meet DOS4GW

slippery pessimist

Well, it’s Australia Day eve, and I’ve found out that taking today off might have been a more productive way to spend the day. Also, apparently there is a bust sewage pipe somewhere. awesome.

The trip to Melbourne is coming together pretty well; I’m crashing at a mate’s place, eliminating the pain of staying in a backpackers or crappy hotel. I don’t really enjoy staying in hotels; I think it’s because hotel staff generally treat me like I don’t belong in their precious establishment. Also, I don’t really have enough room on my credit card to throw more than one or two televisions out of windows at the moment, which takes a lot of the fun out of it. Also, my boy from Canberra is coming down for the whole time too! So so amped for that, I barely get to catch up with him in the personal at all.

I don’t really have a lot of commitments when I’m over there this time, which will be a welcome change; the last few times I’ve been rushing from point to point with little or no time to relax. I’m gonna try to hit a few things up while I’m there, including:

  • The Clemenger Contemporary Art Award exhibition at the NGV – have always enjoyed the NGV, the exhibition space is spacious without feeling too .. ostentatious. Also, the staff are really nice, which is always a plus at such things. Last time I was there, there was a landscape exhibition on, and I ended up talking to one of the their floorwalkers about Turner for about an hour. Cue pretentious music.
  • GASLAMP MOTHERFUCKIN KILLER and HARMONIC MOTHERFUCKIN 313 at Espionage
  • The superbikes will be on at Phillip Island, if I can motivate for it
  • The fuckin Melbourne Aquarium woooo!

…and, well.. some more city exploration. I’ve not seen much of Melbourne, aside from the CBD, so I’m keen to get out and explore a bit more, and find some more little bars and shit. I also need some new clothes.

Of course, the other course for the weekend could be finding a sweet bar, and nailing it there with Henry and Krispin until my flight back on Sunday. I’m ok with it either way, to be honest. If you’ve got any tips for awesome places to check out in Melbourne, hit me in the comments .. I’ve got pretty broad taste so anything goes.

Happy Australia Day people, try not to get too jaded or enraged by the Southern Cross tatts, carflags and yobbos on the news – I’m just looking forward to relaxing with a tinny in the sun with some mates. On a Tuesday morning. heh.

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Filed under: legends, life, tours

the choice is yours, don’t be late

So, alcohol.

Up until about a year ago, I had never considered alcohol to be a factor in the way I lived my life. How wrong I was. I have hung out with a lot of people over the years who like to drink. Not in the ‘oh everyone likes a bit of a drink’ kind of way – I seem to gravitate towards people who like to driiiiiiink.

Now, I hear that it’s socially acceptable to go through this kind of phase, during school or uni, or when you get your first house away from the olds, or when you first start earning enough money to go out to nice bars, but it seems like I’ve been going through each and every one of these phases, one after the other, for the last ten odd years. It also seems that I’ve been able to find people in similar situations along the way, who will drink with me. I’ve not done a lot of drinking by myself; I mean, I will have a couple of beers with dinner, or a couple of scotches after work, or something, but no prolonged binges by myself. On the other hand, I’ve done an awful lot of drinking that involved hanging out with mates, at home, at their homes, at the pub, out at gigs, whatever.

I think being so comfortable with alcohol has been both beneficial and destructive. Beneficial in that I’ve made a lot of mates through socialising at pubs and parties and so on, which is undoubtedly easier two pints in. This isn’t to say that it’s absolutely necessary; but it certainly helps.

The destructive side of it is much more of a worry. I’ve done some very fucking stupid things when drunk. I’m not going to list them all, because we’d be here all fucking day and I’m not interested in dwelling on them, but a few of the stellar things I’ve managed whilst drunk include:

  • destroying at least two relationships (if not more, if not every fucking one) with members of the fairer sex for seemingly no reason
  • physically assaulting people (my mates, but still)
  • destroying public and private property (nothing major, but still)
  • insulted and abused security staff at venues (not a lot, but still)
  • been sick in every way possible (although I am yet to manage “upside down on the floor of a pub toilet”)
  • faced some very important days with hangovers so epic I could barely see, walk or talk
  • nearly burning down a best mate’s house after passing out in front of a burning hotplate

…amongst many other stupid, stupid things – not to mention the damage to my brain, liver, skin, weight, etc.

Wow. I’ve just surprised myself with that list. You’re looking at a real upstanding fucking individual here.

Every now and then someone would pull me up on it, tell me they’ve been worried, and my answer is generally the same. “I know, I’m trying to drink less.” Which is now true. In the last year I have become very acutely aware of the damage that I can cause by drinking too much, and have made an effort to control myself a bit better. It’s been hit and miss, but I’m coming to the realisation that there are very specific things that I can do to stop myself drinking too much on any one night, which is a plus.

The problem has been that drinking to escape from life, reality, stress and so on is just too easy. I have a couple of drinks and my problems just seem to float away – and I’ve had some pearlers of problems in the last twelve months. Talking about them is too hard, drinking is very very easy. If this sounds cliche, well, I guess that’s because a lot of people feel the same way. Is it a sign of weakness? Yeah, I guess it is. Dealing with life’s problems helps to build your character and help to define who you are as a person, right? Right on.

It’s not that I’m not interested in self-development. Quite the opposite, it’s very interesting indeed. I think things just get on top of me sometimes.

Hmm, I’ve just read this back and it’s gone in somewhat of a different direction than what I intended. anyway. carrying on. This next bit is partly speculation, so if you’re in a position to correct me, please do…

It was alcohol, I think, that resulted in Tomas Ford asking me to come on tour with him in September of 2009. Well, maybe not alcohol per se, moreso a gig that I played at the Rocket Room at which I was completely blind at. I stumbled through a set, yelling at people through the provided microphone, calling the patrons “cunts”, dancing around like a fucking nutter and generally being an idiot, such as I am after a day of hard drinking (the gig was after midnight, and I’d been drinking all day at a corporate event).

Now, if you know the T-Ford, you might see how this could influence his decision to send me an email the next day about coming along for a few shows. Maybe he could get this loon every night, and maybe it wouldn’t take 20+ beers and on-stage tequila shots to get him going. Makes sense.

The tour that followed was absolutely hilarious. There were ups and downs, as there always are; the gigs were very up and down (up: Melbourne, Hobart, Canberra; down: Newcastle, Adelaide), but I got to know Mr Ford a lot better than I did already, and found him to be a fucking legend. I also got to do a bit of drinking with a couple of my best mates, who are living in Canberra and Melbourne.

One major down was missing a flight because I had gone out and drunk myself stupid the night before. I don’t think I’ve ever had a worse morning. Luckily, the day wasn’t a total loss, because I got the chance to really catch up with my mate in Melbourne, which was awesome. However, the pain that it caused pretty much everyone else involved (including some otherwise uninvolved bystanders, to whom I offer my sincere and utmost apologies) make it a pretty rough memory, even now.

A major up was the Hobart gig. I met some really fucking cool people, made a couple of mates and generally had a good time. I had a few beers, nothing crazy, because I had to drive the hirecar back to where we were staying. My sense of responsibility cut through my ‘cut loose’ persona that is almost always hell-bent on getting drunk. So maybe that’s the key. I should just buy a car and drive everyone everywhere all the time.

So yeah, it was a bloody fun tour, and I am so grateful to Tomas Ford for the opportunity. Not just for the exposure and gigs, but for helping me realise that alcohol isn’t really an effective tool to combat life’s troubles. I still drink, sometimes even with him, although it’s been a month or so since I saw him last.

At least now I know a little bit more about myself and how to stop being so god damn stupid all the time. Baby steps.

Filed under: legends, life, tours

love me for what i am not

So, things.

Mathas had asked me to help him put out a cd. Who was I to argue? He’s arguably the best MC in Australia right now. Would I like to help? Jesus, let me help. Now.

The recording of ten pound hairless sasquatch took.. a year? or so. I’m not 100% sure, because it was quite haphazard, and I was drunk a lot of the time. Tom would call at 8pm, asking if he could come over in.. half an hour. Generally I’d say yes, and whenever I was otherwise occupied I felt bad turning him away. I knew that he didn’t have heaps of time to spend on recording and mixing, what with working so much at Aldas and managing The Moon Cafe, among other pursuits.

Recording Mathas was a challenge. I loved every single verse he put down on his album, but it was also an opportunity to think about how I could direct vocalists to give better performances. I’d struggled with this in the past; “just.. do it again” wasn’t really a winner when it came to direction for artists, especially one as single minded and talented as Mathas is.

I actually took a lot from Bleach in this period of time. A rock album that stood so heavily on song structure could be recorded like shit, and sound pretty much like shit, and still fly on the stereo – however hiphop is never going to be like that. 36 Chambers might sound like shit, but the beats and the lyrics make it flow together. I still think you could come out with that album today and it’d drop just like it did back in the day.

That might sound like a contradictory statement, but it’s the production that makes the sound of36 Chambers; whereas with Bleach it’s the songs.

My point is that it’s rarely production finesse that makes a hiphop album. It’s the beats, the rhymes and the cohesion between the songwriting and the formers that really make a hiphop album. For reference, see.. mm, Food, do you want more?!?!?, The Coming and Da Antidote.

This didn’t stop us from taking, four, five, or six different nights of re-runs at vocal takes on 10lb. This was more a product of recording the disc over such a long period though. I think it’s a better album for it – the later takes are all included on the master. Also, we got through a ridiculous amount of scotch during the recording. I was dieting, and scotch was the only acceptable alcohol. My god, so much scotch.

Anyway. We eventually got the album to a masterable state, and Mathas put on a fucking blinder of a launch upstairs at the Scotto. I didn’t do a record in 2009, but I kind of consider 10lb to be the 2009 record. I didn’t contribute heaps in terms of songwriting or production, but it was such a mammoth effort that I was totally drained when it came to working on my own material. This isn’t to throw stones at Mathas, of course. To be totally honest, by the end of it I was more honoured to have worked on that album than I was to be asked initially. I hope I get to work with the guy again.

Anyway, by the time the Mathas album came out to critical acclaim, I was pretty much gagging to start working on my next disc. It wasn’t to come immediately though; Tomas Ford had something to say about that.

tbc.

Filed under: legends, life, shit I like

she should have made her mother proud

So, I’m going over to Melbourne! Got a phonecall last night that detailed an offer that I couldn’t really refuse, and I just submitted my leave forms this afternoon. I’ll be there on from the 25th of Feb til the 28th, or so. I’ve got a gig hooked up from the Thursday night, and there should be something coming together for either the Friday or the Satdy night also. Winner! I’ll provide more details for the gig as they come to hand.

This was a bit of a surprise call up to be honest; I’d not been planning to do many gigs this year, at least not until I had the next disc ready to release. It’s an awesome opportunity though, and I’ll let y’all in on it in good time.

Hah, I just got a text from a mate saying I just got back-to-back spins on Full Frequency a few minutes ago.. sweet! Thank you very kindly Mr Mathas DJ Man!

Filed under: gigs, life, tours

ectoplasma, ectoskeletal

So, Moderate Rock. If you’ve not heard it, you can download it from my bandcamp page for the low low price of your email address.

I picked up Logan’s Run because it had a sweet cover. I put the DVD in the player, started the movie, and from the first model shot of the domed city, I knew that I could definitely make a few tunes from the soundtracking and incidental music – the sound design is so cold and stark. The first track, Prologue, is testament to this. If you watch the first scene of the film, then play the track, you’ll notice that I didn’t really have to add much to the raw sample. That looping synth line still does it for me.

I thought that I would need more of a break from making music after the stress of putting out Fetching Shoulders. I was still pumped from actually doing it though, and I think it was this energy which pushed the first three tracks along quite quickly. It took me maybe two weeks to finish them, which for me is lightning fast. I tend to work well in bursts, as I get easily distracted, usually by the internet or other -ternet related products.

The next few tracks took fucking ages. Like, I mean months and months. I wrote Ankh after listening to way too much Patti LaBelle in the cd store I was working in at the time. The Dome was much the same – I’d been listening to Queen for 18 hours a day. Working in music stores does that to you; I found myself going through bizarre phases where I’d put on saaay a George Benson disc and listen to it on repeat for eight hours. The people in the shops next to us must have fucking hated it. Some of my phases were less offensive, but not by much.

I wrote the last four tracks of the Logan’s Run suite in the fortnight before I needed to send the master off to be pressed. It’s always the way – if I don’t have a deadline looming, I find it impossible to motivate myself. That said, there was a lot of material that I wrote for this album that was left on the cutting room floor, so to speak. It’s been strange listening back to my early discs. All I can hear in my head now are the snippets of beats and melodies that I put down at 4am on a Tuesday morning in 2007 that never turned into anything more than a four bar loop.

Making this album taught me something pretty important. Even when an idea is straight in your own head, it’s very easy for your own interpretation to muddle the concept up. Connecting the dots between “the idea in my head” and “the way the idea manifested itself in my creative output during period x” is a tough task, especially when I think about Moderate Rock. It was the first time that I had tried to create programme music, for one thing – and I enjoyed that challenge immensely. I learned a lot about myself when I was making it, so it’s hard to think about the album without thinking about the voyage towards the end product – which in turn makes it tough for me to analyse the album as a ‘work’.

Anyway, it’s released, it’s part of my history, so go cop a listen if you feel so inclined. I’ll upload some art when I can find either a scanner or the original files.

So what did I learn from Moderate Rock? I learned that Able is a great MC. I learned that people love helping out when you’re doing something like this. The input from Silence, Able, and Krispin was invaluable. I learned that people like simple and accessible hiphop much more than they like instrumental electronic music. I learned that I am ok with that.

The track Animal is the track that you’re most likely to have heard from this album, either on the radio, at one of my shows (because it was written quite a while before this album came out) or, more likely than either of the former, at a Typhoons show. I went to Sydney with Able and some of The Typhoons lads to play Animal for the MTV Kickstart competition, which was a fucking blast. I talked animatedly to a middle aged woman about Kiss at the afterparty at some hotel in Sydney for two hours before asking her what she did (she was the head of MTV Australia, boy did I feel sheepish about that particular effort). Note to self: pay more attention when people are talking.

Anyway, we ended up re-recording Animal more recently, and it’s available on Able’s latest EP, Icecream Won’t Save You. I like the re-recorded version a lot better than the old one that’s on Moderate Rock, but it still brings back fond memories. All the tracks I do with Able are so easy… a few afternoons or evenings recording vocals, we have some beers, then crank out a mix, and bam, it’s done.

I still think the snares on Time Warp are the most hiphoppy that I’ve managed.

The launch of Moderate Rock was a strange night. It was at the Velvet Lounge, which was the wrong venue. I didn’t do nearly enough promo for it. I played through the album on RTR with the Community guys, but that was all the radio that I did. I don’t even think I took any advertising space in Drum. I was totally broke, and just wanted to get the record out. I asked my parents to help out with the pressing costs as my birthday present for that year, and they kindly obliged.

The day arrived, and I was about as hungover as I’ve ever been. If you look at the photos (I’m tagged in them on facebook if you’re really interested) I look more than half dead. Overweight, hung over, playing a bad DJ set to uninterested Scotsman patrons and twenty of my mates.  It was such a contrast from the first launch, which was an absolute cracker of a night. I came away from it a bit discouraged, but I think that was mostly because I realised that if I’m not willing to put in the legwork on promoting the shit out of a gig, then I might as well give up trying to play live shows. As a result I gave up playing live shows for a while, a few months I think, until I found a more rewarding way of playing live (which was discovering that Ableton is indeed a thing).

I also discovered grime and dubstep.

tbc…

Filed under: life

spring is here again

http://www.myspace.com/thesilentleague – this is genius. It’s very gentle, a bit of a change from the Hell Razah from last week; definitely worth a listen. IF ONLY THEY HAD LINKS TO A STORE OTHER THAN ITUNES then I would have bought two albums off them already. They remind me of Grandaddy, but more gentle. Just the thing for a Monday morning after an epic weekend.

I’m uploading Moderate Rock to bandcamp as we speak. The next chapter of the lead up to this album should follow this afternoon.

Filed under: shit I like

now I’m bored and old

It’s my birthday tomorrow, woo! I’ll be the wrong side of 25 though.

I just picked up an old Hell Razah album, “The Renaissance Child“. It’s pretty fucking solid, I recommend you get your hands on a copy if you like the hip and hop. That track with R.A. the Rugged Man – Renaissance – blows me away every time. Best verse of the decade, hands down. There’s some other cracker tracks on the album too though:

Good shit.

For those waiting for the next chapter in the story about my musical evolution, I’ll see how busy I am this afternoon, and if I get through my bug list then I’ll give it a crack – otherwise it might have to wait. Ripping and uploading albums to bandcamp is a pretty long and boring process (the last one took me two hours, on and off), so I’ll see how I go.

Also, important news:

Lunch at Ess Bar anyone?

Filed under: conrad, legends, shit I like

here is another word that rhymes with shame!

So, hiphop.

A year or so passed, and I found myself working as an audio engineer at an awful place in East Perth. I won’t mention it by name, it’s still too disturbing to talk about. I was writing beats during the evening and recording adverts and voiceovers during the day. It was alright, I guess, but the strain of being in front of speakers for 18 hours a day really started to take it out of me, and I decided to take a couple of months off and record an album under my newly found moniker, DOS4GW.

The GM of the company I was working for was a real fucker. I don’t really enjoy being pushed around, so after a while his snide comments and general lack of respect got to me and I handed in my notice – and I quote “because I [couldn’t] stomach working for such an inconsiderate fuck anymore”. The really amazing thing was that after I had handed that gem in to HR, they actually tried to get me to stay! Apparently several other employees had expressed the same opinion, and had no-contact clauses written into their employment contracts. Hilarious.

On my last day, he came into the studio while I was mixing down an advert. He asked me if I had a new job lined up, was I moving onwards and upwards? I said nope, and that I was going to lie on the beach for a while. “Well, that won’t be very rewarding!” he smugly asserted.  I couldn’t let that one go, and what the hell, it was my last day. “Bet you it’ll be more productive than working in this craphole was.”

I went home, burned my tie, and got drunk. It was a good day.

The next morning I spoke to a local promoter about putting on a launch gig for a record. I went and spoke to him, booked the show, and went back home again. Then I realised that I hadn’t even started the record and that the gig was in three months. It was one of those “well, shit, come on then” moments. Three months later I managed to get 300 people (don’t ask me how, I’m still wondering how I did it) into the upstairs room at the Leederville on the night of my birthday to help me celebrate the launch of my first record, “Fetching Shoulders”, which I’ve just uploaded to my bandcamp site.

Now, it’s not exactly Bleach, but I occasionally listen to it these days and smile. Some of the tracks are pretty awful, but there’s some gold in there too, mostly because of the awesome contributions from my overly agreeable and generous mates throughout the whole thing. Yes, I rap on it. I rap on two songs. There’s Cozy Cozy which is about chess, and Onions and Flagons which is about d&d. I’d like to thank Loss again for the best lines in those two songs: “There aint no avoidin / what my broadsword’s affordin’ “. Listen to them if you dare.

The Woman is a cracker tune, I think. Glenn’s guitar and Chaircat’s vocals are great. It kinda just came together in an afternoon, which is the best way to be in my opinion. Trash was the first tune that Able and I ever worked on, and the drum loop came from a jam session that Spee and I had. Spee is an amazing drummer; he hits ridiculously hard and sits so far into the pocket that sometimes I wonder if he’s not trying to wear a hole through it to tickle your balls.

Unlocking Smoke is a silly interlude tune, but for the curious, what you can hear in the background is Glenn and I playing the MegaDrive version of MK3. For the record, I’m Sub Zero, he’s Cyrax, and I beat him down, performing a mercy and Sub Zero’s animality. The story/interlude type thing that runs throughout the album sounded like a great idea at the time, and Loss and Kym pulled something pretty special out for it. It’s a bit cumbersome though, and it breaks the album up too much, but it’s part of the record, and always will be.

Never was the first tune that Mathas and I worked on together. Still one of my favourite verses from him, and another tune that just fit nicely together in an afternoon or two.

The launch gig was a bit of a shambles. I can’t really remember how we got through a set of the songs. I remember Trash being a highlight though. By the end of it, I was tired, a bit drunk, but so very happy that it was all over. I’d written and recorded the album in two months, had it pressed and played a profitable launch that more than covered what I’d spent on pressing and postering. Even though the album probably could have been better, I had proven to myself that I could do it. A happy man went to his bed that night.

The next day I woke up feeling fresh. I thought to myself well, that’s that done. I’m going to take a whole month off writing music, just to give myself time to freshen up a bit, creatively.

That lasted maybe.. eight hours? I watched a film, and a few hours after that, I had the first track of Moderate Rock done.

tbc…

Filed under: life

all the kids will eat it up, if it’s packaged properly

This all started at school. Maybe.

I went to school with a group of pretty talented musicians, and was lucky enough to play in a band with them for about eight years. When they asked me to play, I was starting an undergrad degree in contempary classical performance at UWA. I had spent high school jamming with them and playing in the school groups, on a variety of instruments.

I had played the trumpet for ten years, from when I was a little tacker, but switched to tuba in year 10, because the school concert band already had enough trumpeters. Also, just quietly, I wasn’t very good at it. The tuba was bigger, louder, more unique, and much more bad ass than the trumpet seemed at the time. I look at the shiny silver Yamaha and Bach trumpets longingly in shops these days, wishing that I had kept both instruments up. However, it wasn’t really possible; the embouchure necessary for playing the tuba is much more relaxed than the what the trumpet calls for, and my tuba playing would have suffered (apparently).

After falling in love with twentieth century interpretive music, I decided that this was what I wanted to be doing. I auditioned and got accepted. Things were pretty awesome to start with too. The uni music library had some killer twentieth century material.The uni had a sweet tavern. It wasn’t until a few lessons from my tutors had passed and a few sit in sessions with the uni ensembles and such that I found out something pretty disturbing that killed my love of playing contemporary classical music.

You have to be an utter wanker to do it.

Now, that might sound like a pretty fucking obvious statement (and also a pretty sweeping generalisation), but let me quantify it. I had only just turned 17, and hadn’t really played in groups other than with my mates from school. Since I had only played music with people who were my mates first and musicians second, I had always thought that if you played music, you were cool and that was that. Encountering people who had only ever played by themselves, and were constantly told that they were musical geniuses, I was surprised to discover that not everyone who plays music is cool.

There were 125 students in the first year of the course. There were three that I could hang out with. I’m a pretty social person, so that was a big problem. I dismissed it at first. Then I thought about what I was doing this degree for. I wanted to play with big orchestras, and this was the quickest path towards success in that field.

But if all the people in those orchestras come from these sort of places.. then won’t most of them be wankers too?

Shit.

I think it was the hardest problem I’d had to deal with in life up until that point. I had been planning the whole thing for years, and it all flew apart in the space of about two weeks. The only thing that was still going according to plan was the awesome little band I was in.

We played around town at venues like the Grosvenor front room, the Hyde Park, The Orient, Mojos, The Swan… you know, classy places. They even had beer on tap, that they poured into glasses, and exchanged for cash money. Amazing. We played some little band comps, and even won a few of them. We played the Next Big Thing, the Campus Bands comps, Gozzy Rock, and everything in between. It was a fucking laugh. I worked a menial but adequate job at a family law office, walking up and down the streets of the Perth CBD, delivering cheques and documents. I moved out with my brother to a craphole in Crawley. I drank too much, and discovered that life outside of school could be fucking fun, if a little rough and ready.

(don’t worry, I’m going somewhere with this.)

I was playing horn in the band, I can’t remember if it was trumpet or trombone at the time. We had recorded an album, which I wasn’t really involved with – I was away when they recorded the horn takes. We launched it at the Rosemount, and made enough money to cover our debts, which was fucking lucky really. I think it was seeing the relief on everyone’s faces after having a successful launch that made me fall properly in love with making music again. Before then, it was just larking about with my mates. After that first CD came out though, I started to wonder. Could I actually do this on my own?

Before picking up a trumpet, my parents took me to piano lessons. The Suzuki school, with electric keyboards, shakers and doe rei me. I can’t really remember if I enjoyed playing the piano back then. After I started learning the trumpet, my interest in the piano waned and I gave it up in year 8.  By this time though, I had also discovered computers, and that you could make music on a computer quite easily. Early versions of programs like Rebirth and Fruityloops fascinated me, and I played around with them, learning how to use sequencers, and how to program synths. I bought my first real proper synth when I was 15, a Jupiter 4. It was a fucking beast, but jesus it was touchy. One of the oscillators was totally off, so when it was in polyphonic mode, every fourth note played didn’t do anything. Heavy, confusing (at the time), and broken, I only had it for a couple of years. It was enough to fan the flames of my imagination though.

Time passed, and while I was playing horn and cowbell and singing bad backup vocals in the band, I was also buying samplers, fucking around for hours and hours in FL, Rebirth and eventually Reason and Nuendo. I tried for years to make drum and bass, but nothing ever felt like it was working. The drums didn’t flow, the synths weren’t producing that bass-quake that I was hearing in Ed Rush and Optical and Teebee tunes at the time.

Maybe five years passed. I played with the band at bigger gigs, we did little tours down south and up north. We bought a bunch of studio gear and tried to record a second album. I think we were at the studio when a good mate of mine mentioned that Tom, a friend of his from school was an awesome MC. I found him on myspace, and immediately noticed that he was right.

Maybe there’s something in this hiphop thing, I thought.

tbc..

Filed under: album, life

starve without your skeleton key

This is my favourite synthesizer.

humble, but also bad ass.

This is a Roland System 100. I’ve got the whole set; the speakers, sequencer and everything.  I’ve also got a table that isn’t pictured – and come to think of it, I’ve never seen or heard of another anywhere. That’s not to say they aren’t around, of course, but the vintage synth community on the net is usually pretty fucking comprehensive, so it’s a bit surprising.

There’s a great story behind how this synth came into my possession. There was a cleanout of a music lab at a university on the cards, and my mother had the inside scoop. The place was full of equipment, probably all useless, but worth a look anyway. At this point in my career I was working a few days a week pushing pixels for contractors, and living with my brother and a couple of other nerds in a craphole in Crawley. I was living well below the poverty line, but I was happy.

I went over to the lab to have a squiz. I found a few old Mac IIs, and some crappy Yamaha PCM keyboards that weren’t worth the plastic they were made of. There was a grand piano there, but lifting a full sized grand from a uni was a bit beyond my capacity at the time. A CZ-3000 stands against a door in the corner. Yes! Something usable! I put it by the door, to take downstairs later. A few uprights, boxes and boxes of sheet music… an awesome collection of guiros, but auxiliary percussion isn’t really my style. Heaps of posters claiming that yes, every good boy does indeed deserve fruit. A table in the corner with some dusty black boxes and a keyboard on it.

wait.

I suddenly was in a panic. There’s a (to me) priceless full set mid-70s analog monosynth here. I need to get it out. Now. Before anyone notices. They have cameras. Surely they have cameras. Surely they know it’s worth money to the right people. But they’re going to bin everything here. It needs a keeper. Someone to love it. Ok. Be calm. A trolley. Get a trolley. Some drapes or curtains or something, wrap that fucker up, take it down the emergency exit, and get the fuck out of here and never come back.

With the help of my fearless mother (to whom I owe this entire venture, and indeed my love of keyboarded things), I got the entire set down the stairs and into my car (a ’76 Clubman Mini, built the same year as the synth). The panic is dying down. I’ve done it. I pull away from the carpark with a feeling of elation and a surge of belief in the vintage synth gods. The paranoia isn’t totally gone; I check my rear view every five seconds, half expecting Tosh Lines from The Bill to pull me over in an SR Nova (drive it like a joyrider).

I get home. It’s here. It’s mine. My brother thinks I’m dumb for obsessing over it, which is fair enough, considering that I could sell it for an amount roughly equivalent to my yearly salary at the time.

Fuck that, I think. It’s fucking mine.

I’ve used it on damn near every track I’ve ever made. It’s flexible, but somehow my patch cables seem to gravitate toward the square waves every time. They’re so thick. A decent preamp, then straight onto disc – it breaks up in a way that seems criminal. Even better, sampled with an S-220 or Mirage or another digital rackmounted fuckup, it blips and grumbles and moans. I have the facility to hook it up to a computer controller sequencer, but somehow that feels like cheating. Sync the oscillators, pitch those fuckers down, open up the filter and just give it the beans. Sample bank 1, standby, record, autoloop. Ship the bass, it’s done. All thanks to a phonecall from my mum.

So pick the fucking phone up when your mum calls, yeah?

dos.

Filed under: geek shit, life

wait, what?

I'm putting together a new album. I'm also writing about it! hooray. shit is going to be cash.

archives, innit

system 100