Sunday, 2 January 2011

End Year reflection, New Year challenge

Already a working-week into 2011... blimey. So to try and inspire some productivity in my stilltired bones, I thought I'd make a 20th attempt to finish the year end blog I started in December. Here goes!


2010 turned out to be a ridiculously productive 12 months in the DAM camp - what with puppies and nephews and big gigs and film awards and etc etc.

So for posterity and as a kind of blogauntlet thrown down to 2011, (and especially for the family and friends who I've barely seen all year as a result of manic times like these), I wanted to make a note of the stuff wot I can remember.

It's crazy to think I haven't blogged all year when there's been so much to blog about too, but there's that vicious circle - the busier and more interesting your life is, the less time you have to talk about it (that, and I'm a slacker).

These aren't in chronological order btw, am just noting them down as they come to me:

At the very start of the year, we got ourselves a Canon 5D Mk2, and made Dave's short film, "Ghostgirl"; we were extremely proud to have been some of the very early filmmakers to use the camera (which every bugger and their Aunty has now...) and had some great press as a result. Later in the year, the film received an official selection laurel from New York United and was screened at the Cobble Hill Cinema in Brooklyn (hurrah!)

Two days after finishing principal photography, went snowboarding again - finally convinced Dave to come too - he broke his elbow on 1st day :(
...meanwhile Jane, Sam and I got stuck at the top of a mountain in an extreme blizzard; and watched as the slopes were closed around us due to safety & rapidly approaching darkness.. terrifying! After limping/falling/sliding part way down, we were thankfully (and embarrasingly) rescued by the skidoo team. Well, Sam and I were rescued - SuperJane boarded all the way down :)

Our video production business led us to some really interesting events, the most exciting being the Google X Prize seminar, held right here on the Isle of Man. Filming the event meant we were privileged to meet some of the most inspiring, inventive, ingenious, humbling people in the world right now - and were honoured to see glimpses of their lunar models & learn how they made them functional by using, for instance, iPhone parts!

Went to see Sweet Billy Pilgrim & be part of Record Store Day in London tahn, something I've always wanted to do.

Saw Rufus Wainwright's opera at Sadler's Wells (iiinnnnnteresting..) and two days later, Rufus himself in solo concert (brilliant).

Started new IOM based short film scheme called MannIN Shorts - held an inspiringly successful introductory night with some excellent guest speakers (Chris Jones, Hamish Morrow, Lee Boardman, Danny Lacey) & screened 'Ghostgirl' - really pleased at reception.

Insanely allowed the BBC to use our house as a location for the Shadowline - our hallway was totally reconstructed & used for the scene of a gangster style shoot out; returned home to find (fake) blood spattered over everything!

Filmed behind-the-scenes footage for Danny Lacey's short film 'Love Like Hers' - Dave shot it on Super 16 and now wants to film everything we do on celluloid..
Had dinner at John Rhys Davies'; he's a funny, sweet, engaging, much misunderstood soul who I quickly became very fond of. It was a lovely, peculiar, fascinating evening with him and his sons which we'll remember for a long time (and came about after Dave spent some time recording his voice for an audio book). Getting to wield Gimli's actual sword (not a euphemism..!) will be one of my favourite memories for a long time. Am now on a mission to write a screenplay called "Dinner at Gimli's"...

FINALLY finished my album - only taken ten years! Now needs artwork & some kind of launch...

Watched ower Davy (Knowles) wow the smitten Sian and Bill on the BBC Breakfast sofa

Held a 3rd Acting For Screen Workshop with Lee Boardman and Lesley Manning

Part owned a horse for 2 weeks! (while 'real owner' recovered from illness - had to give him back after, sadly ;)

Voiced a few adverts, a Salsa DVD and a Cha Cha Cha instructional programme - all very surreal

Celebrated having first ever nepher! & shortly after, changed first ever nappy (am a late starter). Finn Harrison Wraxall. He's a tiny, perfectly formed star, and a medical miracle too! (because of something that is far too complex to explain here - but did result in the London hospital asking if they could keep the placenta for medical research as they'd 'never seen anything like it'...)

Finn's arrival also brought Ma n Pa and sister De back to the UK for a few days - soooo good to have some quality time with the family, though brief. Hope 2011 will see them visiting more often!

Got our own new addition - a beautiful black lab puppy! She's changed our lives, love her to bits and now totally understand why my other dog-owning friends are loopy about their animals. She's also a great excuse to get out exploring the Isle of Man (in all weathers). Foolishly, I named her after a chocolate drink I had while adventuring around NZ and Oz - 'Milo' - not realising it's actually a boys' name.. so now we find ourselves having to explain ourselves to other bemused dog owners. Ah well, she's happy with it and she's a tomdog anyway.

Was a bridesmaid for lovely Jane and Steve at the IOM Rock n Roll Wedding of the year - fantastic day, honoured to have played a part.

Suppoted Turin Brakes, twice...*nearly faints at recollection* They've been one of my favourite bands for a very, very long time - since I bought a Source label sampler & fell in love with a song of theirs on there, before The Optimist was released. To then have them agree to let us use one of their tracks over the closing credits of 'Ghostgirl' just about made my year.

Embraced Twitter even more, met some fascinating people and expanded my horizons considerably, thanks to following some of the superb links people post that I would never have found myself.

Threw myself wholeheartedly into the campaign to Save 6 Music (or at least, wrote some emails & letters of support) and was SO relieved when it was saved. I don't care if it was a promotional swizz or not, I don't know what I'd do without 6 - its restored my faith in radio and led me to rekindle my obsession with great music.

Speaking of, Shaun Keaveney ate my knobs - he admitted it on the rajo n everything!

Made 2 VERY different viral adverts, one full of innuendo that drove us to fits of childish giggles while filming, and one that involved a fully grown man in a business suit peddling a tiny go kart along a busy road - again, very good fun.

Made fab new friends through the Acting Workshops and MannIN Shorts scheme, more endlessly inspiring, creative folk that have become very close to, very quickly.

Got a shiny new iPhone!!! Ruddy love it. That's all.

Organised a huge surprise party for Dave's big birthday

Became a Producer of a feature film to be shot here in Spring 2011

Got to watch and film 300+ flares being 'safely disposed of' (ie. exploded!) by the Coastguard

Had a reason to start drawing again when a client asked for storyboards - enjoyed it, may do more!

Ate bacon chocolate. Really. It's like havin a packet of frazzles, then eating some bacon, then having some frazzles, then.. you get the idea. Curious taste sensation.

Went to a proper film screening in London - great to see how the 'big guys' do it. One day...!

Played our first Gig on a Boat with Truman Falls, Anna Goldsmith, Christine Collister - very rough seas but beautiful sunshine made for a hilarious 90mins bobbing about the briny deep.

Played a gig on a beach, at sunset - again, beautiful.

Learned to jump (horses) properly. Well, better than I could before.

Felt an earthquake, right here on the tiny Isle!

Grew some veggies

Rode Madonna's Actual Horse through Richmond Park

Played in the snow, a lot. More than the tiny Isle's seen in years I'd wager.

Made a pop video with Anna Goldsmith for Danny Lacey, to help raise money for his crowd-funded short film 'Love Like Hers'

Had brunch in the oldest Inn in England (1050AD?!), by accident

Filmed Sir Norman's funeral (very sad day for the Island and the comedy/film loving world)

Played mannifest two sets at Mannifest, one with Truman Falls and one with Anna Goldsmith - brilliant fun.

Shot a cinema ad - mostly in our back garden.

....and a whole lot more that I can't remember. Anyhoo, here's a lidl montage depicting some of it (cause "you always need a montage, should always fade out on a montage")

Thanks for reading! See you this time next year, when who knows what will be in the montage?

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

There's no denying that a good frontman can save even the most shocking of bands. But watching Ricky Wilson do his thang with the Kaiser Chiefs, in the 'intimate' setting of the Villa Marina Royal Hall (1800 capacity - about a tenth of what they're used to playing) was a lesson to all of us would-be performers. He had the crowd eating out of the palm of his outstretched hand within the first few bars of the first song.

(pic right: my tinymobile's view of the Kaisers playing The Villa Marina - note to self: must upgrade phone!)

Course, when you're slamming out mammoth chart hit singalongs like Ruby, Everything is Average and I Predict a Riot, backed by what is essentially a very good band* you're probably going to get SOME kind of reaction whatever you do... but Wilson's antics - from the perfected Daltryesque micswings to the energetic stageleaps to suddenly appearing amongst the crowd in the centre balcony section (so he could 'Watch his favourite band from a good position') were way above and beyond and made for one of the best shows I've been to in a long time, with plenty of willing audience participation & 1800 beaming faces at the end of the night.

(pic left: the oddly-glowing Ricky preaches pop to his adoring followers from the balcony)

And when it came to the newbies that were slipped into the set, he simply battled the New-Song-Switch-Off-Syndrome by waving his hands around to distract everyone.... Job done.

*altho, the drummer only just about manages to get away with his constant timeslipping by covering up with great rhythms and fab harmonies.

Planes Over Paris, the support act, were on fire too - despite their understandable pregig nerves, bless em! I love a band that aren't afraid to throw some audio shapes, and POP had them by the planeload (ahem). Their sound is meaty, epic, intelligent - but somehow manages to be danceable at the same time. No mean feat! And they turned the ears of some of the Kaiser Crew too, which is always good to know. Long may you fly, POP, long and far! (yeeesss...)

some video of POP's performance will appear here soon...

It's been a great week for music actually. Learning that the Kaisers drummer is also a fan of Coconut Records (we share the same CR tote bag, aw sweet!) was a Brucey bonus too. But more importantly, I have to tell you about Jonathan Powell.

Johnny is someone I met briefly in Cardiff last year. He was singing at an open mic night that he hosts - totally wankered I might add - but clearly had a beaut of a voice and was a Buckley fan. So I shouted for him to play 'Lover You Should have Come Over' - and feck me if he didn't absolutely nail it, despite the alcohol and the chattering pub crowd and etc etc. Then he played one of his own songs - 'Twilight Boy' - and I was totally blown away.

Since then, he's written, recorded and produced an album (with help from the ubertalented Gethin Jones & a few other fabulous Cardiff musicfolkals) and it's - well, it's staggering. I can't get enough of it. *warning: the following review is chockfull of pretentious description - look away now if this offends you!*

- Jonathan Powell - Unforgiven Days

It's stuffed full of musical wonderment - the siren vocals, the detail of sounds like a smack, a sniff, the smatter of spittle against a pop shield; lyrics channelled from SomeOtherTime & written deftly & poetically to perfectly conjure scenes from TheNow, words delivered with marked passion & enunciated emphasis, or loosed from the tongue with lazy abandon; heartbreaking stories shared in a whisper draw you in, til the whisper whips into a punishing scream; occasional dropped notes & unfinished sentences create an atmosphere of uncomfortable intimacy; trumpets crying an unavoidable timeline-of-events; & with Johnny being a sterling viola player, the whole thing is tied together with stunning & unexpected string arrangements - dancing strings, scorching strings, haunting strings, screaming strings, unsettling strings, bury-them-into-your-core type strings, stringlines that creep off the instrument and pierce your soul, or wrap their lilting fingers round your wounded heart to cradle it back to some sort of safety...

- Jonathan Powell - A Denial

...there are songs about suicide & Stockholm Syndrome, about failures and redemptions and lost loves and even a trilogy about someone who perished in a housefire...and yet, despite all this cleverness, he manages to include at least three Radio 2 friendly songs. Ha! Stick that into your modern day pop pipe and smoke it!

- Jonathan Powell - The Widow Queen

I could say soooo much more, but I've already overmilked the pretentious waffle pudding (mmmm waffle pudding...) This is not always an easy album, and yet it's still one of the easiest albums I own to slip on, slip into and totally emmerse myself in - I'll stop now and just say GO GET IT! (one word of advice tho, skip track 2...which IS funny and catchy and all that good stuff, but just doesn't seem to 'fit' at all - sorry johnny!) apart from that one song, this record is a masterpiece. And the sod is only 22! pft.

You can buy it here

Enjoy! :)

Sunday, 3 May 2009

brides, thievery and fish bones

it's a funny thing, having all your stuff nicked. the idea that some stranger has spent time in your suitcase, knows what ointments and make up and toiletries you use, may have passed a fleeting judgement on the book you're currently reading, has searched through your pockets, rummaged through your underwear, made a calculated decision as to what has value and what is worthless. and then, when they're mostly satisfied, has unceremoniously dumped everythingthatsleft in a wet, muddy field 20 minutes away, for some passer by to happen upon (thereby adding yet another stranger - and ultimately several local police officers - to the tally of people who've had close encounters with your intimate belongings.)

we'd parked our rental car beside a well lit, busy main road in Cookham, went for a curry round the corner and less than an hour later, returned to find the rear window completely smashed out, and three extremely large suitcases just, well, gone. not a trace of them anywhere. replaced by hundreds of mis-shapen shards of surprisingly thick window glass. also missing: one other, much smaller black bag which my father had stuffed underneath the front passenger seat, containing his and my mother's passports and her extremely hard-won green card. we think the thieves must have been watching us as we drove up, studied our behaviour as we parked and watched as dad stashed the bag (tyipcally, this being the first time on their holiday that he had made this ill chosen decision.)

this happened towards the end of what had been a fabulous week in the UK, as 'midsisty' Cesca (short for Francesca) and her lovely other half Lyle tied the knot 3 days previous. it was a perfect day; a small ceremony in the beautiful setting of Hampstead's "Burgh House" museum, followed by a glorious afternoon spent at the Freemasons just down the road with minimal traditional wedding tedium - just lots and lots of fun with some truly wonderful people. all this, though, was preceded by the beautiful bride walking to her own wedding (by choice), through the little streets of Hampstead on a busy Saturday morning accompanied by her adoring sisters, and understandably turning many a head amongst the typically dour British shoppers - effecting big, surprised smiles from everyone who caught the magical spectacle. there were women struggling with buggies on the cobbled streets, fed-up young men trailing behind their determined girlfriends, elderly shoppers filling their plaid trolleys with fresh produce from the greengrocers - all were treated to a moment of magic and romance as my stunning sister floated through the streets in her vintage, classic wedding dress, en route to the Big Occasion flanked by her beaming siblings & closest friend. she always did like to make an impression :)

a really lovely few days had by all, catching up with friends-who-have-been-family to us, and family-who-are-our-friends. then the strangers crashed into our reality and messed things up a bit with their heartless thievery...still, despite their best efforts to unsettle, it'll be the warmth and loveliness of the Saturday that will stay with us.

as for the IHeartFood bit of the blog.. i can heartily recommend the current Cupcake Trend for weddings. we'd had grand plans for the DeHaven family to spend the Friday morning baking, decorating and tryingnotoeat 50 of the things ourselves, but reality kicked in and instead, we walked into Maison Blanc in Hampstead and ordered 50 of their finest. there was pistachio, caramel, cherry, chocolate praline, vanilla and various others, and they were all absolutely gorgeous. this pic of little Hamish Robertson shows just how popular they were - and us adults were climbing over the tables to get to them too!

few other things that have been going on of late; i had the chance to record a pilot radio show for the BBC (Radio 1 in fact!). the studio and producer were all booked, and i was brimming with ideas (and a lot more nerves), then at the last minute, it was all cancelled due to some annoying logistical issues. frustrating, but i'm still brimming with the excitement that at 5.30pm last tuesday, i COULD have walked into Broadcasting House and COULD have spent three hours in the company of some of my radio heroes, blabbing away into a proppa BBC microphone and recording m'own lidl jinner voice into the vast virtual corridors of Auntie's computer system. cool eh?! course, it wasn't to be, but I'm not deterred and will try again some time soon.

musically, ive' been obsessed with some of the new artists discovered on the marvellous - Lady Danville, Thao with the Get Down, Stay Down: and Canoe, to name but a few.

I'm also seriously impressed with a fellow Manx musician, the fartooyoung Tommy Cole, who's Jonathan Rice-esque vocals and Fleet Fox-inspired songs are not only well beyond his 17 years, but they've also landed him a Record of the Week spot on Radio 1's 'Switch' programme with Annie Mac and Grimmy in a few weeks - check out 'Fish Bones' here. nice one Tom!

thassal for now. next post will regail you with tales of filming dozens of manx musicians playing/singing in various interesting locations (including 'up a tree', 'by a lighthouse' and 'in a druids' circle') for a pop promo we're producing for the first ever TT XGP or "Green TT";
and also, will hopefully will have an update on the Robin Gibb DVD we're working on.

in the meantime, PLEASE check out the new charity album released in aid of the IOM Anti Cancer Association, featuring 16 fantastic local artists plus one ickle jinner bird... whole thing is only £6.99 from iTunes, and well worth it for a superb cause.

til the next time, then, stay safe and keep your valuables firmly attached to your body at all times! ;)

Monday, 30 March 2009

"DANCE colin DANCE!"

Have spent any half hour I can muster this past week preparing the ground for veggies. It's hellish work (we suffer from the blight of brambles) but is incredibly satisfying. The earth at the bottom of our garden is fantastic - heavy & rich & almost black in colour, with good drainage and plenty of sunshine now we've cut the neighbours' enormous trees back a bit. Last year, it yielded bumper crops of potatoes, giant leeks, hundreds of thousands of supersweet peas, french beans, endless salads of every possible variety - even sweetcorn - and only now am i coming to the end of the cabbage and purple sprouting broccoli, all of which is still growing well in the patch beyond the giant yew tree.

At the risk of going all Monty on your asses, there's just something about it - the picking of your own homegrown food, knowing it's absolutely 100% pure and fresh and chemical free, and that the hard toil from the previous spring was so worth it. This year, I'm putting in spuds (Maris Piper this time, along with some chitted leftovers from last year's crop), carrots, parsnips, more peas - they're like candy! - garlic, red onions and I may give the butternut squash another go (sadly last year's crop was flooded out). So, a bit more digging and composting and sewing and planting to go, then it's the watering-wait til shoots appear...(green)fingers crossed!

The weekend was an amusing one; my first real attempt at DJing - y'know, of the 'Getting P*ssed People to Dance at Parties' variety? The friend who's birthday it was, and who asked me, said she used to listen to the Back Room* and loved the music, so I figured I'd play a load of 90s indie (with her being 30something), throw in the odd rave reference, and then mix the rest up with a selection of hip hop, current indie/rock/pop and the occasional grunge number. Think along the Stone Roses/Prodigy/Dizzee/Beck/Smiths/Stevie Wonder etc etc lines. (Aside: HA! I sound like i'm trying to sound like I knew what I was doing - double HA!!)

As the birthday girl had also been a fan of local nightclub 'The Academy' in the late 90s, I asked the lovely Nicola J - fellow former EnergyFM DJ - to join me, as she's a whiz on the ole dance tracks and used to DJ regularly at a nightclub, so had a better idea of this malarky than your ginger protagonist.

So, spent an hour or so raiding the shelves & shelves & shelves of CDs and put together two or three small boxes of 'favourites' for the night, which was like a trip down MusicMemoryLane in itself, and I was quite confident that one - or maybe even two! - tracks might be well received. How wrong I was...!

COULD WE GET THE FECKERS TO DANCE?? Could we feck! we tried everything... from Pulp to Primal Scream, Jackson Five to Justin Timberlake, Madonna to Britney, Gorillaz to Gomez - even threw on the Soul Wax mix of Dolly Parton's 9 to 5 and Destiny's Child - genius! but no. they stood, and they drank, and they talked. The only songs they shifted their feet to were Groove Is In The Heart, Thriller and Prodigy's Breathe...and even then, their hearts clearly weren't in it. Pah!

Still, if you do need a pair of lady DJs to, er, stand in a corner and play music you may or may not enjoy, do feel free to drop me a note...we're enthusiastic if nothing else!

I may just go back to my veggie patch ;)

In the meantime though, I'll leave you with the latest video from the superb Richard Swift:

Richard Swift - Lady Luck

*The Back Room was the lidl indie radio show i used to present..thems were the times *sigh*!

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Ulcerated airways, LA seiges and the Frampton story (no, really this time!)

Whew! These blogs are getting longer and longer. *note to self to learn to edit properly* Best warn you, dear Follower, this ain't no soundbite either...but there's lots of juicy stuff to get in!

Despite the intended motivation of 'Corn Salt', I can't really tell you much about food right now, as I haven't eaten a great deal more than plain jacket spuds (done properly mind, with the skin so cracklycrisp that it's separated from the meat of the tater and is marked with dark spots much like the skin of a 90 yr old - yum ;), and straight-from-the-tub, unadulterated, Leyland Farm cottage cheese. This week has been a real lesson in how much I love food, how much I miss food when I can't have it, but also how damn lucky I am to be able to open a cupboard and have a million and one different foodstuffs available to me at any time (plus an enormous fine foods warehouse next door, for when we run short of anchovies or rolled oats).

The reason for this food revelation? Well, in my last blog, I mentioned that I had 'a bit of a sore throat'... not meaning to deter you at the off, it quickly transpired that I was in fact being extremely British about the whole affair; I actually had something more unsightly and considerably more crippling than just your average painful pipes. It led to a trip up to the Emergency Doc at the hospital on Monday night - where I was informed I had an "infected uvula" (tasty!), given drugs the size of kinder eggs to try and swallow & told to 'get some sleep'. Following a night of absolutely no sleep at all and half hourly episodes of being sick as a dog (MAN that gagging hurts when you have an infected throat!) a trip to the regular doc the next morning saw him take one look down ma pipes and come out with the exact phrase "well, that's pretty disgusting isn't it?!". 24 hrs, not much more sleep and several bizarre leg rashes later, i was summoned back into the doctor rather urgently as he thought I might have scarlet fever (I don't, obviously - it was a reaction to the new drugs he'd put me on, but it was all very dramatic for a brief moment)

Still, am mostly healed and eating almost normally, even tho I seem to have the permanently nauseating taste of what i can only describe as household waste lingering at the back of my mouth which does kinda taint the palate. But this blog isn't dedicated to my ailments, in fact the intended thread of this was to regail you with tales of sun, sand and singing (with rock stars!!) in the crazy wonderful world of Los Angeles CA - all before my throat erupted of course...

About 3 weeks ago, my colleague Bob Miller and his gorgeous goif Christine Collister had returned to stay with us following their latest six months spent travelling the world - such is the wont of a superstar manager! *sigh*

One evening, they suggested it might be a good idea if Dave and I return to LA with them, to check up on our good friend and Running Media artist Davy Knowles. Davy (from America-trouncing blues rock band Back Door Slam) was due to be finishing off his time in the studio, working on his forthcoming album with producer Peter Frampton (yes! he of big hair, talking guitars and Simpsons fame!); this final week of recording would be great to catch on camera.

So, less than a week later and we were en route to LA LA land, packing several cameras and a bikini (just in case). Ooo aren't we just the last minute jetsetters!

The trip started out eventfully enough, as we'd headed to the UK on the same weekend as Roy's wedding and The Hilarious Philip Selway Encounter mentioned in the previous blog. Just 24hrs after that debacle, we were sat in the early evening sunshine in a little Italian Cafe on Sunset Blvd, savouring a superb blue crab ravioli and freshly baked focaccia, dreamily aware that somewhere down the road, the Oscars were kicking off...

To add to the surrealness of this picture, while we drank our last mouthfuls of heavy red wine that first night, we became aware of a 'skerfuffle' over the road; minutes later, sirens were bearing down on us from every possible direction and we watched as, just feet from our table, half a dozen state troopers & an LAPD 4x4 blocked the area, while a police helicopter swooped in and circled the skies above - unnervingly shining it's searchlight on the area immediately surrounding us. Of course, none of the other diners seemed concerned by this and in my jetlag my brain assumed that I'd stumbled onto a film set so was equally unperturbed; maybe I'd have felt a bit more wary of the town if I'd been 100% with it?! I have to admit, the following morning, i was scanning the 12 million TV channels and 36 versions of 'COPS!!' for news of Our Incident (none found).

Our plan was to spend a portion of our time working - filming interviews and promo vids with Davy K and the aforementioned songstress Christine Collister - and the rest of it enjoying the sights, sounds and sunshine of the city, maybe doing Disney or Universal and taking a drive up the coast midweek? I have to admit I'd been buoyed on by Stephen Fry's most recent twitter dialogue, which was based around his time spent in the same city working on an episode of 'Bones' ; he talked about balmy days, lazy lunches, beautiful views and - the thing I was most excited about - whalewatching. It just so happened to be the season for this, off the California coastline, and tho I was privileged enough to kayak with several giant basking sharks last year (that's a whole other story!) I've never done the whale watching thang and was desperate to.

Of course, none of this happened. Our initial plans to kick back and enjoy/ explore/ envelop ourselves in LA culture were quickly thwarted by the need to shove a camera in either Davy or Christine's face at regular intervals, poor sods, or to have important meetings with important people, or to catch up on work on the laptops. But despite this, it quickly became apparent that LA makes 'working' so much more bearable!

The apartment we were staying in had it's own private tennis court, swimming pool and small gymnasium, so we would start every day with one or all of these activities. The fact it was almost permanently sunny, and rarely below 70degs, gave everything a much rosier glow too: for instance, getting an interview with Davy at the Griffith Observatory also gave us the chance to witness the stunning LA landscape at sunset, and we took a fair few minutes out to explore the exhibits too. We were also pretty pleased with Davy's choice of Paradise Cove at Malibu Beach as another location for a second interview - again, we were working, but in an area like that it certainly didn't feel like a chore!And the people we had our various important meetings with were all fantastic - creative, inspiring, Happy people.

Then there's the star spotting, which you might have noticed I'm a sucker for! On several occasions we spotted celebs, such as David Spade who trundled past us - on his blackberry of all things (a reference you'll get if you've seen his hilarious blackberry self help video). There were plenty of other famous folk wandering about too, but as my memory is particularly lacking in it's ability to recall, something a memory should really be able to get a handle on, I couldn't tell you who any of them were...but it certainly made everything that little bit more exciting.

But our main brush with celebrity came in the studio. As previously mentioned, Davy was working with Peter Frampton on his album so, obviously, we had the chance to meet this rock legend when we went down to film the boy Knowles in his element. Peter was absolutely brilliant - funny, charming, warm and incredibly down to earth for someone who can boast the biggest selling live album of all time.

He allowed us to film anything and everything, and on more than one occasion he played up to the camera brilliantly. On the second day in the studio, Davy asked Christine and myself if we'd sing some backing vocals for him on one of his tracks.
Then, Peter suggested he join us...and so, a few minutes later, there CC and I were, humming away around a microphone with THE Peter Frampton harmonising with us... now that was surreal even for the standards of the previous ten days! It was a superb experience, with us 'Framptonettes' sitting in the studio working out our parts together, having a whole lot of fun and also getting to contribute to what is one of the stand out tracks on the album (not that we're biased ;-)

Christine, having been a huge fan of Peter's in her teenage years and admitting to him being her 'poster boy', was the most ecstatic of all of us - be sure to keep an eye on her website for her own excitable diary in the weeks to come!

After that quite frankly ridiculous experience, we visited the studio a couple more times to catch the flavour of the final days of recording. Davy was on great form, really excited about the record and rightly so. We also had great fun filming some John Mayer-style comedy sketches with the boy Knowles and some of his 'staff' - the most amusing one had to be an interview conducted with Jon Pleeter at the mighty CAA offices... watch this space for links!

So, no Mickey Mouse, and no Jaws, but plenty of good times had by all. Those ten days in LA really enlightened me as to why it's such a great place to be for creative people. I really surprised myself by admitting that I could easily move out there - and actually, because of the quirk of family fate that leads me to have an American passport, I actually could....hmmm..... see y'all!!

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Dining with Radiohead and singing with Peter Frampton.

After a night of bellowed conversations with longtimenotseen friends last night, with us all screaming at each other over the superb heavy rock of live band Brazen, my poor throat has been stripped of several layers of skin and hurts like hell. Eating my Sunday bowl of properly-made porridge this morning was like swallowing shards of crushed glass - not good!

So a quick trip to town and a bottle of foul tasting Chloraseptic later, and here I am, sat at the macbook, sucking on Cadbury's Buttons (to disguise the hideous taste of the spray, you understand.)

It's been an interesting few weeks to say the least, involving a chicken dinner in a school hall with a member of Radiohead & his family, ten days of LA sunshine & countless meetings with fascinating industry types, not to mention unexpected BV sessions sharing a mic with bonafide rock legends...

I'll start with the chicken dinner. It was our good friend Roy's wedding, a small affair at a beautiful registry office in Leatherhead, Surrey, followed by an afternoon reception at his former primary school near Oxshot. The wedding itself was very special indeed; Roy and Rachel found each other only a year ago, with one marriage already behind them. Roy is a producer of plays and audio books and met Rachel, an actor, when they worked on an adapation of 'The Woman In White' together for BBC Radio 3. Their love is one of those truly beautiful things - they positively glow in each other's presence. They already have one gorgeous child together, Jamie, and a brand new bairn is bubbling up in Rachel as I type.

When Rachel walked through the doors of the registry, to the sounds of Lakme's Flower Duet, dressed in an absolutely stunning deep red dress with white fur trim and long white silk gloves, Roy's face exploded with adoration and there was barely a dry eye in the room (and I'm referring to the men here, too!) The ceremony was brief, but perfect, and the glorious sunshine in the adjacent gardens of the building made for a great location for sipping champagne and mingling with the party. We felt priveleged to have been a part of it all.

Dave and I knew maybe a dozen of the 30 or so guests, some of whom we rarely get to see, so it was great fun being able to catch up with everyone. When we moved on to the reception, we were a little disappointed to see we were the only couple of our group of friends who were sat away from everyone else, with people we didn't know - but still, we were on Table 2, immediately beside the main table, so we were honoured by the positioning.

I was sat beside a tall, well dressed man in a striped suit, his two young boys to the left of him and his gorgeous wife on the other side of the boys. The kids had strawberry blonde hair, so we immediately had plenty to talk about! 'Philip', it turned out, was a really lovely bloke - his family equally lovely (and the kids brilliantly mischievous, as 7/9 yr old boys should be). We chatted about banal stuff through the main course, which was a gorgeous chicken chasseur served out of the school's usual heated metal vats - great fun and very tasty. Then he mentioned that he was glad to be able to attend the wedding as he's usually away from home a lot.

'What do you do?' I asked.
'Oh, I'm a musician' he said.
Me - 'Ahh that would explain why we're sat together!'
Philip - 'Really? Why, do you play something too?'
Me - 'Oh I'm sorry, you go ahead & finish saying what you were saying, then I'll tell you what we do'
P - 'Right... well, I play drums'
M - 'Oh great! And you get to play all over the world? So, is that with a band then, or are you a session player?'
P - "Erm, well, yes, with a band actually'
M - 'Really? Would I know them?'
P - "Well, it's Radiohead...."

(insert very awkward pause and a stifled cough from me as I very nearly choked on a shallot)

Yes dear readers, there I was, sitting beside the unmistakable, baldheaded, striking figure of the legendary drummer Phil Selway**, and I didn't even notice. To my defense, I was NOT expecting to spend Roy's wedding reception sitting beside a member of one of my favourite bands, but still! HOW could I not recognise him?! Of course, as soon as he said it, I immediately realised my ignorance and it was as if his head morphed instantly into that of the one and only Phil From the 'Head, a likeness I was absolutely blind to before that point.

I then had to admit that I worked for Running Media, managing Corinne Bailey Rae who he's met before and who is a known, avid fan of the band. In other words, I really should have known better. I did, however, keep to myself the fact that I'm also an occasional indie DJ, who should be able to distinguish her Legendary Indie Rock Drummers from her EveryDay Wedding Guests...

I could have killed Roy for not warning me in advance but, as he said himself, if he HAD told me, I probably would have had palpitations and anxiety attacks from the second I entered the school and would have refused to sit down for fear of making a complete t*t of myself. I managed that rather well tho regardless, eh?! And anyway, killing Roy would have made for a very sad end to what had been a very beautiful day.

By the way, my eventual response to his announcement was something horrendously embarrassing like 'Oh right, of course, I thought you looked familiar!' ouch....

We did manage to continue having a fairly normal conversation throughout the pud (a splendid apple crumble drenched with lashings of thick, skin-ny custard), and I managed to refrain from becoming the jibbering wreck that I so desperately wanted to slip into. I think I was, in part, saved by the fact that everything I've ever known about Radiohead immediately vanished from the reachable parts of my memory as soon as he revealed his true identity - the facts and figures of a former DJ suddenly burying themselves in the darkest recesses of my shamed brain, not to be drawn out of hiding again until I'd stopped embarrassing myself and I could make correct use of them.

And sure enough, when one of these hovering Journo-Prompts DID rise to the surface and spit itself out before I could stop it (a dreadfully pre-fabricated line about the pressures of the band to always do something new and inventive and blah blah blah blah) he immediately shrank into himself, spooned a last dollop of custard into his gob and murmured that he really had to see to the kids (who were, at that point, being swung around by their ankles in the hallway by a slightly taller yoof.)

And as if by magic, there comes Radiohead now on the iTunes playlist!! Ahhh Bullet Proof. Such a great song - and yet, I cant quite bring myself to listen to it... so I'll log off for now, readjust the iTunes and tell you the tale of the LA studio session in my next blog. Enough excitement for today methinks!

My final words, though, have to be 'I'm so sorry BtB...!' You know who you are :)

CDH signing out, and reaching for more medication.

** I linked to that particular pic of Philip (who hates being called Phil, btw), because I think it's the exact same suit he wore at the wedding...HOW did I not recognise him?!

Haven't really bigged up any music in this blog, so I'll just copy the playlist that was on while typing this out - clearly I had my iTunes set to alphabetical!

Bleeder - Emiliana Torrini
Blind Love - Tom Waits
Blindsided - Bon Iver
Blondie's Call Me - Franz Ferdinand (from War Child 09)
Blood Upon Copper - Seth Lakeman
Blue Light, Red Light - Harry Connick Jnr
Blue Motel Room - Joni Mitchell
Blue Ridge Mountains - Fleet Foxes
Bob Dylan's Leopard Skin Pill Box Hat - Beck
Bodysnatchers - Radiohead

Boom Boom - John Lee Hooker
Born Under A Bad Sign - Richard Hawley
The Box - Johnny Flynn
Branches - Midlake
Breathe Me - Sia
Bride of Rain Dog - Tom Waits
Broken Down Cowboy - John Fogerty
and then (part of) Bullet Proof..I Wish I Was - Radiohead

Friday, 14 November 2008

Genius. Truly, genius.

Having just finished a steaming bowl of fresh, chunky, tomato & basil soup (with freshly baked warm bread & thick real butter - perfect for a whitesky winter day with the leaves laying thick in the garden), I was in the mood for a particular type of music - but wasnt entirely sure 'what'. So, having had it recommended to me by various people, I sat at the mac and turned on iTunes *Genius!* mode which, for the uninitiated of you, professes to create playlists for you based on the 'mood' of a song you choose, and also recommends new music based on your existing iTunes catalogue. 

I highlighted Jesca Hoop's 'Love and Love Again', which seemed like an appropriate song for the moment, clicked the spincycle icon, and this is the playlist that *Genius!* created for me:

JESCA HOOP - Love and Love Again
FLEET FOXES - Tiger Mountain Peasant Song
FEIST - The Water
KT TUNSTALL - Someday Soon
BON IVER - Blindsided
THE CORAL - Put The Sun Back
JOE LEAN & THE JING JANG JONG - Lucio Starts Fires
MIDLAKE - It Covers the Hillside
JAMES MORRISON - Call The Police
ELBOW - Grounds For Divorce
WE ARE SCIENTISTS - The Great Escape
LAURA MARLING - Cross Your Fingers
RADIOHEAD - House of Cards

is that not the coolest list of music you've ever seen?! Yes, it comes from music I already have, but we all know how hard it is to actually find the right music for the right moment even from our own existing collections. But now, I shall never falter again!! Ahhhhhh this is just the absolutely perfect mix of music. Genius, you might say.

So that was all really, I just wanted to share my enthusiasm of this wonderful new gizmo that actually lives up to it's rather important name. It's just about made my day :)