Time To Breathe

As luck would have it – the first new song I start writing happens to come to me at the exact moment I get quite ill and sniffly. And because I’m *insane* or something, that didn’t stop me finishing. I’ll have to wait until I’m better to record the vocals properly – but thankfully it doesn’t hurt too much to sing today, so I’ve bashed out a relatively acceptable vocal part (although there is some clipping that I can’t be bothered to fix on it) for… my own amusement and memory, with the help of plenty of water. Since that is required for both singing and recovering from an ill.

I’m getting ahead of myself though, lets start with what inspired this song. It’s actually for a brief that I saw on taxi, asking for fairly generic Singer-songwriter songs in the vein of Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol. So of course I went straight for my electric guitar for that understated, yet somehow epic and emotional vibe. I kinda liked the idea of doing this because I’ve also had in the back of my mind that I should write more ballads. And this seemed a good opportunity to practice writing and producing songs that are more stripped down and simplistic.

Sometimes I labour over chords forever and search for the perfect guitar riff to start the piece off with, but this one had a much more fluid writing process. Last night I wrote the chords and basic song structure, and left the lyrics and melody to do today – which I usually struggle though. But this particular taxi listing is due in on the 2nd of November so I wanted to get some words down without hesitating too much.

The words are actually based on something I saw on a TV show this morning. It seemed apt as this particular brief is for TV, and also – I’ve been thinking about doing more lyrics based on narratives from film and TV as it seems like a big shortcut. When I write about myself, I understand all the complexities and I’m concerned with giving an inaccurate depiction of the situation (which is almost always what happens to be honest, as songs are best when they’re dramatised). And also it helps me write something relatable – someone else has already decided what people will relate to, so I don’t have to give a stray thought to that one.

So the song is, simply put, about being betrayed / lied to by someone you love – and knowing that you want to move past it and work through the emotions, but that at the time all you’re doing is fighting and you know that nothing constructive will come of this until you can both go away and think things through alone. I left the song fairly open to interpretation, so some might think it’s about breaking up or something. And I’m happy for that to be some people’s interpretation of it.

I think that’s all I want to say about the lyrics for now. Although I’m not entirely sure about the last line – it was entirely improvised.

TOO MANY THINGS!!

Forget that last post. That’s just not going to happen!

Sometimes I forget that I’m not capable of doing a million things at once. One of the things I’ve been working on recently is being more productive, and weird as that sounds – that actually means aiming to do less! I’m trying to be mindful of what I can achieve and aim for that rather than dreaming up awesome stuff that I’ll just never end up doing… and then what have I done with my time? So, as of today – my official site is now the chalkboard site that I prototyped a month or two ago. Any dreams of some cooler iconic site will just have to wait for some other time, when I actually know what I want to do!

I often like to ask thin air: “How does anyone ever get bored when there are so many things to create?”. I’m the sort of person who always has some project I’m working on. Evernote has been a great help with not letting me forget what they are, because at any one time I might have four or five ideas for things I could do that would in some way innovate. And recently, after a little impromptu performance at an event in dorset*, I decided that I really really love my new song Lifeforce - and I want to record it properly and release it for sale on bandcamp. Like I did with my song This Old Thing. But aghhhh so many things I want to do with my time! Where do I start? I think the answer is “wherever I can!”

Anyway, I think that’s everything. Wish me luck in being more productive!

 

*Hello! To any new followers from that! You guys are spectacular!

Just a little web design update.

I was inspired by something I saw in waterstones today. It was a random fashion book that caught my eye, called “To Die for: Is Fashion Wearing Out the World”. It was just simple. Black on white. With this coat hanger logo. All just so simple, but evocative. It sparked my imagination at least.

So now I’m researching iframes as they seem to be what I will need to create my new vision… which is going to be an apple tree in the centre of the page (centering the tree will be what the iframe will be used as), and I will make the apples into links that will light up as you move the cursor over them. Only problem here is that if I want to have pages within the page that change as you click the navigation links… agh, ok maybe this is more complicated than i initially thought. But I’ll work it out. We’ll see.

Not just One Sweet Moment

I’m a little bit obsessed. Ol Razzle Dazzle by Missy Higgins has got me all in a tizzy, in a very good way.

I’m going to start off by saying, if you haven’t got/heard this album already you really need to. It’s just brilliant! And may have even knocked my beloved Continuum – John Mayer from its top spot in my internal album charts!!

Usually I find it hard to listen to lyrics of songs. A lot of the time they don’t even make a great deal of sense initially and there’s a fair amount of interpretation involved in working them out. But there was something about the words in these songs that really caught my ear, and my imagination! She puts things in a clear, yet inventive way. For instance, in her political song “Hidden Ones” (which sort of reminds me of Ellen and the Escapades) she starts off by using the statue of liberty to imply the setting, and also uses the building as a symbol of hope for the nation. All this without even mentioning its name:

She’s holding a torch in her hand
Pointing towards heaven
And on the streets below her, people living out of trashcans
Are trying to believe she’s got a plan

I mean, how COOL is that? I just wish I could write lyrics as inspired as this.

This is the first time I’ve really payed attention to the lyrics of music I like, usually it’s secondary to the music. And I now feel like I know what all the songs are about. Although, the least clear of all the lyrics are probably in the last song, “Sweet Arms of a Tune“… which just seems to be about some couple who can’t have each other (why??? it’s a mystery!) and sit on the floor feeling sad while they play music to each other.

… But other than that they’re really clearly put, and a lot of them I can relate to, particularly songs like Set Me On Fire, and Everyone’s Waiting which are to do with her torn feelings regarding her music. They really speak to me in particular, but my current favourite is Temporary Love, which is about being in a long distance relationship and not letting yourself get too attached. Though to be honest, it’s not because of the lyrics that I love this song. It’s just so wonderfully theatrical, and has my wife and I singing it to one another in harmony all day. It just won’t shift, it’s stuck on repeat in our heads. It’s just fantastic. I was also really moved by Cooling Of The Embers, which – on first listen you would think is about a break up (“you are not who I remember”)… but when you pay attention you realise it’s about death – and watching someone old become dependant and losing their memories. As it turns out she wrote it about her grandma.

Most of all, I love how much she’s improved over the years. I’ve been a fan of hers since my sister returned from australia with her debut album in her grasp – thinking I’d like her music (I think she thought it sounded a bit like mine). And some artists just sort of stagnate, and the music is more about trends than the love of it. Missy seems to have improved considerably since she released that first album in 2004, and I just love the way the music has grown.

It’s also pretty rare for me to feel like I like the artist behind the music I love. I can’t really get behind John Mayer’s cheeky songs about getting high and the ones that confess to not really having much emotional depth in his relationships – I mean, fair enough, but it’s not me. Ever since I found out that Secret (from On A Clear Night) was about a woman, I guess my ears were slightly pricked. But I can’t help but feel like we have things in common. Maybe it’s my interest in her as a person that got me to listen so intently to the words in her songs. I’m very glad I did.

Untapped

I managed to publish a half done version of the new site last night, I shouldn’t think it will take much more to get that up and running – but for now I’m taking a break from that for a few days. I do have another idea for the site – but there will always be room for new versions so I’ll keep it at the back of my mind. If you wanna see the test run click here – I’ve put the WordPress logo in the middle because I like the way the two sites connect up and I kinda want this to be a main feature of the tessbmusic.co.uk site. Exciting stuff! :) Apologies if there are any issues with it – I’m not a professional web designer, it’s just fun to me.

So today I experienced something that reminded me of something my wife often says. She quotes some school teacher (I think) who used to say “Some people are drains, but some people are radiators” or something to that effect. Which is just a slightly comical way of saying – some people will be a positive addition to your life, but others will sap you of that positivity and fill you with their negativity. And it’s one of those life lessons that you never really get until you experience it – but learning to keep those negative forces away from you and keeping the positive “radiators” close is something I try to live by. And today I felt inspired to write a song about that matter: 

I also came across a work in progress song I started over a year ago: 

It really doesn’t feel like it’s been that long! But I was just rummaging around on my mac, and this one dated back to last august. Crazy. This must be one of several unfinished songs I’ve not completed in the last year. I wonder how many more I’d find if I continued to dig. Perhaps I should make a list… I do that – I make lists of stuff like that on evernote – if you know me you’ll come to discover this lol. I find my mind gets easily overcome with ideas and bits of information to remember so I like having an organised place to keep them. Evernote is good for that because I don’t have to worry about remembering stuff I can just type in keywords. Fabulous. Anyway, this isn’t supposed to be an advert for evernote – although I would recommend it if you’re the same. My point is – I probably have so much untapped material I could make an entire new album out of it. And I don’t like that feeling that I’m wasting that, but on the other hand I’m not sure if it’s worth the effort to complete it. I have a similar feeling towards this song:  I’ve been at it for years, and I have all the hard stuff done – lyrics and such, but I’m not sure if it’s good enough to complete or not. I really like having my “tessdrafts” soundcloud for these things. It means my demos don’t go completely to waste, people can hear them and I can share them. I imagine I’ll talk about new ideas I have on here a lot. That’s mostly what I had in mind for this.

Anyway. This is getting quite rambly now. I sort of feel like I’m posting for the sake of posting. But if you’re reading this feel free to comment – especially if you have any thoughts on the songs I spoke about in this post.

- Tess

The Chalkboard

It is the eve of my 23rd birthday, and I’ve spent all day on photoshop.

Tomorrow, my second album – Sugar Free – is to be released on iTunes etc and I thought the event warranted a new design for my website, www.tessbmusic.co.uk.

Recently I’ve had a few ideas for my online presence as a musician. And one of them was to start a new blog devoted to my music progress. I thought these two ideas would meld together quite well – I can have my WordPress built into the new site. My old blog was only visible on the front page of my site before and was easily neglected as that meant I had to indulge in a whole load of html and ftp faff to update it. I was also convinced that nobody would ever look at it.

So the new website seems to have taken on a bit of a Chalkboard-esque theme. I’m currently debating over keeping the hand-drawn tree I enjoyed from the last version of the site, but perhaps I should think of a way to make it a slightly less prominent feature of the site. But I’m really enjoying the way it’s looking now, as a result of my use of the stumpy preset in white over black. I think I might name this blog after the look in fact.

The first thing I got to work on was basically a portal page to link in my site with all the external sites I use – youtube, facebook etc. Since most of my material is spread out on a combination of these sites. I don’t want my site to be too cluttered with sub-pages so I’ve decided to keep it to this page, a page called “buy”, a page called “listen”, and a link to my online guestbook. Last time I made the mistake of attempting to build various useless pages, a lot of which I really didn’t make use of. If you have a browse around the site now you might even be able to stumble across my old “Band” section for when I had a band back in Leeds. This thing really needs updating!