On a Good Day is changing

On a Good Day is coming to end. Well, its first phase in at least. When I started this blog, it was intended to be a personal blog about being a dad, a way of preserving of my thoughts and memories of fatherhood. But I love music as well, and so I thought, why not make it a blog about both fatherhood and music.

Problem was, I never really able to crowbar those two subjects together in a way that really worked. I was also constantly torn between blogging just as a hobby, and trying to make the blog ‘successful’ (whatever that means – lots of readers I guess). Eventually I came to realise that trying to make it successful was taking all the enjoyment out of it for me, and that at this point in my life I didn’t have the time or inclination for blogging as anything other than a hobby. I’ve learnt a lot over the last few years though, and now have dozens of others ideas for blogs and websites, some of which may even come to fruition in future years.

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Mario D’Agostino – Muad’Dib

This might just be my favourite song of the year to date (kindly ignore that it was actually released in 2016). A beautiful lo-fi ballad, it unfolds at glacial pace and has an almost hymnal quality, backed only with skeletal drums, quiet keyboards and guitar that, until the outro, is barely noticeable.

The hushed, almost spoken vocals bring an intimate quality to the song, and lyrically it manages to be both dryly funny and poignant, a trick few can pull off successfully. I know essentially nothing about Mario D’Agostino, but will be following closely, hoping for more songs like Muad’Dib.

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Gig Review : KRS One – MK11

This was a gig that I only attended because I happened to be visiting a friend in Milton Keynes this weekend, and we were so surprised to find some half decent live music on in the city that it felt rude not to attend. Despite KRS One’s legendary status, I’m not actually that familiar with his work, and my experience of attending hip-hop shows has been mixed at best, so my hopes were not especially high. Arriving at the venue, a barn in the middle of nowhere on the outskirts of Milton Keynes, which had been converted into a sports bar/live music venue, even less so. It seemed a particularly incongruous place to find a legend of hip-hop.

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Interview – audiodeluxe

One of the best things about writing this blog has been discovering bands I may never have discovered without it. My latest favourites are audiodeluxe, a husband/wife duo from near Glasgow who have been making music together since the 1990s, but are a new discovery to me.

Dez and Sammy were kind enough to answer my questions on music and parenthood, and I  always find it very inspiring to find a band who are making music just for the love of making music.

Before you read on, why not check out their video for ‘Treasure’ below, listen to some more of their music on Soundcloud, and head over to Bandcamp and buy the 3 EPs they have available (EP3 is my personal favourite).

Were your parents music fans? What influence did they have on your own musical tastes?

  • Dez: The least said about the ‘music’ I was subjected to, the better!
  • Sammy: I grew up surrounded by music; my dad was a singer-songwriter and he was an avid listener to a huge range of genres. Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeplin and Donovan were staples in my house when I was growing up. As children, my brother and I produced our own little songs that my mum would encourage us to perform. My brother and sister’s musical talent was encouraged by both parents and they are now accomplished artists; my brother makes an excellent living from performing and producing and my sister is a wonderful singer-songwriter.

 

Did you play any instruments as a kid, or if not, when did you start playing music?

  • Dez: I started playing guitar when I was around fifteen/sixteen – the day after seeing the Manic Street Preachers play [mime] ‘You love us’ on Top of the Pops. I bought a Les Paul copy for £10 from a guy at school. All the other instruments I play followed on from the guitar over time.
  • Sammy: I played the recorder in primary school and I was pretty adept at the ‘Eastenders’ theme tune! I also had a go at keyboard and drums when I was at high school but quite honestly, the discipline required to stick at any instrument alluded me. I knew I had quite a good voice and it was easy for me to use it so that’s where it all started for me.

 

You have been writing and performing as audiodeluxe since the late 1990s. Were you in any other bands before that?

  • Dez: No, just jamming with friends while learning to play the guitar.
  • Sammy: Not unless you include the stuff my brother and I did. It’s the stuff of legend in our family but (perhaps wisely) will never see the light of day.

 

You were signed to an early internet record label, PeopleSound, back in 2001. Can you tell us a little about that experience?

  • Dez: Peoplesound was supposed to be the future model for record labels. They were more like a distributor with an A&R department; you sent them your finished Album/EP and they decided whether it suited their label. Our work did suit and they used the CD we produced as a master. It was reproduced with all the artwork and promoted on their site and to various radio stations around the world – and they took a percentage of the sales. It was a good deal until Sony (if I remember correctly) bought them and pretty much shut them down.
  • Sammy: Yeah, I thought that it was a good idea at the time as it suited us to make music as and when we wanted. I got a kick out of seeing our CD for sale.

 

Have you been writing/recording/performing as audiodeluxe pretty consistently since then, or have there been periods of inactivity? If so, why?

  • Dez: We’ve been consistent in our own way as this was never meant to be a career for us. We write songs and play gigs at our leisure and up until our children were born I was in our home studio most nights playing the guitar or making sounds/samples. I would then call Sammy to hear what I’d came up with to see if they inspired her to write lyrics and turn my tunes into proper songs.
  • Sammy: Oh, l’m busy with the business of life and the music doesn’t get my full attention unless Dez lures me into the studio with one of his amazing new creations!

 

You’re a husband and wife duo. How do you feel a creative partnership with your spouse differs from a creative partnership with anyone else?

  • Dez: Neither of us has been in a band with anyone else so it’s a hard question to answer. We’ve been together a long time and have similar influences when it comes to music but there’s also enough differing musical tastes to create a bit of friction – which is good because we’re not fans of overly happy music.
  • Sammy: We were creative partners long before we were married so I don’t necessarily think that’s a massive thing to consider. That said, I honestly couldn’t work with someone on something as important as this unless they totally ‘got me’. We argue a lot about the music and I think you can hear that spark when we perform.

 

How many children do you have, and what ages are they?

  • Dez: We have two: our eldest is three and a half and our youngest is five months.
  • Sammy: Yep, we have two little babies so it’s not always easy to find the time for making music. That said, I am always singing and making up little songs for the children. Our eldest is sometimes like, “Mummy, stop singing pleeease”.

 

Do you find it hard to find the time to devote to your music since becoming parents?

  • Dez: Having a five month old means there’s pretty much no time for music at the moment; a situation I was shocked at with our first as it felt like it would never end. But second time round, I realise it’s a brief but all-consuming time that you should just settle into and try to enjoy.
  • Sammy: Haha, wise words there from Dez! I am going to be a bit hippy here and say that because you give your ‘all’ to your children, it can be quite difficult to have the spiritual and emotional energy to be creative. That and wading your way through baby sick and nappies can hamper one’s artistic tendencies sadly.

 

Do you feel like the music you make has been influenced at all by becoming parents?

  • Dez: Again, I’m not sure. I’m a bit of a musical magpie at the best of times; I’m always listening to music and collecting the ideas I hear and like. If you hear a xylophone (Baby TV’s instrument of choice) crop up in a one of our songs in the near future you’ll know the answer is ‘yes’.
  • Sammy: Yeah, but every experience shapes you, doesn’t it? Having the children means that you see the world differently so maybe our music will be less egocentric in future.

 

You’ve recently gone down the route of releasing your music through Bandcamp and promoting it via blogs and fanzines, what made you decide on that approach?

  • Dez: This approach suits us as we can do it at our own pace; we can upload tracks and release EPs as and when we finish them and hopefully this gets our music to the ears of the largest audience possible. Also, since taking this route we’ve found that there’s a lot of music lovers running stations and blogs in the same manner we make music – doing it because they enjoy it and not because it’s a job. Dealing with people like that has been far more pleasant than some of or past experiences.
  • Sammy: It gives us a chance to share our stuff with like-minded people. We are not interested in being famous or (gasp!) making money from what we do. Instead, we see it as a life project and a legacy to leave for those who come after us. We are the antidote to the ‘X Factor’ generation.

 

Beyond the three (excellent!) EPs you currently have available on Bandcamp, do you have more ready for release?

  • Dez: We don’t have anything finished at the moment but I do have the majority of two, possibly three, future audiodeluxe tunes waiting for Sammy to write lyrics for.
  • Sammy: I am very prolific when I want to be; I just have other priorities at the moment. Music is there for me and not the other way around. I think that a lot of other people would benefit from that mindset to be honest.

 

What else does the future hold for audiodeluxe?

  • Dez: Hopefully, a few gigs to play the songs from our new EP and see how they fair live.
  • Sammy: World domination from the comfort of our sofa. 😉

 

My thanks to Dez and Sammy for sparing the time to answer my questions, hope you enjoy their music as much as I do!

 

Q & A : Danny Chavis – The Veldt

The Veldt’s ‘The Shocking Fuzz of Your Electric Fur‘ is one my favourite records of this year (I wrote about opening track Sanctified back in May). It’s so inspiring to find a band who have been around for 30 years but have stuck to their creative vision and are making the best music of their career. So I am super-excited that Danny Chavis from the band agreed to answer some of my questions on childhood, fatherhood and a life in music.

Were your parents music fans? What influence did they have on your own musical tastes? 

My mother and father were not together by the time we took note of certain music, the family in general listened to the music of the time BB King, Motown, and a lot of soul/r&b my mom was 16 so we heard all of the top hits of the time. I pleasantly remember Shotgun and Chain of Fools by Aretha Franklin. My grandfather had more of an influence with all the blues records.Sun House, Slim Harpo just to name a few.

At what age did you start playing music? Did you learn any instruments when you were a kid? 

I started playing guitar at age 13 my grandfather bought me my first guitar first an acoustic then a vantage flying V guitar.

When did you and your twin brother Daniel first start playing in a band together? Did you start out as The Veldt, or did that name come later? 

The band was called The Armory first then The Veldt, prior my brother played in a juke joint band, and I played in church.

 At what point during The Veldt’s existence did you become a father? Were you already an established touring band by then? 

 I became a father at 19 we were not established by then it was just the beginning. She was born July 6th 1986 Aprincesae Sade Glenn.

Did a career in music made it more difficult to spend time with your family (due to touring commitments etc.) or did not working a 9 to 5 job give you more freedom to spend time with them?

 Well in between time on and off I made time for her until her mother and I separated due to personal differences.

Do you think becoming a parent influenced the music you make? 

Yes it made me determined that I wasn’t going to be just another father who didn’t try to be more than he could.

How did your children feel about having a musician for a father when they were younger, and how about now?

Well it seemed like she liked it at the time, I used to take her to practice with me from time to time. And she liked it. I could have been anything and my daughter would have loved me for as long as I spent time which unfortunately wasn’t that often, from time to time, but I never gave up, there are a lot of things that I would do over for her if I had the chance.

Have your kids shown any interest in following you into music, and if not, did you/do you encourage them to do so?

Well my daughter has a pretty set idea of how she wants to live her life, I’ve never tried to influence her to do music. More like art and painting.

Danny-Chavis-The-Veldt

The Veldt’s sound is not quite like any other band I’ve heard, which other bands and musicians have influenced you?

 Sun Ra, Jimi Hendrix, Arthur Lee and Love Cocteau Twins, Miles Davis

What prejudices have you experienced as a black man in a genre of music that is very white-dominated? And are things any better nowadays? 

Too many to begin to tell you, not much in the US as you can see. We tend to go where we are wanted. We pretty much know the passive-aggressive stance in indie music toward us the fake liberal agenda doesn’t go over to well and you can usually see right through it, not to mention when your own people do it to you it’s boring…

The records you put out in the 1990s were on a variety of different labels. Why do you think your record labels wouldn’t truly get behind you at that time?

Same old thing these labels served their purpose at the time, they were too concerned with racial stereotypes and marketing so we got pigeonholed. Which was the norm with most majors we encountered. But we persevered and continued making music, most people by that time had either gave up or moved on to other things. We never stopped because we didn’t know we were supposed to, so to speak…most people that were involved also moved on for one reason or another but we held on to our vision till this day.

After recording as Apollo Heights in the 2000s, what brought to you back to being The Veldt?

 Our history brought us back and the feeling that it was just time to do it, ironically there are tons of so called shoegaze bands now.

Was there ever a point where you and your brother stopped making music together?

 Yes 97-99 we didn’t see eye to eye on the direction.

 You released a fantastic EP earlier this year (The Shocking Fuzz of your Electric Fur: The Drake Equation). I understand a new album is on the way. What’s the latest on that?

 At this point it’s going to be an EP we like the idea of doing small projects from time to time and keep releasing new things.

And you’re over here in the UK for Liverpool Psych Fest in September, can we expect more UK/EU dates?

We are currently in the process of getting more gigs we’d like very much to play more dates here!

Thanks so much for your time Danny.

The Shocking Fuzz of Your Electric Fur (The Drake Equation) is available from Bandcamp. Tickets to Liverpool Psych Fest are available here. And when more tour dates and the new EP are announced I’ll be sure to let you know!