February 25, 2009
So, here’s some answers to some questions sent to me by someone who’s been tuning into this blog..
1. Will we be hearing collaborations or will the new songs be yours only?
I’ve written this whole album alone. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while. I really like collaborating with other people, but I’ve often wondered what would happen if there was no input from anyone until it came time to record. I had some confidence issues with writing alone I suppose, but I think doing the music for Bell Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ last year gave me some encouragement. I was really happy with the music I did for that, and it made me realise that you don’t have to know everything and that simple is often good. I started playing a bit of piano during this time too, so much of this new album was written on piano. I’ve often said it, but piano is my favourite instrument and I’ve discovered that there’s so much you can do with it. We’ve used this tiny upright piano for most of the stuff on the new album. It sounds great, very versatile.. it can sound really mean, but it can also sound cute and fragile. I’m gonna miss that piano more than anything else about Stockholm!
2. Has the different location had an impact on the music (the vibe)?
I think it has. Something happens when you leave home. I suppose you leave behind your identity.. at least the identity you have amongst people you know. None of these musicians know me, they hardly know my other records, they just hear the songs and interpret them with not much of a context other than the things I tell them as we go along about how I want it to sound, or the feelings that I want the record to evoke. Bjorn and I spoke a lot about those overall things before we got started, we referenced a lot of songs, and then he went and spoke in Swedish to the other guys and tried to get that across. It’s all kind of refreshing because it doesn’t hold you to the way you’ve done things before or the way that you “should” do it because you’re “you”. It brings into the mix broader musical tastes and it’s interesting to me how different cultures, or I guess just human beings have different connotations to do with different sounds. In a nut shell it makes you less small-minded or makes you less aware of the local “scene” and more about universality in music. To me this is a more diverse album than the others. I put much of that down to Bjorn’s input. I just never would’ve heard some of these songs like he did, and that can be an exciting and surprising thing. Sometimes it means you argue, but often it brings something really different. Being away from home has often been really lonely, but it has forced me to step outside of myself a bit and try things I mightn’t otherwise. I’ve also had to try and articulate things clearer than I would with people who know me or who understand where I’m coming from. Who knows if you’ll hear all this in the record.. I think it’s quite a bold record. Nothing much is really held back. It’s got a lot of energy. Anyway, it’ll be mixed by the end of next week so you’ll get to hear it soon..
February 23, 2009
On the music front, I’ve been banned from the studio as Lasse starts to mix. I think I talk too much. I’ll get a chance to go in and listen to some mixes tomorrow afternoon. On Thursday afternoon I go back to Atlantis to do some more vocal takes. I’m looking forward to seeing Janne’s smiling face again. So, in the meantime I’ve been amusing myself with the following..
It’s been snowing like crazy here in Stockholm these past couple of days… I’ve felt like I’m in a Winter wonderland. I keep thinking that in my head and singing the song. I don’t get to see the snow in Sydney OK! It’s lovely. Snow has a great sound under foot too. Here’s some photos..
So, tomorrow is fettisdagen.. otherwise known as Fat Tuesday. It’s that time of the year when you eat special foods before the fasting season of Lent. Here in Sweden they eat a pastry called a semla (a sweet bun filled with marzipan and whipped cream) on this Tuesday. But, like other traditions that involve yummy sweet food, this was extended to the whole month before, so these things have been tantalizing me in bakeries since I got here. I had one today. It was yummy. I bought one from the shop that’s meant to have the best semlas in town – Vete-Katten.
February 21, 2009
We’ve started mixing some songs… Here’s a picture of Lasse Marten (the mixing man) as proof.. exciting. I’m still going to do some more singing this week, but everything is just about there. I’m hoping to put together some little videos of the recording to post here, so watch out for that..
Sorry to anyone who turned up to see me play a couple of songs with the Aristocrats tonight at folklore centrum. I’ve come down with some kind of Swedish flu and so spent the evening watching ‘Raising Arizona’, ‘My Cousin Vinnie’ and eating my new favourite snack..
Here’s a cute bit from ‘Raising Arizona’… look, this blog is called Theatre Blasko after all!
February 19, 2009
Annie Hall is still my favourite movie. I watched it again last night and it’s as wonderful as ever. It’s funny and clever, plus every time I see it I want to start dressing like Diane Keaton. I also want to start saying “la-di-da” all the time. And, most importantly I want to sing ‘Old Times’ like she does in the movie. Maybe I’ll fit it in when I start doing some shows. I expect someone to hold me to that! It’s the sweetest, funniest movie. Please, please, please watch it if you haven’t seen it..
Speaking of other good films… I got to see a rare print of a movie directed by Paul Newman late last year when I was in Paris doing some travelling. There are some lovely little old cinemas in the Latin Quarter and they were having a tribute to Paul Newman after he’d recently died. (I got to see a few Woody Allen classics too). Anyway, the film was called ‘The Effect Of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds’ and stars Joanne Woodward. If you ever get a chance to see it, I thought it was really great. It’s a play written by Paul Zindel. Anyway, there’s the film reviews for today.
February 18, 2009
Bjorn and I have spent the last couple of days doing overdubs.. you know, some ooh’s and ah’s, hand claps, mouth percussion (! I know, it’s funny. I did some yesterday that sounded like a mouse tap dancing – maybe it was the inspiration of the beat boxers at the Camille gig before I left?!). We also laid down some piano, guitar, etcetera. Just making sure we’ve got things covered. It’s sounding really full after a great day of doing strings on Monday. I was in heaven, plus the cellist played some musical saw which looks a bit like the tool but without the teeth. Today Peter came back to play some more double bass. I’m strangely pleased to say that there’s no electric guitar or electric bass on this record so far – mostly acoustic instruments except for one psychedelic keyboard. As it stands, these are the instruments that feature on the record: double bass, nylon string guitar, piano, drums, percussion, banjo, violin, viola, cello, baritone saxophone, keyboard. What else can I tell you?… well we’ve narrowed it down to the final 12 songs that we’re going to mix. Titles will probably change a little but these are the titles at the moment.. Down On Love, Hold On My Heart, What I Want, Over & Over, We Won’t Run, Night & Day, Bird On A Wire, No Turning Back, Is My Baby Yours?, Some Of Us, Not Enough, Lost & Defeated. Who knows if all of them will make the record.. we’ll see once they’re all finished I suppose. The songs have already begun to be mixed in one room while we’re doing overdubs in the room next door. It’s a bit of a production line! They’re very organised here!
Here’s a picture of my favourite Swede.. I don’t know his name yet, but he just sits on the front there while his owner (this old man) drives him around.. he wasn’t very impressed when I took his photo either.
February 16, 2009
I’ve organised a little show while I’m here recording in Stockholm at the Folklore Centrum. It’s an interesting place to play, which will give it more the vibe of an intimate poetry reading rather than your run of the mill gig. You can read all about the Folklore Centrum and Izzy Young on wikipedia. Or if you understand Swedish you can go to izzyyoung.com. Make sure you check it out if you plan on coming.
Here’s the details of the show:
Friday 27th February 7:30pm sharp, 60kr.
Wollmar Yxkullsgatan 2. (near T Mariatorget) – **looks like we’re moving to the cafe across the street now, so keep your eye out!
I’m looking forward to it. There’s also a show the week before on Saturday 21st February with a group from the U.S called The Aristocrats. Word has it that Izzy Young will recite “Talking Folklore Center Blues” that Bob Dylan wrote for him. I’m also planning to play a few songs on that night too.. same place, same time.
February 12, 2009
So, on Tuesday we finished 5 days of recording at Atlantis Studios in Stockholm. Yesterday we started at another studio called Decibel. Thanks so much to Janne for making us feel so welcome at Atlantis. He is one of the sweetest people you’re ever likely meet. In five days we recorded drums, percussion, double bass, some piano, voice, guitar, saxophone and some hand claps. We’ve recorded the basics of 14 songs and have now chosen the 12 that we plan to mix. It sounds pretty great already, with strings and more bits and pieces to come in the following week. Here are some photos of the sessions at Atlantis..
In other news… I’ve discovered a Swedish fast food called Tunnbrodsrulle (photo above). It’s weird but it hits the spot in this cold climate. It’s a sausage wrapped in bread with mashed potato, lettuce, tomato and prawns. I had trouble ordering one.. it’s difficult to say correctly!
February 6, 2009
I’m up early and I’ve packed my lunch and I’m ready for my first day of recording. Only problem is there’s about 4 hours to go until I need to be there. I’m enthusiastic, what can I say. So, yes, this blog is a big fat tease so far.. I haven’t actually done any recording yet. But, we have been rehearsing and doing a lot of talking about how we want the record to sound. More will be revealed soon I promise.
So, the main reason for this blog entry is to let you know that my friend Seja has started a little shop at etsy.com and I “felt” that I needed to share it with you. She makes miniature versions of instruments out of felt. Synths being her specialty (she plays in Sekiden and Regurgitator), she’s made them fader and slider specific which is very nerdy, and makes them look incredibly cute. Here are some photos…
Her shop is at www.pulsewidth.etsy.com
What else? I realised I was missing hearing the English language when I found the talk show Ellen (Ellen Degeneres) hilarious yesterday. I’m sure I’ve found her a little bit funny before, but this was extreme. It’s been kind of relaxing to hear people talking Swedish all the time and knowing I don’t understand a word of it. If someone says something to me in the street I just smile. You feel like you’ve got no responsibility for anything. I think a drunk guy said he liked my coat the other day, but he might have been telling me to f**k off. I said “thanks” anyway. Every now and then Bjorn and the other musicians start speaking in Swedish and laughing and I have no idea what they’re saying so I just sort of laugh along. It’s a nice feeling.
Anyway, I must get my snow boots on. It’s coming down thick and fast today..
February 2, 2009
So, I’ve been in Stockholm a week already.. (for those who’ve just tuned in, I’m here to record my third album). It’s taken me a while to acclimatize – it felt like it was about 40 degrees the day I left Sydney and it was -5 when I arrived here. I’ve already seen a bit of snow, and even the sun (only once) today! (hence the title of this blog entry..) Today I took some time out to be a tourist and went to the Vasa Museum. It houses the famous Vasa ship which sank just as it was heading out of Stockholm in 1628. It remained under water all that time until it was relocated in the 1950s and then restored. 95% is still the original ship because it was preserved in mud. It’s pretty spectacular to see. In the museum you walk in and there it is right before you.
Jennie (the friend I’m staying with but who I’ve been referring to as “mummy” because she’s looking after me so well) has made me feel at home in her cute little apartment. She’s a great cook too.. culinary highlights have included lentil stew and swedish style meatballs with cranberry sauce. I’m cooking the Blasko special for her tonight.. asian style stir fry over mashed potato (believe me, it works!)
Anyway, it’s probably important to talk about music in this blog! Bjorn (the producer guy) and I have been starting to give some rough shape to my songs. Sadly a few have already fallen by the wayside – we’ve narrowed it down to 14 so far. We’ve rehearsed a couple of times with drummer Fredrik Rundqvist who doesn’t seem too fazed by us changing our minds about what we want every few minutes. I heard the term “post chorus” for the first time yesterday.. no, it’s not a new movement in music, it’s the musical bit that comes after the chorus in a song! I’m considering calling the album this. (this is a joke.. it’s hard to convey sarcasm in a blog). What else? um.. we start recording at what I keep referring to as “the big studio” on Friday.. Atlantis Studios. It’s a grand old studio where little has changed since the 60s. ABBA did some stuff there and the piano that they recorded some of their hits on is there too. Anyway, it’s got a cool look and, more importantly, it sounds great. I’m a little nervous, probably why I keep saying “the big studio”… I guess it’s a little daunting after spending most of the year in a small room writing and recording demos.
Here are some photographs from my first week..