24th January “Time No Longer”

This week’s entry is a bit of a ‘re-cycle’, but one I wanted to include in this project.  Given we are all once again under strict lockdown measures here in the UK, this song still feels as relevant to our situation as it did back in the summer, only this version I’ve tweaked to sound a little more ‘KiDD’.   

During the first lockdown, I was invited to contribute to a project curated by my friend Iain Mutch.  Iain is the genius behind my first (and only so far…) music video for “A Picture I Don’t Want To Paint” from 2019’s Chance Weekend album.  He’s a great creative mind, musician, video-maker and producer.  In short, I was honoured to be asked and jumped at the chance. 

The ’brief’ was to supply melody and lyrics to a new song, be under one minute in length, and themed around the crazy life every one of us was now living.  Iain would then take the idea and put his own spin on it with a completely fresh production.  He also asked I send some footage based on the lyrics and he’d put an accompanying video to the song.  You can see and hear it here.  I’m sure you will agree I was completely and effortlessly upstaged by my wee boy.  He made the sun shine that day.  Just like he does every day.  Iain, I’m sure you will also agree, cracked it with the production.  Great counter melodies and sounds.  I love it.

Anyway, a little background on the song itself.  I had an idea during another of my community music workshops that the young people could write some Lockdown Haikus and create a series of ‘mini’ songs all based on what they wrote.   you can hear one of them HERE, … a real beauty isn’t it?

As always, I like to join in with these tasks myself (usually I’d collaborate with the groups, but given they were all online and in their own houses, jamming was impossible…thanks lag), and came up with a couple myself, which then tied in nicely with Iain’s brief of a lockdown based song under one minute long.  A nice bit of synthesis that.

So here is my own arrangement of “Time No Longer”. Two Haikus rolled into one song.   It’s the same vocal I sent Iain.  Everything else has been re-done.

 I did write a new song this week, but halfway through recording it, I decided the arrangement wasn’t sitting right.  Rushing it just wouldn’t do it justice.  Sometimes, the bag needs to sit in the mug a little longer.

There’s always next week….maybe!

Cheers for now,

Stu x

17th January “Yesterday’s Eyes”

This week’s entry comes directly from a “title challenge” I set a team of students last week, and ended up entering the spirit of the task and joining in myself. Based around generating certain keywords, the challenge was to create lists and then try combining words from the different columns to see if any ‘good title ideas’ were thrown up (the students played a blinder, there were some absolute crackers). You then try to write a song or lyric starting with the title. It works like this:

Columns are separated into colours, places, times, names, and numbers, with an added ‘random noun’ column at the end. you then have 5 minutes to fill the columns and combine them in the hope you will come up with anything resembling a half decent title or idea, with a further couple of minutes briefly outlining a plot based on what that title could be about.

Out of my list I was drawn to Yesterday’s Eyes. I began to see it as a narrative based around a character serving a lengthy sentence her majesty’s pleasure for an unspecified crime. The idea centered around this character having plenty of time to reflect on his actions and ultimately regretting his choices, but not being able to rectify the past regardless of the amount of time spent reflecting on the events.

So here is week three. Title and lyrics first, music second. Not my usual approach, making up an idea purely out of thin air certainly had it’s challenges, but an enjoyable diversion. I stored a few more titles from this game that I’ll probably attack at some point throughout the year.

10th January 2021 “Volcano Mornings”

I’m two weeks into my “song-a-week” challenge and I’ve already been more productive in those two weeks than I was practically through all of 2020… so far, I’m feeling good!

I’ve also been thinking quite a lot about one of my musical heroes R. Stevie Moore this week.  Often revered as “The Godfather Of Lo-Fi”,  he prefers to defiantly refer to himself as “No-Fi”, flicking the proverbial V’s in protest to those who are always looking to categorise and pigeonhole his music. 

And rightly so.  R Stevie Moore isn’t about Lo-Fi.  He merely makes music with whatever gear he has at his disposal.  The sound he makes, he makes out of necessity, not by adhering to an aesthetic. 

To talk only about R. Stevie Moore as the original Lo-Fi pioneer, to me, kinda misses the point.  R. Stevie Moore isn’t about a sound.  R Stevie Moore is about creative freedom. Here is a guy who references Frank Sinatra just as much as he does Frank Zappa.  No boundary is drawn.  No idea is considered risky.  It’s all there.  Pick any one of his 400+ albums, and you’ll hear for yourself.  Atonal fuzz guitar freak outs sit quite happily beside synth driven sonic wizardry, A country and western pastiche can sit beside the kind of Beatle-esque melodic pop genius Paul McCartney would be proud of,  funk grooves next to post-punk, a blissed out ambient instrumental…. The list is endless.

I suppose what I’m getting at here, is the whole ethos behind R. Stevie Moore’s music is, to me, the process of just being creative, or to borrow from 10cc; “Art For Art’s Sake”.  Express yourself however you feel at the time. I have spent too much creating and then disregarding a lot of it. Too many songs lie unfinished, all abandoned because I suddenly got the fear halfway through them that people might think they’re shit.  Some of it very likely is shit.  You can’t please everyone.  The more I thought about R. Stevie Moore though, the more I began to think he didn’t give a shit about pleasing anyone.  He just did it at the time. No regard for genre, boundary…. anyone.

Much of my own thinking around the “Song-A-Week” challenge is centered very much around this idea.  Some weeks I might be inspired to rip off Big Star (come on, who doesn’t?), another week I might find listening to Michael Rother’s “Katzenmusik” inspires  a 10 minute motorik drone rock instrumental (I can almost guarantee that will happen at some point….). 

As Marco and I often say, “Get in, Get oan, Get aff, Get oot”  In other words, stop fucking about and just do it.

This is my mantra for 2021.

Here is song number two.  It’s called Volcano Mornings.

See you next week!


3rd January 2021 “Where”

It’s a new year and in keeping with tradition of making resolutions, I’ve decided to go all Woody Guthrie in 1943, and make a few for myself.  Most of them I’ll probably never keep past next week, (exercise most likely) but one of them, I decided last night, I will remain determined to stick to:

Write and record at least ONE song every week.

I was utterly inspired yesterday by the friends and artists from the Sunday Songwriting club who took on the 20-song challenge the other day and attempted to write 20 songs  in a single 12 hour binge.  While I’d never be able to dedicate that amount of time to myself these days, it did get me thinking about making time for creativity as opposed to snatching it when the opportunity arises.

2020 saw me having less time to dedicate to creativity.  As a result, when the chance arose, I found myself trying to cram in as much as I could over a three of four hour binge with alarmingly poor results.  It seems, the pressure to use the time effectively had the opposite effect of the aim.  I found myself picking between scraps of ideas worrying about not having the time to finish anything when I’d not even really started any of them, and more often than not, walking away in disgust and disappointment in myself.

Then a lightbulb moment of inspiration hit me.  Would less time but more often work?

So I’m proposing to myself that I dedicate only ONE hour per day to creativity, with the aim of giving myself a full week to write and record ONE song.  That should hopefully mean 50-odd songs by the end of the year.  No album, no theme, no pressure, anything goes.

As I only came across this idea yesterday, I have kinda cheated with my first one.  All I had to do with it was mix it today in my ‘hour’.  It’s one of about three songs I wrote all last year.  I debuted it last February, the last time I performed live (cheers Covid-19), supporting and also then playing with Jonny. A few people afterwards commented positively on the song, so I guess it’s fitting that it’s the first thing I should put out there since the madness of 2020 destroyed nearly all of my drive to make music.

I have to admit, I’m already excited about what will be next week’s song.  The possibilities are suddenly and once more endless.  A little time to think and a little perspective.  That’s all we need sometimes.

Anyway, here it is. It’s called “Where”.