops, digital effects galore). Fantastic!
• Beach House/ Grizzly Bear at the Roundhouse. I had been looking forward to this gig for a long time, having recently gone crazy for Grizzly Bear’s “Veckatimest” (really, such an awesome record). Beach House I also loved dearly, I’m such a sucker for dreamy shoegaze music. A really magical night. I could write about it, but as always my mate Liz says it better here.
• I have tickets to Phil Glass’s premier of Violin Concerto No. 2 next month. *squeal*
2009 is rolling along inevitably towards a bleak winter and new year; mid-November already and I can barely remember October at all beyond a general dark cloud of bullshit college stress, being tired and fighting off a cold. Oh, I did go and see "This is it" with Matt on Halloween night - a great film no doubt, so tragic and bittersweet. Left me feeling slightly raw, though. I guess this is our generation's Lennon or Elvis "is gone" moment. Surreal.
|Dudley gets bigger by the day, and he's totally integrated into our lives now, it's hard to imagine what we did without him. Such a sweet pup, Matt and I had a minor scare when he ate a pig's ear a few days ago.... one minute he was happily chewing on it, next thing we knew he had gulped it down and let out a big burp. We freaked out for a bit, not knowing what to do. We looked online - which is probably the one thing a slightly paranoid puppy owner should NEVER do - and scared ourselves silly reading stories of dogs that died because of intestinal blockages, etc. We made such a fuss, but he wasn't bothered. He's a little toughian. Who will never get to nom on a pig's ear again.|
|Finally, I recently dug out some old Rostropovich recordings to compile into a mix tape for a friend - Lady MacBeth of Mtesnk District, the Shosta Cello Concerto and his wonderful recording of Britten's Cello Suites. Too good for words, honestly... I can't even begin to blog about how special these recordings are. I encourage anyone who likes their soviet era music to be bleak, tragicomic, intelligent, powerful and bleeding with raw downcast emotion to seek them out. Particularly the Lady Macbeth double disc from 1979. Perfection.|
In the glory box downtime I managed to make some music for an A/V project with the artist Peter Sant using my college macbook pro to pull the mix together. I'll post a clip as soon as I get clearance.
If you haven't noticed, I've added another page to this website where people can download free scores - I figure it's good practice for me to publish my own music, and who knows - maybe there's a crazy person out there who might want to play it? Anyways. Baby steps in the right direction.
Dudley came home last Friday night, and was so well behaved on his 4 hour drive back from Cheshire. No oopsies at all! He’s settling in pretty well, except for the crying at night when we leave him alone in his pen. You’d think someone was sawing his little legs off with the way he’s carrying on! Hopefully he’ll get over it soon. Matt and I really need some sleep!!
Yesterday Matt and I drove up to Cheshire to visit the Frenchkisses French Bulldog kennel, to see a little dude that we have had our eye on, from a recent litter.
Originally we were interested in a little pied one (spotty cow-like markings), but this guy stole our hearts when we got there. The breeder, Rachel, was wonderful and and helpful, answering all my anxious first-time puppy questions. It was great to spend time with her, her family and her dogs.
I couldn’t feel more satisfied that Dudley has come from a great place; her daughters regularly handle the puppies, her dogs look really well looked after and happy, and the pups were all born naturally (the litter wasn’t artifically inseminated and birthed by C-section like so many frenchie pups are these days).
Isn’t he the cutest thing you’ve ever seen? Matt and I can’t wait until he comes home to us in 3 weeks.
Click on the ‘read more’ link below to see some more photos of Dudley :D
[update: Rachel sent us some pics of Duds hanging out with his siblings. Check em out]
Sleepy face. We kept waking him up to get a picture and all he wanted to do was pass out for a nap.
I know... cute overload, right? I love his little white fingers.
Here’s some pics Rachel sent us of Dudley chillin’ with his sister and brothers:
He’s on the far right... his little french manicure gives him away...
Chubby little front legs!
Dudley on the move...
Turns out the cheeky cat actually has a home, his real name is Moses, and he simply fancied moving in with us part-time cos he’s a greedy attention seeking cat-about-town. I got talking to his owner (a neighbour a few houses down the road), who assured me that he’s got a good place to live, he’s just a bit miffed that they have new kittens and he’s not getting attention.
So he still comes by, but we don’t feed him or let him in anymore. Every morning at about 8 he meows at the back door for some lovin. Sometimes he drops by in the afternoons, and might come over for a nap in our garden on weekends. The perfect pet: we don’t have to feed it or clean up after it or take it to the vet, but we get to pat it and give it cuddles. Nice!
And he’ll always be McNulty to us. :)
[cool photo by Matt]
Mistakes, I’ve made a few... like planting all my veg in too close, not giving my mutant pumpkins enough room to “spread”, underestimating the power of a few small pansies which now threaten to take over. That flower to the left? Aubergine.
Last year I planted a Eucolyptus “shrubbery” and we all watched in amazement as it began reaching for the stars.... I somehow neglected to read the tag that says clearly if I do not prune often, it could become a tree, 20 odd foot high! Whoops. So this morning, a year and a half late, I gave it a good chop job. I also took the opportunity to get some progress photos. Click the “read more” link to see em...
Pansy-town can’t really afford many new residents.
a closer look...
a bit out of focus, but some baby tomatoes
Clemantis corner is starting to scale the fence... maybe she’ll get there next year. :(
Our back yard view.
It’s real basic composition tool-kit stuff..., but every time you use it people are inclined to go “oooh, you’re referencing Glass here”, or worse accuse you of plagiarism and then refer you to Glassworks or The Hours or his Metamorphosis suite for piano as proof. Rah!
Minor rant over. I forgive you, Phil. But only cos you’re so awesome.
The trip to Ireland with my mother was quite nice, if not a slight let down after the sheer beauty-blowout of the Swiss Alps experience. Maybe it was the constant rain than put a damper (or should I say dampness) on things. They call it “liquid sunshine” over there. Poor sods, I thought we had it bad in England. In summary: the Guiness was tasty, the grass was green, the wind was windy, the music was “diddly”. Some photos included on the ‘read more’ link below.
So now Mum has returned home to Australia and life for us goes back to normal. Alas her leaving means the end of our holidays for the summer. It was great to see her again, aside from jetting about Europe we enjoyed some fine meals, a great gig at the Jazz Cafe in London... and most impressively, she managed to watch all three seasons of Deadwood in almost as many days! I think she deserves some kind of trophy for that, a small statuette in the shape of Al Swearengen.
Now I’m back in the studio, cleaning the dust off the mixing desk, preparing it and myself for a new batch of projects. To begin the process in a calm way, I’ve been scrapbooking some of the ideas that have been clogging up my brainflow these past 2 months: colours, shapes, textures, words. It’s all very stimulating, and some of the finished collages ended up crazy surreal. I’ll post some examples once I get to writing and demo’ing these things out.
mmm... “tators”. Potatoes for every meal. I was blocked up for almost a week afterwards.
Glasto was fabulous. Warm and sunny most of the time, the highlight of my weekend was Neil Young (I’m in love with another old man, what is wrong with me!), probably the best gig I have ever seen in my life. I’m not a person prone to making lists of things (my mate Liz is quite “high fidelity” like that) , but after witnessing that performance I would have to say my top three gigs of my life so far would be:
1.) Neil Young @ Glasto 2009,
2.) Morrissey @ Livid Festival 2002,
3.) Meshell Ndegeocello @ Jazz Cafe 2008.
Oooh after writing that I suddenly feel so... nerdy. Other awesome bits included a spine tingling set from Bon Iver, the always beautiful Bat for Lashes, Spinal Tap, Metric and of course the Boss.
It was strange hearing of Michael Jackson’s death while on the site - lots of whispers and rumours floating around on the Thursday evening left us wondering if it was really true. You feel so cut off from the real world while inside the festival. Once confirmed, it took me a few days for the news to sink in - I kept thinking it was an elaborate set-up - that Michael would pop up on the Pyramid stage as the secret special guest, wearing his zombie getup doing the Thriller dance, mending all our broken hearts in the process. And it has left me feeling philosophical about my small role in the tragedy as a ticket holder to his now-cancelled shows. I am sure there are plenty of blogs out there poring over the subject, discussing and dissecting if not just remembering and mourning therefore I will not attempt to add to the number. I would only want to comment that I am finding the whole thing immensely sad.
On the way back from Glasto we picked my Mum up from Heathrow. After our 6 days of camping in the muggy heat it must have been a pretty funky car ride back to Bedford for her. We decided as a present we’d take her to the Swiss Alps, and that’s where we’ve been for the last 5 days. The scenery over there is to die for.... I had been told about it and had seen pictures but I wasn’t really prepared for so much beauty on such a large scale. Click the “leave a comment” link to see some photos if you’re interested.
All photos here taken by Matt Roles (whom I think is getting pretty nifty with the camera these days... though with scenery this good I think it would be rather difficult to manage a shite photo!)
Yes - another boring garden blog, which is really just pics of my early June garden, the strange local cat that has moved in with us and a family of hedgehogs that have built a home under the forsythia.
Fat bums hanging out of feeding bowls.
They all look the same, but there’s definitely at least 2 of them. We call them all “Bunk”.
This is the back door to Bunk’s house. You can kinda see them sleeping inside (well I could at the time, didn’t come out too good in the photo)
Marigolds are out :)
This is our part-time cat, we call him/her “McNulty”
Pansy-town is looking better populated these days.
Pumpkin update: I now realise that I totally planted these guys too close to each-other. oops.
Front door to Bunk’s house. He’s the one who messes up my mulch every night, as you can see here...
Pansy-town and pumpkin village.
View from the house.
This is the wicked BBQ Matt got for free from Gumtree. FREE!! :-o Apparently someone didn’t want to bother restoring it. It’s HUGE! 4 gas burners. Took us one day to sort it out - some people are too damn lazy.
Going through some old photos I found these little mysteries from 2007. This is me sealing some kind of deal with the legendary producer Tony Visconti (Bowie/Bolan), the particulars of which I can’t exactly recall since I was massively inebriated at the time. I think it was something to do with him coming to do a talk at my uni campus next time he was in the UK, though I’m sure he just thinks I’m some crazy drunk chick harassing him and didn’t take it seriously.
As I don’t happen to recall (but am told), the night concluded with me being kicked out of this establishment.
You see... in America everything is big, you order a shot of neat whiskey is receive a half-pint, more if you tip them nicely. This is the reason why I can never live in America.
All my little babies are growing up! Since the last update it has been a dramatic and traumatic few weeks.
Due to some catastrophic wind conditions over the past month (our backyard is like a wind-tunnel and I have no idea why), we lost 3 baby pumpkin plants, a tomato plant, a few pansies, a lilly bulb that eroded and fell over, and a gooseberry plant that drowned in it’s own cloche.
I even mysteriously lost one of the three rhubarbs, it just disappeared. But those that survived the trials are established now and going strong.
This long weekend past I have been out there mulching my heart out. Hopefully this will stop the roots eroding in the high winds, and put an end to the local cats using my garden beds as a toilet. The whole garden is starting to look ace, I’ll take some pics of the whole thing once the mulching is done. This afternoon I’m going to plant out some marigolds and dahlias... then that’s it! The planting of the babies will be officially over.
Pumpkin flowers. I can taste the soup already.
Hard to tell what these are... but in the middle is the eggplant, and slightly to the left is the romano tomatoes. Some are still in cloches, I’m not risking it anymore, I tried to fight the wind tunnel before and I didn’t win.
Right - this is weird - last year I planted a strawberry patch in a sunny corner of the garden and over the winter completely forgot about it. When I go in to clear out the weeds I come across this - I don’t know if you can see it but it looks like there’s about 50 fruits on that dang thing. And the strawberry plants decided to branch out and have babies of their own, which I didn’t know about. Now I have about 25 of these plants, all covered in fruit. Crazy!
Baby pansy corner.
Awwer. My fave flower in the whole world. They remind me of little happy smiling faces.
That blank spot is the site of the mysterious disappearing rhubarb plants.
After the crazy string arranging overload of the last two weeks I promised myself my next project would be electronic, so I have been busying myself with creating a demo-reel centered on music appropriate for games this past week. The idea is to take it to IGDA meetings and game conventions, get out there networking and to shove the demo reel in people’s faces whilst at the same time begging for a job.
After a few false starts where I grappled with the issues of personal style, I think I have finally found something that works for me. I guess its valuable to try something different and fail enormously at it - at least then you know for sure that the particular style or format is not your forte and you should stay well away! You can’t walk through life thinking you’re awesome at everything, a master of every style.
.... And thus Leah discovered retro 8-bit style computer game/iPhone music is just not what she’s about. Best leave that shiz to the experts. After this I then gathered up my spirits and began work on a dark electronic track with loads of creepy sound design and a nasty fat chopped up DnB beat that breaks loose the twisted ambience like an aneurysm. It’s coming along so well it’s practically writing itself! I’ll post it here as soon as I have a decent enough demo of it.
I’ve been protecting these damn seedlings like a mad mother hen -- with such a fuss I sometimes scare myself!
Pumkins, eggplants, tomatoes. All a week old.
My laughing gnome
outside, courgettes and garlic getting some sun. In the back some thyme and sage
There’s Matt consulting his precious DIY book. One wonders what schemes he plots this morning...
Got another string arrangement to do for Monty (I worked for him previously on “Ballad of St Valentine”, there’s a clip on the audio page). The deal is if the recording session gets done early enough I may get some time with the players to record some new material for myself. My head is racing with ideas already, there wouldn’t be enough time in the world to record everything I’m thinking of right now. Got to narrow it down...
I see my name has been added to the Classical Composer’s Database. Definitely getting a kick out of seeing my name listed here alongside Sculthorpe and Brumby! Check it out, Ma! heh
On the weekend I got out into the garden and got my hands good n dirty. This summer I want it to be spectacular! And mostly edible. If the credit crunch kicks me down, at least I’ll have loads of courgettes and garlic to get us through for a few months. For the first time ever I am going to attempt growing pumpkins - the really big-arse kind. I might document my progress in this blog, why not, eh? Also starting from seed with rhubarb, gooseberries, black chilli, bell peppers, onion, romero tomatoes, more courgette and eggplant. Planted out a stack of garlic cloves too. When it’s all ready I’ll be able to make wicked antipasto. Mmmm.
I did this score over three nights during a work week ... and I think it turned out alright considering that David saw fit to use the first draft I sent him of the score. I get a bit of a kick out of working quickly like this, efficiency is an underrated virtue these days - especially in music - so often having too many ingredients spoils the dish. I limited myself to 1 melodic motif and a sound palette of piano, celeste, strings and backwards reverbs. I created the creepy animal-like sounds by putting piano reverbs through Logic’s vocal transformer and messing with the formants. Fun!
You can check out some more of David’s short film work HERE.
In other news, I got my Michael Jackson tickets! 30th of July, me and Liz will be there ready to either be blown away by the best and biggest pop comeback of all time, or slightly disappointed but yet fascinated by a train-wreck of gigantic proportions. It’ll be music history either way. And I’ll be there! Whoop!
Eyelashes of Gina swept into my little studio for three days last weekend and left behind two shiny new song nuggets. We uploaded them to the band’s website (which is linked just to the right of this blog). If you actually go and listen to the music I want you to keep two things in mind: 1, remember that it’s only supposed to be a laff.... and 2, that all tracks were conceived, brainstormed, performed and recorded in a few hours. Keeping in mind those two points, I think things turned out ok!
I thank the gods for creating Melodyne! Man I love technology...
click here to hear it
Starting tomorrow night and for a few days, the Eyelashes of Gina will be moving into Glory Box Studios to work more on their upcoming album. This means I need to stock up on whisky and cover the furniture in plastic... My boyfriend has vacated the house, off on a ski holiday - everything is set in place and I can feel some genius music coming on. :)
In other news? .... not a lot! Just generally chipping away at the mountain of half-started projects I have here.
I find myself constantly fantasizing about two things these days:
one of these:
.... and being able to earn enough money making music so I can teach less and compose more. Teaching music full time is not where I want to be in 5 years time, despite how much I love it. I just need a couple of big jobs to come in, jobs that actually pay, then I might be able to scale my hours back. (snap out of it Leah!).
Then again the full time job might allow me to pay for an extortionately priced ticket to see this!
oooooh!!!!!!!!!! I’m not ashamed. I admit I am (like all Aussies) desperately uncultured, no matter how much I bang on about Shostakovich I can’t deny the King of Pop! Must. Get. A. Ticket.....
Happy and busy with a handful of quite enjoyable projects right now. It is strange to be working on so many different things at once, and it’s weird how the same melodies and textures are coming out in all of these various projects, as if I’m really only writing one piece in many forms. As a break from the relentless music making, I’ve been busy sewing up some snarky crosstitch samplers to hang around my home (just finished the ‘irony’ one).
Here are a few that I still have lying around (I tend to give the best ones away to my friends)...
In other news, here’s a random list of things that are currently knocking about in my brain: excitement over the upcoming Morrissey tour; wishing the warmer weather would stay; wondering if I should finally go part-time at work; wanting a puppy for my 30th birthday; wondering if it is the right time to plant my vegetable patch; should I dye my hair red; should I continue resisting twitter; wouldn’t a nice hot bath right about now be so lovely. I wish the answer to all of these things is yes.
... and I am a busy bee. Got a violin and double bass duet due by the 15th of March, followed closely by a chamber work for woodwinds in early April. Love it when things get busy like this.
Despite all the classical stuff, I am still looking for that special media project to sink my contextually moody teeth into. A short film, perhaps? Sound design? If the perfect project is out there, I would consider doing the work gratis (but it would have to be *perfect*, yeah?)
My winter sun trip to Mallorca was very nice indeed, thanks for asking. Since returning I seem to crave paella constantly, and I have had some old freckles come out of hiding to remind me of the old days under the Aussie sun ... (all this despite the fact I still look like Casper the Friendly Ghost’s sister in the pic below). Did you know the ‘black’ in a ‘black paella’ is squid ink? Did you also know it was delicious? Morrissey would be most displeased.
It was extra nice to return to a Spring-like UK; that warm pollen smell in the air leads me to fantasise about June/July, potting about in the garden, sunsets at 10pm, no students for three glorious months. Then I remember its only Feb and it all feels like a cruel joke!
Right, here’s a photographic summary of our winter sun sojourn:
We looked at some water...
We did some hiking along coastal cliffs in inappropriate footwear...
We drank a lot of booze...
Laughed at funny looking dogs...
... and we angered Morrissey by eating some tasty animals which we later paid money to see alive at Palma Aquarium (which is excellent, by the way!).
How happy am I about my impending week in Mallorca? About as happy as any Australian who has just endured 2 weeks of snow and the freezing Russian winds; who found a cheap getaway to a regular British-package-holiday-type-island with significantly warmer climes. Yes I’m chuffed. I clearly lack the genetic disposition for walking to work on the ice. Snow? I’m over it! Deliver me to a beach, please.
Work wise, things are looking up. When I made this site and plugged it on a few websites I had no idea I would get such a positive response so quickly. The problem is everyone’s project sounds like fun.
Another problem is I have just initiated earnest discussions about cool sounding projects with cool creative people and I’m going away on holiday tomorrow. I’m going to have to find a way to be selective - especially since this is not really about the money for me, but rather exercise and experience.