Monday, 24 November 2014

Memories of the Buffalo Bar

Originally published on Desperately Seeking Susan Boyle

The death sentence has been passed, or more accurately the short-notice eviction papers have been served, and another of London's live music venues faces closure.

And although no crossrail development plans to steal a historic and culturally recognised site from fans this time around, the impending loss of the Buffalo Bar in Islington cuts a little closer to home.

The statement released a little over a week ago thanked all of the bands, promoters, and DJs that have played a part in the venues success, and I can proudly count myself among the DJs that have found myself battling with those cranky old CD decks...

The truth is that I can't actually remember now the first band that I went along to the Buffalo Bar to see (although I'm sure I still have the flyer tucked away in a box of memories somewhere), but the subterranean cavern style is something you don't soon forget and it was an honour to be asked along by fellow North-Londoners, upstart aggro-punk group turned reality TV stars, Ginger Bread Men as they too made good on the 'indie-darlings-curate-clubnight' ethos that was thoroughly prevalent at the time.

Bubblegum Stomp drank, danced and messed up on unfamiliar equipment, we dropped three Will Smith songs in a row as we donned Will Smith masks, we got a confused indie crowd to let loose to our own irreverent style of DJing, we upset the usurping DJs (standard procedure when you are rocking a dancefloor and someone wants to take over with an obscure Smiths' b-side) and we turned the Buffalo Bar into our own little decadent party for a short while.

All Teeth soon outgrew us (or perhaps couldn't handle us) but we kept returning regardless, as friends and as fans rather than as DJs, as the monthly night developed a unique personality and reputation of its own, due to its live music policy of passionately persuing and cherry picking some the most eclectic and outrageous performers to ever hit the venue's tiny stage, and perhaps in part to the mysterious and infamous free Krunk Juice that would be dispensed into the mouths of punters, eager or otherwise.

It's sad to see Buffalo Bar depart the London scene, and bittersweet to see All Teeth descending upon its old haunt for one last hurrah this Wednesday, with old personal favourites Those Handsome Animals and the return of Ginger Bread Men, whose own farewell gig was well attended at the very same venue many moons ago.

It may not be too late tho... for those wanting to keep the faith and fight the good fight to the very end, be sure to follow the link and sign the petition to try and keep Buffalo Bar open. 

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Everything I'm not.

If there is one thing I hate, it is becoming everything I'm not....

My passive nature in almost all aspects of my life has mostly been a sea of tranquility that I have been more than happy to bathe in, yet others have found it frustrating.

And nowhere else is this more obvious than when it comes to money.

Financially, I have always felt rather stable.  I have always felt that I can afford to do what I want to do most of the time,  I don't earn a lot and I don't overspend and that has (for the most part) been enough for me...

Whether it has always been enough for others is up for debate, but in our society money seems to be a taboo, or perhaps it seems to be a taboo for those that are not making money.  I've had this discussion plenty of times, and often I am the only one on my side of the argument.

Why is discussing money so frowned upon?  Typical British reserve comes into play and the stiff upper lip stifles all valid conversing on the matter.  

But if someone earns more than me, would it not be better to not keep this secret so that I can value my own worth and my own work?  Tight-lipped pay packets only really serve to build a sense of distrust... secrecy and secret handshakes... a lack of transparency only makes you wonder what is being hidden...

Before my redundancy a few years ago I tried not to let these things bother me, and then thrown into a whole new world of employment I began to bare witness to this Masonic power struggle, and then choosing to switch from retail to office work I found myself more disgusted by the clearly unfair weighting of wages.

And then I found myself disgusted with myself.

I don't want to care.

I don't want to feel an ache in my stomach when discussions turn to someone else's job role and their speculative pay packet.

But then I don't always spend all of my time in the real world.

Maybe this is really how people choose to feel and choose to live their lives most of the time.

I've never been a fan of real life.

And I hope my flights of fantasy can keep me safe from a world I don't want to be a part of.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Stop, collaborate and listen

I make music

Or made music.

Or tried to make music at least.

Working mostly from loop and sample based software I tend to be drawn to the same sort of sound for my own output, time and time again, and having completed work on the debut album, feeling like I have encapsulated a point on my life, I would now like to move on and live more life.  differently.

I've tried action-packed team-ups before, primarily handling a few remixes of other artists, either through mutual respect or competitions, but when I considered the release of Anubis Horror, I also wanted to deliver some 'singles packages' to release alongside it.

Having moved in creative circles, I have crossed paths with plenty of talented people, many from Enfield itself, and so I reached out to a small bundle of people that I thought might be interested in either remixing an existing track of mine or creating something brand new from accapella spoken word poetry.  They were told that they had free reign to do whatever they liked, it didn't mind how much or how little remained of the original version, I was only looking forward to hearing a brand new interpretation of something I had a hand in creating, hearing something that had come from more than just me.

The end result.... just one remix came back, fully formed for inclusion on the Teenaging single, and I had to draft myself in to remix my own work, cutting, pasting, twisting and distorting my own poetry... and unsurprisingly they sound just like something I would produce.

But now here we go again, bored of searching the same job roles and vacancies on Gumtree I instead started looking for an opportunity to write songs with others

the opportunities were slim, but I made contact... and one chance came back wonderful and gleaming.

Since then we have conversed over email, shared a brief man-date in the centre of londinium to get to know each other and cross-reference ideas, and this week I have made a proper start on fleshing out some rough tracks that have been sent over to me.

It is still early yet, and who knows what may happen next, inspiration and ideals are elusive beasts, but I've got a good feeling about what is coming next.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

a thoroughly modern CV

I dislike job hunting.

It goes against everything I believe in.

Working for a living is certainly reasonable enough (in some circumstances), but being forced to distill all your skills and all your experiences in just 2 sides of A4 paper seems utterly ridiculous.... and that doesn't even leave any room for any of your personality.

So I'm left pondering how best to sell myself?

Do you go with the standard old 'team-player, hard-working, blah-blah-blah' intro/personal statement that you've had drummed into you is how a CV should open? because surely everyone else has been told the same thing about starting out that way and surely nearly every CV that drops onto a recruiters desk must lay out their initial wares in exactly the same old fashioned way...

And if you don't appear different from anybody else, how will anyone know that you are different from anyone else?

on the subject of old fashioned tho... what if the recruiter is old fashioned and wants you to stick to the same old format, play by the rules and perform exactly as expected, let us not forget that some people don't like change, and some of the people that don't like change may well be the people recruiting that wouldn't understand the concept of the post-modern self-referential CV that I had in mind...

ah, but what about LinkedIn?!? the presumably professional version of a social network.

I struggle with that too.... perhaps career-focused progression would fall in line with the way it projects itself, certainly I can see the advantages of having a full profile to browse that hasn't needed to be quit so cherry-picked in order to save space on paper, but what about poor souls like me that are still trying to find their way, where differing job sectors and careers are catching my eye, the old rule was to tailor your cover letter and CV for each job you apply for, but doesn't the modern principles of LinkedIn suddenly decide to go against that, along with every other recruitment site that would like you to upload a CV

So in brief, I need to choose who I am, to sell myself to people, when I don't know what they expect me to be....

modern job-hunting sucks.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Songs for the deaf

An interesting proposition came through the other day.

Not since a christmas shindig at the Bush Hill Park Tavern last year have the CD decks been dusted off, and bookings aren't as regular as they used to be, but somehow word still gets around... and Bubblegum Stomp have been asked about availability for a 50th birthday party next month.

They were asked what type of music they expected and had a preference for...

It turns out that the soon to be septegenarion is deaf, and so will be most of the guests, so we can play anything we want!

But personally I find the whole thing rather daunting, the age range is certainly a consideration, but presumably the standard party tunes should suffice, but I'd also rather make the extra effort to make the event memorable.

In my old life, time to research properly and gather tunes would have been plentiful, but things have changed and time is a luxury that I never seem to have enough of, I understand that deaf people feel the songs more through the vibrations, of the bass and the drums, and I think from a sensory perspective there is enormous scope to play wonderful and interesting tracks of different rhythms, of different continents and wildly different genres... 

And ideally I would love to source someone to sign alongside some of the songs as we play them, adding a whole new dimension to a DJ set that would be thoughtful and inclusive, not just playing what we please since no one can hear it anyway.  Blondie's set this year at Glastonbury featured two people signing the lyrics to the songs throughout, and visually it is interesting, and at magical moments it is truly captivating, creating an almost dual-purpose dance move that is both fitting and functional all at the same time.... Instead the closest we are likely to come is playing YMCA and doing the actions.

who knows, it is still up for discussion, but I don't feel that I would be ready to do it justice.

Credit where it is due: artwork sourced from deviantart user, givepeaceachance

Saturday, 23 August 2014

an appreciation of Justin Bieber like no other....

originally published on Desperately Seeking Susan Boyle 

when posting my first video review last year I have had every intention of making it a regular occurrence...

unfortunately time constraints and the logistics of recording and editing were stretching my capabilities somewhat, I had the ideas, but the limitations I bumped up against were outstripping my power to push ahead with vlogging projects.

then 4music's Vlogstar competition came along, a competition that would land the winner a whole new bunch of hi-tech equipment, why not have a crack at it?

in a video of 30 seconds or less you had to deliver upon your full potential, I checked out the other entrants to see what I'd be up against... and time and time again I found I'd be up against the same things... straight to camera, blah blah blah, thank you...

my first crazy thought was to deliver a metal style review in a slipknot style mask, of course I left the whole thing to the last minute.... leaving myself no time to make said mask, but i instead went with making a little extra effort of a different kind, composing an accapella ode to Justin Bieber to be delivered in my best metal voice...

face paints, bare chest, screaming.... all captured through the lense of my sinister phone.
I knew full well that it may not win me the prize, I knew full well that it may not even be picked as a finalist, but i was certain it would stand out against the rest and I had a hell of a lot of fun doing it

and with a current radio advert encouraging voting for the finalists proclaiming that the judges have seen the good, the bad, and the weird... i feel content that i made the impression i intended...

Saturday, 16 August 2014

fill your wedding for free - part two

since last weeks post I have spotted another four abandoned chairs, bringing the new total needed to just 138...

but if you've read last weeks blog you will also realise that this proposal has been nixed.

table decorations on the other hand tho.....

now the areas where we agree on what we want for our wedding are very few... to my fiancé's (nearly 8 months later and I think I'm getting used to that now) annoyance, I am what is know in this modern world as 'a groom with a view', I am a husband-to-be that actually cares about my wedding, and not just from a financial perspective, but with my eye for aesthetics and a creative passion that runs through my family, I also care what our wedding looks like.

somewhere amongst the many times when she has made up her mind, only to change it again later, and often without warning, we agreed on something like a homely, shabby-chic style look for our wedding... except it won't be one of those twee shabby-chic weddings that are everywhere right now because the twee shabby-chic look is in, I don't want a wedding look that is 'in' or 'on-trend', I want a wedding that will reflect us.... and what reflects us better than her tendency to be drawn to pretty patterns and details, and my tendency to want to save as much money as possible and get creative at the same time?!?

somewhere amongst the many times when she has made up her mind, only to change it again later, and often without warning, she asked some friends and family to save their empty jars for us.... within a sub-two week period we were inundated with empty jars of differing shapes and sizes and had to ask friends and family to stop saving their jars for us...

we have paid out for the venue, the caterers, the photographer...  none of them were cheap and all of them I have agreed to because I have faith in them and I believe they will be worth it.

but in terms of my own creativity, I was down with this whole 'up-cycling' and 'repurposing' before it was even a thing... and so I spent last Saturday trying out a few different techniques and ideas on a small selection of donated jars, using leftover paints, free wallpaper samples... and my trusty mod-podge.

with 365 days until our wedding, I posted a status on facebook saying that in a years time everyone will be complementing the bride on how beautiful she looks, and complementing me on some interesting tables decorations

Her mum wanted to know what that meant (about the table decorations, obviously), but with a combination of donated jars, beads from a thrown out hanging door curtain, charity shop purchases and a Russian doll/pirate that was another street find all sitting on our dining table serving as somewhat of a dry-run, I think I should fall plenty short of the estimated (and frankly, quite slender) budget we have allowed for table displays....