Being a “div”

One thing I never considered when setting up this blog was that if I am going to write down all my album related thoughts,  everybody is going to realise I am a nutcase, especially when it comes to music. In general I manage to keep it under wraps and people don’t realise, but if I continue writing something every other week about what’s happening with the album you are going to get occasional posts such as my previous one. It’s a miracle that was the first “oh no everything is awful and it’s all doomed” type post in 3 months of writing this. Suffice to say I have calmed down, that song is fine, it just needs some work.

As for the album progress, over the last couple of weeks I have enlisted the help of Scott, a friend from Brighton with whom I studied music production. I once described him on my myspace page (when he mixed a track for me) as having ‘ears of gold’, this was both due to his ability to pick out a good mix and my inability to think of a better description. He also likes cooler and more interesting music than me (I like Girls Aloud) and it seems as though he’s going to have three jobs, helping me with production and putting the tracks together, chucking in ideas for arrangement etc, and telling me not to be such a “div” (his words) when I’m having an irrational wobble about the songs. I may suggest to him that he just gets the “Don’t be a div, it sounds fine” email set up as some sort of template to save him time.

As for the recording itself, Harry the drummer is now pencilled in for the 30th April to record and that is when the real work begins. One of the drawbacks of enlisting such a talented young drummer is that he is seriously in demand and very busy. You can’t complain though when the guy doing you a favour by learning all your songs tells you he can’t make a particular date because he will be performing in the Radio 1 Live Lounge! Until we get the drums down I’m at a bit of a loss for things to do. I can’t make much progress until they’re done, So I’m mostly just practising and working on a couple of acoustic tracks.

Having no new material for you I thought I would further embrace the wonders of the internet and record a video of myself playing an acoustic version of an album track. Apparently this is the done thing when trying to promote oneself these days, although I suspect that is mostly for artists more photogenic than me. Nevertheless I’ve gone for it. You may note the acoustic screen as mentioned back in December, and before anybody mentions it yes I was wearing a hat, and yes it was because the light was reflecting off my head.

This one has a working title of ‘A Self Appointed Leader’.

Singing Lessons

‘Keep your head up, maintain an open posture, don’t breathe too sharply,widen your jaw’. I’m pretty sure I was the only person thinking this in the Northam Stand as we belted out a rendition of “Nigel Adkins’ Red Army” at St Mary’s on Saturday afternoon. Most people were probably just thinking about football, and the fact that Nigel Adkins’ Red Army don’t really play in red at the moment but we sing it anyway because white army sounds a bit odd.

As it turns out, these singing lessons are really really hard. So as with the above example I am taking absolutely any opportunity to try and drum the suggested changes in.

When I booked that first singing lesson I thought I would turn up, be corrected on all the basic points of technique where I’m faltering, and then go away and put the new techniques into practice resulting in magical improvements. I believe I mentioned singing like Shirley Bassey at the time.

In reality it’s been really tough going.

I am actually making some progress but it’s a proper slog and much harder than I anticipated. I have built up quite a lot of bad habits over the years and although everything my teacher says makes total sense (we’ve talked about breathing, support, posture etc etc) it is really hard breaking those habits. I’ve gone back to lessons a couple of times thinking I’ve cracked one of the changes, only to be told I’m stil doing it the ‘James’ way. I guess it’s just a case of keeping on going and hoping it sticks.

As for the album. I am feeling really optimistic about the way the songs are sounding. Harry the drummer seems to like them, and as he’s the only person to have heard them all so far that is good news.

I am going to have to think of some sort of way to get it ‘out there’ when it’s eventually finished. In general this blog gets around 40 views per post, which is great and thanks to everyone who reads it, but given how much time I’m putting into this album I would love to think it would be heard by more than 40 people. Any suggestions welcome if you have some miracle marketing ploy.

Finally, another very short snippet. I’ve written a song with cello and violin parts. This is just a clip from the demo I’ve sent to Harry so just programmed drums, rough guitar and at the moment the ‘strings’ are programmed too so require quite a lot of imagination when listening, but I think with real strings this will sound pretty good. At the moment I may have a violinist but I’m not sure about cello, so if you know anyone who might be interested let me know 🙂


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