To click or not to click

I have to remind myself sometimes that technology advancing has played a huge role in changing the way we think, behave and perceive things.

Sometimes conversations steer towards that reminder and today, I remembered that humans aren’t naturally designed to play on the grid musically speaking.

By that, I mean rudimentary performing something at a precise tempo, say 127bpm for example.

But we have metronomes that allow us to train ourselves to do that and furthermore, we have music technology that can align and quantise everything with pinpoint accuracy.

There is something to be said for the amazing science behind this and the results it can create but there’s also a noticeable lack of the sincerity that’s created by unexpected fluctuations in tempo, or the adrenaline pumping a desire to play something casters. These are organic things as a result of being human in our performance.

Sometimes, I say to my students to learn to play with a click for accuracy but also learn to play with it so you can play without it.

It’s better to commit the time to translating the performance in a way that elicits human connection than concerning oneself with a precise tempo marking.

Learning something new every day.

Every day there is an opportunity to learn something new, to obtain new information that changes us, transforms us and allows us to improve ourselves for the better.

Learning should not stop when we finish school or an education.

Learning should be lifelong and all of us should strive to keep learning new things each and every day.

What if we were to set ourselves a target of learning just one new thing a day, what would it be?

Right now, I am working in the world of recording and mixing and I have a myriad of things I should develop my knowledge on, one of which is how to EQ different instruments.

Alongside, our ability to learn something is also our willingness to share the things we learn with others and teach them too, and in doing so, we create possibilities to make everything better.

Mini lessons, small strides forward.

The ocean is made of drops, and these small things can create a world of difference.

Deflecting responsibility

There’s nothing quite as infuriating as watching an mp repeatedly refusing to answer a direct question.

They knew about the Indian Variant, they knew it was a risk and red listed Pakistan and Bangladesh but why not India, despite the higher infection rate let alone the variant being called after the country!?

Because of a political trip that had been organised. Either Boris Johnson was too invested in his self interest or didn’t want to offend Modi, or both, but as usual, here we are with the same situation where action is needed and the response is far too little, too late.

Quite rightly, some of the press and scientific community is pressing for an explanation, but I remain doubtful as to getting a response that has any substance, let alone acknowledgement of mistakes being made.

Instead, they’ll try and keep the focus on the vaccine success, despite the fact that this variant could have the potential to scupper things and cost lives.

I’m quite done with the guise that those in power are perceived to be doing a good job when they are clearly not. They refuse to learn from their mistakes and they refuse to admit to them and it’s all incredibly disingenuous and dishonourable.

The country has reopened significantly today. Let’s hope it can stay that way.

Temperament on the road

Is it me or has driving etiquette in the U.K. gotten worse?

Be it mobile phones, tailgating, rage and aggressive driving or making a stupid risk in traffic to gain essentially seconds, people seemed to have lost perspective.

This irrational short term thinking can lead to long term damage and it’s not worth it at all.

So what’s the solution?

Changing the culture with driving and the obvious answer appears to be cracking down on it with heavier fines and punishments.

But you need police to cover it and there’s not enough.

I’d rather see prudent decision making that encourages driving that is much more respectful and considered, much more than accidents that teach us a lesson that is already too late.

Keeping warm

I’ve been in two performance environments over the last two weekends.

One of which I was performing on guitar, the second I was engineering microphones.

Both environments were fairly cold during what has been a rainy few days here in Wales.

When performing, it’s important to be physically as comfortable as possible and prepared to move your fingers in a way that can fulfil the requirements of what it is you are playing.

Sometimes, giving yourself time to ensure you have enough layers on, have something warm to drink and to get moving is of the upmost importance.

Getting the time in to ensure you are warmed up, whatever environment you’re in, will help you get the best out of you.

Dancing on the edge of failure.

There’s a common thread with records I regard as my favourite releases of the year.

And it is that they take risks.

Take ‘Pang’ by Caroline Polachek, where the album is full of wild production choices, insane use of vocals both in lead and accompaniment and unique sound worlds.

Or ‘Sawayama’ by Rina Sawayama that sounds as equally influenced by Nu Metal as it does Britney Spears and unapologetically tackles themes of dysfunctional families.

Nothing makes my eyes roll quite like music that plays it safe. Predictable choices through and through with structure, sounds, and performance.

That’s what the radio seems to lap up, and the majors for the most part. There’s a refusal by many to take risks and choices made to cater for what people think other people like.

But what I’m interested in is bold, courageous creativity that doesn’t pander for anything else. Uncompromising artistic vision made with integrity.

That means it might not work, most of the time it won’t, but when it does, that’s where the real magic happens!

Celebratory endorsed hustle

Would you pay £45 for a celebratory to endorse what you’re selling?

Breaking this down here, this is £45 for a 1 minute recording of someone reasonably well known on a national scale talking about your product.

If you want my answer, it would be NO! Resoundingly so.

First and foremost, budgets are already tight to get anything done to any decent standard, secondly it’s a rip off, and the fact that celebrities stoop so low as to charging a fortune for a minute or so of their time to talk about you or wish your family member Happy Birthday is a bit tacky, desperate and quite frankly an abuse of status.

I apologise if this comes across as very strongly opinionated, but in terms of ethical value, this kind of stuff grates me and doesn’t sit well at all.

If you’ve done something with integrity, authenticity, professionalism, clarity of intent and quality, you do not need to pay hard earned money for a minute of someone’s time to use their status to sell you.

The Sound of Metal

This film was harrowing.

For someone in Music, my ears are everything. I use them all the time to make choices and engage with my vocation and profession.

To watch a film that focuses on someone who loses that is a difficult watch.

Live events, clubs and other areas of loud noises were frequent pre-COVID, and I always took my ear plugs everywhere. I don’t care if look weird with them in. I’d rather protect and reserve my hearing. Because the sobering fact is that many venues are loud to the point where they cause tinnitus and that ringing in your ears.

A friend of mine had to get surgery to sort his tinnitus out. it was expensive and it was debilitating. So £20 for decent earplugs is one of the best investments you’ll make in my book.

Riz Ahmed does an impeccable and passionate job of playing Ruben Stone, who during the start of the film, hits the heck of the cymbals in grunge, stoner metal style and then things become muffled, he starts losing his hearing, and with that, his career and relationship is in the balance.

We follow Ruben on a journey to come to terms with the fact that his hearing will get worse. Much of the film takes place in a deaf community, where Paul Raci gives a wonderful performance and a lot of evocative themes come into play such as acceptance, identity, adapting, community and finding inner peace.

The sound design is extraordinary and I can’t think of any other film that has gone to the same length as this one to give a visceral experience of what it is like to lose your hearing. Seeing it in the cinema would be somewhat challenging in this respect.

Watching a film like this makes you appreciate the senses we have and also admire those who don’t, and fight every day to condition themselves into living without thinking their lack of something is a handicap.

A tremendous watch.

Getting the Vaccine

To my surprise, I had a text from the NHS calling me in for my vaccine last Friday.

The fact that they have started vaccinating under 30s as soon as they have around here is a really impressive feat. and I share my admiration and respect to everyone who has been involved in the process.

The process was very easy, I went in, stated my name and date of birth about three times, sat down, waited for five minutes, then was called up to have it. They also provided a leaflet with all of the information regarding what the vaccine is made up of and it’s possible side affects.

The vaccine happened so fast, I barely noticed it. The key thing to do is to make sure your arm is relaxed, and if needles aren’t your thing at all, keep breathing and look away.

They make sure you sit for 15 minutes, just to make sure you are not feeling any adverse affects.

And out I went with my card, awaiting the call for my second dose, which I imagine will be done via text.

My arm is aching, I am feeling a little bit drained but nothing too bad.

I feel very privileged to have been able to receive the vaccine but unfortunately, many people in the world will not be able to receive a dose for some time.

India in particular is suffering and there is a significant need for oxygen to save lives. I have been given a reliable donation link and if you are able to support, I’d encourage you to do so.

Here is the link: https://www.ketto.org/fundraiser/mission-oxygen-helping-hospitals-to-save-lives?utm_medium=whatsappShare&utm_content=d3c30bf00c4bf87fede016d8d577988d&shby=1&utm_source=internal&utm_campaign=mission-oxygen-helping-hospitals-to-save-lives

Wishing everyone well.

Coming Soon…Live at Ratio Studios

One of the most frustrating things for musicians during this whole era has been the inability to get out and play in front of audiences.

Restrictions where we live have even made it hard for us to get rehearsals together.

After months of planning, myself, Miff and Jiff recorded a full live Kinky Wizzards set comprising of our last two albums.

We had an absolute ball making it and was in an incredible space, and we look forward to sharing it with you soon.