Archive for Live

Shadows: An Improvised Film Score

Posted in Film Music, Playing Live with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 17, 2015 by Gideon K

 

This was a really fun project to do. A few of us were discussing the idea of doing an improvised score for a silent film or something like that. We wanted to do something experimental. Luckily, our filmmaker friend Fraser Watson was really up for the idea. I like working with Fraser because apart from being very easy to get along with, anytime you throw out a weird idea at him, something that could potentially be really fucked up, he gets quite enthusiastic about it – which I find both amusement and enjoyment from.

We ‘commissioned’ Fraser to make a 3-act 15 minute silent short film, which he did with customary aplomb and speed. Then we got together a few times to ‘rehearse’, which was essentially jamming along as we watched the footage, talking about what worked, what didn’t, and deciding in advance a few parameters to put limitations on so that we could have a starting point. To quote Charles Mingus – “You can’t improvise on nothin’, man”.

I say jamming, which it was, but it was jamming with a purpose. We had the image to guide the feeling and tone we should have been trying to create.

 

The music on the film was recorded at a screening of the film at New River Studios with the 6 of us improvising along with the moving image. Andy Watzik recorded the whole thing on his laptop and after a little mixing, the music was synced to the film.

We were all excited by how it turned out, partly because it was quick and relatively painless to put the whole thing together, but also partly because it was an interesting surprise to see how it turned out. As far as I am aware, none of us had done anything quite like it before

We’re currently looking for more projects to do another improvisation to, so if anyone is interested in collaborating with us, get in touch.

 

The other musicians involved were (and still are presumably):

Stephan Barrett – Piano
Danny Conroy – Keys
Dan Strange – Saxophone
Andy Watts – Trumpet
Andy Watzik – Guitar

And me on bass.

 

 

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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.

The Sacred Space

Posted in Creativity, Gigs, Playing Live with tags , , , , , , , , , , on January 20, 2012 by Gideon K

I don’t know about you, but I’m a big fan of TED talks and think it’s a wonderful online resource that makes me hopeful about humanity and mankind. I recently watched a clip that my friend posted up, about how in Jazz there are no mistakes – nothing is ever a mistake, only a failure to respond to the input and failure to accept the gift of that moment.

It was a wonderful clip.

 

https://www.ted.com/talks/stefon_harris_there_are_no_mistakes_on_the_bandstand?language=en

But aside from me relating to it from a musical perspective in terms of live performance, being in bands, or just playing in general, it set my mind wandering and thinking of live performance.

It’s not just about the band playing either.

Currently, I am not performing live in a band, but playing solo shows – just me and an acoustic guitar. However, I never feel like it’s just me and my guitar, because I don’t see it that way.

To think that playing live is about just getting enough practice in beforehand, and then playing your songs one after another until the time is up, is for lack of a better term ‘a mistake’. There is a whole range of opportunity being wasted, gifts being sent back. It is important to accept, and to take everything.

In some ways you can be more open to it as a solo performer, and might be able to hear it clearer and more directly. The audience is part of the show, the room is part of the show, the lighting, the noise in the room or outside, the time of day, season, EVERYTHING.

I’m always throwing bait out to try and get a reaction from a crowd, not so much because I’m attention seeking (that’s a given when you’re up onstage with a guitar!), but so I can get some kind of reading of what the level of mood is etc and play to/with them accordingly.

I’m always looking out for some rough edge, some unexpected stimulus that I can use in the show right then and there. I don’t want to miss something good that I can turn into something else.

For example, I was playing one venue and noticed the sound man was wearing a Bad Brains T-shirt. I got the idea in my head to play one of their songs, then and there on acoustic guitar. You could call this a stupid idea, whimsical, novelty, or inspiration. All might be true. But to me, it was a clue even, or just something I could smell on the trail to the unknown.

If I get up there and sing my songs from beginning to end, I know exactly what is going to happen. But I want adventure, and I want something fun, crazy or weird to happen and I don’t mind falling flat on my face to do this.

How I think this ties in with the notion of their being no mistakes, is that sometimes it is possible to use whatever happens in any moment as something useful and beautiful. I had a great time recently where in the middle of one of my songs I completely forgot the words. I stopped the song, held the silence in the air for a while, retried it, still couldn’t remember the lyrics, held my arm up in the air for silence, told everyone it would be worth the wait, then carried on with the song exactly at the point I’d left it once I remembered the lyrics.

I’ve had shows where this has worked, because I’ve kept the tension up in the room, and used the occasion. Equally, I played a show not that long ago, where an attempt was made and I still couldn’t remember the words (I must be getting old, hehe) and I failed to accept the moment I was in, by reacting to it appropriately.

All I aim for each night I gig is that I learn something from the experience, even if nobody else does.

The best way for me to do this I’ve found is to always be looking for how I can use my surroundings as part of my array of props in the show.

I’m not advocating going out of your way to forget lyrics or to mess up. I’m just saying that whenever I’ve found myself in an unplanned situation live, accepting and using it has always brought about the best, most enjoyable and most memorable results

Like a good friend of mine says – everything is a weapon.