Stranger Things…

“If you never try, you’ll never know what you are capable of.”  John Barrow

Stranger things have happened. things nearly didn’t happen… but…I’m an improv inspired kind of bird. Go with the flow. This ideal is not shared by all. Which is why…..

12th Feb 2017 was the day Strange Currencies shot a the music video for ‘American Saviour.’  Paralleled with a pseudo documentary of ‘the making of’ to rival others .. should be released in the summer. With a story line and undertones of Cuprinol. This dip into politics may cause ripples with nipples. A few conti pad giggles.

With a self financed tiny budget, (500 x 50p and a mars bar mini) the kindness of The Acacia Centre  volunteers fancy dressed to impress, sausage and chip cobs(naps, buns, rolls to non locals), orange face paint, raspberry sauce and more wigs that Donald’s closet. Began a day of filming. After ditching his initial script in comparison to The Cure For Insomnia running length of 87– 10 mins in ‘cat years’ ;-0. A barrage of hissy fits ensued the day before. (A lesson about better communication, planning, prepping and making sure minutes are written in future with things!)  PP Johnson (band vocalist) overcame what can only be described as…. a fucking flid and directed. #evidence below.  Yet again I’ll quote this sunshine… “If you never try, you’ll never know what you are capable of.” John Barrow

A word from Director PP Johnson:

“I feel at this stage that I might have to go into more of an explanation as to why I didn’t want to make this video initially. In light of a pretty damning blog, it’s now become important to me that people understand my side of this particular issue. I guess I’d have to say that I was the architect of my own downfall on this one. Basically, I pitched the idea for the video a couple of months back and we all agreed that we should do it. We’d been looking for a concept to hang a music video on for a while and so this seemed as good an idea as any. So we greenlit the project and everyone was happy. Fast forward a few weeks and new jobs for both myself and the band manager plus an album recording that was well under way meant that I started doubting our ability to produce a quality piece of work in such a short space of time. So… I went to my bandmate and the manager with my concerns and suggested that we either postpone the project or shelve it altogether. This suggestion was met with a fair amount of resistance and I was told that we were definitely going ahead and “I shouldn’t pitch projects if I had no intention of going ahead with them”. Suddenly one person was less happy. 😉 Anyway, life and work began to take priority, as they tend to do. Production meetings didn’t happen and communication on all sides became almost non-existent (due to individuals not replying to messages and various important sporting events). During that time a script was written and some pre production work had been carried out (admittedly not as much as I’d had liked but that’s on me). Come the eve of the shoot and I was a very frustrated bunny indeed. We were on a ship which seemed rudderless and heading for stormy waters, and I seemed to be the only one that saw it. After numerous tense phonecalls and a (now very public) meltdown from your’s truly, it was decided that we would change the project in order to try and turn the project’s weaknesses into a strength. Ultimately a new concept was born and the shoot went ahead. Upon reflection, I still feel that I was right to feel the way I did but I am grateful that we were able to turn potential tragedy into (fingers crossed) triumph. My actions in the build up to the shoot were those of a man who was being forced to do something against his will and it garnered the appropriate response. So there it is, the story from my side. Hopefully to be concluded in the summer with the release of American Saviour: A Cautionary Tale.”

So….after a winter of ‘Toblerones’ and turkey. With pre menstrual bloat, some virus illness shite that the flu jab possibly caused. You can imagine my surprise and horror at being directed with speaking parts! Bear in mind.. an E in ‘A Level’ Drama happened for a reason with me! I mumble and can’t remember lines or prompts, or act.I can barely function as a non musician at times. So genuine uncomfortable madness.. Fanks!

With the sort of pre match bitch diva fits that potentially split bands up and ruin friendships and prompt the band manager to consider leading a meditation with monks tour with backing band ‘Satans Minions.’  By the power of Greyskull.. no one died. A punch up did occur. Filming completed.

What won this Shoot was :  Wait for it…Team work, yes where no ‘i’ belongs.  Resilience, imagination, ripping off others ideas and persevering seeking the bigger picture. What one watches in hindsight though the looking glass in years to come. Becoming a coffin dodger is a daily Pac man challenge.
Big thanks for last minute leads, Angela Barker, who is also the manager who fortunately for some only used the boxing gloves ‘acting.’ Stepping in to the Trumpalumpa ‘Ronald Gump’ character. Notts Drag Queen, Madam Tesstickles (Steven Newbury) for the ‘Vanessa Theresamay’ hilarity. Talented true divas and excellent hilarious performances. The DJ’s, friends and families at Acacia Radio for giving us their time, featuring and letting us use their building and props. Kendal Louise Turley, who I first met in 2009 while recording an Idolins album at Confetti Studios, Nottingham. Joe our cameraman. Both very cool and talented folks.

Watch behind the scenes footage

Trump May punch up

Here are some pics. To follow…. hopefully a music video and making of documentary 😉

I became rather fixated Baywatch wise too…..

~ Claudine

THE FEAR THE FEAR THE FEAR

LEAVE ME LANDLOPING

MY COMPLIMENTS ERODING

I WATCH I WORRY

WHITE FEATHER REASSURE ME

MY ARMOURS WEATHERED

I REASSURE GLORY

THE SUITS AND THE ECHOES

THERES PANIC IN THE GHETTO

THE PIONEERS AND BABBLING MERCHANTS OF DRIVEL

THE ROOMS  AND THE RECKONING

THE FEAR THE FEAR THE FEAR THE QUIVER

THIS RIVER HOLDS MANY

THERE IS PANIC

WHERE THE RIVER GOES

WATCH ME TRANSFORMING

I’M MINDFUL TERRAFORMING

I WATCH I DON’T WORRY

FLASH BACKS REMIND ME

THE ESCAPE , THE DEEP THE DEEP THE DEEP

THE DEEP RETREATING MEGALODON

Bandcamp

Soundcloud

THE FEAR THE FEAR THE FEAR is Track 2, in the month of February from the forthcoming 2017 solo album by Claudine West. Track 1 is Mantaray 

https://claudinewestmusic.com/

Mantaray

Surrounded by storm sea surges, snow sprinklings and a panic winter press sensationalism. I’ve sat in my little music cave Claudsville Studios. With some instrumental ‘rumpy pumpy’ the first of my new born kids being dropped off at the pool is Mantaray. This embryonic adventure into haunting piano and loops, Fender guitar expelling mellow cries into the night air for alternative progression on this track. With recording equipment situated on my old Reiki treatment couch (for the vibes) I sat in the glow of a salt lamp with a Crassula Ovata (money plant) for company, while the love of my life slept in the next room. As she stirred in slumber, she believed she was sweet dreaming, listening to my early morning vocal take yawns, harmonies and lyric editing as I progressed. With an oceanic theme around rescue. The song explores the burden of love. A song that arouses from the deep blue ocean then grabs souls with its undertow. This track is number 1 of a new solo album in progress. I’ll add each song as they unfold. Under the Stephen Fry inspired working title of ‘Babbling Merchant of Drivel’ progress is inspired in a Rue Morgue kind of way.

I’m currently in the middle of recording Strange Currencies album ‘Making Monsters’ So it a very musically indulgent time. Pretty darn cool actually.  I’ve spent the last 2 evening sessions suffering low mood and  red light fever recording the acoustic guitar parts for ‘Stay Down Kid.’ My one take wonders rule left me for dust! With cats jumping all over the studio during takes, and sore fingers. I’m hoping next weeks session will tell a different story. Luckily the swearing flowed like warm pee then the boiling hormonal blood ran free and with a little assistance from some garnet gemstone in my shorts pocket. I kind of nailed it last night. We had recorded a live version to work to. PP Johnson liked his live vocals. So as I’ve just D.I.’d the acoustic. I’ve had to overdub it and mic my trusty ‘Taylor’ up.  A song that has been played loads live with my eyes closed… Well.. maybe I should have swapped mugs of tea and vitamin water for Rum. But I think its kind of there ready for mix and master. As this album evolves.. getting the right balance of ballad, funky, poptarty, dirty, distorted and hints of country. Even though I know it will work out great in the end. I learn Logic Pro X as I go. The January blues will depart and be looked upon kindly as a productive time in the darkness.

 So here it is by Claudine West

Lyrics

Whispers on the waves of silence
I sensed the love in buoyance
In the eye of a hurricane
Our ship sails for America
A vortex where the renegade goes
This riptide rides the ebb and flow Chorus Jettison flames
This cargo is killing me
Mantaray
Set me free Verse 2
Those that inspire me, desire me
I’m certain of the dance
Lethal switchblades and urban food chains  Bridge
The world lights up and jettisons
The embers burned you, 
The embers burned you, 
The embers burned you, 

Chorus

Verse 3 
I buried myself in the Earth
To seek what it was worth
I carried strength and faith around
Buried scars and saviours
I quit the bad behaviours
I stopped this drowning before it took you down

Released January 9, 2017
Written, performed and recorded by Claudine West 2017

 

Making Monsters

Oh yes we made it! The mid-season break for us is the opposite of a writers strike. With a 2 week break over the holidays and New Year. 2016 had killed my Banjo. (A new Hercules triple whammy guitar stand purchased for out of its case protection) catching up with sleep, countless games of drunken ‘New market’ and ‘Cards Against Humanity’ and indulging the sick horror of human nature when prompted.  Arse sitting whisky a go go was a luxury. When the over indulgence ended and the toilet rolls depleted, the detoxes began. Armed with a Garnet stone for creativity. 2 New Age albums ready to go in 2017. I began more work on the backing tracks for the new album. Plans as of this blog are: Making Monsters by Strange Currencies. It’s useful to lock ‘oneself’ away during the darkened months. I don’t get ‘SAD’ I get ‘Gutted’ =’ Godforsaken Unadulterated Traumatic Tedious Exhausting Darkness’

Pumped up with extra vitamin D complexities. Strange algae and red berry concoctions downed inspired by some doctor on my face book feed turned. Ones PP into rainbow bright droplets of strange waz. After a fleeting though of knowing now what I didn’t then ‘should I have not done ‘normal’ day jobs and dedicated myself to music full time when younger with gigging. Not drank, smoked, got stoned and let my shyness and rage rule too much.’ But then again I wrote and recorded loads. https://bogwoppit.bandcamp.com/   So not time wasted. But you see now. As my only left addictions to crisps and chocolate fade after getting some dietitian help. I looked at my  video reflection on facetime last night and thought no no NO!

I’d hoped for a quiet return to the day job into 2017. https://strangecu.wordpress.com/2016/12/13/into-2017-strange-currencies/ This was marred by it not being quiet. Organised chaos where everybody pulls out the stops to help out. I like my NHS job. It is rewarding when you can help make a difference….. and never boring. I might ache from running about miles of corridors after ‘slothing’ on my hols. Regret purchasing the ‘on sale’  £21 walking shoes that basically shit. I’ll stick to my Nikes and shoes for office/ meeting days. Luckily my trouser still button up and I can bend over without splitting my britches!

I regress… So plans in motion for a video for American Saviour. Really.. Really soon. The album is taking shape over evenings and weekends. Got some late January gigs with Strange Currencies. The 30 min set has been chopped and honed. Last year we tested various songs; have buried the ones that got less reaction from the people ignoring us on stage.  We’ve got a set that we like playing more now.

Big thank you to Andrew Neil for some inspiring advice and opportunities via his Facebook feeds.

22nd-jan-2017-gig-poster-the-maze

We’ve had a lot of fun on Acacia Radio http://acaciaradioaw.weebly.com/ Big thanks to Ian Hales, Shaun and Lucas Jackson. Interviews and live songs without swearing of to many FCUK ups. I even shocked myself doing Xmas songs with enthusiasm.  I was even in a good mood and excited! Little Donkey and Jingle Bells all the way baby!  https://www.facebook.com/strangecu/videos/1136161273172057/

The last time I dressed as Santa ended up being my last gig. I quit the band  that I’d  cofounded and put so much creative effort into a decade earlier. So the curse of Xmas jumpers… Only time will tell 😉 Jesus seriously doesn’t want me for a sunbeam.

Doing the amount of gigs we did from July 2016 https://strangecu.wordpress.com/gigs/  (as well as a full time day job and recording an EP.) At times the enthusiasm to play live after a long day was hard, tempers were tested, moods low. Well there were times when I just wanted to walk away and quit. As did PP Johnson. But. Then we’d have a good gig. The bad gigs when we played to the bar staff or crowds with their back to us were atypical of the growing expectation for musicians in the wrong venues to be background noise or karaoke with a guitar. There were nights after a long day I was tired and questioning, full of PMT and just want to cozy up with the Walking Dead. Resilience gets one through. The drive to achieve and surprise myself is strong like the force. My strumming fingernail has still not recovered and I’ve had to resort to more plectrum usage when used to my usual finger picking style.  Evolving….

I love technology. Xmas also produced make over  app fun! (My zombify pictures of Ange over xmas didn’t go down too well!)  But putting her Dad who had fallen asleep and provided an opportunity… Alan in make up and wigs did!

alan-1

Then I went blond

15622013_10154423425514565_8568397730589268394_n

Then we went to Harry Potter World

harry-p-1

The end…..of 2016

Into 2017…

Onto the album Making Monsters

I’ve just bought a £23 self-assembly blues cigar guitar. I’ll be indulging along with the sitar to use on recordings this year. It’s very easy to get caught up with loops when in studio. American Saviour began as a mess about around the punch line. ‘Ride The Pony’ That Ange (My Wifey) and I were going to do for a piss take. We have some tracks nearly ready such as ‘Stay Down Kid.’ Originally a riff from one of my own ‘Sonic World’ reworked. I’m quite excited about Gypsy Disco. In Your World is a loopy starter for ten. The first batch is nearly there for final vocal takes. ‘This Girl’ is a haunting piano ballad. ‘Automatic’ is currently a bone of contention. The song ‘Making Monsters’ is near.    There is a new song ‘Mantaray’ that I’ve done some vocals on. This may end up on my next solo ‘Claudine West’ album though. There is a duet under the working title ‘Twosome’ about to be written. I’ve initially recorded a backing track and submitted some lyrics and concept ideas that may well be scrapped. I imagined a dark ‘Islands in the Stream’ around obsession and blame, about a lover and bit of a motherFCUKer that loses the plot and murders the man she is having an affair with. We will see what the next few months produce. PP Johnson has been producing lyrics and ideas.  I do love the writing and recording process. Big Thanks again to Angela Barker. Who organises, manages, drives, rodies, networks, gets the sh1t, gets the drinks at the bar and much more.  We are not easy Divas 😉

We spend the end of 2016 watching the winter sun setting in Portsmouth. Its rather lovely sat on a beach with a cup of tea readying for new musical adventures…

  • Claudine

Songwriting 

Composition
/kɒmpəˈzɪʃ(ə)n/
Bear with….To construct and deconstruct an idea is one of the most rewarding things a songwriter and musician does. The aftermath is a performance of said idea. The recording and capture.
There are many ‘jukebox’ bands and artists that simply cover others good work, some do it well. Some are cringeworthy.  I’m sure there are lots of talented musicians that are visual iTunes mini players.  Its super duper some make a fair living off performing week in week out. Nice! Hobbies are fun aren’t they? Familiarity favours applause. When attending a recent event. Comments were made that did not favour original bands. A moan at the lack of ‘covers.’ (3 words for you Sunshine. 1. Hung 2. Drawn. 3. Quartered)  I love watching bands. Being in this one (Subway Circus) we do a reworked version of Mad World. We have our guilty indulgences too.
 Subway Circus YouTube maybe a rocked up ‘Jolene’ will emerge one day.  We did tinker with ‘Rain.’
Having seen The Cult live recently (29th March, Rock City, Nottingham). I think I’ll leave it at that.
Copying is flattery.
They were supported by the band Broken Hands. Lovely bunch of lads. We purchased their new album ‘Turbulance.’ Its on rotation in the car.
broken hands
Playing to an empty room with disinterested folk is job satisfaction in a basket ;-0 Seen as a rehearsal performance out of the rehearsal room- Minus the vulgarity, Rainbow Bungle, George and Zippy impressions (making me cough up my ovaries) banter and frolics. Have you seen Bungles Twanger?
So what is the secret of writing songs?  Meeting your maker, inspiration, booze,drugs, booze, meditation, luck, structure, key changes, talent, creativity, satanic rituals, sacrifice, alien autopsies, tips from higher powers?
What make a hit? Catchiness, riffs, hooks, hocus pocus,  promotion, investment, formula, attractiveness, image.
 Sometimes the least favourite song one makes becomes the most popular. They you are stuck with performing it forever more. When even the thought of ever listening to it again in this lifetime makes the black plague seem an easy way out.
Of course you can also get signed (apparently is possible if you tick the criteria they desire yes!) Or use puppets! Sell out, change your sounds, get writers in, sing out of key, try to act hard, hang out with the big bad boys and be opinionated, get moulded, produced, marketed then probably dropped. Never play in your hometown where you were once humble and playing to nobody. But you know what? Puppets have good times!
You can sit or stand there with a guitar, a piano, a thought, a lyric, a loop, a rhythm. As a band we jam. It begins with simply that. Paul on guitar will introduce a riff, or ‘Speed’ our Bassist with come up with a bassline. Drums follow by myself, or begin. PP sings ideas. We have written a song from a vocal.  I like to document the process. I’ll be able to take a wonderful trip down memory lane after. I’m unable to show the jam of ‘Razorface’ we made last night..Sorry. We will of course showcase when done.
Songs are sounds, notes, chords, tones, melodies, rhythms. Songs are beauty. Songs are orgasm, Zen, Eden, The Celestine Prophecy, exorcism. They birth Demons. This is how they roll.
How do we do it? We have begun writing our 2nd album…It may be Unusual..It may be Haunting… We are soon to be going into studio for the 2nd session to finish our debut album.  Yes 2 sessions  = album.  Later in 2016 we will record our 2nd EP. ‘The Law.’
We have been playing our instruments for a number of years and practice weekly. Invested. If you invest time and effort you tend to get competent. If you are lucky enough to be gifted. There is your Brucie Bonus! We record live with guide vocal. With some vocal overdubs. Its in the bag. quick, raw easy. Indulgence in lots of instruments is kept for the home studio and solo work. That solo work births songs and ideas. Watch this very space.
From live recordings
To home studio
Go with your flow… be free, in order to do that. Relax and open yourself. Channel the vibes. Like meditation set your intent.  Pressure and writer’s block are a curse of the creative. Be inspired by the good and the bad, be inspired by boredom, politics, the news.  Pick a chord, hum a melody write a thought, a poem, improvise begin the begin. Make something beautiful for you. Record your favourite song, turn yourself on. Intro-verse-chorus-verse-chorus-solo-chorus-chorus-end. Go crazy change the time signature and key half way through. I found sitting on the toilet scribbling lyrics on bog roll useful. Nowadays the advancement in technology means I can type it or dictate to my phone.
I’m a big improviser. I really do just go with the flow. I experiment with looping a rhythm, playing my acoustic until I like a chord structure. Vocals. I’ve been free flow lyric writing lately. (Writing as a go to listening the track) Whereas years ago I used to mainly write the lyrics first. Write stories, be the protagonist, write the things you can’t speak. Everyone has heard 1000 songs about love lost. Add a twist. Give it a serial killer, write about your crazy surreal dreams. Write about the bitter snooker hall bulldog chewing a wasp, who has caused parking inconvenience. Let the ghost in the machine take hold of your soul and spout out words that pop into your head and come from your hands. Even if they are not in the dictionary! Read stuff, get inspired. Learn a few words. Use the rhyming dictionary.

I scribble A-Z and rhyme to each letter. Even if it makes me dribble. Let it out. Do you think I know what this is about?  and I wrote it….;-0

‘Tokyo at Mohive, Chrono las over
Highway a night drive
Imploding supernova

Molasses in the spring with Olaf
Birds of paradise in the garden

Nephilim in darkness
Corroded movers
They shake new world orders
Roll it under, Make it thunder
Break the man in two

Machina took it out on toucan
The words and menopause
The losers in the blue room
Empty wards have active soul wanderers’

Piano, keyboards, synth strings, bass, banjo, mandolin.  Hooks, meat grinders, grate a courgette add …Sitar….. http://www.claudinewestmusic.com

In a Band? Just jam ideas, work on them. Play nicely, communicate, compromise. From a seed spawns a song. Dictatorships make for unhappy puppies. If your dictator is a genius? make your choice: Stick with, earn big then have an almighty fall out and make a solo record. Or leave on principle, struggle but be creatively happy. Or just look for the right people. That may mean lots of fails and a few winners. Fate deals its hand too incase you didn’t mind.
~ Claudine

Read this! Into bliss.

The flat line of silence is unbecoming. Have you ever had a dream where you are performing an amazing song? The shadows watch from the sidelines. I still don’t wish to make amends with the past. Those shadows still watch in the waking world. I bang the drum, a different rhythm than I’m used to. The keyboard player was filming the birth of this baby during his performance. It was organ like and organic with an acoustic guitar. Others were present too, ghosts and vocals. But it’s all just a blur. Flowed on a different plane. Who that keyboard play is, was lost when I awoke. I cannot remember the rhythm. Maybe a soundtrack to a movie about finding yourself. The discovery and elation of travelling the right road. The subconscious is a magic maker. Tap into it and explore a whole new universe. The sign at my crossroads was a mirror on the wall. Oh the reflections…

I recall the old days of listening back to that days recording efforts. Stoned. Hearing new things, frequencies. Like a golden glow coated the track. Staying up all night analysing lyrics about want, obsession. The whisky and vodka relaxed inspired takes. Chain smoking Marlboro Reds. All night sessions are great when you are young. The body handles it better. Does sobriety bother me now?  Clear heads help one enjoy the mornings. The escape, the thrill is the music. Drugs and booze just numbed it eventually. Fun though. Nothing to prove, or ‘brag’ about. The dark times are but a memory. The recovery spanned a decade.

I’m sitting here with a cup of tea getting rather excited about our next session. Ive just been sent a bunch of new ideas. Basslines sent via dropbox. Then the guitar and drums and lyrics come. What came first? The chicken or the egg? There are no rules. There is the energy that channels through you. There is the true connection between musician and instrument. The vortex of creativity that sucks you inside, into bliss. When I look upon you from the stage. I read your eyes, your moves. I feel your energy. Then I get lost in the vibrations of sound. The adrenalin truly is the natural drug of choice. What does it for you?

The last jigsaw piece, A committed vocalist, will slot in pretty soon. I did manage to phone Dave our Bass player in my coat pocket yesterday. He text me asking what the underwater sounds answer machine message was? Womb and heartbeats! The second person of the day to get my pocket stalking.

I spent last year writing and recording meditation music, then a solo album. In between rehearsing and writing Subway Circus ditties. That will be unearthed. From new age, to folk/pop to rock music keep things nicely varied. Evolution and challenges for a musician. Is the popping candy of sweetness.

≈ Claudine