Blimey… it’s been one crazy week, and it’s whizzed by like nobody’s business. But as always it’s been filled with oodles of random musical bits ‘n’ bobs.
As you may already know I’ve been busy working on tracks for my new album and this week I’ve been recording another song I’ve been gigging for a little while now called Rostock. It didn’t prove to be *quite* as taxing as Until Tomorrow, but it still had its share of troubles. I’d made plans to keep it nice and simple by using just guitar and vocal with a some light snare drum action to add a bit of lift.
On the recording day it lovely and sunny and I decided to throw open the doors and let some sunshine in. The only trouble was that as soon as I pressed the record button it was like every single bird in Devon had clubbed together and decided to all sing as loud as possible. This of course spilled over all the mics I had pointing at my acoustic and at one stage (even with the door shut) they were as loud as my guitar! After a brief chat with them we came to a compromise and they provided the occasional ‘tweet’ which actually adds a really nice vibe.
I finished recording Rostock and started on my next mission, which was to finish a song I started writing aggggees ago. I’ve talked before about the dreaded ‘verse and chorus’ deseise, in which I’ll be merrily writing a new tune, get as far as Verse 1 and the first Chorus then for some unknown reason… it all stops. And nothing I seem to do makes it work again. But this time I was determind to get it finished as I was very keen to add it to my new album.
I actually started writing this particular tune about two years ago and I had to try really hard to get back into that same frame of mind. I really wanted the next verse to glue seemlessly onto what I already had, but it wasn’t going quite as well as I’d hoped.
I armed myself with pencil and paper and started writing down lyric ideas, but none of them seemed to fit with the story of the song. And none of the melody lines I came up with seemed to fit either. I decided to try an old trick that I often use when faced with these situations. I close my eyes and think of a particular artist (say Ani Difranco or Tina Dico) and think, ‘what would Ani come up with for this section?’ It might sound a bit daft, but it works really well. I find it allows me to think outside of my own ideas and come up with other melody lines that I more than likely wouldn’t have thought of.
I grabbed a mic and started singing some vocal lines that had randomly popped into my head. Before I knew it my creativity was flowing again – finally!!
I had an idea of giving V2 a slightly different melody line to V1 and there’s now a big build up that leads into a M8, then a Chorus.
So in between working on my own material I’ve also been rehearsing with Nicky (Swann) as next week she’ll be recording her new album and she’s asked me to play some bits and bobs on it (which I’m very chuffed about).
Most of the material we’ve been gigging already, but there are a couple of tunes she’s asked me to play drums on. The first rehearsal we had I was trying out various snares and tunings in order to get the right sound for her music. My usual high pitched funky sounding snares did not work well at all. They cut through the Nicky’s songs far too much and became invasive rather than a part of her sound. I tried out some older snare drums and tuned them down low. I also added an old skin on there for extra retro-ness (is that a word?) and it works sooo much better.
One of Nicky’s tunes has prooved to be a bit more difficult to play on than expected. It’s a beautiful song that’s both fragile and highly emotive and it seriously requeries you to dig deep and find exactly the right notes to go in *exactly* the right places… easier said than done! Plus I’m having to re-train my feet (as I’ve been playing cajon for Lord knows how many months) so a proper kit feels a bit weird at the moment lol
The Nicky Swann-a-thon went well last weekend and if you fancy checking that out and also some clips from Poland there’s a YouTube vid available:
This weekend I’ll be bassing it with Miquid Licks in Bristol – lets hope my brain can remember all those crazy jazz riffs!
(top image: Katie Marie Photo taken by Lisa (Indigo Blue Photography) and edited by Sandra (Soul Photography))