Yesterday was the second planning session with Dan.

I think we are almost ready now,  in January, to hit the ground running, shoot the flag up the pole and see how it shimmies, type of thing….

(I need a bit of equipment yet too, which will have to wait till the money arrives!)

On the agenda was a list of songs: definites, maybes, and works in progress, or perhaps not yet started. We also talked about how we might use session musicians, and which pieces could use digital, synthesised instruments, and which pieces required the real thing.

This involved quite a lot of guess work, as most of the songs aren’t written properly yet, most I have are mere sound sketches… but I can hear some of them already, I know their characters.

But as we worked our way through the list it became obvious. Most of the songs would be constructed with sound collages/patchwork, in my usual fashion. Any conventional instrumentation in these songs can quite easily be generated through the software, as part of the collage.

However, there will be three or four songs where the instrument is absolutely central, almost holding a conversation with my vocal. These pieces will require a musician, and an instrument, and require that conversation to be real. It requires such expression and quality of sound that only happens at the hands of the experienced musician, with familiarity with their instruments: guitar, double bass, piano, violin. It requires a relationship.


I don’t know whether my audience will recognise this when they hear it. Time will tell.

But I will know, and it makes me smile.


ps. it might seem that we are planning really far in advance, but Dan is off on tour over the next few weeks, please take a minute to look at his website and if he’s anywhere near you, I urge you to go and see him. He is wonderful live, great songs, and lovely chatting whilst guitar tuning occurs.


(Sorry, but I can’t seem to get the link to work properly at the moment… so maybe you could just copy and paste into your browser?)



I had my first meeting with Dan on Monday night, to discuss how we go about these songs, and what we expect from each other, set some dates for studio time, talk about deadlines, equipment, money, words and music… it was a busy hour and a half!


In many ways, although in years I am much older than Dan, he is the world-weary self-employed musician and singer-songwriter, with many experiences chalked up, with a healthy dose of cynicism thrown in. I am naive, and have no idea! So it was his idea that we formalise the arrangement. We set out what each of us expect, ground rules, schedule. We discuss the nitty gritty now, before we start. I like the way this works. When we first worked together, we didn’t know each other at all, so we decided that pussy-footing about being polite wasted precious time, and had the potential to breed resentment. So right from the start, our working relationship tells it how it is. Refreshing. Sharp. Exciting… and my goodness you get a lot more done!


So we will have The Agreement. It is needed more for this than anything else we have done. This is a big project, more time, more money, more emotional and creative investment than ever.

Already I feel more secure. I trust Dan to deliver. Neither of us are promising anything that we can’t. Neither of us are agreeing to anything unrealistic. The parameters are set. So off we go!


I had sent some song sketches, some lyrics and notes to him, a statement of the status quo (without Status Quo) if you like. There’s lots to be done, but there’s also quite a lot more already done than I had originally thought. Much of what I have recorded can be used. I don’t have to start from scratch. When you use ambient sounds and so on like I do, the quality of the recording isn’t so much of an issue, crackles, drones, white noise are all part of the feel. It situates the piece I think.


We will start in earnest the first week in January slap bang after the new year. I have a song I would like to use to launch the project, that sets the scene I think “Invisibility is not a Super-Power”. I want to get this out into the world as soon as we can. I don’t think I will let the others out as we go along though. They can wait until the exhibition opens.


We started to discuss individual songs at the end of the time, and will do more next week. Already, we are both excited for different reasons. I can see these sketchy little ideas of mine becoming rounded, complete pieces. They will have musical integrity, alongside (I hope) my lyrical and visual integrity. THIS is what the money is for… to give me the means to learn how to make them real. Dan isn’t just going to do it for me, hopefully he is going to show me how to do it for myself. I’m highly motivated… I just hope my brain can cope with it!

From his side of the fence, Dan has explained what it is he gets out of it… this I haven’t really been able to totally understand until the other night. He gets creative freedom. These don’t need to be radio-worthy songs. Hell, they don’t even need to be songs. They don’t need to follow the usual rules. They don’t need to be perfect in the same way, They just need to feel right, and for that feeling to be expressed in the best way possible. He can experiment. There are no boundaries to this really, not in terms of the sounds we make, or the structure they follow anyway. And we will have nine songs to play with, nine different situations, emotional responses, nine different adventures. Yes…they will probably be songs… but they don’t have to be… I can see the attraction now… pure creative experimentation!


It’s going to be a blast!