I’ll say it loud. I’ll say it proud. I am an anti-musician! “A what?” I hear you say. An anti-musician. Basically, I’m a musician who can’t play a single instrument. I know, terrible, isn’t it? Or is it…?
See the thing about being a musician or somebody in a creative field is that you have to be exactly that. Creative! The first song I ever wrote, Blackout, was written using nothing but my voice and a kick drum preset in a VST (this is essentially Virtual Studio Technology – audio plug-in software (geeky shit)). Not being able to play guitar or piano or bass forced me to get creative and use my voice as the instrument. Let’s face it, that’s what a voice is, an instrument.
Over the years I’ve become more adept at using VSTs and enlisting the expertise and talents of others (Miles Williams, Steve Wilkinson, David Soulsby, Chris Morton), but I’ve also become a little smarter at using and mixing my own voice. Imagine recording the same person’s vocals for 10 tracks. That’s lead vocals, backing vocals, adlibs and having to mix it and proof it. At some point, you’re going to get really REALLY sick of hearing that person’s voice!
Welcome to my world!
So, you’ve got to be clever with it. I think of it a bit like you would a waning relationship with a significant other. Let’s class it as the seven year itch. So to keep things interesting, I like to pitch shift my vocals, time-stretch them, stack them, chop them up and put them back into my tracks. I’ve been known on occasion to make my own voice sound like a dude… just for the laugh.
Why is this relevant to the new single? Because I’ve used a great many of these methods on my vocals in Don’t Pacify Me. I guess my two guitars, two trumpets, one clarinet and piano can stay where the are. I’m sure I’ll learn how to play them at some point. But for now, at least I’ve mastered my own voice… and we’ve got a pretty good working relationship, it seems!
Originally, Don’t PacifyMe started off as an extension of another song and somehow, during the writing process, it became a little more sinister. A tale of somebody so consumed with the act of shutting you down (pacifying you), that it becomes second nature to them. And that’s the true sentiment of the song.
“This won’t be ignored Burdened feelings fraught With inquisitions of what I am to you”
Now, personally, I don’t like the label of “victim” and I didn’t want our creation to take on that role so the lyrical content shifts from a quite tentative and inquisitive tone to a more assertive and confident voice. The idea is that, once you’re aware of somebody taking you for a fool, you tend to recognise it more and you’re then in a position to do something about it. I wanted the lyrics and vocals to emulate this feeling – a shift in control – so that a sense of empowerment can be felt as the song progresses.
We live in such a visual time. The digital age has proven this. We’re subjected to photos on Instagram, videos on YouTube and the odd cat meme on Facebook. (Come on, now, we all love a good cat meme.) So when it comes to sharing one of your own creations with the world it’s a given that you’ll need some form of enticing visual to connect your creation with your audience.
You’d have thought this would be relatively easy…. but nope!
For us, we had to figure out the styling and type of visual we wanted to use for the artwork. Would it be a custom designed piece of artwork (and we know some fantastic graphic designers) or would we opt for a photo of one (or all) of us?
In the end, we decided to go for a photo of yours truly with actor Mark Morris as we felt it perfectly conveyed the sentiment of the song – having somebody pacify you to appease their own agenda. We were left with 3 viable options.
This is our shortlist of artwork. Do you think we chose the right one? Which would you have chosen? Let us know!
Sometimes it’s not enough to just share your creation with the world – to make something and say “hey, we did something, now bask in our creation”. We want to give you more than that which is why we’ve put together a Behind The Scenes Series of the new single to share with you part of that creative process.
This week we’ll take you behind the scenes of how we chose the artwork, how the lyrics came about, the vocal process and a guest blog from my guitarist Miles Williams revealing his favourite tools of the trade and the introduction of Lola.
New single “Don’t Pacify Me” received its first BBC Introducing airplay last night courtesty of radio host Alan Raw. A former Track of the Week, a demo of the track was included on previous EP, Pacify. Did you tune in? Of course you did! But just in case you “accidentally” missed it, you can listen to it again online. Whoop whoop!
You know it’s going to be a good day when you wake to find that York Press has covered your new single. Not too shabby, if I do say so myself. The wonderful folks over at York Press not only promoted my new single “Don’t Pacify Me” but also where to catch me and the guys performing it live over the next few months.
To quote Charlie Sheen, “winning!” Definitely winning over here!
Read the article in full to find out about the new single, the definition of an “anti-musician” and what we (me and the guys) class as a manly diet.