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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.

YOUR VERY SOCKS.

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.

 

Announcements

I’ve had to cancel a previously-announced appearance with MC Lars in London next week, but I’ll still be onstage with him in Leicester this coming Thursday, and it promises to be a real corker!

2013-05-15 15.57.08Lars has been a constant source of friendship and inspiration to me these last seven years, and being on a bill with him is the greatest honour! There’s going to be a lot of Edgar Allan Poe love on this tour, as the poster indicates (check out his new EP on the subject), so do come down if you possibly can. It’ll be mad fun. Tickets, available here, are £9/8.

In other news, I’m selling my Fender Stratocaster. It was my first guitar and I love it very much, but it doesn’t get played these days and I want it to have a home where it will be used and loved! It certainly deserves one. If you fancy it, here’s the gumtree ad. And here’s what the instrument looks like:

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Spring’s Labours Lost

wills poster_smIt’s my enormous pleasure to formally announce the Spring’s Labours Lost tour, which sees Mr. Jamie “The Magic Lantern” Doe and myself bouncing around the country playing shows in pubs, bars, bookshops, and cinemas. The shows are small, intimate, largely unplugged, and highly informal, largely to maximise the opportunity to road-test new material. We’re linking up along the way with some of our favourite acts including Rosie Caldecott and Matt Sage! And there may be a few additions to the programme as we go on.

Alice MacDonald from Falmouth Arts did our poster, which I’m sure you’ll agree is breathtaking. So take a breath, note down which show is nearest to you, and get yourself along to it!

26th April – London – Harrison’s Bar – Tickets here!
29th April – Birmingham – The Lamp Tavern
30th April – Oxford – Albion Beatnik (with Matt Sage)
4th May – Newcastle-upon-Tyne – Star and Shadow Cinema
9th May – Falmouth – The Grapes (with Rosie Caldecott)
10th May – Bristol – Café Kino (with Two White Cranes)

 

Live Set

Last month, I played a short set for the lovely Sofar Oxford, who taped the whole thing and have now sent it to me for YOU to enjoy!

I make quite a few mistakes in this, and it’s the first public performance of two songs (2 and 5) so things are a bit sketchy, but it’s a nice little record of the mood of a FaceOmeter live set, and a memento of a really fun evening. Ditte Elly sings backing vocals on track 4. The setlist is:

Stuffed Animals
Pirate Mariachi
Summerhouse
Child of Monkey Horse!
Unwillingness to Dance

Lit Hop Invasion!

It’s a great pleasure to announce two new shows in May – I’ll be supporting MC Lars on his Lit Hop invasion tour of the UK. I couldn’t commit to join the whole tour, but I’m playing the last two dates and I hope you can make it to them!

May 24th – The Soundhouse, Leicester
May 28th – Surya, London

More details on the shows page! Those of you who don’t know MC Lars, he’s a fantastic hip hop artist and literature graduate who I toured with back in 2009 and who I’ve been doing some recording work with this year. He’s a real talent, and if you like my music you’ll definitely like his, too. Check him out, and come to our shows!

I’ve been away with Sam Taplin in the wilds of Shropshire again. Less video madness this time, but I can tell you that it was an extremely stressful time in the course of which we had absolutely no fun whatsoever:

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A slightly larger update (and some more show dates) coming soon!

Tour Report

At over the halfway mark on Any Path Will Do, the tour I’m on of England But Mostly The West Country with the very excellent Mr. Jamie “The Magic Lantern” Doe, we have a day off – and I have time to write a blog entry! We’re currently cosseted in Mr. Doe’s fashionable London maisonette, having played a show at the Dalston Servant’s Jazz Quarters, a walk away from here, last night. It was lovely – one of the best PAs I’ve ever played through, and by far the best London audience I’ve ever had. He’s tapping away at his laptop, planning new excellence with his other band The Ballina Whalers; I, meanwhile, have been settled with a range of the latest periodicals, from which I surface to write this.

We’ve been on trains like they’re going out of fashion, putting many miles of rail behind us in our quest to take our music to the furthest corners. Our furthest ranging has been to Falmouth, at the tip of Cornwall, where the students at the art college decorated our venue with their work and clustered into the hallway in order to listen to us play. A more sparsely-attended show in Exeter was part-redeemed by the appearance of several lovely FaceOmeter fans from the distant past. In Oxford, defeat turned into victory on a greater scale – despite the venue not knowing that the gig was on (!) we played an exciting show to a wonderful crowd. And wonderful crowds were also the theme in the Dartmoor village of Gidleigh – not just the audience, who packed out the village hall to hear us do our thing, but the family we stayed with, who also set the show up, and fed and hosted us with humbling proficiency.

Something great about the tour has been how individual each show has been. It’s easy to get bored of your own material on tour, because you have to play it so much, but the variety of the venues and types of show we’ve been playing have really saved us from that particular gremlin. There have, however, been two constants: we’ve been playing to truly exceptional audiences everywhere so far, attentive and giving crowds of various sizes who have really contributed to the atmosphere in each place; and we’ve shared the bill with fantastic other acts in each place – Rosie Caldecott, Freddie & Diggory, Mount Olive, Jess McAllister, Shine Like the Sun, Sam Taplin, and Matt Chanarin. We’re looking forward now to playing with Polly and the Billets Doux in Birmingham tomorrow and Rachael Dadd in Bristol on Thursday – the latter show, which will close the tour, I’m especially excited about! Hope you can join us at one of them, and if not, do tune in here for a full tour report after we finish!

All Hallows, all the Time

Taplin, Tattersdill, and Jones’s first live appearance since- well, since last Hallowe’en will be tonight at Pangbourne’s Hall of Sound, three quid in! As previously announced, is the first of three special Spooky shows, the other two being in Birmingham (31st October at the Yardbird) and Oxford (3rd November at the Isis tavern).

With The Spooky EP, released a year ago, we wanted to reclaim Hallowe’en a little bit from the ‘Sexy Nurse’ outfits and the cardboard hats and write something that conveyed the same sense of carnivalesque whilst also being a tiny bit more thoughtful and sincere. You will judge whether we achieved our aims by coming to the above shows, or by watching the following amusing video, reposted from last year:

Mission Accomplished

Last night I finished work on ‘Monkey Horses at the Ocean’s Edge’, which brings the Monkey Horse sequence (about which I’ve also spoken a little bit here) to a conclusion! A tetralogy encompassing rock, indie, folk, and lounge/elevator (?!), it also encompasses folklore, internal monlogue, wildlife documentary, and, now, omniscient narrative. Finally, it encompasses Sam Taplin and Max Jones (on the first track, already released and audible here), and hopefully another guest star whose name I can’t yet reveal because I haven’t actually asked her yet…

I’ll be giving these tunes, including the new one, a pretty thorough work-out on the tour that I’m doing with Jamie “The Magic Lantern” Doe in November (details very soon). And we have a few shows coming up around Hallowe’en to celebrate the anniversary of the Spooky EP, at which the first Monkey Horse tune is likely to make an appearance! Stay tuned for details of those shows..

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New Record Details

Conceived as a way of testing out the Dapper Swindler’s new recording studio in Hackney, Last Days in the Capital is a tiny record collecting songs (and other materials) that I wrote in the moments leading up to my move away from London at the end of July. We’ve been recording it in dribs and drabs on my return visits since, and it’s now my pleasure to hint at some of its contents:

1) Silent Shrove (Dancin’ on the Night Train)
2) Monkey Horses in Strange Climes
3) Settling Out

As well as these, there will be bonus music, video, writing, and illustration – it’s not a record so much as a scrapbook of things, all of which I hope you will consider downloading! It’ll be a digital-only release, and we hope to have it out in the next month or so (we’ve one track left to record).

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Silent Shrove

Well, it took six months, but we finally put together fOwl 17, otherwise known as ‘Silent Shrove’. It’s a silent movie with an entirely original soundtrack, devised and filmed in one day on a budget of zero pounds to celebrate the annual fiesta of pancake-making love that is Shrove. Please enjoy, and circulate it amongst your companions if you find it sufficiently compelling…

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