Brighton Rock(s)

March 16, 2011

Greetings from Brighton! I’m sorry it’s been a while since I’ve written, but it now felt like the right time to start up this journal again. I want to document my time writing a new album, doing shows, living in England, the things I’m thinking about, watching, reading and listening to. As usual, I’m sure most of it will probably only really amuse myself! My time recording in NYC with Sally Seltmann and Holly Throsby wasn’t particularly well documented I’m afraid. I guess we realised how much work there was to do to record a whole album in ten days.. and so the journal entries fell by the wayside!… but you’ll hopefully get to hear the fruit of our labours very soon because we just had the album mastered. If you don’t know what I’m speaking of, please see the last couple of entries..

So, back to England.. I’ve lived here for a year now which is hard to believe, mostly because I’ve done so much travelling and spent so much time outside England. Last year As Day Follows Night was released all over the place… Sweden, Denmark, Norway, France, Germany, UK, Spain, The Netherlands, Belgium & Poland. I might be missing somewhere.. and don’t say Australia, because it came out there the year before ;). I toured all around Europe and Australia and even did a show in Singapore. I don’t think I have a British accent yet, although I was hoping to get one like Kylie Minogue’s.. sort of French and British and Australian all rolled into one. No luck yet. I do find myself speaking in a bit of an accent when I’m at the supermarket though. I suppose I imitate the person I’m speaking to, which is incredibly rude when you think about it, but I guess it’s just trying to adapt and fit into your surroundings. This reminds me of my new favourite Woody Allen film ‘Zelig’… (as you know, I’m a Woody Allen fan) it’s a mockumentary about a human chameleon. It’s very, very funny. I recommend it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Talking of human chameleons makes me think of Peter Sellers. ‘Being There’ is probably my favourite film of his. I’ve been dying to see it again lately. It’s quite an amazing film in my opinion. Peter Sellers really intrigues me as figure and I became a bit obsessed with him a while ago. I suppose the way he immersed himself into his roles and there is something just so unusual about his face and his characters.

Shirley Maclaine is lovely in it too.

I’ve also become a bit fascinated with Klaus Kinski, he was a German actor who was pretty nutty on set and worked with the director Werner Herzog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Klaus would go off on huge angry rants at the drop of a hat and insult everyone around him beyond belief, and his acting is so incredibly intense. He plays a mad man in ‘Aguirre, The Wrath of God’ which I saw a couple of weeks ago because they’ve had a bit of a Werner Herzog fest at this amazing cinema here in Brighton. It’s called the Duke of York Picturehouse… it’s 100 years old and I love it.

Anyway, more news and bits and pieces to follow. Over and out.

After a couple of days of rehearsing in a rehearsal studio once frequented by Lou Reed (although from what we could gather, he may have only rehearsed there once!), we felt inspired and only just ready to start recording, so we headed to Stratosphere Studios for the first time. We figured that this was the best way to be, because, let’s face it, who wants to be over-rehearsed?!  Jim and Shahzad had their heads around the songs, but for the first two days we recorded the songs that just involve me, Holly & Sally. Jim came along to offer moral support and opinions and we recorded the first two songs. They’re based around harmonies, acoustic guitar and piano. These are the simplest songs we will record. By the end of day two we recorded the basis of about 5 songs and we felt very proud of our progress. Then on the third day the bass player, Shahzad came in and we started to record the fuller band songs. It’s been so much fun, just as we’d hoped… Hearing Jim play up close like that is a really exciting experience for all of us when we’ve been fans for years and Shazhad has now been named “the oracle” because he has great patience, ideas and a knowledge of almost any topic you may care to discuss with him. I also found out yesterday that he’s done recordings with Tom Waits. I’m really excited about this and casually asked him some questions yesterday, but I may need to revisit this topic in a few days to gather more info. We also found out that one of the owners of the studio we’re recording in is James Iha from Smashing Pumpkins. He’s a really nice guy with a cute dog called Buddy. Today we met Buddy’s canine friend who has inherited a 3 million dollar New York apartment. I’m not kidding. The sad looking Maltese Terrier lives in the apartment with 2 housekeepers and a couple of Picasso paintings and has the same dog walker as Buddy. The dog walker lady throws puppy parties for the lonely little rich dog and gives her massages once a week. It’s all very strange.. In other news, Holly has been giving us daily Julia Gillard updates, and I’m addicted to Words With Friends (similar to Scrabble on the iPhone).
It’s now the end of day four and we’re all very excited to hear some rough mixes of the songs in the morning. Victor  has stayed back at the studio to do this tonight. We’ve made our way through the basics of 12 songs already and we’re feeling really good about it all. It’s nice for all of us to be doing something a little bit different to what we all do individually and we’re enjoying being a band. We’re in the studio until Monday so there’s plenty left to do, but it’s all well and truly on its way… Below is a video that really inspired Sally to write one of the songs on the album. It’s Stevie Nicks singing one of her songs while getting her makeup done for a Rolling Stones photo shoot. It’s an amazing version of this song (in fact it was unfortunately never recorded like this) and she looks and sounds so great.

Empire State Of Mind

August 10, 2010

We’ve tweeted it and therefore it’s official (insert sarcastic tone) – Holly Throsby, Sally Seltmann and I are in New York City making a record in a mere ten days. We’re all happy to be here at Stratosphere Studios considering the dramatic lead up.. Sally was knocked into a man’s luggage trolley as she was transferring to her New York flight in Los Angeles. As Sally herself reported to me upon arriving in New York “He looked cuckoo, dressed in a woollen vest, t-shirt and shorts and plowed into me through the crowd, scooping me up into his trolley until I was actually sitting in his trolley, my legs tangled in the wheels”. What made the incident even more peculiar is that Sally found herself to be alone in the trolley, the crazed man having no other form of baggage. Well, apart from his own personal baggage. (insert chuckle) If anyone has spotted the crazed vest wearing man, please don’t hesitate to alert the authorities. Alas, this was not the only mishap to befall our friend Sally, for her luggage was lost upon arriving in New York and didn’t turn up for 3 days. Young Holly Throsby had her own troubles with her “flip flops” (insert the word “thongs” if Australian) self destructing on the walk towards the rehearsal studio on the first day. Unfortunately they gave no indication that they were about to give way and so she was forced to hobble on one fip flop until she could find a suitable shoe store. Unfortunately the end to the sad tale is that Throsby was forced to buy a $1 pair of bright orange diamonte flip flops and walk through the cosmopolitan city of New York with blushed cheeks. I flew in from London with nothing more dramatic to report other than an entertainment system that wasn’t functioning properly for the first half of the flight.

So, let me tell you a little bit about the record.. Sally, Holly and I have been talking about doing one together for a while now. At first we thought about just doing a series of shows together, but then decided we’d all longed to be in a girl band.  Sally sent some reference tunes for inspiration and a song that she’d recently written, and Holly and I were smitten with the idea. Over the next six months in between touring, recording and procrastinating we all wrote enough songs for an album and decided on New York City as our recording destination.  We are joined by the wonderful Jim White on drums,  Shahzad Ismaily on bass and Victor Van Vugt (producing/engineer).

Au Revoir Australie!

January 9, 2010

I haven’t blogged for a while so I thought it was about time to put finger to keyboard. That doesn’t quite have the same ring as “to put pen to paper” but you get the drift I’m sure. Anyhow, a belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! What a strange time of year. I often have a sense of relief just to have made it through really. We’ve been playing some fun shows over the past week or two. We played at the Peats Ridge Festival on New Years Eve and almost burnt down the stage – quite literally almost set the stage on fire. Nick, our effervescent viola player, got a little eager and decided to light about 10 sparklers at once and then when he almost burnt his fingers, threw them into the photographers pit. It was very funny. The highlight of New Years for me was singing at the top of our voices to Stevie Wonder in the van all the way back to Sydney. 

So my big New Years news is that I’m moving to London in a month’s time to embark on a new adventure. As Day Follows Night is being released by British record label Dramatico in March and I’ll be living in the UK until later in the year.  The album will be released throughout Europe beginning with the UK, France and Germany. It’s very exciting for me, and an opportunity that I’ve been waiting for for a long time.

Sadly, the shows at the Laneway Festival will be my last shows in Australia for a little while. I’m really looking forward to the next few weeks and I’ll be complaining a little less about the heat I’m sure (considering I’ll be heading to a freezing cold London very soon).

El Perro Del Mar

October 3, 2009

Enjoying the tour so far.. but just wanted to pop in a little note to remind everyone that the wonderful El Perro Del Mar is doing some extra shows this week. I invited Sarah Assbring (El Perro Del Mar) to come from Sweden to do these shows because I’m a big fan of her music, so I highly recommend you try and catch one of her sideshows. There’s one in Melbourne this Tuesday 5th October at The Toff In Town & on Thursday night 8th October at The Oxford Arts Factory in Sydney..

New Zeeeeeeland

September 21, 2009

Even though I’ve had the pleasure of recording in New Zealand and the tremendous honour of an undie run mid-set from the Prince of New Zealand, Mr Liam Finn (Liam ran onstage in his undies and tried to dance with me while we played ‘Sweet November’ in Adelaide when we toured together a while back – I’ve got to say, his undies were not quite what I’d expected! Rather conservative actually)…. anyway, even though I’ve had these wonderful New Zealand experiences and I like a bit of New Zealand Ice cream, I’ve never actually played a show there..  But, now I am to play 4 shows in the glorious country. I’ll be supporting The Brunettes who you can also see at one of my shows in Brisbane and in Melbourne.  Here’s the important info:

Thursday 5th November, Al’s Bar, Christchurch 
Friday 6th November, SFBH, Wellington 
Saturday 7th November, Kings Arms, Auckland 
Sunday 8th November, Leigh Sawmill Cafe, Leigh

I believe you can buy tickets at www.undertheradar.co.nz

Ramblings of the Jetlagged

September 9, 2009

My overseas travels are over for now, and I’m back in fair old Sydney… It’s quite strange noticing the difference in the air between a city coming out of Summer and then one coming into Spring.  The smells are so different even though the temperature is similar.. there’s a sense of anticipation when the weather changes – with the onset of Spring there’s a buzz but when the city is going into colder weather there’s a feeling that people are closing up a bit. Anyway, there’s my fascinating weather observations! So, big thanks to everyone who came to the London show.  It was a fun night. The following day I was quite a tourist.. I even went to see a stage musical – ‘Billy Elliot’ – and, I know you’re not going to believe me, but it was fantastic.  It made me want to cry.  The kids were all so cute and funny and full of life and I’d forgotten what a lovely story it is.  They weren’t your usual show business type kids that I can find really nauseating either.. they were very honest and sweet.  The kid who played Billy Elliot that night – apparently they share the workload among 4 kids – was incredible. There was one scene where he did all these backflips and it was amazing.  I know I’m uncool, but believe me, it was good OK!

So, speaking of the theatre..I’m busy preparing for my tour in Australia. I’m very excited I have to say. I’ve been planning the staging with a wonderful designer – Robert Cousins – he designed for the Sydney Theatre Company’s production of ‘War Of The Roses’ and films like ‘Candy’ & ‘Romulus My Father’.  I’ve also got a lovely lady in Melbourne, Noella Thomson, working on some attire.. I don’t want to give too much away, but I think the show’s going to have some nice surprises.  I believe that the Enmore Theatre is moments away from running out of tickets.. i’m so happy. There are also extra shows on sale in Brisbane and Melbourne.

I’m jetlagged and must sleep now.. it’s 8:45pm.. but, I’ll leave you on a note of fashion. I’ve been featuring a super special bow tie in some shows lately, so I thought I should share some information on the creator of these here.. I’ve been wearing one that is cleverly titled “The Triple Entendre’ (the bow ties detach so you can wear 1-3 at any given time), but there are plenty of other styles too.. www.myspace.com/allofourlives. Thanks so much to Mitch for generously giving me one to wear. I wear it with pride on each occasion.

HAPPYBOW6

Denmark: The Last Word

September 1, 2009

I have a few final remarks about Denmark and Scandinavia that I thought I’d share with you:

1. The locks on the doors to toilets in Denmark are very sturdy and they make a very clear locking sound. It removes any fear of being walked in on, which is very reassuring!

2. People inhale when they agree with what you’re saying. This is a Scandinavian thing I believe. It sounds a little bit like they’ve lost their breath. I like that. It makes what you’re saying feel like it’s important and sort of drastic even when it’s not.

3. They like a good relish.  I’ve enjoyed the relishes/chutneys while I’ve been here – in Sweden there was a good cranberry one. I became so accustomed to these relishes that I accidentally put some strawberry jam on my ham sandwich when I was given a complimentary pass to the British Airways Lounge. My flight got cancelled attempting to leave Denmark. 

But, on my way to London now!

I’m leaving Denmark tomorrow, heading to London for a show on my way home (not that it’s exactly “on the way”!).  I’ve spent a week in Aarhus and I must say that I’ve had a ball, with some wonderful gastronomic experiences thrown in.  Howe Gelb took us to his favourite place here in Aarhus, L’Estragon… a quaint little restaurant with magnificent food. Howe, a resident here in the summertime, has a piano set up in the tiny little place. So after the lengthy meal, Howe entertained us with some stride (it’s my new favourite kind of music – it’s a jazz piano style that evolved partially from ragtime). We walked out feeling a little light-headed (there was a different wine with each dish and the food was incredible..) and light-hearted after spending the evening with CV Jorgensen.  A lovely man and one of Denmark’s most respected songwriters.  I’m curious to know more about his music and his life now after seeing him play a couple of times and after spending some time with him. It’s strange when you can’t understand what someone is saying in their music, but you really do get a feeling from them and of the heart behind it. The city was really excited to see him play when it’s apparently been eight years.

The shows went so well, and it was great to be a part of them.. The DeSoto Caucus worked very hard to pull the music together, so I’m really grateful. Playing alongside Isobel Campbell (and being her room mate for the week) was also a lot of fun! Thanks to everyone who came to the shows in Aarhus and for making me feel so welcome.  But, I’m really sorry to those people that missed out on the CD I proclaimed that I was giving away last night.. I ran out! But, you can order the full album through my website. Hopefully if you do that then someone will realise it’s a good idea to put the record out in this part of the world! I’m having a little bit of trouble with that..

So, farewell to Scandinavia for now..

Good evening. I’m writing this from Aarhus in Denmark where I am currently stationed. Tomorrow night I play a few songs at the unofficial opening of the Aarhus Festival at the Town Hall, otherwise known as the Raadhus.  I’m fortunate to be playing a few songs alongside some great people – Howe Gelb, Isobell Campbell, Joe Henry, Nive and legendary Danish songwriter CV Jorgensen. The DeSoto Caucus will be our band.  I’m having a lovely time here and we’ve been spoilt so far. Last night the Director of the festival and his wife (a TV chef) put on a feast for us. It was incredible.

But, before waving goodbye to Stockholm I bought a mysterious leather bag at a flea market over the weekend.  It’s the kind of bag I’ve been looking for for a while. It’s a leather satchel. Kind of like a brief case, but old and worn and full of character. It says “Lisa Danielsson Enkoping” on a little name tag, and the seller said that it was his grandmother’s.  Enkoping is the town in which she obviously lived, but it was his mysterious words that stirred a curiosity about Lisa Danielsson that I’ve since been unable to shake.. “Good luck” he said with a knowing smile.  As I intercepted the bag I felt a strange feeling come over me. Perhaps the bag was haunted, or would give me special powers? Maybe Lisa Danielsson had a troubled life that meant that the owner of the bag was to be cursed forever? Or perhaps he was just being friendly and didn’t know what else to say.. was she a teacher, a secretary, scholar, vet, doctor, nurse, dance instructor or an accountant?! I must know! ..I have become obsessed.  Who was Lisa? Like a cross between Sherlock Holmes and the guy from Antique Roadshow, I’ve attempted to piece her life story together, but alas, I still have no real clues.. there are no signs held within the bag and Google is a joke! In fact I have absolutely nothing. But, it has made for some humourous discussions that have usually involved speaking in a ridiculous British accent. Anyhow, here is a photo of the mysterious bag which may or may not be cursed:

Photo 7

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