It was really not nothing

I spent Sunday in my studio editing and exporting files for a client I composed some music for, a company. I mixed an instrumental version of a Disciplines song for a potential commercial. I updated a mix for another singer…and after being up for like 16 hours, I went to bed. And got up and went to Switzerland.

I spent two days in the studio recording a new song with Bastian Baker in Lausanne. We worked hard, with drummer Fergus Gerrand, bassist David Levy, myself on guitar and I did some electro programming as well, and Bastian’s touring keyboardist Simon. We worked for a day to get a basic track, and then spent a day doing overdubs. I keep forgetting how young Bastian still is, already moving towards his third album and only 22; his sense of rhythm, timing and pitch are so keen, and he doesn’t settle for anything that falls short of the standard he raises for himself–all the while maintaining a very positive attitude. At night we dined at the bar/restaurant his dad owns in town. His dad was a professional hockey player so his place is also a sports bar, hockey was on the second night we were there. His dad’s a really lovely guy, too, very warm and generous. So, Tuesday evening we wrapped the session, all pretty tired, with a great new song. And, I found out that his latest album, Too Old to Die Young, was album of the year in the Swiss music awards! I’m on the album playing guitar, keyboards, etc.

By Wednesday afternoon I was back to work in my studio. This week I have been mixing an incredible album that just appeared in my life merely a week ago. While I was in Hamburg working on Mimi Schell‘s album, the last day, which was a really busy day, I got an email on my mail, my public one. I was too busy to really read it. So, when I had a quiet moment in Berlin, I went back thru my mails and discovered this call for help from Nicole Bianchet. Nicole is a visual artist and painter, originally German, now living in Vlissingen, and she mentioned that she was living there and so I naturally assumed she was a friend of Eva Auad‘s, being that Vlissingen is a small town and such. In fact, I wondered if maybe I already met Nicole and just didn’t recall. But they are merely acquainted, but it’s also true that the word around town was that Eva’s album is really good, so my name popped up when Nicole was asking about people she could work with. She sent me a rough mix of one song and was totally blown away. It’s very simple, acoustic and folky, with very deep lyrics. It’s very analog-y and sounds like it could have been made in 1970. I thought of Sibylle Baier, Vashti Bunyan, etc. Nicole did not have much budget so I could only spend a few days on it to be worthwhile for me, but the mixing is more about what you don’t do–there’s really just a little organizing to do, and then leave the most part alone. What I’ve done is almost mono, there’s the tiniest hint of a kind of reverb, but not long, detectable reverb–just a trace of a very short room sound to give a tiny impression that there’s stereo image. But almost every track I have panned in the center. Some songs have a few vocals, a glockenspiel, etc, added; many songs are just guitar and voice, recorded live.

Thursday night I snuck out mixing for just 40 minutes to catch the end of Le Prince Miiaou ‘s sold out show at the Cafe de la Danse, which is in my hood. Great show, she plays wild guitar, with a with a powerful sounding band, which included Luis Francesco Arena on guitar/bass, you’ve seen me touring around France with him in the past.

And I was filmed for a video clip for the French band September Boy (yep).

On Friday I recorded some guitaret/guitar/organ/vocal experimental sounds from Maria Mallol Moya, another wise soul beyond her years. Maria comes from Columbia and now lives in Torino. We share a mutual friend in Lydia Lunch, who introduced and said we’d enjoy working together, and when Lydia makes a suggestion, it’s always spot on. She is the ultimate catalyst in all she does. So Maria came to Paris to visit friends and family, and to make good on Lydia’s direction. We had a great time, and made a jazzy looped guitaret figure that we jammed over the top to. I went out with her and her friends afterwards.

PARIS, 3/15

So, a couple of years ago I was interviewed for a book that has musicians speaking about philosophy. The book is now out, it’s called “It’s Not Only Rock & Roll“, and this night was the book presentation, at a little organic restaurant called Le Lapin Blanc. Cathy, the co-author of the book, asked if I would play a little solo set and I happily agreed. I played for about 40 minutes, and of course since Maria was coming to town, she was made part of the show, as my duet partner and harmony vocalist, on songs we rehearsed, and even some we didn’t. It was fun, kind of a loud show for me, and as soon as it was done we hopped a cab to the Gaité Lyrique, where the Big Star documentary was having its first Paris screening. After the screening, in a little lounge somewhere in the complex, there was a Q&A session with co-director Drew DiNicola, Jon Auer & myself, and at the conclusion Jon & I did a few Big Star/Chris Bell songs. Then we took Drew out on the town, I got him to eat a pot au feu, and we drank some wine, and just had a great night. Now I’m back to working on Nicole’s album on this sunny spring-like day.

Couple of nice interviews came out this week, in advance of my upcoming Australia tour

here’s one.

Here’s another.

And then, this beautiful video was presented, made from my show during Monkey Week in El Puerto de Santa Maria, last year. The show took place in the Bodegas Osborne, so I was in the nursery of my beloved ambrosia, Pedro Ximenez.