Tomorrow, on International Women’s Day, I’ll be playing an electronic live jam together with Donna Maya and Aschka. It all takes place at ://aboutblank in Berlin Friedrichshain as part of the Reflecting Perspectives Festival. Plenty of other great acts are gonna play as well: DJ Marcelle/Another Nice Mess, Kat Kat Tat, Lotic, Rona Geffen, Sick Girls, Stellar OM Source and Vinilette.
I hope you’ll come if you’re in Berlin. We’re on at 10 pm and I’m already really excited about it.
A week ago I played my first ever online concert as a Google Hangout. It was a very interesting new experience and I truly enjoyed it. I’ve had to face a few technical issues as the Google Plus event didn’t let me broadcast on YouTube although I had checked the box, the Google Hangout plug-in crashed and later on my looper plug-in, but I think it went rather well despite all that. I feel like I’ve learned a lot from it.
You can watch the two parts and see for yourself:
I’m sure it won’t be the last online concert. I’m already thinking about doing an unplugged-style concert sometime early next year. So watch out. 🙂
2 weeks since I came back from the Sicily tour. How quickly time flies by. I had to work a lot of hours doing tech support to make up for the time away. I’m also working on new songs and a plan on how to get to tour more. Lots of new things in the pipeline already. Anyway, here’s my overdue post about the first tour.
I took a taxi to the airport as I couldn’t take all my luggage by public transport. At the check-in desk I was told I had 8 kg more luggage than allowed. That made 80€ (yikes) extra one way for bringing my array mbira. Altogether I had 40 kg and my clothes made up the smallest part. Nicoleugenia picked me up from the airport in Catania and so we drove to Palermo. She’s the one who booked the gigs for me and who also made a great tour manager and driver – or handler, as she liked to call it.
The first gig was the next day. A good thing since I was overtired from getting everything ready. The venue was less than 5 minutes away from the B&B we stayed at, both in Ballarò. The rest of the day we spent wandering around Palermo. An impression through cotton wool for me in my sleep-deprived state. Italians are noisy people with their shouting, vespas and honking. I had brought earplugs and so managed to get a good long sleep.
We had a look at the venue PalaB on Friday afternoon before it was time for soundcheck in the evening. I was rather excited about playing there. Then there was only the owner to do the sound and he didn’t know the mixer or what to do. When I tried my headset mic I got feedback. He tried different things, even wanted to give me another one made only for talks. Finally I went behind the mixer and found the gain to be the culprit. Soundcheck done after ages. By then I was extremely nervous again. When I started playing I noticed that the mixer settings didn’t work on my laptop. I had set them up to be recalled for each song with one button press. So I scrambled to get the mixing done on top of all the looping, playing and singing. The audience enjoyed it anyway, but I found it difficult. Grin and bear it and through with it. People came up to me afterwards saying “Complimenti” or “Brava”. Not many Italians speak English actually. The chef even bought my album and was blasting it to the whole neighbourhood the next day. Sweet!
The next concert in Caltagirone was a week later so there was time for taking in Palermo. We also went to Marsala for a day to enjoy the view of the salt pools and windmills. Then it was time to head to Caltagirone where I had to work some hours in the tech support inbox each day and took it slow otherwise. I stayed at the same B&B as in December and it almost felt like home. One with an incredible view.
The concert in Caltagirone was open air and it was unusually chilly for the season. We set up behind Villa Patti with plenty of time for soundcheck. This time I was going to have an opening act – Daiquiri Fantomas. I even got to play their Theremin.
The later it got, the chillier and windier it became. Because of the technical issue at my last gig my stage fright was back at its worst. I was ready to sell all my live gear and never do it again. The two guys – Dario and Marco – did a great job with their debut gig while I anxiously awaited my turn. Then it was time for me to start. At first I was still nervous, especially with the wind being picked by my mic in every loop. Luckily it was only loud in my in ear monitoring. The crowd enjoyed it and apart from a few people with kids they stuck it out till the end despite the cold. Daiquiri Fantomas and I even did a little improv together. It made me realise how much I miss jamming with others.
The third and final concert was in Catania at La Lomax, a 45 minutes drive from Caltagirone. This is the place where I was supposed to already play last December. Back then the police shut off the power to find squatters leeching electricity from the streetlights. No power, no gig. I knew that the venue is very nice with helpful and knowledgable sound engineers. When we arrived there was a puppet theatre – pupi in Sicilian – still on.
When they were finished they left the whole setup where it was as the stage is big. I loved the soundcheck. I only had to sort out my own setup, everything else they took care of. Subsequently I was hardly nervous about the gig. I even had a backstage area that I could hang out in and prepare. The concert went really well and I thoroughly enjoyed it. In fact, it was so much fun I just wanted to keep touring. Play every night.
Not yet, but hopefully soon. I’ve got a plan and am working out the details at the moment. More on that in a few weeks.
I’ll be heading off to tour Sicily. Here are the dates:
May 27, 2011 Palermo @ PaLab
June 3, 2011 Caltagirone @ Villa Patti
June 4, 2011 Catania @ La Lomax
Supported by the Initiative Musik Non-profit Project Company Ltd. with project funds from the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and Media on the basis of a resolution passed by the German Bundestag.
A livestream. Regularly and right into your home. Long in the pipeline, now finally ready to roll.
Live concerts, blogging about songwriting, song snippets, collaborations with you. For each song of my next album I want to collect sound contributions through my website from anyone who wants to join in. Read more about Bloom’s Sound Collective.
Kick off will be on Thursday, March 10 at 7.30 pm CET. I will do a test run playing a couple of songs live and introducing a bit of a new, unheard song… ‘Patchwork’ (working title).
From Sunday, March 20 I will broadcast a live stream at 7 pm fortnightly (if time permits).
I had the idea last Christmas when I recorded the little message with the SoundCloud app. I love using field recordings, so I thought why not let others take part? SoundCloud makes it possible and very easy. Let me introduce you to…
For each song of the new album I will collect sound contributions from anyone who wants to join in. I like translating the lyrics into the music so I usually use sounds associated with the theme or the words of the song. So for each song I will ask for a specific sound or a sound to a motif. Who knows, maybe even a melody to create an internet choir?
I will play a bit of the song live at tomorrow’s first livestream ‘Notes from the Ivory Tower’. For this song I would like you to record one word. I’m gonna give you a few lines of the lyrics to set the mood:
Your words all mangled and broken
You don’t really make sense
Stop motion sentences that hang in the air
Be creative, continue to story in your mind and think of one word that would fit the mood. Anything goes as long as it’s just one word. You can choose whatever language you want. I will take the sounds of those words and make the beats for ‘Patchwork’ out of them. I’ll be updating you in the upcoming livestreams.
The new year has begun and it’s the perfect time for hatching new plans and setting things in motion. It seems I can set myself one big goal to achieve for each year. 2008 was for making Minutia, 2009 for starting my label and getting the album released. Last year was all about getting a somewhat financial stability for me.
So what’s the plan for 2011, you might ask?
One thing I have not managed yet is touring. My publisher had the idea to send me on the road as a tour support. I was already getting really excited. But then he became unsure if I was ready for it. Yet, he has never seen me play live.
So… I’ve booked a wee Berlin tour for mid February with Vibeke Falden from Denmark. The idea behind this is to play four or five concerts in one week to get a routine and lose my stage fright.
Just because I can’t make it out into the world right now, doesn’t mean you can’t see me live these days. I’m also going to play a first internet streamed concert in mid February. If you live in Italy you might not have to wait much longer to see me in the flesh. My friend Nicoleugenia who I visited last December in Sicily is putting together a tour for me for March.
When I was there in December I was supposed to play gigs. I got a Bronchitis, had completely lost my voice and wanted to cancel. They really wanted me to play so I agreed to play a shorter instrumental set. The first gig at Lomax in Catania didn’t happen because there was no power. And that after I had been nervous all day long. For the second one in Caltagirone I was hardly nervous and the concert happened and went well. Admittedly it felt very strange to improvise and not sing at all. It made me get out of my comfort zone and I needed the experience. In Berlin the market for live music is totally oversaturated and it makes you feel unappreciated. Playing in Sicily is so different. They’ll tell you repeatedly how much they enjoyed your concert. They want me to come back to Catania and so I’ll return for a week of touring.
Depending on how all this pans out I might just continue doing little tours in different European countries. Possibly with a little help from you. I have some ideas, but I’ll get to that later. Enough rambling about ideas now. It’s time to start making them happen.
‘Live at the Watertower’ comprises audio and video recordings from my concert in an old water tower in Bernau, outside of Berlin, on May 27.
11 songs from the concert plus 3 bonus live tracks (Ivory Tower Sessions) with a beautiful booklet designed by Eduardo Fitch are available now on bandcamp. In addition 4 live videos from the concert are to be had. : In Unison, Zero Tolerance, The Tide and A Little.
The audio download of the gig will be out on October 15 and comprises 14 songs. 11 recorded right at the water tower in Bernau, 3 recorded live at my studio, the Ivory Tower Session. It comes with a beautiful booklet designed by Eduardo Fitch a.k.a. Elwoood.
There will also be 4 live videos from the concert available as a download bundle containing the following songs: In Unison, Zero Tolerance, The Tide & A Little. They were shot and edited by Tom Ehrhardt.
You might have read my tweets when I prepared for my gig at the watertower in Bernau and wondered why on earth I would spend so much time sorting out the live setup, troubleshooting and rehearsing for one single concert. No one can have sooo much stage fright! Nope, but it wasn’t just another performance. It was my longest one so far. 14 songs so over 90 minutes. My parents saw me perform solo for the first time. And last, but definitely not least, it was to be recorded and filmed with 4 cameras. I also set up everything so I could record the songs internally for better sound quality. Unfortunately I forgot to hit record on the last 3 songs so I’ve made a live recording of them in my living room/studio, dubbed The Ivory Tower Sessions (which I may continue in the future in some way or another).
I didn’t want to announce the plans beforehand because surprises are nice, I was afraid if I did I would jinx it and things would go wrong and the pressure was on enough. Now that things went well – very dramatic drum roll -:
The audio download of the gig will be released soon (mid July, TBC) including 4 videos (In Unison, Zero Tolerance, The Tide & A Little) and a booklet. 50% of the proceeds will go directly to the charity Father’s House that helps underprivileged children in Berlin.
When Ruben, a friend, who works for this charity heard about the upcoming concert in this unusual location (a watertower) he suggested the live recording in cooperation with Father’s House. The gig was on May 27 – exactly half a year after the release of Minutia. Everything seemed so neat and fell into place so easily… who could say no?!
I’m currently in the process of mixing and mastering the live concert. Just now I got back from going through the videos of the 4 songs with Tom who did not only do the shoot at the watertower he is the one who made the fantastic dumentary “Letztes Jahr im Sommer” (Last Year in Summer) of OMP, the band I’m part of as well. The videos are gonna look great. One camera angle is a slanted view from above showing an overview of my gadgets.
The set list on May, 27 at the watertower Bernau:
Scaredy Cat’s Lullaby