All Your Cartoon Pals.

I debuted this song at the SAGE Gateshead Pay-Per-View in May. It’s a strange beast; like an REM song produced by Guy Sigsworth. That’s mostly what I do. Make the imaginary things real. These songs already exist, in a sense. I just have to be quiet enough to hear them.

I recorded a vocal I’m very happy with today. It takes a minute to find the voice for a song. It often feels like a song asks me to lean into something specific about my voice. This song, I was singing delicately. Cute maybe. It wasn’t working. The song wanted me to sound stronger. More authority. The lyrics are me singing to myself from the point of view of a parent. I guess that makes sense. The song wants me to be the adult in the story, not the child.

Always the child. I’m a 30-something teenager.

It’s nice to be back. I had a moment to focus. Press the red button. Connect the dots. Live with the song a while.

The songs already exist. The job is to hear them.

The Future (was) Europe.

4 years ago today I was in Brussels representing @mtflabs at the @europeancommission headquarters. Performing with the @mi.mu.gloves at the EU Headquarters outside the European Parliament Chamber felt really significant, and was a huge honour. It was also (inevitably) a really complex security detail to navigate – wearing all that cyborg clobber sure raises eyebrows. Feels weird to be looking back post-Brexit, of course. And post-COVID. I used to fly all over the place at the drop of a hat. Simpler times. Sigh. #europe #eu #stilleuropean #brexit #brussels #mtf #mimugloves

Drake Music: Planted Symphony

I’m always working on something I can’t talk about, and I think it’s yawnfest when musicians post about stuff like “can’t say too much yet” so I don’t usually acknowledge anything – but here is one of those things, which I can now talk about! Phew. 

So, this was complicated. While I was preparing for the huge SAGE Gateshead event, I was also in the studio recording for the new version of Drake Music’s Planted Symphony. It’s the busiest I’ve ever been, recording this and rehearsing the new show was… intense. 

For me it was a really bittersweet opportunity: Lucy Hale, the composer behind this work, had apparently long wanted to work with me and the gloves. Tragically, she passed away from COVID in 2020. It was decided that a team would be assembled to finish the work, which is when I found out about Lucy’s ambitions to work with me. It was humbling, and obviously very sad. 

This marks, I believe, the first time the MiMu Gloves have been used an ensemble instrument to play a score. Turning dots on a page into gestures and into music was not something I imagined would be possible; on piano middle C is where it always is, with gloves that’s meaningless. I had to design a whole method of playing. I’ve also never recorded remotely like this before, but it all felt very natural by the time I pressed the big red button. Recording the gloves, and pushing for the perfect take, was really fun. And really hard work.

I was small part of the puzzle, though. It was an amazing team, and Cassandra Gurling did an especially incredible job finishing the work and making the music happen. It sounds incredible, and I can’t wait for people to experience it. 

Planted Symphony will tour as an interactive experience later this year; first run is in Milton Keynes, and more dates will be announced soon. I and many others from the team will be at as many dates as possible, so it would be lovely to meet some new faces on the road x 

More details of the Milton Keynes run HERE: https://ifmiltonkeynes.org/event/drake-music?fbclid=IwAR1Le6sMfu_HFreCZobLpAV2YKll2hkkGHC-oYsYbhoxjdxYbk5lS_YG2M8

Thoughts On Performing Live In Lockdown.

I’ve torn off the Band-Aid. I was sceptical about performing live via webcams and such – is it real enough? Thanks to the Disability Rights Utah for the opportunity! Mission accomplished.

So what was it like? Well… as most of you know, I’m primarily a live performer these days. I’ve played A LOT of shows, done a lot of performances, for literally thousands of people all over the world.

I’m also reasonably comfortable in front of the camera, having been able to work with amazing directors like Lee Cogswell & Josefa Torres. On the night my partner-in-crime and actual partner Nicci Craig handled the live shooting – no mean feat. We broadcast live via a GoPro, connected via the new GoPro Webcam feature. I was really keen to have a handheld look, and I think it turned out great.

But… it’s still a bit weird. It’s no substitute. I thought it would be like making a music video, but it isn’t really at all. There’s all the pressure of trying to get it right in one take, without the connection of an audience. The audience energy is half the show; I’m bringing just half of what happened, if that. Trying to nail a performance, in my garage, with my kids upstairs in bed… it’s a long way from the Kennedy Center.

I’m not complaining, and I’m grateful for the opportunity. It’s weird, but for now, it’s the best we have.

Live From The Lockdown: TONIGHT

So it’s finally happening. I’ve resisted for a little while, but tonight I will be performing live online with the gloves. I’ve taken my time on this for lots of reasons, mostly just technical ones, but it’s time to try. I’ll be doing a very short appearance, just 1 song, for the Disability Rights Action Committee in Utah, who are celebrating the 30th anniversary of the American Disability Act today. It’s not the first time I have works with an organisation in the US for an ADA celebration event; I, as many of you will remember performed at the ADI celebrations in partnership with the VSA at the Kennedy Centre in Washington DC in 2017. That’s still my biggest gig to date.

Sadly, for obvious reasons, I won’t be there. I’ll be at home, live-linked in via Zoom. I’ll be performing at 20:15 UK Time. 13:15 in Utah. Head to the Facebook page Here>>>> THIS IS A LINK <<<< to watch!

I’m weirdly more nervous about this than a regular gig… The future is weird.

Published
Categorized as Live.

What Disability Is/Isn’t.

This is a copy of a Twitter thread that I posted yesterday which is going to bit of traction.

Of course, the problem with the social media is that none of us own the space, so in the interest of taking ownership of my stuff, here it is. Please consider sharing this; I’d really like it to escape the echo chamber of disabled people agreeing with me. We need people who don’t understand to get on board. We desperately need new allies x


Hypothesis/thread:

The lack of acknowledgement of Disability as a Diversity issue in society stems, in some part I believe, due to a lack of understanding of the Social Model of Disability.

People will often say “I don’t think of you as disabled” – that I’m a “normal” person who just has something “wrong” with me. Being disabled is seen exclusively as a medical issue, not a social one. Something that, on a long enough timeline, can be fixed.

I *still* get comments like “why don’t you go to the doctors?” “Haven’t they fixed that yet?” as if disability will at some point go away

This is part of a wider problem: most people don’t know what disability is.

The Social Model is a really useful tool to articulate to non-disabled people especially what disability is.

I was raised within the Medical Model of Disability ie – Disability is something “wrong” with me that needs to be “fixed”

The Social Model points the issue outwards: I have a neurological condition yes, but I’m disabled by a society that doesn’t accommodate that. I’m not “broken” – society is.

Being spat at. Called a “spakka” by complete strangers. Being stranded on planes/trains. Strangers decided to take charge and move me out of the way. All while being told “I don’t think of you as disabled.” These aren’t my problems; they’re yours.

Society upholds the framework that disables me. Like many, I’m Disabled. With a capital D. It’s a social/political identity. I’m oppressed by society, and I have to stand up to that. This isn’t just a health issue.

Understanding the Social Model (the Disabled person is disabled by society, not their diagnosis) is a first BIG step to creating a more inclusive society. Disability is a vital component in the conversation about Diversity, but is rarely acknowledged.

The Social Model isn’t perfect: there are aspects of some people’s lives for whom it doesn’t resonate (chronic pain will always be present, regardless of access barriers) but it’s the best we have *so far*

Disabled people aren’t just “normal” people who have something “wrong” with them. We’re a vital and inevitable part of a diverse society, and deserve to be recognised as something other than “broken”

“Ablesplaining” is an almost daily occurrence for me on social media and IRL. Listen to Disabled people. Don’t try to “correct” their position on ableism. You don’t get to decide. Apply the Social Model to everything you think you know about Disabled people.

Besides selling music, trying to chip away at Disability discrimination is about the only useful thing I can see for my social media presence.

And I get criticised a lot for pointing out inequality. This is an inconvenient truth for a society that doesn’t want to see it’s inherent ableism. Again; don’t frame this solely as a medical issue. It’s an identity issue.

Thanks for reading. I hope you can become an ally x

Lockdown Block.

I fell for it.

You know the spiel. Write that novel! Make that album! Learn that language!

Like many people, I expect, I wanted to believe that I was going to make the best of this time. But it’s going stale. Becoming toxic. The idea that all this extra time is an opportunity feels horribly flawed.

This isn’t normal. These aren’t the conditions to be creative. There aren’t any right conditions of course, but when there’s so much BIG stuff hanging over us, it can feel incredibly futile, trying to make something. Uncertainty is everywhere. From a distance, with the right amount of equanimity, that can be inspiring. When it’s hanging over you, less so. 

But of course, so many people are making interesting work, which only makes the lack of inspiration worse. People are getting on with it. Why can’t we all?

So, no, I don’t feel like I’ve done anything of note with this time. And I’m wondering if I will. And I’m wondering if I should even worry about it.

The alternative narrative is emerging. In articles, in memes, in tweets. It’s okay if you’re not doing your best work now. We still have to survive this thing. 

I’ve got songs all over the place. Ideas for videos/blogs/whatever. But I don’t have the mindset to make sense of it. I’ve also got three kids at home, and we’re trying to homeschool those. We’re struggling to buy food. I don’t know where the next pay cheque is coming from. And I’m going to make my best music in all this?

I’m looking for the threads to pull, the right ones. To find something exciting and inspiring. And manageable. 

One day at a time right? 

I hope you’re safe xx

GGD Modern & Massive Ableton Live Template.

I love Getgood drums’ Modern & Massive. I love Ableton live. Using the two together is almost perfection. The one feature I always wanted was to have Drum Rack style note naming when programming M and M. And now… I have it! I’ll explain how this was done in another post if people are interested in tweaking it, but for now I’ve provided a template that is set up for Modern and Massive.

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/z0cygomqlv9a7he/AABz-yhMlPD_dkzflFCgDdS2a?dl=0

Hopefully that works for you to! And if you’re wondering, this is what it looks like in use:

Labelled notes, and none you don’t need! I routed the mics too.

And this is what Modern & Massive sounds like in my music. Drums kick in around 2:15, but I’d love you to check out the whole thing; the man himself did a wonderful job mixing this…

Enjoy!