This record is my palate cleanser, something to counter a growing feeling in myself and how I perceive my little corner of the ‘contemporary classical’ landscape, which can sometimes feel very serious and a bit humourless. For my own personal rococo statement, I wanted my music to feel fresh and fun again: to make space for moments of wit and charm; use strong colours; to completely shed any self-seriousness and be open to possibilities.
The album has been created using analogue instruments and recording techniques at Visconti Studio in London. I brought in some amazing players: Paul Glover on drums, Ben Dawson on piano, Lara James on sax, Charles Mutter, Patrick Savage and Richard Harwood on strings. I turned my inexperienced hand to tuned percussion (vibes, marimba, glocks and bells), and vocals. Rather than use virtual instruments and samples (like I usually do) this time I played the CP40, MiniMoog, Moog Sub37 and Mellotron.
I can't wait for people to hear it. x
In late October a few friends and I went in to Visconti Studio to make a track and 'learn how to use the new kit'. The timing was good, as the God Is In The TV Zine had recently asked me to contribute to their Scott Walker covers compilation Plastic Palace People. With help from fellow KU music colleague Alex Evans, and my very good friend Andrew Wiggins, we knocked out this version of Duchess in an evening: me on piano, vocals, drums and mellotron, Andy on guitar, percussion and bvs, Alex on Hammond organ, mellotron, percussion and bvs. Fun!
From the 24th August and over 7 days, I was invited along with some other bigo & twigetti artists and special guests to assist in collaboratively writing, arranging, performing, recording, editing and mastering an album from scratch to release. The experiment is complete, and you can stream/download Variables on Bandcamp now.
The album features contributions from Jim Perkins, Tiny Leaves, Lucy Claire, Chris Perren (Nonsemble), Antonymes, Richard Talbot (Marconi Union) & myself. For an experiment in subverting individual process and authorship, I think there are some genuinely lovely moments that have come out of this. It's also received some nice feedback from Stationary Travels and was "approved" by Complete Music Update. Richard Allen at A Closer Listen called it "sublime", commenting further that "the collaborative spirit is alive and well at bigo & twigetti; we congratulate the artists on a beautiful set that seems like it might have taken a year to complete, had we not known otherwise."
Some photos from my activities in the week:
Violist Ariane Alexander
A broken harpsichord I found in a store room
Feather Hammer throwbacks
The wonderful graffiti wall out front.
The Dark Side of the Moon console, a.k.a. MUSIC TECH PORN
It should say: "On hearing an alarm, ignore the screams of your burning friends and colleagues. RUN to the second floor corridor and rescue the Sgt Pepper 4 track console. Ride it to safety."
James helps James with those high notes.
I didn't manage to get any photos of Laura in action because I was too busy squealing with excitement at how amazing everything was sounding. She did such an incredible job, it almost pains me to make you wait to hear the results. I did, however, manage to get some photos of the delicious vintage keyboards I borrowed for the weekend. Total keyboard porn.
I got the Rhodes stage 88 and the Wurly EP200 from Matt Snowball backline hire, whose service I can highly recommend. Totally helpful and reliable, and the high quality vintage kit seems to be lovingly maintained. Needless to say, I now need a Wurly in my life; if only to soothe myself to sleep each night with some gentle buttery chords.
A few days prior to these sessions, I was at Kool World studios in Luton with George Hinchcliffe (of 'Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain' fame), recording material for his new album (which I am producing). He brought along what I can only describe as an abundance of ukuleles:
This little one, in particular, summons up strange maternal instincts within me when I hold it...
We mic'd up the strings and the pedal mechanics (underneath, though you can't see that)... we also set up a mic on the keyboard itself to capture the clacking of my currently unkempt fingernails. Matt was very helpful today, not only in being a roadie but also in holding down strange chord shapes for me while I prepared the strings. We had a little jam session on the lowest E string featuring me playing the 2pence coin and Matt's slap bass action-thumb. Nice!
In other news, Matt has managed to give himself Pharyngitis and I feel the same thing creeping up on me slowly. Just in time for Easter holidays, which is rather crappy indeed!
I’ve decided to spend these next two weeks coughing and moaning about my sore throat, sitting on the couch drinking tea watching my boyfriend finish playing Saints Row II. In the down time maybe I’ll work on a new game-soundtrack-oriented-demo reel. I just joined this wonderful online community called G.A.N.G (game audio network guild) in an effort to learn more about the medium and have found myself very inspired and surprised at the openness, friendliness and supportive nature of the group. I’m used to composers being bitchy, petty, jealous and snippy at each other. Seems these game audio people are just in it for the love. A nice change!