Monthly Archives: December 2013

So Very Long 2013

Every New Year’s Eve, I take advantage of the opportunity to cryptically list what I’ve been up to in the last twelvemonth, and this year it’s one hell of a post. Though the year has been full of defeat and rejection, it has in many senses been one of my most action-packed to date (in keeping with last year’s resolution). So it’s my pleasure to tell you that in 2013 I saw seals on a sandy beach and sea lions on a wooden jetty; accidentally walked through the set of Iron Man 3; saw silent fireworks over the wing of a budget airliner; held rings at a wedding ceremony and bought more from a jeweller’s; picked up my first 3D pokemon; debuted a song in the top room of an ancient college tower; rose with the lark to swim in a gym that looked like a boat and pick wildflowers in coastal ruins; ate at Obama’s favourite barbecue place; got frantic in a May sunrise; reunited with old friends in the face of gourmet curry; took a china cow outside; escaped purple lions; watched the stars come out in Horspath; borrowed giant slippers in a narrowboat; visited a tiny aquarium and a huge one; finally started using serious video editing software; ate an exceptionally huge 50s banana split; narrowly escaped death amidst the freight containers of West Oakland; got sunburn in Newcastle; learnt prosody at last; walked straight past the world’s largest imported cheese; rode two different American rapid transit systems; launched my first crowdfunding campaign; devised my first university syllabus; returned to a teepee after a rousing chorus of ‘Because the Night’ with a Crumpet Merchant; scoffed fake wotsits whilst revealing the extent of my ignorance about Vietnam; stood under the stars listening to d-ream pumping out of a C17th banqueting hall; chanced upon a bad lion in the best way imaginable; failed to preserve a special piece of cake from a ravening belly dog; got Dissed by the train network on New Year’s Eve; did crosswords in Christchurch meadow with a pile of Mexican food; piloted a light aircraft over Gloucestershire; used a cinema as a green room; raced against a lawnmower to sing Dylan Thomas lyrics in a building opened by Brian Eno; lost well over 50p in a 2p arcade; snuggled with a Siamese; collaborated with one of my favourite artists on a song about turtles and came eye to eye with a real one; returned from a venison forest smelling of firewood; failed to gain access to the house of ‘The Dead’ and the tower from the start of Ulysses; participated in the theft of a minor piece of agricultural equipment; brought chipfish into a nautical cellar pub where they did salsa later; lectured on Victorian poetry; filled a moleskine; flew through an unending sunset to check tire pressures; got looked at by a liger; played elevator music in a giant flamingo costume; entered the futuristic world of Android; sat round a corrugated canalside bonfire listening to a trad music session; survived a banquet at which I was unexpectedly seated two down from my old biology teacher; inhabited a nook; watched smoke-filled bubbles pop against the sunset; sold my first guitar; watched the entire first season of Scott and Bailey in a single night; attempted (unsuccessfully) to take a selfie with Paris, France on my shoulder; picked up jazz chords; went in a hot tub in a tropical thunderstorm; accidentally attended the retirement party of the head usher of the Irish parliament (in the private bar of the Irish parliament); failed to witness an urban dance-off; got buzzed by a red kite; successfully navigated of Scorpion Swamp; cruised a real swamp in a hovering airboat; briefly impersonated Gaz from Supergrass in Leicester; saw him in a co-op in rural Oxfordshire (?); rode a ferris wheel at the end of route 66; voyaged in the gondola of a bestselling nineteenth-century spiritualist, piloted by an authentic Venetian; swam with ducks under hot air balloons; desperately sought mobile phone signal in a Welsh valley; faked interest in a stately home full of wood-burning stoves; downloaded a large number of pictures of the Megalosaurus; casually picked fresh spinach; saw a real live hero open a library in my hometown; trousered the ending of Mass Effect 3; watched a 50s horror film amidst the Smoky Mountains; joined my first picket line; threw a pear in the Taff; carried a cardboard box through a dinosaur theme park; sucked at ping pong in two separate locations; had a modelling photoshoot in an abandoned crazy golf course; ate too many matchmakers at a desert-themed film festival; got given a Christmas card; and perhaps most importantly, installed a whiteboard. I remembered, better than usual I think, that there’s always a tonne of amazing stuff that never makes it onto these lists, and was constantly grateful for all of it.

I had some ideas and even put a few into practice. I wrote some songs, and some words, but there’s always more to do. Next year promises to be even more insane – and not just because of the new album lurking on the horizon! But my resolutions are a bit more personal this year, and so I’m not sharing them here. I hope that whatever yours are, they come out on top – and I hope your 2014 is as awesome as mine is going to be!

New Year’s Eve Sale!

It only just occurred to me to have a look at my bandcamp stats, and I found that they’d rocketed to an all-time high during my crowdfunding campaign for the second album – despite nothing new being on there. It’s great that the success of the crowdfunding has stimulated a bit of interest in my older stuff, and it seemed that New Year might be a good time to allow folks to complete their FaceOmeter back catalogues…

Therefore, it’s my pleasure to announce that until the end of New Year’s day, digital downloads from my bandcamp store will be heavily discounted!

Here’s what I’m offering:


To Infinitives Split (2009) – Usually £7.90, now £5
My first full-length LP. Lo-fi recording quality but well-mastered and including several tracks (‘Stuffed Animals’; ‘A Strange Visitor’) which are still live favourites!

The Spooky EP (2011) – Usually £4, now £3
A product of Taplin, Tattersdill, and Jones – of which I represent 1/3rd – this Hallowe’en-themed EP also works at other times of the year! Exceptional production standards.

Last Days in the Capital EP (2012) – Usually £2, now £1
I spent ages on this tiny record and no-one bought it. Perhaps this could be its moment? The secret track is amazing I’VE SAID TOO MUCH


The End of the Beginning

The first full-length FaceOmeter album came out in July 2009; it was recorded in my bedroom (in a series of bedrooms, actually) and bravely mastered into something resembling listenability by the excellent John Jones. It’s still a decent listen, rather to my surprise, but in the 4.5 years since it came out – and especially the last twelve months – much has changed.

Via a few other cool projects, I’ve arrived at the shores of album #2. It’s going to be better, partly because of the things I’ve learned and the ways in which I’ve grown as an artist in the last five years, but partly because crowdfunding has allowed me to move out of the bedroom and hook up with an extremely awesome sound engineer and an amazing artist/designer. In the end, the level of support for this new record blew me away. The average contribution was nearly £24, and the project ended up going 16.3% over its £1,750 target. £2,000 isn’t a lot compared to the budget of a regular album, but for a grassroots artist like me the psychological difference alone is incalculable. The plan now is to take that money and move quickly to a non-extradition treaty country, where

That cash is going to pay for higher quality production, for decent engineering, for great art, and for a bunch of other tiny things which will set this record aside from the others I’ve made so far. But there are a few things which won’t change: it’s still me and my tunes at the centre of it; it still depends on collaboration with amazing friends; it’s still about imagination, and belief, and the things that happen in our brains when we meet each other; and (most importantly) it will still feature the Hectic Eclectic Folk Choir, the mysterious choral enclave which everyone who contributed to the campaign is now invited to join for a magical day (so if you contributed and don’t check your e-mail very much, you need to fill in this short survey)!

Listening to fried eggs sm

I’m thrilled this is happening. Though I’ve been putting the songs for this record together for years, I was suffering from a real lack of momentum in the months leading up to the campaign. I put it online with genuine trepidation – if I hadn’t raised the money, it would have been such a public defeat, and for all my pontificating about audience size not mattering to me, I doubt I would have recovered. The first crowdfunding website I went to wouldn’t host me: they said my target wasn’t realistic, that I didn’t have enough followers on facebook, that I couldn’t raise the money. I’ve got a lot going on in the rest of my life right now, and it would have been easy to stop there; in amateur music, and I believe I’ve earned the right to say this, there’s never anything easier than quitting. But then, why take the easy road? Why not jump in with both feet just to see, owning victory or defeat rather than hanging around for the compromise? Why wait for failure?

Winding things up

The year comes to a close, and with it my Indiegogo campaign. We’re overfunded – not by as much as I’d hoped possible, but still with enough in the kitty to make a highly respectable album, one which everyone who donated will really enjoy (I hope!).

This was (is) my first attempt at crowdfunding and I’ve learnt a few useful lessons along the way. Next time – if there is a next time – I’ll hopefully be able to put together even more enticing money-raising activities! For now, though, the focus is on making this project as good as it can possibly be.

We’ve already started! I had two days in studio with the delicious Dean McCarthy just before Christmas, and both of us survived! We did 11 guitar tracks and 4 vocal tracks, as well as capturing the whole of Ditte Elly‘s guest appearance on the track ‘Child of Monkey Horse!’. A productive session – and more’s scheduled for the new year!

BcL9lM0IMAA4VmyPriorities in the next session are keyboards and the remaining guitar tracks, and then we can start thinking about the choir sessions! With the exception of annoying string buzz which impeded our attempts to record ‘Summerhouse’, it’s all going suspiciously well. I can’t wait for the next phase!

Many thanks!

The Crowdfunding Attempt is dead, long live the Crowdfunding Attempt

So with two weeks still to go, we scored 100% funding on the indiegogo campaign to fund my next album. This is really heartwarming and exciting, and I’m off into the studio at the end of this week to get to work! But the funding drive is not over – I’m anxious to raise even more money to finance superior packaging for the CD and (if I raise enough) to make a music video to go along with it.

To this end, Freya (my amazingly fabulous cover artist) has agreed to screen print a highly linited edition run of handmade t-shirts, which you can now have one of by ordering through the igg page – and I’ve also specced some special postcards and pins which we’re going to make for anyone who’s interested in adding a few quid more to our takings.

This will be totally worth it! Check out Freya’s talent by glimpsing this preview of the album cover:

canvasIf you haven’t contributed yet and want a copy of the next FaceOmeter CD, now’s the time! Albums from £10, goodies from £4 – every penny counts, and every contribution is deeply appreciated. Thanks, guys!


And when our money is all gone / we’ll boldly go to sea

The response to my crowdfunding campaign has caused a slight shift in the way I think about my music. I put it online with a great sense of trepidation – for to not get full funding on a project of this kind is a very public kind of failure, one which necessarily takes place in front of all your friends. But my friends have been amazing, and not them only. People I haven’t seen for years and people I’ve never met at all (to my knowledge) have been chipping in, and we’re now over 85% funded in just two weeks. With a bit of luck, we’ll exceed our goals and I’ll be able to afford the nicer CD cases I have a crush on! I urge you to pre-order your copy if you haven’t already. Doing so now will get you a copy ahead of the official release date – but it will also make you part of the record in a way that’s really exciting (literally, if you can get to Oxford for the recording session). It’s £10 for a digital and £12 for a physical CD, and there are all kinds of other bonuses available besides the album itself, which will be 14 tracks long and which, I confidently predict, will blow your very socks off.


The reason all this nonsense has changed how I think about my music is that singer-songwriting, even when highly collaborative (and I’ve been less collaborative in the last seven months) is fundamentally a lonely thing. The very real change is that I no longer feel like I’m doing this alone. Of course, I’ve always been surrounded by amazing people – but this level of support, which I was genuinely unprepared for, has made what I’m doing feel a tiny bit more consequential. In one day – the campaign release day, two weeks ago – my anxieties went from “I hope some people fund this” to “I hope I can produce something good enough for all these people!” This is, in my view, a healthy shift.

But while I’ve been solipsising fruitlessly about all this arty rubbish, The Ballina Whalers just got on with it and released a new CD. Here’s my favourite track from it.

I can already see the film scene this is in. I think there’s a battle of some kind going on, a battle in which important characters die, and which the viewer knows from the start will be hopeless. And there’s no sound in the scene at all – just footage, possibly in slow motion, of the enemies charging at each other – and this music. JUST A SUGGESTION GUYS.

This CD is £6 digital or £7.50 for the ‘real thing’, and I recommend it heartily. 1/3rd of it comes from Jamie “Magic Lantern” Doe, who also has a new record in the works. We’re using the same recording engineer because that’s how incestuous all this artsy bullshit is.