Wednesday, 5 December 2012

It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year (?????) I think so...

Okay, so basically my favourite day of the year is Halloween, I love it!  The wild nights, the crazy costumes, the free candy, I can't get enough of Halloween.  From Halloween to Christmas it's good times a-go-go!  The hols in fall and winter are pretty good.

In the UK there is Guy Fawkes night, which is kind of mental.  Children burn scarecrows on bonfires and people blow stuff up to commemorate Guy Fawkes' failed attempt and blowing up Parliament in 1605.  What an odd thing to celebrate, right?  But it's pretty and it's a good excuse to drink hot chocolate on Primrose Hill watching the fireworks over London town.

Thanksgiving, being an American in London, I tend to miss out on.  It seems like the universe doesn't want me to have Thanksgiving, because every year I have a gig that I am either playing or I must attend for social obligation (you know how it is, being a girl about town and all).  This year I was at the Father John Misty gig, delivering a special loaf of banana bread.

And so it's been YEARS since I've had a Tofurkey... and did you know the UK doesn't do pumpkin as a sweet thing?  They do pumpkin curry and pumpkin soup, but pie = no way José, unless it's a pie with goat's cheese and potato and pumpkin.

So I get the yearning for sweet pumpkin pie.  It means scouring the American section of the food hall in Selfridges to buy a can of pumpkin (have you ever tried to make pumpkin pie with a real pumpkin?  It ain't so good).

And that little jaunt to the food hall on Oxford Street can fulfil me when I feel homesick...that and Selfridge's ample supply of Jif peanut butter, which is a whopping £4 a jar = that's like $6.50.  I justify this expense because I would happily spend that much on a glass of wine in a bar, so why not spend that much on many pieces of wonderful breakfast toast?

I digress... so Christmas is coming.  I like Christmas, but thinking back, Christmas really stopped being a big deal after my parents split and when I was a teenager, I usually spent Christmas like a waif/stray at friends' parents' houses.  Thinking back that's kind of odd.  But I guess my mom wasn't much of a cook, and the lovely Robinson family, who Mom tended to spend Christmas with, well... they put bacon fat in EVERYTHING.  As a vegetarian it meant only eating pumpkin pie on Christmas day.  Which is kind of nice, but every now and then a girl wants some stuffing or green beans, right?

Once my mom took me to a Polynesian restaurant out by the airport, because it was one of the only places that was open in Kansas City on Christmas day.  I have really fond memories of this exotic Christmas dinner.  The tiki lounge feel of the place suited my inner spirit, which is kitsch through and through.  The pineapple in everything baffled my Kansas palette but it was something of an experience.  Don Ho's 'Tiny Bubbles' infiltrated the atmosphere, and then we went to see a movie.  It was something like Home Alone 2.  It might not be the traditional Christmas that people think about, but I'll always remember it well.

And this brings me to now.  This year, I am spending Christmas in the Oxfordshire countryside and it's a sparkling, traditional, family Christmas that I am lucky enough to be a part of.  The nights are very long in England this time of year (it's dark by 3:45 these days) and it's very and damp (because we are an island the wind is wet and stings).  So cosying up with a hot toddy and a game of Jenga is just what's needed to evoke true Christmas spirit.

Now all I gotta do is survive Christmas party season!  Wish me luck, and godspeed to you too dear reader.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Chelsea Boots Girl

If you know a little about me... then you'll know that I am stuck in the 60s.

I don't know why, because I wasn't alive in the 60s, my parents never talked about the 60s and I'm not one of those people that seeks out LSD and free love.  I do not own anything tie-died.  There are still hippies everywhere, especially in California and Northeast London... but it's fun to dabble with hippy stuff sometimes; i.e. I am wearing 2 crystals today and a Mary Quant-style dress with lashings of eyeliner.  That's pretty 60's right?

I've been known to drink a Cherry B or Baby Cham purely for the kitsch packaging.  It's so sickly sweet, but I feel cool holding the bottle so I sip it slow. *footnote*

And I just love 60s clothes, man... I love them.  I collect them.  My bedroom is more like a giant closet with a bed in it, than a bedroom with some clothes in it.  I guess vintage fashion is my hobby and I have taken that hobby to an extreme.  I justify it with, "well I can always wear it on stage" and I do.

Last night, I was delighted to be on the Father John Misty guest list.  I felt like such a a jammy hipster, and it was a good gig.  Anyhoo... a hot London gig requires a good outfit and my black dress needed blood-red, velvet Chelsea Boots, natch!  But here's the catch, in London, in November, IT RAINS!  and I mean, it really rains, like a cold monsoon.  You'd think having left Kansas and lived here for 14 years now, I might have thought of that before leaving the house.  The thing about velvet shoes and rain, is that your feet get totally soaked, they are more of a glorified sock.  And so I've learned my lesson, the boots are on the radiator and I am hopeful they are not ruined.  I have nobody to blame but myself (and perhaps God for making it rain).

Chelsea (home of the Chelsea boot) ain't what it used to be.  Apparently in the 60's it was a real epicentre for music, fashion, cafe culture and general cool cats & beatniks.  Now Chelsea is full of rich people, Starbucks, and overpriced boutiques aimed at yummy mummies and retired media lovies.  Property values may be high, but if you ask me... there goes the neighbourhood!  Times They are A Changin' and there's no point fighting that.

I am trying to figure out why I'm obsessed with an era that is so distant from me.  Why do I feel this passion for a time that I have never known?  Why do I cling to a nostalgia that I have only experienced second hand?

I think it might have something to do with the fact I discovered secular music late in life, so when the rock 'n' roll flood gates were opened I soaked it all up like a sponge and took great fascination with the past.  I wanted to learn what made music what it is, the past that shapes the future.  There will never be another time like the 60's when it comes to music.  So I revere it, I respect it, and I feel a little sad I missed out.  I live vicariously through music, art and fashion.

I guess there is a sort of freedom in the fact that in the 60's there was this fun sonic playground that nobody had discovered before... such an exciting time with the invention of the Mellotron, synths, overdriven guitars, the notion that you can use the studio as an instrument, manipulating sounds and atmosphere.  Some classical composers played with this idea, people like Cage and Stockhausen, but pop pioneers like Phil Spector, The Beatles, The Stones, The Beach Boys, made it mainstream and we've never looked back.  Modern bands like Radiohead and Flaming Lips would not be what they are today if peeps in the 60's hadn't pushed the envelope waves.

So what better way to love you and leave you than with a song... a song by a band that inspire me a lot.  They capture that edgy, dangerous thing that the 60's represented, untapped rebellion with an icy, cool sheen.  Enjoy Velvet Underground, I love this song!


* it's probably not 'cool' to admit that something makes you feel cool *

Wednesday, 14 November 2012


I am currently obsessed with this album!  Cold Fact by Rodriguez.
I know, I'm a late bloomer... y'all were telling me to see 'Searching for Sugarman' back when it came out last spring.   But I'm a busy girl and barely ever find 2 hours to sit still.  So I finally got round to seeing the movie a couple of weeks ago, in Pasadena, at a cute little art house cinema (with dollar popcorn, I might add!)

I have to say, this film spoke to me by the buckets.  Tears they did fly, but not sad tears, happy ones.  How joyous to see someone like Rodriguez who has fulfilled his destiny after long last and great patience.  He is unspoiled by his success, he is unaffected by his newfound fame.

Rodriguez, I salute you!  And I cannot wait to see you later.  I'm baking you a Sugarman cake as we speak...


Friday, 21 September 2012

For those of you who like to know... I have just complete demo number 16 for the next Piney album, how exciting is that?!~!?

I have to say though, the last song I just finished (like just now, i.e. just this minute I finished it) sounds pretty goth.  I can't say I've ever written anything like it (well I guess Creature from Peakahokahoo was a little bit goth/Fad Gadget inspired)... but this new track is a lot more Tim Burtonesque, not so synth pop.

I think I blame the chronic grey skies here in England, today is particularly Sweeney Todd don't you think (Englanders, I'm talking to you!)?  Also, Katrin Schla is coming over later to watch a vampire movie with me, I've been looking forward to that all day!  We might have to get really garlic-laced pizza so we don't get attacked in the night.  I will sleep in my rosary beads with crucifix in tow.

I'd defo say the whole album is not goth, in fact it's just the one song (well and there is another one about a ghost of a mouse, but it's quite cheery really, that one).  Maybe it's too weird to even include on the album...  But people like weird stuff sometimes right?  Diamanda Galas has a whole career based on her weird and wonderful voice.  

Robert Smith is in one of my favourite bands, and he's done well out the goth persona.  One thing I'd say about The Cure though is if you didn't know what Robert Smith looked like, they wouldn't be a 'goth' band.  I mean their songs are pure pop!  Boys Don't Cry and Friday I'm in Love are some of the best pop songs ever written... put Robert in front of 'em and they get bracketed as a 'goth' band. 

But I've never been a fan of pigeon holes...  xx

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Here's Looking At You: Hollywood Style

For those of you following our LA chronicles, this week features our good times had with the lovely Josh and Aurora... Josh directed the Here's Looking At You video (which is being edited in the other room as I type this) and Aurora sort of produced the video, or at least she helped scout locations, herd the boys around, give us fun facts about the neighbourhood (Old Hollywood) and generally kept our morale up when the sun was at its hottest!  Not only are J & A great friends and lovely ambassadors for LA, but they also do this cool blog/podcast, The Weekly Dictator, see?  Get your humorous history fix here!
The sunglasses are to hide the tears..
Growler and Garo get emotional at Hard Rock when they spot Axl's jacket and Izzy's guitar...

So after a long day of shooting (and I have to say it was a long day!)  We whole-heartedly deserved this megarita!

It was soooooo hot, like the desert!  And while the boys watched football in an English-themed pub (yes really?!) I was out defacing stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, posing in front of old cinemas and standing by signs on street corners.

I did have a moment of reflection in Amoeba Records and was delighted to discover The Betty Page Store.  So as hard work goes, it sure wasn't bad.

There are a few more photos here if you want to check 'em out.

Keep an eye out for the finished video and the next blog, coming soon!

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Beach House

So for those of you following our LA chronicles we stayed in a little Beach House near Venice Beach, what a luxury that was!  Okay so the Whole Foods girl said our neighbourhood was 'ghetto' but we didn't mind.  I mean, how 'ghetto' can a place be if there is a Whole Foods nearby, right?

As you can see in this loved up photo of Growler and Garo the sky is actually grey (I know, in LA!??!?), apparently this is what they call 'June Gloom' where it's a bit overcast until noon or so.  This didn't phase the Brits though, and they ran into the bracing cold sea (crazy boys!)

Mitchy burned really badly on day one and so here he's hiding from El Scorchio...

I was really delighted to see where they filmed 'White Men Can't Jump' and yes, there really were people playing basketball, isn't that cool?

It doesn't take too much to please me I guess.

There are more beach photos here if anyone wants to see Garo and Growler strip down to their pants, Growler giving Mitchy a massage, Jonesy looking pensive-like at the sea, Heather with 2 heads, or a special guest appearance from Y...


Tuesday, 14 August 2012

The Grand Ol' Echo

So we did our first gig in LA at The Grand Ol' Echo which is famous for it's fabulous West Coast, So-Cal country music scene.  We did a few old school Piney Gir Country Roadshow numbers to please the country-loving crowd, but even the more jangle-pop stuff like 'Would You Be There' went down well.  I was so proud of us!  And what a darn friendly crowd they were... If I lived in LA, I'd go there every week.  I would have to stock up on pointy boots and plaid frocks, but that would be no bad thing.

 Mitchell was so sleepy from his trans-Atlantic flight that he had a little nap at soundcheck... at this moment when the photo was taken, the other band on the bill was playing some alt country at a loud level and I don't know how he managed to sleep.  I guess jet-lag moves in powerful and mysterious ways....

Here we are rocking on stage at the Echo, good times! 

If you want to see more Grand Ol' Echo pics, you can do!  Just follow this link for vicarious fun  : )

Maybe you can all come with me next time...

p.s. if you check the flickr set, keep your eyes peeled for Garo who was nearly eaten by a big Rock Lobster... we were nearly down a guitar player on day 1!

Monday, 16 July 2012

LA Stories - All That Driving!

I went to LA to see the sights and the sun, to do some shows and hang out for some schmoozey music bizz stuff.  
And it was great!  

(This is a slanket!)
I'm never one to bang on about the weather, usually reserving that chit chat for the guy in my local shop/post office/bakery/etc… but the UK's been sort of trapped under this grey, wet blanket.  Or maybe it's more like a slanket; harnessing the arms and legs as it weighs you down.

Anyway, LA was liberating, despite the famous 'June Gloom' that everyone spoke of, it just didn't touch the sides with us!  In fact Mitchy got so sunburned that his shoulders blistered, and my skin has gone a nice Native American brown.

One thing that struck me funny, was just how much driving we had to do.  Apparently this is a popular topic of conversation in LA (much like the British talk about weather).  And so here's a little set of photos from the car.

The boys and I crammed in, while young Heather negotiated traffic with help from our (German-speaking) sat nav.

We were 2 hours late for our NBC/Universal showcase!  2 HOURS LATE!  For one of the most important showcases we've ever done!  Luckily they were super cool about it, because it truly was insane traffic that made a 30 min journey take 3 hours.  I think we spent about a third of our 2 week stint in LA in the car.

...And so it seems apt to report back about it; it instilled a sense of culture shock in all of us.  

It's nice to be back in Blighty where one can just walk to the local shop, or get the tube across town in 20 mins.

Would I trade that in for the sun, sea and palm trees?  Well probably = yes!


P.S.  Stay tuned for more LA stories
in the coming weeks.

Friday, 8 June 2012

God Save the Dream

Hello London, 

How was your Jubilee?

Rest-of-world do you give a flying fig?

I like The Queen, I don't really *get* the need for a queen in these modern times, but as an American in London I am enjoying all this English-style pomp and circumstance!  Here's my top ten reasons why:

1.   I like The Queen's perfectly matching outfits
2.   I like her funny little wave
3.   The Queen has nice sparkly jewels
4.   I am a fan of The Queen's cute matching dogs
5.   I like Britain's toy-like soldiers
6.   I'm loving the brass fanfares
7.   Who doesn't enjoy days off work?
8.   I love street parties and bunting and cakes because it makes me feel like I live on Sesame Street.  
9.   I like fireworks and tofu BBQ because it reminds me of the 4th of July.  
10. I like marmite and cucumber sandwiches (unlike most Americans)


p.s. the USA version of God Save The Queen has totally different lyrics see?,_'Tis_of_Thee

Monday, 21 May 2012

Stay Sweet - High School Yearbook Spread

Today Stay Sweet is out on general release, exciting ay?  

I think this means you can buy it from Itunes and other digital retailers; it comes with b-sides and all sorts!

If you haven't yet seen the vid please check it out

Anyhoo... I was asked to do this high-school year book feature thing for an American webzine.  It's not been posted yet, but I thought given the subject matter of Stay Sweet, it was a suitable thing to blog about on this fine day of release.

Here's a little snapshot from my high school year book and a blurb about what it was like to be in high school.

Hello readers, 

I'm Piney Gir and high school was funny for me because I didn't really fit in to any clique as such... I wasn't shunned or anything too bad - I certainly witnessed football players bullying drama students and stuff like that, but I was kind of a loaner, a drifter.  

I'd flit from debate team table to band geek table in the lunch room.  I joined student council but was the low-profile treasurer, not president or anything in the lime-light.  I was in all the school musicals usually cast as a cute kid or a crazy old lady; I wasn't the romantic lead or glorified heroine.  I was never nominated for homecoming queen or any of that nonsense, I think I was too weird to be truly 'popular'... in the Breakfast Club I would have been Ally Sheedy not Molly Ringwald.  

I was the girl that would date the tuba player in the marching band, not because he was hot but because he was nice to me.  I was the girl in the back of the class that would do a drawing depicting a scene from Wuthering Heights and turn it in for extra credit in my English Lit class.  I was the girl that excelled at creative writing, got bad grades in math, skipped out of gym class and chose tennis over cheerleading.  

I lost my class ring, I think it's around here somewhere...


Thursday, 3 May 2012

The Land of Chocolate

I went to the Land of Chocolate and it was fascinating!

I expected some scary Oompa Loompas and a chocolate waterfall, but what I got was much more clinical yet still enjoyable.

The land I speak of is the Lindt Chocolate Factory and Museum in Cologne, Germany.  I have to say the Germans do chocolate very well indeed and so it was with schoolgirlish delight that I approached the riverside building unaware of what awaited inside for me.  

Firstly, it is so educational… it shows you how a chocolate plant grows flowers then beans and what the beans have to go through to become the chocolate that we eat.  

There was a heated conservatory full of cocoa plants and butterflies, there was a series of machinery that ground, pulped, sieved, etc… and out the other side was  a golden, free-flowing, chocolate fountain in a glass room.  A woman in white from head to toe dipped cookies in the fountain and handed these out to guests.  

Next there was a machine worthy of a Raymond Scott soundtrack that churned out perfectly formed little chocolate pieces.  A lady sat at the end of the assembly line harvesting the gold-foiled little nuggets and placing them in a box.  It reminded me of this famous I Love Lucy sketch…

Upstairs was a room with mechanical arms throwing chocolate moulds around, creating chocolate footballs, hearts, bunnies and race cars.  More women in white were making hand spun truffles and specialty chocolate bars with different nuts, sprinkles and edible gold.  

This led on to the vintage packaging displays.  I love kitschy things and so for me this was inspiring.  Old chocolate boxes from the 20's featured kittens with large eyes and Kinder egg toys from yesteryear had a lot more pizzaz than Kinder eggs of today.

All in all, this was such a thrill, I might have to go for a hot chocolate right now with double marshmallow; close my eyes and think of Cologne.


Friday, 6 April 2012

What a grand day out!

So for those of you who have not ever attended a Daylight Session you totally should! They are free gigs on most Saturday afternoons at the Union Chapel and feature a lovely array of gentle music to wash over you like a melodic blanket of feel-good fun. It was such an honour to get play one of these events and as you can see from the snaps I wore my Virgin Mary dress to celebrate the churchly setting.

I had the pleasure of singing with Anna who I met when touring with Erasure, as well as Sarah who I met when touring with The Research. Both of them have amazing solo projects in their own rite so I was really pleased they were free to sing with me.

Ditto John Greswell on viola and mandolin, some of you may know him from his past incarnation in Menlo Park, but now he writes super cool soundtracks with people like Oly Ralfe on Bunny and the Bull or the forthcoming animated Monty Python movie (yes you heard it here first folks!)... it was a bit of a star studded event, by accident even... I'm such a lucky duck, I know I am.

But the most exciting person there was in fact Josie. I met her mom at this cool event I participated in called True Stories Told Live. Her mom told the most heartfelt and beautiful story about Josie at True Stories; I actually shed a subtle tear by the end of it. When I heard she was going to bring Josie to the Union Chapel to see my show I was over the moon and couldn't wait to meet them both.

Now I'm aware that there was some stiff competition for Josie's attention, you see, she is a very big Bieber fan (like most girls her age I guess). How does little ol' me compete with a teen star like Justin Bieber? I tried an extreme and forward-combed side-parting but it just didn't work. I'd just have to rely on my Kansas charms and hope for the best.

It seemed to have done the trick because when I got to meet Josie after the show, she was suitably impressed. Job well done! Phew.

You can read Josie's mom's post about it here

And if you want to see more photos of the Union Chapel gig, check it out here, it's a gorgeous setting for a gig

That's all for now

piney and josie

Friday, 3 February 2012

Gardening Leave

So have y'all ever heard of 'Gardening Leave'?

I hadn't until I was sent on it.

It's sort of the best thing since sliced bread…

You see an indie chick like me doesn't quite make enough indie bucks to pay the bills and so I've always had this day job persona. You know, putting on a modest grey wool frock with white peter pan collar and trudging on the morning commute with travelling cappuccino in hand to make ends meet and bring home the facon, etc… There's pride in that, it facilitates good work ethic; there's no problem with it, but for reasons I won't go into on this blog I was desperado to get out of my most recent job. It's a tough ol' time out there job-hunting isn't it? Especially in so-called creative industries.

Highline Records saved me! I am going to be working there and I'm sooooooooo excited about it. What a nice little indie label, and I do think it will be fun to work there, they've signed great bands to nurture and as day jobs go I shouldn't have to don such an 'office persona' as I've needed to in the past. I look forward to it! It's hands-on without the corporate red-tape nonsense.

When I handed in my notice (again a fairly splendid moment which I won't share with this blog - sorry but I don't want to name and shame, it's not ladylike) anyhoo… when I handed in my notice I was then sent on gardening leave. I am not sure why, to my knowledge I am not aware of any company secrets.

It's far too cold to garden, but it does give me time to work on my 500+ unanswered Piney e-mails (even my Guy Friday can't do all of them, bless him). I am also recording an album as a side project and might actually have time to finish it over the next couple of weeks. Watch this space for news about it; at the mo it's top secret!

My house is cleaner than it's been for a while now. I have posted shedloads of dresses to sell on e-bay. I'm starting my new job on Feb 14th and I just can't wait! Meanwhile I am getting myself sorted… time is such a luxury.

If you wonder why I never responded to your e-mail, you might hear from me now, yeah! Sorry it took me so long...