Crackled chairs and fresh air

Welliwell, autumn really is here. I braught in a leaf from a very cold outside the other day to try out my London Natural History Museum pocket microscope (say that 10 times fast). For some reason a dead leaf really sparkles close up. Weird and beautiful.

Regardless of season, the music doesn’t stop. This is more a time of music videos, recording, reference listening and reading, more than live performances. If you’re not getting much daylight anyway you might as well turn on the spotlights inside. That’s not to say gigs are a no-no.

In fact, we rehearsed for one yesterday. Here you have the importance of keeping your gig bag as is. I just assumed mine was packed and ready to go, as usual, but got to the purrdy rehearsal room and discovered… no power adapter! “So? Just get another one, should be loads in rehearsal rooms, right?” Yes. But it’s extremely important that it’s the right voltage and also the right charge. (+ to – or the other way around). So we had to go to another rehearsal room close by and do our thing there. The room stank of sweat, the keyboard had no sustain pedal, you couldn’t change sounds on it and occasionally, when you hit a key it would give out this weird synth pad sound. Cymbals were totally cracked. The only decent thing was the bass amp, even that was a bit off and at times Silja couldn’t hear a thing.

We were supposed to rehearse a few sounds we hadn’t rehearsed in a while. So it was really like “aaaah, good luck, us”. Butcha know what? We rocked it. We got in the flow and started moving the way we do, and totally pretended everything was sounding fantastic. Rehearsals for a show are often just about getting in the groove again, doing your things, the musicians doing their things in combination with yours. An improved sound? That’s often for the one or the few last rehearsals, you know your thing, now let’s develop it. Let’s make it sound even better with this effect or this mix or me doing this on the piano/voice in combo with what I’m already doing.

The most fun was the broken chair though. It looked like someone had chewed on it, it had a big crack going through the middle and it bulged. I felt big and mighty. I’ve never made a chair bulge before! ;D

Joni Mitchell, Mama Cass and Mary Travers

Joni Mitchell, Mama Cass and Mary Travers

What a joy. A must watch for music lovers and friends! πŸ˜€Β I wonder if they’d have made it pass the Idol jury, they’re not doing overt wailing and their voices are far too unique…

New song Weak is up!

After a long hiatus with half fun and half not-so-fun (first London, then in bed with a nasty fever for a whole week) I’m finally putting this little doosie up. It’s an old song of mine, probs 2005-2006, and my wives love it! I thought there should be a chance, partly for me to make a new rendition of it and a clue to where it would go on a record, and partly for my wives to listen online as that record may not be reality until 2016 (I have themes and ideas and I work hard on each one so if thing go as scheduled, it’ll be 2 1/2 years from now).

I can take this opportunity to tell you how a creation comes to life in production. I’ve worked with good producers and mucisians, and they more often than not love my arrangements and production ideas. So while I’ll never be 100% sure of them myself (you really never should be, always strive to get better) what you hear on demos often end up in a stronger, properly mixed versions with real instruments on the records. Something not all artists can say, even in my genre. Kate Bush arranges and produces a lot herself but Tori Amos for example, leaves it to arrangers and producers. Might be where I get the Bush comparison from, even though my stage performances come closer to Amos.

If I like a record, I’ll always listen closely. Take what I’ve learned in classes and from other musicians and apply it to what I hear, then have a ponder on how I could do it myself. Not beat for beat of course, that’s called a cover. But I do make a lot of research on the instruments I like to use. Which is why I know that “Wasps” wasn’t traditional harpsichord playing and that “Weak” just demanded it. The harpsichord riff you hear was how I played it from the start, on my crappy little keyboard piano in my crappy little student apartement. It was meant for the harpsichord from the start, and I didn’t even know it at the time. How I lay the piano down is hard to explain, I’ve been doing it for so long that it’s an extension of my head. I did decide on, and technically performed after planning, the little twerks (oh, that word has gotten a different meaning of late) you hear at the end of the verse and the coda.Β It’s a harpsichord. I better rock it!

Then the bass. The bass follows the piano, often very straight and steady, just to add a depth to it.

If I have the beat there already, then that’s fine, but otherwise I lay down vocals. Often a lot of choir, dubbs and harmonies, and decide afterwards which ones to cut and which ones to keep. I can’t have them althroughout the song. Kill your darlings to make the others give a stronger impression when they appear. Song often takes me under an hour to record, as it sort of just flows there. Another example of where I’m barely concious of what I’m doing. So better to let it flow and cut afterwards.

Then there’s the beat. I am not a drummer. I have a sense of beat and rythm doing what I do but I am sooo not a drummer. So, as a music lover, I’ll hear a beat in my brain that complements the song. “If I was listening, what beat would I want?” and I can’t always get there. More often than not I have to do four or five different drumbeats before I’m somewhat satisfied. That’s the hardest one getting out of my head, I’ll confess. I’m not a guitarist either, but I can even get a guitar out of there that matches what’s in my head, so I’ll say drums is where I’m hardest at work.

But for Weak, this wasn’t the case. I knew: deep orchestral drums and a dragging sort of “smash”, and I got them out of my head pretty much like they were playing in it. Sometimes I luck out here, and this was one of them times.

As for the piano and viola, the little riffs and plinks demanded I put them in there, and exactly at the places you’ll find them too. An example of directly from head to recording.

Anyways, enjoy a perfect, discriptive breakup song for the fall if you need, or just a wicked song! πŸ™‚