The days seem to have been racing past already – it’s mid February and the snowdrops are everywhere in North Cornwall, the daffodil buds a constant positive force in the earth, push through and bring the joyful promise of spring… birds are singing today and the sky is mainly blue. I have been filming a new video and much time has been spent waiting for the rain to stop and the sun to break through. North east winds sting the eyes and make the sea a bubbling mass of heaving energy, with extra high tides changing our shores and washing away things it shouldn’t. We are half way through the film, still needing a proper sunny day to fit the last piece of the puzzle together.
Through raging winds and lashing rain, I picked up my new surf board at Aggie Surf Shop (pictures to come) from Markey Lascelles made by his dad Chops and it looks beautiful. The dragonfly graphic designed by Ben Rogers is proudly sitting on the front of the board. Shame it’s going to be covered in wax!! Wanted to take it out in Bude on the weekend, but the waves were unrelenting and the chilly wind without sun didn’t feel as compelling as a bikini day in Hawaii (I fear I’m spoilt for life!!). But I shall get back in that wetsuit soon!
I’m excited also to be nominated for 2 categories in the IFMCA – the International Film Music Critics Awards – http://filmmusiccritics.org/2014/02/ifmca-nominations-2013/
Other intriguing things are happening behind the scenes, a new feature film in the summer and, at the moment I’m working on a new song with producer Tom Wilding and it’s already gone through many incarnations;)) The creative process never ends…… lots more to come!
It’s been a while. I’ve been travelling a bit, writing a lot, singing a lot. I had an amazing gig at the Halesworth Arts Festival which is where we left off in October. Bill Oddie interviewed me about writing the music to BBC Africa in the first half and the 2nd half of the concert was me singing some of my new material with the guitar and at the piano. I was joined by Danny Moss Jnr (double bass – son of Danny Moss the famous saxophonist!) and Gilly Robertson singing harmonies. It was a great evening with a wonderful audience. We also showed some of the more evocative (and amusing!!) clips of Africa that evening – Bill made me laugh a lot as did the audience;).
November arrived and with it new song material and preparation for a trip to Kauai and Los Angeles. The first part of the journey was more of a writing/surfing holiday and I took my new guitarlele with me which as it sounds is a cross between a classical guitar and a ukelele!! It sounds mellow and sings out beautifully – definitely went with the whole vibe of the trip;) I was in the north of the island in Hanalei Bay staying with my friends Erin and Richard – Richard had build this beautiful property with stunning views across the bay – here’s a pic!
So – not too hard to get inspired here! The only other time I came to Kauai I was walking along a quiet country road on the far end of the bay and who should pass by with a cup of coffee and a small bag (containing what I found out later was an oat cookie!) but, Pierce Brosnan!! He lives this end of the bay – an area, this time around I hasten to add, where my surfing buddy Krista and I got cut off because of trees in the road, or flooding or both. Once that happens, you’re trapped there until they clear it!! I wrote a new song here and another in Los Angeles in Laurel Canyon. When we arrived in LA (red eye from Hawaii – not too much fun!!) we went from meeting to meeting. I went to Hans Zimmer’s studios – where I’d written some music when I’d first visited LA, innocent and just beginning my music career – this time his studio was all plush dark red velvets and wood, with a lovely grand piano and technology all around. It had the feeling of a high tech risqué boudoir!
Staying in Laurel Canyon is always a lovely experience – calm, creative inspiring. There amongst the hummingbirds, and pines, the palms and hibiscus many musical masterpieces were penned in days gone by – Joni Mitchell, The Doors,Carole King James Taylor the Byrds, and even the Beatles all stayed or lived here at some point. The Canyon Country Store at the bottom of the hill – still rustic, is a legacy and kind of cultural centre to Laurel Canyon for over a century. Jim Morrison sang about it in “Love Street” Mama Cass Elliot of the Mamas and the Papas lived in the shop’s basement (now a fancy wine cellar) for a while. I can see why this place is a singer/songwriter mecca – it has a kind of stillness….. as though the music written there is still suspended high up in the cool fresh air of the Canyon…..and perhaps it is.;)
It’s been an interesting year, for me a preparatory year, full of promise….. I wish you all a wonderful and fulfilling 2014.
Well, this was a busy week in London. It started with an incredible talk by Ralph Murphy who has written a book called Murphy’s Laws of Songwriting. A group of us “lawless” songwriters turned up at the infamous Matrix studios to hear a talk by Ralph Murphy who’d just got off a plane from Nashville – a songwriters mecca! It was very interesting to hear how a song could be crafted in order to get the best possible chance of it being a hit! Despite his jet-lagg Ralph managed to impart many tips and cautions in the convoluted world of songwriting from who your audiences REALLY are to structures and musical tricks to draw the listener in even more!! We all played him our own chosen songs and he gave us a critique based on this particular craft of songwriting. There’s no doubt it works as he’s had plenty of hits in plenty of genres. Thing is when I write a song it has it’s own personality and quirks like all of us;) Do we tame the beast completely – and give in to the commercial way or walk the middle road…? I think it’s a balance between working within (to the listener) parameters of writing a song in the way Ralph has put forward, to get the best of what you have out there, but still keeping things fresh and innovative, emotive and hooky with any luck.
The next day I was back in the same studio to record new vocals to my latest song. I worked with Jonas Wrestling a brilliant producer and mixing engineer to add the final touches to the song. This will be released early next year. We’re currently working on a video for this and a re-make of the song Northern Shore from my first album. The day ended with a musical tribute and ceremony at the 33rd ASCAP Awards night in Grosvenor House Hotel. Steve Mac received Songwriter of the Year award and other great writers present included John Lunn for Downton Abbey and film composer Patrick Doyle and Ben Howard. It was a great evening and Tony Hatch gave a humorous performance on the piano of old favourites like Neighbours;-), Down Town and other notable TV themes!
The week ended very sadly with the sudden passing of Cornwall’s best board shaper, Chops Lascelles who has made a special surf board for me – some of the design work I have posted here earlier this year. It was a shock to everyone and a real loss to us all. He was a wonderful person and my heart goes out to his wife Mary and his family.
This week I was excited to be invited to come along to the TV recording of Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac. I was one of a few people who was asked if I wanted to ask him a question! err of course I said yes!!;) He played many well known tracks from Fleetwood Mac on his acoustic guitar. The audience loved him and his playing was brilliant and totally captivating! I asked him what his all time personal favourite track was and why. On the question of why, he did refer to an earlier discussion about Tusk, the album which came after Rumours, but also Seeds We Sow. Although I wasn’t sure if he was talking about the title track to that album or the whole album. There were also nostalgic video clips of early performances with Stevie Nicks which were amazing. It was an electric experience!;)
A few weeks ago I launched a Just Giving page for the World Land Trust to raise funds to purchase land in Borneo. I’m happy to say I’ve reached my £1000 target and I want to say a massive thank you to everyone who supported this and donated their hard earned cash to this project. The Big Match Fortnight is next week and we’re also auctioning the angel painting entitled “Unity” (you see on my website) in Paris later this month. %20 of proceeds are going to the World Land Trust.
Thank you again and well done everyone! you’ve done us proud!
In the first half of the programme I will be talking about the process of writing scores for film and television and looking at how I created the score to the BBC’s latest popular blockbuster natural history series Africa, narrated by Sir David Attenborough. I shall also be doing a set of my latest songs, with double bass player, Danny Moss Jnr and vocalist Gilly Anderson. All proceeds go to the World Land Trust.
Jim created this design for my new logo and website which you see here on the header. The exclusive and “one off” painting will be auctioned in Paris 25th October. 20% of the proceeds from the auction will go to the World Land Trust Big Match Fortnight Fund for the orang-utans. MM Contemporary have partnered with Digard auctions to host an international urban contemporary art’s sale. Here’s a sneaky preview of the painting..
The Just Giving page:
Firstly thank you so much for taking the time to read this. I’m writing to you because I really need your help in saving these beautiful creatures!
The World Land Trust are launching an appeal to raise £300,000 between 2nd – 16th October called Big Match Fund Fortnight. The ultimate goal is a million pounds, and anything donated for this appeal will be matched making it go twice as far. Your donation will help secure crucial parcels of land to connect forests in the Lower Kinabatangan region of Malaysian Borneo to create safe havens for Orang-utans, Pygmy elephants and other critically threatened wildlife.
The orang-utan population is dwindling. Hunting and poaching still takes place and their habitat is being systematically reduced and threatened by deforestation. In this particular area of Borneo, they are stranded on small islands of secondary forests which means that this will eventually weaken their numbers even further if they cannot connect with the rest of the orang-utan population. The aim of the World Land Trust working with specialist co-partners in the area, is to purchase the linking areas of land to protect these animals and ensure future generations of the species. It’s vitally important that this is acted upon now.
I’ve recently been made an Ambassador to the World Land Trust and I’m working on different fund raising ventures for this appeal – a big concert and talk at the Halesworth Arts Festival in October and the auctioning of a painting by Jim Starr.
I’ve set up a Just Giving Page with the aim of initially raising £1000 but the sky is the limit here! If you are able to donate anything even if it’s 50p! I would be so very grateful. Just remember anything you donate will be matched so we can all make a spectacular difference! Please go to:
I will be doing as much as I can to generate more funds for this appeal and I’ll keep you posted as to the progress of all projects. I’m still donating a pound from every copy of my debut EP A New Dawn and am always looking for more ways to fund raise, so if you have any ideas or inspirations yourself – please feel free to contact me or the World Land Trust.
Last week I went to an amazing talk for the World Land Trust on the orang-utans of Borneo. Isabelle has lived out there for 15 years doing research, working with the people of Borneo and helping to protect the ever decreasing population of orang-utans in that area. She has made a dramatic difference to their survival. The problem is, at present the orang-utan population is isolated in secondary forested areas surrounded by farmland, domestic housing and palm oil plantations and a dividing river. She is working with the World Land Trust on a campaign to purchase land in areas which link these forested areas together thus making it possible for the orang-utans to thrive in a united population. Without these corridors, the orang-utans will eventually die out.
In October the World Land Trust begins a campaign to raise £250,000 with the target being £1000000 to purchase the land necessary to ensure the survival of these beautiful animals. It is imperative that we act now to ensure their survival. Please join with me in October to help raise this money. Whatever you can afford would be so appreciated by the World Land Trust and Isabelle. I will be setting up a Just Giving page where it’s easy to donate and inviting people to the campaign.
Hey there! Well, weather has turned a bit today and what better thing to do but stay in and get creative;) I’ve just finished writing a brand new song and will be recording it with producer/engineer Jonas Wrestling this week. Very much looking forward to how it may turn out – many things start in one form and end up with a completely new identity! Actually – this one could go any way – guess that’s what makes it so exciting;) I’ll keep you posted on progress.. This year has been a year of musical gestation and back in the studio concentrating on new and even old material. I’ve had some inspirational weekend breaks in stunning locations around Devon and Cornwall and the Isle of Wight, and have taken some great photographs on my new retro;) camera. Here’s a shot for you, actually this was taken in South Carolina on a mini tour around the States last year.. This lil critter looks like he’s been in a big ol fight or two;)
For the last two weeks I’ve been working with the amazing writer/producer Chris Winter. This monday we recorded some fabulous guitar textures with Hal at Chris’ studio. Armed with a day’s worth of healthy snacks (it gets unhealthy in the studio!!) we spent hours getting some superb tracks down for two re-mixes… to be announced very soon!
I’ve also got two totally new songs on the go. This time I wrote the lyrics first.. very interesting as you get a whole new vibe this way. Usually, the lyrics and music come at the same time – sometimes a melody but usually together.. A New Dawn actually started life as a poem, then the music wound itself around the lyrics… and hey a song was born!