The 4-Track Tape Trader’s Club

Posted in Creativity with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 26, 2014 by Gideon K

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I mentioned a little earlier on that I’d been collaborating with various musicians on an experimental tape project. The idea behind the whole thing was to make music for the sake of making music.

I wanted to play with people without any kind of formalities or real responsibilities. It has been hard (in London) to find people who are willing to just let go of their egoic sense of purpose, band, career even and just find the time to make noise for the sheer joy of it. To take the leap and collaborate awkwardly and nakedly with strangers.

I was inspired principally by the idea of double-exposure on analogue film; where two different photographers take pictures over the same roll of film. The results are often chaotic, and either brilliant or a complete mess. I wanted to find a way for that gamble to translate musically, and given the inherent limitations of cheap analogue mediums, my mind turned towards 4-Track Cassette tape. I’d been looking for a way to use 4-Track for a while because of its ease of use, throwaway nature of the results, and to a certain degree the way it has now become almost entirely obsolete.

Of course, there is also a certain romanticism about 4-track tape, especially to someone whose musical adolescence was shaped in a big way by lo-fi independent music made using such equipment, but having learned of Josh Homme’s Desert Sessions, I had been searching for a means of doing something similar for a long time.
The problem is that in London, not many people have access to their own studios for recording a whole band live, and those who do are rarely up for the idea of getting groups of people together to record just for fun – they’ve got bills to pay. That’s understandable.

The tape idea has helped fill this gap to a certain degree. It may not have the immediacy of getting everyone together in the same room (in fact, at this point I still haven’t met some of the other collaborators on this project face-to-face yet), but the hidden blessing is that freed from other people’s presence, gaze, and breathing on their neck, everyone is free to do whatever they feel like within the confines of the tracks they record. It has been very surprising, and a lot of fun.

On a personal level, having spent so much time, effort, and focused concentration making sure all the Black Hay recordings have been ‘just right’, and working in quality studios, with quality equipment, for long hours making sure everything sounds nice, it is a nice relief to be able to rebel against that and against myself in a way, by throwing all of those notions and lessons out the window and just going wild with it. I’m not saying anything against quality recordings or the somewhat laborious nature of studio recording, just that a change is as good as a rest. It’s a welcome and invigorating contrast to be able to lay down such horrible noises, and for them to still sound ‘good’ to my ears.

Here are the results from the first ‘Project’. The second one has been underway for a while, but that particular saga is ongoing…

 

 

 

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

Night of the Furies – Black Hay live in Hoxton

Posted in Uncategorized on February 25, 2014 by Gideon K

Here’s a piece about a night I’m playing on Thursday both with Black Hay and JB Newman. It’s gonna be a swelteringly groovetastic event.

Black Hay

Night of the Furies

Hey folks,

London folks that is. We’re playing this Thursday 27th Febrary at the Macbeth in Hoxton with our friends JB Newman, and Georges Kaplan Presents…

The night is ours quite literally – the event is being organised by our three acts. We’ll also have our mate Darren Delany MCing and doing some magic as well as another band called the Dublo getting in on the action.

And it’s FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE.

We’ve done this kind of thing before, playing with JB and George. They’re kind of our brother bands, and we’re all mates so it has made sense to put on our own shows. We work well together and actually promote the events (unlike some folks wielding that title) and care about the details. We’ve been trying to make it so the night is more than just a bunch of bands playing together, hence having a magician this time, prizes…

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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.

How?

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 outmyband.com”

 

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.

 

G

End of Attempt 1

Posted in Creativity on April 7, 2013 by Gideon K

Well, for anyone who has shown interest in this little experiment of mine, you might have noticed that it has been a while since I posted up about my songwriting challenge.

 

Basically, I failed. Sorta

 

But that’s good – I can, and have learned from it.

 “I’ve failed over and over and that is why I succeed” – Michael Jordan

 

There were several problems about this challenge, including:

  • – My personal and work life had been neglected so I had no balance in my life, which seems to have some degree of importance in long-term artistic health. As you would expect.
  • – Writing about writing is something that I have decided I need to curtail somewhat, and to dial back. Especially because at times it has seemed like I had spent as much or more time writing blog posts as I did on the actual songwriting, which was neither my original aim, nor of much use or interest to me. I will start another challenge at some point and instead of posting a long bit of writing, I will simply have my goals as writing and demoing the song so as to upload it and display it.

 

How many songs I’ve written in that time? Irrelevant. Enough. Not enough.

“How much do you have to do to satisfy people who don’t care anyway?” Saul Leiter

I’ll go into this all in greater depth some other time perhaps. For now there are other things to think and talk about. I am also going to splitting blogging duties between this blog and this one.

 

One interesting side effect of this was getting very fed up and bored with my ways of writing songs, and as a consequences I started writing a lot more ‘poems’ and prose, which has been a welcome and interesting development for me at least. I’ve been posting them up as audio and have been attended poetry nights with some loose regularity over the past year.

 

At the moment it’s back to music. I’ve finished an EP with my project Black Hay, and am preparing for some more recording for an album, as well as a number of other interesting projects.

 

Hello again

 

G

Songwriting Challenge Week 13

Posted in Songwriting, Songwriting Challenge 2012 with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 16, 2012 by Gideon K

I still don’t know how good any of the recent stuff I’ve written has been. I don’t get the feeling that these have been songs that I will be singing year after year, or that people will ask me to play to them etc. Although I don’t want to judge these poor scabby babies just yet.

 

What I love about all this is the element of surprise involved. I had no idea any of these ideas were in there or that they were coming out. I had no idea they would exist until they did. It’s a nice contrast to a lot of my songs and how they’ve been written, which is that I’ll have an idea, a theme, or an image and from that point it’s a case of wearily carving away and sweating really heavily over them until they feel like they do justice to my inner feeling of what the ideal could be like. My point is, that once I have the image in my head, I have some idea, often a pretty good one, of what the end result will be, especially from a musical point of view and it’s just waiting til the lyrics sit right.

 

By contrast, all the things that have come out in the last month or so have been a complete surprise to me for the most part – and thus a pleasant one no matter how they come out. I just love feeling that I can surprise myself with what I do – it gives me a generous feeling of being touched by or touching, reaching out into the unknown, pulling something raw out of my subconscious. I’ve had that a lot recently, and all along from doing the morning pages, but here is something that has gone into songs. I hope it will continue.

 

This week I’ve been working on a song that was mostly a case of reportage of something that was happening between me and someone I know late one evening. (No, not that – for once). I was just trying to get the important details of what was taking place and why I felt it was both important, and resonant. This has been another song I’ve written lyrics first, and tried to find some melody and chords for it afterwards.

The advantage of this is that in this scenario the rhythmic flow of the words is able to suggest the structure of melody itself.

The disadvantage is that the fairly standard structure and meter of the words means the musical side of the song won’t be too original necessarily. But that’s fine, it will suit it as a late night folky/lullaby, gentle rain song that it wants to be.

 

All is going well, although I’m at another stage where I have far more song ideas than I have time to devote to them. My only hope is to dive into attempting to writing them as fully as I can in the moment they are conceived. If I can do this, and do it well, I will not only be able to capture a breathless spontaneity and possibly livelier aspects of the songs, but a whole new (for me) songwriting skill, talent, or tool.

 

Forcing myself out of my comfort zone.

 

Fingers crossed