Mesmera: The freedom of independence

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Album 3, And All Is As It Should Be, Distant Activity, Distinctive, General, Icarus, Lightfields, Mesmera, Music, Obscurer, Pieces, Reason

Mesmera is, much like every one of my solo releases since 2014, an independent release. For most of my solo musical career I’ve written and released music independently, and I figured I was overdue talking about why that’s been the case.

When I first started out I, as I imagine a lot of musicians do, had this idea in my mind that getting signed and releasing an album through a label was kind of the “big goal”, this nebulous idea that somehow being signed to a label would validate my musical output up until that point. I had already released a bunch of music for free on-line, and in retrospect I don’t think I fully appreciated the following I’d acquired by doing so. While this seems to be less of a big deal nowadays, releasing music independently to an international audience in the late 00s was a bit of a daunting prospect – especially to someone who had never put out a “proper” release before, and had no idea of what to expect or even what to do. It wasn’t my initial intention to release my first album independently, but that’s how things worked out.

Album #1: Distant Activity

In 2008 I released my first album, Distant Activity. This album was comprised of tunes written between 2006 – 2008, and I’m still incredibly happy with how it turned out. It was written and produced in a variety of bedrooms and student houses in totally inappropriate acoustic conditions using a laptop, Reason, a microphone, a guitar, and a Behringer audio interface. Once I had a mostly-finished version of the album to hand, I set about sending out demos and copies of the album to as many labels and individuals as I could think of. I must admit, I’m still pretty atrocious at the whole “blatant self-promotion” aspect of releasing music independently, and I can only surmise that I was probably worse at it in 2008. I received a lovely response from the good folks at Magnatune, but outside of that – nothing. Nada. Not a “thanks, but we’re not interested”, not a “good lord this is awful, go away”. Not a thing. This was initially a little dis-heartening.

A little time passed and I had a completed version of Distant Activity ready to go. The record was mastered, the artwork was ready, and I was just sitting on it. Rough around the edges, very much a product of its environment, but I was really pleased with how it turned out. One day I started thinking “you know what? I’m really happy with this, why haven’t I released it already?”. It was done, and I was sick of sending e-mail messages and CDs out to a seemingly ambivalent world… so I started taking steps to get it out there myself. I had a small run of CDs duplicated, I signed up for digital distribution through CDBaby, and because independent digital outlets weren’t much of a thing back then (to my knowledge) I decided to start selling it through my own website.

I had no idea what I was doing back then (some things never change!) – I hadn’t even figured out a proper release date for the album beforehand, it just came out when it came out. All that said, I was thrilled to see that people were buying CDs and checking out the album through Magnatune / CDBaby / iTunes / whatever. I was getting frequent feedback both directly and on forums, people were leaving messages on Myspace (yes, this was still a thing), it was an absolute blast. All of this was going on when I probably should have been paying more attention to my final year of studies at university, but I loved the experience. All of this was also going on while I was still getting my toes wet with the world of music licensing, which would prove to be a much smarter direction to go in.

This was a pattern I repeated somewhat with Lightfields, which I initially released independently in 2010… albeit this time I actually had a release date in mind before I released the damned thing!

And All Is As It Should Be

Fast forward to 2014, and I’d had a few label releases by this point (a topic I may delve further into in the future!). Distant Activity and Lightfields were re-distributed by Distinctive Records, And All Is As It Should Be was released through Lost Language, and my follow up Icarus was released through Distinctive Records. All of these are albums that I am incredibly happy with, and in retrospect I feel a large part of my experience in producing Icarus comes down to my own personal attitude towards it rather than anything on Distinctive’s end.

Icarus was a slog to complete. Distant Activity and Lightfields were two totally different albums stylistically, and rather than writing whatever felt natural I spent too much time thinking about audience and label expectations. Should I lean more towards the style I established with the former? Should it sound more polished? What if people are expecting something more like Lightfields? Why do all of my mixes sound awful? I ended up going through a multitude of album revisions, with the first rough cut being completed in 2011. I couldn’t bring myself to move on from it, and it was drove me nuts.

Following the release of Icarus I realised I needed to try a different approach, and I remembered how much fun I’d had releasing music independently – at this point, it had been over three years since I had done so. I also figured that if I was going to do that, I wanted to take the opportunity to try out new ideas. I had come to love the idea of rewarding fans for purchasing my music rather than punishing people for having the audacity to seek it out. I also loved the idea of working on a release that didn’t have an over-arching concept, that didn’t impose any kind of expectations on myself, and that felt completely natural to write. That release was Pieces, and I absolutely thoroughly loved working on and releasing it. People responded really well to the pay-what-you-want approach. As such, I decided to adopt a pay-what-you-want model for all of my independent releases, and rewarding fans while encouraging listeners became my go-to model for releases. This is a model I adopted for subsequent releases Obscurer and The Broken Divide and now Mesmera (whew, at last – bringing this back around to the album at hand!).

Mesmera continues in this tradition. In many ways I consider it a bit of a spiritual successor to And All Is As It Should Be (which I considered a spiritual successor to The Dawn EP at the time…), but it’s what I wanted to write. It came together naturally because it scratched an itch I’d had for quite a while, and that’s why I was able to bring in ideas from 2016 despite having only “properly” started working on it in 2017. It was wonderful to be so hands-on with every single aspect of the creation process, as in many ways creating the music is only one step (albeit a large one) towards completing an album. I went through several artwork revisions (with my incredibly patient buddy Tom Pritchard), track-list orders, mix approaches… but it never became obsessive or manic, and it never felt like a slog. It always felt like I was working toward something I wanted to create at the time, and that’s something I feel I lost sight of while working on Icarus. Again – can’t stress this enough – I am 100% totally and absolutely thrilled and happy with how Icarus turned out, but I’d rather not repeat that creative process again if I can help it!

Mesmera is available NOW through Bandcamp. You can listen to it in its entirety and download it from my Bandcamp page. Bandcamp subscribers also get access to an exclusive audiophile master, along with a beatless arrangement of the album. It’s also available to stream & download from a wide variety of digital distribution outlets.

The Broken Divide: Release notes

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Distant Activity, Icarus, Lightfields, Music, Subscribers, The Broken Divide

With just one day to go until the release of The Broken Divide, I figured I should probably take a second to write about the actual release of the album itself and how it came together after I finished writing it (which you can read about in more detail in my previous TBD-related blog posts).

Before I talk about the release of The Broken Divide, I’d like to talk a little bit about the release of Pieces. Pieces was the first album/compilation thing that I had released independently in about four years or so, and so I decided to try something a little different with the release.

There are two great advantages to releasing music independently, as far as I’m concerned – the first is that it afford you complete creative control over what you put out. Pieces was something I’d been toying with for a while, and I knew I wasn’t in a rush to release it. This gave me plenty of time to sort out mastering, album artwork, and release formats. I’ve already talked at length about my approach to pricing (or lack of) and the “audiophile master” release of Pieces – both of which you can read about here and here. I mention this because it’s an approach I’m taking once again with the release of The Broken Divide.

Which brings me onto the second big thing I love about releasing music independently – the freedom to experiment with release methods. One thing I have been experimenting with recently is the Bandcamp subscription format. I still believe in making my major independent releases easily accessible to everyone, but the subscription system affords me the means to get bonus goodies across to people who might be more interested in checking this stuff out without necessarily “cluttering” my discography for those who just want to listen to my albums. It’s an interesting balancing act, but after releasing Pieces I had more or less decided quite early on that my next album release was going to be another pay-what-you-want release on Bandcamp.

Sorry guys, you're on your own.
Sorry guys, you’re on your own.

Alas, another similarity between these two releases is that there is no physical CD version. Back when I was releasing my first or second albums, this idea would have been kind of abhorrent to me – I love picking up CDs where I can, but the sad truth is that demand for physical copies of my music is nowhere near substantial enough at this point to warrant getting a decent run made and, as with many other people out there, I have no problem with my own musical purchases being digital… provided I can download it in the format of my choice. Maybe one day I’ll consider a limited run of CD copies for some of my more recent releases, but for the time being it’s not going to happen. That said, digital downloads of my music have skyrocketed in the past few years so, hey, there you go!

On a similar note, I have still in no way whatsoever been bitten by the vinyl bug. It’s a growing format but it’s one that I just don’t get – for me, it’s kind of a weird situation. There are many releases for which the “best” version is the vinyl release, simply because the most tastefully mastered version of an album is usually the vinyl version. Nothing to do with the format (outside of some physical constraints due entirely to the medium itself which go some way to preventing bad mastering practices), but because people who listen on vinyl tend to be more picky about this kind of thing. Which is great! But there is nothing stopping people from releasing tasteful masters of their albums digitally, and I find the lack of options kind of strange in that regard. Maybe in a few years I’ll be all over vinyl, but for the time being… not happening. It’s not something I’m interested in and it would be both disingenuous and financially bonkers for me to go down that route.

This is all kind of interesting to me because this will be my first “big” solo release since 2013 – I’m super happy with all of my interim releases (Pieces, AdFi, Obscurer), but this is the album that I would consider the “true” follow-up to Icarus. That album had a bit of a troubled release, to be honest. From issues with the artwork, digital outlets still not stocking it correctly (go ahead, try and find it on Amazon UK), payments and recoupable costs having to be chased up for about a year, and a general lack of post-release support… yeah, it was not pretty. Hell, for a few months I had no idea which label it was going to be released through thanks to a total communication snafu. Alas – due to the nature of it not being an independent release, this is all stuff that was generally outside of my control. Icarus really made me appreciate how much I’d taken full creative control for granted over the years, and how it’s something I’m not willing to relinquish for my own solo releases. The release of Pieces made me really, really appreciate how much I’d missed releasing music independently… the general feeling I got during both releases was completely different. I’d like to emphasise that this in no way somehow reflects my own personal feelings of both albums from a musical point of view – this is strictly from a release/logistical perspective.

ANYWAY. Bitching and moaning aside(!) – the point I’m trying to make is that returning to that mindset of retaining full control during the writing, production, and release process for a “big” solo release was a really wonderful feeling, and I think that feeling of releasing something completely on my own terms because I wanted to is something that runs throughout the entire album. In many ways the huge contrast between the release of Icarus and Pieces fuelled the direction I took with this album… knowing that it was probably going to be an independent release made me think “hey, that means I can pretty much do whatever I want!” which is, y’know, exactly what I did.

So. One more day to go. I hope you get some time to check out the album in its entirety once I release it into the wild, and I hope you like what you hear. Cheers!

The Broken Divide is available NOW through Bandcamp. You can listen to it in its entirety and download it from my Bandcamp page. Bandcamp subscribers also get access to an exclusive audiophile master, along with bonus tracks and instrumentals.

Bandcamp subscriptions

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in AdFi, Distant Activity, From Out Of Nowhere, General, Lightfields, Music, Obscurer, Pieces, Production music, Subscribers

So… I realise it’s been quite a while since I last posted a proper update here.

To be perfectly honest, I had been planning on waiting until I gave this site a complete overhaul, but I figured it had been such a long time since my last update that I should probably elucidate some of the ideas I’ve got for next year. So – here goes!

2015-12-17 17.03.21

Starting in 2016, I’m going to be using Bandcamp subscriptions. Basically, what this means is that – for an annual flat fee – you’ll have access to the following.

  • Immediate access to my entire Bandcamp back catalogue, including all bonus extras. This means that you’ll get access to my independent solo albums (including Distant Activity, Lightfields, Pieces, and Obscurer), along with all the tasty bonuses – i.e. for now, the audiophile & extended versions of Pieces.
  • Full access to all future Bandcamp releases (including all extra bonuses) while your subscription is active. As soon as I release anything, you’ll be notified and will receive full and immediate access to the music in your format of choice.

“But Adam!”, I hear you say. “All of your Bandcamp music is Pay-What-You-Want! Why would I pay for an annual subscription when I can already download your music for free?“.

That’s a fair question – and I guess besides the obvious “I like money and I need your support to sustain my extravagant Fabergé egg addiction“, I should probably throw in something extra… which leads me nicely onto:

  • Access to an ongoing series of SUBSCRIBER EXCLUSIVE releases.

“But Adam!”, I hear you say. “What the hell. Why are you going to lock future releases behind a paywall?”.

That’s another fair question – again, I guess besides the obvious “I like money and I need your support to sustain the lifestyle to which my cat has become accustomed”, I should probably explain what sort of thing I have in mind for these exclusive releases, and what that means for my future album releases.

First up: All of my future “main” albums/EPs will still be available as PWYW releases to all non-subscribers. The extra content (bonus tracks, alt. masters, instrumentals, etc.) will be subscriber only, but the main meat of the albums/EPs will still be available in the exact same manner as before.

The reason for making this bonus content subscriber-exclusive is two-fold: obviously, there’s the aforementioned “I like money” angle. Also, my current process of manually e-mailing out codes to people is pretty archaic, and it’s only going to get worse as I release more bonus content (which I absolutely assuredly will be doing). By doing this, it’ll automate the entire process. For anyone who’s received a dodgy code or couldn’t get the bonus content to download properly, this will probably come as a welcome relief.

Secondly: I should probably explain what sort of thing I have in mind for “subscriber exclusive” releases. Here are some of the ideas I’m working on:

  • Previously unreleased production music
  • Unreleased, re-mixed/re-mastered archive material
  • Music from my “October sessions”
  • Hardware jams and extended sessions

…and so on. Basically – music that I’m really, really, really happy with, but wouldn’t fit into a “standard” release.

I understand that, right now, it sounds like this requires a bit like a leap of faith as there is no guarantee of the kind of material I’m going to be releasing as exclusive content. That’s totally fair. What I will say is that I have at least three releases planned for next year, two of which are going to be subscriber exclusive. As soon as I release some sort of exclusive content, I’ll make it available for non-subscribers to stream so you can at least get a taste of what to expect.

Onto the pricing: Annual subscriptions are going to be set at £15, but until the first exclusive release I’m going to enable early-bird annual subscriptions at £10. The first exclusive release will be coming in January. So.., right now, grab yourself a nice Christmas treat 😉

On a personal note, this is all a bit of an experiment for me – much like the unorthodox release of Pieces, I want to try something new out. I want to make sure I’m not standing in the way of people who want to listen to my music, but I want to say “thank you” to people who choose to support me. For most people, the appeal of Bandcamp subscriptions is in gaining access to a musician’s entire back catalogue – and I guess that’s still the case here… but I really like the idea of sharing my less heavily publicised output with people who really want to check it out. So, that’s the plan.

You can check out my Bandcamp subscription page here.

Pieces: Everyone likes free stuff

Posted on 2 CommentsPosted in Distant Activity, General, Icarus, Lightfields, Pieces

So, Pieces is out in just over a couple of weeks, and you’ll be able to download it for free. I’d just like to take this quick opportunity to say a huge thank you to everyone who has pre-ordered the extended/audiophile versions so far – your support genuinely means a great deal to me, and I’m looking forward to sharing the extra goodies with you all.

Name Your Price, eh?
Name Your Price, eh?

So – on to the topic at hand: all of my larger independent releases so far have been paid-for releases, so why the sudden change with Pieces? And, for that matter, why on earth am I now offering my previously paid-for albums as pay-what-you-want offerings? Yes, I’ve released free EPs and singles before now, but not albums. Why the sudden change of heart?

Well, there are actually a few different reasons as to why I’m doing this – but I’d like to preface this by saying that I don’t think there’s anything wrong with releasing albums with a price attached, or for free, or however an artist wants to release an album.

Pieces is my first independent release in about four years and, frankly, I thought it’d be fun to try something new! I’ve released free EPs and singles in the past, but I’ve always been a bit wary of releasing what is, essentially, a free album. In some regards, the very nature of Pieces is a bit of an experiment because it’s not what I would typically classify as a normal album (as I’ve detailed previously), so I felt a little safer in the knowledge that it could all blow up in my face. I have attached a monetary value of zero to this project, and I am going into it with every expectation that I won’t make anything from it. Before now, I’ve seen artists and content creators release material using a pay-what-you-want model, only to turn around and get pissy at customers because they aren’t paying enough for their material. As far as I’m concerned, that is an absurd stance to take, and if you expect everyone to pay for a release then you should damn well attach a monetary value to it! In essence, by putting out Pieces as a PWYW release I am removing any financial expectations from it. I fully expect to make nothing off of this release, and the fact that people have pre-ordered the extended version so far has already surpassed my expectations, and I am hugely grateful to anyone who has chosen to support me despite there being absolutely no obligation to do so. That’s amazing, and – in a way – has already validated this experiment, in my eyes.

Secondly – and this relates directly to my re-pricing of Distant Activity and Lightfields as PWYW releases – I want people to listen to my music! I don’t want to get in the way of that. If people want to listen to an album, then you’d better believe that they’re going to find a way to do so, regardless of whether they want to pay for it or not. I could talk about the ethics behind content piracy until the cows come home, but my number one aim is for people to listen to and enjoy my music. I’ve never made a lot of money off of album sales, and I’ve never released an album in the hopes of making a quick buck. In a sense, re-pricing my earlier output is my way of putting my money where my mouth is – obviously I’d love it if people would continue to choose to support my work financially, but I don’t live in a fantasy land where I expect to live off of album sales alone. There are plenty of people out there who manage to do just that, and I applaud those individuals. It’s bloody hard. I just want to make my music available to as many people as possible, so it’s my job to let people download it easily and in their format of choice. Conversely, my releasing my music essentially for free is not a declarative statement that I believe people should feel entitled to have whatever they want (content wise) for free. I don’t agree with that. But, with regards to my own music – it’s my personal decision, not some kind of bold statement.

Thirdly – it’s a digital-only release. As I said before, I don’t expect to make anything off of this, and it costs nothing to release an album on Bandcamp. That’s awesome. I have zero overheads in that regard, and while Pieces took a hell of a lot of effort and time to put together (as every one of my releases has), I’m in a pretty financially neutral position from the get-go. I decided to release Pieces through iTunes, Amazon, Spotify et al because, once again, I don’t want to impose any kind of barrier to people who want to listen. Because my option in terms of releasing a free album via those services is restricted, I’ve decided to release the extended version through those services. Obviously, I’d much rather people choose to support me via Bandcamp but, again, I don’t want to get in the way of people listening to my music. Unfortunately, releasing music through iTunes costs money, but it’s really not a huge amount, and that’s a cost I’m happy to swallow.

I know it sounds like a giant cliché, but I am not putting out albums to make money. I release music and work in other fields related to audio to that end, and it’s incredibly rewarding to be able to release solo material without having to make any compromises. I do, however, feel that this was compromised slightly with my most recent label releases, but that had more to do with personal psychological issues than anything else – I wasn’t working to a deadline, and I was pretty much free to do whatever I wanted.

With all this talk of separating music from financial value, though, I feel as though it would be remiss of me to suggest that I think my music has no value. If that were the case I would have stopped writing music a long time ago! As you’ve read, there are lots of little reasons as to why I thought this would be an interesting move, and none of those bear any relation to my own personal views on my musical output.

Ultimately, I stand by every single one of my releases and, though there are always things I would change about them in retrospect, they represent very specific periods in my life… and that’s something I would never want to interfere with, and it’s something I feel incredibly grateful to be able to share with people… well, not only that, I feel incredibly grateful that there are people out there who would want to share in that.

Regardless of whether you choose to support Pieces financially or not, I sincerely hope that some of you out there enjoy it and connect with it in one way or another. That’d be neat.

Pieces: Where’s the CD version?

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in And All Is As It Should Be, Distant Activity, General, Icarus, Lightfields, Music, Pieces, Site

After my last posting about the audiophile master, it might seem a little strange to some that I’m not releasing any kind of physical version of Pieces. Surely, if there’s a version of the complete work that’s catered towards people who want to listen in a dedicated listening environment, it would make sense to put out some kind of physical release?

A fond memory
A fond memory

First up, I know there are plenty of people out there who prefer physical media over digital releases. I totally get that, especially in the case of vinyl – doubly so given that vinyl masters often offer the best way to listen to an album in an environment designed for listening. However, as I pointed out in my last post, this point in particular has nothing to do with the release medium whatsoever. I’m not a vinyl aficionado, but I still buy a lot of CDs. There’s something about the first listen ritual and checking out the artwork and any liner notes (if there are any).

Having said that, if I can’t get my hands on a CD copy of an album I particularly want, I have no qualms with downloading a digital copy… and that’s something I’ve found myself doing more and more recently. Strangely though, more than a few CD releases are comparable in price to their digital download counterparts (especially when you factor in additional costs for lossless versions – a practice I’m not particularly keen on), so for the marginal extra expense in cases like that I’m much more likely to go for a CD if possible. From a completely vain point of view, I also like to keep my music on a shelf so people can see what I’m into. To me, having that kind of thing on display is much more aesthetically pleasing than a bunch of files on my computer.

In short, I’m neither for nor against physical media at this point. Like I said, I’m not a vinyl aficionado, but if everyone were to suddenly stop selling CDs tomorrow and instead offered lossless digital versions of all of their music at a reasonable price instead, I don’t think I’d lose a whole lot of sleep.

None of this really explains why I’m not releasing a physical version of Pieces though and, predictably enough, it all comes down to numbers. Well, two sets of numbers, at least.

Firstly, I only had a pretty small run of CDs of both Distant Activity and Lightfields made in the first place. Icarus and And All Is As It Should Be were completely out of my control as both were distributed exclusively by Distinctive Records & Lost Language Recordings. I still have a few Distant Activity discs kicking about, and I have more than a few Lightfields discs still. The sales of downloads vs. CDs in the case of these two albums is incredibly one-sided in the favour of downloads, outside of pre-orders. I don’t have a huge amount of marketing clout (read: I have no marketing clout), and I have never been under any illusion that my music is going to suddenly become a cross-over best-seller. That’s not why I write music and put out albums, and I feel incredibly fortunate to be in a position where I’m able to write music and make noise for a living without being entirely dependent on album sales. CD sales have declined massively for me over the past three years or so, and now it’s at the point where I feel like getting a CD run put together would be a complete financial waste of my time. Unless there’s a sudden run on physical versions of my existing releases, I don’t see myself putting out another CD release again. Anybody who is able to read this article is probably more than likely to have a sufficient internet connection to be able to download my music. The important thing for me is to put out my music at a comparable standard of quality to a CD release wherever possible, which is why – when possible – I’ll always try to make my music available in lossless formats as well as lossy formats. The financial incentive is gone, and I’m no longer as bothered by the need to have a physical release as I once was. Been there, done that.

Secondly, there are three versions of Pieces. Which version would I even put out? I could put out a physical version of the main album itself, which would be kind of pointless as you can download it for free. I could put out a physical version of the extended edition, but then what about the audiophile version? I could include that as an extra disc, but then it’d be at a lower quality than the actual downloadable release version (the downloadable version is released as 48khz/24-bit files). And even then, why would you want an extra disc with the exact same music on it? I don’t think I’ve ever bought a double-album that featured the exact same music on both discs – I’ve bought a couple of albums with instrumental versions available on a separate disc (which is something I took on board with the digital releases of instrumental versions of Distant Activity & Lightfields, and is a trend I plan on continuing with future vocal works), but never with the exact same material on both discs. I’m sure that such a thing exists, and if anyone has come across a good example of such a release then let me know!

From the point of view of my own vanity, I’d love to keep putting out physical releases. I still remember holding my first Distant Activity CD, and holding something that I’d put so much work into in my own hands. But I’ve got to be realistic, and – especially with Pieces – I don’t think it’s the right call.

That’s my take on things. Maybe in the future I’ll think about putting out a vinyl release of my next album or whatever I do, but honestly I just don’t see it being either financially viable or practically relevant any more. If I started taking my solo music live, I’d think about it (but that’s a topic for another time). As it is, though, I’d much rather put that effort into writing music, and releasing it in a variety of formats and versions to suit the actual listening experience. There are things I can experiment with in the world of digital distribution that would be much more costly to try out with physical media, and that seems like it should take a much higher priority over my own brief personal satisfaction.

Distant Activity & Lightfields now PWYW

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Distant Activity, General, Lightfields, Music

I’ve gone a bit mad and decided to release Distant Activity & Lightfields as Pay What You Want albums over on Bandcamp, starting from the princely sum of “nothing” if you so choose.

I have no idea how long I’ll keep them like that until I come to my senses, so it’s probably a good idea to take advantage of this before I change my mind.

Enjoy!

Propellerhead Reason artist feature

Posted on 2 CommentsPosted in Distant Activity, Geekery, General, Lightfields, Music, Production music, Reason

As you may or may not know already, I tend to use Reason an awful lot in my own music – whether it’s solo works or production music, Reason pretty much forms the backbone for everything I do these days. In this video I talk a little bit about my background, my Reason use, some of the sounds I use, and I also dissect one of my production tunes, quickly detailing my process when it comes to quickly getting ideas down and fleshed out.

Huge thanks to Ryan and the folks over at Propellerhead Software for putting this together!

There’s a little bit of amusing history behind this video, as well – I’d originally been interviewed by Ryan in late 2010 for an artist feature in 2011 but, unfortunately, this fell through as a result of Record & Reason being merged into one product line. During my original interview I’d made constant references to using Record & Reason together, so my interview was more or less obsolete within a couple of months of me doing it. Whoops! Thankfully, we did a new interview in late 2012, and I made sure to avoid mentioning anything besides Reason… though the temptation to jokingly mention that I’d switched over to Rebirth was pretty tempting.

Lightfields and Distant Activity instrumentals now available

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Background Activity, Distant Activity, Lightfields, Music

As you may or may not be aware, today is my birthday. Happy Birthday to me!

This time last year I figured I’d release a bunch of out-takes from the writing & recording sessions for Distant Activity (Background Activity). This year I thought I’d try something different and, as a result, I present to you the complete instrumental versions of Distant Activity and Lightfields!

Instrumentals

I’m sure some of you may be wondering why exactly I’m doing this, and the simple answer is because a few people asked for it and, after much deliberation, I figured… why not? With Icarus right around the corner – not long to go now! – I thought now would be a great time to look back and get everything out there as far as my first two albums are concerned, ready for the third big one. I must admit that listening to both albums sans-vocals is quite an interesting experience, personally speaking.

You can check out both instrumental albums (along with most of my back catalogue) on my Bandcamp page.

Happy 4th Birthday, Distant Activity!

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Background Activity, Distant Activity, Music
The Distant Activity CD, sat proudly on top of the laptop I used to put most of it together.

On this day 4 years ago I released my first full-length album.

I was without a reliable internet connection, my laptop was on the fritz and I was about to start my final year at university. I’m not going to lie – as far as release schedules go, I’ve had better.

It was a completely new and alien experience to me… at the time, I had been releasing music freely on-line for a good 5 or 6 years (not including my late-90s/early-00s tracker output which was, to be kind to it, pretty horrible), and I had never released such a large collection of music that was supposed to flow together as one cohesive whole. Then there’s the whole “releasing an album independently” angle which, more or less, came about after an exasperating couple of months in which I sent the album out to a load of indie labels and heard absolutely nothing back. Not a peep. Well, except for Magnatune.

Thankfully, Magnatune were on board right from the start and, with Magnatune on board and some serious consideration, I knew that it was probably the right time to risk a completely independent release. Unfortunately, things took a bit longer to get together than I’d expected and by the time I actually got around to releasing the album, I was about to start my final year at university. Could have been worse – if I’d tried releasing it a month later then I really would have really been screwed!

Distant Activity was a learning experience like no other, and – while the actual writing and production of the album wasn’t always exactly… pleasant – I have fond memories of finishing this album and the immense sense of pride that came with releasing something so personal into the wild. I never expected for a minute that so many people would connect with it in such a profound way, and I couldn’t be happier with how everything turned out.

Happy Birthday, Distant Activity… you little scamp :]

(also, if I had any sense, I would have released Background Activity today instead of earlier in the year on my birthday. Whoops)

Distant Activity used in BMW i8 Concept Spyder video

Posted on 4 CommentsPosted in Ambient Project, And All Is As It Should Be, Distant Activity, Licensing, Music

Well now, this is pretty neat. BMW have used the title track from my album Distant Activity in a video for the i8 Concept Spyder. Looks like it’s been getting quite a few hits as well… whether the viewers are aware or not, it’s great to be reaching more ears!

On an unrelated note, my ambient album (which I haven’t been talking about for a while) may have found a home. Watch this space.