Archive for the Me Oh My Category

Velvet Tongue – 26th May 2014

Posted in Me Oh My, Poetry with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 9, 2014 by Gideon K

Velvet Tongue May 2014

Dear friends and fellow literary assholes,

I know some of you are already aware that I have been leading a double-life for some time now; by day and night I am G-man the acoustic howling fruitcase, Dr Funkenstein of bass, or that skinny dude who writes all those sleazy tunes, and the rest of the time when you don’t see me I’m a fairly sincere and self-indulgent…. this is hard for me to say… writer.

Yes, it’s true, I fell in with the wrong crowd somewhere and started going to poetry events. I think perhaps music and lyric writing was a gateway drug of some kind, but it has developed into something a bit more serious.

I’ve created a monster.

Up until now I have only performed at open mics, and sporadically at that (trying to maintain the illusion that everything was under control), but the more serious lifers have offered me the opportunity to binge a little.

I will be performing and reading at my very first feature-length slot at my absolute favourite literary night, Velvet Tongue on Monday 26th May at Bar Kick in Shoreditch.

Click here for the Facebook Event and further details.

For those that aren’t aware of the night, it’s nothing like the drab, pc, ‘right-on’ vibe you might expect from a poetry event. It’s more of a literary circus, and yet the atmosphere of the room and the people who attend is the most encouraging, friendly, intimate and accepting that I’ve ever come across. Literally, anything goes.

And I have a bunch of new material to unveil too. I’m pretty excited . Aaaaaah yeah.

The only disclaimer I can give in advance is that;

a) If you come, you might find out some things about me you didn’t know or perhaps want to know.

b) There’s more than a good chance you will be exposed to some nudity or other on the night, although most likely it will not be mine.

Traffic Lights

Posted in Me Oh My, Poetry with tags , , , , , , on March 25, 2014 by Gideon K

Traffic Light Picks

I laid out my plectrums
Like traffic lights

– Stop.
– Wait.
– Go.

The one for stop is the thinnest
The one that says ‘Go’
Means business

Some of what I’ve been up to in the last year.

Posted in Creativity, Me Oh My, Songwriting with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 2, 2014 by Gideon K

Gideon K @ Velvet Tongue Autumn 2013

As you’ve seen I’ve  not been blogging much, but I guess I’ve been actually DOING a lot of stuff. Mostly musical projects:

Black Hay:

After finishing the EP and then putting it out earlier last year, I spent a heap of time finishing off a full-length Black Hay album. It was a lot of work because I wrote and arranged everything, and then played all the guitar and bass on it, as well as doing all the singing. In fact for the most part, it was just myself and David working on the tracks. There are a number of tracks with drums on where we enlisted the ever-reliable Guillaume to smash the tubs, and a few cameos by some mates of mine, but other than that it was pretty much a solo thing. It is a good thing because now I’ve mostly got that out of my system and can get on with making band music.

Also, regarding Black Hay, I’ve finally found a semi-solid lineup and we’re releasing a single, made a video directed by Josh, and featuring Missa Blue.

JB Newman & The Black Letter Band:

Since late 2012 I’ve been playing bass and upright bass with my padre JB Newman and his band. We’ve done a fair bit of gigging, most of which have been amongst the liveliest shows any of us have ever played. We recorded a bunch of tracks in march 2013 at River Rat Studios and have put out a single and an ep since then and played some incredible shows. One of the best bands I’ve played in.

4-Track Tape-Traders Club:

On top of all this, I’ve got a bit of a curveball to throw in. I started a 4-Track tape chain-mail group with a bunch of guys I found on soundcloud as well as some guys I already knew. It’s the furthest I’ve been into ‘experimental’ music and the project I have the least amount of control over. It’s gloriously unpredictable and you can hear some of the sonic chaos over here.

More on this little project soon…

I’ve been doing some session work here and there as well as writing more songs, and doing the occasional bit of poetry. I’ve become a regular at the amazing and still relatively unknown (erotic) literary event Velvet Tongue. I’ve done a bunch of different poems at their open mics that have gone down really well and have my first feature-length slot as a poet in May this year.

I’m intending to outdo myself this year.


Finish writing another album and record it with the band. Play lots more shows with Black hay and JB, do more tape collaborations, work on some films, make some videos. You name it, I’ll try it. I’ve got too many ideas to fit into one year ahead of me.

I’m back. Kinda…

Posted in Me Oh My with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 26, 2014 by Gideon K
Van Surfing. On a van.

Van Surfing. On a van. Because I’m cool, that’s why.


One of the things I’ve been meaning to do for a little while is start blogging again. Not in the same way as I used to, but not to abandon it completely. The problem for me was thinking of a way in which I could get back into it in a way that fit into everything else I’ve been doing (some of which were the reasons I stopped blogging).


Well, I’ve decided to start writing here again, but also maintain a separate blog for my band Black Hay (here). I need some place where I can talk about all that stuff in an appropriate way that doesn’t end up looking like my blog here is just “Check”


Why did I stop blogging? Why did I leave it alone for a while? Simply because I felt like after a certain point, I was just writing about creativity rather than being creative. Also, I think the way I was going about doing my songwriting challenge was quite harmful for me in certain ways.

It did bring out some good things though. I started writing a lot of poems as a result of being so fed up of songwriting, and that has altered the way I write songs now, I think for the better.


I originally started this blog as a means of emptying out my head of various ideas. I was trying to flush out everything I knew, or thought I knew, and share it to see if it stood up. But more than that I wanted to see what resources I had left once I found I was empty of all the ideas and notions I had accumulated.


For the most part I think I’ve done that now, and will still post something if I feel it has to be talked about, but in terms of my priorities it’s a bit of a way down the list.


I had another brief experiment with that one-a-week song challenge, with slightly different parameters, and it went very well without me writing about it. The aim was just to get a song and song demo completed by the end of each week. Some record of how the song is played and song, even if it’s just guitar and vocal. That works better for me than talking about the process of writing, or trying to, which can be more harmful than useful I’ve found.


I’ve made what feels like a lot of creative progress in the last year or so, which I will get on in due time, but right now I’m just writing to say hi and see who’s still listening.


Hope all is well and groovy with you all.



Albums That Have Eased My pain and Cooled My Soul in 2011.

Posted in Inspiration, Me Oh My with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 23, 2012 by Gideon K

For anyone interested, I thought I’d make some musical recommendations for some music that has soundtracked the various ups, downs, ins and outs of the past 12 months or so. This is some of the music that has been playing non-stop for me and sustained me for long periods.

I was going to just post a list, since I thought it might be indulgent and vain to write about each of them. Then I thought it would just be lazy to make a list and leave it there without giving some brief reason for why I recommend checking this stuff out.

Also, I have linked clips at the end of each one, just click on em if any of them spark your curiosity.

These are not exclusively albums that have come out this year. I’m not a rock critic.

So in no particular order…

Twilight Singers Dynamite steps

Greg Dulli always comes up with something dark, neon-lit and hungry for me to dig in to. This has been a patch of narrow sunlight for me through dark clouds.

Listen: On The Corner

Yusufina – Anything and everything by my dear friend Yusufina.

When I first heard the music of this beast, I was bugging out, hair on end, huge grin on my face. It still works.

Listen:  La Generale!

Grinderman Grinderman & Grinderman 2

Obviously I’m a huge Nick Cave fan, but these, especially no.2 seem like a whole new colour in the Cave palette. More uninhibited in some ways. Family fun.

Listen: Heathen Child

Robi RosaMad Love

A beautiful girl turned me onto this album a couple of years ago. It has some fluid grooviness in it that I’ve needed this year.

Listen: California

Julee CruiseFloating Into The Night

A world of lush, velvety, sonic beauty to lose yourself in. Absolutely gorgeous.

Listen:  Falling

Nick DrakePink Moon

David Ezra got me listening to Nick Drake because the stark simplicity of this and the first album came up as references for how we were going to approach recording. I much prefer the directness of this to the orchestration on Bryter Later. The piano on the title track is perfect.

Listen: Pink Moon

Big Sexy NoiseBig Sexy Noise

HEAVY. The album I point people towards whenever they start talking about the Metallica/Lou Reed collaboration. This is MUCH better.

Listen: Gospel Singer

John GrantQueen of Denmark

I’m a sucker for darkness, sadness, romance, death and hope in songs. And minor keys. And songs about ice cream.

Listen: Queen of Denmark

Gil Scott-HeronI’m New Here

Even though at least half the songs are covers (albeit great ones), his own voice comes through. All you hear is one man talking to you about how life has been for him. Magic.

Listen: I’m New Here

BeckSea Change

Thanks again to David for this one. I’d overlooked it when it came out. The production is sublime.

Listen: Golden Age

NymphsA Practical Guide To Astral Projection

My continuing obsession with Inger Lorre has led me to this. Also this year I found an original copy of the Nymphs on vinyl.

Listen: Alright

Elliot SmithEither/Or + From a Basement on a Hill

Another guy I finally got round to checking out in depth this year. Everything that is good about modern singer songwriters – unique voice and worldview, individual style, quiet rebellion.

Listen: Ballad of Big Nothing

Sun Kil MoonAdmiral Fell Promises

Mark Kozelek has a unique sway with me. No other music can make me still, open and calm, if sometimes a little too sad. This album has given me alone time, no matter where I am. For that I thank it, and him.

Listen: Ålesund

Neil YoungTime Fades Away

I’m a huge fan of Neil’s ‘Ditch Trilogy’ albums, so it was time I got hold of this one via download. A snapshot of a man trailing defiantly off onto his own path.

Listen: Last Dance

Son House – Anything and Everything by Son House

This man is like a tree of music. He’s a whole place to visit, come back nourished, changed and experienced from.

Listen: Grinnin’ In Your Face

Miles DavisBitches Brew

Sonic freedom and relentless rhythm. There is nothing else out there quite like this to my knowledge.

Listen: Miles Runs the Voodoo Down

The CribsIgnore The Ignorant

This album is fucking brilliant from start to finish. There isn’t a single track I skip over when listening to it, and I’ve played it endlessly for the past 3-4 months. Sad, angry, defiant and rainy. A picture of England.

Listen: Cheat On Me

Kurt VileSmoke Ring For My Halo

I’d read about him, but I think it was a combination of the album cover and the title that made me give him a shot. Baby’s Arms won me right over, dragged me into the womb.

Listen: Baby’s Arms

MorphineThe Night

This one came in pretty handy too. I’ve had it for a while, but there was a few places this year where I kept reaching for it. Especially in certain situations… 🙂

Listen: The Night

I could go on… and talk about the Rival Schools album, or Love Songs For Patriots by American Music Club, but I have to stop somewhere.

I love music.

Happy New Year

Posted in Me Oh My with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 13, 2012 by Gideon K


It’s about time I got round to writing this and getting back on track with this blog.


First off, hello to any and all of you who read this blog, and if you’ve just joined us, welcome.


I’d like to wish a special set of greetings for everyone who over the past year has come to my gigs, listened to my tracks, read my posts, watched my videos, ‘liked’ my facebook pages, followed my tweets, shared my content, commented on any of it, given me feedback and generally inspired me to do further work.

In an age where we are inundated with information and we all have to quickly, immediately and almost right off the bat make decisions about what we will or won’t give our time to, it is hugely humbling and hugely appreciated that you have designated any of my creative endeavours and offerings as worthy of your time.


Overall, as far as blogging goes I think this year has been pretty good. I know I certainly haven’t pushed this blog as far as it could go in terms of readership, or turning my posts into conversations and interactions with all you people out there, but a good start has been made.


I pretty much kept up my end of the bargain. I put up 49 new posts, which since I started the blog in February, works out as just above one a week for the duration of the year. I have also drunk a hell of a lot of tea this year.


For a while I was having visions of all the ghosts of teabags from the last year coming back to haunt me and ask me if I’ve made their sacrifice worthwhile.


I hope I’ve used their fuel to further my trajectory towards the heart of the unknown blogosphere…



Here are the top 5 posts that got the most views this year:
1 ‘Art is Work’
2 Top Ten Alternative Queens
3 The Sound of Modern Music
4 Do You Remember the First Time?
5 Why Don’t You Smoke?


My most commented on post was Certainty vs Uncertainty.


My 5 most active commenters were:

1 opheliacomplex

2 Anna

3 John Clay

4 Miller

5 JB Newman



Thank you all for your time, wit and wisdom, and to everyone else who commented.



My ambition was really just to keep the thing up for a year and see what happened. I don’t really know how this year is going to go. All I do know is that it can’t be the same or stay the same, because I seem to be incapable of doing that.


I will continue writing this blog and experimenting with different formats for writing posts and sharing ideas thoughts etc. I have a lot of ideas for new things including some fairly wacky ideas about how to expose and embarrass myself online, but I think being uncomfortable is relatively healthy.


I’d like to take this opportunity to inform those of you who don’t already know, where all my online content can be found…


Primarily, all my online content can be accessed via two main hubs: and Each has their own links to separate soundcloud, youtube, facebook, twitter and myspace pages. is where all my serious heavy music is at, my sweat and blood masterpieces and what-have-you. It is also where most of my gig listings will be found this year. contains all the other stuff that doesn’t fall under my main project banner – my strange and wacky cover versions, soundtracks, my session showreel and that sort of thing. I might occasionally post some RAAAAAW demos on there for sneakpeaks of upcoming songs and changes.




Thanks for checking in. I hope you’ll stick around. I would love to hear what you people have to say about anything and everything.


And finally…




(better late than never, eh?)



Peace, love and used teabags







Getting to the Bottom of It

Posted in Me Oh My, The Artist's Way with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 28, 2011 by Gideon K

This week has been a total failure in terms of sticking to the guidelines of the course.


I am and have been in a weird position or state of mind this week. The bottom line is that nothing really felt right. For the past few days, something has just been off. A bit like that weird feeling you get when a sudden pain shoots up one of your body parts and lets you know you’ve pulled a muscle without even realising it. Only right now, the muscle I’ve unknowingly pulled seems to be my mind, my soul, my life.


Really, I haven’t been able to put my finger on it at all and so I’ve just tried not to let anything get me down and to maintain my schedule and carry on with my tasks as much as possible. I’ve done my morning pages, I’ve done my song pages – forcing myself despite any temptation not to do them, realising that I’ll only feel worse if I don’t do them, and doing these tasks does make me feel slightly better.


But there have still been clouds hanging over me somewhere.


I’ve even taken time out to refresh myself by doing fun things for myself. I’ve played half an hour to an hour’s worth of piano practise every day this week, I did 4 km on the exercise bike while listening to Roy Orbison vinyl (charity shops again). I sat in the car after I’d parked just to stay and hear the whole of a Chopin piece I had on the classical station. I had a great night out on Tuesday over food and beer catching up with some mates I hadn’t seen on at least a year, perhaps closer to two. Afterwards a few of us went to see Jerry Sadowitz  do a small warm-up show at the Oxford Arms in Camden where I laughed so much that my facial muscles were sore and achy.


But the fun, healthy or relaxing stuff hasn’t sorted me out either.


“…when you lay down at night, turn from one side of the bed all night to the other and you can’t sleep, what’s the matter? Blues got you. Or when you get in the mornin’, sit on side of the bed – may have a mother or father, sister or brother, boy friend or girl friend, husband or a wife around – you don’t want no talk out of um. They ain’t done you nothin’, you ain’t done them nothin’ – what’s the matter? Blues got you.” – Leadbelly


Still, the first half of this week I’ve felt out of sorts. I can’t tell what it is. I’ve just generally been lacking in energy this week.


I did whip my own ass on Sunday down at David’s studio in an 11 hour session to finish/redo the last of the tracks we were working on back in July. I had to rerecord all the guitars and bass parts again thanks to a couple of parts being out of sync and ruining the whole groove of the song.

The only other options would have been to digitally edit the pants off them (err… no) or to mix the thing so that the erroneous playing would’ve been harder to hear (errr… fuck no). It worked out ultimately for the best because I’ve been getting to know my equipment a lot better over this period and the song now has some of the best guitar tones on the whole recording now, but it has all taken it’s toll on me energy-wise.


Sunday is usually my day for capping off the week in the artist’s way, finishing all that week’s tasks, doing my check-in, writing my blog but this week none of that was possible due to recording. So I figured I’d get it all done on Monday and start the final week a day later, no big deal. Monday was full of distractions and various time-consuming tasks. To cut a long story short, I’ve just felt exhausted this week and had not only no inclination to do these tasks, but an empty tank of energy with which to overcome any kind of resistance and to push through it.


I started the week drained, exhausted, completely bereft of enthusiasm, as if I was somehow facing an overwhelming problem heap. I just wanted to stay in bed for at least three days in a row. Burnt out and overdone. Dried out from dreaming.


I try and keep an ear out to listen for what I think the universe is trying to tell me and sometimes it’s very confusing. I try to listen to my gut instinct as much as possible because that had been my truest ally, and the part that never steers me wrong when I listen to it. My instincts in this situation, cloudy as they were due to this weird fog of exhaustion, over-exertion and general burnout.


I think this ties in with my chronic lack of doing artist dates for the duration of this course. It’s shocking really. How little must I value my inner artist? Or maybe I’m just so self-conscious about it as if I were some gangly geek too scared to ask out the girl I like, only the girl in this case is the eternal muse…


All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. It’s like I’ve become a factory worker in the basement of the tower of song.


I have treated myself a bit, but clearly not enough.


On reflection I realise that part of this awkwardness, irritation, discomfort, angst etc is partly because I’m going through another birth of some sort, and these are just some sort of transitional growing pains. But it’s difficult to know what to do about these moods when they fall on you. For me it seems that having some sort of outpouring onto the page can be good for the soul and work.


I’ve been doing morning pages nearly everyday, and hardly avoiding any dark pockets of mental anguish. At least not knowingly, but I guess that’s the key.


I think in a way I’ve been pissing myself off with the morning pages, trying to twist them and mould them to do something else. I’ve not been having much in the way of noticeable or memorable ‘truth points’ in them recently, or even been thinking about that. Nothing like when I started out on them. Recently my focus has been to make the whole thing and exercise in how much focus and flow I can harness at will, to write stream of consciousness, non-stop for those three pages. A lot of the time during the course I’ve started, stopped, picked up somewhere else after my mind has had a bit of a wander, sometimes even after I’ve dozed off back to sleep with my logbook in my hand.

I think that’s also part of the ritual of repetitive processes – you’re basically beating yourself over the head with something until your body/mind says “Ok, I’ve had enough, what else can you show me?” and finds a new way of approaching whatever it is you are doing, simply out of a necessity to stay sane. With the morning pages, if I write mundane repeatedly for long enough (not that I’m thinking too much about it- I just let it come out,) then eventually I’ll be terminally bored of it and start digging deeper with more pertinent baselines of thought.


I’m no longer focused on being in a place per se. As long as I’m engaged with a process and moving somewhere, then I’m happy. That is part of the problem though – when I feel like things are standing still. It might just be that the changes are slow or just not visible/noticeable to ME, but that doesn’t mean they’re not happening.



Anyway, it’s Friday now. From an artist’s way point of view of doing the tasks, the week is shot to pieces. Nevermind, I’m going to finish all the leftovers from week 11 today, go on an artist date first thing Monday morning. I’m going to go down to the guitar centre and play on all the basses and bass amps. For at least an hour.


Failing all that, I just downloaded 7 CDs worth of Son House’s music. If I’m still feeling weird and shit after all that, well… no one knows the blues like he does.


I’ll be doing a proper round up of week 11 (officially last week), and then starting week 12 on Monday. Life is messy and never entirely by the book, I guess the trick is to soldier on.


Stay tuned…





Top Ten Alternative Queens

Posted in Me Oh My with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 31, 2011 by Gideon K

Okay, just so no one can accuse me of being overtly patriarchal I’ve made a list of my top 10 alternative Queens. And just so you can see how pointless the whole argument is, or perhaps how subconsciously chauvinist I might be, they’re nearly all males anyway.


First and most obvious, but what a ridiculous and brilliant band. You don’t see any bands doing things the way they did anymore. You don’t get to make music like queen if you’re worried about being cool. I shall forever love their outrageousness, flamboyance, and ability to throw you around and get away with almost anything. Almost.

This song is killer. I mean how do you make such peerless guitar shredding, mind exploding, riffage out of a guitar made from a fireplace?

Melvins – Queen

Another melvins track. Just because they’re wicked. This was the first track I heard of theirs during my formative teen years and I was sold from the first note. They’re a great band when they bother to write actual songs.

This is what Metal should be like – dark, moody, with a hint of the absolute maniacally fucked up.

Queens of the Stone Age

The modern rock motherload. Someone once described them as being ‘Heavy metal music for people who’ve had sex’. I’d go with that. Everything that a rock band should and shouldn’t be, and making all of it work. Fun times, sexy times, rockin harder, grooving relentlessly and more solidly than any other guitar band of the 21st Century.

Too many songs to choose from, but I’ll go with this.

Dancing Queen


Right, whose idea was ABBA?! Absolutely ridiculous. Just a sign of how absurd the 70s were, they just happened to be the biggest band in the world.

That aside, what a tune. Seriously. Anyone who says they don’t play air piano when this song comes on is a liar.

Even if you hate it you still love it. It’s perfect example of all the things people love and hate about pop music.

Queen of Siam


Lydia Lunch is pretty badass in terms of sheer attitude, anger and resilience. A truly independent woman. Queen of Siam is one of the few records of hers I can actually listen to though (although Big Sexy Noise one I’ve been listening to recently and it’s Heavier than an elephant in jackboots) ie that there are some not entirely atonal tracks on it. This track is some real femme fatale shiiiiiiit.

Little Queen of Spades


Robert Johnson is eternal. I love that there are only a few pictures of him in existence. At first I thought this was just is a badass blues about some hot chick. However it’s about a card sharp who seems to be taking all of poor Bobby J’s money. It does however, key into that feeling you get when someone has the deck stacked against you in more ways than you know – literally and metaphorically.

Queen Bitch


Not actually one of my favourite Bowie tracks (Oh God, I can do better than that!) but hiding under the veil of fairly standard 3 chord glam rock, and lyrics which seem to be a just a description of people who sound like a total pain in the ass, by someone who sounds like a total pain in the ass,  is a song which captures a good deal of the horrible emptiness of being the one who doesn’t get the girl, of being the 1 in the 3, being outside, calling a cab to just get away from wherever the hell you find yourself because being stuck in the room with only the thoughts of the other guy who got the girl you coulda, woulda, shoulda, is just too much. Sneaky little git old D.B…

50Ft Queenie


No bullshit, rollercoaster rock. The kind of track that makes you wanna go and cause trouble. She’s stomping on all the boys, and swinging her massive dick around – bend over Cassanova – and THAT snare sound!! Albini!! PJ Harvey – second to no one indeed.

Rocket Queen

For the longest time I couldn’t stand Guns n Roses. Everything about that ‘most dangerous band in the world’ thing made me cough up on the smell of stale hair spray and sweat-cracked leather. However, somewhere along the line, the majority of the tracks on Appetite for destruction sucked me in with their alley-cat aggro-isms. Generally I like anything if it’s done well, but sleazy, dirty gutter-rock done well… can be just magic. Complete with genuine recording of Axl having sex with some chick in the studio, just so they could have that added… ‘ambience’.

Queen of the Rodeo

It’s got our boys Alice in Chains singing heartfelt and completely un-PC harmonies about being a cross-dressing, hard-drinking, girlfriend-stealing ‘human-waste’. Yes, they’re taking the piss, spoofing their country, metal and boozy cowboy influences, but they sound like they’re having FUN – not something enough people associate with Alice in Chains most of the time. A great singalong to crack out when you’re jamming and drunk.

Oh, and if it offends you, you probably don’t get it.

“So cowboy, if you’re lookin for lovin….”

Yeah, I’m not very good at keeping to limits like these, so in true rock n roll fashion, this list goes up to 11…

Queen Jane Approximately

Highway 61 was the first Dylan album I got into and it still keeps me coming back for it’s electric righteousness and acrobatic, rollercoaster imagery.

This song seems to me to be about being condescending, but also having some compassion. He’s saying that once the Queen Jane in question is finished with all her little detours into various worlds of pretense, deceit and silliness, to come and find him when she’s ready for a more authentic reality and questions. There’s a life to be lived that isn’t wrapped up in meaninglessness and false expectations.

I would welcome anyone else’s interpretation though, especially as I attempt to dodge the shoes thrown at me by pious Dylan-ites calling me a revisionist and a traitor…

Cheap Instruments & What Fate Hands You

Posted in Me Oh My with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 25, 2011 by Gideon K

I have this strange fatalism regarding instruments.

I think a lot of the musical changes in history have come from circumstance as much as anything else. We should consciously cultivate this. That’s why I think there’s a lack of imagination and a soul-starvation to people in bands spending stupid money on expensive American guitars.

Really obvious and unimaginative example:

A lot of indie/alt/rock bands play Fender Jaguars and Jazzmasters, because they have a great and unique sound, and all their favourite bands use them.

All their idols played them in the 80s, mostly because they were dirt cheap. No one wanted them back in the era of post-Van Halen pointy guitars. That’s the only way Sonic Youth could afford to have thousands of them, the same reason why My Bloody Valentine, Dinosaur Jr, Nirvana, etc etc used them.

Now however, people spend loads of money on them. But to me it’s completely counter to the spirit they were used in the first place.

Is it really necessary to spend stupid amounts of money on some crazy thing when there might well be something just as great but different lurking in the dusty, forgotten corner of some tucked-away junk shop?

This goes for everything. If bands aren’t willing to be creative and spontaneous about how they outfit and equip themselves, how likely are they to be creative or unique in other areas?

Billy Corgan said he wrote most of the songs on Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness on an old electric he got for $60 in a junk shop.

Josh Homme bought his Ovation GP from a record store that had just a banjo, an acoustic guitar, and the electric that he bought.

Nearly all my guitars are secondhand, old and Japanese – All under £300 except for one. They sound great, and what’s more – they sound unique. No one else is playing them.

You can probably tell I’m in thrall to the romantic notion of finding lost treasure in forgotten places….

I wholeheartedly advocate junk shops, car boot sales, ebay, gumtree, craigslist etc, or my favourite – charity shops. Just keep an eye out.

I like the fact that I don’t know where my next musical fling is going to come from, and it leaves you with some interesting stories about each of your toys.

Here’s how I see it: The era will provide whether it’s in a way you like or not. But there will be ample equipment that has been thrown out that is ripe for re-use.

Find out what type of gear is really good but unpopular, and go get yourself some great gear for cheap.

Happy hunting.

Why Don’t You Smoke?

Posted in Me Oh My with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 20, 2011 by Gideon K

Someone actually asked me this. They couldn’t understand that as a singer I could be a fan of Leonard Cohen, Nick Cave, Tom Waits, Mark Lanegan etc and yet I’m not a smoker.

There are quite a few reasons behind this, but mainly because smoking is fucking DUMB.

I know, I know, Rock n Roll is supposed to be about recklessness, nihilism, living fast and dying young, but forgive me; that just seems a little too boring.

Let’s look at some of the supposed advantages of smoking:

Err…. none.

Like all other drugs, it takes far more than it ever gives you.

This is not a huge socio-political moralistic rant here, simply on an individual level I just don’t get it.

I used to. I used to love a good smoke, now and then. But eventually as part of the process of growing up and figuring out what my priorities are it actually came to the point where the last cigarette I had just felt disgusting by about halfway through and that was it.

No more.

The basic answer however is that smoking damages the voice, and almost any artist or singer with brains eventually stops. It’s a subtle form of self-destruction that I could never square with the rest of me. I don’t want to destroy myself and want to take care of the body and mind I have, but if I WAS being self-destructive I like to think I’d be choosing something a bit more effective than cigarettes.

I think scars can be very beautiful on people, but less so and less often when they are self-inflicted.

However, the main focus of this train of thought was supposed to be how smoking affects the singing voice.

In keeping with my attitude towards certainty/uncertainty, if I smoke, and smoke a lot, we all know exactly what my voice is going to sound like, right? I’m much more interested and curious to see where my voice might go if I don’t smoke.

My voice is pretty low as it is (listen if you don’t believe me), and with both practice and age it’s only going to get lower. Whether smoking would aid that or not, smoking would detrimentally affect my ability to hit the higher notes, which are currently also expanding in range for me.

Instead of the obvious, easy and stupid way of changing my voice via smoking, I’d rather spend my time training my voice and exercising it, exploring avenues that don’t irreparably damage my instrument, because I want to sound like me, not the cookie monster.

Besides, it stinks.