Synoiz Music Blog
Synoiz music blog.
Posted 17th November 2012
Nearly time to say goodbye to 2012. It's been a good year but as I get older I feel like the time moves faster, feels like yesterday we were out and about filming the Shock! Horror! video and that was like 2 years now. I've tried to do a release a year while I'm busy with other things but months just seem to fly by worryingly!
If you didn't know my new remix album "Darkling" is out now! It's 15 tracks of awesome remixes of my stuff by friends and fellow artists. Now I must admit I'm not usually fussed about remixes and I've been often disappointed by "remix albums" but for this one it's pretty damn good, nice selection of stuff on there and personally I think some of the remixes actually sound better than my originals (Madeleine Bloom's version of Of Rolling Hills from Ambients, and Ark Elfs "news report" style version of The Enfield Poltergeist from the Andromeda EP. You can download the 15-track Darkling album here for pay-what-you-want or free.
Do Unsigned Artists Put Too Much Work In?
The thing I'd like to write about is something that a fellow artist asked me about the other day. They were feeling very down about their music and the feeling that no-one was listening, how hard it is to get exposure and how upsetting it is to work so hard on something and then no-one really seems interested. All fairness this is something that I've been feeling a lot lately too and it made me realise just how common it must be.
I'm not really meaning anything in a "why aren't I a big rockstar yet?" way, considering the style of music I do and how I compare to so many of the other more talented unsigned artists and musicians I know I'd be shocked by any kind of big attention! It's more whether we unsigned artists put too much work into what we do.
With my Synoiz stuff I'm doing artwork, singles, B-sides, digital booklets, remixes, music videos (you'd be surprised how much work goes into just one of them!!), then for every release I prepare large press lists of potentially interested magazines/newspapers/radio/blogs and contact each of them and send out press packs consisting of press releases, press CDs and other promotional material (such as the postcards designed and printed for the Shock! Horror! and Darkling releases); all of this is essentially just to help get attention and to give people special stuff in addition to the music itself.
The problem is that does any of this need to be done? My latest release Darkling seems to have been ignored by almost everyone and type of press it was sent to, and while the reaction from fans has been great and the release is doing well but I'm sure most of you would have been happy with just the album in MP3 with some quick artwork chucked out over Bandcamp or as a zip file on my website. If this was what I did it probably could have been out months earlier.
Obviously it makes me wonder if maybe my music is just rubbish and only me and some select few truly enjoy it, or if it's so different to what people want at the moment, or maybe I'm just not getting it out to the right magazines or crowds? So it begs the question should artists just focus on the music and throw it out there for whoever wants it and hope that someone finds it? Should artists who are not "discovered" yet stop putting effort into artwork and videos and such and wait until we've hit the big time with some random tracks we've put out? Or should we just make sure we enjoy every aspect of what we're doing and if we don't enjoy it (like press and promotion for me!) we should just not bother with it and hope someone manages to dodge all of the other millions of bands all over the internet and give a listen to one of our tracks and immediately fall in love with it?
It sounds mad doesn't it?
What do you think though, are you an artist trying to get promotion or feeling like you're not sure if anyone is listening? Would you prefer to focus on the music and not have to do the promotion or do you link everything else to your music so that you need all of it together?
Posted 2nd July 2012
Whoops well it's taken me a while to update the blog. I'd like to say I've been busy but seriously I've been taking time out, lots of other things have been taking up my life lately and so I've had both my Synoiz stuff and Neonyte stuff on the backburner for the past month.
I've been asked to do another live performance as part of a fundraiser for a new Mitsuko Studios film on August 4th, since this has just been confirmed I thought it was about time I updated this blog with how the last gig I did in Sunderland in May went. Well frankly it was amazing, thank you so much to everyone who came along, it was great to get so much support and to have great support acts like Anguaji (first performance of her material ever! To the backdrop of My Neighbour Totoro by Studio Ghibli!) and Edinburgh based electrosexuals GhostAttak (to the backing of Tetsuo The Iron Man - bit of a jump of styles there!).
Here's the setlist for those who were asking:
Synoiz - The Borough Sunderland 19/05/2012
- Shock! Horror! (Music Video)
- Ever Emptiness
- The Open Sky
- Long Lost...
- The Esoteric Order Of Dagon*
- Getting Safer (Music Video + Tea Break)
- You Don't Even Remember Me**
- Another World
I was so glad with how this performance went, there were hitches and technical issues (all of my triggers reset half way through Another World so I was hastily fixing that up before too many people noticed that the mid-track silence wasn't intentional haha) but everyone seemed to love it especially my new approach to performing Getting Safer.
Some of the backing videos that I flung together for the show have been uploaded to the Synoiz YouTube account so you can watch them there, I think my favourite is the one for Another World as it's pretty creepy in its own right.
Once again thank you to everyone who came, thanks especially to the Borough manager Grant and Lolly for making the whole thing a reality, us music types rely on great folk like you! If you can make it to the next show on the 4th of August I'll see you there!
Posted 22nd April 2012
And time goes by so slowly bloody fast
It's been a while since I posted a blog, I guess it's because I've been very lazy these past few months. Lots to do and yet it seems easier and better to just let the days flow by, I'm not that old yet but it feels like a lifetime since that joy of being a kid where the summer holidays lasted forever, now you face the reality that it's only a month and a bit and that's gone in a blink. There's lots to do but right now I'm kinda dreading releasing new material cos I can't stand promotion, maybe I should just finish something and throw it out there and pray someone sees it and spreads it about for me!
Update on Darkling
One thing that has frankly been pissing me off is that I still haven't finished and released the Darkling remix album. What's holding it back is that we're trying to get the production perfect and I have such a massive promo campaign planned for it that it just seems like too much work to cope with. Logically I should release it with minimal fuss and then, depending on reactions, temper the flames with extra promotion. Otherwise we get the Final Fantasy XIII effect where Square Enix released it expecting everyone to love it and already working on a sequel, then when people play it they decide it's a big load of rubbish and would prefer that SquareEnix work on something better rather than further promo or sequels.
I could be holding back on and planning so much for Darkling only to find nowhere reviews it or nobody wants a CD copy.
In other news - Neonyte!!!
Yep it's finally been announced (see the news page for more) that myself and vocalist/lyricist Shaun L'Orange have decided on our synth duo name - Neonyte.
There's not much in the pipeline yet as I'm waiting on my computer to be repaired before I can work anymore on our album, but we've got some synth-acoustic demos online on our Facebook page should you want to check them out!
Until next time! WATCH THE SKIES! (or something)
Posted 22nd January 2012
Another personal blog here, there's lots going on in the Synoiz world but I felt i'd have a sit down and muse on this topic while it's still in my head after listening to a lot of Etta James and hearing a lot about Rihanna lately.
Are singers like Rihanna and the media good for the perception of women?
Now i'd say it would be daft to call me a feminist, not because I don't believe in feminism but simply because there are lot of people out there who are doing a lot more towards it. Although I grew up in an environment that didn't give me room to conceive that women and men shouldn't be equal. Even now I don't understand why some people could view them as unequal or think women should have less rights/money/freedom than men. I've always known women far more noble and intelligent than I am so it seems daft that anyone could look down on them just cos of gender. Indeed I have weird other views about men being less equal than women in certain areas (as a man it's far socially acceptable to wear whatever you want etc) but that's for another day, either way the culprit is still the same.
During one of my many Twitter rants about the Barbie doll with a grating voice also known as Rihanna (if you don't know who she is then I envy you), a few interesting points came through. Obviously Rihanna demonstrates the wonderful PR trick of "make them think it's freedom and liberation while still getting them to do what you want".
For instance Rihanna's fans seem to claim her as a model of female independance and strength even though the label (judging by production staff they're mostly men also) write her songs, tell her the words to sing and tell her what to wear (some of which is covered in this article about how much it cost to write her album for her and promote it for her). So what we have is a "strong independant woman" whose videos and promotional materials are fiercely provocative, sings about being obsessed with sex and does what the man tells her to do. I don't think this could be more perfect for men and demeaning to women unless they wrote her some songs about being good at cooking/cleaning and not wanting to interrupt their video games with idle prattle (I want royalties if this happens btw).
But what we need to see is that the media is about advertising, it's not a system of "news" or "informing people" it's about letting people know what companies want to sell and making people want to buy it. If we had TV or magazines pointing out just how beautiful women can be without buying or using any makeup, not needing their overpriced mini weightwatchers meals, not needing cosmetic surgery (hell I'm sure even the ice cream industry might suffer from less girls feeling like they need to comfort eat), then the media wouldn't make any money. Hell some of you may remember how stunned I was by that "How to look good naked" program I saw while on holiday earlier in the year that carried the message of "you can look great naked if you just spend lots of money wearing more clothes to be a socially acceptable Adele-brand of fat".
So what I see is REAL artists and real strong independant women constantly ignored by the limelight and success in favour of puppet "artists" like Rihanna simply because they can't sell the range of products that the Barbie dolls can.
How Etta James ties into this...
Recently famous Blues singer Etta James passed away, admittedly I had totally past her by and didn't know of her work but spent most of Friday listening to her music and kinda feeling like I'd missed out on something great for a long time (this isn't the best song to argue female independance but her voice is amazing).
However it did make me think. Etta harks back to the old ways of music, before the 70s or the glorious 80s, when people were JUST singers. They didn't need to play an instrument, other people wrote the music and the lyrics (which are where the royalties went) and the singer or "artist" was a doll that just got a little from in between.
So if I'm complaining that it's such a shock that there are artists like Rihanna/Beyonce etc who just sing and don't tend to get involved with the music side at all (I know I'm ignoring the woeful and equal male side with JLS, The Wanted, One Direction boybands who are just as bad for being puppets) then how can I possibly talk about how great the old time artists like Etta James or Ella Fitzgerald or Billie Holiday were?
Simple, all of them are dead now and we never saw their rack properly.
These women had a power, they had a sway over both the industry and men while still giving nothing away and still jumping through the hoops that a male-dominated industry forced them through. Sure they probably weren't involved in writing the songs but they made men feel like they were the weaker ones and that it was a priviledge to be in the company of such women. I know a fair few men who think, while they doubt they'd ever get to meet Rihanna, the most they'd have to stretch to is a drink or two before they struck gold (I'd say Nicki Minaj might be cheaper).
It's the horrible realisation that "artists" like Rihanna make me actually start thinking of women as dolls or being less than men, seeing her music videos and promo photos I feel like I'd be breaking some kind of social etiquette if I didn't stare at her breasts and slap her on the arse since those are what she seems to advertise herself as.
But what about Lady Gaga?
On the same topic someone asked me how I could be a fan of Lady Gaga (who wears practically nothing or very revealing outfits quite a bit) and slag off Rihanna for the same thing. The answer here is that Gaga's style seems to have a lot more thought behind it (plus if you believe it or not she probably designed/co-designed/decided to wear it - deciding or designing something skimpy to wear is a whole world apart from saying "yes I'll wear that Mr Man who gives me money") and she has a way of turning sexy into creepy. Like she doesn't just wear panties and tape round her breasts, she wears them with a black eye, blood round her mouth or a dead cat slung over her shoulder, almost using her form to inspire revulsion or defensiveness rather than just product selling sexual attraction and lust. This is the difference between a life modelling class and a porn movie, the context and the understanding put behind the composition.
Rudeboy was a terrible song, Man Down was bought pre-written by the record label for a lot of money, Only Girl In The World is about how a woman needs a man. Oh and I'd prefer to listen to claws on a chalkboard than Rihanna's tired flat attempts at vocals.
I think I stumbled a bit on the dismount there.
Posted 6th January 2012
Bit of an odd blog this time, hope you had a good new year and have not yet broken ALL of your resolutions. I just thought I'd take a moment to write a film review as I've just got back from the cinema.
The Iron Lady
I have to say I wasn't totally sure what I expected of this film. On principle I don't pay attention to reviews from people I don't know and it looks like I'm the first one of my friends to see this.
Personally I am unsure of my opinion of ex-British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, I grew up with adults around me still seething about her, still hating her even though she was out of office. But for me, to make that much of an impression on a country, on a world, makes me wonder if I should respect her for simply DOING things and having the nerve to simply make decisions that people wouldn't be happy with. I guess I've grown up during the period in Britain where nobody does anything cos they're scared of upsetting someone or messing up the balance. For instance, the only reason I can remember who John Major was (the guy who followed Thatcher as Prime Minster) is because of his caricature in Spitting Image (left)! No idea what he did for the country.
Anyway, the film. Straight to the point, it's not a brilliant film. It's a film that quite simply stumbles along and flutters about as though it's a wall of post-it notes and the window is open. The story and flow just don't work for me, there are times when it genuinely feels like an unbiased documentary about a woman's life taking you through her highs and lows, her triumphs and her mistakes, and then it will suddenly cut to a total propaganda section punching you in the face to feel sympathy for her.
It feels as though there was a script, then someone with a red pen got to it and put "this bit may stop people liking her, do something like this instead", the same way that Michael Bay (of Transformers infamy) might go "this bit is too slow, we need to put an explosion or a car chase in".
The "plot" follows Lady Thatcher (Meryl Streep) near to present day as she lives coping with dementia and being an old biddy being old, imagining her dead husband Dennis (Jim Broadbent) is still talking to her and alive. The film works like an edition of Tales From The Crypt with old-Thatcher as the crypt keeper having trips down memory lane and reminiscing or weeping over flashbacks of her life. In places this works, in others it doesn't. The sections with Young Thatcher are cringeworthy, with Dennis proposing to her only for Thatcher to go into a speech about how she refuses to be a house wife and she'll never be the sort of woman to wash dishes as the stirring music rises beneath her words.
I think I just heard a suffragette clapping from the 1930s.
Often in The Iron Lady it's not what's BEING said, it's the way it's said. It feels like the film has no idea how to lead its audience and the music and words are expecting the audience to feel something while they're actually feeling the total opposite.
...it is impossible not to say that Meryl Streep is amazing. It feels weird saying this but it's great to see real acting again. Throughout the film she IS Thatcher, from mannerisms down to speech and you get a constant feel for her and what she's thinking and what she must be going through. One of those roles where you forget that it's a person you've seen in plenty of other films, you ALMOST even forget sodding Mamma Mia.
When myself and Ian Lawlor (from 12 Ft Beast Productions) went to see The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (awesome film, bleak but amazing) I remember him saying that Dragon Tattoo will probably miss out on all the awards and fame because of films like The Iron Lady. All honesty, if there's any justice in the world that won't happen, however Streep does deserve the Best Actress award for The Iron Lady even if it winning Best Film would whiff of money changing hands.
The simple fact is that no matter how good Streep's performance is, even she can't save the film from itself and the heavy handed script. I have to say there are times when the Britishness of everything she does and her tone of voice got to me, but that is what Thatcher was like as Prime Minister.
All in all I give the film a score of 4/10, mainly for Streep's performance and the way that some dark events weren't skimmed over as I expected them to be.
In the end I left feeling sympathy for Thatcher, not because the film depicts her as a poor defenceless old widow who just did what she felt she needed to do and everyone ended up hating her for it, but because the film shows a flicker, a hint of a great life and story that still needs to be told by better writers. It might not be a happy story, it might be about a woman who did damage the country in some people's eyes, but it's an important part of British history that needs to be told well.