Tuesday 19th April, 2011
I’m finally back in Hull after quite an intense 6-day round trip. With the Latitude concert out of the way, I headed down to Headline Studios in Stockport for a quick recording session with my band, Always Awake.
These guys are amazing: not only are they wholeheartedly committed to what they do, but each of them looks out for the rest of us, which makes for a tight group that works very hard but never too hard.
Now, a quick bio. Twins Zeb and Theo Bowyer have been writing and performing with Ben Wood for 9 years, but the band has existed in its current state – with Kelani Koyejo on drums and percussion, and me on bass and cello – since December. Our sound is a tricky one to describe, but our Facebook page calls it ‘Inventive, emotive and anthemic – a perfect blend of smooth sophistication and Mancunian grit’, so let’s go with that.
The reason for recording this EP in such a short space of time is that we need something to play to potential audience members for our first ever gig together, on Thursday 5th May. It has to be something that isn’t heavily produced but that at least beats scratch recordings on mobile phones, and is a good representation of our live sound.
So we recorded all the instruments at once, as opposed to the slower, cleaner method of recording every layer separately, from the drums up. This not only saves time, but will hopefully capture something of the raw energy of live performance. The vocals will be done over the next few days, then the guys will work their computery magic and that’ll be it – four shiny new tracks!
Having never recorded with a band before, what struck me most was how intensive it was –how nerve-wracking it was to know that the way I played in those few hours was going to be permanent, either forever to my credit or forever held against me. But despite my nerves, everything went miraculously smoothly, mostly thanks to the expertise of engineers Ryan Searle and John Wood. I’m very much looking forward to hearing the finished product – keep your eyes/ears peeled…
Friday 8th April, 2011
So as I explained last time, I’ve started this blog a year earlier than planned because I got too excited. I’m notorious for starting things and not seeing them through, but this time I’m determined to get it right – despite how intense life as a music student can be, and despite the look of disgust/despair/disbelief on my girlfriend’s face when I told her I’d started writing a blog. She’ll get over it though; it was the same look she gives me if I smell bad or sing in public – it always passes, in time.
I was thrust into the blogging world at the start of this week, when Dr Abi Gilmore (director of the University of Manchester’s Centre for Arts Management & Cultural Policy) and Sophia Linehan (Head of Marketing and Communications for the Manchester Camerata) gave a guest lecture as part of my Arts Administration class. They talked about how important it was to have a finger on the pulse of the Sector (we love our buzzwords and clichés in Arts Admin) and how reading and writing blogs was a great way to do it.
I’m not one to pass up an opportunity (to procrastinate) so I started using Google Reader and subscribed to a load of blogs and Twitter feeds related to the arts, politics, news, and Christianity. It’s been fantastic so far, and is already making me feel a lot more up to date; more like an ‘insider’.
I can recommend it to anyone – the great thing about using an RSS reader (as opposed to just bookmarking a load of blogs) is that everything is right there in front of you in order of the date it was published, and it’s incredibly easy to add things and take things away, so you gradually create your own perfect magazine.
The different blog topics I listed above (arts, politics, news and Christianity) are a good working model for anyone in a similar position, although Christianity is obviously more specific to me – if your god is your stomach, then replace that with cookery blogs. Not that I think of cookery as anti-Christianity. I love cookery. I digress.
Why not set up your own tailor-made magazine? I can recommend Alex Ross’s The Rest Is Noise and Will Gompertz’s Gomp/arts as great starting-point arts blogs. Oh and subscribe to Unchained Melodist too, but that goes without saying…