Friday, June 21, 2013

The North - Where WE DO WHAT WE WANT

Level of conviction in own genius: 6.5
Amount of creative activity achieved in last 24 hours: 2
Listening / Watching: Metamorphic's album; Rat/bucket/fire-based violence on Game of Thrones, urgh
Hair Day: Limp
It’s been an EPIC week of gigging o’er hill and dale, bringing folky, energetic, multi-hued jazz on the Metamorphic second album tour with vocal trio Røyst to the unsuspecting and startled north. I missed the Darlington gig, with the fabulous Cecile from Røyst standing in, but made it back for a homecoming gig for Metamorphic’s leader, Laura, at Sheffield’s Millennium Hall, in what sounds like a lofty turn-of-the-latest-century piece of super-architecture, but which is in fact a Polish working men’s club. Arf. But it was a top gig, with an appreciative crowd, and other local lad Seth (double bass demon) feeding us spaghetti at his folks’ up the road. I hot-tailed it to York for a day with juice workshopping new vocal trio pieces for us (intricately notated finger-palm clapping, simulating drowning, making pretend snow angels on the floor, y’know, THE USUAL). Then it was to Derby, a joyless non-entity of a city (finding TopShop was a moment of unreasonable excitement and RELIEF). We played at Voicebox, hosted by amazing vibes player and Derby boy Corey Mwamba. Sadly, it was a smaller crowd here, but fusebox at 7 Arts inLeeds the next night made up for it! I certainly sang my best gig yet here, probably fuelled by glee at wearing my sluttiest top yet (Game of Thrones’ lightly-clad ladies are having an effect, clearly) in front of my mother, and sheer deranged exhaustion having only slept for four hours the night before. Some superhuman brainwork has meant I can finally do our meanest tune, ‘What Is Real’ off the page, complete with nifty moves. YES! (Now repeat after me: 4 bars of 7/8, a 4/4 improv, 4 bars of 7/8, a 4/4 bar, 5 bars of 7/8, a 5/8, a 2/8 vocal solo, 5 bars of 7/8, a 3/8, 3 bars of 4/4, a 4/8 vocal solo, 2 bars of 7/8, a 6/8, 5 bars of 4/4 improv, a 1/8 vocal solo, 3 bars of 7/8,  a 2/8, 5 bars of 4/4, a 5/8 vocal solo, a 3/8, 7 bars of 4/4 improv, a 4/8 vocal solo, 4/8 and YOU’RE OUT OF THE WOODS). Two people in the audience at Leeds said it was THE BEST GIG THEY HAD EVER SEEN. Metamorphic’s second album, Coalescence, was released this week and it’s had some lovely reviews here and here. You should probably BUY IT, and we’re rocking out The Vortex on Monday with the official launch.  
 With a day to kill in Leeds before our gig, I’d already looked ahead to see what outdoor swimming was to be had in the hood, and had my eye on Ilkley’s lido. Local outdoor swimming experts Seth and Oli (improvising bass clarinettist of wonder, and also very fierce throat singer in ALL styles; his kargyraa is something to behold) scoffed at this suggestion, as apparently the lido is grimy and full of muscle men (sounds ideal to me) and kids (hhm, p’rhaps not) and the only place to go swimming was in the Wharfe. So I badgered a rather nervous-if-cavalier Tom (drummer of extreme fearsomeness and genius) into coming with me and Oli to Burley-in-Wharfedale, a sleepy village at the foot of the Dales for my first wild swim of the year. Swimming there was the highlight of my month. The water was peaty, cool and blissful – certainly no colder than Brockwell Lido, and soft enough to make our hair kitten-fluffy afterwards. We dipped downstream, staggered and slipped our way up to the weir, plushly thick with moss, and sat in the full-pelt blast of its mini-waterfalls, before climbing over the top of the weir and into another river-world of serene, deep black water, overlooked by large trees on either side. It was HEAVEN.
It’s all inspiration for Dart’s Love, my wild-swimming-themed opera, which was commissioned to round off the Tête a Tête Festival on August 17th and 18th.  Hence I’m doing a lot of bad electric guitar playing, testing out of wine glasses for their ringing ability, trying to nick Oli’s best clarinet sounds, and working out the time signatures of my swimming strokes, tee hee.

I’m currently speeding back to London for a juice-heavy weekend of singing new music in the extremely spooky Denis Severs’ House for the Spitalfields Festival, plus a day of workshops as part of the Roundhouse’s Voices Now Festival, with juice nonchalantly turning their hand to spluttering out erotic medieval letters, darting through some utterly fiendish rhythms, and doing some monk-ish growling...

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