Monday, May 25, 2009


Amount of creative activity achieved in last 24 hours: 0
Level of conviction in own genius: 7
Watching: About to watch 'Changeling' on DVD
Hair Day: Superlong

Spent a day and a half in ridiculously bucolic South Devon over the weekend, for JimmyDOLLYman's wedding to the fabulous Cress. The main party was in a buttercup-sprayed field where we also camped, and others made use of the cute cream-coloured tipis laid out for them, like an arty middle-class native tribe. The village had a stonking pub, gorgeous 15th-centruy church, and not far away was a brilliant all-purpose deli, cafe, newsagent and DVD store, where many guests breakfasted, stealing all their Saturday Guardians and using up all their posh coffee. The weather was mostly blusteringly sunny, birds flittered merrily about and Cath Kidston-inspiring wildflowers peppered every laneside. The wedding was wondrous, rising comedian Josie Long was a guest, I dried my eyes several times on the hem of my dress and kept off the drink so I could sing a few numbers at the end of the night in a sort of ideal karaoke situation ('Groove Is In the Heart', 'It's Oh So Quiet'), and it was all rather gutting to have to come back to London quite early the next day in order to do a spot at Troy's Magic Piano at the Harrison Bar. Even more annoying as the weather in London had been so glorious that no-one wanted to come to a night of leftfield music and short films and Andy and I played to ooo, about 6 people.

Still, we made up for being stuck in London today by going on a bike ride which started by aiming for, ooo Clapton, and ended up being all the way to Enfield and back which is a good 23 miles of riding on my plucky shopper. Take note: this is an incredible feat for me, I who resist almost all forms of exercise quite stoically, for the main reason that I don't like being a) tired and b) sweaty. We went the whole way on the canal from Bethnal Green and then the Lea Navigation, which turns into the Lea River, taking in all the wonders secret London has to offer: the big teeth-motif graffiti of artist Sweet Tooth, the Olympic site, a brilliant perspective of Hackney Marshes' multiple goalposts, diminishing into the distance with perfect slim-white symmetry. Then there's the grimmer industrial areas, the weird outposts populated by many white working class folk and their terrifying dogs, the huge waste disposal factory soundtracked by deranged gulls' wall of screeching sound. We got bike stickers from a lady promoting bat walks; we took photos of the caramel-coloured ponies loitering under a huge electricity pylon; we saw common terns dip their ink-dipped heads down towards the water in search of fish; we cooled our feet in the cleaner, more northern bit of the river alongside barges entitled things like 'Best of Britain: Alan and Joan Fear' and a jet-black one called 'Valhalla'; we passed all manner of walkers and cyclists from a large family of Hasidic Jews wobbling precariously along (the littlest girl careered downhill straight into a dense bush of pink flowers) to a chap miraculously juggling both drinking a can of beer, smoking a ciggie and texting on his phone. The physical results of today are that my freckles have splattered all over my face, my hands are burnt on one side by sun and on the other by handlebar-gripping, and I am walking like John Wayne. And only partly out of confidence at my newfound athleticism.

Here's a pic.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Nearly howling at the moon

Level of conviction in own genius: 7.8
Amount of creative activity achieved in last 24 hours: 4
Listening: Bobby McFerrin's 'Circle Songs' and the new Alasdair Roberts album
Hair Day: Needs cutting bad

We found a fab new local-ish pub on Thurs night, the newly-spruced The Britannia at the north end of Victoria Park, and ate poached egg and asparagus salad with thick handcut chips whilst taking in a night run by wonderful indiefolkers The Local. The first two acts were nothing to write homespun about; Nancy Wallace, along with JennyMay from the Elysian Quartet on violin and ukelele', then did a set of traditional-sounding originals which were somehow nothing compared to the last actual folk song, 'The Drowned Lover'. It's the same reason I love singing them almost best of all: they speak so honestly, tunes so stark that the words are laid bare as old bones. I was there to see the headliner, the fabulous Olivia Chaney, all tumbling tresses and shabby Shoreditch chic, who possesses a fantastically supple, hearty voice. Playing either guitar or clutching away on a hand-pumped harmonium, she sings folk ballads, Purcell pub songs and lullabies by Monteverdi, all in this classically/jazz-trained, darkly graceful voice. A total inspiration. All of which gets me jiggly with excitement about my ever-impending EP, under new name You Are Wolf. I am planning a launch of sorts, but have to wait until the final track is recorded, the photos taken, the artwork done, first. But THEN alt-folk-world-domination will follow!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Mood Music

Level of conviction in own genius: 7
Amount of creative activity acheived in last 24 hours: 2
Reading/Watching: 'The Interpretation of Murder' by Jed Rubenfeld, bit silly/The end of series two of 'Mad Men', the best slow-burner ever
Hair Day: confused

Have been so creatively busy it's just silly. In the last few weeks I have :
a) exploded onto the formal chamber music scene by debuting juice at Wigmore Hall and getting THE best Times quote ever for our troubles ('makes Stockhausen and Berio sound prehistoric'; Richard Morrison we LOVE you)
b) sampled the cultural/drinking delights of Berlin on hol, including excellent sound installation, much walking of entire city, dinner parties with artist acquaintances in cool studio apartments with drills and bits of wire and drawings everywhere, excitement at going to smoking bars and reeking exotically of tobacco smoke the next morning
c) sung at the Macbeth in Hoxton for nonclassical and possibly nailed small record deal for juice
d) been recording/mixing my solo EP with soon-to-be-revealed new moniker
e) whipped up live vocals and slightly silent-movie-piano-esque music in 4 days for Kazzum Theatre Company's R'n'D week on a Darwin-inspired work for kids using clay
f) coached kids, students and adults on the usual vocal stuff in Derry
g) Met composing honchos Jonathan Harvey and Cecelia McDowall at London premiere of my 'dusksongs' and vocal/educational honchos Gabriel Jackson (sporting right cool cowboy moustache and arch wit) and Mike Brewer (seasoned beyond all seasons) at the meeting for a new educational vocal project for teenagers

The heaviest time was the two-week period where I was required to sing for several hours a day whilst grappling with some kind of (non-swine-fluey, though it burst out at just the same time) ghastly throat vileness, which didn't go away even when I had to do three gigs in three nights with three different bands. The culmination of this was DOLLYman's rather hilarious outing at the City Showcase's unsigned London bands showcase and competition, the nearest I'll ever come to being on X Factor. Amidst 7 other mostly half-decent acts very much of the pop persuasion, we came on and did our part-instrumental, part-sung punkjazz thing and awaited the panel of four judges' verdicts. Having already sampled their ludicrously banal quotes for previous acts, we couldn't wait to see what they might be able to say to us. We'd already been introduced, marvellously, as 'they're all MUSICIANS, they're all composers' (somewhat suggesting to the previous 4 singers that they were nothing of the sort), so we knew what was coming. We had some wonderful compliments first off, and I was very pleased to be told I had a 'gorgeous, beautiful' etc, voice (I'd really gone for it, wrapping myself around the mike stand and being as glowery as possible), and looked as sincere as I could to the comment that I'd 'really given a part of myself to the audience tonight'. Then we looked bashful as we were told how it was amazing that we created MOODS, not just through a voice but through our INSTRUMENTS and how AMAZING that was. The northern soul singer girl told us she didn't like the instrumental number as she was a singer, and so, y'know, she only really liked ones with, like, singing, in them? Panjabi Hit Squad Man dissed James' usual 'cello histronics and best of all, the journalist woman was mean about our tights! We didn't win, felt kind of cheap and used, but overall it was a good experience and we were really well received. Quite amusing sharing a stage with a) a group of 13 year-old boys with the same haircut playing basic rock, their Dad loping about after them with guitar cases and b) one of my old students from the BRIT School, Sarah Williams White. Also challenging to keep a straight face when told by a judge that he understands us as he, like, knew some jazzers once, when all four of us have MAs in Composition or Performance and two of us are Doctors. Imbeciles. RedmanRed, edgy shouty Brighton-based indie, were deserved winners though, and I reckon we could've come 2nd or 3rd had there been more prizes. We did get a couple of contacts out of it, which is the main thing.

Finally, Wycombe Wanderers are making a triumphant return to the grand and lofty third flight. OK, in truth it was as haplessly ungraceful as it could possibly have been, with WWFC - needing a draw to breeze through - conceding a goal late on and Bury probably only not going past us on goal difference because their supporters miscalculated the points and staged a pitch invasion when they scored a penalty, which was actually still one goal away from an promotional victory for them. Ha. Fools. But who cares, we're through, go the mighty Wyc!!! Am SO looking forward to the London games, particularly at Leyton which is only THREE tube stops away from me!!!!