Monday, 27 June 2011

My Tshirt for @TheCaptainWhat

My first Tshirt design for somebody else is for my fellow solo comrade in music and expert in the martial art of "bedroom pop", Mr. Captain What. Captain of what? you say. Yes, exactly. Behold!

It's an idea I had from my possibly never-to-be-made fan video for Captain Of Nothing, which he has already made a FANTASTIC music video for thanks to help of a certain Rich Lyman. Behold again!

Basically the ingredients for the Tshirt are:

  • Rocket ship
  • Stars
  • Purple & blue planet
  • The words "Captain What"
  • Cute
  • Fun
And so, I compel you to buy it! Musicians LOVE it when you give them money!

If you're a band or a musician and you'd like a Tshirt design done, ask me now before I'm famous and shit and I'll do it for free. Probably. Also if your name is Sophie Rex yes you are next on the list I'll do it when I can!

P.S. You can check out my wonderful Tshirts at In fact please do.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Being a foreigner is quite annoying.

Hello friends. This is just a mini rant with swearing where I validate myself and my life.

Regarding staying in NZ:
  • My temp position at Govt Dept X becomes permanent in October, and even if it's opened for applications, only citizens and residents will be able to apply.
  • My work experience is not considered "skilled" to apply under Skilled Migrants.
  • I have lots of family in NZ but none are immediate, so means nothing to Immigration.
So my only option to stay is applying under BUNAC, which would give me another 12 months, but
  • It's not guaranteed I'd get it (95% at a guess, but still)
  • Granted in October = finding a job from scratch upon my return
  • Spending 4+ weeks in the UK with no work
  • Trying to hold onto a flat here. (I like this flat. It's the best flat in a patchy record of flatting. Finding another flat - then moving all over again - does not excite me.)
  • Buying a flight now, when I may not be granted a visa
It would be very easy to throw in the towel and sail home to UKshire. I thought about jumping ship to the desert continent next door where all the jobs are, but their laws on employing foreigners are even stricter than New Zealand.

So. What. Do. I. Do.
Here is what I'm going to do.
  • I'm going to spend the next 3 months hammering away at agencies with my CV, and ONLY agencies, because applying directly for jobs with my CV as it is, in this economy, is a fool's game and a fucking waste of time. It's still a snowdrop's chance in hell that agencies will find me a job for 6+ months which an employer can sponsor me for - which a market analysis of the labour market would confirm that a NZer can't do (that's the rules, kids) - but it's still a chance.
  • I am NOT going to worry if I don't get a job by October because I know it's 99% not going to happen.
  • I'm going to go for BUNAC, because I don't want to leave Wellington yet. I like it here and the UK economy is in the toilet. I'm ready to go if I have to - I only came here originally for 11 months, and by October I'll have had 3 years, a shitload of friends and the only solid meaningful relationship with a woman in my life, so I can't complain. But I don't want to be pushed into leaving just because I'm being dictated to by Events (dear boy, Events).
  • I'm going work my arse off and find money from somewhere - whether it's life modelling or web work on the side or designing a zillion Tshirts - so I can pay my way through this bullshit and not continue relying on my parents who have both now retired.
  • I'm going to write my next book because I am a writer and I've put it off too long.
  • I'm going to record another single and have another video and another launch party to go with it, because I am a musician and I want to do another one before I go that's bigger and better than the last two. I'm already generating ideas for it, because that's what I do.
And I'm going to do a whole bunch of other things like eating breakfast and hanging out with friends and drinking pinot noir, because life isn't just about the big things and you don't get anywhere by being narrow and burning out.

I can trace a lot of this situation back to my decision after university to "focus on the band", rather than getting a "proper job". Do I regret it? No, in the sense I fucking loved that band and despite all the fuckups I made with it, it's the greatest thing I've ever done. But perhaps, because it turns out you can have a band as well as a proper job that provides a) money to be self-reliant and b) bankable CV experience when times predictably turn shitty like this. But hey, you make your bed, then you lie in it, then you stand back up and get on with your fucking day.

Onwards bitches.

Yes, this is a self-absorbed rant. But it's a blog about me, right?

Monday, 20 June 2011

Dinosaurs launch party audio free download

It took 10 months but you can download all 9 tracks from the Dinosaurs launch party for free from the Bandcamp, and Reverbnation widgets below. This is in highest to lowest order of quality, but I recommend downloading all of them, that way I get boosted in the Reverbnation charts (#2 for Rock in Wellington! Less good for Rock in NZ...) and I get some money from (perhaps a penny to add to my £0.02 earnings so far). Did you know the scrobbler also finds out you're playing my songs and tells the internet that I'm cool?

If you wish to watch the live tracks in the form of a moving visual Youtube thing, you can also see the whole set in a 9-video playlist (also below) thanks to the mad filming skillz of @hoccusfoccus.

(Okay don't appear to have a download widget. But I highly recommend visiting and downloading from their webby site.)

New Library Suits music video

"A Year Without Summer" is a sneak preview track by The Library Suits while they get their new album sorted. It's a lovely video for a lovely song, with more wonderful references (some well-known, some personal) than I could possibly list here. Enjoy!

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

Once again I’m using a Clash-related title for a blog post about my plans. I’m not really a huge fan of “Should I Stay Or Should I Go” – it’s one of their simplest and, for me, least interesting songs – but its generic and easy-to-apply theme is the reason it’s so well-known in the first place.

Back at the end of last year I Made A Decision with capital letters – I’d had enough of the insecurity of temping in NZ, and I had been planning to leave with Kiwi ex-Girlf anyway, so that was that. The Wellington project was over. London was, indeed, Calling.

Then at the end of January, I Made Another Decision with capital letters – the UK economy was/is in the toilet, NZ is a wonderful place, and it’s easier to stay than you think. Wellington is swimming in Brits, they are literally clogging up the pavements and dairies. So the Wellington Project was back on.

Last month I finally made an Expression Of Interest (more capital letters) for applying for residency under the Skilled Migrants category. This was a mistake, because it basically meant spending $440 to find out that my work experience is not skilled, and that being British, living in Wellington (not Dorkland) and having a degree aren’t enough on their own to apply. (Immigration, if you’re reading, I would quite like that $440 back. You could’ve just explained it to me verbally.)

So I’m in an interesting place. My heart is in Wellington, but my options are limited. I’ve broken my record with my current admin role for the longest time spent in one NZ job (the bar, at 3 months, was not high), which is great, but there’s a review going on and the National Party are gleefully cutting public sector jobs and there’s no guarantee this job could keep me here, even if I still have it in 6 months' time. I can, and may, start applying for Real Jobs (yep, ones with capital letters), but things aren’t much better now than the last 2.5 years and it’s a slim chance I’ll even get a job, let alone one with a visa attached.

So my last reliable way to stay in NZ is the 12-month BUNAC IEP programme. I know what you’re thinking – “Why, Jez, this is the same as the Working Holiday Visa you came to NZ on in the first place! You’re not allowed to apply for this one!”. Well, you’re wrong, and I was ready to have wrong opinions thrown at me because every Tom Dick and Sally seems to have advice when it comes to visas, and about half of them are wrong. (“You’re not allowed to work in one place more than X months!” No, that’s Fascist Australiatown. “You can’t extend your Working Holiday Visa!” I can and I did, because I’m British. “You need to be together 12 months to get a partnership work permit!” No, that’s – oh just shut up. If you hear someone talking about visas and immigration and you think you know something, start from the assumption that You Are Wrong, and work your way up from there with evidence and facts, not what you half-heard from some twat down the pub.)

The main question about the IEP is quotas and numbers; the eligibility criteria seems to be that you’re under 35, which should be pretty easy for me for the next 7 years. The only other thing is that you have to apply in the UK, which is a bit of a bugger, because instead of just popping back for my brother’s wedding (note – I am super proud of you Brother Kemp + fiancĂ©e), I’ll actually have to move back for 4-6 weeks, or perhaps longer.

My choices at the moment it seems are:

Back to UK
  • UK economy still in the doldrums (does anyone even have a job any more?)
  • Conservative party in power, with Lib Dems limiting their activities to flapping their arms about uselessly
  • Live with parents, find a job, find a flat, find a job in London, COMMUTE, find a flat in London. (Or perhaps just go straight to London and embrace immediate poverty.)
Stay in NZ
  • 4-6 weeks in UK
  • Visa cost $1000ish + $3000 savings required
  • Flight back? $1000+. Book now and risk having to change it, or book near Christmas and spend $zillions
  • Lose flat and flat-hunt again
  • Lose job and job-hunt again (still crippled by the lack of permanent visa/residency)
These challenges aren’t insurmountable, but they are a big pain in the backside. A question for me is just how bad is the UK economy at the moment (clue: the exchange rate of $2.00 NZD to the British pound – yes, says it is less than $2.01 – shows very little confidence), versus just how bad is the economy in Wellington going to get with public sector jobs vanishing like mist in the sun. And if you’re working in Wellington, you’re in either the public sector, or film or hospitality – and I’ve got no experience in film, and no desire to work in the service industry ever again. A kiwi suggested looking for jobs down in Invercargill to get a visa. Sure I’d like to visit, but I’m not convinced I want to up sticks and move to the NZ equivalent of Inverness.

Anyway. That’s my situation, and I’m just babbling and sharing, because I like to share and I like to be unnecessarily honest with my friends and, in this case, the entire internet.

In terms of Making Another Big Decision, it could go either way. I’m tired of being a foreigner without residency; at least in the UK I am an ordinary citizen, and my job or lack of is entirely down to my abilities or lack of. But my heart is in Wellington. And I want to see a kiwi summer Christmas and new year, with beaches and barbecues and sunshine, at least once more.

I’ll let you know.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

1 year of the Dinosaurs video

It's been 1 year since the video premiere of "I Believe In Dinosaurs", and it's been good - 36,000 views makes Jez a happy boy.

It's been slow. Despite an initial surge from atheio-biologist PZ Myers posting on his much visited blog, it has gone from maybe 5-10 views a day in July 2010 to currently around 300-400 a day.

I can't confirm how many are real people, and how many are internet bots - I'm just reading off the Youtube stats. It's interesting to compare the likes/dislikes with my cover of Outkast's "Roses", which has had only 21,000 views but many more likes and dislikes. This could suggest more humans are actually watching "Roses", but Youtube is an organic beast, and people react differently to different videos depending on the content and the way they're watching.
Generally I'm confident lots of real people are watching "Dinosaurs". I doubt it will ever "go viral", but you could say it's becoming that mild flu bug that you can't stamp out of the office because it's being recycled by children at home. Or something. And hey, a video with 1 million bot hits still has a lot more weight on Youtube than a vid with 100 human views. Like I say, Youtube is organic.

In real terms, a video with 35,000 views barely registers on Youtube, so my satisfaction here might sound a bit hollow. But I'm excited by the potential. The views have been rising in a curve, rather than a straight line - which means potentially lots and lots of views in the future. It's not something I have any control over - I just have to hope people will continue to watch and enjoy me running round over Wellington chasing little plastic dinosaurs.

More relevant than the number of views, the video itself has actually changed my life. Before, I was a guy with a song about dinosaurs. Almost overnight, my friends started introducing me to other people as "the Dinosaur guy", which is a label I'm happy to have, because dinosaurs rock. Since the video, I've been doing a lot more dinosaur-related stuff (e.g. making Dinosaur T-shirts), which is partly connected to the song, but partly just me reconnecting with a childhood love of dinosaurs from 20 years ago. My friends send me dinosaur-related links on the internet. Some even bought me a vinyl disc cut in the shape of T-Rex from the amazing Dinosaur Comics. (You guys are amazing.) (By the way, I actually met the guy who made it at a gig. Random or what? That's Wellington I guess.)
So yeah, dinosaurs are a big part of my life again, and I like it.

As before, huge thanks to all the people who appeared in and helped make the video - they're in the credits at the end - without you guys it wouldn't have been possible.