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.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

I Wish I was Batgirl (Derezzie Remix)

It's exciting when somebody asks if they can remix your track. I came up with something that somebody else likes enough to want to put their own stamp on. Weeeee!!!!! That's awesome!!!!!!

Derezzie, an electronic artist from the United States, has remixed one of my earlier tracks and you can listen to it here. I've also included the original for those that are interested. Enjoy :)

Women I love: Part two

Karen O

Karen O is the frontwoman for New York band Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and is the vocalist and pianist. The band formed in 2000 and has released four studio albums. Yeah Yeah Yeahs have often been described as an 'arty punk rock band' and are one of those bands that is constantly re-inventing itself, with each album differing significantly from the last.

Not only does Karen play with Yeah Yeah Yeahs, she has also collaborated with artists such as The Flaming Lips, Santigold and James Iha (one time guitarist for the Smashing Pumpkins). She also wrote the soundtrack for the film 'Where the Wild Things Are' and contributed to the soundtrack of the English-language version of the film 'Girl With A Dragon Tattoo', working with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.

Karen O has a powerful, distinctive voice, which together with her striking, offbeat style and outlandish on stage antics make her incredibly appealing. Not only is Karen O talented, she's edgy and opinionated with attitude. In an article for the New York Times, Lizzy Goodman describes her 'as the first post feminist rock star, a descendant of David Bowie and Freddie Mercury who also happened to be a girl'.

I am such a huge fan of Yeah Yeah Yeah's and also admire the way that Karen O works with other artists and in different genres, always pushing the boundaries and delivering the unexpected  One thing is for sure, she can't be pigeon-holed. I love her non conformist style and her seeming unselfconsciousness. She rocks!

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Women I love: Part one

I love women who make music. Being a woman musician myself (can I even call myself that?) nothing inspires me more than seeing other women producing, performing and being passionate about music. When I listen to my favourite female artists I feel reassured. I feel like I can identify with these women, even if we are worlds apart. I admire their work and take their songs to heart. Billie Holiday's soulful renditions can move me to tears. When PJ Harvey's heart breaks, so does mine. I can listen to my favourite Magic Dirt album on repeat and scream out the words to each song, deep down from the pit of my stomach, over and over again. Don't get me wrong, I have feelings that are just as strong about music made by men. Oh man, how I feel like I've lived through many a Dinosaur Jnr song! But it's the women that get me off my arse and really make me try.


Clare Boucher is a young Canadian woman who makes music under the name Grimes. I have recently discovered Grimes, but I only had to listen to 'Infinite Without Fulfillment',  the  first track on Grimes' latest album 'Visions', to know that I was in love. Grimes employs a variety of elements in her work but I would probably best describe it as experimental electronic. What I love about it is the catchy beats, textured compositions and her unusual arrangements of gorgeously girlish pop like vocals. She has a beautiful voice reminiscent of Julee Cruise. Her music smacks of intelligence and thoughtfulness. It is complex and pretty. I love her!

Friday, 17 May 2013

When I write a song, am I doing it wrong?

This is a question I ask myself often. What is my song writing style? Do I have one? Do I even need one? When I make a track I tend to start with a beat and go from there. I rarely begin with a clear idea of what kind of song I want to make. Sometimes I wonder if this is because I'm a novice songwriter. Maybe with time and experience I'll develop a creative process that is more structured and less fluid. Or maybe I won't. Maybe that's just not how I work.

In an effort to find out, I plan to do a series of blog posts dedicated to exploring song writing and the creative process. I will be talking to a variety of music artists about their creative processes. If you have any burning questions about song writing, or are a musician who would be willing to talk to me about your creative process, please post a comment below.

Anyone for chiptunes?

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

30 Second Review - Clark - Iradelphic Sessions

There is something gorgeously dreamlike about Clark's Iradelphic Sessions, a series of free downloads I discovered on the Warp Records website that is currently available. Short tracks with pretty melodies, sweet sounds and use of reverb make for a pleasurable aural experience.

Repetition is something that Clark doesn't shy away from and perhaps 'Soft Eruptor' in particular, could benefit from some variation in arrangement. 'MFB Skank' is a bit different from the other tracks. It's a little harder and focuses more on beat rather than melody, while employing some mild glitch and distortion. 'Guy Fawkes - Night Night' has a beautiful childlike feel about it, with idyllic string and piano sounds.

 Iradelphic Sessions is delightfully atmospheric and I found it to be a welcome interlude in an otherwise ordinary day. The six Iradelphic Sessions are available as a free download from the Warp Records website until 1 May.