Archive for Black Hay

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…

 

 

 

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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

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: www.gideonk.com and www.blackhay.com. Each has their own links to separate soundcloud, youtube, facebook, twitter and myspace pages.

 

http://soundcloud.com/black-hay 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.

 

http://soundcloud.com/gideon-k 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…

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR PEOPLE!!!!

 

(better late than never, eh?)

 

 

Peace, love and used teabags

 

Gideon

 

 

 

 

The Artist’s Way: Week 5

Posted in Creativity, The Artist's Way with tags , , , , , , on September 11, 2011 by Gideon K

Days I did my morning pages: 7/7

Some of them I did a little later than first thing in the morning, and some of them in a less than ideal state of coherence, but that was interesting too. More days than not I did the pages in a relentless stream of non-stop writing, not allowing my mind to veer off into predictable and habitual thought patterns, but simply to report what was running through my mind.

In the artist check-in this week it asked whether I’d found the ‘One and a half page truth point’, but I believe I wrote about that within the first 2 weeks of starting this.

Artist Date: No.

Again, I didn’t give myself the time this week because I had too many work or evening commitments and spent several nights this week thoroughly enjoying myself in a social and recreational manner. I think this charged my batteries in a different but equally important way.

It’s becoming an obvious point of self-neglect that I need to address.

HOWEVER, I have made the following two steps to address this:

1) I’ve booked myself in to go on a weekend retreat doing meditation and that kind of thing.

A perfect example of synchronicity actually, but it’s one from last week. I met up with a friend who mentioned a mate of his who has been staying on a farm somewhere, just meditating and farming the land. This guy had been extending invites to my mate to come and visit him. I’ve wanting to get out of London for a few days for ages. I had to cancel my summer trips that I’d planned due to them clashing with my recording schedule and generally having no money. As soon as I got in I messaged the guy to ask about it and he told me they’re having a retreat there this coming weekend. Perfect timing, perfect synchronicity. How could I NOT go?

I’ve never done much in the way of meditation before but I’m always game for something new, especially if I might learn something from it. So off I’m going on Friday to stay up in Cheshire for the weekend and spend it in ‘Noble Silence’. Can’t wait.

2) I’ve been meaning to take some upright bass lessons ever since I bought my Electric Upright back in March this year. I’ve taken a few lessons on Youtube (God bless the internet) but I have really wanted a proper bassist in the room with me to give me pointers, mainly on technique and how to hold it so that I don’t develop bad habits from the start.

Anyway, a few weeks ago I went to an amazing Jazz club in Greenwich and chatted to the bassist during the interval, and asked him if he taught lessons. He said he did, but also it turns out he lives pretty near to me. Only a few stops away whereas previously all the teachers I’d found advertised in London where all living miles out.

This week I got in touch with him and have booked a lesson in 2 weeks time. Can’t wait.

On a related note, one of the developments this week has been that I’ve been much kinder to myself, and much less stingy with myself in allowing my artist to have everything it desires (as much as my quivering bank balance will allow anyway). I’ve also finally gotten enough cash together that I’m allowing myself to breathe a little.

This coming week will be addressing some issues surrounding money which I’m looking forward to and should indeed be interesting.

One of the tasks was to write a list of 19 wishes and the last one was the biggest wish. I’d like to share mine, word for word:

I most especially wish for… the time, health, life and sanity to act out my wishes and take my chance and risk on these dreams of mine. To be one of the few people who actually DOES what they want, and in doing so prove it’s possible, and be an inspiration to others to do likewise. Amen.

The things that really matter are a question of spirit. Everything else is logistics.

I don’t know if this counts as synchronicity, but I’ve had one track up from my recent recordings as a teaser for those who’ve asked and those who are interested, but I’ve not been advertising it because it’s not the final mix. David and I were meant to meet up and remaster the tracks 2 weeks ago but had to postpone to last week, which got postponed til tomorrow because he has had to move house and rebuild his studio.

Exactly… time doesn’t fly, it falls away.

Once the tracks are done I’ll be tearing you all new orifices don’t you worry.

The point of this is that I turned on my computer last night to find someone I’ve never met nor heard of has made that song ‘Track of the day’ on their website, which from what I could tell was small independent label/management company. They had this to say about the track:

http://killingmoonlimited.com/2011/09/09/track-of-the-day-black-hay-i-feel-something/

It’s really cool though. People seem to be really responding to my songs when I’ve been playing them.

I don’t know if it’s the course that is doing this, or if it is that I was ready at this point and doing the course is just part of me continuing to experiment with myself and what I’m capable of, and the universe rewarding me for my effort. I like it the same either way.

Life is very exciting right now.

What I’m currently up to 05/03/2011

Posted in Me Oh My with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 5, 2011 by Gideon K

I’m currently working on my own band or project called Black Hay.

I had a band under this name in 2009, but that didn’t quite go as far as it could have before temporarily falling apart, and in 2010 I’ve been playing with Ghostnotes too much of the time to concentrate on anything else.

I’ve been meaning to revive the beast though. I have an almost album’s worth of songs, along with a clear concept sonically, thematically, artistically. And it won’t go away.

I thought it made more sense to try and get the material recorded (or at least demoed) first instead of trying to put another band together and THEN recording.

I realised it’s not the kind of project where I’m looking for someone else’s input to help me realise its potential, I’m going to be singing these songs, I can play guitar, bass and keys to the sort of level I need to play my music, I just need people with certain skills to do the things I physically cannot.

I’ve been highly inspired by my mate Lee’s DIY approach to this regarding his band Dumbjaw, and getting some great sounding tracks done for very little money with just a bit of grit, persistence and balls.

What I have been doing is looking for:

– A drummer, the right drummer, a groovy, hard-hitting ROCK drummer to help me realise these songs.

– A producer/engineer to help record and get it sounding good.

My plan is to take each song one at a time, rehearse, arrange, demo, and get everything tight and shiny. Then and only then do we go about recording perhaps only bass and drums live with everything else on top.

Once one song is done, repeat the process with the next song, rather than trying to tackle a whole bunch of songs at the same time.

That’s pretty much all I’m focused on at the moment, writing songs for this album idea.

I know a few guys who play bass and guitar that might be able to help out if I need them, and should I require other instruments, I’ll look for them but for now that is all.

Who knows which ones will go into the final thing or what I’ll use it for or do with it once I’m done. All I know is this urge is driving me crazy if I don’t do it.

Do the work, decide what to do with it afterwards.

Crazy? Silly? Moi?