Wednesday, 28 December 2011

day 07 :: köln, DE :: solo tour, nov 2011

18th november 2011 :: köln, DE :: lichtung solo

i arranged to get the car at 10am... i'm not sure why, i didn't need it until much later and i knew that parking it in bruxelles would be difficult and that i'd be forced to get out of bed early - but maybe that's what i did anyway!

i was a little hungover from last night's concert - it was a nice evening, and its memories and the bit that's still in my head provoke a wierd sense of lonliness... i'm not used to touring on my own, it's going to be wierd to not have anyone to share this with, so i'm writing it all down so that i know it really happened!

at the car rental desk, i was greeted by steve who upgraded me to a bigger car (welcomed as i may end up sleeping in it after a couple of the shows! while we were sitting i got talking to steve and one of the mechanics working in the garage attached. i'm not quite sure how it happened, but i ended up phoning one of their clients. a man passing through from prague whoose ball bearings are busted to tell him that it would cost 595 euros instead of 415 euros because the housing is broken too!!!

i love choosing a period of time from time-to-time and just writing everything down - i love wandering through life with a notebook, a camera and a guitar. this next month will be difficult, though - i'll probably miss alot of the random pop-in-pop-out-of-the-head thoughts that i so enjoy while i'm driving :(

- anoar braham - astrakan café -

i have decided that the best way to remember some of the stuff i want to write down is by stopping for five minutes at the end of every album to write a few words... as my first album comes to a close, i notice the sounds of the different road surfaces in the relative silence!

the train line clings to the road along a stretch of journey that i have taken time and again, but usually on the train. it's flat farming land around here, climbing gently into the ardennes mountains. the sun falls on my right hand and warms it up, it shoots into cold every time i pass a truck and plunge into shade. the citroen picasso is a pleasure to drive. its comfortable, doesn't use too much petrol and the sound system is really clear :)

a little fly got into the car and keeps me company for a few kilometers
"hello!" ... "ok, fine... ignore me!"
"i don't talk, i'm a fly!"

- deus - worst case scenario -

on this trip, everything is at my own pace. if i want to stop, i stop... if i want to eat, i eat, if i want to put on a record, i put on the record... if i want to drive slowly...

never stop asking questions... i accidently drive through the german-belgian customs looking for a place to picnic. the border at eupen/aachen is pretty - not the shack, but the area! i made some food last night at 2am after the concert and it is really good - this may be the last good meal for ten days, in germany, not everyone understands vegitarian!

- led zeppelin - I -

i love the light at this time of year, autumn is my favorite season for the mental-energy storms and the sunsets, but only when it comes after summer, and this year summer was also very autumn - the light is amazing, but i'm finding the wind less refreshing than usual! the clouds look amazing in the rear-view mirror - driving, i'm also missing a bunch of beautiful photos that i'd like to be able to share here! it's strange looking over such beautiful landscape in such a beautiful sunset and the sound of traffic louder than my thoughts!

- darwin deez -

on arriving in lichtung, i am first struck by their choice of furnature and artwork hanging on the walls - beautiful old wooden sideboards overflowing with flyers and potted plants, landscape paintings mixed up among nude photos that all work rather well together - wallis would have something to say about this - and the pet shop boys on the radio!

the stage is lovely, slightly raised in a veranda - all surrounded with glass (glad there are no cymbals this evening!) - with a piano against the wall, a painting of a garden surrounding a small garden on the wall outside and behind me. i'll be looking over people sitting in comfy couches listening to the show.

michael greets me, offers me a coffee and shows me around. an hour or so later, fabien arrives just as i have my stuff set up - perfect timing :) the sound check is quick and i'm happy to have my amp, effects and  all my toys...

dinner is the indian buffet next door - what was i thinking taking so muuch food - i wasn't that hungry but everything looked so good that i filled my plate to spilling level. i have to eat it now or i'll look really greedy!!! the music in the venue was a very eclectic mix, so asked him who was choosing it - creamy radio, the world's largest shuffle ipod - hmmm - not very creative and half of the songs that pop up are a bit shit, not sure about this idea!

just before i started, a few fans of wallis' music showed up - this makes me happy - i appreciate their coming out :)

i get talking to a gent named essa, when he comes to the bar to order tea. he is in the rock band playing in the venue downstairs after my gig... he tells me of their music, it sounds interesting, i'll pop down and have a listen... the show was nice. about 50 or so people, some sitting in the armchairs listening, some standing around listening, others waiting for the later gig - some of these found me after the show to tell me that they enjoyed it - that was nice :)

it's wierd playing on my own again. i can't find much to say about the songs, so i just played them. i felt fairly self-concious and a bit uncomfortable, especially during the louder songs, thinking like i might be going to far - i kind of just close my eyes and let myself be taken away on the air... i haven't really gigged like this in nearly 10 years!

at the end of the show, daniela passed a hat around, while looking after the bar alone - some superwoman! i hung around for a while after the show for chats and tea! one guy, michael, took a shot of me with insane eyes - i should just keep them closed!

i went downstairs for a bit of a listen before heading off. there were 2 rock bands and both sounded really good, but i only caught the last song of the first band and the first couple of the second band - the sound in the room was great! i hit the road to drive the first 100 or so kilometers towards frankfurt and pull over for the night.

- blah - a compilation i made (see "mixtape" blog from oct 2011 -

i stopped in a layby off the A66. it was cold, but i was well equipped with bankets and cushions and with a quick blast of hot air to begin the evening in heat, i slipped into sleep with no problem. i kept waking up to pee and then putting the heat back on for a couple of minutes - i slept intermittantly!


Friday, 23 December 2011

day 06 :: off day, bruxelles, BE :: nov 2011 solo tour

17th: bruxelles, BE :: engineering and partying in sssc

the sunsets are stunning at this time of year, each one seems better than the night before's... it's been nice to have a short break before the next leg of the tour. this allowed me to get some clothes washed, print some more cds - with nico, we print the inlays as we need them. this week we did about 300 or 400, half pink with glitter and the other half turquoise. we usually change the paint every 200 or so. i like this - it makes each of them a bit unique... the first 1000 are being printed like this and numbered.

... what better way to polish off a break and get me in the mood for touring, than a gig amongst friends in sans souci. i embark with my gear at 17h for a show with 3 acoustic acts... illute, antoine villoutreix and ian fisher - they were all brilliant, but i really got lost in antoine's set - beautiful!


Tuesday, 20 December 2011

day 05 :: carpi (modena), IT :: solo tour, nov 2011

11th: carpi (modena), IT :: kalinka, solo with wallis bird

at breakfast, however, i was enjoying it's lingering flavour less... fuzzy-headed, i took a look around the breakfast room, took a yoghurt and went back to bed with it - the extra hour will do me the world of good!

it did! i battled with the underground carpark until she released my car and we headed for bologna... i made them listen to 80s music until they started singing along and my hangover subsided!

we arrived in bologna with enough time to sit down and eat. agata had an address for a good restaurant, so that's where we headed - trattoria del rosso, where i had a wonderful melanzane di parmiggiano - still not as good as silvio's mum's in torre al mare, but pretty damn good, all the same.

we sat and enjoyed it until the last minute possible and then rushed to radio citta fujiko, where wallis was playing a few songs on air. there are so many people on bologna's streets this afternoon, i feel like james bond or indiana jones!

we got back to the car, to the radio station in light speed and the others went up while i parked. the station was like something out of a 50s detective movie - all desks overflowing with papers, dotted around a large room with an almost entirly open partition wall down the centre of the room. each staff member walking around the room with a pen in hand, or sitting on the edge of a desk discussing stuff with the person in the office chair beside them, all this in a dimly-lit air thick with smoke!

the studio where we played was small and full of the same sort of style - i love this place :) wallis and i played three songs and went on our merry way for carpi.

the drive seemed long and we stopped several times for coffee and snacks. as we approached modena, we passed by an accident where a citroen picasso had been reduced to the size of a smart car - so dangerous, and still i drive at 100kmh :(

tonights hotel was proper de luxe - it always feels good when the hotel and sound are good on the last night of a tour (or in this case, part of a tour!)... so far, so good!

the posters surrounding tonight's venue were proper cruise-ship cabaret style - i didn't know whether to laugh or cringe. the venue is lovely, 3 or 4 booths under the windows along the left hand wall, behind it, a large L-shaped bar and at the end of that, the sound desk. the stage was large and hollow, perfect for my microphones :) we were greeted with a coffee and a smile - i love italy!

the meal was amazing. proper sit-over-the-meal-for-two-hours food! and all the staff sit down together and ate with us - i like this - it's so italian and wonderful!

the sound was great in the soundcheck, but unfortunatly, the crowd were so loud during the show, i couldn't hear it!!! i hated that gig because i had the impression that we could have easily been replaced by a cd player for all the audience cared :( ... one of the people who came to the show brought a bottle of barbera d'alba, though - mon favorit! when we got back to the hotel, we had a glass and a chat about the last few days - i loved touring with agata and rosella, they were brilliant :)


Thursday, 15 December 2011

day 04 :: milano, IT :: solo tour nov 2011

10th: milano, IT :: bitte, solo with wallis bird

i woke up in the morning early, had a shower and a walk in the garden as the sun rose over the cliff that has been exposed by the light of day, and the green rolling valley, leading away from it!

the owner of the b&b was working on his garden and as i sat down to breakfast he came in with a variety of plates prepared with the fruits of his labour. i was sat in a veranda with chillis, thyme, rosemary and baskets brimming with tomatoes, corgettes and all sorts of wonderful colours hanging from the rafters. i leafed through a magazine filled with photos of wartime france with a warm sun now falling on my back - how strange it must be to live in a war zone... my friend, zlata, published her journal when she was a child living in the war in bosnia. she also did a book called "stolen voices" a few years ago, assembling war diaries from the last century - it was very interesting to read.

before long i was joined by wallis, rosella and agata and we chatted about the various places where we live, have lived and what we miss from home - we all aggreed that if the politics and the economy of this country were better, we'd all find it very attractive! we ate with a dog wandering around giving us eyes, but turning his nose up at the string beans we dropped - picky beggar!

i sat in the garden to enjoy the first mix of the first song on my album that marcus is currently mixing in sandhausen in germany - very happy about this... it's into the future and he has made the gospel choir sound like a hug :)

we loaded up the car and hit the road... back down the windey streets towards the venue where we played last night, down to the river, left and we'll follow it until we find a nice spot to go for a walk.

we drive along the riverside, with cliffs shooting up to the sky on both sides until they recede and allow a few hills that locals have taken advantage of to grow vinyards... there is a beautiful old village climbing up the mountain on our left to a church about two thirds of the way up. we drive down to the waterside and stop for a walk as the river opens into lake garda. it's a beautiful setting and wallis and i swap the camera - capturing the sun run along the water's surface; the ducks bouncing on the small waves; the golden trees; revealing themselves briefly while they await winter's blanket; the mountains and their snowy peaks propping the sky up all around us - as we walk further into lake garda. on the way back we follow the streets winding up the mountain until we get to a square with a church (a different one a little lower on the hillside!) and a beautiful view over the valley - we stood in silence for a while - we know each other well enough, now, to feel comfortable doing this.

the next kilometers were accompanied with valerie francis' album - scoring the hills and villages to milan perfectly until, as the fog began overcoming us, agata had us discover the wonder that is carmen consoli... amazing!

we arrived in milan and went to visit the cathedral - really nice - before going for some risotto in an old school café playing sade, and the likes. walking through the streets in the fog, rosella told us about her work and some of the other bands they have organised tours with in the past and some that they hope to work with in the future... fog makes everything eerie!

by the time we found bitte and drove down the darkly lit industrial horror movie streets to get there, the fog had turned to smog. as i got out of the car, the smell slammed me instantly back to winter-time cycles to school in dublin when i was 12!

tonight's sound was going to be a challange - i have, at my disposal an 8-channel yamaha desk and 3 speakers! the room is great - a great big open space with 2 floors and a few poles dotted around for dreamers.

this evening, i have made an executive decision to drive the car to the hotel before the show and get a taxi after it so that i can have a few drinks - ray, a friend from ireland and his wife, elisa are coming, as are bruno, with whom i work in belgium and his girlfriend doudou... should be shits and giggles!

indeed it was... wallis did a killer loopything that seemed almost as though she had rehearsed it! the vibes were there and a lovely couple gave me a bottle of their home-brewed beer - it was really lovely. the bar had a barbera d'asti that i enjoyed with my dinner, and kept on enjoying during the gig, and after when ray, wallis, the dude on the bar, and i kept on jamming - i kept enjoying that fine grape... and in the taxi back to the hotel, yup - barbera!!



Tuesday, 13 December 2011

day 03 :: lecco, IT :: solo tour nov 2011

09th: lecco, IT :: l'oficina della musica, solo with wallis bird

we missed breakfast but got cappuccino and a croissant at the hotel's café before going for a walk at turin's market. while we waited for wallis and agata to arrive, rosella and i chatted about pearl jam and ani difranco. she wrote a biography about her in italian!

turin is a really beautiful city... a higgledy piggledy mix of beautifully preserved buildings standing proud beside twins in a state of disrepair; covered balconies with clothes dancing in the breeze and plants or a bike hanging off it! we parked on a street with small second-hand and brol shops - we started there, distracted by all the shiny things. one shop had a great collection of old 4-track tape machines and typewriters - they played shiny-jacket italian techno on their sound-system passing through about 80 speakers!

once we had climbed through the sock- and phone-cover- stalls, the market made my mouth water - wonderful courgettes and pumpkins, fruit and fruit, cheese and bread, the odd whiff of fish, but we won't dwell on that! i bought a red onion that looked alot like one of my little egg shakers!

the market took us to some quieter streets where we walked among roman ruins and 80's appartement buildings to an amazing piazza where some sat reading, some stood looking at the magnificient buildings and statues, others stood looking at people playing the statue-busking game, and us four, we stood watching them all!

i stopped into a shop to pick up a lead i needed to play music in the car. when i got to the till, the lady insisted that my note was a forgery, which it wasn't - she just had an outdated machine that was probably built to test lira! i eventually convinced the manager to let me pay for the lead, and off we went for pizza :)

we found a nice little sandwich place where we had amazing smelly cheese foccacia (mmmmhh!) before hitting the road for lecco.

now that we have the mp3 lead, we can really start touring!!! we started with some pearl jam and ani difranco! we got stuck in traffic about halfway through versus and rolled down the windows and sang our heads off to a bunch of confused- and slightly akward-looking moterists!

we arrived at l'officina della musica just in time to avoid my bladder exploding! this evening's room is a big hall with mural graffiti on the walls and another nice allen & heath desk (must be an italian favorite!). the venue is in a space consisting of a music school and rehersal and performance rooms, including the one where we play. the system is good, but the room is not the best! i can hear a pair of rock bands battle it out in the airconditioning pipes above my head!

in the backstage room there is a piano. i tried to play it, but i could hardly hear it over the sound of the rock band in the next room - rock bands are kind of like wallpaper here! we got lovely spagetti for dinner, but i left most of it for after the show, as i am playing and first and then doing the sound for wallis :) the gig was nice... the crowd were great and i enjoyed the sound for my set - doing the sound was a bit of a battle of the bands, à la run dmc vs aerosmith!

after the gig, i took my time sorting out the gear and my accounting and then we were accompanied by the loveliest couple, a half-english lady and her boyfriend, who also happens to be the son of the owner of the hotel where we stay this evening. the drive was so lovely - narrow streets winding further and further upwards in the dark, until we were in a more secluded part of town that was more like countryside than town, but not quite that either - there were many houses around, and it seemed like a sort of village, but there was so much space between each of the houses!

our room was in a cabin up a garden step-path at the end of the garden. a lovely wood cabin that was beautifully decorated on the inside - warmly and comfortably, but pratically! i was ready for sleep almost instantly, so that's where i went!



Saturday, 10 December 2011

day 02 :: turino, IT :: solo tour nov 2011

08th: turino, IT :: el barrio, solo with wallis bird

of course getting up at this time is annoying. it's too late to justify getting a taxi, 'cause the trains have started running... i get my stuff together, and get walking to the gare de luxembourg. i bought a new suitcase for this tour as the old one's wheels had been worn down to the ball-bearings and sounded like the end of the world coming at you! it's a short 10 minute walk and the morning was mild. the sun was beginning to rise and kitchen lights clicked on as i passed. i love this time of day, but i rarely include myself in it!

i slept for most of the journey to italy, waking up only to catch a glimpse of the alps and to change modes of transport - i don't fly often and often the desire to see the earth from this rare point of view would overcome my auto-motion-provoked-sleep switch, but this morning, it doesn't!

i arrive in milan airport a little ahead of rosella's flight from dublin and find a nice conspicuous corner to lean against.

i have not yet met rosella, besides a few email exchanges regarding today's meeting. she and agata, who will arrive later today, run a little touring company called little maps. they put their heads together and choose bands to bring to italy for a few dates about twice a year. for the next five dates, wallis and i are those bands!!!

when she arrives, she spots me instantly - 2 cases and a guitar will make you stand out! we had four more hours to wait, so we changed corners for one with chairs and coffee! rosella is italian. she moved to ireland a few years ago where she lives and works with google. she tells me about little maps, the company that she set up with agata in ireland to bring bands to audiences in italy, we talk about some of the bands that they have worked with and about some of the places we will visit on these dates... i can't wait!

at 15h30, wallis arrives from london and agata arrives from denmark. agata and rosella met in italy. they moved to dublin together, where little maps was born and a year later, agata moved to denmark, where she worked with lego until recently.

the car rental company gave our car away! the booking had been for this morning, and while we were waiting for wallis to arrive with the credit card, they gave the car away and had nothing large enough to offer!!! we went to look at a few smaller cars to see would the guitar fit in... it didn't! eventually, after negociations and suggestions, they agreed to let me take an uncleaned car - i don't care if it's clean - we're not clean!!!

it took ages to get through milan's traffic - it was pretty, though :) apparently milan is known as the grey city in italy. it was rainy and foggy and mysterious looking! the rest of the journey was slow and uneventful - traffic was shit everywhere, but it gave us plenty of time to get to know each other and listen to some great albums.

the venue in turin, el barrio, was lovely. its funny, nobody here has much english, and i really like the adventure of communication! i was being a bit stressy about timing as communication was taking longer than usual - it didn't take me too long to slip into the italian rythem and stop watching the clock, as long as everything gets done well, everything is alright!

i had been afraid before leaving, thinking that the PA systems would be basic - it was a nice surprise to be greeted with an analogue allen & heath desk - this will be fun! on this part of the tour, ie. the four italian dates, i am playing a set and then doing the sound for wallis' set. i love doing her sound, as she wants a ballsy sound, and that's the kind of sound i like making!

soundcheck was quick, dinner was simple and lovely pasta from the restaurant attached to the hotel where we stay tonight. i ate a few forkfuls, but it was already stage time - first gig of the tour - a good crowd, great vibes, and i really enjoyed playing - it's been ages since i played on my own, and it was nice to have all my effects and stuff!

wallis' sound was brilliant - 2 broken strings, and loads of stomp! i managed to get through about half of my dinner! after the set, i was taking down the gear when someone (a friend of rosella's, i think), showed up with a creamy lemoncello thing - aparently it was lovely, but i had to drive after, so i abstained - we had a drink with the team in the bar, after everything had been cleared away - they were all really nice and run a brilliant project there. the hotel was basic, but giddy, wallis and i wrestled with the airconditioning in vain, drank beers and laughed our asses off for hours - not much sleep was had!



Friday, 9 December 2011

day 01 :: bruxelles, BE :: solo tour nov 2011

04th: bruxelles, BE :: atelier 210, with the italian weather ladies

this was a surprise gig, even for us... we were asked about a week beforehand if we could do it. it worked perfectly, just at the start of the tour - and a favorite venue of mine, so at about 17h, we all met up to start my solo tour together - fabrice, remy, augustin and i set out our gear on the rug - our effects collections are growing and the rug flashed like an arabian fairytale christmas. thomas set up mic stands around us, all of us working in relitave silence - i like setup - its very zen!

the soundcheck was very quick - thomas got a great sound, and quick! we all went upstairs, then where xavier and julie prepared us dinner. it was lovely sitting down to dinner among friends before embarking on my first tour in nearly 10 years.

the set was great, we all had a great time and the venue was packed - after the show, we stayed around and celebrated life together - more and more babies among my friends... we're growing up - good times!

augustin gave me a lift home and i was in my bed dreaming about the adventure to come at a reasonable tour hour! the next few days will be spent choosing effects and implements of noise-making to bring on tour and seeing what clothes i can fit around them!



Friday, 7 October 2011


i like making mixtapes! i recently made one for a friend and was about to post it to her when i realised that a bunch of the music on it does not really exist yet, so i couldn't very well give it away! i decided to write about it instead!!!

dakota suite - this falling sea
i'm not sure which is the artist and which is the song but i think it goes this way around... this short piece of heaven was given to me by my friend dave after he painted my portrait in berlin (blog about that to come when i get the photo developped!) - it has a profoundly relaxing effect on me...

john lennon - mother
... and the bells at the start of this song, ease me back to where i am before john lennon picks me up and shakes the fuck out of me! such a release of deamons, it's like he invites us into a very personal and sore part of himself - i sometimes feel uncomfortable listening to this song!

broken bells - citizen
i'm not even sure if the title of this track is correct, but it's a very dreamy pop song. a different friend dave sent this one my way... i love the way the vocals at the end sound all warm and close - it makes me smile :)

darwin deez - the bomb song
this song does funny things to me! dennis, friend and and gentleman, who sometimes works with us as sound engineer, had us singing and dancing around like eejits during load-out after a gig in herbolzheim last year with this record!

elbow - mercy street
it's like a honey-roast version of an already amazing song! it comes from the peter gabriel album "scratch my back" - an album where he chose his favorite artists and covered one of their songs and asked them to cover one of his. after a gig in basel and a bottle of lemoncello, i powered back up the PA, rammed up the volume until our bellys shook and we lay on the ground in a small circle, wallis, andrea and i, tripping on the wave of music washing over us...

tame impala - solitude is bliss
i found this for the first time with my friend and colleague geoffrey, when we were looking for interesting drum-micing techniques!!! that same week, fabrice (of italian weather ladies) played it for me in his car and kevin (filmy dude) came back from manchester with their record... i thought i should get their album! i remember sitting in the back of the tourbus at the start of the summer, when we were lost, as sun set over the czech hills listening to this album full blast.

isbells - the night is yours
a really pretty summer song that makes me smile... this song came from a flemish television performance that i found on youtube... i couldn't find the song anywhere so i borrowed it - i'll give it back when it comes out on their next album (i hope!!!)

prefab sprout - the king of rock n roll
a perfect pop song that perks me up every time i listen to it :) "hotdog, jumping frog, albuquerque"!

robotnik - feel again
chris and i had an online swap session of new songs a few months and i am adoring what he's working on for his second album! we used to be able to go over to each others home to do this, but now i live in bruxelles and he, in dublin - i miss this kind of thing :( this song is stunning :)

kevin ryan - jackie
i arrived in dublin last may for a tour and went straight from the ferry port to the studio where gavin glass and kevin were creating four little masterpieces with the help of danny snow, ross turner, and other blow-ins like myself! the next morning, when wallis arrived in dublin, we went back to shout some more at the microphones - what lovely vibes, and then the tour started in vantastival - pleasure after pleasure!!! this album is going to be special when it comes together!

herons - neighbourhoods
this song comes from one of my favorite albums. it is about the best thing i have heard since solid air by john martyn. i remember discovering solid air - those 40 minutes changed my perception of what can be done in music... this album had a similar effect, except that i expierenced it over the 2 week recording period instead of the 40 minutes it had taken me to get through solid air. the fact that i was there for the whole thing,  parhaps, contributes to the very special feeling i get every time i listen to it. two weeks - thats how you capture raw energy, you just get good people together and do it - i always spend so much time messing around with layers and such, when sticking up a few mics and having a cup of tea often works best!

villagers - on a sunlit stage
we were in the independente festival in cork when i finally had the opportunity to see villagers live - we had played earlier in the day and had to leave straight after our set... wallis and i ran away from the tourbus, hid in the front row of the villagers and couldn't move til it was over - we were stunned!

the increddible string band - first girl i loved
i love this song - sometimes i love to concentrate on a memory and write down where my thoughts lead, this song seems a bit like that, and the vocal is sooo brilliant! "... but me, i remember your long red hair falling in our faces when i kissed you" :)

juno falls - atom bomb
we were on shirkin island in west cork sitting in the sun outside the jolly roger. we hardly spoke a word, for the guitar being passed around - we sang and sang and sang... there was a double bass, a bunch of small percussion instruments, a couple of guitars and what became an infinate number of voices each time i closed my eyes...

carly sings - like a centaur
a demo for her second album... what seems to be shaping up to be a raw and lo-fi wonder.

al green - i can't get next to you
groovy!!! i love the way the old soul records sound - i wish i had a stereo mix of this one though - with its psychedelic guitar solo and all :)

beck - everybody's got to learn sometime
i love that he did this! such a wonderful version of a song that i found unremarkable before hearing this version.

pearl jam - not for you
this is raw!!! this is one of my favorite vocal takes ever. it's just about perfect - so much power and so much of himself exploding out - and the music is right there with him - amazing :)

... and what can follow that... well, nothing!

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

happy shoebox words

i found this in a shoebox... written during a happy gang jam in aoife's room, way back when :)

eyes glazed over like that...
what's going on in there?
a hundred little angel feet
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . lineing up . . . . .
-a centepede of saviours marching into your mind
,           some working together bringing ideas
,            some marching alone carrying dreams
                          enter in a deep breath

moonbeams light your face.
, age
,   expierence
,           tenderness
         and          youth radiate from within you
-                           fill the room with love
-thats whats going on in there
-i love this!

twenty-four lovers' feet send dreams into the night.
i hope we can love this way forever...

Thursday, 1 September 2011


i have my own sense of style.

by that i mean that how i look and act changes with my mood, my mood changes often and i don't really pay heed to such trivia. you can't dress me up - well, you can, but if you do, i'll be uncomfortable and want to go home - it's no longer me and i enjoy being me!!!

what's really important to you? if it's me, then here i am, if you want to change me, then go find that person elsewhere - i'm sure he exists, there's enough of us in the world!

style is so short term... i mean, i shave my head today, it grows back in six months! i change my shirt today, i can put the old one on tomorrow - but i probably won't; i'll have moved forward!!

i want to create something that lasts... all i have to offer falls on your ears... i hope you enjoy listening! (

you know that feeling when you're sitting on a train and you don't know yet in which direction it is going to move? if you're going to be taken backwards or forwards? i feel that way now! album finished, what next?

watch this space... le grand discours... coming 2012...

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

words of a lost girl

i've just read the dark and passionate words of a lost girl.

someone who has denied herself for the sake of social conformity; someone who punishes herself for her desires - most of them good and decent - as she's been so convinced of their being bad; someone who has been brutally punished by the very reverend for each time she sidestepped from the popular path; someone who became so damaged and lost by not listening to herself and not allowing herself to grow into herself, that she has become hidden - her best kept secret; someone who allowed herself be so consumed in her lost love that she has been unable to fall out of it and has instead sunk deeper and deeper into lonliness, recreating an image of her ex-girlfriend in a dream and projecting it into her reality - getting out of bed becomes difficult, she dreams of living late nights and early mornings for all eternity with her lost love... the image is incomplete, though, containing only remarkable moments - its the bits in between that strengthen relationships and make them special, yet it's so difficult to grasp onto these... how did we become so close?

"this pure, pure evil grasping, twisting, pushing me forward."

i have the most distinct feeling that my internal monologue has not always been here, yet i can't remember a time when it wasn't... "your mind is a sponge for information", said a good friend last night... "and forgot almost nothing", says the lost girl... it's getting so loud and sometimes it's hard to work out what's past, what's present and what's future! it's like she wrote it all down in one breath and i breath it too!... "will you still love me when we've nothing left to say?"

the church has had such a stronghold on young irish people's lives for so many generations - it shatters the self-confidence of all but the few that find truth in its teachings and fall into that mould, - it's dear departure will be only a small loss, suffered by few good and genuine people. i respect those that find inner peace through the practices of the church but fear that most followers are either lost or exploiting "the gospel" for personal gain. anything that promotes peace and strength and self-worth is positive, but my experiences with the church have not yielded such a bounty - i visited a mostly spiteful, greedy, dishonest and impersonal mass... i find my own way through right and wrong and though there is much overlap, my lifestyle would not please their god!

i hope she finds the strength to step out of the version of herself she is currently confined to, and finds the new, more honest and appropriate girl bursting to come out and play.

Monday, 4 July 2011

our life is a celebration

as i sit on the train to munich, full from a monster feed that i allowed myself in salzburg, i wish to share some moments from the past four days...

i stepped into a fresh, summers morning accompanied with the dawn birdsong at 5h on thursday. i was on my way to catch a train from bruxelles to graz for peter and andrea's wedding - i didn't yet know what we were in for, but knowing peter and andrea, i knew it would be special! the 15 hour train journey took me through numerous dreamlands: the low haze hanging just above the belgian farmlands as the sun rose; breakfast and bathroom lights flicking on as the train drifted through koln and collected work-going passengers; a croissant and a coffee in frankfurt; finishing the pre-mix work on the west cork song as we pulled into munich; the alps growing on the horizon and then coming at us from a great distance until we were among them; forrested hills giving way to bare-stone cliffs and mountain peaks; coffee and classical music in salzburg; winding pale green meltwater rivers and chalets on the rich green hills as we gained altitude on our way to evening; all the time drifting in and out of sleep, infiltrated by the landscapes we passed through; waking up properly in eveningtime graz and realising that i left all my phone numbers in bruxelles; driving with rupert and alex (who luckily found me) up the winding mountain roads to puch, with the sun setting in the rear-view mirror.

in puch, we were met by four tables full of friends and trisha planted a beer in my hand - the wedding celebrations had begun! we sat out enjoying the fresh alpine evening as couple by couple of people left for bed. in the end, verena and i found ourselves sitting at a table full of empty beer and wine glasses with orange segments laying in their bottoms, waiting on a bus carrying the last thirty-five guests. they all spilled out one-by-one on to puch's main street at 2h in high spirits after their adventure from vienna airport!

the following morning we got up at 10h and had breakfast in the hotel beside where we stayed before sitting out on the lawn in the sun playing music: wallis, ben, aoife, sarah, anna, michael, floic and i. i was honoured to have been asked to play my west cork song during the church service, and we were going to sing it all together :)

at 13h, we all met in front of the hotel where max assigned everyone to cars for the trip to peter's childhood hometown of birkfeld for the church service. some were dressed in suits, some in jeans and t-shirts, some in liederhosen, some in quirky atire, some in formal-wear, standing witness to the diversity of peter and andrea's friends and family - this weekend was going to be nothing if not interesting!

in the cafe beside the church, we assembled over a drink - there were beers, wine, coffee, water and coloured liquids that i couldn't identify!

the service was accompanied by peter's dad and michael zlanabitnic playing organ; the local town choir, led by peter's uncle singing; a full rock band; and the song that peter and andrea had asked us to play! andrea's dress was beautifully simple, white with a pearled motif around the neck, and both she and peter looked amazing.

after the service, jens climbed up a ladder and took some group photos with the austrian countryside rolling out behind us as we all stood around chatting and laughing over bread and wine.

both peter and andrea's families come from austria, they grew up at opposite ends of the country and in their adulthood went wherever their dreams took them. they lived a long distance relationship for many years before moving together to london and then to berlin. as you may imagine, their friends come from far and wide, living in a number of different countries, coming from a number of different backgrounds, with representatives from almost all walks of life and all with an important thing in common: they are all decent, hard-working and soulful people... attending, were amazing friends that i know well and a bunch that i was eager to get to know better - the day was interesting and long, continuing, for some of us, until 7h30 the following morning!

as we arrived back in puch, we were greeted with prosecco and a cool, smiling quartet of double-bass, percussion, trumpet and clarinet that arrested everyone's attention and, for a moment, conversation stopped! there were three generations of people gathered together, from babies still growing in their mother's bellies to an age higher than i can count, and here, before dinner, i got chatting to the french contingent - floic, catherine and isabelle... the band played four or five songs and then walked us into the dining room like the pied-piper! we followed obediently into the old converted wooden barn with long tables laid out for 150 guests, each place identified with an orgami crane, handmade by danni and inscribed by her father in a tasteful caligraphy handwriting, marking where each of us were to sit. peter and andrea made a speech together before the soup came out, walking from table to table introducing the guests and saying a few words about how they knew each of us in german and in english. between each course, there was a speech and when we were directed to the desert table, the band that had greeted us in the courtyard outside, began playing on the stage, beginning with a jazzy set, that flowed seamlessly into traditional austrian music, followed by a host of more popular songs, swapping instruments and playing, not as a typical wedding band, but from the soul.

philip had set up a screen-test booth in the entry hall, where people were invited to sit in front of the camera for 30 seconds to make a silent presentation of the guests - like the factory screen tests of the 1970s. aoife wandered around with a polroid camera photograping the guests for a scrap-book that we were all to write a note in the following evening. andrea's sister and brother-in-law put together a slide-show that had the whole room in ribbons of laughter. wallis passed around a handmade scrapbook to get peoples thoughts, and later on, we slipped off - constantin, maxxi, marcus, wallis, aoife, ben, anna and i to prepare four songs (the beach boys - god only knows, the carpenters - close to you, the cure - friday i'm in love and fata morgana, an old austrian pop song) on 2 melodicas, ukulele, guitar, piano, clarinet, loads of voices and small percussion instruments.

then wallis, aoife and i played perfect by fairground attraction accompanied by the band, before they took back up and continued with their final set of the evening. afterwards, as they were clearing away their instruments, myself, ben, wallis and a host of other guests (including the double-bass player from the band who had been playing all evening!) swapped instruments and got a jam going which went on until they had cleared up the room and were ready to go home, at which point peter took 5 bottles of wine and we sat around in the morning until the matchsticks holding our eyes open finally gave way and we could keep them open no more.

i missed breakfast and instead set up a picnic for the tour we were to take on the saturday afternoon. 3 tractors stopped outside the hotel, each pulling a trailor, to show us around the region. we visited a cider brewery, where every bottle is apparently blessed before it is leaves the brewery, ready for public consumption. we laughed our way around the winding mountain paths to a celtic settlement museum where a local lady told us stories of the celts of 4000 bc who had lived in the area. paul arrived and added yet another voice of dry irish wit to the trailor as we rolled on to moarpeter, a restaurant where we were to spend the rest of the day and evening. we were greeted by a traditional brass band and a glass of elderflower sekt. anna and i found a red slide and relived a bit of our youth with a bunch of others, sekt in hand!

we saw the first rain of the weekend as we sat down to lunch on a covered terrace. it cleared as we cleared our plates and we went down to sit in the sun and watch a pair of hot air balloons float off on the wind above the drying land.

a local theatre group entertained us with songs about hollywood and marraige before joining forces with the brass band, led, again, by peter's uncle to get the whole wedding dancing. he's some character!

as darkenss fell and the air cooled, i sat out with wallis' parents, liz and others, watching the mountains dissappear under the veil of night. the stars lit up the sky and there was more dancing over dinner!

at 2h, connie, ben, anna, patrick, jens, brita, catherine, michael and i jumped in a taxi for puch as people were starting to dance on the bar with glasses raised to the ceiling and the whole bar singing bon jovi along with the dj at the tops of their voices! the taxi driver coincidentally played the hollywood song from a cd - connie got him to turn it up and we sang our way to bed! apparently, the evening we left behind us continued until 6h!

as we stood around waiting for the bus to graz this morning, ben and i played guitar in the shade of the church, and we all swapped stories of our favorite memories from the weekend. we aggreed that the highlights were too numerous to mention without having another four days to talk about the four days that we just lived together... everyone offered what they could to make this weekend as special and inspirational as it was!

the four hour trip from graz to salzburg was filled with warm thoughts of friends and special moments and on leaving salzburg, a haze had formed over the river and was creeping up the land as darkenss fell.

Monday, 27 June 2011

have songs - need money - will swap!

one of the main purposes that facebook serves me is to promote my music and make it available to people that may want to hear it. i am constantly torn, though, between trying to gain intrest around my projects (which i believe are good) and really not wanting to bother people or invest too much of myself in these time-sapping networks!

i make music - that's what i enjoy doing and i feel that after 15 years of making mistakes and fine-tuning, i've got pretty good at it! it's a long solitary process capped with very special moments that i'm lucky enough to be able to share with good people when we put together arrangements and play concerts. i enjoy sharing that music with people whose presence i'm in, and given half a chance, a guitar and an audience of at least one, that's what i do! i especially enjoy it when i have the opportunity to present this music with my friends (the italian weather ladies).

i subscribe to the belief that it takes at least two people to make art - the creator and the appreciator! i find it hard when i'm playing a concert to open my eyes and see how people are reacting, prefering to try and vibe off the energy they are feeding back to us. i can't get to grips with the idea that behind the flickering computer-screen are people that could appreciate our music as much as those who come to see a show, even if i am one of those people myself, so i find myself constantly in conflict as to whether i should do mailing lists (which i consider spam!) and advertising (i don't do well selling myself - and i feel my music is a large part of myself) or not. promotion distracts me terribly from my principal occupation of writing and playing music.

because of this conflict, we find ourselves with very few people who follow what we do (on facebook, or whatever) and a complete blank as to how to proceed once the recordings are finished... my desire is to move on to the next project while an amazing team of people, who get off on getting things moving, turn the cogs to make what needs to happen happen (to make the project progress and reach new ears), but if i don't get things happenning myself, well then, who else will? so i end up trying to spread the word in bursts - a few concerts, a low-budget release, loads of emails, no responses, an enormous lack of confidence and i'm back to square one: sitting in front of my multitrack, broke (after spending all my money on the previous set of recording/gigging) with a litter of instruments around me, trying to forget about what's on the radio and concentrate on what i want to say, what i wish the radio played.

i have no idea how to approach selling music, i end up going around in circles and spending all my money! we are now nearly finished a new studio album and are looking wherever we can think of, for people who want to see us continue making music, to help us get it out there!

so if you, dear reader, have been directed here familiar with our music, please spread the word far and wide, and if you don't know what we do, please take the time to visit or if you like what you hear and see, don't be a stranger! tell us how it makes you feel; what it makes you think of; what you do when you listen to it; tell us where you think we should play; who you think we should contact; and we'll add them to our list with bremen! we want to get on the road but have lost our gps (maps are so 1998!) - get your pointing finger out!!!

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

stuck on the eurostar

we've been here for about an hour now... about half an hour into the journey, the train beeped four times and the engine stopped. the eurostar sits now, like a limp caterpillar on a farming plain south-east of lille. every 15 minutes, the train shakes as another passes by at high speed - oosh-oosh-oosh-oosh-oosh-ooooooooh - and it's gone!

the electricity is out and the younger children voice their irritation and discomfort with each extra degree of heat.

adults search for questions to ask and find themselves reverting back to the same one over and over again - "when will i get home?" - but the fact remains: there's nothing we can do, so we may as well sit and relax through the wait! chivolrous men fan their girlfriends with magasines - certain parents shout "calm down" at their children, others invent them games to divert them from the boredom:
- imagine its the wild west and this is a train stickup...
- i spy with my little eye something beginning with...
- the less imaginaive shove an i-phone in their childs hands!

phone conversations the lenghth of the train relay the same message - "i'll be home late... the train has stopped with an electrical engine fault... i don't know... i'll let you know as soon as i can..."

and wallis and i sit with a beer in our hand, sunglasses on, playing cards to cover up the holland that's up to our eyes.

the first part of the journey was accompanied with the trip that is the beatles white album!

we reached the end as we pulled into bruxelles. i left wallis in a station café and jumped a taxi to leave francois' 1957 gibson (back when the company was worth a shite) tenor guitar in my home... she was leaving the tour today...
"hi stef, see you in a fortnight" as i greet my housemate...
"eh... hi... bye... we're going to see villagers tonight in the bota...
i'm jealous, "enjoy it!"

we have broken into led zepplin I, but i think i'm not in the mood for this right now - onto mark holis - that should lighten the weight of the heat a bit :)

... we've been waiting an hour and a half now, i've finished my accounting and am about ready for beer number two. some doors are open for air and we are waiting for a new engine to arrive from lille. the train inched forward a metre, maybe she has arrived!

the place where we are stopped leaves the whole train inclined slightly to the left. things keep sliding off tabes and into the aisles, everyone walks at a 15 degree lean and the piss that missed the toilet flows under the door and forms a little puddle opposite - the lights are out and it seems that most guys today are too lazy to light their phone up and aim!

18h10: we inch another metre forward... could this be our depart? we gain speed - the trees and fields that i've been watching take on new perspectives before dissappearing into the distance behind... next stop - lille!

mark hollis continues to unintelligibly mutter some lyrics that must be really increddible to sit on top of such a bed of music!

Thursday, 12 May 2011

love as a fire

whenever i am falling for someone, whenever there is that spark, and especially if we kiss, i feel compelled to give it my all - i feel that anything less would be insulting... i'm like a kid blowing vigorously at the embers, hoping for a flame!

maybe love is not like a fire - maybe it needs to be treated gently? maybe this feeling is passion? lust? maybe all of this would be more rewarding if i'd just calm down! maybe love is a trip and i should just sit back and enjoy the journey? i strive to take each moment as it comes and then to let it pass, when it's gone... not to dwell on it and dwell on it and dwell on it...

maybe love is like water, a mass of individual drops, constantly flowing together in the same direction - sometimes seperating for a moment but usually being pulled back together by an uncontrollable magnetism.

i read somewhere: "i will stop struggling to succeed, but allow myself to submit to the pace which surrounds me - all success will come in its own time" (or something like that)... at first i thought "bullshit - i'm strong enough to make my own path", but the more i think about it, i realise this is the root of most of my frustrations!

i will be water, i will relax and flow with the stream.

(or maybe next week i'll have something different to say on the matter!)

Sunday, 24 April 2011


... you know, when you look for any distraction; anything that you might be able to call more important than the task at hand? and so i find myself sitting amongst a litter of guitar effects and clothes, trying to figure out why its more important that i write this than assemble my things for the tour...

that's right, after five months of running around like a headless chicken (peter and liz, our managers, are kind of like my heads!) - i'm excited to be hitting the road again...

i started packing on thursday, while i was doing some mixing work, but quickly abandoned the packing, cause its sooo boring! i cracked back into it on friday, again, mixing took presidence! on saturday, i was circling the mess of things i need to squeeze into a reasonabley sized suitcase, wondering how this time, for this tour its so difficult... i went outisde to the balcony to sit in the sun and ponder this - it turns, out, that i usually don't unpack between tours, as it's rare to have this much time off! back to it... i picked up a jumper and put it into the suitcase - the heaviest blackest jumper i own, i quickly removed it thinking "c'mon, it's summer!", then put it back thinking "yeah, but the tour starts in ireland", then removed it and found a lighter one - phew... i left the house, happy in the knowledge that the packing has begun!

this morning, i lay in bed watching the pile... it wasn't going anywhere - it seems to be growing, actually! standing proud and glorious under the sunbeams gushing through the open window... ok... plan of action... shower - breakfast - market - pack...

standing in the queue at the veg stand, i realised that i had nothing to buy... "suivant!"... as i'm leaving on tour this evening... have i mentioned that i'm off on tour this evening, no? well guess what, as of this evening i'm back on the road! ... "hello?" ... "ah, oui... eh... 6 oranges et une pamplamoose, s'il vous plait." i paniced - i never eat oranges!

home again - looking at the pile - how should i approach it... i suppose instruments and effects first, then clothes squeezed in around them for protection... i'm going to make myself an orange juice...

Friday, 8 April 2011

first words of spring

first words of spring
---three scenarios---

--she makes me smile--
- "so how was the gig?"
- "brilliant, trippy... and the singer was as beautiful as ever!
"after the gig, for the first time, i found myself standing opposite her, looking into her eyes... i couldn't remember if i was supposed to speak with the familiarity of the friendship that we have forged in my dreams, or if i should present myself as a stranger.
"i froze up... 'eh!', i said... then, 'uh!'...then, do you know what happened?"
- "tell me..."
- "i saw a friend, a familiar face and quickly took the opportunity to ask him if my feet were still on the ground!
"she thinks i'm wierd now, doesn't she?"
- "probably, but have you heard her music, it'll most likely work in your favour!"

that evening, even before arriving at the gig, i knew that i would be able to meet her... i had gone over the conversation in my head:

- "hello, great gig! i've been wanting to come and see your band play for ages now, but i spend so much time on tour..."
no, "... but i just keep missing your shows..."
that's not right either, "... but my dog ate my homework (that'll do!)"
- "ah..." (even in my dreams there are awkward silences!)
- "its great now that the evenings are longer and we can sit out late..."

... ok, so even in my head i couldn't get convincingly passed "hello", but when i finally found myself looking into her eyes, i hardly even got that far - i was lost! i was so afraid of coming off as a wierd fan, that i just came across as wierd!

- "they went off for dinner and i went to curl up and dissappear in a dark corner somewhere. i felt like a teenager! ... do you want another beer?"
- "ah, go on!"
- "la meme chose, merci... how do you manage to act normally and not feel self-consious when staring a dream straight in the face? when that dream is tangible, uncontrollable, interactive?"
- "you close the eye that knows it's a dream and listen!"
"i'll probably never be able to share words with her again."

"... but he's nearly two already and seems to understand most of what we say."
"some children just take a bit longer than others. when he finally opens his mouth, he'll probably recite shakespere! would you like some more potatoes?"
*the childs head shoots back and forth as though following the conversation*
"yes, please."
*man burns his hand on the pot*
"fuck - fuck - fuck - fuck" the child parrots!

--nice morning--
after adding the boiling water, she put the teapot on the cooker to brew up a strong pot, just the way he likes it. he crumpled out the newspaper, briefly interrupting her ritual. they had been married for fifty-seven years, she'll be seventy-eight next month and has made his tea almost every morning of their married life.
she rememberd how, on the first morning of spring, when they had barely been married a year, he took her on the breakfast table... much like this morning, the spring sun beamed in through the open window and lit her figure through the flimsy nightdress. much like this morning, the birds were singing in the garden as she waited for the kettle to whistle. that morning, however, almost fifty-six years ago to the day, he threw her, almost violently, up on the table, ripped her nightdress off and climbed on top of her. the cups shattering as they hit the floor around them but, caught in the throes of passion, they didn't realise... it was so unexpected and so animalistic...

after that morning and for the first years of their marraige, they often made love like that..."

"nice morning, dear"
"what was that?"
"nice morning", he repeated.
"oh... yes... it is!"

... she wished she could know now what made him feel that then and get it back... its true that they had aged into a beautiful serene comfort that she treasured greatly, but she missed that passion!

she turned to look at him and after a moment, whispered, "we're old now, aren't we, darling?"

Thursday, 7 April 2011

sans souci launch

i'm filled with pride and sadness.

pride for the work we have accomplished together and sadness for the fact that it is for only us, a small group of friends to enjoy, when i would like to share it with so many more.

it is for this reason that, today, we launch the live and sans souci album into the hands of those friends, with the hope that they will pass it on to their friends, and their friends to theirs, and so on... the construction and excecution of this project is filled with an ever growing love and laughter, and i hope to be able to share this with even more honest souls.

certain parts of it we can share for free: - for videos, songs to listen to and other information
- for tourdates and contact
- for my musings and ideas

other parts of the project cost us and, because we want to be able to afford to continue to play music, we appreciate your support in buying what you enjoy.
the album is currently available with cdbaby, and will shortly be available through bandcamp and other platforms, such as amazon and itunes.

i am proud of the music, the vibe, the work we are putting into it all and the body of work we are creating together. this weekend has been a particularly heart-warming expierence.

on thursday evening, ben and anna arrived in bruxelles and we went to the opening of the first of the tonton racleurs exhibitions for their summer residency in the recyclart. there, for the first time, we presented nico's handprinted album sleeves.

on saturday, ben, anna, wallis and sarah prepared dinner for 15, while the rest of us set up the venue for the gig, we all sat out in the garden until 21h30, in the first of this years summer evenings eating, drinking and being merry. we, the band were on the stage before the audience arrived, and we began playing, simon, fabrice and i at first, just jamming, like we so often do at rehearsals, the others joined in after. when everyone had settled we began the gig and it was lovely to share the launch of this album, recorded in this special room, with our friends who live here, and our friends who frequent!

after the gig had ended, the evening turned into a giant jam in the veranda as a deafening thunder and lightning storm circled around us and we passed the guitar back and forth - it was a magical moment and i am lucky to count so much talent amongst my friends :)

the sunday, i got up for the market and laid out breakfast in the sun on the terrace - we lazed away several hours before debarking for de musica in louvain-la-neuve, where we did a special performance, filmed by our friend, kevin... simon, fabrice, wallis, anna, augi, ben, remy, francois and i, sat in a circle in the middle of the shop, arranging, performing and filming each others songs! wallis arrived with a magnum of chimay blue, bruno and dido, with a spread of food fit for the roman gods,... it was another magical evening...

the monday, we wandered the city in the sun, and as the guys settled into their tourism, i skipped off to watch a play that i had helped my friend aline write for her class of 6 year olds - again, magical!!!

then when wallis and sarah left (in true indiana jones style), ben and anna prepared a dinner for simon, naima, antoine and i - a nice calm evening in the middle of the mad week.

this evening, we are preparing for the public and official launch of our album. we are celebrating with champagne (kind of) and dinner, prepared by the promoter, xavier's mum, in the backstage of the atelier 210, where we are about to go on stage and perform... please raise a glass with us to the birth of aidan & the italian weather ladies new album, 'live and sans souci' :D

Thursday, 17 March 2011


in 1998, my friend maeve recommended i listen to brahms violin concerto. i bought it on cassette and on the b-side, was mendelssohn's... i fell in love about six times over as i listened to the mendelssohn and the brahms piece kind of fell by the wayside... it's only this evening, 13 years later, listening to a new version that i just got of the brahms on my fancy headphones, that i get it - it is a truly powerful piece of music!

my friend jonathan recently showed me an analytical animation of brahms piano quartet - the animation was interesting, but the music... between this peice of music that i now talk of and the one i'm listening to - i think brahms is about to become my new obsession!!!

Monday, 7 March 2011

mixing rue de charlotte

its the perfect time to be mixing this song... today was the third afternoon this year that i was able to lunch outdoors on our terrace. i love the sun falling on my face as i eat and this afternoon, i could feel that the air has already begun getting warmer, readying itself for the spring breeze.

i spent the rest of the afternoon cycling around the city organising stuff. then, in the evening, i went to see christian's (drummer with wallis) other band, lcmdf play in the centre of town. after the gig, we hung out for a while, i walked them back to their hotel - a mental place: all wierd posh morroccan interior design in a space calling itself austrian - i had to photograph it!!!

they have to fly out in the morning on an early flight, so i left them then and cycled up the big hill home, made myself a cup of tea and a slice of toast, i've just lit some candles and am sitting down to the multi-track to finally (at 2am) mix charlotte.

first wallis, then alyanya, then christine... each voice more lush than the last... until we, all singing together, spin the song round and round - the sweet harmoneous christophe lifting the space higher and higher... losing equilibrium... fabrice breaths a rythem to keep your feet waltzing on the ground... but floating away... valerie comes in to try and sever that rythem but remy insists that your feet remain in the soil. the glockenspeil swims around the stars (i'm sure glad i put a stereo mic on this wee dude) and the rhodes and guitar grab hold of your middle again, as the voices return to shake you back and forth until the cello finally severs that rythem - she introduces you to christophe and fabrice, and you can't help yourself but to submit... you float off...

... six minutes later, it's nearly morning... what a trip!!!

thanks guys :)

cast (in order of appearance):
aidan - guitars / vox / glockenspeil / rhodes
wallis - vox
alyanya - vox
christine - vox
christophe - violins
fabrice - flutes / glockenspeil
valerie - cello
remy - double bass

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

amazing sense of great

today i greeted the day with an amazing sense of great - as i stepped out in to the berlin morning, the first flakes of snow fell from the sky.

last night at 3:30am, marcus and i sat down to a(?n) haloumi after having spent the last week together with wallis, michael, aoife and christian constructing the foundations of a bunch of new songs.

now, at 11am, i sit on my train home to bruxelles listening to syd matters and watching blanket after blanket of snow cover the city, thinking of the building site we left marcus to thrawl through and wondering how wallis and aoife are going to fly out later today if the snow keeps up!!

my next seven hours will be filled with thoughts provoked and inspired by the passing landscape :)

Friday, 11 February 2011

saal 4

we rehearsed for 3 days in a rehearsal space on a fourth floor overlooking an industrial wasteland that used to be a location for porn movies - all plush red and faux-metal... everything there looks soft or shiny! there was even a poledancing pole!

we are now in the studio. this time we have the pleasure of recording in saal 4, one of the studios in the old DDR media building. it is an amazing construction on the bank of the river spree in a suberb of berlin, industrial in its past, but mostly abandoned since. most of our neighbours here don't even have windows anymore!

christian is soundchecking drums and i'm sitting in an armchair eavsdropping on headphones to the magical acoustic that this room holds... i can even hear the clicking of my computer keyboard when he goes silent! its the kind of room that i imagine spirit of eden by talk talk was recorded in :)

its a funny place, a well kitted-out studio with curtain-clad, warm-sounding wood paneling throughout and an incredible list of microphones but without the budget, it seems, for toilet-paper!!! there is only one person left alive that knows where all the fuseboxes are, and he's now 80!

earlier today, i took my camera into the sunny winters afternoon and tried to capture some of the magic... i walked along the river where the opposite bank is covered in woodland and there is a disused promenade along which i could walk; through the rounded corridors with the light softly shining through the clouded windows, clouded with years of neglect; opening doors and exploring the various studios and rooms... this was the primary point of creation and censorship during the years of the DDR - it is a really amazing place to walk around. it still has one foot in its former years of glory - the grand empty hallways and reception areas; every clock reading a different time; leaves that blew through the windows and doors that don't quite close anymore... i emptied the last of my film and hope to get a chance to pick up some more and continue the fairytale that i was wandering!

now that night has fallen, the building has become the kind of place that makes people afraid... not me, though - i'm strong!!!

Friday, 28 January 2011

working with other people

ce soir, je suis courru de chez toi jusqu'a chez moi parce que l'aventure est souvent mieux a vitesse... peut-etre pas... je ne veux rien raté! i spend so much time travelling that movement has become my life and the photos i take have become blurred but the slow quiet moments in between are often what make my life special - maybe i run the distances to make sure i remember the important bits in between?

i write this, after having missed my friend's band, tattoo noise act, for the fourth time... i really want to see them because i don't understand them but i haven't been able to make a gig of theirs yet! they offer a show, the likes of which i have never come across, and i'm intregued! the next time they play, i shall be there... armed with earplugs and an open mind!!!

where, in the past, i thought that places, things, what i have to offer (and, sure, i've always been delightfully aware of importance of the people) were what would mould my life, i now feel that its the moments i share and what i create together with those people that help me grow.

over the past few years and still, i have been working with so many people that ego is not even an option anymore... i mean, i'm proud of what i do and at any given opportunity, am willing to share what i consider my art. but i also enjoy listening, seeing, touching, smelling and tasting what people around me have to offer - and try, as best i can, to appreciate it or at the very least understand it, even when i don't enjoy it - if someone feels something is worth presenting, then it has some merit (be it artistic or intellectual) and from that, i want to learn!

i got very used to working alone... constantly questioning myself, i tried to grow. but on looking back, it was only really during the happy gang times that i began to spread myself out beyond my ego; that i really began to learn and find new ideas - i became more open to them!

there are certain people with whom i work where our roles are blurred... i really like this, sometimes i feel like the teacher, and sometimes the student - we share ideas and opinions... i try to take care not to impose myself upon their domain, as i work with them through respect for what they have to offer, and hope that they take something similar from me!
with nico ( - who makes most of my posters, inlays and other design work) and kevin ( or steve (, (both of whom i am currently working on video work), i try to let them form and explain their ideas and interfere as little as possible, but i have so many ideas myself - theirs are just better, but at the same time complementry to my work... they see through different eyes!
with ben (longtime musical partner -, marcus wuest (producer) or the italian weather ladies (the band that enhance my music, where ben also lives -, i often find it very hard not to impose myself - as music (composition, arangement, production) is what i have been occupying my time with while locked away alone in my room for the past 10 years - to open this door and invite people in was wierd and daunting- i still hold on dearly to some of my work and don't allow anyone in, but for the most part i have loosened up!!!

with others (herons!, wallis bird, jinx lennon, jenny lindfors, kevin ryan,...), i have a very well-defined role, and i find these projects a nice breath of fresh air. while my opinion is generally respected and often taken on-board, having the decision-making removed from me allows me to just throw ideas out there, see what happens and really enjoy my part in the overall picture - i find this necessary to keep my own ideas and projects fresh... i learn, share and borrow so much from these people!

then, i sometimes feel guilty when i work with people to whom i have nothing in return to offer - i want to be able at least to pay these people, but i often can't even afford to do that. i hope in the future to be able to revisit this. most of these people are the musicians on my albums (the biatch dudes, christophe capewell, margaret healy,...) but then others (like marcus, peter and liz) are just so helpful and knowledgable that i barely even need to ask them a question and its been answered...

finally, there's everyone else: family, friends, among who i am lucky to count all of the above... antoine, oli, francois and joachim,... who i never even have to ask and they are there to hold a camera, or lend a microphone... or whatever, i just hope i can help all of these people in return someday. there are so many genuinely good people in my life that i don't like to do "thank-you" lists on my albums! i'd either run out of paper or leave a bunch of people out!

bref, these past few years have been good and interesting times, filled with good and interesting people and expierences - i feel that its all only the beginning but it moves so fast! some of these friends and collegues are no longer among us but i am honoured to have shared some of their life.