Following on from my previous post about how I started making music with various bits and pieces of old radios and things, I posted a comment on Createdigitalmusic’s website about all it in an article about Kids making electronic music between the 60s and the 80s. I also I put in a link to “This is the Mood….”, the track I made in the mid-80s using just a Jen SX1000, Casio MT31, and a Kay Drum Machine. I was really surprised to get a reply. I maybe expected maybe a “hmmm”, or “well, it WAS the 80’s”. The reply came from the Editor-in-Chief and Publisher himself, Peter Kirn: “Excellent. Totally excellent”.
I’m convinced there’s something in some of these old tracks of mine – maybe I have a plan….
Have a look at the original article on Createdigitalmusic, with all the comments:
I often get asked how long I’ve been making electronic music. The answer is – probably most of my life! My dad was a TV engineer in the 60s and 70s, so he had allsorts of circuit testers and oscilloscopes and other bits of junk that I could mess around round and make odd bleeps and sinewave wails! My dad also had an old valve stereo radio and I used to tune it in to all sorts of weird and wonderful Eastern European radio stations on Short-Wave, and made crazy frequency sweeps. I even hooked up a model train transformer to the radio’s input socket and made wacky noises. I moved on to buying a cheap stereo reel-to-reel in a wooden box and recorded tunes I made on an old electronic organ that worked by blowing air from a fan. The first “proper” song I made was called “The Car Park”, and then something called “Do you know Mister Wall?” (anyone spot where I got that title from?). I used to try making “musique concrete” tunes by cutting up my tapes, but I didn’t have the right gear to join them up again, and made a horrible mess of the tape heads!
I got my first synth in about 1980 – a Casio MT31, followed by a Kay Memory Rhythm, and then a Jen SX1000. Not much, I know, but it was all I could afford and it allowed me to make tunes for all the lyrics I’d been writing about teenage angst and life in general. I recorded everything onto a Phillips hi-fi system (with adjustable Left and Right mic inputs!) bounced down with a Phillips portable cassette player and a home-made 4-input mixer (in a small tin box!). Most of the parts were pretty much played live, then bounced down and things like the synth solos and vocals were played over the top.
I made about 5 cassette tapes full on songs around that time, and they all survive to this day. The only one I’ve copied to CD so far is the first one, called “Ultraviolent Light”. Listening to them now makes me think of the songs of Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, who still use similar gear as I used. One of the tracks from this “album” is called “This is the Mood (I’m in) and is here for you to listen to in all it’s glory. Bear in mind that it’s from a cassette tape that’s nearly 30 years old and I haven’t used any noise removal equipment….. it sounds quite a quirky little song….see what you think!
I got an email yesterday saying that O’Neill, the surfing, skiing, and snowboarding company, have launched O’Neill TV, featuring all their promo films, profiles, and all sorts of other video footage. I thought it would actually be proper tv station on Sky or the Extreme Channel, but it turned out it’s just a glorified Flash player on their website. I’m not dismissing it though. It looks great, and there are loads of videos on there, especially for all you surf, ski, and snowboard types out there. Plus, it’s got me on there. Actually, it’s got my music on a couple of videos up there.
Three tracks – Croydon Library, Never Alone remix, and Hello – are on the Deep Blue Open 2005 event video, and two – Croydon Library and Never Alone – are on the video profile of Trent Munro (world-famous surfer dude). I signed a non-exclusive deal with O’Neill Europe a couple of years ago, thinking that I’d just get a couple of DVDs from it, but I’m still getting exposure from it. I guess this O’Neill TV thing is getting a lot of hits, so more exposure for me.
I’m something of a perfectionist when it comes to something looking right, and usually I get this nagging feeling in the back of my head telling me that something doesn’t look as good as it should. That explains why I’ve changed the look of this blog about 5 times in the last few weeks. I’ve reused the old “green” header and adopted a more plain-looking body. Hopefully I’ll be satisfied now and not want to change it again.
I’ve been trying to work out what to write here because there’s just been so much going on at home, work, and with the music. When I’ve got everything straight in my head, I’ll post more info here.
Other things: I’ve been helping Paul with some more tunes. He’s finally got back into music-making, so he’s been asking for some help. Expect more of his stuff on myspace soon. Also, I came across a great WordPress blog called Svartling. It’s a comprehensive list of loads of new VST plugins and music-making software. Highly recommended!