Monday, 27 December 2010

So. 2010 happened.

Ah, could've been better, could've been worse. I'll be honest, I didn't get as much done as I did last year - creative achievements basically centre around that thar Dinosaurs song. Here are some highlights:
  • Having my friend Matt Pawsey come visit NZ for new year's and a month in Wellington - great times
  • Releasing my debut, full-production, rock single "I Believe In Dinosaurs" - satisfaction ahoy
  • Making my first music video - big ups to everyone who helped
  • Launch party for aforementioned single - a fantastic night, so many thanks to friends/fans/bandmates/fellow musos/Bar Medusa
  • UK & Europe holiday - just simply an amazing time.
  • Jesus & the All Stars Episode 1 - only a short story, but definitely the start of something
  • Open mic nights at the Fringe Bar all year - great times
  • Lighthouses video shoot - again, thanks everyone involved.
It's been an interesting year. Some of us swore in 2009 that 2010 would be much better for everyone, and maybe it has, but from continuing money/employment difficulties to breaking up with my girlfriend, it's not exactly been a barrel of laughs the whole way.

On the creative front, I'm trying to put it down as a transitional year. Last year I recorded an album with acoustic guitar & webcam mic - it was great, but the main purposes were 1) to see if you can record a multi-layered album with basic equipment anywhere in the world (you can), 2) to get a bunch of songs from a certain period of my life recorded and out of my system, and 3) to make something while working towards bigger and better things.

Now, I have better equipment, and recording electric guitar and bass for the first time in 3 years (last time was The Digerati session) felt gooooooooooood. While Dinosaurs is no masterpiece in audio production, it's a good first effort, and more significantly it's marked the beginning of a new period. The Lighthouses single is in the pipeline for next year (another launch party in March!), and the album project has begun.

I'm also getting closer to playing real gigs again, with electric guitar live to raw backing tracks. Backing tracks are not exactly rock'n'roll but I think I can pull it off. It's something I've been talking about for a long time but found very difficult to reach. 2011 will see this happen.

Today is Boxing Day, and having flown up to see my rellies in Orewa for Christmas, I'm off to Ohope Beach in the Bay Of Plenty for a 3rd new year's holiday on another kiwi beach in the sun with awesome awesome friends. Barbecues ahoy!

Best of wishes to everyone out there, especially family, friends & fans who've been really supportive, and all you European folk in the ice and snow - hope 2010 has treated you well, and that you had a great Christmas/Saturnalia/assorted pagan festival celebration. Have a fantastic new year, and see you in 2011.


Friday, 17 December 2010

There's always one tit with his shield upside-down

Thanks to @DmanWW for this one

You Don't Have To Be A Christmas Wizard

It's been over a year since Those Library Wizards made their superb music video for "You Don't Have To Be A Wizard" and I've decided that it definitely hasn't got enough views, so hopefully this blog post will get them some more.

It being Christmas time, I guess I should also post their equally fun video for their festive song "Christmas Retreat". The song features bells, strings, big choruses and rock guitars, put to joyous home video of the guys enjoying Christmas. Love it.

They are busy rehearsing at the moment before going into the studio to record their next full length album with producer legend and all-round top man Neak Menter, who has also been very busy this year touring the world (Australia, US, although sadly not New Zealand yet) with hot new band The Joy Formidable. For Matt and John, my old bandmates, I think it'll be their 8th recording session with Neak, and I'm very jealous.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

And then everything changed

This isn't a personal blog, but I've kept you internet people updated with where I am and what I'm doing. So I feel I should mention that me and the girl you've read about here as Kiwi Girlf are no longer together. There's obviously nothing really I want to say about it on a public blog like this, except that I wish her the absolute best, because she deserves it.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Project Airfix: Update 13-12-2010

Just another small update - added a header and of course the archive, so you can see how it looks at every stage of development. More soon!

Friday, 10 December 2010

Project Airfix: Everyone needs a logo

Quick post - I've made a logo-icon-thing to identify Project Airfix blog posts. It's a bit makeshift, combining Century Gothic & Magneto, but it works!

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Lighthouses music video shoot

Here's what you need for an amazing day out shooting a video:
  • One lighthouse
  • Lots of very cool friends with lots of cameras
  • Friends with keys to aforesaid lighthouse
  • Lashings of summer sunshine

And that's about it! You may want to include (as we did) some food for a picnic; silly toys and props for fun and merriment; friends who are talented filmmakers themselves (@FranFilmMaker and @HoccusFoccus); and a joyous sense of fun.

What you don't need is a cold & sore throat like I had, but if you have one, just push right on through it.


We set off from Mount Victoria Bowling Club late morning - I'd made it an open event on Facebook, which meant it was a bit uncertain who'd be coming and if we'd actually have enough drivers. I'd originally intended it to be an organisation-free trip: everyone films their individual trips to the lighthouse, and we all meet up there, I don't have to organise anything. Hmm not quite.

So it was pretty much like this:
  • Excited people, check
  • Enough cars, check
  • Blinding summer sunshine, CHECK. And off we went!
The drive out of Wellington is almost never inspiring, passing the railways and container port by the cake tin stadium, then following the harbour coastline straight up the underlying faultline. But with bright blue skies and a beautiful harbour, it was marvellous. I immediately started taking driving footage that undoubtedly every other car would be also taking in better quality.

The Rimutaka Ranges

After the usual exciting (i.e. stomach-churning) drive over the Rimutakas, we pulled together a picnic in Featherston next to the railway line. Apparently it's still in use, but you'd be forgiven for thinking it's abandoned - you can just walk on it, over it, around it, whatever. Rachel busted out her pogo stick and hula hoop. Chiara busted out her pasta. It was good times.

The drive out from the Wairararararapa to Cape Palliser is straightforward, and on a sunny day, quite wonderful: flat, dry kiwi farmland making way for rough coastline with white foam on black rocks and sand. And as it turned out, cows all over the road. As you do.

What is this campimping, please tell me more

Sadly it's not seal season, so we skipped a trip to play chicken with the seals (note: this is a joke, never play chicken at a seal colony) and met up at the foot of the lighthouse.

Cape Palliser Lighthouse is about as stereotypical as red-and-white-striped lighthouses get, although rather than being placed 500m out to sea on a rock the size of a futon, it's merely up the cliff. 262 steps up, to be precise (kudos to James for counting).

It was up here the magic happened: as everyone caught their breath and took shots of the awesome coastal views, our friends who work at Maritime NZ unlocked the lighthouse door. (These awesome friends will remain nameless so a] they don't get into trouble, even though it was all above board, and b] people don't hassle them about getting into the lighthouse - this was a mega-special event!)

They were entirely professional and gave us the safety briefing, which mainly consisted of:

  1. Don't touch anything
  2. Small steps, watch your footing and mind your head, use the handrail
  3. Seriously don't touch anything, especially the lens which is the original, irreplaceable crystal glass from when it was constructed.

This last point was quite amazing - when I was on the final floor, I was far too close to take proper photos, so here is a very similar picture on Wikipedia to give you an idea of what it looks like. Awesome. I felt extremely grateful to be allowed inside, and I'm strangely excited to be able to say I've been inside a working lighthouse. Our friends were very cool and kept the door open for other people who had come to visit that day and got a special treat.

After that, it was just a case of playing a 4-song set in the sun and wind consisting of:

  1. Animals
  2. Boy With X-Ray Eyes
  3. Lighthouses
  4. I Believe In Dinosaurs

I'd had virtually no sleep the night before and my sore throat meant my voice was less than impressive - thankfully everyone helped out and sang along too. Major shoutouts to Chiara and Rachel for the dancing, singing & dinosaur sounds, you guys are more irreplaceable than that lens.

And that was that, project over, job done, just the drive home remaining. I think everyone had a good time. I certainly did.

Massive thanks to the drivers that day - Jay, Daniil, Rachel, Joel - without who(m?) it basically couldn't have happened. You guys rule.

So now all I have to do is get the footage from everyone and assemble it into a 4-minute pop music video. Easy peasy.

Thanks again everyone involved, the premiere will hopefully be in late January - I'll keep you all posted.