Monday, 28 June 2010

Janelle Monae : Tightrope ft. Big Boi

My wake up song this week is Janelle Monae's 'Tightope'. A great song, the best kind of retro & an amazing video. I want to be able to dance like this please !!! Love, tt

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Syl Johnson

Paul Bryan in this week's TT Test mentioned an artist new to me Syl Johnson a label mate of Al Green. He also described the chorus on Johnson's track ' Watch What you do to me ' as having the 'grooviest drumbeat of all time '... well,with a recommendation like that I have to post it ! I wonder if you agree : ) love tt

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Paul Bryan / Producer, Arranger, Musician

This week's TT test is taken by the very wonderful Paul Bryan [link]. As a producer and musician he has worked with many great artists including Elvis Costello, Lucinda Williams, Allen Toussaint and Aimee Mann. Actually, he is producing my new album, which should be very interesting!! I'm thrilled with his answers and he mentions some music that is new to me which is always exciting. What is your wake up song at the moment? I don't listen to a huge volume of music; I tend to get obsessed with one or two records and spin them over and over again for months. If they can qualify as my wake-up songs then I suppose Joao Gilberto's late 70's LP 'Amaroso' would be a good example. I love the consistent mood and the way the hot and cool elements work together perfectly. Joao's intimate delivery contrasts perfectly with Klaus Olgerman's icy string arrangements. I think Zingaro is my fave track. It's beautiful how the melody is so static but still trips along on top of the flowing chord motion, doubling back on itself- also the way the flutes hand off to the strings in the middle instrumental. I can play this record over and over. Great for remaining mellow in the face of LA traffic adversity.Syl Johnston's LP 'Total Explosion' on Hi records would have to be another. Super funky and bluesy. Syl is always moaning about how hard it is to have a wife AND a girlfriend. The poor guy... life is tough out there. Amazing record. Overlooked as Al Green's label mate. Grooviest drumbeat of all time on the chorus of 'Bout To Make Me Leave Home'. Which work of art or single event has most influenced you in your chosen profession? I've always been impressed by Arif Mardin's production work, specifically on 'Dusty In Memphis'. He was such a class act, capable of both hosting the party and getting under the hood to tinker when necessary. I feel that last bit is important. If the musicians on the floor don't respect you then you're dead in the water. His horn and string arranging capabilities just floored me too; I thought one HAD to be able to orchestrate to do the job of producer when I was younger. I didn't realize it was a kind of weird black art. I am glad I didn't know that or I probably wouldn't have bothered. It's too hard. If you could travel back in time,which period would you most like to visit and why? I watched the documentary 'Style Wars' recently. It shows New York City during the birth of hip hop and graffiti art. 1970's New York riveted me yet scared me pants-less when I was a kid. There is something really beautiful and vital about that filthy, bankrupt punk era. Great new art and music coming out and that dirty style, the kind you see in Taxi Driver and The Taking Of Pelham 123. Maybe growing up in the suburbs made me fetishize 1970's bohemia a little bit, but I would love to go back to that time and live in Manhattan as an adult for a few years and watch it all happen. Preferably from the sell-out vantage point of a beautiful apartment and a lot of money in the bank... can that be part of the deal ? I love eating out & discovering new restaurants, can you please recommend one to me? 'Capo' [link] in Santa Monica, California. But my sentimental pick is the Thai Cafe, 925 Manhattan Ave, in Greenpoint,Brooklyn. They fed me almost every night from 1999 to 2006. BONUS QUESTIONS: What prompted you to make the transition from musician to producer & has it been an easy one? Mostly I got tired of following dumb advice from producers or being on sessions where I felt that musicians or projects were being mismanaged. I thought, 'I should be doing this!' I feel like the greatest sin in the studio is to miss an opportunity to get a good performance. Musicians and singers have their own energy/ language out there in the room and it is a delicate thing and should be protected. They want to know that it's safe for them to do their thing and that you aren't going to drive them into the ground chasing nonsense. Once you establish that and create a supportive environment, defenses drop and it's off to the races. People always want to do their best when they feel appreciated. Nearly all of the records you have produced have been based on capturing a live performance from the nucleus of a band as oppose to constructing a track by multi-layering with individual session musicians. Has this been an aesthetic choice or an accidental one ? It's a choice. Though I do like a balance of the two. While layering a track serves a great purpose, it's still a left-brain activity. Trying to synch a bunch of people up to reach a creative height together is so much more satisfying. Granted, it takes a little faith and the ability to let go and trust the moment. But I feel that if I knew what was going to happen then what would be the point? People responding to each other makes the best kind of musical fingerprint. I feel like that's where real excitement comes from.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Moving to Mars

Refugee Action [link] kindly invited me to the launch of their film festival, that is taking, place online from the 10th-24th June on Brightwide [link]. The programme is exciting; I’m looking forward to two films in particular ‘No One Knows About Persian Cats’ which tells the story of young artists trying to express themselves in the contemporary rock scene in Iran and ‘Moving to Mars: A Million Miles from Burma’ documentary [link] which follows two families of Burmese refugees moving to England from a refugee camp in Thailand. Brightwide, itself, is such a great idea. The site screens inspiring, intelligent and entertaining social & political cinema from around the world and also provides the viewer with the information to become more involved if they have been especially moved by an issue. I hope you will find the time to check out the festival, Brightwide and Refugee Action! lots of love tt

Friday, 11 June 2010

Podcast 14

Podcast 14 has been added !! If you haven't already just sign up to the mailing list to gain access to the Attic to listen to the podcast. Hope you enjoy, lot's of love, tt

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Rue McClanahan

Sad to hear the actress Rue McClanahan has passed away. I was captivated as a teenager by her wonderful portrayal of the very seductive & sassy Blanche in 'The Golden Girls' and although Blanche could be a little bit mean it was difficult not to love her sense of freedom & appetite for life. This is a great quote from an equally spirited Rue McClanahan from her 2007 autobiography 'My First Five Husbands... And the One's Who Got Away."People ask me if I'm like Blanche. And I say, 'Well,Blanche was an oversexed, self-involved, man crazy, vain Southern belle from Atlanta - and I'm not from Atlanta..." I guess we all dream of being that feisty , love tt