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I finally, finally made it.

Hummingbird is being released on the 9th November 2019. All of the files have gone to the CD manufacture plant, everything is uploaded to Emubands for distribution, and I can finally breathe again.

Hummingbird large

It was a bit of an exciting ride. I had been gently ambling along, doing a bit of writing here and mixing there and not really rushing things. I figured I had until this week to send the CD Master files. Alas for me, the company I chose to use this time (entirely because they had really good reviews and because they are one of the few places in the UK willing to do low number runs of glass mastered CDs) got in touch with me to say they would be closed for a crucial period. So I ended up finishing the writing, recording, mixing and mastering, all within a frantic 72 hour period.

There was not enough gin in the world for this. Still, I persisted.

Everything went off by the 11th October. Last week was spent mastering instrumentals (in the event that I manage to place anything in film or TV, they always like a good instrumental) and dealing with the distributor, and this week I am doing promo and remembering how to breathe again.

Meanwhile, I had a very fun gig at Busk in York towards the end of September which gave me an opportunity to dust off a new cover (Waterboy, originally by Rhiannon Giddons) and generally sing to a very enthusiastic audience. It was a really enjoyable evening, very atmospheric, and I hope the first of many more to come.

So what now? Well, pre-orders are open for both digital and physical CDs of Hummingbird. I highly recommend it, but then I am biased!

The Launch Party is on the 9th November, at Micklegate SOCIAL, 148 Micklegate, York, YO1 6JX – FREE ENTRY! Doors at 7:30, music starts at 8 and I will be very ably supported by Sarah Hardman and The Nocturnal Flowers. Due to the venue’s own licensing laws, it’s over 18’s only, so please bring ID, but don’t let that put you off!

Hummingbird launch poster

See you there!

 

 

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So here we are again, a fair bit quicker than your last wait for a blog post! Life continues, as it does, in a plodding fashion, interspersed with occasional mad dashes and periodic moments of standing still wondering WTF just happened/is going on/is about to happen.

We have a new addition to the family too, in the form of a Dutch Shepherd/Border Collie cross called Pepper. She’s a proper wee puddin’, except when she’s barking at/eating/chewing/chasing things that she shouldn’t, which thankfully is less often that it could be, given her age (6 months).

Oh, you want a picture?

Ok then:

Pepper

She likes: Goat’s ears, farting, running through long grass, rain, baths, the cats (who are indifferent/scornful so far), belly rubs, singing along when I rehearse and chewing things.

She dislikes: automatic doors, unexpected joggers, being told she can’t look in the cat’s litter trays for delicacies and heavy machinery.

What else to tell you… well, I finally completed the title track for the album, Hummingbird. This is a huge step as it’s one of those songs I’d been fighting with for ages. I have a theory that songs are either easy birth (15-60 minutes from start to finish, back in the fields straight after) or first time, new mum labour (hours and hours, maybe even days, excruciatingly painful, only aided by drugs and massage). Hummingbird was the latter for sure. I mean, sure, the drug was chocolate, and it was more like weeks, which would constitute a medical emergency in an actual childbirth situation, but the analogy (sort of) still holds…

Anyway. I finished it the day before Filey Folk Festival, and it gets it’s first outing here, at about 38 minutes in: https://www.facebook.com/caseewilson/videos/461181547958494/

Speaking of Filey, I had a blast, as I always do, and it was absolutely lovely to be booked for next year before the day had even finished! I know I’m not gigging much at the moment, and a lot of that is because I haven’t been actively seeking gigs – there’s been a lot on both externally and internally for me, but it’s so nice to know people want to book me 🙂

The upshot of all this is, I only have a few more songs to finish before I’ll have the whole album. It’s definitely, finally, starting to come together – I just have to keep working on it, a piece at a time. And not get distracted by the New Hound.

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In the words of Malcolm Reynolds, the stalwart captain of Serenity, I am still flying. It’s been a year since my last blog post (why does this suddenly feel like a confession) and I’m trying to find my way back into the world of creativity and self expression after what has been the hardest couple of years in recent memory.

This year’s FAWM saw a massive increase in my song-writing productivity – from 0 songs the February before to 2 new songs this year. This is good. It’s not the best, but it’s good.

I took the frightening step into full time self employment too, giving up my day job as an administrator to teach singing, so I am now, finally, making 100% of my income from music and music related activities. This is a really huge thing for me, as it has been a goal for the longest time.

So now, I’m actively working on two major projects: Promoting my tuition business (Tiny Cat Vocal Tuition – because we have cats, not because I intend to make my pupils sound like cats, let alone tiny cats…) and getting Hummingbird finished at long last and only several years later than originally intended.

Hummingbird

Album cover – first draft – drawn using Pixelmator on the iPad

Things still feel slow, but there is movement, albeit like a glacier. It can feel imperceptible, and sometimes it’s frustrating, that feeling that I am letting everyone down, that I am letting myself down, that I’m not achieving things as quickly as I would like. I hate that life events have necessitated recovery time, because I am essentially quite an impatient person. But creative projects, businesses and good wine all have something in common: they take time, and time taken makes them better.

So as I step into this new phase, I remind myself that I am still flying, and that I am allowed to take the time I need for my projects to mature. I have survived, and now I will thrive.

 

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So much for regular blogging, eh? Things have been afoot, and I am being creative musically and otherwise, but it’s been such an odd year that I haven’t really been good at being regular about blogging. Still, I hope this will change, and in the spirit of that, here is something I created. It’s been a little while since I wrote any short stories, so it’s a little rusty, but it seems in keeping with the world at the moment, or at least my less favourable feelings about the world at the moment, so I present:

Workhouse V2.0 

The 6am Klaxon jolted Tav into a bleary, muddled wakefulness, yanking her from a dream in which she had been enjoying mashed potato and gravy. She had never eaten mashed potato and gravy, but from the books she had read – when there had been books – she imagined it to be salty, buttery, warm. Comforting. It had always struck her, how authors had been obsessed with describing food. Midnight feasts fuelled by lashings of ginger beer. Hot, steaming slices of juicy roast meat served with flavourful vegetables and spicy punch. Creamy hot chocolate. It amazed her that there could ever have been a time when chocolate had ever been available to anyone other than the Overseers.

Another day, another dollar. Wasn’t that the saying? Only there were no dollars here. You worked for Nutritabs (TM) and water, a cot to sleep in and your continued existence.

It hadn’t always been like this. People spoke in whispers of a time in the late 2030’s when work was exchanged for money, and people had some measure of freedom. Advanced automation techniques had forever changed the face of capitalism – now only the Overseers could go Outside. They owned the factories and the machines, which at first had been a wonderful, labour-saving development. However, when the crisis hit, in 2041, there were no jobs for ordinary people any more. Debt had spiralled out of control, and without employment millions were soon destitute.

It was felt that the people would only experience satisfaction if they worked. Work was the tool to greater motivation, self esteem and worth. So, the WorkFarm was born. Of course all of the necessary tasks to keep society running were already taken care of by the AIs but it was simple enough to find mundane tasks that the Workers could do that, while not actually productive, would keep their hands busy and their minds numb.

Of course, some found it harder than others. The former doctors, lawyers, nurses, firemen and women, teachers – many of them chose to SelfPurge before being rounded up into the WorkFarm. And some were not deemed suitable for the program. It would have been a cruelty to expect the infirm and disabled to cope. The deviants would not have been safe to be in the confines of the Farm – how, after all, could you protect someone from sexual attack from members of their own sex? The resultant drop in population size was seen by many as a blessing. Now there would be more food, more medicine and more resources to go around.

The canteen was silent as Tav and the others shuffled in in a line. Each was given a Nutritab (TM) and a cup of water, each sat on a sterile metal bench to consume it. The benches were not designed for comfort – you would not sit there for long. Time wasted is time lost forever, as the slogans on the wall said. Breakfast generally took less than 5 minutes from joining the queue to dropping one’s cup in the disposal chute. If a Worker was not on the Floor by 6:15am ready to start work, they risked solitary confinement, loss of rations or the Sting.

Tav’s work, like that of the other women, involved twisting bolts onto screws. Minute after minute, hour after hour, she plucked a bolt from one box, and a screw from the other, and twisted them together. Oftentimes the screws or the bolts were so worn that they were too stiff to work together, or the threads were gone. But a non-assembled screw and bolt would earn the Sting. More than one would elicit removal of rations. Tav’s hands were scarred from forcing bolts unto screws until her fingers bled.

The conjoined bolt/screw arrangements were fed onto a belt, and transported to the Men’s section. The men’s job was simple enough. To unscrew the bolts from the screws and load them into boxes – one full of screws and one full of bolts. It was the perfect system, a closed cycle, where resources were neither wasted nor thrown away.

Two tables away from Tav, there was a sudden commotion as an older woman quietly, and without any fuss, slid to the floor. Tav did not know her name – friendships and interactions were actively discouraged – but she recalled this same woman had been coughing throughout the night at the far end of the dormitory from Tav’s own narrow cot. The woman slumped, pale and lifeless, her threaded screw on the floor an inch from her still fingers. Two Overseers briskly appeared, picking her up as though she were a sack of grain, and carried her away. She would not be seen again.

The other Workers simply closed the gap, like water rushing into a hole, and continued their work silently.

The lunchtime Klaxon sounded at 1pm, signalling another Nutritab and, this time, a reading from the Book. There were no pages in this Book, no ink. It was held on a tablet by Head Overseer, and pronounced from. Themes included the benevolence of the government, the folly of laziness, the danger of grandiose thinking, the perils of academia and the fruitlessness of religion. The only thing good about the 30 minute midday break, thought Tav, as she shifted uncomfortably on the edge of the ridged bench, was that one could sit down, even if it was more of a perch than a sit.

The afternoon followed the same pattern as the morning. Pick up a bolt. Pick up a screw. Thread them together. Place on the belt. Tav winced on reopening a cut on her palm while working on a particularly tight screw, but was careful not to lose pace or let an Overseer see she was bleeding. She wiped her hand down her overalls, and continued on.

Evening Klaxon sounded at 8pm, and the Workers downed tools and filed silently back into the canteen for the last Nutritab (TM) of the day. This time, one wall of the canteen was completely filled with a black screen. There were Purges daily – political criminals mostly, Deviants, academics and liberals. These were shown in the WorkFarms to instil gratitude in the Workers that they were spared from living in the world with these monsters. When the last Purgee had finished kicking and squirming, there was another short reading from the Book, and the Workers filed back to their cots. Tav stripped out of her overalls and dropped them into the chute at the bottom of the dormitory, took a clean one from the stacks, shrugged it on and climbed wearily into her cot.

The 6am Klaxon jolted Tav into a bleary, muddled wakefulness, yanking her from a dream in which she had been enjoying roast beef and yorkshire pudding.

And there it is. My first go at writing something that isn’t a song lyric in a long time. I’m hoping that it will help, as I have been churning out melodies and hooks like a machine but the lyrics have been eluding me. So this is my prose offensive!

See you next blog post!

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