Saturday, 12 October 2013


It's been a few months since my last blog post and even longer since I made my last track. Lately I've had zero motivation to be creative. Honestly though, I haven't really tried. In my spare time I've been  playing Mass Effect 2 and for a little while I was feeling kind of bad about not doing stuff. I don't want to be too hard on myself. I think everyone needs a break now and then.

Anyway, this weekend I have managed to pull myself out of the black hole I had fallen into and got back on the 'track making' horse (or pony, as the case may be). My pony crazed daughter is to blame for the pony influence. Although I'm mostly satisfied with the result, I can't help feeling like I've hit a wall and everything is coming out a bit samey same. I'm definitely feeling the need to learn something new, but I'm not quite sure the best way to go about it. It might be time to find myself a collaborator.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

One of the many reasons I love Nine Inch Nails....

I'm following Nine Inch Nails on SoundCloud. I have all of NIN's albums except for Ghosts I-IV (which is funny because you could once download the whole thing for $5 from the NIN website) and The Slip. What I love about Nine Inch Nails on SoundCloud is that you can listen to a huge amount of their work for free. They have 97 sounds posted, including some sets that are over two hours long, and I can just stream this stuff whenever I want! For free! That's astounding for such a big name act.

Now I know that Trent Reznor is well know for his hatred of the major record labels' propensity for ripping off artists and fans alike. He's told fans to not buy NIN's albums, but to download them instead, "Because one way or another these mother f---ers will get it through their head that they're ripping people off and that's not right." (Moses, 2007).

NIN also released Ghosts I-IV independently and made Ghosts I (nine tracks in total) available as a free download on the NIN website. You could pay $5 to download Ghosts I-IV or $10 if you wanted the two CD box-set. You could also pay more for deluxe, limited edition, fancy pants extras (the ultra deluxe limited edition package going for $300 sold out within 30 hours (Grasmayer, 2008)).

I love that Nine Inch Nails have made their music so accessible to fans everywhere and I love what they stand for. If you're not that familiar with them, you can listen to a whole lot of their stuff for free. If you're a hardcore fan, you can pay money for cool, limited edition booty. They give their fans a whole lot of options, which is good for us, but it's also smart marketing. It's not greedy and it's not exploitative, it's fair and it shows respect for the fans.

Now you could argue that it's easy for them to work to this model because they are already so popular and have enough of a hardcore fan base that are happy to pay to keep them working. That may not be the case for smaller artists who are still trying to make a name for themselves and I get that. Having said that, Trent Reznor has some advice for us little guys along those lines.

Nine Inch Nails and other big name artists like Radiohead can defy the rules of the traditional music industry to the benefit of, not only themselves, but fans as well, and they have. And that's awesome.

While researching for this blog post, I came across Bas Grasmayer's paper, 'best practices of the online promotion of new musical content: 5 product launch case studies'. It made for an informative read and I'd recommend it to anyone interested in music distribution.

Friday, 12 July 2013

What I've been listening to lately...

I've had Ida Maria's Fortress Round My Heart on heavy rotation at my house for a number of weeks now. Fortress Round My Heart is the debut album from the Norwegian singer/songwriter/guitarist and although it was released in 2008, it's one of those albums that I revisit on and off over the years for weeks at a time.

I think the thing I love most about this album is just how damn charming it is. Ida Maria sings with a throaty, Norwegian accent that I find adorably imperfect. Her songs are all so unapologetically raw and emotional and I feel like she is baring her soul here with reoccurring themes of loneliness and complicated love. Don't get me wrong though, there is nothing depressing about this album. There is a youthful exuberance about it that reminds me of my twenty something self; emotionally mixed up, awkward and unsure yet determined to have a good time anyway. It's high-energy, good fun rock and roll, and if you've got a hairbrush handy, I highly recommend cranking up the volume, dancing around the living room and singing into it along with Ida.

My favourite track on the album would have to be the single, 'I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked', with lyrics that talk about being hopelessly tongue-tied and awkward around somebody you find so incredibly attractive. I mean, who in the world can't relate to that?

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Doom Song

This is my latest track. When I started it, the plan was to create something using only piano sounds. It worked for a while and I used various notes and arrangements and layered effects over the top. But then I got bored and that's when the whole piano experiment went out the window. The result is something darker than I intended, but that seems to be a reoccurring theme with me. Overall I think it's eerily pretty. I hope you enjoy it...

Monday, 17 June 2013

Women I love: Part three

Billie Holiday

I think I'm pretty lucky. Growing up, my house was always full of music. Sunday mornings I'd wake up to the symphonies of Tchaikovsky or the crooning of Frank Sinatra or Nat King Cole. After school we might listen to Glenn Miller or Louis Armstrong, and Carole King was always good for a Saturday afternoon. If my mum ever got to the stereo first, it would usually be a musical, maybe Cats or Oklahoma, and my dad has always been a big jazz fan. I always got to pick what we would listen to at dinner, and more often than not it was Billie Holiday. 

Billie had a truly unique and moving voice. She sang with such emotion, you can't help but hear the pain and sadness in her voice. It's a singing voice tinged with sweetness and vulnerability. And it is powerfully honest. Listening to her as a kid stirred a lot of feelings in me that I didn't quite understand. She made me feel happy and sad all at the same time. When I got a little older I felt bad for her, but I also felt her strength and I found that empowering. The first time I had my heart broken, I listened to Billie all day and night and cried. After a while I felt better, stronger and I knew that I wasn't going to die. That's the first time I think I really understood how her voice made me feel.

Billie was truly a gifted vocalist in the way that she could inspire such powerful empathy. I think she was amazing and is definitely one of my biggest influences (what? You can't hear that in my music?!)  

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Today is Tomorrow's Yesterday

I've been listening to a lot of Concrete Blonde lately and one song that really gets to me is their cover of Andy Prieboy's 'Tomorrow Wendy'. It's beautiful, soulful and tragic. I sampled it in my latest track, which aside from the powerful riff borrows nothing else from the song. The mood, style and feeling of my track is completely different. It's sort of a subtle nod to 'Tomorrow Wendy', without any attempt to capture its essence. Listen to both and see what you think....


Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Adventures in song writing: Part one

Sandra Talty

For the first post in my series of chats with music and sound artists about song writing and creative process, I was lucky enough to get the chance to chat with Sandra Talty, a jazz drummer and vocalist in Melbourne.

Sandra has played with many of Australia's well renowned jazz musicians and bands in Melbourne and at various jazz festivals around Australia. Sandra currently plays regularly with The Sweet Lowdowns, Michael McQuaid's Red Hot Rhythmakers and the Dancehall Racketeers.

Sandra is an experienced musician with a vast knowledge of jazz and it certainly shows in this interview. I enjoyed talking with her about music and song writing in particular and hope that you get as much out of this interview as I did.

If you want to find out more about Sandra, you can check out the Sweet Lowdowns, who were winners of the 2008 Australian Jazz Bell Award for Best Australian Classic Jazz Album.

You can also listen to the song  'Busy Baby' which Sandra co wrote and performs with Michael McQuaid's Red Hot Rhythmakers.