Whats New?

Its been nearly three weeks since my last review and look-back at what has been going on with writing and recording. So, I figured that now was as good a time as any to bring you up to date with what has been happening.

To get one thing out of the way first, there hasnt been any new lyric writing over the last 14 days or so. Most of the energy has gone into recording and composing.

As I hinted at, during my previous update there are a number of tracks that for a while didnt appear to be going anywhere that have found a new lease of life. These include:

Elia/The Last Dance – now in a very advanced state. Most of the core tracks are in place and all that remains to be done on it are some overdubs and vocals. I feared that this one was getting bogged down because of the complex arrangement that was required to make it all work. That bridge has been crossed and for the most part all of the component parts sit together quite well, but not quite there yet.

Castles In The Sky – likewise. The core tracks and the arrangement are in place. Hardest bit to do is going to be the vocals and any solo parts – saxaphone and jazz guitar.

Doesnt Matter Now – chords and arrangement are completed, even has some guide vocals. Its likely to remain very sparse, as was the original intention. But at the moment, its maybe a little too sparse and requires some drum brushed parts and upright bass and a couple of solo spots for saxaphone and guitar. Its going to be one of those long songs that needs space and room to breathe and is very much going to be “less is more”, but I’m not quite sure what form that is going to take yet…

The Wishing Game – now this one, while I’ve managed to save the original music track that was written for it by my collaborator, Robert…. I’m not sure I can really save the lyrics. I have a feeling that this one may end up being re-appraised, lyrically. Musically, there is a definite passing resemblance to George Michael’s A Different Corner – this song may take a lyrical turn inspired by that, its a little early to say. I’ve not put the final arrangement on enough times yet to work out what that will be. I might have to try the Polly Samson trick of mixing the arrangement down to MP3, sticking on my iPod and going for a long, long walk with a notepad across the Wiltshire Downs and seeing what shakes out after a while. If it worked for her on Rattle That Lock, it can work for me too, I hope!

The Fear Of Missing Out – very advanced stage of production. Almost all of the music is complete. Saxaphone and brass stab parts were the last ones to go on, early last week. Just the vocals left and then mixing. Only thing is, its still maybe a little more “jazzy” than “funky” and while the Steely Dan influences are clear, its not really grooving yet. And while I’ll not be distraught if it doesnt, I’d be more satisfied with it if it did.

No Getting Over You – almost done, bar vocals and mixing. Again, this was one that had bugged me for a long time, but managed a growth spurt in the last month.

This Time – just guitars and vox left to go before mixing.

There is still a lot to be done and I’m still debating what to do with some of the other songs. Some may be put back into very deep storage, I haven’t decided yet.

These tracks include: Let It Go, Stars, Accidental Love, Stay and a couple of others. I’m inclined now to take the approach of composing the music first and then the lyrics, until inspiration rears its head again on a lyrical front, which it hasnt really done since Castles In The Sky came along nearly three months ago.

Theres also the fact that I may be moving house, depending on what full time work I end up in next (still very much open to fate) and also that I’ve had an unexpected house guest recently which may further complicate matters. Hopefully some further progress will be made over the late Summer Bank holiday, but… we shall see.

Use of the Arranger Track and Beat/Tempo Detect tools in Cubase has helped a lot in the last two weeks and has led to a couple of lightbulb moments (ie, “why the hell didnt I use this before?”) but I think also that there has been something in the Creative Energy thing I was chewing over a couple of weeks ago. The more I immerse myself in it, the more it helps.

I just have to make sure that I keep putting myself in the orbits of creative people, I guess.. *grin*

What does all this mean for the KOAS project? Well, I think its unlikely that we’ll see a double release of both London Road and No Expectations, as was originally planned and chances are, neither will happen until closer to Christmas or at least until the day job situation becomes clearer. No Expectations will definitely still happen, but London Road may end up being reduced to a four or six track EP, depending on how things go.

Anyway. Thats enough for now. Hopefully, the Bank Holiday will see some more real progress. More as it happens, when it happens.

See you all soon, I hope.




Latest Developments

“And they call you a genius
Cause you’re easier to sell… 
But the fire in your belly
That gave you the songs
Is suddenly gone
And you feel like a fake… 
Is that what you want?”

© Hogarth/Rothery/Trewavas/Kelly/Mosley, from the album Afraid Of Sunlight, 1995

As a certain footballer who may remain nameless was fond of saying “Its a funny old game…”

It certainly is. Nearly three weeks has gone past since my last update and I’m not going to deny that at that point, I was feeling somewhat jaded and wondering whether this project had any steam left in it. There have been some changes since then, I’m glad to say.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned recently is about energy and being around it and people who have it. What I mean by that is (stick with me, please!) it has dawned on me that if I am in the company of people who have the positive energy that I crave, that it tends to rub off, however briefly they may be in my orbit. This epiphany came when spending a weekend with the most inspirational person I know and her boyfriend. She has had mountains and obstacles to climb all of her life which would have floored a lesser person and she just doesn’t know the meaning of “Quit”. It is impossible not to look at her, to be in her company and not be inspired and to give yourself a good kick and tell yourself to pull your finger out.

And, that I did. I also have had some visits from some of my closest musical collaborators as well which has helped too – and it began to dawn on me that the fuel for the fire that I was searching for is actually the energy that these people give off, whether they be creatives or not. Until I find a way of developing and sustaining my own fire, being around these guys is a source of energy, whether it be positive or negative – it is still an energy source that I can channel and use. So, the lesson clearly is “I need to be around creatives more, go to more gigs and draw in all the inspiration and energy that these guys give off”. And I need to do it soon.

That might sound a bit New-Age-Hippie, but its the only explanation I can think of. And whatever it is, it appears to have worked and is still working. Better still not to question it or try and overanalyse it… just get on with it.

Add that to the other self-help lingo of “if you’re ever in doubt as to what you’re achieving, take a look behind you and see how far you’ve travelled down your path”. Which if you measure it in years or months is usually quite a good way of perking yourself up – but when you apply it to a three or four week period and it still raises your eyebrows, then its maybe time to think that the problem is my own impatience rather than anything structurally wrong.

I did say when I commenced this journey and gave up the day job that it would be a voyage of personal discovery. How very true that turned out to be.

There has been quite a lot of progress in the last 8 or 9 days

– the music for No Getting Over You, which has bugged me for the best part of two years (especially when I had the tune in my head all along) has finally dropped into my lap and the track is in a very advanced state of recording. Chords, arrangement, the lot.

– Another problem child, Doesnt Matter Now, which has been sitting around as a set of complete lyrics with a great story with only an intro for over a year is now, as of today, in a state where the rest of the instrumentation can be put on the track. It even has a vocal melody, which apart from maybe one or two lines in the entire song, it has never had before.

–  The Fear Of Missing Out, which when I last left Long Island nearly two months ago was just an intro and two first verse chords. Its now pretty much finished bar comping the guitar lines, adding vocals and mixing. Again, it just seemed to topple out over the course of 24 hours, very much against expectations.

– Likewise, Castles In The Sky is, as we speak, in development to the point where it has most of the instrumentation that it needs, it has its chords, its melody, its key components: From where, I know not, some sort of momentum has come and I’m very glad of it.

There remain a number of tracks deserving of priority attention that are in a state of partial build:

  • Elia/The Last Dance,
  • This Time,
  • Talk To Me,
  • Come Back To Me, Money,
  • An Accidental Love

At this rate there may well be enough to complete the No Expectations album.

Whether it will be these tracks that appear on it remains to be seen. But there is enough in an advanced state “in the can” for at least a couple of EP’s if nothing else.

So. Onwards and upwards.Repetition is the mother of skill, as one of my favourite life coaches is fond of saying.