Music

How to’s, gigs, songs what I wrote

I don’t know about you but anything to do with truffles and a Brass Band and I am all in!

I bought tickets to see Renegade Brass Band so long ago I’d completely forgotten about it, and only happened across the calendar reminder on Friday afternoon. My what a pleasant surprise – I love having a shit memory, it keeps things fresh.

Anyhoo; after a day spent in DIY purgatory sanding the hallway and after one of those showers that feels like its the best one you’ve ever had as it washes the dust, grime and doldrums away, I slapped on a bit of face paint and headed into Shoreditch with the Jetman.

We were on the hunt for a quick bite and I had a hankering for a nice burger but we had to get to the gig so didn’t want to waste time sitting in a restaurant. The food gods were listening and couldn’t have answered my prayers more succinctly. Hello ‘Flat Top Burgers@Block, streetfood court in Shoreditch

My mouth is still watering in memory of that Truffle Burger – think chunky yet soft beef patty (I saw them put the cheese on top of the cooked patty then pop a lid over it after squirting a little water on the grill to add steam), truffle cheese with truffle mayo and truffle glaze in a bap; even the rosemary salt fries were special. I loved the selection of craft beers and was impressed that the Kingpin’s we had were nice and cold.  It was the perfect start to our night.

A 3 minute walk down the road and we were at Richmix (cinema, café arts complex on Bethnal Green Road) in time to catch the last few songs of brass collective, Full Tilt. It’s unkind of me but I couldn’t help wondering if they all met in and American Pie version of bandcamp? They did a great job of warming the audience up; plenty of toes a tapping and dancing happening….though if I’m honest it was only the last half of the last song when they launched into a bit of a brass/drum and bass number that they completely reeled me in.

After a brief interlude it was time for the main act…

Love is a hard thing to describe, it has so many facets that sparkle in different light catching hues, you never know when it’s going to hit you.  I had never seen Renegade Brass band before and had no idea if a hip hop brass band was my thing, I was there on a whim… but as soon as they launched into their first song ‘boom!’ cupids arrow, in your face.

The recipe is perfect: a drummer and percussionist keep things super tight and swinging in the back line, while the scratch DJ is spicing things up on the side, an 8 piece all-star brass section ignites the flames deep in your very soul making you soar and roar and praise the heavens above while the MC throws gasoline on the fire until we were all melting in the pot, smiles splitting our faces as we dissolved.

I honestly haven’t enjoyed a gig that much in ages, superlatives’ aside, these guys are consummate musicians, they make it look easy, its a polished yet laid-back performance with engaging banter between songs, they look like they’re all mates having a great time and everyone’s swept along for the ride.

I love bands that make you lose your shit and leave your cool at the door – I was a sweaty mess by the end, giddy and post-coital-like as I floated out the door.

Now that’s what I call a perfect date night.  I cant recommend it enough.

Laters navigators

 

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One Rock Chick, straight up please?

So, this is a random co-incidence. After my recent post about the rise in popularity of Satan as a hipster bar name – the other night I ended up at Lounge 666 in Archway (London N19)! So bizarre that this keeps happening. What’s going on??

‘The Lounge’ is the opposite side of the universe from my usual hang-outs, although  I have to say the multi-layered pounding from the guitar, bass and drums, the smell of sweat and leather, and the JD and coke I was drinking took me back to my teenage self; the one that dabbled on the outskirts of mosh pits and thought the coolest person in the world was my big brother as he played kiwi-classic venues like Aucklands Powerstation with various indie/punk bands, my favorite of which was the Warners.

I found this little gem of nostalgia on you tube and just have to share. For me this represents glory days, when I was still wide eyed and bushy haired and my world was a tiny cosseted place that was ruled by my parents.

Anyway, I digress, let’s get back to the here and now. The band I went to see, Evyltye, were a revelation.

I’m proud to say their charismatic front woman, Hannah Deleany, is a friend of mine from back in the day – we were in an acapella choir together, maybe 5/6 years ago, so I’m utterly biased and this review may have been deduced though rose coloured lenses. That said, there are plenty of experts raving about them on t’internet so ….? I’ll leave that fine line up to you to figure out.

I’ve worked the door for many live music nights in London and NZ and am no stranger to all the mediocre dross that clogs the gig circuit, Evyltyde were a breath of fresh air. They take their music seriously but not themselves – there was great banter between songs, and I had a chat afterwards with them all – top ladies and gents.  Also, musically, there were several moments that had me on tippy toes peering over heads trying to see how they were making those cool syncopated beats or figure out who was playing what to get such driving multi-dimensional layers (…and you know what, I’m not even a massive fan of the genre, so I think that’s saying something) weaving her strong emotive vocals through all of this was Hannah; I also particularly like the contrasting heavy metal growls and howls from guitarist Danny Merton, in fact, I’d like to hear more of them working in tandem with Hannah -vocally they are the perfect marriage of conflicts.

As a foodie I would liken Evyltyde to a ninja-like plate of Chinese, that’s the perfect balance of sweet, salty and sour (thanks, I’ll take that award for most cringe-fest analogy ever, now please).

For me this night was about supporting my friend and to do that I had to step out of my comfort zone. I hang with a differently dressed tribe these days and stepping into to a rock bar (by myself, the Jetman was ‘busy’) with all its devilish accouterments was a bit intimidating but ya know how the saying goes – fake it till you make it –  after chatting to various people throughout the night its reassuring to see we’re all the same goofballs underneath. I had a really fun evening and have penciled Evyltydes next London gig in to my diary.

For a (perhaps) less biased perspective here’s a couple of ‘proper’ reviews to tickle your fancy.

Disappear: This video isn’t really a good representation of Evyltyde’s music but the song beautiful and touching.   

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Tutor: Ed
Course: Beginners logic Pro
Duration: 8 hours – 4 sessions 1:1 tuition
Provider: LSA (London Sound Academy)

Part 1 – Friday 6.00-8.00pm
It’s always a bit daunting going in to a 1:1 session, being taught something a little out of your comfort zone. What if you’re the thick student that just doesn’t get it and the tutor is visibly frustrated with your slow progress? Fortunately my fears were unfounded, phew!

I’ve been using Garageband to record at home for a few years now, not a master at it but I get by. For those of you not familiar, Garageband is produced by Apple and is an introductory level music programming software that comes free with Mac Computers and devices. The screen has a similar look to Logic which is comforting. Knowing where to go to download files and such makes things easier, though obviously there is a LOT more to Logic. When I record vocals in professional studios they often use Logic Pro.

The 1st session was about becoming familiar with setting up a track, the importance of a good filing system, loading samples, cutting them up and moving them about and how to manipulate the bass/ top end of some sounds to give them more clarity. There was a lot to get through in 2 hours but I thought it was paced well, any more would be brain overload and I doubt I would’ve remembered it.

There were a few of times I asked for things to be repeated so the 1:1 approach worked for me, I like not being held back by others less astute and it was nice not to feel stupid in-front of a class with my (possibly) naive questions.  The tutor (Ed) was cool  – nice guy in his 30’s, really patient, we had a laugh.

Part 2 – Saturday 2.00-4.00pm
My next session was the following afternoon, always a bit more chilled on the weekend. This was mainly focused on loading up our EXS24 Sampler with samples and recording and manipulating the sounds, adding reverb, delay and getting to grips with the essentials of these plugins. In the past I’ve taken one look at all the bells and whistles on the space designer reverb pluggin and not known where the hell to start. Ed showed me what to concentrate on and what not to – more is less was the rule of the day.

We put together the bones of the 1st section of a track but the emphasis is not on creating a magical masterpiece it’s just you getting to know Logics’ capabilities.

Part 3 – Friday 6.00-8.00pm
This was one of those Fridays after a long week where the energy levels were at about 60% and I felt like the outer layers of my brain synapsis consisted of cotton wool. I’d tried to get a coffee on the way to the station only to remember I’d left my wallet in my gym bag at lunch time, so after a quick trot back to work for the missing necessity there was no time for caffeinated stimulant (hashtag sad face).

Since my last lesson I’d typed up my notes (when I fessed up to Ed that I had a spread sheet for this, he said that officially makes me the most organised student ever, I could bask in the glow of a compliment but I’ve probably dropped a dozen street cred points with the excel-nerd-fest sooo…??); I’d also managed to download a new cache of electro swing loops to add to the bank; though when I played around with them and they didn’t magically turn in to a masterpiece, I was somewhat disheartened.

With all that on my mind the 1st bit of the lesson was Ed allaying my fears, the biggest of which is the fact that whilst I’m comfortable making rhythms I don’t know much (any really) music theory, so how do I add guitar and synth parts to tracks?

Well, here’s a work around: most loops will come with the key in the title, use that as a base and look for other loops in the same key. It sounds so simple when put like that. I was getting mind-boggled because I know there are complimentary chords that go together but that’s as far as my knowledge base goes at this point. Start small, it can still sound cool and have fun with it – great advice. I put pressure on myself to be good at this immediately and it will take time.

The rest of the lesson we reviewed the last lesson and went through a couple of bits that I’d partially forgotten, despite my note taking;-/ great to consolidate that information; then we learnt a few new tricks and shortcuts, my favourite of which was how to reverse a crash cymbal (put my name down flip it and reverse it – I’ve got the power!), and the keyboard short cut for creating a loop ‘L’. Simply sweet!

I write this whilst waiting for my nail polish to dry headphones on, listening to yesterday’s work and wondering if the second note on that bass line could do with a little more poke, perhaps added velocity or a bass drum to compliment it…hmmm stuff to ponder.

Left to ones own devices while tea brewed…selfie anyone?

Part 4 Saturday 2.00 – 4.00pm
Last Session!
This was probably the most fun one; as well as going over everything I’d learnt up till this point and clarifying any sticky points, we got down to vocals. I bought in my Apogee iMic (though they have a ‘proper’ one there) and set that up, recorded a few lines, put them in the sampler and played about with them – oh the possibilities! Ed also gave me another wodge (technical term there for you folks) of samples to take home as well as tips on manipulating them.

So in summery – I’m so glad I took this course, it demystified Logic pro and sampling for me, as well as giving me the language to google myself out of trouble spots. I felt the pace of the course and especially the fact that it was a one to one session was perfect. Sometimes when you go to a course its helpful to have other students, you can learn a lot from each other but I think in this situation that would’ve been a hindrance.

LSA is a small professionally run set up. All its tutors are in the industry, I crossed paths with a couple whilst on my course, they were cool and friendly. The types of student that I came across were diverse and of all ages.

So, if you’re learning about Logic Pro and sick of banging your head against the brick wall that is figuring-shit-out by yourself – I can highly recommend my experience with LSA.

Laters navigators x

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“Life may be a drag at times but music never fails me”

Band of Skulls – give great gig!

 

“Singing is one of the great joys in life, you don’t need to be great at it to feel the buzz”

My husband and I met in Tai Poutini music school in Auckland (1997-ish), one of the best years of my life. He played bass, I sang, it wasn’t exactly love at first sight but it was ‘hmm who’s this dreadlocked cutie with the big brown eyes, I like his vibe’ friendship ensued, romance …hmm not sure there was a heck of a lot of that – we eventually hooked up, then a year later we were married, went straight to London and made merry for a really long time.

Musically since then, we were in band for a few years playing around London, when that finished I was in another one briefly, I had occasional (as in 3 times)session work, created an A Capella choir with (what came to be) my bezzie gal-pal, did various recording projects with friends and one slightly sleazy producer….these days I take musical opportunities as they come, mess about with garage band and Logic pro on my Mac and sing at friends weddings and staff Christmas parties whether asked to or not – it just take a couple of drinks and I’m there!

For the purposes of this blog I plan to use this section to highlight great venues, gig’s, gig photography, how to videos with my set up and perhaps some song writing evolution videos. When travelling I take inspiration from the sounds around me and hope to feed that back into some track’s. I’m buy no means an expert but the joy is in journey and what we learn along the way.

Laters navigators. x

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