Here's another studio track! This one has been kicking around for awhile, but I finally found a nice groove that I'm happy with, and I'm really excited to share it with you.
I made it out to the Dan last week, and also gave the new drums a workout.
Every time I play in Adelaide, it seems like it's a humbling experience. I re-joined SCALA in order to take part in this year's Festival of Original Music (FOOM) and just generally get more involved in the songwriting scene here.
I submitted a less-polished mix of Freefall (than the one at right) to the FOOM studio section, and was very pleased with my performance of Unsent Letter at the live section, but I missed the cut to go on to the live final, and Freefall garnered no mention, judges' feedback pending.
Generally I play Unsent Letter arpeggiated, but the night before I tried playing it at the Open Mic @ The Dan, and my fingers shook, which caused me to opt for a strumming style at FOOM.
Photo by Emily Bryson
Let it be known, I still suffer from stage fright…getting up in front of people isn't so bad, but occasionally things like shaking fingers and shallow breathing still get the best of me.
Still, I really enjoyed the FOOM process overall. I made it to three of the four nights of the live competition, and will likely do it again, as it was a really good time with some great artists and a positive vibe.
SCALA Songwriters' Workshop
I attended the SCALA Songwriters' Workshop for the first time this past month. The headline guest was Mick Kidd, who shared some helpful tips regarding the business of expressing oneself musically, and I even won his latest CD by knowing a bit of Hendrix trivia. Dude rocks a mean slide guitar.
When it came time to share, I was kinda stuck, since the only people to bring guitars were lefties. Luckily, I had a vocal-less mix of Standstill on my phone, so I sang along to that, which was pretty fun for a change, and the group seemed to dig it, which was really encouraging.
Open Mic @ The Brunswick
After the Songwriters' Workshop, I managed to find my way over to the Brunswick to catch the end of the relaunch of the Open Mic Network's weekly get-together over there. Corey was even nice enough to let me close down the proceedings, despite running a bit over time.
World Tennis Challenge Rock 'n' Racquets Competition
Last week I performed at the first heat of the World Tennis Challenge Rock 'n' Racquets competition.
It's a competition put on by The Promethean Writers' Night to select featured artists to perform during the World Tennis Challenge.
The Rock 'n' Racquets night was, again, humbling, as I was playing with some of Adelaide's finest: Joe Man Murphy, Mary Webb, and fellow American transplant Danielle Deckard, who was flat-out amazing and walked away with the night.
I had been rehearsing a few things over the weekend (including the video of Freefall below), but the more intricate/gentle material doesn't come to me as easily, so I opted to play mainly more rockish material which I thought I'd be able to pull off a bit easier.
Freefall Acoustic Rehearsal
Despite that, the Rock 'n' Racquets still ended up not being my best performance.
I played In My Own Way, Freefall, Consequential Matters, and This Love, the last of which I haven't played in public in at least three years.
Judging from the video which I shot (and won't be posting), it wasn't as bad as it felt…just marred by a few mistakes and not of the same caliber as the other seasoned artists who had played.
The real issue, I think, is that I have been distracted by other pressing matters, and generally haven't been able to put the time into rehearsal that I'd like.
As I'd hinted previously, our rental is being demolished, and we have been given notice to vacate no later than November 21st. Thankfully, we have planned for this and are zeroing in on our next rental.
This means that I will be packing up my studio and everything else in the next few weeks. It also means that I don't expect to make much progress musically until possibly Christmas, but I hope to keep playing (I rehearsed tonight), so anything's possible.
Also, last, but by no means least, on Saturday I asked my beloved partner and best friend of nine and a half years, Emily Bryson, to marry me.
This culmination of our extended courtship would have happened ages ago if not for our move to Australia, which I have often half-joked is, "...more binding than marriage."
We are both very happy to finally be making it official.
Let's see…I work full-time, have recently started attending a weekly yoga class, have a dog who is suffering from terrible hay fever of late, and try to cook and clean regularly. It's a wonder I ever find time for music. I don't sleep much.
The main point is that I have put together my music project to be a fun outlet.
Right now I feel like it's getting short shrift, and rather than half-ass it (which makes it a lot less fun), I think it's best to put it in the garage for a bit while I take care of the pressing life-business at hand.
I do have a few tricks up my sleeve, though, and may be able to put out some more goodies in the interim. Until then, be safe and best to you.
Recently it was brought to my attention that Radio Adelaide is putting together a new website, and are looking at expanding their mobile and podcast strategy.
Additionally, it was re-asserted that all Radio Adelaide audio is the property of Radio Adelaide, and any re-broadcast or other use would require written permission.
Of course, I have a significant bit of Radio Adelaide content on this site, including the Live @ Radio Adelaide record which was assembled from tracks recorded at Radio Adelaide, the Local Noise broadcast which it came from, and buried somewhere in the Audio folder is the episode of Songcatcher I was lucky enough to be featured on. I may even have the video of that posted somewhere.
The point is that I want to continue to host this content (legally), and I would also like the opportunity to come back and do my thing again someday, so I immediately thumbed out an email alerting them to my use of their content, and asking for permission to continue to do so.
The good news is that permission was granted, so that's wonderful.
It was suggested that I add a link to Radio Adelaide as well, so I've set up the "Organisations I Like" link list to the right.
I love Radio Adelaide, but I'm a bus rider and an iPhone user, and to date that has made it difficult for me to listen in.
I took the Radio Adelaide Listener Survey, and was ashamed to admit up front that I'm not a Radio Adelaide subscriber, but then remembered that I barely have a way to listen, and that I do buy my Entertainment Book there, and I try to retweet their stuff as often as applicable.
Lately I've noticed that Radio Adelaide content is popping up on their associated blogs and twitter feeds in HTML 5 (read: iPhone-friendly) formats, which I've been digging, and they do have podcasts available, so I'm going to get that subscription going.
The survey also notes an iPhone app as a possibility to listen live, which is something I'm definitely excited for.
Long story short, Radio Adelaide is awesome, they've supported me, I'm supporting them. I've set aside funds to subscribe, and will make it happen this week.
Hi all. Here's my first new song in awhile, Freefall.
I am still doing my thing. Been recording these songs. This website has been quiet for some time, outside of my tweetage.
Last year I demoed them, mostly worked out the kinks in terms of arrangement, performance, etc.
Then I moved house, which took some time to dismantle/remantle my studio.
I'm back up and running at the new place, which it turns out is going to be a temporary rental, since at the end of our lease (unclear when that is), it's looking to be bulldozed.
This means I have a few months' window to finish this record or I have to let it sit while moving house yet again before the end of the year (possibly the winter).
My method has changed a lot, and not always for the better. I got Logic Studio last year, as I wanted to have more professional-sounding mixes.
I'm still tracking in Garageband, mainly because I have an older Mac, and it doesn't keep up very well when recording in Logic.
The plan was to track in GB, and then mix in Logic.
I got the tracks to Freefall, one of the new songs, imported into Logic. I then proceeded to mix them with intent to submit the finished product to the Unsigned Only competition, an American A&R songwriting thingie.
It's not really my thing, but it sounded like a cool opportunity, and it gave me a reasonable deadline to work towards.
I did submit, but wasn't entirely happy with the results, which came at the expense of an all-nighter last minute mixing session on a schoolnight.
I've determined that the stock amp designer/effects in Logic don't necessarily have the level of realism I'd hoped for. In fact, I'm finding that in some cases I still prefer the original Garageband (pre-'09 "guitar track") amp sounds.
I'm also having a horrible time getting the mixes to sit well in Logic…it seems that in order to get them to a modern volume level, one has to compress/limit the tracks to the point where the song sounds like shit.
Garageband managed to idiot-proof that part of the process pretty well for me.
If I cranked it to the point where it's borderline distorted, chances are I was pretty close to your modern industry level of volume. With Logic, when I do that, it's way quiet, which led to a lot of head-on-desk action.
My goal is to have a more "professional" sounding record this time. I'm pleased to say that the actual performance side of this is working really well.
Where I used to be willing to accept a certain level of imperfection in a performance in the interests of expediency, I have since decided to tighten up my standards. I don't want my musical slackitude enshrined in perpetuity anymore.
Of course, I don't use auto-tune on my vocals or quantize/rhythm-correct my drums like a lot of the pros do, so this has forced me to raise my standard of playing/singing, often through brute force and repetition.
I do everything digitally, but I'm not willing to be outright dishonest about a performance.
In the past, I have let performance issues slide when it would have been much easier to dodgy it up with some bullshit rhythm/pitch correction.
About the most studio trickery I'm willing to engage in is splicing different takes together. That goes for drums, too, which most people warn against splicing, but there are only so many hours in a day, and so many blisters a dude can get.
For instance, I've sung Freefall about 70 times and I'm still not entirely sure I'm happy with it. Most of those performances would have been passable in a live setting, but I'm looking for something that is competitive with bands I listen to, who often play for a living, have way more rehearsal/practice time, and still may be willing to digitally tweak things a bit after the fact.
Freefall - Take 47
Most of these bands have extremely talented, dedicated singers, too.
Plus there are all the usual hurdles with this sort of thing, like technical difficulties, mic'ing experiments gone wrong, gear issues. It's a one-man show, so it takes time.
The stuff I'm hearing in my headphones is definitely a massive improvement over the stuff I've put out so far, so I'm just going to keep plugging away until it's done.
Now that I've been working on it for awhile, and I have a good idea of what I'm doing, it's moving pretty quickly. I used the Freefall experience to figure out what not to do, and I did a lot of that, which has made the correct approach pretty clear.
In my head, I already know how most of the album goes, and it is starting to look like more of an album thing this time.
There are about eight finished songs, two of which I'm writing additional choruses for, four song fragments or songs where the appropriate arrangement is still unclear, and a handful of old, unreleased material I may pull out as needed.
I can see myself cutting it down to those eight songs if I'm really harsh, but there will probably be quite a bit more than that by the time I'm done.
These songs are very much like my existing stuff in spirit/approach, but a bit more complex, with bigger hooks, more aggressive playing, and stronger writing in general.
Songs I've played out before or that showed up at the Local Noise broadcast, like Consequential Matters and One More are definitely going to get the full band treatment.
Other songs that have shown up on open mics I've posted like Standstill and Perfect Sunrise will be on there too.
Then there are songs that I've yet to play out, and there's at least one song that is such a band-thing that I'm not sure it can be reproduced in a solo acoustic capacity. It's probably going to open the record.
There's a ballad called Unsent Letter which I previewed at the Promethean Writer's Night which has since gotten a nice instrumental bridge. It's unlike anything I've ever done before, but the drums are done now, with some tasty brush-work.
As for the rest of things, I may try to get out and about before long…it's a bit cold for busking, but maybe I'll make the rounds at the open mics in the next month or so. It's all kind of dependent on home/work life stuff, which is demanding.
I'd like to have some different stuff ready from the last time I did it though, and right now I'm kind of in the same place, song-wise. Maybe some covers. I'll do some rehearsal and see what happens.
Last week I went back to Rundle Mall solo and played two similar sets. The first day I ended up between Dymocks and Esprit/City Chic, and the second day I played between the Myer Centre and City Cross.
Since these were both solo missions, I didn't get any pix or video, but I did record with my phone in my chest pocket, which yielded some of the best-sounding live audio I've come up with so far.
On Wednesday I was kind of in a secluded area, but still managed to draw some change. On Thursday, I was really fortunate to get a great spot and the support of some generous donors.
It probably helped that I made my sign a bit more specific, explaining that the Hutt Street Centre works to support Adelaide's homeless/vulnerable. People responded, and you can hear me almost lose track of the song in the second bridge of One More due to the kind woman who threw down a $10 bill here.
There's also a fun version of Consequential Matters here.
While it's unlikely that someone should read it here first, I should probably note that if you want to make a sizable contribution to the Hutt Street Centre, you should probably do it directly here. Gifts of $2 or more are tax-deductible under the Income Tax Assessment Act.
Setlists for both days were the same songs, in different order:
Disobey - Standstill - Consequential Matters - Freefall - Sola - Road Rage - In My Own Way - One More - Walking Into The Light - Compost Heap
Disobey - Standstill - Freefall - Consequential Matters - Sola - Road Rage - In My Own Way - Walking Into The Light - Compost Heap - One More
I plan to work up a few more songs to switch it up a bit, hopefully this week.
Recently I decided to go get an Adelaide City busking permit.
The idea was to get myself and my songs out in front of people, and maybe make some money for charity in the process.
After some googling, I picked the Hutt Street Centre for Adelaide's homeless and/or vulnerable to be my cause.
Amazingly, some of my colleagues decided to tag along, which delighted me, and I can't thank them enough for following me around Rundle Mall in multiple directions trying to find a spot to play, not to mention staying to the end. It was really encouraging, and helped me through something that would have been very daunting alone.
Halfway through, my lovely partner Emily arrived and took the accompanying photos.
It was Friday evening, and there were buskers everywhere. As soon as I thought I'd gotten far enough away from the last one, I'd see the next one.
Finally, I had enough, and decided to cut up an alley towards North Terrace.
Anyways, I played a half-hour, which is the maximum time allotted on the permit in one location, although I saw other people playing before I started and after I finished.
I had almost forgotten my permit, but thankfully remembered and ran back in to grab it, as Rundle Mall security did actually scope me out and check my credentials.
Anyways, it went really well, and despite the less-than-ideal location, I did manage to rustle up a modest contribution from the effort.
I plan to do it again soon, probably a weeknight this week, when it should be a bit easier to find some prime real estate on the Mall. Hopefully I can rake it in for a good cause. I'll tweet when I'm relatively sure I'm doing it and where/when.
Disobey, Freefall, Standstill, Consequential Matters, Walking Into The Light, Compost Heap, Road Rage, One More
My yoga class was cancelled this week, so I was able to head down to the Open Mic @ The Dan for the first time since last August.
Audio (a little guitar heavy) may be found here.
1. Standstill - I wrote this song last year, and played it once at the Dan, but didn't get audio that day.
2. Freefall - This song was written towards the end of March, after the company I was working for went under.
3. Consequential Matters - This song was intended to be on To Live Without Fear, but the recording wasn't working out at the time, so it was cut, along with a number of other songs which I still like and intend to release in the future.
I'm in the process of recording these, but didn't want to hold back until that's done, so try to act surprised when you hear the loud, full-band-sounding "studio" versions of them next year.