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I’m renovating the house at the moment, so the place is littered with all manner of related detritus: brochures, drawings, B&Q receipts. And paint charts.

I also write songs, and inspiration comes from a variety of sources: people, events, people, the news, people, the weather – OK, mostly people!

My songwriting technique often revolves around a guitar or piano riff and a bit of interplay with another guitar, or bass line. I then mumble along a rough melody to the hook and the words start forming from there. Usually this might be mixed with some phrases I’ve read in a book or newspaper; or perhaps something I’ve overheard or remembered from a conversation, meeting or other event.

I’m rarely stuck for ideas (luckily), but the other evening I was looking at paint charts – like you do – and to my surprise they were full of potential lyrics and ideas for songs.

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I thought the Crown charts above were quite mainstream but the Farrow & Ball paint charts I also looked at would perhaps be more use for folk songs, with names like: Blackened, Lamp Room Gray, Pigeon, Cinder Rose, Borrowed Light, Litchen, Railings and Arsenic to name a few.

So from now on if I ever need a little inspiration to complete a song, the first place I’ll turn to is a Farrow & Ball or Crown paint chart – depending on the style of music, of course…

This week Hudd Sounds released a new music track called Experienced Eyes. It’s a collaboration between myself and talented singer/songwriter Sarah Ryan, with whom I also perform in NewQuay Times.

As well as vocal performances on Experienced Eyes, Sarah also wrote the the lyrics for the track. When I was playing around with initial ideas for the song on the guitar and bass back in April 2012 I called it Experienced Eyes as a working title. Sarah took this cue, penned the rest of the lyrics, and the title stuck.

Me and Sarah at the studio

Me and Sarah at the studio

Instruments

Drums and strings play a major part in the music composition. I also have a little double-tracked 12-string guitar in there to emphasise some of the transitions. Synth bass plus upright double bass complete the low end section. In addition there are cymbals, a gong, and some scratching effects in there too. The song is based on a Fmaj7 / G6 repetition with ever-changing bass notes for a circular progression. Sarah’s powerful voice was tracked on it’s own except for the end section where we double tracked the vocal for a little harmony on the repeats.

Production

Experienced Eyes is a combination of midi instruments and recorded drum/cymbal loops. Sarah’s voice was recorded via a Neumann TLM-103 and TL Audio valve processor. I used my old favourite Logic Pro workstation and RME interface to record, arrange, mix, and master the track at Dreambase Studios. Adam Audio speakers were used to monitor, but I tend to check the mix in a variety of locations before the final mix – car, laptop, phone, headphones, ghetto-blaster, etc.

Artwork

I took the photo below whilst walking the dog on an industrial estate one afternoon. This became the front cover for Experienced Eyes. The font is Bauhaus Med BT.

Experienced Eyes cover art

Copyright © 2013 Hudd Sounds

Sarah Ryan

I first met Sarah when she was performing in the play Be My Baby at the local ‘theatre in a pub’. A few weeks later I was contacted by Sarah’s father to ask me if I’d like to play drums and write songs for a new band he was setting up with Sarah and and bassist Stu. We all met one evening at a local pub and had a first practice. I was immediately taken with Sarah’s dynamic delivery, coupled with a wide vocal range that made her performances seem almost effortless. From there the aforementioned NewQuay Times was born.

Sarah is a regular performer in the Swindon Young Musicians Jazz Orchestra and is a soprano in the senior choir at Royal Wootton Bassett Academy. She has also had a number of acting roles, both in school and with professional theatre groups.

Release

Experienced Eyes is released via download for now in all the usual stores such as iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, etc. We hope to have a video to go with it soon.

Look out for further electronica/dance collaborations in the near future…

All Material Copyright © 2013 Hudd Sounds  E&OE

NewQuay adventures in music

February 7, 2012

Last year I was asked if I’d like to form a new band, contributing my drumming, song-writing and music production skills. I jumped at the chance having already seen and heard vocalist and guitarist, Sarah performing at the local theatre group. I’d been looking to get some female vocal performances for a few of my songs so this was a perfect chance to execute an ambition. With Sarah’s powerful and wide ranging voice I felt we already had a head start.

We are called NewQuay Times. Why? Because Sarah and her Dad, Vince (guitar) enjoyed visits to Newquay in Cornwall and I enjoy visits to New Quay in Ceredigion, Wales.

We already have one gig under our belt which went particularly smoothly considering our relative infancy. We’ve been rehearsing regularly now in preparation for recording a demo tape (for tape, read: CD or MP3!). NewQuay Times consists of drums, guitar, bass (Stu), and vocals and our influences range from Tom Petty and The Cranberries, through to Belly and Band of Horses. We have been combining covers with a lot of brand new material which, as mentioned, we shall be recording in the next few weeks.

So far the new music has been developing really well with plenty of creative input from all members. This balance of input is important for the band, in order that we all have a chance to make our mark on the team effort.

For me it’s been great to rework some of old songs that I wrote over ten years ago and adapt them to a new band situation. And yes, this does involve actually writing out the lyrics and chords properly for others to follow!

Our next gig is at the 12 Bar in Swindon on Saturday 25th February. We are one of 4 bands as part of the new 12 Bar Introducing Live event for unsigned artists. Watch this space for more NewQuay Times developments and/or follow us on Facebook or MySpace.

Cheers for now.

I recently completed some music compositions and a sound mix for Stephanie Palmer’s documentary about asthma sufferer Lisa and the steps she’s taken to cope with the condition. Called ‘Lisa’s Story: On My Sleeve’, the documentary was made as part of a series of films for Asthma UK and Big Up Your Chest TV to highlight the condition and how it affects the lives of those who suffer with asthma.

The guitar pieces for the film were intended to be simple and light-hearted but also to have a thoughtful tone and feel. This was designed to convey the subject matter and Lisa in the best possible way, and to complement Stephanie’s editing style. The edit audio from Final Cut was remixed and treated to reduce the large amounts of location interference from pedestrians and other building-related sounds. Extra ambience was added to add emphasis to the different locations in the film.

The film can be seen here:

This is the theme I composed in Logic Studio as part of the overall sound design Mark and I did at Dreambase Studios for a theme park ride called Hoverchase 4D. It’s a breakbeat style intended to keep the pace of the ride from beginning to end, and to complement the speed of the visuals and the multilayered sound effects in the ride.

Hoverchase 4D was produced by Lightworx Media and is distributed by The Juice. The trailer can be seen here.

I recently had actor Richard Cambridge at Dreambase Studios to record his new commercial voice reel. To compliment Richard’s excellent and wide ranging vocal performances, I also added some sound fx and music loops to complete the commercial content. Also included is an example of Richard’s narrative.

I used a Neumann TLM-103 mic in to a TL Audio 5051 channel strip to record Richard’s voice. Sound fx and music were added as appropriate from the Dreambase Studios library.

The commercial spots were adapted and written by Richard himself and myself, in order to demo a wide range of creativity and delivery from one voice.

If you need a similar service for your voice reel or indeed any other voiceover, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me and see what I can do to promote your talents.

We actually had a proper practice on the 19th June (day after the Rolly gig). This gave us a long needed chance to try out some new tunes for the next set we play. We played together for 3-4 hours and then suddenly flagged due to the gig the night before, and the fact we didn’t see our beds until well into the early hours. However we recorded the bare bones of three new songs, one of which had the riff and lyrics (and bass line, I think!) contributed by yours truly. These mark a new direction for the band which sees us being slightly less ‘rock’ and more ‘delicate’, dare I say it. We might even have room for some keys at this rate! We are all taking a break from Sleepyhouse Corner activities until the end of September, which will see us working on individual music projects with the hope of bringing some of the resultant fruit harvest to the Sleepyhouse Corner cauldron. Photo to follow…along with some new tunes, we hope…