Gently coaxed back to life.

Refining lyrics to a song I love dearly that never got a chance to be heard. It’s time is now. Coaxing abandoned lyrics into something meaningful and in this moment is macro level work; ever so gently with the details… and I’m sure I’m not done yet. Tonight’s the deadline though! This is a job, after all…

Another strange aspect to this; it actually makes more sense to my life now, than when I first tried to write it. So strange how songs can do that. It feels like I wasn’t ready to say it. It suddenly feels alive again. It feels now.

BEHOLD! The Invisible Guitar II

I’ll save the hows and whys for another post. For now, I’m just really excited to pull this off – I’ve wanted to play big riffs with the Gloves for the longest time. It’s HUGE FUN

Fragments.

I love love LOVE geometric artwork. Something delicate revealing itself in hard lines; the deliberate incompleteness of edges, like the meaning is concentrated in the centre… it’s magic. These portraits by Dave Merrell are beautiful. More on his Behance profile.

Using GarageBand as an Instrument in the Studio.

Because I wanted to fly in the face of purism a little. Lots of great musicians I know see iPads as something else – a toy, a sandbox, but not an instrument you’d use in the studio.

I’m recording straight from GarageBand iOS using the Erhu – phone audio doesn’t sell it, but it’s a beautifully expressive thing. This is the first time recording with the iPad being the interface; I normally send MIDI into it, Touch is an interesting (and occasionally infuriating) way to play instruments…

The Juggling Act.

Oh, how I wished this post had a punchline. An answer. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t. I’m still scratching my head.

My daily problem: having so much business to attend to, finding time to make music feels almost impossible. That’s nothing unusual. My friend and fellow Disabled musician Clare Johnston nailed it in a recent chat: there’s a full time job doing all the stuff *around* the music, before you make any music. Admin, Social Media, Bookkeeping, Funding applications; I’m always busy doing… stuff.

Being disabled adds another variable to juggle; energy. Being when you’re disabled is hard enough. The effort it takes just to exist is exhausting. And there’s all the stuff. Before I’ve made any music. If I’ve got any energy left to make music…

But, it is what it is. I’ll remain proactive as long as I can. I know loads of artists and technologist who work for themselves and have to juggle all this stuff. So is there a better way? Must we all be spread so thin?

I have a few clues which I’ll get into in more detail in future posts. I’m a fan of Getting Things Done, and I use OmniFocus to balance my task lists. I also feel confident that my interest in Mindfulness Practice is buying me more time by keeping my head clearer. I’ll get into how I use these tools soon.

What about you? Do you have a portfolio career? How do you fit it in? Are you winning? Or are treading water? The future of the portfolio career path in part depends on us being open and honest about what it takes, I believe. That Pinterest-Successful, Hashtag-Career-Goals mindset won’t cut it for long. I hope we can turn the gig economy into a fruitful, inspiring space, but I wonder if the bubble is fit to burst…

*Dusts this old thing off* [ALSO: PODCAST NEWS!]

Hello! Are you still out there?

Okay, so a few updates!

First up: Patreon! I set up a patron page a couple of months ago to showcase a behind-the-scenes narrative that I thought would interest some of my audience. I know a lot of people arrive at my work from music Tech background, so it seemed appropriate to offer a “in” for those people. So that now patron exclusive behind-the-scenes documentary series, which really gets under the hood of a lot of the Technology processes. And of course, people subscribing to this patron Page are supporting the future of my work.

But that’s not all! I had always intended Dyskinetic to be multiple creative outputs, not just songs and music. One of the things I’m very aware of is a conversation happening around my work that takes in stories from music, disability AND technology. Loads of really interesting people contribute to that conversation, but mostly that conversation happens in private after a gig or other conference -it’s just me and another person chatting. It never becomes public.

So, being a fan of podcasts, I decided that a podcast would be an ideal way to share some of these conversations. Pretty soon after that I realised the podcast would also be a great way to blog, given my struggles with typing.

I was concerned about creating blog content that excluded my deaf friends and followers through an access barrier. But, of course, writing lengthy blog posts is an access barrier for me, due to typing. I also know people who find reading lengthy blog posts and transcripts to be an access barrier.

Having recently contributed to the Drake music podcast, I decided to take advice from them. I was reminded of the above scenarios; all of your content isn’t necessarily accessible to all audiences. It makes sense; I didn’t worry about my paintings in art college being inaccessible to blind people. Given that I am somewhat in the public eye and and identify as disabled, I hope I can be forgiven for overthinking get a bit. Perhaps most frustrating of all was the amount of time that I spent this persevering with typing blog posts despite the pain in my hands. I was creating content to be accessible despite the fact that the process itself was not accessible to me, the creator. That’s all wrong. But I’m still hopeful that I can continue blogging without all that old-fashioned typing business. It’s 2018 after all; we live in the future!

So I’m proceeding with the podcast and also making I renewed commitment to try and battle with voice to text to keep my blog up-to-date. I’ve had to explain this a lot as occasionally people don’t seem to grasp this problem: it’s not that I struggle with writing or language, only the dexterity necessary to type. By the way, this is the first decent sized podcast that I have “typed” almost entirely with my voice. It’s never 100% and still requires some tweaking, and occasionally speaking weirdly slowly but it’s definitely easier van typing. That’s than typing, not van typing… see!? It doesn’t always work…

So hopefully between the podcast and the dictated blog, most of what I do and talk about will be covered. I don’t have to budget for professional transcriptions of the podcast episode yet, but I will try to make as much of the content available as possible.

Patreons get a few weeks headstart on the podcast too, so that’s another good reason to sign up: HERE!

So as always, thanks for checking in. There’s lots happening, I promise it’s going to get super interesting and exciting very soon..!

Blue October; I Hope You’re Happy.

If, like me, your favourite band isn’t a stadium sized dinosaur, you may be familiar with an uneasy contradiction. On one hand, I want *everyone* to experience the magic of that band, and I want them to be shouting from the rooftop of pop culture. But I also get a real buzz out of being ‘in the gang’ – of meeting other fans, connecting with the band directly, and having the joy of seeing your favourite band in decent-sized (i.e. not stupidly big) venues. There’s a connection, an intimacy, and it’s unashamedly hip pleasure. You want your favourite band to take over the world AND be your little secret, all at once.

So for now, I’ll enjoy everything that comes with being in the exclusive who know and love the magic that is Blue October.

I’m really late to the party, having only discovered them a few years ago. They almost immediately became one of my all time favourites, neatly dispelling the tired idea (that I was starting to fall for) that all your favourite music is the stuff you discover in your youth. Blue October haven’t had the decades of my attention that R.EM. or Metallica or Smashing Pumpkins have, but they made it to legendary overnight in my musical imagination.

A couple of years ago, another evening spinning nostalgic on YouTube with my other half Nicci; somewhere along the autoplay way a song called Fear came on. I was immediately knocked back. The striking lead singer seemed to reach out from the beautifully understated video and grab me. By the time the second chorus came around, I knew I was hearing one of my all time favourite songs for the first time. It was a Today. An Everybody Hurts. A Nothing Else Matters. It was… everything.

And so I was hooked. As a band they make beautiful widescreen rock tracks, but it was in the lyrics where I really got lost. Frontman Justin Furstenfeld is an incredible force. He’s cut from the same kind of cloth as Michael Stipe; cryptic yet direct, introspective yet relatable. Like Stipe, he shapes complex ideas out of unexpected phrases. But Justin takes this further; his lyrics are more intense, more revealing. Like all my favourite songwriters, Justin digs deep into himself in a way that makes digging into myself a little easier. I’m not just talking as a lyricist myself; I learn more about me through these songs. That’s the power, when songwriting reaches beyond and dares to go deep.

The show was nothing short of extraordinary. The whole band worked to connect with the audience, and the crowd/band dynamic was beautifully crafted. It reminds me that a great show is always a collaboration between the artist AND the audience – serving up music to be passively consumed is not the real thing.

Justin’s connection as a frontman to his audience takes the power of the writing to an even greater height. To say he’s one of rock’s greatest frontman (tempting as it may be) does him a disservice. This isn’t just about rock star moves. This is about a human connection. He reaches out, he reaches wide, with sincerity and utter fucking conviction. It’s a HUGE thing he’s building out there on that stage every night.

All of this reminds me to keep digging, to go bigger, to be honest in my own songs. Blue October drive me further on into what really matters in music. They remind me to keep pushing for that truth, that beauty. To never settle. I’m a better songwriter for being a Blue October fan.

I’m not normally one for the meet and great, but Nicci and I agreed we had to connect IRL with the band. Besides their influence on my work, they’re a huge part of our life soundtrack. Our kids love them. Draven sings Fear at the top of his lungs most days. If I ask the twins what music they want on, they’ll almost always say “COAL MAKES DIMONS!” (sic, obvs).

We got to share this with the band, and we got onto our tenuous musical connection; us both being collaborators with Imogen Heap – small world that it is. Justin has so much love and admiration for Imogen, it was nice to be able to pass that on…*

Of course, I can’t help hold my own work up to the light, and damn, I would LOVE to share a stage with these guys. We’re trying to hit things from a very similar place, I gotta think that would be a great show. Or maybe I’m just being totally absorbed by my own ego’s gravity. OF COURSE *I* can see myself opening for my favourite band! And everyone loves them gloves, I guess… It’s a real bucket list thought, and my bucket list is looking pretty healthy too…

  • Perform one of my all time favourite songs (Breath In by Frou Frou) with Imogen Heap
  • Play music full time
  • Challenge perceptions of what disabled artists can do
  • Get some real world recognition for my music (being recognised never gets old!)
  • Provide for my family with MY music!
  • Perform at Abbey Road
  • Travel the world playing my music
  • Play a BIG show in the US
  • Perform for my guitar hero, the legendary Steve Vai!
  • Open for Blue October?

…Shush now. I can dream big. You can’t stop me…

I’ve ticked off some huge stuff on my bucket list, for sure. Right now, just having seen my favourite band be THAT FUCKING GOOD in an intimate venue is bucket list stuff. After all, a band that are *that* fucking POWERFUL onstage can’t do intimate venues forever…

*I performed with Imogen a few days later, and she wanted to send her love right back at Justin and the guys. So Justin, if you’re reading this; WE LOVE YOOOOO! 😍😍

Access, Blogging & Fitting It All In.

I read a great article recently about five common blogging faux pas. I can happily say that I have never committed four of them, however I was guilty of the last one all the fucking time.

And that is… Not blogging for ages and then making your next blog post an apology for not blogging for ages. Yawn.

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MiMu Gloves Live: That You’ll Never Know @ Live Music Now

On Friday I was at a conference held by for Live Music Now. LMN are a fantastic organisation connecting music experts to SEN/D schools and other disability focused groups. I was there to show off the MiMu Gloves and talk about my journey through the gloves and my tentative steps into SEN/D focused music leading.

This demo shows quite neatly how I use the gloves to live-loop different instruments and layers. I’m really pleased with how it sounds now. This song was always a casualty of the light-touch electronic sound I started creating with the gloves. There’s a big wall of feedback-type sound, a huge droptuned guitar riff, and some finger-tapping type sounds.

I’m manipulating sounds of my regular guitars (in this case my Ibanez 7-String) sounds for the main riff. This concept has been with me for a while; to play *my* guitars “through” the gloves. I’m still playing live, and it’s still my guitar, there’s just a new interface between. This is exactly the kind of thing I got excited about doing with the gloves when I first got them, a neat little moment of accessibility creating something new entirely…