Tuesday, 26 July 2011

T in The Park

I was heading down to London with Kristyna Myles to play at a showcase for the marketing team of the record label when we first heard the news that we had been confirmed to play at T in the Park. Exciting times. Beyonce and Coldplay were playing after us, albeit on a different stage. We suspected our stage, the T-Break stage might be on the small side, but it turned out to be pretty impressive and the crowd we attracted surpassed our expectations.

As we arrived we took in the beautiful Scottish countryside. The festival is surrounded by huge hills on all sides, so everywhere we looked there was an amazing view. Except perhaps for a few especially drunk people vomiting and urinating on themselves. That particular view was less than amazing. The band on before us was a local Scottish band so they had a lot of support. We were concerned the crowd might dissipate while we were on as we don't have a huge fan-base in Scotland yet. But instead the crowd inside the tent grew bigger and bigger. Maybe it was because N-dubz were on the other stage.  Hit jump to read on.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Recording Jon Kenzie's album.

I have recently been in Blueprint Studios recording some acoustic guitar and mandolin for Jon's new album. Jon Kenzie is a singer-songwriter who can be heard singing on a recent Acer advert on T.V. We were running on quite a tight schedule, as Jon was trying to record 10 songs in two days with a rhythm section which consisted of Jon and I, plus Stevie Williams playing ukelele bass and Eryl Roberts on drums. Later backing vocals and strings would be added.

We had a couple of practices the week before the studio session to tighten up the songs. Eryl and Stevie were laying down some incredible grooves and the tracks that Jon had recorded at home as demos really started to develop into something exciting. Once we got into the studio there was quite an intense working atmosphere as we endeavoured to stick to the schedule. Not as many tea breaks as I have experienced in some studios. Everything ran smoothly though, and Gaz the engineer was really on the ball. Jon was less concerned about each song being note perfect, but more focused on capturing the ideal feel and vibe for each song. This approach helped us stick to the timetable, as we generally found the best performance to be one of the first three takes. Hit the jump key to read on...

Thursday, 14 July 2011

An Introduction.

       Photo by Sven Eselgroth

I thought I'd start writing a blog about my experiences as a guitarist and songwriter, a lifestyle which seems to lead to a wide variety of situations and circumstances. There is never a dull moment. Except perhaps the hours spent staring at the white lines on the motorway, and the hours spent waiting around. In fact the music industry has been nicknamed 'the waiting industry' in some quarters. But I'll make sure I stick to the exciting bits. Hopefully people reading this blog will be able to learn something from my successes and failures. 

I have always been obsessed with music. I can remember finding some Beatles L.Ps in my parents' cupboard when I was about 6. Since then I've never looked back. I think I got my first guitar when I was 12. It took me a little bit too long to realise I was left-handed and needed to turn the strings round, but then everything clicked into place. A career in music wasn't a conscious choice, just something that seemed inevitable, as music is always on my mind. And anyway, I'm pretty useless at everything else.

After graduating from The University of Salford with a first class honours degree in Popular Music and Recording, I was faced with the problem of how to make a living. I decided to try busking, with my good friend Kristyna Myles. It proved to be just about profitable enough so that we could survive. People seemed to be most generous at the beginning of summer, when the first rays of sunshine were peeping through the rain clouds. The Manchester Evening News spotted us and ran an article, and this led to us winning BBC 5Live's Busk Idol Competition. After a year or so we found that we didn't need to busk anymore and had enough gigs to pay the bills. After 5 years of constant gigging, writing and practicing, Kristyna signed a 5 album deal with Decca. We had a great month or so last year recording the album with producer Ken Nelson (Coldplay, Paolo Nutini) and the rest of the band, and are very much looking forward to promoting the record when it comes out later this year.

I think it's important to play and to write with as many different people as possible, as there's always something new to learn from each person. I've been really getting into my songwriting over the past couple of years and have written in the region of 70 songs. I think songwriting is something that needs practising, just like playing an instrument, and I find that the more I do it, the better I get. As well as having some co-writes on Kristyna's album, I have been writing with Jon Kenzie, a singer-songwriter who can be heard singing on an Acer advert on TV at the moment, and have just been in the studio recording his new album.

I will be updating this blog regularly, and will post about recording Jon's album and the upcoming festivals I'm playing at with Kristyna- starting with T in the Park. I will also be blogging about how I got started, with tips about busking and gigging etc. It can be easy to complain sometimes about the long hours driving around the country, and waiting around before gigs and so on. But I really shouldn't because I'm hanging out with some of my best friends and making music for a living. And what can be better than that?