Saturday, 29 August 2015

freedancing


flying is learning how to throw yourself at the ground
and miss
Douglas Adams





f r e e  d a n c i n g



far away journey foreign land,
chasing shadows in the rain











searching for the sunrise

It's what music sounded like 30 years ago.

Searching was my second album on A&M/Universal Music, recorded and released in 1985.   I was thrilled when I got the call from Michael Godin - VP A&R there at the time with the news that there was a green light on it, after my first (self-titled) release which did little in terms of radio so it really didn't make it to retail.  There was a renewed faith, belief/optimism that permeated my existence that year.  This meant $30K for the record and another $30K for a video - YES!  $60,000 was a lot of money in 1985.

Back then, labels knew that a commitment to an artist was essential because the average (successful) recording act didn't break even for 2-3 albums and maybe 1 in 10 signed acts made it to that place so,  here we go.    I had written most of the songs for it and they were most excited about my song "Little Boys" that ended up being the so-called 'single' and we put most of the money into the studio album and video for that song.   The video for 'Little Boys' is posted on my web-site (bottom of the music page).

I liked Free Dancing more (for a single), yes VERY different - but it was Michael's and the record company's call.   Little Boys received extensive air-play on MUCHMUSIC (nationally), and CFNY radio (now '102 the Edge') in Toronto, but Searching itself sold small numbers.  I had what they call an "All-In" production deal with A&M,  so it meant I was responsible for the production/planning and delivery of the album by a certain date - which I did.  I also got to spend some of the budget on gear so I could assemble it at home first, saving money AND having a studio to work in - in the future (without a label).

Even though Searching was the most expensive album I've made, tragically it's my least favourite.  What I've learned is that you can't make good art on a specific time-line/deadline.   Every creation needs proper time to breathe and grow organically.  This was a problem for me and being signed to a record company -  scheduled releases and a pipeline that isn't conducive to creativity.  There are several tracks on this album that just didn't get finished properly - needing the full term to incubate and only having a few months to plan, produce and realize in it's totality.









For instance, this version of Free Dancing has a guitar and vocal overdubs that didn't exist on the original version - and is actually done now.  Pulling tracks up later at home and adding/editing more.  I'm still proud of it though - came together nicely.  It just needed more time to simmer properly.  Pulling Free Dancing back up and do a new clip/video (30 years later) is a real treat.




























Friday, 28 August 2015

borderlines


two men look out the same prison bars
one sees mud and the other stars
Beck



b o r d e r l i n e s




this world keeps spinning us around
and I may never touch the ground


hidden messages?
oh yeah



oh - and turn it UP! 
because it sounds
good  












old friends
 

you could hear a pin drop ...
that was then ... this is now

your wildest instincts, i can't appease ...



borderlines
 
It's what I wanted ... to perform live more than anything.  Massey Hall?  Please.  An amazing band and this on a massive screen (back), imaging borderlines as we play it - just like this only way bigger.  I'd been on the road with lavish, theatrical cover-bands as a front guy (1977-1980), and loved it!  The road crew, big lights and sound, traveling/new places, new people.  What a blast.  I became distracted by machines though ... loved electronic music/sound toys.  I needed to get back into the studio and record.

Between 1980 and 1986, I lived in the studio.  Personal hygiene out the window - zero social life.   Still playing guitars but fascinated by music synthesizers, MIDI - big gear.  Large format recording/mix studios in Toronto - learning ... drifting/creating.  I was a sponge and it ruled me.  Addicted to BIG sound and the technology that manipulates it.  Yep.








This and many songs like it on "old friends", were recorded small format later on.  Apple Mac PLUS computer running "performer" an early MIDI sequencer sync/recording voices on my Roland R8 1/4 inch, eight track analog recorder/mixer combo in my home studio on small speakers - all crude compared to today's standards.  I loved having 24/7 access to a studio, albeit a humble one.

I was listening to a lot of new music that was off centre but amazing - Vangelis w/Jon Anderson, Enya, Swiss harpist Andreas Vollenweider - composer Mark Isham - the list goes on and on.  Music for me was about embracing chill in the chaos.

I recently pulled borderlines up, scraped it off and took a rag to it - re-listening.  Having embraced iMovie/Final Cut here,  I was inspired to put an audio/visual clip together - now 30 years later.  Best part ... I can do this - I can put my music to pictures, bringing it back to life in HD.    I think it's safe to say that there's an underlying sadness to my work, but if you look carefully you will see cracks in the surfaces where light seeps out - optimism.   Fretless bass by Dave Smith and alto sax by Jon Panshychyn.

Sometimes you get to work with these musicians ... who listen to the track once, then nail it - first take.  That's both Dave and Jon.

It's a place where I can go back and revisit AND bring you with me
an alignment thing.