Saturday, 12 December 2009

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Video Tutorials

Hello there! Just writing this to get some feedback on an idea...

At the moment I'm looking at moving south, which will mean my outgoings will be considerably higher than they are right now. This means I need to be making more money. One way in which I intend to do this is by making video tutorials - basically teaching guitar online.

The idea is that people would pay around £1 and get a video, probably about 10 minutes long, and a tab to refer to. I could give them all difficulty ratings and each lesson could include one song (most likely something I've covered on youtube). There are a number of advantages over real life lessons - the ability to pause, rewind and replay the video would mean you could get an hour's worth of lesson/practice time out of each video, you could come back to it in a year when you'd forgotten it, and it would cost 10% of the price of a normal lesson.

And from my point of view, It'd probably take me an hour or so to make the video/tab, so then I'd only need to sell about 10 for it to pay better than a regular teaching job, plus I wouldn't be stuck to a timetable - I could make the videos whenever I had the time.

Any thoughts, problems, improvements etc. please let me know in the comments. And if you play guitar (or want to!) do you think you'd consider paying for lessons online like this?

THANKS!

xxx

Thursday, 3 December 2009

London

Hey good news, my hearing seems to have fixed itself!

Moving on, tonight I'll be heading into London and then tomorrow the whole RNLI / Apple thing will be happening. We're gonna meet up outside the Apple Store and deliver the message to the employees. Ben has even made some little paper mache apples to give to some of the people with big job titles that might be able to help.

If you're in London you're more than welcome to come along, we'll be meeting around noon. I'm gonna take my guitar, though I'm not sure how well that will go down with Regent Street shoppers. Or the police. I guess we'll see. I only plan on playing it if there are a lot of people there, if it's just the six of us I'd look like a right plum.

Anyway, looking forward to seeing people again, it's been a while.

xxx

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Update

Just thought I'd post a little blog to tell you what's going on... That's the idea, right?

Well I'm staying in Essex for a while at Paul's house. I've brought down the majority of my recording stuff and we're gonna try to be productive over the next few weeks. We're both working on websites, we plan on producing some kind of music/art project, and there are a few other things in the works.

This is all well and good, my only concern right now is that I woke up this morning without being able to hear very well! It hasn't changed much all day, my left ear especially feels weird. Things sound really bassy - like I'm underwater. It's not fun.

Hmm, I thought that would take a lot longer.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Add your dot!

I set up an eventful page, which is designed so people can tell you where they want you to come and play shows. It gives you a cool map, look!


Obviously each red dot is a person asking me to play in that place. You can go and add your own red dot here.

It's currently showing me how much easier it is to play in Britain than anywhere else! There are slightly more dots in the US I think, but they're so spread out it would take four times as many shows to reach them all... The UK is so small it's practically coloured in red! I love our little island.

It'll be a while before I can afford to set up some shows overseas anyway, but when I do I will definitely be using this as a guide, it's so good. So if you want me to come to your town, add your dot and get your friends to add their own dots!

I'm also extremely pleased to have discovered an island that I didn't know existed - São Miguel! Right in the middle of the Atlantic. Whether that was actually a person who lives there or someone taking the piss, I don't know, but I'm tempted to go there either way!

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Yes.

Mum (talking to my Dad, but I'm right there): Did you tell Dave you put that stuff in there? (pointing to a drawer)

Dad: Yes.

...

Dad: Well... No.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Re-evaluation


As I write this I have the one hundredth most subscribed youtube channel in the UK. By the time you're reading this there's a good chance I won't anymore! I've been slipping down the list for several months now and as I'm on the way out it's got me thinking about the last two years and what I've accomplished on the site. I always say that I'm doing better than I thought I would be when I joined up, but now that I think about it, I'm not so sure that's true.

I doubt I would have thought 20,000 subscribers was achievable in my first two years. Though I was confident my channel could do well, back then even Mr Coollike didn't have those kind of numbers. So in terms of subscribers I am doing better than I thought I would be. But that's no measure of success. My life goal right now is to be able to afford to live by selling music. Of course music is much more than that, but I'm only looking at the business side of things right now.* I've always had the idea in my head, and I believe it's a well known theory in the industry, that if I were to have 1000 hardcore fans - by which I mean people who buy every album or EP I offer them - then I could live off that, and so my life goal could be translated into 'finding 1000 hardcore fans.'

My subscriber count may have exceeded expectations, but I definitely overestimated the percentage of subscribers that would turn into the 'hardcore fans'. Right now I think I'm at about 100. That's 10% of the aim, after two years. So it'll be another 18 years if I continue at that rate, and realistically I'm not picking up speed right now, I'm slowing down. Six months ago I'd be getting 40 - 50 new subscribers to my channel every day, now it's half of that on a good day.

This isn't me being depressed and moaning about life, I'm fairly optimistic about the future. I think I will accomplish that goal, and a long time before 2027 as well! I'm just re-evaluating. The internet is a powerful tool for a musician, but maybe not as much as I've given it credit for. Right now I just want to move to London, turn some friends into some band members and start gigging, a lot. You may not reach as many people that way, but I think it's a better way to find those 1000 (and it's fun!) Of course the real answer is to do both. But there's a balance there and I think I've let the internet side take up too much time so far.

Overall I wouldn't say that was a mistake, if I'd gone the traditional route from the beginning I don't think I'd have made it this far. I'd have given up on the dream and gotten a real job, letting music remain a hobby. I owe so much of my confidence to the people who have supported me online, and even if Blue Skies didn't exist, I'd still be obsessed with being a part of this community - so many ridiculously important people in my life right now were introduced to me thanks to one website or another.


I'm sorry for talking business (ish) I don't usually talk about this side of things, it's just been on my mind lately. I don't even like calling people 'fans' it sounds ridiculous. I'll wrap up with some thoughts on the future...

It's gonna be pretty great. I'm gonna move to London. I'm gonna gig more. I've been speaking to Paul a lot lately and we have so many ideas and plans that at least one of them is going to make us rich and then none of this business stuff will matter. I'm going to stay at his in December with Ian and we're gonna be very productive, both in terms of actually making some kind of EP or album and in terms of making plans for the new year.


This has been pretty long and probably vague or missing some massively important points. You probably don't care, but if you do have any questions about what I've said or about anything really, just ask.

Goodnight, and thanks for reading this... I appreciate all of the support you guys have given more than I can express.

xxx

p.s. Fairytale of New York just came on itunes shuffle, but not the version I have on The Pogues album... It's a one off and I don't know where I got it, but the album name it's listed under is 'Irish Punk Drinking Songs Compilation'. That sounds like the greatest album in the world, I might have to track it down.



*If I were to ignore business for a moment, and compare my musical output to what two years ago I had thought I'd be creating, I believe I have exceeded my expectations, though they were not particularly high! I still consider myself a beginner and am looking forward to the coming year as I think it will be very exciting musically. That fact alone is more important that the whole of this blog, but it doesn't mean I shouldn't be thinking about these things.

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Rarities 07-09

I have uploaded the rarities album that I've been talking about, so it's all available and stuff! You can buy it HERE.

It's 8 tracks, five full songs and three instrumentals, and I'm trying something new with the way I'm selling it - you can choose the price. I have set a minimum of £1 so I don't lose money on it! But other than that it's totally up to you. I'm gonna give £5 as a suggested price but if people can't afford that they are welcome to buy for whatever they can, and if you can afford more, well that would be very helpful!

All the money will be going on my music, but that's fairly obvious because pretty much all of my money does.

This is the first time I've put an album exclusively on bandcamp, so I'd be very interested to hear what your experience is with it... Especially if anybody wants to buy it but doesn't have access to paypal or any of the other payment options. If that is the case, please let me know what online payment options you can use and I'll see if I can set something up with them.

Thanks!

xxx

Friday, 23 October 2009

Website

I've just started a little discussion on facebook asking people to give input on my website plans. I'm just looking at what content should be on there. The tabs I have down right now are...

Home - Music - Pictures - Lyrics/Tabs - Free Stuff - Store - Links

So Home will include news, latest release info, possibly my most recent video, upcoming gigs...

Music will be a discography with links to buy.

Pictures include artwork, live pics and fan pics (with either an email address to send them in to or an uploader if that's not difficult!)

Lyrics/Tabs is obvious.

Free Stuff will be downloads of songs, ringtones, wallpapers... Any other suggestions are welcome.

'Store' links to the big cartel.

And 'Links' contains contact info and links to my other sites.


Some things that have come up are a bio and a blog. I'm not sure about writing a bio because it wouldn't be all that interesting, but let me know if you think a band site needs one. And I originally kept a blog out because, well I have this obviously, but thought it was a bit more personal than the sort of thing you'd put on a band website. So what do you think? Should I put this blog on there, put a separate blog on there - less personal, more about music and the band, or not put a blog on there? I will have the news section on the home page either way.

So let me know,
Bio or no bio.
This blog, new blog or no blog.
Free Stuff - anything I can give away for free that won't cost me anything!
Any other ideas.

THANKS! =)

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Hurray!

My rant earlier obviously worked... I'm writing this from my new 24" iMac!

It's so big I can't even look at the whole screen. just areas of it! And they just brought out 27 inchers as well, imagine that! Pretty much ridiculous. I can't decide whether or not I'm gutted that I didn't wait and get a new one. They are cheaper than I thought they'd be, but still to get what I did including the extras would have set me back an extra few hundred quid, and there's not much difference. Not compared to the difference between this and my old one. Definitely not bothered about missing out on a 27 inch screen... Wouldn't fit on my desk! The new mouse looks very cool though.

Right now I'm just downloading and installing programs. I still have a few things that need sorting, for example the firewire on this is too modern for my old junk! So I need to get an adapter for that, and I've ordered a hard drive dock so hopefully I can get at all my old files.

Ahhh my old iMac didn't have an isight! I might start being on dailybooth more! And making videos will be easier.

EXCITED.

An explanation for the increase in blogging

You may have noticed I've been blogging fairly regularly lately. That's because I have NOTHING TO DO!

Well actually I have a shit load of things to do, I just can't do them until my iMac gets here. It's really frustrating. Usually I don't think of myself as a particularly productive person, but I'm starting to see how much stuff I do now that I can't do it!

I'm so excited about it now though. I've been needing a new machine for ages. Jack was at least five years old and it was beginning to show. Especially video editing, using layers basically meant final cut wouldn't play back, so I had to work blind. And as for my pc (Tim) well he's a similar age and curls up into a ball on the floor if placed under the slightest bit of pressure. By which I mean he crashes if you play a flash game, or open two programs at once. When Tim crashes I move on to my parents laptop, which runs vista. Enough said.

I CAN'T WAIT!

In other news, I want to get that rarities album up during the postal strike because The Royal Mail can't fuck up downloads. But of course I need the iMac before I can do that. Oh God! What if my iMac gets caught up in the postal strike?! I would actually just start going around killing people.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

iMacs

So I got the hard drive, installed it and... It didn't work. Well, the same thing happened as did before. I'm pretty sure I fit it properly and all that, I just think that it wasn't what was causing the problem. The guy said it might also be one of the wires attached to it, so that's still a possibility.

But either way, my parents talked me into buying a new one. Since I was planning to get one anyway as soon as I could afford it, they said they'd lend me the money as it'd be a waste of time putting it off for a couple of months and trying to push my old iMac even further. They're right really, and especially as I'm just starting a studio album - it would be annoying to switch machines halfway through a project like that.

So I found a great deal tonight on a refurbished 24" iMac. I checked with Dale (I run anything that's both technical and expensive by the gadget dude before buying it!) and he had nothing against buying refurbished machines, plus it has Apple Care until 2012, so it's all good... And yeah, I bought it.

Now I have to wait for it to get here and I'm gonna be like a kid in the run up to Christmas! It - he - is gonna be called Mark Morrison, and if anyone gets that reference I pretty much love you. As for Jack (which wasn't a reference, it just rhymes) I'll probably still get him fixed and sell him, if I can bring myself to part with him! The spare hard drive I could sell, or I might just turn it into an external.

In other news, the post today included a box full of CD's and t-shirts from my friends, 'Rook and The Ravens' because when I was up in Manchester the other day I offered to sell them through Scratch That Records. They are one of the main bands I was thinking of when I said I could use it to sell friend's music as well as my own, and I'm so excited about the album, it's actually amazing. As in, objectively one of the best albums of the year, not just from people I know!

So that's one job for tomorrow - adding their stuff to the store. I hope people buy it because it's so fucking good!

Alright, off to bed.

xxx

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Apple

So I went to The Apple Store in Leicester and had a chat with the Genius guy. He was actually very nice and helpful. He seemed fairly certain that it was a problem with the hard drive, and said they could fix it for about £140 and 10 - 14 days. But he also said it's not that difficult and that I could probably manage it myself, so I'm gonna try that.

It was very refreshing to hear someone talk me through all of the options - not just the ones that are beneficial to the company they work for. He could easily have told me that attempting to change it myself would be very difficult and would most likely end up with me electrocuting myself and frying my iMac and that I should definitely pay Apple to do it - I'd have believed him! But when I got home I had a look and it does look fairly simple, I've ordered a new hard drive that should come tomorrow, will let you know how it goes!

While I'm on the subject of Apple, today a new youtube channel was launched by the RNLI - it's called Shout! and is the latest initiative from the charity aimed towards changing the perception of the youth in today's media. We are going to be setting some challenges for all of you people in internetland to take part in, which will hopefully result in us raising enough money to buy the RNLI a lifeboat! At the same time we will be trying to get the story into the papers - our own positive headlines.

'What does that have to do with Apple?' I hear you ask! (I don't) WELL, for the first challenge we decided to lobby a well known company, and we chose Apple. The idea is that so many people, young people especially, spend their money on this company's products that they might be willing to give a little something back, if we show them how much we love them. So we're asking for video responses, but here - it's all better explained in the launch video.

I hope some of you will be able to get involved by spreading the word and/or making a video response. Hopefully I'll be able to do one soon... Depends how tomorrow goes really!

xxx

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Changed my mind... Already

I've put the songs together and I think they do work with some of the instrumentals in there, so the track list right now looks like this:

Piano from the 'my day' blog - Needs a name!
Don't Go
Dance On
Ideas
What Did You Do Today?
Open D
Alaska
When I See You Again
Burn Forever

I think I'm just going to call it 'Rarities 07 -09' Because then I can do a similar thing if I have a bunch of unreleased songs in a year or two, and continue the name so they will all appear next to each other and in order in people's itunes.

So all I'm waiting for is a good version of Alaska which hopefully I can get tomorrow either from Jack or off my external - can't link that to my PC because it's firewire, but I'll take it to the Apple Store and do it there.

Jack is not well

Tomorrow I head to Leicester where I have an appointment at the Apple Store so they can take a look at Jack who is not well at all. I fear the cost of fixing him may turn out to be more than he's worth (economically... He will always have a place in my heart as my first ever mac!) Which means buying a new iMac. On the plus side I was planning on this purchase so it's not come out of nowhere and it needed to happen anyway, but I don't really have the money for it yet. However I have decided that I want to get the best that I can even if it means being poor for a while, because the iMac is the centre of my studio and over time I want to build the best studio that I can, which means buying the best equipment, even if I can't afford to get it all at once.

So I need money, and I've been thinking of ways to get it. People have suggested setting up a 'chipin' which basically means people donate money to you... I don't love this idea because people are giving you something for nothing. So what I think I'm going to do it release some of my songs that so far have been unavailable to buy on this new site I've found. It's called bandcamp and you can set it up so people can download songs or albums for any price. So I'll put together some tracks, put it up there and people can enter the amount they want to pay for it, which will basically be their donation towards my new iMac.

What I'm not sure of is which songs to use. I was thinking of using all of the instrumental tunes I have, there are four so far and I could do another one to put in a promotional video, but I wonder whether people would pay much for instrumentals. I do have a few full songs recorded - Alaska, Don't Go, Dance On, Burn Forever, When I See You Again... I was planning to release these properly at some point but I could use them for this? Do you think more people would go for that? I could do both separately, or I could put all of them together. I actually have a video for Alaska ready to go... If I can get it off Jack.

Right. I think I'll start with the instrumentals, I'll do one more - obviously I can't record properly, they will all be just camera recordings, but the mic is pretty good. Then I'll have five instrumental tracks, I'll put them together as an EP and people can buy it for any amount. Then later I still have the option of doing the same with the full songs, if someone donated a load for the instrumentals they can always get the songs for 1p so in effect they have made the same donation and have all 10 tracks.

Sound like a plan?

If anyone has any thoughts on this, or has any other ideas for me to make some iMac money (inb4 get a pc instead... Get out of my life) then feel free to comment or email me.

xxx

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Waiting for warm water.

I just went to have a shower and the water is freezing. So while I wait for it to warm up I thought I'd write a little blog (and watch the football).

I've opened the online store, so The Blackout Sessions along with the t-shirts are officially available! It's strange because I sold a load at Summer in the City which was ages ago, and I've sold some over the last couple of days to the Street Team, so it's not really having a big release day. But to be honest it's bad enough taking 15 to the Post Office at a time! I'm always worried that everyone in the queue is going to hate me!

So I think I'll hold off making a video on my main channel until Monday/Tuesday as there's no post tomorrow. I might make something for the ScratchThatRecords channel though... I want to build that up so I'm going to give it the announcements first!

So if you want to get the CD and/or a t-shirt you can do so at blueskies.bigcartel.com

Thanks!

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

So long

It's been so long since I posted anything on anything.

But at least I have some CDs and t-shirts to make up for it. I'm actually going to be selling things on the internet for the first time tomorrow, it's quite big/exciting/scary.

Right now I'm having the same problem that I always do, which is that I have new songs and ideas that excite me more than the old ones, but what is old to me is new to everyone else! A part of me is really excited about the whole process - from writing songs to recording, designing the artwork, getting CD's printed and finally selling them to people... But another part of my just wants to keep moving on - I've had a song in my head for the last few days but have been unable to get it recorded and start building it up because I've been working on the website and the online shop and stuff like that.

Still, it should settle down once everything is up and running. Then it'll only mean sticking CDs in envelopes and a walk to the Post Office every day or two, and that's only a few minutes away. So I'll be able to start on the new stuff. My next plan is to make an album - a proper studio album, with the best songs I have. A few from The Blackout Sessions and some new ones. The EP was quite a full sound but they weren't my favourite of my songs... The Blackout Sessions is full of my favourite songs, but it's not polished or layered - which was entirely the point - and I'm thrilled with it... But I really think I need a studio album, something I could, for example, send to radio stations. So that's next.

But back to now. I posted a video on my second channel about what's going on, you can see that here. But basically I've set up a street team on reverbnation, and people who join it are gonna be the first to get the album and I'll sign those ones too. You can join here.

The idea behind this is that 1) a street team will be useful for word of mouth advertising and this will encourage people to join and 2) I can test out the online store and make sure I know what I'm doing while I have relatively few orders.

Then once I'm happy with it I'll make videos to promote. Oh I'm also building a website for www.scratchthatrecords.com with Jon. It's looking great and I'm excited! Especially as I told Tom and he reckons he's not far off finishing his album and I actually can't wait to hear that.


There; new video, new blog... BACK IN THE SWING.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Summer in the City


Months of organising, planning, pulling out hair, persuading Tom that some things are very important and some things are not at all important, recording music, making CDs on which to store and sell said music, finally led me this weekend to driving to London to actually do all of the things that had been organised, planned, etc, etc.

On Friday we had a day for the tourists, looking around some of the famous landmarks. This went alright, but it's certainly something we'll tweak or totally change next year. Moving around is always a problem at gatherings in groups any bigger that 20 people, and there were a few spots of rain. But everyone was pretty excited to see each other and that feeling pretty much superseded everything! After food the majority of the people who were left went to a pub that we'd been to after some other gathering. Not that I'm an alcoholic, but that was definitely the best part of the day. It was the first time I could really relax and talk with friends old and new, just like we were normal people that saw each other all the time!

Friday night went on very late, I didn't sleep much and so I was pretty drained by Saturday, but we managed to get to Hyde Park not too late. The gathering was just big enough to attract the attention of the police, but fortunately nothing came of it. We had talked to the council beforehand to check. So I played some giant frisbee, met some people, sold some CDs, signed some CDs (lol), played the biggest game of pass the parcel you've ever seen in your life and drew on some postcards, but unfortunately after that I had to leave to go sound check for the evening. I really didn't want to go because it was all so nice and chilled out AND SUNNY! I can't even tell you how thankful I was for the sun that day because that could have fucked everything up and it was totally beyond our control!

But anyway, I had to go so I did. Went to The Luminaire and met the guys who would be running things, they were both really nice, helpful and good at their jobs, which are all things that I'm very happy to find in people I work with! So I checked sound, then met Greg and got him to start checking some sound, then I went back to the hostel and slept for a bit! Sounds like something I would regret with all the stuff that was going on, but that hour or so saved my life.

I got up, ate, had some red bull and got to the venue. I was in equal parts, surprised, relieved, excited and scared when the bouncer almost didn't let us in because it was 'packed'. A 300 capacity venue, packed before the first act had started! The fear was for the possibility of people coming from the gathering and not getting in. I'm hoping that didn't happen but have no way to know. I've convinced myself that it will have been alright because with people getting trains home throughout the night all you'd have needed to do was get a drink downstairs and try again in half an hour and I'm sure you'd have gotten in.

As Tom and Mhazz played I began to realise that I hadn't practised my own songs in months, which got me ridiculously nervous. I never usually get too nervous before gigs, and big ones like this I find easier than small ones because it reinforces the idea that you have the right to be on the stage! But I think that was the most nervous I've been since passing my driving test. I even had to miss half of Greg's set (and I fucking love Greg Holden) to remember words and learn songs. I literally had Tom (Prod) on ultimate-guitar.com on his phone finding out how to play that Julia Nunes song 20 minutes before I was on stage. Mr Milsom helped me out by walking in after Greg finished and saying something along the lines of 'He was so good, I would hate to follow that!' Oh nice one, brilliant!

Of course this was all my own fault for going to Malta for three weeks and then having to finish the CD in the week I had back in England, leaving me no time to play through the songs.

But anyway I got on stage and played untitled because 1) it's one of my most recognisable songs, and it's good to start with something people know, and 2) I could play it in my sleep so I wouldn't forget the words! After a couple of songs I finally started to relax. Not only had the nerves of backstage faded away, but the stress of organising was a distant memory. I was just a musician again, on stage with a great audience and a confidence in my abilities no matter how little I'd practised!

It turned into the best gig I've had (from my perspective anyway!) I remember little things like Sophie holding up the card to the audience telling them to sing 'Ahhhh Ahh Ahh Ahhhhh' during the Nunes song, sharing a round of whiskey with some people I don't think I knew in between songs, watching drunk people dance... I won't name and shame Mhazz at this point because I'm too nice.
I'd only written about 30 - 35 minutes worth of songs down on a set list and then I just asked what people wanted to hear. Those last 10 minutes were probably my favourite, I made it though the songs well enough to keep the flow, but there were little things that made me laugh, for example Cheekychen shouting out his version of the line 'I'd have to fall for a singer', which is of course, '... for a minger!'

After my set people were very nice, but then they usually are - it's not like youtube- this real life thing! I'll have to wait and see the footage, but I felt it went pretty well and the audience really responded so I think it was good.

The rest of the night was just fun times, drinks with friends and hanging out until we got kicked out, laughing at stories of a certain male friend who was apparently standing in the women's toilets, "swaying", or at Myles' text explaining that his absence was due to him being at a rave in a car park, which Jon's iPhone told us was an hour and a half's walk away. That was lucky because I was packing up my stuff to go meet him and that would have meant bad times for Sunday!

Even so everyone was pretty tired on Sunday, something that we had foreseen and thus hadn't really planned anything solid. It turned out to be a nice enough day but nothing particularly interesting happened so I'll leave it there.

So the weekend finished with no major catastrophes and a lot of positive feedback. Literally the day after I got home I was discussing next year with the other guys and we already have a facebook event up. We must be crazy.

Still, one of the best weekends ever.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

The Blackout Sessions

As I sleepily edged my way down the stairs this morning, the sound of the hammer that woke me up persistent and resolute behind me, I stumbled upon two quite large boxes sitting in the hall. The relief that they had come in time (leaving for Summer in the City tomorrow morning) almost immediately turned into excitement as I dragged one of them into the kitchen and set upon it with a big pair of scissors. Eventually I made it through the defences and pulled the cardboard back to see the design Paul and I had been working on just a few days ago staring back at me from a hundred CD cases.


A second wave of relief came as I picked up the nearest CD and examined it to find everything in it's right place and printed well. But nothing compared to putting a disc in the CD player and pressing play. It takes about 4-5 seconds for my CD player to recognise a disc when you first turn it on. That was probably the longest 4-5 seconds of my life. But hurray! Recognise it did, and the intro began.

I still can't really believe how quickly this has all come together. It's even turned out better than I had planned. A week ago I wasn't sure I was even going to get proper jewel cases and all the extra artwork that goes with it... Getting Paul on board really made that possible. We even chose a four sided insert over a two, and I wrote a little piece for the inside rather than trying to squeeze all of the lyrics in (never would have happened, my songs are heavy on the lyrics, it would take about 10 pages to fit them in!) I'll put the lyrics online anyway. Oh, speaking of - I bought www.scratchthatrecords.com yesterday. For now it's just redirecting to the youtube, but it's going to be one of the first things I get to work on after Summer in the City, especially as that'll be where I sell the CDs and t-shirts from.

Well then, if you're going to Summer in the City, I'll see you TOMORROW!

xxx

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Guildford

I made it to my Aunt's in Guildford. There's a shower and there's relative quiet and there are no distractions... I can't even get the internet on my mac because I don't know the password, instead of asking for it I'm gonna leave it that way so I can only access it up here in the study. Otherwise the album will never get done!

Today I'm just sorting a few things out and I'll probably put some fresh strings on my geetar, and start going over some of the tracks I recorded before Malta, then tomorrow it's time to POWER THROUGH!

xxx

Leaving... Again.

So I left Malta, hung around London for a few days and then came home. While I was away the bathroom was being done up, so I was hoping that on my return it would basically resemble the type of bathroom you might use if you went to visit the Queen. As it turns out it looks more like a bathroom you would use if you went to visit someone whose house had recently been bombed.

So the job isn't quite done yet. Unfortunately I'm trying to finish this live album before Summer in the City, which is nine days away. That's not much time to work with. Now I can live with recording an album without having a working shower in the house, but having constant noise in the room next door from 8am - 6pm makes it fairly difficult.

So I'm leaving. Again.

My Aunt is on holiday at the moment so I called her up and asked if I could borrow her house for a while. So having been away from home for three weeks, I'm off again a day after getting back. Funny thing is it's just down the road from Sophie's where I've been staying for the last couple of days, I should have just gone straight there!

I reckon I have about three days to finish the album in order to get the CDs printed in time. Wish me luck!

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Leaving

Woke up (relatively) early today and so I read a few of the 81 blog posts I've missed since being here. There was one from Jay about a road trip he's been on and the idea of leaving something, someone or some place behind. I've been thinking a lot on the subject lately as well so I thought I'd try to get some of it down on paper (so to speak).

These thoughts always come when I'm travelling, I suppose because for every place you go, you have to leave some other place behind. Maybe just for a few days or weeks, or maybe for an indefinite amount of time. Take today for example, I'll be getting on a plane and leaving this little island, and though I'd love to come back one day, I can't know that I will. I might never see this place again... The yellow buses, the sun scorched rock beaches, the assortment of off white buildings of all shapes and sizes that make up the city landscape... They might all be forever confined to my memories.

But memories are pretty powerful. I realised yesterday that I'd hardly taken any photographs here, but I thought back to some of the places I've been and the strongest memories are so much clearer than the photos I have in a cupboard somewhere. I remember so perfectly the waves crashing against the rocks in Portugal, the steep steps spiralling below me as I stood high up on the cliff. I remember road tripping to Benicassim, not knowing where we were and just saying "Keep the sea on the left and drive!" And I'm sure I won't forget the sight of the Blue Lagoon any time soon. It was remarkable - like someone had tried to design paradise.

Leaving a place always gives me mixed feelings. I'm really looking forward to seeing England again. As nice as it is to get away for a while it's still my favourite place in the world. I've been to so many beautiful places but never considered living anywhere else. But at the same time I don't want to let go of this place. It has so much that I won't be able to enjoy for such a long time. On top of that having been to somewhere new I want to do it again! So really I want to be in three places at once; home, here and somewhere else.

People are awake now so I'm going to cut this short(er than I'd thought it would be).

Speak to you when I'm done leaving.

xxx

Friday, 7 August 2009

Malta

So I've been in Malta for about a week, which is why I haven't been around the interwebs that much lately. We have found some free (or not so well guarded) waves of wifi floating about and so we are able to check in every now and then.

I was hoping to write some songs but I haven't really had much time to myself yet, but I definitely want to get at least one done and filmed while I'm out here. I don't want to waste the outrageously fortunate position I have found myself in of having a guitar to borrow for the three weeks I'm here.

It went like this; I saw it would be quite expensive to take my guitar on the plane, so I asked my facebook people if anyone lived in Malta and knew where / how cheap I could buy a guitar for, because I could get my hands on one in England for less than the cost of taking mine on the plane.... If the same was true in Malta then I could buy one on arrival and leave it / give it to someone / smash it up on the last day. After a day or two I got a reply from a guy called Neil who was all kinds of lovely and said he'd have a look for me. He gets back to me the next day, not with the price of a cheap guitar, but an offer from his friend Dan to borrow his Takamine for free!

This is possibly the greatest thing that's ever happened. For one thing, I found people who watch my videos in Malta, which is pretty fucking small, and then they turn out to be the nicest people in the world!

Anyway, Malta is beautiful. But I don't know how the people manage to look so good. With the heat and humidity, the wind and the salt, I look an absolute mess as soon as I step outside! We've travelled around quite a bit and have a few places lined up over the next few days that we've been saving until everyone is here (Laura arrived tonight), but I think my favourite place so far is just down the road. There's a rock beach about a hundred yards away from the front door and we've been down there at night a couple of times. When it's late and the heat of the day has subsided, you can sit out and watch the sea stretch out forever... It even comes in behind you when the tide is high, with just a little bridge connecting your tiny island of rock with the rest of the beach.

Being here has really awoken my love of traveling. I don't think I'd ever want to live outside of England constantly, but if I had the money I would definitely spend a few months a year abroad just to change the scenery. With any luck, if this music thing goes well, the opportunity may arise without it having to be a holiday. If I can fill a few large-ish venues in a few cities in a country then the trip could pay for itself... Of course I'm a long way off being able to do that! But it's nice to think about.

Ok now it's almost 5am and Ian is running around like a mentalist, I should go.

xxx

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Two Weeks

In exactly two weeks I'm going on holiday. Before then I intend to record an album that I can sell at Summer in the City (and elsewhere, why not?!) so I started that today.

It's nice to play some of these songs again as it's been a while. Unfortunately I'm remembering why recording isn't my favourite part of being a musician. Namely that my equipment is shit and so for every minute I spend recording I spend about half an hour fixing things and re-recording. (Which I believe would put me in an infinite loop, and that's never good.) To be fair, it's not all shit, I've got two great mics (one nicked from my cuz) so it should sound good once I've spent many half hours fixing things. I think it's my computer that's the problem, I could do with one that was built in the last five years if I'm honest.

Still, this album will be easier than usual because the point of it is to record everything live. No layers, no harmonies - just how I would play the songs at a gig. I thought that would be a good thing to take to SitC because that's how people will hear the songs there.

I'm not sure whether to sell it online yet. If I did it would mean that eventually there would be multiple versions of songs available, because most of these tracks I intend to put on an album with full instrumentation behind them... But there should be a fair bit of difference between them, plus people don't have to buy both! So I probably will. Financially it'd be a waste not to, and it'll be nice for people who can't make it to the gathering.

Early draft of the track list looks like this:
(not in order)

Untitled
The world's still ending (but it's cool)
Another day, another motorway
If we're telling the truth
Happy Friday
Alone Again
Blackout
Potential
Morning After

Then possibly one of the instrumentals I've put on here, one of several half written songs that are on here, and/or an acoustic version of a track from the new EP (as well as Happy Friday).

There's a couple of names you won't recognise, and I think I'll try to keep it that way until it's ready, I don't like the idea of releasing something with nothing new on it.


I've loads of other things I wanna talk about but I'm going to restrain myself because this is long already. Remind me to discuss the idea of the Malteser Sessions and also to tell you about my plans for Scratch That.

PEACE!

xxx

Sunday, 12 July 2009

lolwut?

Just got this message on youtube,


Apologies for unsubscribing.
I'm somewhat obsessive compulsive about the number of subscriptions I have.
It must be divisible by three and it wasn't when I was subscribed to you.
I still appreciate your music, as well as the huge amount of effort I know goes into a lot of your videos and will probably continue to watch them - just as an unsubscriber now.
Wish you all the best!

Things:
1) That's weird.
2) If you hadn't told me I wouldn't have known and there'd be nothing to apologise for. (And there still isn't tbh, you can use the site how you want!)
3) I have (at least) 3 channels - make up the numbers!
4) Having unsubscribed, they had 61 subscriptions, which clearly does not divide by three.

That's all.
Goodnight. x

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Aim for Happiness

I made an EP about a month ago, you may remember... It's now all done and ready and available. It's called Aim for Happiness, and is on itunes and amazon mp3, which were by far the most popular choices in my (very scientific) poll.

Unfortunately, it turns out amazon are a bunch of muppets. I sent the track details, under the band name Blue Skies obviously, but for some reason that I can't figure out, they decided to add a 'The' in front of that. So my EP is listed on amazon under the band name 'The Blue Skies'. It's a pretty bad mistake to make and they tell me it happens all the time... I don't know how they can have such a terrible system in place without sorting it out. But what's worse is that even now I've seen the problem and let them know, apparently there is nothing they can do about it. I told them (in not so many words) that that was bullshit. Because if Radiohead uploaded an album and it came out as 'The Radiohead' something would be done! Still waiting to hear back from that one - not holding my breath.

So I don't know what to do, I can't find anyone that can do anything. The only thing I've been offered is to have the EP taken down from the site, and that would only hurt me and the people who want to buy it but can't use itunes. Oh and they also said they could change the name for me... Change the name to anything in the world apart from 'Blue Skies'. Brilliant, nice one.

I know it's not a major catastrophe, but I don't think it's too much to ask that they use the name I gave them. Still, people can get it there and just change the name, or have it under the wrong name, it doesn't really matter!

And the good news is that itunes has processed it, and all appears to be well there. I'm exporting a video for one of the songs now, so hopefully that will go up tonight and people might, yunno - buy it! It's quite a big step but since I really took it a month ago, and have since just been waiting for it to happen, it doesn't really feel like one.

Also Cheeky is sorting out the final things I need to order t-shirts, I'll probably start selling those at Summer in the City.

Oh and as some people have asked, I currently have no plans to make physical copies of this EP, for one thing that costs money, and also it's only four tracks - doesn't really seem worth it. I'm planning to put together a sort of live album to sell at Summer in the City with at least 10 of my tunes performed acoustically. I've borrowed a second mic from my cousin for the next few weeks so hopefully I'll have it done by the time I go away at the end of July.

I was also thinking about doing some lo fi recordings... See I'm going to be in Malta for about three weeks and I'd like to get some songs written while I'm away. I thought I could record them on my camera and then sell them, but not properly - set up a paypal thing where you can pay any amount and then you get a link to a download of the songs. Like Radiohead did with In Rainbows... Pay what you want. That way people can't moan about the sound quality! And to be fair the quality will be alright, I just don't plan on setting up a studio out there! Might not be everyone's cup of tea but I love some lo fi stuff... I mean check this shit! To be fair though I just fucking love Conor Oberst. But even so, I think the not particularly brilliant recording quality really adds to that tune.

Well, I'll stop the rambling now. If you have anything to add/ask about any of that then go ahead, I'll be in the comments! (Would especially like to hear from someone who works at amazon and has the power to remove the 'the'!)

xxx

EDIT: Video is up now, click here.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Magic bin!

Mum just threw two pieces of paper into the bin and they landed... Above it!


So basically we have a magic bin.


Or as a possible alternative explanation... we NEVER go into the lounge now we have a sofa in the kitchen and so a spider has taken the opportunity to move in.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

T-shirts round 2

Thanks to Paul I now have actual computery designs.

Do you prefer lower case...
Or upper case...
Unfortunately the printers can't go right to the sides because their machines are A3 sized. But I quite like the new version. What d'you think?

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

T-shirt designs!

Today was too nice to be inside, so I went out in the garden and designed some t-shirts that I could sell at gigs and stuff. I've been meaning to get some done for ages and just haven't got round to it. Also I'm no good at getting designs onto a computer so I'm gonna need someone's help!

First I'll show you some sketches. I tried to keep them all to two colours to keep the cost down, and because I think it's good to keep them simple.

1.2.
I thought I might be able to carry on the lines from the guitar and the S's on to the back on this one.

3.
It's not that clear because of my poor drawing ability! It's supposed to be two arrows that would hopefully continue over onto the back, or if that would be too expensive I'd make the design a bit small to fit it all on the front. This one might require a third colour as well, in between the two arrows (above the second s and on the other side on the arm)


4 (star), 5 (stripes) & 6 (other!):


Let me know what you think, which one's you like/dislike, your favourites, whether you'd buy them and most importantly, anyone who can turn these pencil scribbles into something on a computer screen that I could send to a t-shirt printers, let me know!

xx

Road Trip part3: Heading Home

So it just occurred to me that I never finished off what the papers aren't calling 'The Blog Trilogy of the Year!'

I told you about the trip up to Scotland and stopping off at the castle... And about party times on the karaoke bus in Glasgow, so all that's left is the second road trip, which is basically the same as the first but backwards.

This time we decided not to look for another castle because it would never be as good as the one on the way. I noticed that we went fairly near the coast a couple of times, and that there was a beach at Morecambe. So we went to Morecambe.

At first it only appeared to be a pebble beach, which did not impress us. Though we did go down and dip our feet in the Irish Sea... And of course pretend to be crabs for a photo:


Turned out there was a sand beach about 50 yards away. So Morecambe was alright. didn't spend much time there, but it was a nice break.

I have one final thing to show you, a game Dale invented in the car. It's called 'The Wobbly Phone Camera Game' and it basically involves taking photos like this,















By moving your phone all over the place while you take a picture so it... Morphs.

We tried to get some of Sophie, but they all came out normal...















And that was our trip to Scotland... That happened several weeks ago now. I suck at blogging. The trouble is when stuff is happening you're too busy to blog, then you forget, then suddenly you're writing about stuff that happened three weeks ago. Ah well.

I did take some video footage, which I might use as a part of a music video because I have a song that kind of involves road tripping. For now I'm working on a big split screen project to promote my EP... Less than a month until it's out!

So that's all. If you take only one thing away from today, let it be The Wobbly Phone Camera Game. It's genius and you know it. Try it on your friends!

xxx

Thursday, 18 June 2009

The Green Out

Yesterday on twitter this sentence came up quite frequently,

#helpiranelection - show support for democracy in Iran add green overlay to your Twitter avatar with 1-click - http://helpiranelection.com/

and a lot of people's avatars went slightly green.


I thought it was quite a nice idea, so I did it too, but as with most things done on the internet by more than three people, it came with the unavoidable slew of cynicism. So I thought I'd take a second to defend the green out.

The argument against it seems to be quite simple - 'How is making your avatar green going to change anything? What's the point?!' Now obviously this is not going to directly bring an honest democracy to Iran. If it was as simple as pressing a button I think someone would have done it by now. But it's a simple show of support, a way to get the word out and to keep people talking about something important. That's the way the world works - you keep people talking and solutions are at least looked for. If you let things go quietly then they're forgotten about.

I saw one tweet that said 'It won't help etc etc, remember the blackout, did that work?'

The blackout was a similar movement on twitter whereby people just used a black square instead of their usual picture to protest against a new law in New Zealand, which meant people could have their internet cut off if accused of piracy... Not convicted; accused. No trial, no judge, no jury.

Now, not living in New Zealand I didn't really follow the story, but in answer to the question 'did the blackout work?' You have answered it yourself - it worked because you remember it. The point of the blackout was to spread the word and gain support, not so the PM of New Zealand would check his twitter and say 'Oh shit, look at all these blacked out avatars, I better not pass that law!' Just like the regime in control in Iran are unlikely to hand over power based on some pictures being tinged green, but that doesn't mean it's worthless.

The green out is a minuscule part of what's going on, but it took five seconds and cost me nothing, so why moan about it? Here's something else that makes no difference - going to a protest in the street. If you lived in Iran and you had to decide between staying at home and going out to a protest, you would know that your decision alone would not affect anything, it's far too small a choice. But a lot of people made that choice and this was the result.


Sorry if you don't care about this, it just annoys me when people hate bandwagons whatever they're about. I heard someone say once they weren't going to get an organ donor card because it was just another bandwagon. Never mind that that bandwagon could save lives. Mental.

One final thought - it's nice to see the generation of people politicised during the last US election following through and talking about the election in Iran, which is far less cool because Barack Obama isn't involved.



EDIT: thanks to Laura for mentioning in the comments, another thing you can do to help is change your twitter time zone (in settings at the top) to GMT +3:30 Tehran, the idea behind this is that it makes it harder to identify those actually twittering from within Iran. I must confess I have no idea how effective this is, but I've done it myself because why not?!

Monday, 15 June 2009

Road Trip part2: Glasgow.

I know I said I'd do this 'tomorrow' and that was about two weeks ago but lets move on. Quit living in the past!

We got to Glasgow. Shit it was so long ago I can't remember what happened. Ok, I got it - the first night we got there pretty late because of the castle vidit, we just hung in Sinead's garden with a drink or two and her parents' crazy friend creeped us out but it was all good.

then the next day it was John's birthday (And Ginge's after midnight hence the double celebration) and the KARAOKE BUS DAY!

Calm down ladies, it's only a picture.

Basically this bus drove around Glasgow for an hour while we drunk champagne and sung karaoke. It's pretty much the best idea ever. I'd love to have been there when whoever it was thought, 'Wait a minute... Buses. Karaoke. Put them together and... I'M A GENIUS!'

I think Liam was recreating that moment here.

Ah, found a shot of everyone:


Things I notice: 1) Doog has an admirer. 2) Jemma despises the cameraman. 3) the guy behind me is too tall to stand up straight. 4) Ginger Chris is already (this is about 7pm) needing help with the whole standing up thing. 5) Liam and I would make a pretty good couple. Just saying.

After the bus we went to a place they had hired out and Sophie demonstrated her ability to be normal and smile for the camera...


Here's Chris sporting the t-shirt Dom bought him for the occasion, which is one of the best photos ever:


One last picture, the cake!


Wonderful.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Road Trip part1: Castle!


This weekend it was Mr. John Cox AND Mr. Ginger Chris' birthdays so a few of us had a little road trip up to Scotland land to celebrate.

It would have been good if I'd had the time/technology to blog during the weekend because now it seems like too much to fit in, so I'm going to split it up, keep it brief and use pictures!

So here's part one - the journey. Basically we decided to do something on the way so it wasn't just 5 hours in a car. The night before we were talking about going to a castle, so I had a look on Google maps and found one that was just about a mile off the M6 that we'd be going up. The internet says it's called Brougham Castle, but I'm sure the sign just said Brough. Ah well, either way, here it is:


It was possibly the best thing EVER.

It was a little bit shut when we got there, but we decided since we had come so far we'd have a sneaky look anyway... Hopped a couple of fences and invaded. (/walked in)

Turns out it's way better after hours because there's nobody to stop you exploring and climbing on the walls. Well, apart from this sign...


I know, I'm such a rebel it's unreal.

We did do some pretty good climbing! I got in here:


... From the wall on the right. There was actually no way in there from the other side. There would have been a room in front of me in centuries past but now it's just floating there, a little hole in a wall, 20 feet up in the air.

This shot is from pretty much the top...


We were there for a good couple of hours and could have stayed all night, but with the sun setting and friends waiting for us north of the border we decided to get going.


(from left: Dale, Sophie, Ian, Doog and me.)

Part 2, which I'm fairly certain will be subtitled "Glasgow!" should be along tomorrow with some karaoke bus action. After that I'll introduce you to the wobbly phone camera game.

xxx

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

FACE 2 COX

Barry Aldridge (of 'BarryAldridge' fame) wrote a blog the other day talking about his 'Face 2 Face' interview series on Youtube. I left a comment that said "When do we get 'Face 2 Cox'?" Because I am (as I'm sure most of you are) eagerly anticipating the fulfilment of the promise Barry made - to give the people a JohnCox88 channel recommendation. Granted channel recommendations as we knew them are finished, but John Cox and his legions of fans have agreed that a 'Face 2 Cox' episode will suffice.

I received the following DM on twitter earlier today.

Hey Dave, I had to delete your comment from my latest blog entry because of Face 2 Cox comment. If my family saw that that would be upset.

I asked why, given that Cox is just a name and was told,

I know but the thing Face2Cox sounds like something else and some people would take it the wrong way thinking you maybe taking the piss.

I know right. Take the piss... Me?! And as for what this "something else" might be, I'm none the wiser. But I assure you, the fight for 'Face 2 Cox' will continue until our demands are met, and Barry's promise is kept!

Keep the faith.

xxx

p.s. There was another Aldridge gem on his facebook status this morning, may as well stick it in here...
"I hate waking up to rain, it's like waking up to hell.' I love you Barry.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Fuck

I hate letting people down. I hate it more when they lay a massive guilt trip on you.

I was only trying to help out someone else and then they let me down, so I had to pass it along. I even covered for them, don't ask me why. Sometimes I think it would be easier if I just stopped doing things - if I hadn't offered to help in the first place everything would be fine.

New rule: Only help people if it doesn't require getting someone else to help too.

Fuck the to-do list.

/vent. Sorry.

Summer

Today had a very 'first day of summer' feel about it.

The last football of this Premiership season was played, it was properly hot with not a cloud to be seen and we had a BBQ for the first time in over half a year. I also made a playlist of summery songs on my ipod.

Of course I got nothing done because I was outside all day, I'm gonna have to work on that.
My cousin was round the other day though to have a listen to my EP. She was very complimentary, which made me really pleased/relieved because she knows what she's talking about. She also showed me a few things that can help with the sound and now I'm almost ready to let them go. It's strange, I've been making tiny adjustments for as long as I was writing and recording instruments and soon I'm going to stop and they will be set in stone.

Oh, I don't know why I started writing this, I didn't have any news... Just that it's been a lovely day.

I'm gonna make a to-do list for tomorrow in case it's sunny again. If I don't I'll just read in the garden all day.

- Finish tracks for EP (and try to think of a name)
- Finish half written song
- Answer some questions for an interview
- Look for a laptop for my parents
- Read in the garden (but only for a while)
- Write a blog describing how well the to-do list went.

Goodnight. x

p.s. all this talk of summer and itunes on shuffle keeps bringing up Christmas songs!

Saturday, 23 May 2009

I am

Fucking inspired right about now to be honest.

I hope I still feel like this tomorrow because I'm gonna crash soon.

The songs are sounding good though, and I'm writing a few new ones as well. The world is all right. Also keep the 10th June free if you fancy a trip to Nottingham, but don't quote me on that because it's not fo sho.

Peace out, A town, word to your mother.

x

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Good news!

First off here's a video I uploaded to my second channel earlier. Go ahead and hit play so you can listen while you read on!



It's just a guitar style I've been practising with the last couple of days. See I saw two minutes of this film called 'August Rush' and they were playing a song in some open tuning... I liked it so I stopped watching in order to watch it from the start next time, but I went and stuck my guitar in open D for a while. Might record something properly with it tomorrow.

The good news is that my friends Rook and the Ravens - the second best band in the world - have started up a youtube channel. These guys are good on a ridiculous scale - Like if you think I'm good - LOL. They've been gigging since they were about ten years old and it shows. They've just recorded an album so I can't fucking wait for that.

Earlier Tom blogged about his three favourite youtube musicians, I said Tom Hall, Greg Holden and The Nunes. Well The Nunes just got bumped out of the top three, that's how serious I am!

It's weird though because they're offline friends and now it's all mixed up. Ah well, mixing stuff up is good, just look at fruit salads - they've gone from strength to strength.


I've been doing more Summer in the City organising today, starting to see light at the end of the tunnel. All I know is it better be the best fucking day of my life, or there will be trouble!

Here, click on this sentence to go sub to RatR. I guarantee good times.


Goodnight. x

Sunday, 17 May 2009

24 hours in London

On Friday I left for London. I got into Derby really early... For some reason when catching trains I always give the bus half an hour to get there, even though it takes about ten minutes. So I had a little wonder around Derby and ended up sitting on one of the comfy chairs in the new shopping centre where I started re-reading The Catcher in the Rye. Apart from getting up to walk to the station and on to a train that pretty much continued until London. I headed to Waterloo to meet Paul and Sophie (and Chris Lomas briefly!) and we headed up the Jubilee line to visit a potential venue for Summer in the City. The guy in charge was cool... He reminded me of a guy I know that runs a pub in Glossop, mostly because they both run gig venues and are Scottish, but still. The place looked great and hopefully they will have us... I still have to persuade him to let under 18s in, but I think he'll come around!

After that we went off to get food, but only found drink. Had a pint in Camden before asking the very foreign staff where KOKO was... One of them kind of knew and gave me directions that sounded rough but turned out to be very accurate. We got there a bit late - missed most of the support who sounded pretty good. It was the first time I'd been to KOKO, which is a wonderful venue - not very deep but there are a few layers of balconies like at a theatre, which I imagine it was originally. It also has one of the biggest glitter balls I've ever seen.

Ben Kweller, who I realise I haven't mentioned yet, though he was the reason we were there, came on and played some tracks from his new album Changing Horses as well as quite a few from all of his older albums. They worked quite well together considering his new album is very country, whereas the old stuff is more indie/rock/I'm no good with genre names.

I've seen him plenty of times before so I knew what to expect. The first time I went, my friend sent a text to someone to describe the show and he just wrote 'This is talent.' Kweller is an immensely talented man and he surrounds himself with great musicians. But the one thing that stands out about him is how much he loves what he does. I've never seen anybody more comfortable on stage, he absolutely loves it!

The rest of the night involved a few more drinks, getting a hi five from some random woman because I unplugged the speaker that was drowning out our conversation, going back to Sophie's where we met Ian and Lex, and cooking pasta, which was the first thing I'd eaten in about 15 hours.

The next day we had to get up fairly early, which none of us are very good at, but we managed it. Even though Sophie made us miss one train we got on the next one and went to see a hostel. I'm trying to sort something out with this hostel for Summer in the City. It's quite a complicated situation and I'm going to think about how best to work it later on today, but the place is beautiful and Renee who I've been talking to over email and who showed us round was really nice. Then I rushed back towards St Pancras, while the others rushed back to Waterloo. I made it on my train back with about one minute to spare, which is always a good feeling!

So that was my day in London. There was some more Catcher in the Rye on the train home, but not much more as I could barely keep my eyes open.

Still tired now, but good times had.

xxx

Friday, 15 May 2009

Cheeky Bastards

Lately the media in England have been going crazy over the amount of money MP's have been claiming on their housing expenses. See they have to be in London a lot, as well as with their constituencies, so they get a second home allowance, and some of them have a second home about five minutes away from their first, some aren't living in their first homes for long enough for it to be a first home, and a hundred other things that I won't tell you because you don't care. I don't care. I've yet to meet anyone who cares beyond saying, 'Cheeky bastard' on hearing the latest story and moving on.

But we keep being told how much we care and it's starting to bother me. Aren't these the people who are running the country? They're supposed to be speaking for us, deciding what is best for the country, if you go high enough, which this 'scandal' appears to be, they are the people who run everything - school, hospitals, police, housing... they can send us to war! Don't they have things to do?

I agree some of them have been cheeky bastards but did anyone expect anything else? So sort the system out, have them pay back money, do whatever... Just leave it out of the headlines because I don't give a shit. It was the same with swine flu for about a week until this came along. I tell you what, if they hadn't latched onto this they'd still be banging on about the flu. And they'll be talking about this until the next thing I don't care about comes along.

I don't mean I don't care at all... I do care about the news in general. I like to be informed, just not about the same thing everyday when it just isn't that important.

So basically, the media pisses me off. If I had a paper it'd be a different length everyday, depending on how much interesting stuff actually happened.


In other (more interesting) news, I started work on a new video today. It's using split screens but in a new way (for me!). If you track my split screen videos so far it goes the Promise, Saves the Day, Coldplay, then this. I think the previous three are some of my best videos and they've improved each time, so I'm hoping this one will continue that trend... I know this much: it's ambitious! It'll probably drive me crazy, but I'm taking it slowly because it's for one of the tracks on the EP which is at least a month away.

Alright then.

Oh, I'm going to London to see Ben Kweller for the... Fifth(?) time tomorrow. I'm very excited.

Bye then!

xxx

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Three at once.

The four tracks I have recorded for my first EP have been sent off to my cousin for her approval and advice before they are uploaded. I think they will be going on itunes and amazonmp3, those were by far the most popular choices by commenters on my latest video. So for today I can't really do anything on it. That means I can do some work on the acoustic tracks that I also want to make available to download soon.

It's got me thinking about how I'm going to need to work in the coming months and years. Since I don't have an audience large enough to sell thousands and thousands of whatever I release, in order to live off my creativity I will have to have quite a high output. As such I think I'll always be working on three things at once;

1. Current songs - those which have been written and are being recorded.
2. Old songs, which will actually be new to the audience - songs that are recently available to download... Making videos for them will be the most important part of this category.
3. New songs - I'll need to be writing songs to get started on as soon as the current ones are done.

Supposedly itunes takes about a month to process songs, so if in that time I can get two or three videos done ready to promote the songs, and get a good start on recording the next thing I should be able to keep things moving nicely.

Of course this will all fall apart because I'm useless, but it's good to have a plan.

The strange thing is the idea of consciously keeping my youtube channel a month or so in the past, because I will have to wait for songs to be available before uploading videos for them. I like to share things as soon as I write them... I suppose I can still do that, maybe just a rough version of new songs on my second channel, or I might find some new ways to get stuff out there... More secret ways! I can show people who read this blog some of the demos or something. That way the people who really care can keep up to date.

Hmm, sorry - just thinking out loud (*in type).

Well anyway, it should be fun!

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Too long to tweet.

There was some discussion on twitter yesterday regarding Summer in the City. I missed the fireworks, but I thought I'd add a word or two in a place not confined by a 140 character limit and at a time slightly out of the heat of the argument, which I hope will allow for a more level headed approach.

The background to the story is this. Davey (aka daveyboyz) entered an online video competition a few weeks back. The prize was £100,000 (I believe only £20,000 was cash, the rest in 'sponsorship'). Davey announced that if he won he would give £2,000 to help cover the cost of the gathering already being organised by myself and a few others. Whether this move was intended for the good of the community and the gathering, or as a way of gathering support for the video, I'll leave for you to decide. What I will say is that he didn't make any contact with any of the organisers before he did this.

I remember seeing a lot of my friends helping out on twitter, asking people to vote for the video for the good of the gathering, but in the end it wasn't enough, Davey didn't win that prize.

However, and I don't know exactly how it works - I think there are competitions every month and Davey's video was re-entered into the next competition, and it won. The prize is significantly smaller, I believe £5,000.

Now here comes the argument (isn't it always right after the money comes in?!) Tom, who's helping to organise, assumed this meant Davey would be sticking by his promise of a £2,000 donation. Davey said it was a different competition with a smaller prize so he would be keeping all of the money himself.

The point of this blog is still to come, and it's not to voice my opinion on what would have been the right thing to do, but I'll let you know that now just for the record.

I don't think it would be fair to ask for 2 out of 5 grand, when it was originally supposed to be 2 from 20 (plus all the sponsorship).
I also don't think it's fair to give nothing when a lot of people were voting for the video under the assumption that a percentage of the winnings would be going to the gathering.
What I would have done is given the same percentage - it was £2,000 out of £20,000, so I would have offered £500 out of the £5,000 winnings - 10%.

If I were in Davey's place, that's what I'd have done. But let me be clear, I'm not asking for £500, or any money. First of all I don't think even I could persuade Tom to accept it now, secondly Davey posted the following tweet earlier:

"if I do give anything to the gathering, I will decide people i give it to - its not going anywhere near you guys, sorry"

So I don't imagine asking for any amount would be fruitful.

But most importantly, and here we've finally got to the point... We don't need it. (Sorry you had to read all of that to get to a four word point. Still it could have been worse, I think Tom's was four letters.)
We've planned this gathering well, spent a lot of time considering options, searching for places and thinking about ways to finance it. Though there's still work to be done, we're in a good place.

I wrote this post last night, and at this point I took a break and watched X-Men 2! When I came back there was another tweet from Davey that read,

"Ok well i dont mind giving some, but i wont be giving directly to you organisers."

I think I've said all I need to as an organiser of the event, namely that planning is going really well and we are happy to continue without any 'help'. So I'll leave this last paragraph for my personal thoughts - this is my blog after all.

I was quite insulted (though not surprised) that Davey made the announcement without consulting any of us. Those last two tweets have magnified that considerably. I don't know where he would plan to send money if not to the organisers, but I feel as though he's undermining the huge number of hours we've spent discussing, researching and planning this gathering. On the plus side, nothing has changed! I'm still really looking forward to August, in a couple off weeks I'll be in London and I'll be looking at the probable venue for the Saturday night. There's also a sample t-shirt on it's way to me, we'll be selling them to help with the funding.

On another note, did you hear... The UK is forecast a long, hot summer. I'm very ready for that!

xxx