PERSONAL KEYBOARD ARCHEOLOGY – PART 2: ORGAN SONG 1995 with free or pay-as-you-wish Bandcamp download
September 30, 2017 § Leave a comment
I wrote many songs before I officially started the Colleen project (I was already 27 when my first album was released in 2003), and I’ve forgotten about most of them as the years have gone by, since I never listen to that phase of my musical growth, the difficult years from 1995 to 2000 in which I knew I wanted to make music on my own, but only had a guitar and a 4-track Fostex tape recorder to do so, hence the very real feeling of being stuck. But there is ONE song which I’ve never forgotten and for which I have a deep affection, and it happens to be a song I made on the Bontempi organ I received in Christmas 1984.
In 1995, I had been playing guitar for 4 years, first acoustic, then electric, first by myself, then in a noisy-pop-rock group with friends for 2 years, from the age of 17 to 19. The group ended in 1995 and while I’d loved playing in that group, I also knew that I wasn’t really made for the compromises inherent in group playing. My desire to make music was fierce, and I got a 4-track Fostex tape recorder in the summer of 1995 with the intention of working on my own.
I must have felt intuitively that *just* being a guitar player was limiting me, so I tried to grab whatever I could use as an instrument, including the glockenspiel my mum used in her class (she was a kindergarten teacher) and that famous Bontempi organ.
“Wheezy and slow” is how you could charitably describe the sound that came out of that little beast, so when I wrote and recorded this instrumental with what must have been an appalling microphone, I’m not sure how I felt about it, but immediately afterwards a simple gesture taught me my first lesson in the power of production: I slowed down the tape. That simple act of slowing down the tape transformed the song entirely, and I remember listening to the song, completely mesmerized, thinking “*This* is what I need to do”. You might think I’m exaggerating or being pretentious when I say that slowing down a tape was my first lesson in production, and yet I truly believe that production is – no more, no less – the act of transforming sound to give shape and identity to a piece of music. It doesn’t matter what genre of music you work in, and it doesn’t matter whether you transform the sound in 50 different ways in 100 places over 40 hours of work, or just once in one second: what matters is the result, a transformed sound that suits *your* imagined ideal soundworld.
I have made the song available for the first time, on my Bandcamp, and you can download it for free or pay-as-you-wish, it’s really up to you, I’m just happy to finally share what was the first stepping stone on my journey as a solo composer/interpreter/producer.
September 27, 2017 § 1 Comment
I’ve just started a Facebook series called A personal keyboard archeology, in which I’ll be looking at the ways in which I’ve used various keyboard instruments over my years of music-making, and ‘ll post the same contents here for those of you who are not too keen on Facebook! ;-)))
A PERSONAL KEYBOARD ARCHEOLOGY – PART 1
Christmas 1984. I’m 8 years old and I’ve just received from Mr Fake Santa Claus a Bontempi organ. My dad used to work as a clerk in a bank and each year, the company distributed a Christmas toys catalogue and each kid could choose one present from the catalogue, which was then handed over during an evening where all the employees and their families were treated to a Christmas dinner followed by lots of drunken dancing to the sound of cheesy music. At the time, my world revolved around reading and fluffy toys, so why did I choose that present? Well, in 1984, one of my cousins got a Bontempi organ and it immediately fascinated me, so when I saw it in the catalogue my decision was immediately made.
I’d love to be able to tell you that I was a precocious kid who immediately got creative with that organ, but nothing could be further from the truth: I barely remember what I did with the organ in the following years, and only vaguely remember it came with a couple of sheets that were supposed to indicate which keys you should press to play whichever traditional tune was printed on said sheets – not exactly a creative approach to the instrument.
However, while in interviews I have always replied to the question “How did you start making music?” by saying that I fell in love with the Beatles at age 13 and then started playing the guitar at age 15, I’ve recently realised that the seed was planted earlier, with that organ and my obsession with Michael Jackson’s Thriller album. And while my music has mostly used – up until the new forthcoming album –various stringed instruments – fingerpicked, bowed, strummed, hammered, etc – there’s always been space on each of my albums for at least one keyboard instrument, and I think that sooner or later, I was bound to make the album I’ve just made.
This series is all about revisiting those songs, and in the next instalment you’ll hear the first keyboard song I ever wrote and recorded and which paved the way for all my solo work years later.
Last but not least, the tickets for my show at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago are finally available, and I thought I’d take this opportunity to share this poster made by photographer Isabel Dublang to recap all the dates of my North American tour !
Oct. 29 2017- Portland, OR, USA – Mississippi Studios – copresented by Beacon Sound – with Derek Hunter Wilson
Oct. 30 2017 – San Francisco, CA, USA – Swedish American Hall
Nov. 1 2017 – Los Angeles, CA, USA – Zebulon – copresented by Dublab – with Mary Lattimore and Frosty DJ Set
Nov. 3 2017 – Chicago, IL, USA – Museum of Contemporary Art
Nov. 5 2017 – Philadelphia, PA, USA – PhilaMOCA – with Tim Woulfe
Nov. 8 2017 – Brooklyn, NY, USA – Good Room – with Jon Porras
Nov. 10 2017 – Montreal, Canada – La Sala Rossa – with Ylang Ylang and Khôra
Nov. 12 2017 – Toronto, Canada – Arraymusic – with Khôra
Nov. 14 2017 – Asheville, NC, USA – The Mothlight
Nov. 19 2017 – Washington, DC, USA – Songbyrd Music House
Of course feel free to check out the Facebook events and ticket links in my Songkick or live section!
Hope to see you there :-)))