Monthly Archives: May 2012
Last week I was in Amsterdam and went to an Irish pub called Mulligans where they have an Irish music session every Wednesday. I sat down and enjoyed lots of nice songs whilst drinking beer in its correct format i.e in a pint glass and not in a 25cl glass…
There I met Sophie Ter Schure who was leading the session with her fabulous voice. The next day in a last minute rush we arranged to meet up and record some tunes. We ended up heading towards the outskirts of Amsterdam beside a large canal/river. We set up on a little platform over the water from which a ferry takes punters from one side of the river to the other.
Halfway through the first song, Sophie realised how noisy the place actually was. She remembered it to be very quiet and said something along the lines “It’s funny how much noise there is when you’re listening”. I thought it was interesting because it shows our mind’s ability to ignore certain sounds and highlights the difference between hearing and listening. Thus, in the recordings, you’ll hear lots of extra sounds like babies crying, the ferry arriving and departing, aeroplanes flying low and many more. I think I’ve learn’t to enjoy these sounds. They make the recordings sound closer to the way you experience music in a live situation rather than in a acoustically sealed studio environment.
Anyways, we recorded quite a few songs on that platform and then decided it would be nice to record a few on the ferry! You can’t tell the difference in sound (except for the background rumbling of the motor), it’ll only be interesting when I get round to making a video or finding someone to do one for the project. (By the way if anyone likes video editing and wants to help out, please get in contact!)
After lunch on the terrace of a tall building involved in arty stuff and with a view over Amsterdam, we went to meet some of Sophie’s friends on the other side of town. We recorded another couple of songs in their garden after which I recorded her friends – more on that later!
In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the long collection of songs Sophie Ter Schure performed during a very nice and sunny afternoon whilst she was running away from her PhD work…
I have a lot to tell you but I have no idea where to start! So I’ll just go through things chronologically! However, I’ll just start by giving a quick update on the trip.
I have spent the last 4 days on the road cycling from Amsterdam to Celle, Germany. The first night I stayed in Zwolle. I had a very nice evening siting in a square with Patrik (him and his wife were my hosts for the night) whilst a trio of musicians improvised groovy covers of rock and folk classics. He told me about a project he has been doing for last couple of years. The project is called In De Kringloop which is Dutch for In the Secondhand Shop. The idea is to get artists to perform in an open second hand store with customers roaming around whilst Patrik and his team film and record the performance. Here is one of their videos and if musicians passing through like the idea and want to play for In De Kringloop please contact Patrik.
The second night, I spent somewhere in between Zwolle and Bremen next to a river. I had a very nice evening trying to play flute and reading. Here is a photo of my spot for the night:
The next day I arrived in Bremen. It was Whit Monday so everything was closed… I was unable to discover the stories behind the beautiful city. Instead I got on my bike a cycled with the setting sun. I ended up cycling over 130km that day!
The last cycling day towards Celle was exhausting! What made it particularly hard was that my rear wheel wasn’t straight… When I finally decided to stop to adjust it, I discovered that a spoke had broken… So I couldn’t do anything but release my rear brakes in order for the wheel to run freely without touching the brakes every time it went round…
Anyways, after four days of cycling I arrived in Celle where a good friend of mine is staying at his parents house. I’ll be recuperating here for a few nights, preparing the recordings from Amsterdam and taking care of brave little Doppler. On Friday I’ll head up to Hamburg, then I’ll set out for Berlin!
Last Sunday, I met up with singer-songwriter and documentary film maker: Leon Giesen. After several years of working with both mediums separately, he decided, in the last ten years, to combine the two. In his nice little studio converted from an old school on the outskirts of Utrecht, he explained to me his intricate live set. I don’t want to recount it badly and ruin the surprise if you ever go and see him live – I’ll say only this: he’s got three screens, nice imagery and an old bass guitar with a fabulous story!
As most of us don’t understand Dutch, Leon asked me if I could join a little paragraph to explain what the songs are about – understanding the words are crucial to understanding documentary songs! In the end he sent me exactly what to write and gave me some photos as an extra accompaniment:
Tango alleen (music and words: Leon Giesen)
“About going your own way no matter what other people say.More or less inspired by the story of Ferdinand Cheval, the postman who built a palace in his own backyard (made of stones that he found).”
M (music and words: Leon Giesen)
“One of the first songs I made (that I can still listen to and like to play). About a postcard that I once received from my girlfriend. On the front it had a beautiful picture of an unmade bed, and on the back a very short message: Mmm, M”
Simpel (music and words: Leon Giesen)
“About the best food I ever ate (a grilled sardine), most delicious wine I ever tasted (from a plastic cup), finest music I ever heard (coming form a half broken car radio) and the most inspired time I ever made love (in a tropical rainstorm).
All of these top-experiences took place on vacation.
What does that mean?”
Here are the recordings:
If you like what you hear, here is Leon’s website: http://www.mondoleone.nl/
The mad capital of Europe ended up being a very fruitful town for this project. It’s now been nearly two weeks since Brussels yet I still have a few recordings to share! Unfortunately, because of the braek I took, I never got round to finding artists in Antwerp so I had to move on. I am now in Utrecht (The Netherlands) and cheated to get there… I wanted to make up for the time I didn’t spend on the project last week thus took the train. Tomorrow, I’ll be off to Amsterdam.
In the meantime, I had the pleasure to record the lead singer and the drummer from a Brussels band called Ziggy: Pablo Troussard (acoustic guitar and vocals) and Tommaso Partix (Cajon). We recorded in Tommaso’s father’s painting atelier which had been transformed into an Art Gallery, so there was lots of funny weird paintings/sculptures lying around – you can see a few in the photo.
There isn’t much more to say on the duo other than they utterly impressed me with the quality of their performance and songs given their youngish age. So I hope you enjoy listening to them just as much as I enjoyed recording them!
If you like what you hear go check out Ziggy’s website: https://www.facebook.com/ziggyband
On the same day, I recorded an Italian, Stephan, living in Brussels who plays a traditional Italian diatonic accordion. I met him quite randomly the night before and we arranged to record the next day at his place. When I got there he introduced me to his instrument – which you can see on the photo down below. It’s peculiar because it only has two bass keys: the fundamental and the fifth. He played with an incredible ease a series of traditional tunes and then moved onto a real accordeon to play me an accordion standard ‘Indiférence’.
These recordings are a good example of the cultural diversity that seems to exist in Brussels and I hope you enjoy listening to a snippet of it!
Le Palais des Sciences is another episode from Brussels, the capital city of Europe – in my opinion a mad city but mad in every good facet of the word. Upon arriving, I googled “music brussels” both looking for gigs to go to and artists to record. Lo and behold, I stumbled upon or more like found a haystack in a bunch of tiny needles: http://musicbrussels.com/. I emailed the curator of the website who very quickly replied with lots of great ideas of artists to record. Before I had time to get in contact with her recommendations or even thank her, I got an email from a Canadian living in Brussels. He is the man behind a project called Cougars in America and has his very own blog which I invite you all to go and check out: http://cougarsinamerica.blogspot.fr/
Now I’m not sure I understand Scott’s band situation but this is what I understood: Cougars in America is his solo project, he also plays in a band called Benito Band. Now the drummer in the later band also plays in a band playing Scott’s compositions strategically called Cougars in America Band !? Finally, Scott also plays organ in a band called General Bazaar and the Cardinal Points of Conspiracy (great band name!). Now I’m not sure which project I recorded but I think it was the simple Cougars in America configuration accompanied by a double-bass player. The double-bass player, Paolo, is part of some crazy promotion company called Antitapas. This initiative arose from a house that was named Le Palais des Science. This house hosted some crazy parties with music and all the lot in a hammam situated in the basement which were we recorded the following pieces:
Unfortunately I have to go back to Paris until Saturday 19th for issues I’d rather not share. Thus, I’m putting the project to a halt.
I have collected many recordings in Brussels which should be enough to keep the site active for the next week.