Here is the teaser video for the upcoming 2nd Eden Shadow album ‘Melodies for Maladies’, which will be available soon.
Here is the teaser video for the upcoming 2nd Eden Shadow album ‘Melodies for Maladies’, which will be available soon.
Here are some photos of the recording session for the Kinky Wizzards 25th/26th June 2016.
This is without doubt one of the most intense yet, exhilarating and hilarious experiences I have ever had in the studio.
The new album to come out is one where myself, Miff and Jiff have really pushed ourselves technically, all the while, keeping our sense of humour and grooviness in check. It is an album that I am proud of and I look forward to releasing it in the not too distant future.
Photos taken by Bethan Miller.
The latter part of 2014 and all of 2015 has seen me making gradual progress with the second Eden Shadow album. There is no doubt that this has been a tremendously ambitious and difficult album to make and I can’t wait to share it with you all.
Last month, I reached a monumental milestone in getting the drums recorded. It was an intense, incredible weekend. This album will be featuring Aled Lloyd on drums, who is known for playing with Japanese Metal Band, Cyclamen. Onwards with the rest of the production process!
Here are some photos taken by Bethan Miller
I have spent the last 8 months embarking on a jazz album. I’ll be the first to admit, I am by no means a straight out jazzer, I walked out of a college open day for a four year jazz course concluding that there was simply too much rock and roll in me. (Which is probably why I ended up in the art rock world!)
The elusive element about jazz is that it is a language of it’s own within the musical world, something where freedom and chaos reigns hand in hand with knowledge and sophistication. The one thing I’ve discovered over the course of playing solos over jazz standards or anything for that matter is how inherently powerful singing is and how it can improve your improvisation.
Especially from a guitarist’s point of view; the guitar is a wonderfully convenient instrument when it comes to shape and scales but the negative factor of that is that the mechanical process of playing the instrument can leave the player in a state disregard for the other essential two points of the triangle, the theoretical and the musical. I’ve lost count of how many times I have seen players who’s improvisation has been dictated by their fingers…myself included!
The beautiful thing about singing is that it comes straight from your heart and mind, without any preconceptions: it is immediate. I’ve linked a track that I have played on below and I think out of the entire selection of jazz recordings it is my strongest because I sang every phrase that I played before playing it. It takes a lot of practice but it’s worth it. So if any guitarists out there feel like they are caught stuck in making a fine solo, besides doing the practice, try singing, you may well surprise yourself!
Write about something you’re good at doing.
On average, I would say that I spend 30 hours a week looking at a screen like this.
Every once in a while, I sit there and think in order to have achieved what I am doing right now thirty years ago, I would have had to be sitting in a much larger room than my office right now, working on a mixing desk that would be the same value as a car then plugging through interfaces that would be twice the value of said car.
It’s pretty incredible how technology and software has advanced and here I am recording music on a laptop with a couple of microphones and an interface. However, the development in technology does not by default make one capable of producing a good record.
The drawback of having such an abundance of sound engineering at the tips of our fingers is that it is easy to forget the important elements of producing a good recording. A lot of the older records made in the 70’s that have become loved so fondly is because the people behind them were working with limitations.
I sat in a class at metropolis studios with Eddie Kramer whilst he told me the virtues of recording Jimi Hendrix with a four-track mix tape and it has been a revelation to me ever since that going to town and back with Pro-Tools 10 isn’t necessarily the way to achieving a good recording.
So, here are the three-essential things I believe are necessary to producing a good recording.
1.) The Song
Without a good song, a good recording is impossible. What is a good song then? The answer to that is subjective but I think it revolves around three words: and that is conviction, conviction and conviction! It’s about knowing what you want to achieve with your song, the emotion, the feeling or the atmosphere you are trying to create; that doesn’t necessarily mean including a strong chorus or hook, you may be able to produce a good song simply from one or two long notes. The more aware you are of what a song’s purpose is, the more likely you are of producing a good recording
2.) The Arrangement
The arrangement is probably where most aspiring writers initially stumble. You can have a plethora of great ideas but the key to then producing a good record is arranging them in a way that is sophisticated and logical. How much should one section be repeated? How much texture should be added? What is the role of the dynamics? Does that harmony really need to be there? When producing a record, one needs to have these questions continually running through their mind, and being decisive and honest about them when answering them.
3.) The performance
As with the song writing, it is all about CONVICTION in your performance. The delivery, the sincerity, the phrasing, the tone, the dynamics; It is about awareness of the details! In my previous record, there were some guitar solos that took me two hundred takes before I got what I wanted, other solos just required the one take. It is a bizarre process, but it is about what feels right.
When you listen back to your records, it is a very difficult task, but you have to truly ask yourself if what you are producing is at all close to what you want. It is by only being very honest with yourself, that you can expect to eventually reach as close to what you envisaged in that beautiful moment of inspiration.
5 examples of great records
There are hundreds out there, but here are the first five that came to mind, and include some of my favourite glorious moments of production. It is a good exercise for any producer, aspiring or experienced to do – sit back, relax, enjoy listening to music and finding out what they love so much about their favourite records and how it can influence their own work.
The Carpenters – Top of the world
Talk Talk – I believe in you
Jeff Buckley – So Real
Mew – Am I Wry? No
Bjork – Mutual Core
Day 3 – Write about something that you think should be improved
What truly defines the value of something? What really are the principle things that should be considered when anyone is paid a certain amount for what they do or a product is sold for a certain amount for what it is?
That is a pretty complicated question isn’t it? Things like that are incredibly nuanced but for most industries, it is a manageable question, from the price of coffee or designer clothing to the housing market and financial sector (without disregarding the obligatory bureaucracy)
Music on the other hand has in recent years taken that whole concept to another level and I have lost count about the amount of times that I have debated the issue or re-evaluated where I stand on the whole subject. Especially when the digital technology industry is moving so fast.
Over the last year, I have invested a lot of time into experimenting and mulling over ways in which I release and format my music. I use three main ways to distribute my music. My label undertakes one way and I deal with other two (I am very lucky to have a situation where everything is transparent and I have the option of distributing myself). The first way is through Bandcamp where I engage directly with my audience and the second is through a licensing company called Tunecore, which release my music to Itunes, Spotify and any other company willing to spare me a penny when my music gets played.
I was very reluctant to put up my music on Spotify and said streaming companies initially but eventually decided it was the best option to promote and advertise my first full-length release. I have countless spreadsheets of analytical data but if there were one thing I wish I could retrieve, it would be who out of the people listened to my music on Spotify, decided to buy a physical copy of my album. I would feel that then, I actually have some determination of how effective streaming companies are as a platform for discovery.
This is where the problem lies; streaming is a very grey area in terms of how music artists are paid. Taylor Swift and Thom Yorke are two figureheads to have spoken out about it and preceded to strip their catalogue from the service. Without, dwelling too far into the subject though, there is one fundamental improvement that needs to be made from both the streaming company and the artist: and that is attitude.
The attitude of streaming companies
It has been publicly stated that an artist is paid $0.007 per stream of a song. Over one year, I earned just under $20 for 3000 streams. What do you think of that payment? I’ll be frank, it comes across as approved piracy to me.
Spotify recently hit back at the criticism of Thom Yorke and Taylor Swift by stating that it has collectively paid out 500 million to artists in the last year. However, their argument disregards one major thing, and that is the fact that major labels tie in with this with deals that are not necessarily relative to the $0.007 per stream and a lot of the payouts would be to past catalogues, suggesting that there is a massive gap between those who get paid sufficiently and independent artists who don’t. I did do some research on Spotify’s explanation on how it pays artists, and only ended up feeling a bit more perplexed about the whole thing.
Whilst I am still confused enough to be unable hold an opinion that streaming companies are The Devil, I do question its sense of middle ground, and that’s where attitude needs to improve. Streaming companies need to make paying artists fairly and sufficiently a priority as they continue to grow.
In full perspective, it is still early days for streaming, and whether artists like it or not, it is rapidly on the rise, so we have to accept the reality.
The attitude of artists
Having said that about Spotify, I think a lot of the resentment and bitterness from some artists is misplaced and the attitude needs from us can be improved to some extent. Ultimately, as the artist, you have control over how you choose to format your music, you also have control over how you engage with your audience and communicate with them and add a sense of value to the art you display. Just because you release music, does not necessarily mean you have to stream it. The most important thing for any musician to remember when they are out there in the world trying to make music for a living is that music owes you nothing. One of the best artists in recent years to have embraced the new age of music is Imogen Heap. This wonderful woman has enlightened me with a big streak of positivity and I recommend any aspiring musician drowning in cynicism to read her story for a change in perspective.
There can be a simpler answer to the question initially asked.
What truly defines the value of something? You do.
Your Turn Challenge Day 2 – Write about something important to you.
Have you ever been blessed with an idea so lucid that it shifts your entire way of thinking; it transforms you to the point where your passion and drive becomes immoveable?
When I was 16 years old, I came up with the idea that I was going to make a record, I didn’t know how, where or when I was going to do it, all I knew was that I had to.
What proceeded was a four-year process of exploring music, enjoying the whole experience of writing and drafting, experimenting, then meeting a plethora of people who connected with my idea and wished to participate. My expression of such an idea meant that I ended up meeting two people who run a record label and were looking for just the kind of music I was making, connecting with fellow musicians who would become some of my closest friends and even being able to contact some of my inspirations for their input (Including Nik Turner who provided a guest solo on flute for us!).
Today, I celebrate the first anniversary of my debut album release entitled ‘Phases’ and under the band name Eden Shadow. A self indulgent progressive rock album. I hadn’t a clue of what was going to happen but when it did go out into the world and I was truly surprised that so many people embraced it and connected with it. The album has sold hundreds of copies in over 30 countries and I have had the pleasure of speaking to people who have bought this record from as far as Japan and USA.
Along with that, I learnt so much about the process of making the record. The concept of art, experiencing failure, learning to let something go, going with your gut instinct and accepting criticism. This record will be the first of many that I will make and looking back at this one, I know that there is much I can improve on, but the sense of uninhibited innocence I receive on the rare occasion that I listen back to this record is something I’ll always be proud of.
After a year to reflect on my first release and whilst being heavily involved in the production process of my second album, I am still discovering the infinite power of an idea. An idea is one of the most powerful things anyone can ever attain. My record got released because of an idea; the YourTurn Challenge that a plethora of writers around the world are participating in, is an idea so powerful that it is sparking a chain reaction of hundreds of other ideas.
So whenever one is graced with inspiration or an idea, my advice is this.
Explore that idea
Discuss that idea
Reflect on that idea
And Act on that idea
It may be one of the best decisions you ever make.