Writing with Kevin

I finally got back to working with Kevin this week and developing our co writing more music for our collaboration project. It’s a fascinating journey when there are no rules about what music we write.

Everything is up for grabs: form, rhythm, melody, harmony instrumentation, times, styles, moods…….hmm I’m curious myself to hear the outcome.

It’s very liberating knowing that we can attempt to create whatever style of music our souls produce. We’ll put up some audio so that everyone can follow the journey.

If I Could Walk on Water…

We had a great session recording the vocals for ‘If I Could Walk on Water’. Emily did a great job singing the vocals and all three of us worked in a truly collaborative way to further develop the song. We have big plans for it!

It’s very rewarding having such a close collaboration from three people with totally different backgrounds and who were strangers prior to meeting up at the Chris Difford Songwriting Retreat. Nice!

Sunny Surbiton

I’m continuing my travels next week with a visit to Surbiton in Surrey to attend a recording session with Matt and Emily.

The three of us co-wrote a song last year at the Chris Difford songwriting retreat which we all like and are very proud of. Its called If I Could Walk on Water

I put together a backing track and Matt has recorded a really neat piano track so we are getting together to record Emily’s vocals. She has such a great voice.

Writing.. and lefting

I am planning to continue with my co-writing with Kevin for our collaboration project. We wrote some stuff in late 2017 and we are pleased with the outcome so plan to do more soon.

It’s very open and experimental in nature with no real boundaries as to what we produce and how we produce it.

Not that it matters. We just wanna make music that is original, interesting, has substance and is entertaining. Its a recurring theme it seems.

You can see the concentration as we try to remember the weird open chord voicings for a song called Harlequin which we need to develop the idea some more.

Zdiar writing

I’m just back from Germany where me and Ralf had 4 solid days of writing for a new Zdiar album (Zdiar is our band/collaborative project)

It’s always interesting and exciting as the music we produce is fairly experimental and a combination of both of our styles/likes/preferences.

The final output is hard to define – just as we like it. We try to avoid regular forms or music, instrumentation and arrangements to try to be different and original but still be entertaining and have ‘singable’ catchy songs.

We got 4 new songs fairly well developed and we have some older material too. We have good laughs too – as per the photo.

We plan to get it released in 2018, that would be impressive given our historically low rate of output.
And yes our writing and recording is better than our photography.

It’s a Mirage …or not

I have never been a huge fan of sampling. I dunno why but I’ve just never felt comfortable with it from a playing and recording perspective. I remember initially being excited about it and splashing out around £1800 for the an Ensoniq Mirage Mk1.

I originally thought sampling offered a great answer to getting access to sounds from gear that I could never get my hands on.

And of course watching Peter Gabriel demonstrating how creative you could be using the Fairlight on his third album was really exciting.

However the Ensoniq Mirage sampler with a fiddly keypad, one slider, two digit display, 8 bit sounds and an operating system loading from a floppy disk was a very different proposition.

I remember playing a gig in a pub venue with a sound meter linked to the electrical supply so that if the band got too loud the power cut out. So waiting 3 minutes to reboot the Mirage from floppy disks between power cuts was painful.

I took my Mirage to Germany for some recording sessions in the late 90’s and forgot to bring it back so someone somewhere has an old 8 bit piece of sampling history/junk lying around.

They are welcome to it. I’ll stick to modelled instruments and the software samplers on my Mac.

Germany calling …again

I travelled a lot to Germany in the mid 90’s for music/recording projects. That was in the earliest days of music making with under powered computers so I would try and carry some gear on planes before they got all snotty about weights and stuff.

I remember carrying an Ensoniq Mirage Mk1 (steel chassis and case!) in a flight case on the plane to a session and trying to convince BA that it was hand luggage and very fragile.

Ha ha you can imagine the face on the BA check in person! Well….. you gotta try.

Its all different now. I’m off to Germany for writing and recording again in a few days but my entire studio exists on my Mac. I sometimes use Logic but often use Garage Band for doing quick demos while I’m on the move as its quick and easy for capturing ideas.

The wee Akai ‘keyboard’ is OK but it’s not great for playing piano parts…… or Tarkus.

Another Songwriting Masterclass – Nik Kershaw

Nik Kershaw at the Sage 2 in Gateshead last night was another songwriting masterclass highlight for me this year. A great wee venue, a great engaging performer and superb songs. Nik Kershaw is one of my all time favourite songwriters. Master lyric writer and catchy tunes. Awesome.

He did sing one my favourite songs too: the song about the cereal eating mule ‘Donkey Oatey’

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