All the mixes have been in for a while and I’ve listened a few times to each of the 43 remix entries. With such a high standard and with the wide variety of mixes submitted and Its been very tough to pick one winner. For a while I was thinking about awarding points to each mix for; technical skill, imagination, feel etc.. but it quickly became unmanageable in the end I simply went for the mix which moved me the most.
That mix is Keith Jafrate’s epic ‘Winter Garden Mix’.
Keith’s 10 minute mix sounds to me like an unhurried wordless radio drama, It does it’s thing by stealth and too me it’s really magical. Extra bonus points for using the call of a Magpie (my bird of 09) – Congratulations Keith, It’s truly beautiful!
Thank you to all who took the time to enter and a very big thanks to Highpoint Lowlife Records who have been hosting all the files.
Yep the remixes are coming thick and fast, I’m impressed by the quality and the speed at which you managed to make them!
I’ve not had chance to really listen to them yet as i’m still on tour and have been in the back of a van for 98% of the last week.
All the mixes are at the end of THIS post!
If you’d like to make a mix you have until 30th April to submit it – details in download pack.
Just before I head out on tour with Polar Bear I want to let you know that the files are now up for the Remix Competition.
Included in the download you’ll find all the stems from the MicroSong ‘Big Black Eyes’
They are encoded as good quality MP3′s.
Your job is to make a fantastic remix using whatever tools are at your disposal.
There are a few simple rules:
1. You have until 30th April to complete your Remix and send it to me in MP3 form. There are no restrictions on style. The email address to send your entry is included with the download package. DO NOT, I REPEAT DO NOT SEND: AIFF, WAV, or an uncompressed files!
2. You may add your own sound sources but please retain some of the originals or it’s not really a re-mix is it? You may chop, mangle, distress, sew, dilute, boil down amongst other treatments.
3. There will be one winner chosen by Leafcutter John and the winner will receive a very special prize, or a CD or something not too difficult to post. Winners will be announced as soon as possible after all the entries have been heard.
Depending on how many entries we get, we’ll try and put all the remixes up at leafcutterjohn.com
Because I’d like to see a lot of cool entries please spread the word far and wide, if you’d like to add the flyer just paste the following code into your website. As Dan has correctly pointed out the following code will only work of you re-type all the inverted commas – sorry can’t sort this out right now.
<a href=”http://leafcutterjohn.com/?p=757? ><img src=”http://leafcutterjohn.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/lrm.jpg” width=”450″ height=”258″ alt=”remix” /></a>
I did a project like this years ago and the response was amazing – get going you have just over a month!
Best of luck,
Click below to hear the original, also read why I made this song.
kindly sponsored by: Highpoint Lowlife Records
First remix is in! 11 hours after posting the stems!
Kendal Mintcake mix…
Rotted Karma Mix
A Black Mountain Re-Installation Mix
Hecanjog loves cvj mix
Becoming Animal Mix
Sunken Foal Mix – Check out his beautiful new LP on Planet-Mu!!!
Winter Garden Mix – Keith Jafrate – (Orfeo 5)
Scatter Tape Mix
Paul Heslin Afraid of Water Mix
W Sleep Mix
Fabio Keiner Mix
Lone Rodger 2D Mix
The Hardy Tree Mix
Kid Ataris Linear Edit
Andrew Kaluzynski Mix
Escalation746 Iris Mix
throuRoof - see her eyes in a dream hypnagogic Mix.
The Shanster - strained pu pills mix
United Digital Analog Community - UDAC sneaker mix
Aka Ieva Mix
Aaron Harbour Mix
Ctalo Ytpo Mix
Berk Offset Stormy Walzcutter Mix
ASCDI’s Diptych Mix
The Machinist Mix
Zorba Le Break Mix
I’ve had several inquires about where people can find the remix files – well they don’t exist yet I’m afraid. I was planning on making the next micro-song available for remix but I have not had change to make a micro-song yet as I’ve been a bit busy on other projects lately (like the the never-ending rent payment project). Sorry about the delay, but it’s nice to know you are generally into the idea.
One of the things I did last week was to make a myspace site for my duo project with Seb Rochford. We are called NAILS and you can visit, listen & befriend us right HERE! There will be more music up when we have had chance to do more edits….
UPDATE – Server space has now been kindly donated by Thorsten at highpointlowlife.com Many thanks to him and all that offered assistance!
I’ve been thinking about the suggestion that I should make the stems of the next Micro-Song available for download so you can all have a go at doing a re-mix. This would be great but I think that it will eat up all my bandwidth – SO….
Do you have any spare server space to host the stems and subsequent remixes?
If you do please contact me or leave a comment. If no body volunteers in the next week or so I’ll make the stems available via yousendit.com on a first come first served basis.
All the best,
It’s amazing how fast things can move sometimes. Within hours of posting my first micro-song I received an email from Bluermutt in which he commented that he’d never seen a remix of one of my tunes, which is true. I sent Geo the stems and a week or so later he sent me this little beauty.
I hope you enjoy his interpretation the original is below if you have not heard it.
For this micro-song I’m turning what could be described as the national instrument of Greece, a country which for many reasons fills me with joy. The Bouzouki is capable of a wide variety of sounds and emotions and I have not used mine as much as I should so it’s perfect for making a micro-song with.
This micro song is truly experimental in nature. I started of by recording the instrument using my little sony d-50 and my binaural Soundman mics. I gave myself the rule that I could not use my fingers directly to play the instrument in the conventional sense. So I used soft beaters to hit and scrape the body and strings. I used a rubber balloon to create low pitched farts along the strings, and a jaw harp with it’s vibrating metal component against the strings (that’s not me in the video!).
With the sounds transfered to Logic I set about layering parts of the recording to create a composition. I used some compression to get the level up in places and a touch of reverb to tie the sounds together a little. One of the great things about using binaural microphones is that because you wear them in your ears any movement of the head results in panning in the recording. This technique is very evident in the micro-song. From the screen grab you’ll see a MIDI region, this is a sampler playing sections of the original recording.
To listen to the song I’d recommend using decent speakers or headphones as you’ll not hear any bass on most computer speakers.
To find out more about the origins of the micro-song idea read I thought you used to be a musician once?
This post follows on from: I thought you used to be a musician once?
Thank you all for your kind words of support and encouragement. Although I was nervous about posting what I did last Sunday the response through comments and private emails has been overwhelming and very positive for me in the last few days. Your comments and suggestions have truly helped me look at the situation afresh and for this I feel very lucky.
This is not the first time I’ve encountered writers block and I suspect it will not be the last. This time has probably been the longest sustained period where I have not been able to produce work with that certain special something I crave.
The good news is that I feel like I have identified a major cause of the block I was experiencing. The problem as I see it is one of approach and I have given it a funny name, which as we all know is the first step in beating anything. I’m calling the problem “THE CURSE OF GREATNESS” and it goes like this:
- I want to make a song, but I’ve been taking with this amazing label who really love my last album and want to release my new work so whatever I do it’s got to be GREAT.
- Write for a few hours, record a few ideas….
- Listen back, nothing GREAT, back to step 2.
- After a few days going between steps 2 -3. Listen to the other GREAT artists on the label and wonder how they made such GREAT music?
- Get desperate and try ‘borrowing’ some ideas from other peoples GREAT songs.
- The result is not as GREAT as the source, back to step 3.
- After a while you feel you have to send something to the label so you take the least crappy idea and work it into a song – not GREAT but the response is ok from the label so back to step 1.
It’s been over a year and a half since my last album came out. Since then i’ve been busy with lots of different projects. Learning new skills, playing music with my band and with Polar Bear. In the whole it’s been a very happy time. Since January last year I have been trying to write new material for what I hope will be a new record. The strange thing is that when I listen back to what I have recorded a lot of it strikes me as not being quite right. This is not my self-conscious ego talking, well maybe partially but there is definitely something a bit broken in my creative process when it comes to songwriting. A particular problem has been the writing of lyrics. This can be really difficult at the best of times but for me over the last year it has often felt like I have absolutely nothing to say. This is of-course absolute rubbish as I’m sure something is in there but it’s been impossible thus far to get it to come out. I have managed to make a few pieces but my feeling is that they are not very good or trying to be something that I’m not. Trouble is I’m finding it hard to know what I ‘really’ am.
I have tried various methods to coax the timid little rabbit out of it’s burrow. I have tried the ‘write something every day’ method which produced material but it was, err really really bad. I then tried the ‘don’t do anything unless you feel like it’ approach which lead to me staying in bed a lot. I then went back to listen to the ‘something every day’ material which made me feel pretty depressed but I decided that I had not given it enough time to work so I started on it again which lead to yet more crap. Crap on Monday, crap on Tuesday, and on Wednesday more crap for a change… You get the idea. At one point I was ready to toss in a stick of dynamite down the hole and put an end to that stubborn furry little bastard.
There is lots of advice to ‘cure’ writers block available on the web – but let me warn you. If you happen to be suffering to the extent that you are desperate enough to take this ridiculous step you might also be sufficiently weakened to actually try some of the methods. Take it from me JUST DON’T OK! Take for example lovely Tina Morgan. She advises in her ’10 Ways to Beat Writers Block’:
3) Take Prozac – seriously - if you’ve been suffering from the symptoms of depression, talk to your doctor. There may be something he/she can do to help, be it medication or therapy. (of course, always check with your doctor before taking any medication)
Are you fucking serious!? I can quite do without developing a drug dependency. Oh and by the way Tina not being able to work properly for a year is fairly depressing but something tells me the pharmacist is not the one I should turn too. From the insane to the ridiculous she goes on to suggest:
6) Play on the jungle gym, crawl on the floor after your toddler for 20 minutes – not just for the exercise but also for down time from life’s problems and to marvel in the joy of exploration.
Well I have no idea what a jungle gym is and I have absolutly no desire to get a toddler in order to find out. Perhaps unfairly I chose her as an example but there are countless others peddling such well meaning crap. there must be some great resources out there for the blocked, it’s just that I didn’t find anything that didn’t either make me laugh, cry, or want to disable the author. I guess the problem is that each person gets blocked for different reasons and there really are no simple answers or any website, book, or guru that can be consulted for them. The answers annoyingly (but simply enough) lie within.
You might by this point (in what is turning into an essay), be thinking “Why the hell are you putting this shit out there for everyone to read, just deal with it man! You are not getting my sympathy”. Or “Are you going to tell me you discovered the secret of becoming un-blocked and then try and sell it to me?” Well I’m really quite nervous about posting this blog, I’m not sure how people will react. But when I made this new website I put in a category called “The Making of the 5th Leafcutter Album” in which I imagined would document the triumphant making of a masterpiece (that’s sarcasm btw) Anyway I have decided that it’s time to start writing about the album, come rain or shine. I love all the things I’m studying but my number one desire is to communicate with people through song. When it works it fills me with an indescribable joy when it’s broken I want desperately to find a way to fix it. That’s the first reason I’m writing this and it explains the lack of new music here. Secondly there are probably loads of people currently stuck or experiencing similar things to this and it can’t hurt to share one’s experiences. The third reason is that I would like to try and publicly un-block myself by producing a series of Micro-Songs on this blog. I think one of the problems I’m having is that I try and do too much in a single song and I get very uptight thinking about how well or badly I can play and sing. I tend to obsess over some tiny detail which can, in the end de-rail the whole song I’m working on.
If you are a regular reader here you will no doubt be aware that I’m currently learning the programming language Processing. In Processing a program is refered to as a sketch. At first I thought the idea of sketching code was cute but slightly ridiculous. But the more I sketch, the more Inspired an idea it seems. Thinking of coding as sketching removes the implication that code has to be long, tedious and hard to understand. An idea can be expressed quickly and with a minimum of fuss. It can be scruffy, half finished, broken and still somehow beautiful. In short it’s exaclty what I need for my songwriting.
So what is a Micro-song?
- Short and not overly complex
- Self Confident
- Not concerned with virtuosity or eliminating errors
- Honest and true (It does not have to pretend to be anything other than what it is because it’s content)
I tried today to write my first Micro-Song and freed from the rubbish I had floating about in my head about what my music should sound like I managed, with relative ease to create something which I’m actually very fond of. As a song I’m not sure what it means other than that I managed to make something that I don’t despise.
I humbly give you “Big Black Eyes” (haha)
“Don’t move over, don’t move over. Good night, night, night-night. Big black eyes. Never sleep.”
It’s late but I’m going to post this anyway, please forgive spelling and grammar.
All the best,
P.S. this is for Maria & Seb, may you never tire x x x.
has anyone got an EMF meter they can lend me for a few days?
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