Monday, 16 February 2015

Putting A Record Out, Is Hard! (AKA: The Indie Chick Challenge)

Ah yes, "sometimes it's hard to be a woman, giving all your love to just one man..." 

...but you know what's even harder than that?  Putting out a record as an indie-pop chick!

If you've never done it, it might look like fun.  And of course there are bits of it that are frekkin' fun, like getting to play Glastonbury, having a song you wrote in a feature film, or hearing your music on the radio!  But the behind-the-scenes work can be pretty all-consuming & in this day and age, most indie musos have day jobs (I do).  And therefore, the thing that makes you tick is delegated to the evenings and weekends.  That's not defeatist, it's realistic, London rent is steeeeeeeep!

So, sorry friends if I haven't been able to hang out with you for a while.  I've been gathering my PR assets & those assets are about to be unleashed on the world & then we tour.  Get ready for it people!

Meanwhile, there's album artwork, video shoots, press release, EPK & web site, photo shoots, remixes, b-sides, Itunes bonus book, merch, chasing, rehearsing, researching and lots and lots of e-mailing.  It's essentially like having a 2nd job as a project coordinator.  Does that sound glamorous to you?  I have spreadsheets, multiple spreadsheets & that doesn't feel too rock 'n' roll!  Did I start a band to make spreadsheets?  Hello no!  But do I want to do a proper job of this to enable my album to connect in the biggest way possible.  Well, yes of course!

And therein lies the rub.  If I'm going to do this, I want to do it correctly & well & make the most of my opportunities.

I don't think Janice Joplin would have been too dutiful with metadata, I'm not sure if Jimi Hendrix could have been trusted to organise a video shoot, do you think Led Zeppelin set up their own PRS registrations?  Nope.  But "times they are a'changing" and I don't curse that really because it simply is what it is.  Music bizz has always changed, it started out as sheet music ya know?  So we've come a long way from there.

The Indie Chick Challenge is compounded by not having any money for anything.  So everything is "on a favour" and "could you help me?" and "mate's rates" and as an artist I know that people's skills and talents are worth something.  I would LOVE to pay everyone who helps me, lots of money.  One day, maybe I can/will!  But it's nice that nobody seems to worry about it too much in the meantime.

I think that the people who help me know I appreciate them.  Sometimes we do things on a trade, like The Real Tuesday Weld has kindly done a remix for me, in exchange for some singing, see?

Or once Carim from Psapp mastered an album for me at a heavily discounted rate and I baked him 4 cakes to supplement the fee.  (Carim loves cake!)

And for every Piney video you see, you can know that it has been created thanks to kindness & willingness to participate.  See?

Here I am just before a photo shoot I did last week.
Katrin was rushing over after work to take the pics.
Thanks Katrin!
I guess we just have to get creative with our approach, because let's face it, unless you're Katy Perry, Mumford and Sons, or Florence and the Machine, it's not likely you are surviving on your creative output/income alone, or if you are, then you definitely don't live in London (or you might have help from Mom and Dad, but that's a whole other kind of blog - there are quite a few trust fund musicians out there).

And so the creative family helps one another out, artistically.  Actually, that's a beautiful thing & enables a sense of community.  In that sense I'm lucky, really really lucky to be surrounded by the people that I know.

Okay, so maybe it's not SO bad,
but it's still hard to do loads of spreadsheets!

Wish me luck,


Tuesday, 6 January 2015

New Year's Resolutions

So what are your New Year's resolutions?

They say if you tell people what your resolutions are you're more likely to stick to them... here are mine!

1. Ebay all those old dresses I no longer wear - I know, a girl can never have too many clothes right?  Well, I can't fit the clothes into my closet & this has been a case for some time now!  Ever since I moved out of the Listria Park (if you ever saw my room there it was likened to a vintage clothes boutique: with walls of dresses and wracks of shoes) I haven't had sufficient space for my dresses.  I currently have over a dozen boxes of dresses that I need to auction off.  Beautiful, one-of-a-kind, vintage frocks, that for whatever reason I don't wear.  I guess my stage look has evolved a bit, it's less Sandra Dee than it used to be, thus the surplus of dresses...  This is a serious task, but will feel good to get it done and free up that space!

2. Figure out what the heck a 'cloud' is and back up all my techie stuff.  At the moment I am so NOT techie that if my computer failed tomorrow, that'd just be it, everything would be gone... so yes, I need to figure this shizz out.  Any tech tutors out there?  I can pay you in enchiladas, or bake you a cake. 

3. Get all that Piney Merch photographed and over to Greedbag.  I have a Piney Gir shop, see? the thing is, I have all this cute jewellery and other lovely handmade things at home, cluttering up my hallway when these things could be out there making people happy. Then I'd have more space for shoe storage.  Win/Win!

4. Figure out the shoe storage issue.  I'll spare you the details but believe me it's an issue! 

I just proofread this blog and I sound a bit vacuous running around town moaning about shoe storage.  I am blessed to have the problems that I have!  But what I can take away from this blog is this... I need to create more space and more order so perhaps that is the umbrella for these resolutions, the general 'to do' as it were.  When my physical space is calm, my inner space will also be calm (that's the idea anyway)... 

So 2015 will be about creating space and achieving a sense of order both outwardly and inwardly.

Wish me luck!  


Sunday, 23 November 2014

Home Sick & Blogger Blues

'Tis the season for cooties, and I a got 'em!

I haven't been home for 3 days in a row since I moved to my new East London pad 6 months ago.  So in a sense, that's been nice, it's a shame it takes feeling bad to give me some chill time, but that is how it is.  I have made a new Spotify playlist that I can't stop listening to, caught up on some Piney admin,  cleaned the house from top to bottom, written 4 songs for the next album & now I'm saying hi to you.  "Hi!" After this I'm going to do one of those green face masks.  You can picture it now, ay... all 50's housewife cliché!  Maybe I'll bake some bread.

Anyway, I have a case of the blogger blues in the sense that I can't seem to blog consistently, then I feel guilty about it, then I put it off, and it's a viscous circle.  I like writing, I like putting it out there... it's just life innit?  It gets on top of you, mundane stuff gets in the way, or sometimes you're too busy doing things you could blog about to find time to blog it.  Catch 22, but a nice problem to have I guess.

So, Thursday night I went to my lovely friend Alice's opening, she's created a new shop called "We Built This City" which is currently a pop-up shop on Carnaby Street.  Check it out!  It's like an affordable art gallery or something, it's all London-specific, but not in a tacky t-shirt way, but more in a "Ain't London great?" kind of way.  A lot of artists, designers and makers are inspired by this city.  It was great to be reminded of that.

If you do go to the shop, all the pigeons within the shop were assembled by mine own hand.  It basically involved connecting the feet to the bodies, so fairly minimal effort on my part, but there were 50+ of them.  Alice sold one of them on opening night, so that bodes well.  In fact, here they are.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Kate Beckinsale's scream

For those of you who don't know,
this is Kate Beckinsale.
So, I mentioned in my last blog about how I have a new job... the other day the sound effects company downstairs came upstairs to ask a favour of me.  They needed Kate Beckinsale to scream... however in the footage they had of her she was not really screaming, instead she was doing more of a confused grunting thing.

I'm not sure why the guys downstairs thought I'd be good at screaming, perhaps they sense I have big lungs or maybe I have a loud mouth!

Anyway, I viewed the scene and they explained my motivation and I did several types of screams for them to choose from.  It was fun & made everyone laugh; a funny 5 minutes out of the day to help those guys out.

(FYI: if you see this film, my scream can be heard at a moment when you see Simon Pegg's face & Kate Beckinsale is scrambling around.)

What a funny aspect of the ol' day job, ay?

But then I felt a little sad, because I didn't realise this scream is going to be part of Robin William's final film.  It's called Absolutely Anything & he voices "Dennis the Dog."  I can hear his voice floating up the stairs all day, every day, as they splice the film and voiceover.  It's eerie, haunting, comforting and sad all at the same time.

I never dreamed I would be linked to Robin Williams, especially not posthumously.  I grew up with Robin Williams, and now my scream can be heard in a film where he voices a dog.   It is truly an honour.
Spoiler Alert: this is Dennis the Dog and Simon Pegg
from the film "Absolutely Anything"

Friday, 8 August 2014

I have a new job...

Hi there,

It might surprise some of you to know I have a day job. However, if you know any musicians or songwriters they all most likely have a day job (unless you are mates with Katy Perry or someone like that). This is by no means a blog-rant about the music bizz & the plight of the indie muso & more of a thing about my new job...

My new job is in Soho, London. I’m still getting used to that fact.

The past several years I have worked in the depths of Way West London, for some reason what I do by day gravitates to that part of the world. I have always lived in North-Northeast London resulting in epic commutes for years. I have written most of my songs/albums on the tube = FACT! 

Now I work in Soho. That’s a nice sensible place to work, no? It’s the middle of town so anyone can get there with relative ease. This in itself is a good thing! When I have a meeting, I can literally pop out and have the meeting, I no longer have to budget an hour to get there and an hour to get back meaning a 30 minute meeting really takes 2.5 hours of the day.

There are limitless options for lunch. I heard that Obama’s favourite Hawaiian burger joint opened a branch in Soho, so I tried the halloumi and sweet potato fries there = winner! Fancy a burrito? = check! Ah, I could really do with some proper Italian pizza by the slice = oh there it is! Nice, sunny day? Why not cue up for Savage Salads? (Savage Salads is my fave Soho food truck & apparently a lot of other people’s favourite food truck too). Heck, you could even meet a friend for lunch (unless you’re working up against the clock on a brief & that DOES happen - well it's a job after all).

Going for a drink after work doesn’t mean getting home super late (unless you end up at Trisha’s or The Pheonix, natch!).

But what I’m finding most interesting about working in Soho is the Crossrail project. I bet you didn’t expect me to say that!

London's historic 'Astoria' is no more.
I’m sad The Astoria is gone (although having played there a couple of times, I’m pretty sure there were plenty of rats backstage)... but all in all I’m pleased with this development. For a start it should help commuters & I’m all for that. But what’s cool is my office looks right over it. I can peer into the pit and see the Crossrail developing and changing and it’s really cool. I’m right by the hole where they discovered the Roman Ruins.  See?

What’s also funny about the Crossrail is the number of builders’ conversations I have overheard. It’s been a hot summer, so I’ve been working with my window open & I suppose they don't know I can hear them. Now, it’s not been like the famous Diet Coke Ad, believe me! BUT I have overheard chaps talking about methods they use to chat up a girl in a bar, say.  As a girl who hangs around in bars, this interests me.  This particular group of builders seems to like to watch “An Idiot Abroad” - so do I!  And I heard one of them talking about taking his girlfriend to Paris. It’s sweet & has been an insight into the mind of the average man because men talk differently when a girl is around. I seem to meet a lot of middle class fopps to be honest (that’s not a diss, I too am a middle class fopp & I’m fairly sure builders are more well-off than me and my foppish friends & our low-paid media jobs funding our flat-shares). Perhaps builders get a bad wrap. They don’t all wolf-whistle or swear like the stereotype of yesteryear, and yes it's true... some women are known to fantasise about some hot builder whisking them off to Paris, and ladies it would seem that's an achievable goal!


Tuesday, 17 June 2014

How to be a Punk Rock Girl...

So I might seem the most unlikely suspect to blog about being a Punk Rock Girl - I wear dresses every day, I love Dolly Parton, I recently blogged about a cupcake tour of London... these things are NOT the stereotype of what a Punk Rock Girl is, right?

But I think being a Punk Rock Girl comes in many guises... it's having a rebel yell in your heart, it's the smoking-behind-the-bleachers attitude that never leaves you (even if you don't smoke - p.s. E-cigs are not punk rock!), it's drinking cava in the park even though it's against the law because it's a silly law on the hottest day of the year.  It's telling it like it is even if it's hard to say.

A Punk Rock Girl is an outsider, she plays by her own rules.  That's not to say she's a baddy.  Punk Rock Girls can have good manners too.  I.e. if someone's glasses fall off in the mosh pit you help them find their specs.  That's just common pit etiquette!

A Punk Rock Girl has an adventurous & curious spirit and will try most anything once.  She has a strong sense of self and doesn't need to be told what to do or how to do it.  She forges her own path, even if it is the road less travelled.

So in that sense ladies and gents, I am a Punk Rock Girl.  I do my indie thing and embrace new experiences with a sense of wonder.  I find solidarity in my fellow riot grrrls and sense a new wave of feminism is upon us.  One where the Punk Rock Girls will lead the way and I mean Punk Rock in the broadest & most inclusive sense... (p.s. you can be a Punk Rock Guy too).

I'm going to leave you now with The Dead Milkmen enjoy!  And hey, do something a little crazy, something you've never done before, something a little out of your comfort zone.  I dare you...


Sunday, 6 April 2014

A Cupcake Tour of London - bon appétit!

As I type this I'm aware that this is possibly my twee-est blog topic... but if knowing is half the battle, then I'm halfway there, right?

My dear friend Katrin, some might remember her as 'The German One' from The Schla La Las.  If you don't remember who The Schla La Las are, we were a blip on the London art-rock scene a few years ago, here we are on youtube, see?

Anyway, I digress... so Katrin kindly took me on this cupcake tour of London, it was a touristy sort-of outing.  I so rarely stop to enjoy the city I live in.  I'm always too busy rushing around, trying to take over the world!  So it was a much needed day out.

Here she is with a miniature cupcake at Lorraine Pascale's Cupcake Bakehouse in Covent Garden

We then went to the famous French macaroonerie Ladurée of which there are 2 in London and yes, we went to them both!

Our charming Scottish tour guide took us down the real alleyway that inspired Diagon Alley from the Harry Potter Books, which was conveniently near Sweet Coutoure

We walked through China Town and I was disappointed we didn't stop at any of the odd Chinese bakeries, but I can always go back to China Town.

We passed through Soho and our tour guide told us all sorts of facts about the old Soho, the new Soho and some of the rock 'n' rollers that passed through the historic region over the years.

We had more cupcakes at The Hummingbird Bakery which never disappoints.

Then we had more sweet treats, this time macaroons, at a blue place that looks like an Aquarium and these may have been the favourite sweet treats of the day in my book!  But this is not the end of our sugary plight.

We crossed Soho to Patisserie Valerie for more French fancies and then headed to Savile Row to see where The Beatles did their famous roof-top gig.

(Apparently, it's possible
to get a vegetarian version,
but I'm not very desperate
to try one.)

Last but not least we went to Fortnum and Mason which was established in 1707 and takes credit for inventing the Scotch Egg.

As a vegetarian, I have never tried a Scotch Egg.  For the fellow Americans of you, dear readers, I will explain that a Scotch Egg is  a hard boiled egg covered in sausage meat and breadcrumbs and then baked.  Sort of weird, huh?  But normal if you grew up over here in the UK post-1707.

We then bid our lovely Scottish host Adieu and hopped in a black cab for a sugar-fuelled adventure, an adventure for another blog post, as this is getting lengthy.  If you want to see more photos of our culinary adventures, the cakes we ate are all here for you to see...

Meanwhile, don't forget to take some time out and enjoy the cake, the scenery, or whatever takes your fancy.  Bon appétit!