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Snap Happy Album Blog

Hinemoana Baker

NB: This blog was written a while ago now, and it needs a bit of *ahem* reformatting...which I will get around to any minute now... Meantime, enjoy! 

 

Thursday June 8, 2006

 

Screw ups, disasters and failures

Working title.

 

Many of you have been asking when I'm going to put out a new album. Hey, thanks for asking.

 

As you all know I've been travelling and performing a lot for the last couple of years. I've discovered that while I can write poems on the fly, songs is a different story. I seem to need a bit more time and space for songs.

 

So. I've decided to create my own 'residency'. I'm about to spend a couple of weeks at a bach in Waikanae - thanks to the lovely Kate and Mary Camp. It'll be a songwriting retreat.

 

Now if you're anything like me, the thought of having empty weeks ahead of me to create stuff into is as terrifying as it is exciting. What if I fail to make a lonesome thing? What if I screw up? What if the whole thing is a disaster?

 

Enter one Sian Torrington:

 

'Sian Torrington is an artist who works mainly with paper and drawing. Recently her pictures have been freed from the page and have begun climbing up the walls; there is now a paper forest growing in her studio. Previously a fashion designer, Sian finds that making art leaves more space for the appreciation of screw-ups, disasters and failures.'


 

 

The image above is from Sian's mixed media installation 'It's a Jungle In There', exhibited at ROAR! Gallery Wellington in February 06, and right now showing - underground - at 33 High Street Auckland (formerly 'The Box' nightclub).

 

The lovely Sian has stepped in to help me with my artist's angst. She has created fourteen beautiful Care Packages, numbered Day 1 - Day 14, containing objects and drawings, fragments of fabric and art from her studio, as well as the occasional encouraging little note: 'I am a letter, Read Me' or 'Day 10 - You Legend!' My job is to open one package a day, and use its contents as inspiration for a song.

 

Each package is a work of art in itself: a raw wood box sewing-pinned with ribbon that says 'mixed fibre'; a tube of corrugated cardboard rolled and tied with old doilie lace. Having a pile of 14 of these treasures to open feels better than Christmas. Sian's even made me one with a big red velvet cross on the front - for inspiration emergencies.

 

 

The good news for you lovely folk is that you can watch this process unfolding. The Fabulous Klixo Cousins have made me this fabulous new web-page. I'll be posting photographs and ramblings about the new album day by day, Care Package by Care Package.

 

Day 1 is tomorrow, Friday 9 June...Please visit regularly. And if you live in Auckland, go and visit Sian's exhibition.

 

Oh! Just so I don't find myself lying around with nothing to do, the dazzling Andrew Dalziel has just handed me a bunch of new photographs to write poems from.

 

God Bless the Visual Artist.

 

Contact Sian:  queensianATyahooDOTcoDOTuk

 

NB: all artworks copyright Sian Torrington 2006, all images copyright Hinemoana Baker 2006. Please don't reproduce them without the permission of both artists. Ta.

 

 

 

 

 

Friday June 9, 2006

 

No woman is an island

 

 

          
                         

This is my dog Chance doing her favourite thing. Walking, I mean, not posing. Though she is a bit of a poser. She may join me during some of this retreat. I don't know that she'll write any songs, but she will definitely wag some tail and eat some bone.

 

By the time I'd packed and finished sending my goddamn emails it was lunchtime. I arranged to meet Fi for a swim in Raumati, then I'd head to the bach from there. But the KCDC in all their glory had fecked up again and the pool was closed with no notice. Fionnaigh had driven from Naenae, I felt terrible.

Anyway, getting into it now. I've got my guitar out, everything's spread out. Sian's Care Package pile is on the bed in the bedroom. The little plastic container with my Dilmah teabags and almonds is open on the bench.

 

And there's Fruit Squares.

 

                               

Care Package Day 1:

 

It's in two parts. Part One...Oh! A beautiful welcome letter. And all in a hand-illustrated enveloped, sewn with gold thread. Already writing words - 'the trouble with her, she's shut up tight, she's like a letter, she's so hard to open, come away...'

Now Part Two...the package:

Oh my god. The most amazing drawing, it looks like a medieval village, drawn from the rooftop of one of the buildings - it's like Doctor Seuss and Escher-esque, it's childhood nightmares in a cosy bed.

 

Rooftops. Just now, on Raumati Beach, Fi and I saw a round house with a thatched-looking conical roof. We wondered who lived in there as we walked past the next rambling mansion on the waterfront. I told Fi how much I love Mana Island - the shape of it is so simple, almost pre-historic, especially with the little clump of trees on top. I think I love it more than Kapiti, even - as a shape, I mean.


                                                                               

I've blue-tacked Sian's incredible drawing onto the glass French doors. Been taking some good photos of it. Writing lots of words and got a few chords. But I have no idea how to put the two of them together. How do you do that? The chords sound very country, and the lyrics are kind of Don McGlashan-esque. And all I have is my voice to make them sound like they're meant to be together.

Maybe the difference in the chords and the words is a good thing. I don't know.
 

It seems like a very long time since I've done this thing.

 

                                               

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday June 10, 2006

 

Slow start

It's been a very slow day. I've been at home, finishing things I really should have finished before I started this thing. And having Important Conversations with Chris. Actually it's felt like a really productive day, but not in a songwriting way!

I've also discovered that I can't upload photographs directly, I have to email them through to Klixo, so that means you'll have to put up with reading about my adventures before you get to see them. Some of the photos I've been taking are very cool, though - thanks again to Sian for lending me her digicam. Boy oh boy, do I now want one of my own.

So the upshot is I am still on my way to the bach...still haven't opened my Day 2 package. But I'm very excited about it, and I will make sure I come back to this slightly dingey Internet Cafe later today, so I can tell you all about what was in it.

And report on my songwriting progress.

x

Finished my first song.

I remember this now - whenever I write a song, there's this sweet moment when I know I've got it. That the structure of the thing is kinda sewn up, and I just have to fill in the gaps with variations on the melody and more lyrics.

I reached that moment 2 seconds after sitting down at the table today. This is an extraordinary and rare thing for me. I blame the Visual Artist.

Day 2 Care Package:

The first part of it was like a home-made envelope and inside was...an envelope. Well, part of an envelope, ripped, and over the address panel Sian had glued a rectangle of metallic gold paper, dimpled like a golf ball. The postmark's still clear, so the envelope can't be very old. There's glitter on the back. 

Delivered to you by New Zealand Post Auckland Mail Service Centre 6pm 13 Feb 06.

Also in the envelope was a piece of card coloured in dark blues with chalk. Drawn over the chalk at the bottom is a cityscape - again, with that cartoon/nightmare feeling. High above the city buildings there's an aeroplane flying - Sian has cut it's shape out of the card. So when I hold the card in front of the light, the plane blazes. When I hold it in front of the heater, it glows red.

The second part of today's package was the corrugated cardboard rolled into a tube. The glimpse of fabric I could see at the ends turned out to be a woman's scarf - could be from the 60s or 70s judging by the colours. It's teal and navy blue dots, patterned on a grid like maths paper and bordered with white, navy and another wide band of teal. It's that slippery material. 

Wrapped with great care in the scarf was, of all things, a rubber glove. But a very old one, perishing - Sian had pinned it back together in parts where it'd fallen away.
 

Sink, gloveGlowing PlaneBlazing Plane

The song I've written sounds to me like a dozen other people, and I'm having the usual anxiety that I'll be sprung. This never happens - it seems my ears are much more sensitive to my own copying crimes than other people's. To me though, there's a screamingly obvious Sharon O'Neill vocal lick, and an Orange Farm riff jumps out to me - I hope if they notice they don't mind.

The song's called 'Island'. So far there's only verses. There's hooks in the verses, but what do I have against choruses? Bridges? Perhaps the lovely Christine White can help me with that - she's coming to visit me soon. She's bringing her guitar.

And she's bringing mussels.

x

H

 

Sunday June 11, 2006

 

Jungular

 

There are several mantras going through my head for the writing of this album:

1. It don't gotta be pretty

 

2. Quantity not quality

 

3. Write a Tom Waits album

Christine really likes the new song. She doesn't think it needs a chorus or a bridge. She likes it just as it is. Who would have thought. We had a lovely a morning together - my breakfast was bananas on toast. I took a cup of tea to Chris in bed while she read about Kevin and Britney's baby's fractured skull. Then she got up and got her guitar out. She worked out some beautiful instrumental stuff for 'Island'. Just like that David fulla who plays for Gillian Welch.

Hang on a sec...just gotta watch 'Dancing With The Stars'!

x

Aaah, Rodney voted off at last. I was disappointed that Candy's comment to him about his shirt went without a reply.

Candy:   Never mind, Rodney, at least with a shirt like that, you can get into any Gay Mardi Gras in the country.

Rodney:   (silence)

Candy:   (laughter)

Rodney:   It's all for St John's.

It is amazing, though, how one person saying they like what you do can make a difference. Especially Christine, because I've always been a bit intimidated by Christine in musical terms. She's so accomplished and she can play any friggin instrument she lays her hands on. She's composed for orchestras. She's been doing it for so much longer than me.

She likes my song. Yay. Though she did make me eliminate the 'D' chord I was pushing for between verses. She got a look on her face like the one I get on my face whenever I read the word 'soul' in a poem.

The good thing about 'Island' is that I can imagine it coming alive in different ways when it's sung in different contexts, at different gigs. So much about living in Aotearoa / NZ  is about islands. Performing it at the upcoming Ngai Tahu gig, for example, could transform it from a sad love song to a song about land - about the South Island. When I think about singing it there, the line 'like light through an empty pane' makes me think of holding pounamu up to the light.

While we were practising, Chris and I realised that the most difficult thing in playing 'Island' is keeping it slow. The urge to speed up is always there. But the real quality of this song only emerges when it's played real slow. I finally realised why Gillian Welch sings that song of hers so slowly: that one 'I Dream a Highway'.

Quote of the day, from Gillian herself:  ' To me...the spirit of the performance transcends the notes themselves. I don't like to see musicians reading charts in the studio. It's better if everyone is playing, listening...even guessing. That's when good things happen.'

Day 3 Care Package:

It seems like this drawing/collage is a fragment from Sian's 'Jungle' works. There's lots of greens and silhouetted shapes that could be a horse's head or a corrugated iron roof or a close-up segment of a bridle. I take some cool photos of it - my slideshow is looking pretty flash on my laptop, now.  This fragment of jungle goes up on the glass screen door, beside the others treasures, with the trees and sunshine behind them.Jungle, bridle

 Ha Ha

x

I decided not to go swimming in the middle of the day, because I got some chords and lyrics fairly quickly. I reached that 'moment' quite fast again, and I didn't want to disrupt it all. I had lunch and made myself a plunger of coffee...mmmmm...coffee.

Anyway, the song is called 'He niho to te moni' - 'Money has teeth'. It's got a simple, kinda reggae rhythm, and for the lyrics, I plundered 'Nga Pepeha a Nga Tupuna'. The result is a song using really rich Maori language - proverbs warning against careless use of words. There are hundreds of sayings in Maori on this and related topics: gossip, careless talk, casual talk uttered while at rest, those whose words are unsupported by action. Interesting.

I'm enjoying singing this song - it's full of rhyme and kinda off-rhymes - and the cadence of the language is a lot of fun. I made the mistake, however, of composing it using barre chords - my hand is aching. My fingertips are tender - even typing hurts.

I rang Sian and told her things were going well, and thanked her again. She was glad to hear from me - she's had a pretty hard week dealing with arts administrators. She's happy, she said, that something she's involved in is proving successful and enjoyable.

So! Two songs to recordable stage. That's good going.

Tomorrow I won't be up at the bach - there's an extreme weather warning for this area, so I've decided not to drive. Instead, I'll load up all my photos to this blog. I'll get Chris to give me a tutorial on her PC audio software, so I can record the two songs I've written. Then I'll spend the day writing the zillions of briefs that have just arrived for the upcoming Ngai Tahu exhibition at Te Papa.

Tuesday will be my next day up there, fresh and fruity. Day 4's Care Package shall be revealed then. I'll still blog tomorrow, though. So do stop by.

x

H

Tuesday June 13, 2006

 

Extreme conditions

Was all perky and ready to leave for the bach at 8am. But worries and troubles set in. It's incredible how easily that happens. Firstly, it was impossible to find out from any of five freecalling numbers the condition of the roads in our area. It's been blowing a gale and raining a torrent - I was worried I'd get on the road and have to sit there for hours behind a fallen tree, or worse - other cars.

Then there's the Day Job issue - a pile of briefs waiting to be turned into web-writing for this upcoming exhibition. Despite the Project Manager's very pragmatic, supportive attitude ( 'Don't arrange your life around waiting for these briefs') I still feel a real pressure once they arrive to do them straight away.

As you may recall, I said in my last blog that I would spend the day yesterday loading up photos, recording my songs and doing my Te Papa writing. I did some of the photos and I recorded the two songs, but I just couldn't make that switch to Te Papa writing. I never predicted how difficult it would be to swap between these two modes  -  songwriting retreat mode and working for money mode. I don't have to travel into town or sit at a Te Papa desk to finish this contract - I can do it from the (dubious in winter) comfort of my own home. But it's still a really different headspace.

The pressure's felt strong today to stay at home and do the briefs rather than go to the bach. Coupled with a misunderstanding about my evening's activities with Chris, everything seemed to be conspiring against me. Do you have mornings like that?

Fortunately, Tyree rang me at a key moment. She ear-bashed me in a loving way - told me to get in my car with a little food parcel and drive. She told me to stay overnight up there, too. She reminded me that the most important thing right now is this retreat - that there is lots of loving energy heading my way from lots of people to make it happen. I should stay faithful to it and the Te Papa work could wait.

She's absolutely right. I really needed someone else to say that to me this morning. I'm now in the Paraparaumu Library writing this on my way to the bach to open my new Care Package...

I may not be able to write again till tomorrow night, as there's no internet connection up at Waikanae, but I'll try and sneak out later today and let you know what was in the parcel...cos I know you're all dying to know. 

 

: )

Thanks for the emails and messages of support so far. If you would like to email me with a kind word or inspirational thought, please do.

The two songs from Days 1 and 2, by the way, sound much better than I thought now they're recorded. I've even started experimenting with harmonies for 'He niho'.

x

OK so!

Care Package Day 4:

It's a pinboard with all kinds of crazy stuff pinned on it. The 'read me' letter stuck to it says that today's package involves doing something, because Sian thought I may be getting bored.

She's stuck to the board all this amazing detritus and I can remove it, re-arrange it, generally feck with it however I want. Take everything off and put newspaper scraps on it. Pin some of the sequins from Day 1's parcel to it in a pretty pattern.

There's a bizarre pin-cushion in the centre - a ball of pink satin held in by an encircling bunch of hand-holding, generously upholstered, pony-tailed...monks? Ha! There's drawn and chalked leaf fragments, photo fragments, cut up and ripped. A segment of one photograph looks like a skerrick of bone on a lush carpet of kawakawa. There's tiny photograph pieces that Sian's cut into the shape of wonky birds. She's skewered these on the pins so they sit proud of the board - like butterfly specimens. There are torn shreds of a photocopy of some dark, blotchy artwork. There are a lot of photos of kawakawa here. It makes me think about the healing properties of kawakawa: it's a blood cleanser, an antiseptic, a great general tonic, a pick-me-up, and it has mild anaesthetic properties. You can drink it as a tea or make poultices or stronger concoctions from it.

I remember picking some kawakawa once while I was walking up to the (geographically ill-named) Centre of New Zealand in Nelson. I brought it home for my mum - it wasn't long after her husband - my stepfather Bill - had died. I made her and my brother and sister-in-law cups of tea from it. No-one seemed to enjoy it as much as I did. If you make it right and add honey it tastes like licorice, or those aniseed wheels I used to eat when I was a kid. They cost 10 cents and were impossibly hard to bite.

 

Read Me Pincushion Crochet

x

OK, well I've got the beginnings of another song, probably called 'The Sister's Song'. Some of the lyrics so far:

I don't believe you'll do me harm / cause when you're warm you're so warm / and we all depend on you / I wait to see where you will move / then follow you around the room / it's a different kind of giving

I feel reluctant to write out lyrics, because (as Neil Finn has said) they're not poetry - they're always so embedded in the tune and the instrumentation and aren't meant to stand on their own. But I figure it may be getting a little dull reading about all this stuff in theory, so there's a little taster.

At the moment, the melody and the chords are fairly....avant garde. I'm not sure it'll make it onto the album or the stage. Maybe I just need something to knit it together for me - another instrument part, or a bridge. A bridge is probably essential. The verses are Bic Runga and the chorus is Andrew Lloyd-Webber meets Alanis Morissette. There's gotta be a bridge between those folks.

Just feels a bit obscure and un-hooky compared to the other two. But there you go. I always have a couple of these ones up my sleeve, for those occasions that call for something entirely un-hummable.

Can't count the times they've come in handy.

x

H

 

Wednesday June 14, 2006

 

The big freeze

 

It was so chilly here last night I had an icecream headache when I woke up. You know, the kind you get when you bite into something frozen and leave your teeth in for just a moment too long. Despite that I feel really rested. I've spent the morning so far eating, standing under hot water and making a little video of myself opening my Day 5 Care Package. It's a lot of fun.

Day 5 Care Package:

 

If you have broadband, click here to watch a little video of me opening this package. And burbling mindlessly about other stuff (how did the baked beans get in there?)

 

A drawing. This time of two figures, both looking directly out of the paper. One seems to be wearing a jester's hat and her lips looks sewn up. One has her chin tilted up a little so she's looking down at me.

 

Two

With this fresh inspiration and a plate of Pam's Baked Beans I'm about to re-tackle what's become known as my Difficult Third Song. It's not a friendly creature. About 11pm last night I finally decided what I want it to be about. This could actually be a bad thing.

Quantity. Not. Quality.

x

God it's nearly 4pm and I'm hardly any further ahead with this song. I've completely changed the tune, though. I have to make a deal with myself to finish it before 6pm tonight. I have to understand that songs I'm not fond of need finishing just as much as songs I love. Possibly more. Gotta get it over with so I can get to the other side.

I've been listening to some Patti Smith and Tom Waits and reading E. Annie Proulx to put me in the mood. I'm feeling a bit hoha with my voice - this is a common thing and must be seen for the self-indulgent luxury problem that it is. But if you'll allow me...I just get annoyed that it's so sweet and kind of pure, that it only suits a certain kind of lyric and melody. I'm trying on this album to write songs in my low register. I want to sound like a woman, not a girlie.

OK, whine over. Back to work.

x

Having a few technology issues, I've gotta say. It seems nothing is ever straightforward. At the Internet cafe today, I wanted to send my photos from my laptop to Klixo to upload - but I didn't bring the right USB cable. I wanted to update my blog - but there was an error message. I wanted to put the video of me opening my package on a CD to send to Klixo - again, wrong cable.

Fortunately, some technology is still functioning fine. My laptop isn't broken. The bach's old heater is still working to blast the chill off early in the morning. It's not as cold tonight as it was last night, but I went and bought a whole lot of kindling and coal anyway - stocking up. It's bound to turn icy again at some stage. And I swept the floors and cleaned out the fire-grate - the place is gleaming.

The good news is that when I listened back to the song as I'd left it last night, I liked it. I feel good about it. I think I can finish it in the next hour or so. In time for Chris' visit (mmmmm...fish and chips...)

x

Finally. Finished this godforsaken song. It's called 'Harm'.

My problems with this song were:

1. I hadn't done enough free writing to generate lyrics for it. Confession time: I had a hankering to use some favourite 'spare' lyrics from another song. I hadn't been able to use them in that song for various reasons of space (and probably good sense) but I couldn't let go of them. Even though they didn't fit the rhythm or chords of this new song at all.

2. Because the lyrics weren't working, I couldn't feel passionate about singing the song. I'd have a go at the first two verses then lose heart. My motivation would evaporate. What was this song about? What do I have that's worth saying? I started thinking bad things.

It's always the way: you have to kill your favourite child. I cut out the old lyrics and did 20 minutes of free writing. A storyline emerged - totally different to the one I had in mind initially - about an unhappy woman I once knew.

Sian's picture gave me the line I most enjoy singing (which shall remain for now a mystery). Once I had that line I had my enthusiasm back for singing the song, so I could carry on and work through a chord structure and a melody.

In the end the song's only just 3 minutes - a new thing for me. But it's the right length for this song.

Is this interesting for anybody? Lord knows.

x

H

 

 

 

Thursday June 15, 2006

 

Eating cake

So. Still proud of myself for finishing that Difficult Song. Feels like a big achievement that one. Christine likes it - another achievement. She said she was glad I'd taken out the line 'It's a different kind of giving.' I got defensive and said I reserved the right to put it back in.

Oooooo. Touchy.

I *so* slept in this morning. Chris says I must have needed it - but I can't imagine why. I'm up and about now, with four and a half hours before I have to leave for home via an internet cafe. Quicktime Movie Ahoy.

Before all of that, I have to open my package. It's especially exciting because Day 6, unlike the other days' parcels, is a box tied up with tangled red strings.

Day 6 Care Package:

The box is full of shredded paper. I almost missed the white paper shape just inside - which is two pieces of white card hinged together with a gold clip. Together they make the shape of a crazy horse. Under the horse is a bizarre collection of trophy figurines - girls, gold-painted plastic, in athletic poses. There are three bowling girls and one tennis player in a Jesus posture, like she's giving us a blessing with her racquet. They remind me of school sports days - aaaah. School Sports Days. The most incredible feelings of inadequacy I think I've ever experienced. Nothing like it.

Underneath these trophy girls are a number of old-fashioned wooden clothes pegs. They look brand new - not used yet. They're so beautiful - such simple, plain shapes. They remind me of children standing in rows.

PegsSport Bettygiddy up

 

A rich booty, indeed. Where *does* Sian get her ideas from? Ha! isn't that a classic question? It reminds me of the stanza from Kate Camp's poem 'Millenium Funding Application':

I once heard a man ask Allen Curnow
where he gets his words from
and I will be sourcing mine
from there

Heh heh.

Just heard on the radio Bic Runga playing a Paul Kelly song. A simple, country style. I've already got some lyrics I might try and work up. So stop interrupting me.

x

I've finished another song. It's called 'I can run'. It's an alt.country feel. The children standing in rows are in there. So are the sporting figurines. And the title puts me in mind of that photo I took on Day 1 with the Cerebos Salt container in the background.

There's even some Julie Andrews hills in there. Not sure how she snuck in. Must be when I wrote 'tied up with string' before - it reminded me of that line she sings about brown paper packages tied up with string...

People! The gorgeous enigma that is the creative mind.

*clutches heart*

If I had to say who was musically similar to each song style so far, it would be:

1. 'Island' - Gillian Welch

2. 'He niho to te moni' - Cornerstone Roots

3. 'Harm' - Sheryl Crowe / Rickie Lee Jones

4. 'I can run' - Cake / Jolie Holland

I love Cake's song, I think it's called 'Sad Songs And Waltzes (Aren't Selling This Year)'. I think mine's got a similar lyrical feel, too.

Well. That was quick.

x

Just been for a huge walk along the beach. There were kite-surfers (is that what they're called?) and sand-surfers (is that what they're called?) and the island is so much larger and closer from up here. I am Starving Hungry. So I'm gonna pack up and head home, via the Internet Cafe and possibly even a cafe that serves actual food.

Not sure when I'll be back up to start Day 7. I'm going to spend some time getting my Dayjob under control. Plus I'm getting a bit sick of eating Fruit Loaf. But I'm aiming for Monday 19th. In the meantime I'll do a bit of blogging as I record the songs I've written. And I'm hoping the photos from Days 2-6 will be up tomorrow.

Tune in.

x

H

 

 

Saturday June 16, 2006

 

Dayjob days

Yay, photo's are up.

So yesterday I did something one should never do in the middle of a creative project. I talked to someone from [cue scarey minor chords] *The Industry*. Someone who's business is making money off music - unfortunately, someone intimately connected to me and mine. God bless him, he's not making a shiteload of money off *me*. But it wasn't a great conversation. And I came away with the following thoughts in my head:

1. I am financially irresponsible to be doing this retreat when I should be looking for work so I can pay my bills, pay for this laptop, pay off my credit card, pay off my student loan, get my car fixed and possibly even have some money to take with me to Australia in August so I can eat while I'm over there.

2. What's the point of recording a new album and putting all that effort, time, money and energy into it when it'll probably take another 3 years to sell 1,000 ie for me to even begin to see any of the money again?

3. Why don't I stop kidding myself that I'm any kind of songwriter and just make an album of cover songs - preferably in Maori - that my record company can sell easily and we can both have a bit of money to pay our rent.

The moral of the story is: Be careful who you talk to when you're in retreat.

Seriously. It's almost like I have to treat myself as tapu, or this time as tapu - in all senses. Not just tapu as in 'set aside', but tapu as in being careful what energy I allow in - and that means conversations, face-to-face contact, whatever.

Such a sensitive soul. Next time I'd like to come back as one of these.

On the other side of the coin, big ups to Tyree, Kirsty, Karen C, Sian and Chris for their kind words.

I've got today, tomorrow and Monday to finish my latest load of Te Papa work. Then back up to the bach, hopefully Monday afternoon. Gonna try and record 'Harm' and 'I Can Run' later today. And also 'Remember' - a song I wrote a while ago, which feels like it may fit nicely amongst these new ones.

x

H

Tuesday June 20, 2006

 

Better late

So I didn't make it yesterday. Perhaps it's just that I need to have a weekend - rest days are important. I will be up at the bach later today, and opening my Day 7 Care Package...waaaahey!

Apart from dayjob work, I've done some good things with these last few days. I played my songs to Tyree and Sian - who were both very encouraging. They are my official Support Team - they call me every day at least once to see how I'm going and keep me on track. Word up, you two.

I also recorded my two new songs ('Harm' and 'I Can Run') - and in the process, ended up re-visiting the arrangement of both songs. They were already shorter than I usually write, but I've edited them shorter again - both way under three minutes. And they feel good.

I think one of the most important reasons I've been able to write so freely - in fact, write enough to enable me to actually cut stuff out - is a daily practice I've been doing since the beginning of the year. Let me be clear again - whether it's songwriting, fiction, non-fiction or poetry, my usual problem is under-writing. I find the process of first draft very difficult, and often end up paralysed in a proto-editing phase, where I'm trying to make cuts and changes to text that's not full enough yet.

Since New Year's Day 2006, I've been doing something Chris and I have simply called 'Ten Minutes'. It was our New Year's Resolution. Every morning and every night, I journal for ten minutes, and Chris meditates. Every month we get through, we reward ourselves by buying a new CD. And so far we've made good every month. I've missed a few - particularly nights - but I just make it up the next day by doing 20 minutes.

I write about nothing and everything. No censoring, no editing, no sensible sentences some day. I just try and do that thing of keeping my pen moving, not lifting it from the page. Loosely based on Julia Cameron's concept of 'Morning Pages', I guess.

I totally credit this Ten Minutes miracle with the first draft freedom I now feel. I've been producing more poetry, more non-fiction (especially tour blogs) and now more songs than ever before.

Try it.

I've got a few hours to go on my dayjob work before I can leave, so this is just a quick mihi. But a special shout out to Fionnaigh, who sent me a very uplifting email yesterday, telling me what my songs mean to her and how much she enjoys them. Wonderful medicine for Cover Songs Syndrome. Thanks, Fi.

x

It's well into the afternoon, but I'm here!

And I'm settled in front of the heater, with my guitar warming up beside me. It is *so* good to be back here - it feels like a treat. I've gotta say this isn't always how I've felt about creative time. It can be a frightening, days-long version of the Blank Page or the Empty Canvas. But I guess the Ten Minutes thing helps with that, too - it helps that energy move through and out of you. Writer's Block seems a long way off, at the moment.

About to open today's package..

Day 7 Care Package:

Oh! A watercolour.

This time the leaf shapes and the negatives spaces amongst them seem more like teeth, or knives. The colours are all shades of grey - from near-black to near-blue. The palette the ocean seems to be rendered in on some cloudy days, particularly at sunset. A mixture of metallic silvers and soft greys. Christine's favourites.

Going to do some free writing now. Tonight Chris and I are going to an open mic night here in Waikanae - we may do some songs. I may even sing one of these new ones. But in the meantime, I've got two hours to make something.

Sharp

x

Well. This one sounds like the Beatles.

I've never been a big fan. But Chris has their 'Let It Be' album. I've loaded it into my laptop, so it's been on rotate along with everything else from Daphne Walker to CAN. It's the first time I've listened to them by choice rather than having them endlessly playlisted on the radio stations I've grown up with. And I'm developing a big respect for them, I have to say. You know, only about 30 years after everyone else.

Trousers

The things that are reminding me of the Beatles in this song are the number of chord changes and the nature of those changes. Actually, there's even a bit of Christine White in there...She's got quite a signature style, and several of the tracks on 'Pirouette' have a real Beatles feel to me. There's one chord progression in this song that's a straight out rip-off from her song 'Everyone Smiles'.

Sorry, honey.

I've got an hour to finish this number. At the moment it's called 'The next house'. Or 'Someone shouting'. Or something.

x

You know, I guess there's nothing stopping me having a really short little song on the album. And this could be it. The two verses I've written feel quite complete as a story and a musical journey. I could keep going. Or I could stop now. I could aim to make this the song with the big instrumental break...heh heh.

On another note (ouch) I've been thinking of doing a reprise of 'Harm' - using the chords and tempo of one of the other versions. There were many versions of that songas you may recall - I had much difficulty deciding on a final one. But in the process, I video'd and kept one in particular with slightly different words and melody, performed much slower. It could work as a little filler on the album. (Seems like I'm still making an album, even though I got very discouraged about the idea the other day. Hmmmmm.)

Once again, Sian's influence in the lyrics - and possibly the mood - are clear. There's knives in this song, and there's space that's left when someone/something is taken out of it. And there's leaves...well, the word 'leaves', anyway. The verb rather than the noun, but hey.

: )

Yeh, I think I'm going to *leave* this song as it is. I'll video it now, and then tomorrow morning, start on a new one. Actually it's more likely to be Thursday - I've got Dayjob meetings in town all day tomorrow.

Wicked. Another one down.

Cabin fever

x

H

 

 

Thursday June 22, 2006

 

Shortest day alright

Time is flying! I am working like a maniac to get all sorts of Dayjob (and housework) Detritus out of the way before I make my way up to Waikanae. So far running a little behind schedule, but hey. Getting there.

It's quite thrilling and a little disturbing to realise how many people are reading this blog (welcome Svenda). And yes, Mary, there is some song-writing happening amongst all the blogging...heh heh.  A good deal of it, as it happens. Though you could be forgiven for wondering.

Day 7's song, which I think is now called 'The Next House' was a big hit with Christine. Like, bigger than usual. We laughed when we worked out that's probably because most of the chord progressions are nicked from her songs... 'Ah yes,' she said. 'I'm *loving* that guitar...'

She agrees it doesn't need to be any longer in terms of lyrics, but that I could flesh it out with a nice big spacious instrumental between the  second verse and a quasi-chorus thing that follows. She can hear real parpy organ chords. Again, tres Beatles.

I shall record this one before I leave today, if I have time. There's lots more chords in it than I usually use so I have to pretend I can play the guitar.

Day 8 Care Package:

I brought it home with me because I wanted to get photos of it up sooner rather than later (tune in tomorrow), and I won't be home to do the necessary techie stuff to them until maybe Sunday. Feels a little strange opening one of the packages at home rather than at the bach - good though. A little parcel of peace arriving in the lounge...

It's another collage/pinboard type creature, this one. And again - so rich: there's a ladder-esque shape, a (collective noun??) of what looks like wings to me, something that could be a scribbled version of bars on a window. Blues and whites this time - and black, some charcoal black, too.

Wings Ladder

OK. Leave it with me....

x

Fire's lit and the bach's new occupant is charging.

 

Chargin'

 

Yes indeedy, people. It's the As-Seen-On-TV-Cordless-Sweeper. Perfect for that summer holiday home.

 

Again, it's superb to be back here. It's really worth the effort of getting everything out of the way like a maniac.

 

Now I can sink into a slower way, for a couple of days, anyway.

 

I woke up at 5am this morning feeling very bushy-tailed. God knows. Now I've stopped and sat down, I feel pretty tired.

 

x

 

Beyond strumming.

 

I've got some chords. I was feeling a bit jaded. Texted Chris and she said:

 

Find three bach items and make a rhythm with them. Record it on your camera and write something to that.

 

So I played the matchbox, the fire-tongs and the hearth-brush. I played them fast. I played them furious.

 

Interestingly, I'd already been playing around with the idea of writing melody and lyrics just from a rhythm. a percussive guitar thingy, where I damp all the strings and strum in a rhythm, peppered with a couple of harmonics. I like harmonics on the guitar, but I didn't pursue this experiment because I felt generally a bit uninspired.

 

Then when Chris mentioned the bach items idea, I thought - aaaah. There's that rhythm thing again. So I resurrected that original guitar percussion idea, and recorded that.

 

I realised I could, in live gigs, sample that into the Akai headrush, and then play and sing over it. That inspired a guitar riff, a chord progression - this time with a pacey, relentless (in a good way) feel, kinda like this could be a travelling song. I just have to work out how to play the guitar so it doesn't sound like I'm strumming or picking it. I want a kind wash of the chords. Like you'd get with a keyboard, but not on a keyboard. On my guitar.

 

I'll get back to you on this.

 

I'm about to watch the news and eat evil instant noodles. Then I'll come back and see if I can work out some lyrics.

 

x

 

OK so this one is a love song.

 

: )

 

And it's sounding like Van Morrison or even The Waterboys. I'm comparing myself to some fairly heavyweight artists here, aren't I? You know what I mean.

 

It's quite late and I've still got a couple of verses to write. But I'm happy with this one. I'll still have to work on it tomorrow, just to get used to playing and singing it at the same time. Ha!

 

My life is so hard.

 

x

H

 

 

 

Friday June 23, 2006

 

Tick
 

Ooooo. A very chilly night. I was very cold, even though I wore a hat, two layers of thermals and had two folded-in-half woollen blankets on top of the duvet. Just about to light the fire.

 

 

Woke up this morning feeling good about last night's song, and with some interesting ideas about how to perform the song vocally using the Headrush. I've been listening to Bjork's voice album (what's the name of it? It's printed in black on a black cover, so I guess not surprising I can't recall...) Christine's been listening to it a lot, too - as she's been writing the music for the latest Tim Bray musical. Our house has been full of children's sea shanties, incredibly catchy and singable as well as being slightly bent and just a teensy bit insane because Christine wrote them. One of them she based loosely on the Bjork model. Nicely discordant and sweeping.

 

 

I've also woken up with a compulsion to open Sian's Emergency Care Package. The one with the fuzzy red cross. My fingers are twitching. I keep walking up to it, bending down to it, then walking away.

 

Top left

 

 

Perhaps it's because I watched a documentary last night about a bunch of teenagers with Tourettes. I didn't realise that Tourettes tics can be physical or vocal - I thought it was just a vocalising issue. But a lot of the young people on the documentary had the most extraordinary compulsive body movements to deal with.

 

 

Stuff I watch often really gets into me. When I saw 'Braveheart' I walked around for months holding my head as if I had knee-length hair and moving my legs like I was wearing a long gown.

 

I was about 25 at the time.

 

 

x

 

 

There's something about building a successful fire that makes you feel like you can do anything. It feels like I'm a surgeon saving a life. Using the tongs to place all the components in just the right oxygen-rich positions. Nurse, the poker please.

 

Cosy

 

 

x

 

 

Ok so I've finished and polished that one. I celebrated by kicking my guitar off its stand and onto the floor. (It was an accident. I'm not that rock'n'roll).

 

 

This one's going to be a much more complex arrangement than the others - which is good for variety. This is the only song so far that's made me have a little tangi. Few tears as I sang it. I think I need to pull myself together.

 

 

It's called 'Home' now, and it very much reminds me of Van Morrison's 'Sweet Thing'  or The Waterboys' 'Whole of the Moon' - it's quite a long time before you get to the chorus/hook, and really the main build-up is at the end of the song.

 

 

The other day we watched a documentary (another one!) about Roy Orbison. It was fascinating hearing his songwriting process unravelled a bit. So many of his songs went against accepted notions of arrangement. That one where he's telling the story of wondering who his girl will choose - him or the other guy. Can't remember the name of it. It builds and builds, the story and the music. Then at the very end - the very last phrase - Roy's voice lifts towards an impossibly high note - not even sung in his usual falsetto, but in his deeper, chest voice - and you're thinking 'is he gonna hit it?' And of course he does, he soars: 'She turned and walked away with me...!'

 

 

And that's it. He's a legend.

 

 

 

The money-shot line in this song came from a particular image, from Sian's Day 8 Care Package.

 

Lamp

 

 

Next.

 

 

Day 9 Care Package:

 

 

Another white paper package tied up with string. This time pink sparkly string.

 

Pink

 

 

And inside, 11 photographs of the most amazing flowers - all shades of crimson and white. Are they camelias? Or a type of orchid? I'm not sure - they're growing on trees like blossoms do but they're waxy and solid like orchids. They're extraordinary things - a sea of pink and white photographed against a blue summer sky.

 

Flowers 1

 

One photo captures three flowers on the same branch, quite close up. They look like sisters.

 

Flowers 2

 

 

I remember Sian did tell me that there was one package that was just something beautiful. At one point in the parcelling process she thought to herself the things she was giving me were quite dark, in general. So she decided to also give me something that was just innocently kind of gorgeous.

 

 

This package is it. I wish I could feel one of these petals between my fingers.  

 

 

x

 

H

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday 24 June 2006

Magnolias

No new song from Day 9, I'm afraid.

Not that the flowers weren't inspiring. They may not have given me lyrics yet, but they've given me some chords. Some bright, almost ukulele sounding chords, which I'm about to put words to right now. I've only got a couple of hours to write a song today, because I have more Dayjob stuff to do. Plus I need a swim, and my mate Gareth's leaving Radio New Zealand, so we're going to his farewell dinner.

Chris came over last night and we had a roast. Mmmmmm. Roast. I played her 'Home' - which is now called 'Matariki' - and she had a little tangi, too. We're just a couple of old tangiweto's.

OK, so I've got my Fruit Toast (groan) and my kaputii and I'm about to open Day 10's parcel. Written on the outside is a very encouraging message.Legendary

Day 10 Care Package:No trace

I think this is one of my favourites, in terms of the art of Sian's work, I mean. It's a drawing with a patch of gold/yellow to one side, very faint. The drawing is dark and kinda foresty. There are shapes that look like mountains where lakes might be. There are shapes like flames. The hoof of an animal splayed out. What could be a tower in the distance, viewed through an eye-shaped hole. A keypad of numbers? But they're all '1'.

There's text, too, in this drawing.

There's so much in here. It's reminding me of Len Lye, and why I love his stuff so much. The ageless scribbliness of it. I remember watching a DVD about him and he was describing his process and his work. He just kept using words like 'doodacky' and 'thingy' to describe the individual parts of the artworks. He didn't know their names either - he didn't want to know.

This drawing is full of doodackies and thingies. And something erupting.

x

OK, got some lyrics. This is another one in Maori. This time it is a sisters song - appropriate for Matariki (the Seven Sisters, or the Mother with the Six Daughters). I'm thinking of my mother, who's one of five sisters, and myself one of three, and Chris and her sis Kim. Also thinking of Sian and the two lovely sisters who've let me stay at this bach this whole time, Kate and Mary. And that flowers photo.

x

I'd like to use the line of text from Sian's drawing:

you leave no trace

I've also discovered a harmonica in the bach - a purple plastic one, excellent! I'm thinking of those lines in Bill Manhire's poem:

Only my harmonica
knows who you are

I want this one to be one of those sad but sweet songs - sweet chords and sweet melody but quite emotional lyrics. Let's see.

x

Ok so this one is like Whirimako Black. It's called 'He Tuahine'. Its guitar chords are way up high, capo on the 7th fret (again, that seven number). I've pretty much got the melody, just needs a bit more practice. Then I'll video it. Feels like a bought one.

That's probably it for me for Day 10. Thanks for tuning in. I truly am a legend (see above).CW - he katakata noa...

x

They're magnolias.

x

H

Sunday June 25, 2006

 

Dayjob days 2

So today was meant to be a morning at the bach. But instead, I slept in.

This afternoon, Chris and I went to a Ngai Tahu hui - a bunch of us who live in and around Wellington get together once a month to practise up our waiata for the big exhibition opening. In case you haven't heard. Ngai Tahu are to be the 'iwi in residence' at Te Papa for the next two years. Our iwi exhibition opens on the July 8 - it's a big deal, dawn ceremony, two solid days of entertainment as well as the exhibition itself. Should be a happening weekend. Anyway, we want to be able to acquit ourselves well on the day, so we're all learning up. It's hard remembering to sing in dialect - even harder to remember all those actions... I never was such a kapa haka queen...

Tomorrow is another Dayjob Day - dawn till dusk. Plus I might try and record the next 3 songs in my breaks ('The next house', 'Matariki' and 'He Tuahine').

All this has taken its toll and now I feel a bit poorly. I was going to do my hours at the bach this afternoon after practice, but I feel stink. Real tired and fluey. So.

The upshot is, Tuesday will be Day 11 *and* Day 12 - rolled into one. One song in the morning, one in the afternoon. One Care Package in the morning, one in the afternoon.

Wa-hey! Go me.

I'll post again on Tuesday. Love to you's.

x

H

 

 

 

Tuesday June 27, 2006

 

Box on a Pole

Kia ora ano.

Well! Here I am again. My time is running out and I'm feeling a bit sad about it all. But to cheer me up:

 

Snout

 

Yes, my dog Chance is with me to share the day. And as it's very cold in the little bach this morning, I'll take her for a walk before I start work. That way we'll both be warm and she'll settle. She's a huntaway, so she needs *lots* of walking...

And so do I.

Before I go, I'm going to open my next parcel. So I can ponder it on the beach. As you'll see, it's the most stolid parcel yet - it's own box! And the intriguing 'mixed fibres' ribbon... It's a beautiful object as it is, I'm loathe to open it.

Day 11 Care Package:

A veritable treasure trove.

The top of the box slides off. Inside are the broken pieces of a china cup - a fern painted on the side, Wedgewood! 'Man Friday'. Then there's a piece of moss, possibly lichen or even a seaweed of some kind. There's a small fake gold padlock. There's a length of what I think is unspun but carded (is that the word? not fleece, anyway) wool - soft and springy. That fills up most of the box. There's a pine-cone. There's two bright scarves, red and gold and white. A red tie with tiny white polkadots.

But my favourite item: he matuhi - a bone needle. An actual needle made of bone. When I named my book 'matuhi | needle' and put that phrase in the poem 'Tangihanga' I had never actually seen one.

 

But here one is. It might not be bone, it might be plastic. But it looks like the real thing.

 

BoxSomethingHe matuhi

 

 

Did Sian know, or is this just a strange coincidence...? Ooooooweeeeeeeooooo...

I'm going to put the needle round my neck on string and walk on the beach with it. And with Chance.

 

 

Kapiti Island Island, dog

 

 

x

Beautiful walk, except that Chance frightened two beagles half to death. They kinda snuck up on her - and me. I always put her on the lead around other dogs but these ones came from behind...She chased them over the sand-dunes out of sight. All I could hear was a little yelp.

 

Which I'm taking as a good sign, as it wasn't a big yelp.

I think she plays a bit rough. And she's a huntaway - she chases things.

Anyway. After much screaming on my part she returned. Hopefully the beagles are none the worse for wear.

x

New song's called 'Fragile Katie'. It's a kind of a spoof song. It came from the box contents and a Woman's Weekly headline in a magazine in our toilet. The headline is the kind that has a real catchy rhythm, a music of its own. I've been repeating it in my head for weeks. For some reason our household ended up with two copies of this magazine. One is an outrage.

Anyway, it's immortalised now. Again, a country feel.

I won't say too much more about it. It's not a terribly deep song.

Next.

x

Day 12 Care Package:

Ha! Another drawing, this time with a message:

Switch
GO SLOW

It's a box on a pole with wires running out of it on either side. Again, scribbly and cool. On the paper there's also traces of white paint. It's amazing how white comes in so many different shades. This paint looks dull, almost grey, against the paper.

OK. Here goes.

 

Go slow

 

x

Lawdee, this one came screaming in out of nowhere.

It's called 'Go Slow Switch', and it's a downright no-nonsense Rock and Roll toon. The words are kinda nonsense words - I picked them more for their sound than their sense. I remember listening to a documentary about Brian Eno - with David Bowie interviewed. Bowie said Brian would give him half an hour max to come up with lyrics, and the less sense they made the better. Eno wasn't a big lyrics guy - he saw them as a means to an end. He grew up on the 'doo-wop' songs, he said, which made no sense whatsoever, but were irresistible nonetheless.

So I'm taking a leaf out of Brian and David's book, here. I reckon it's working - the lyrics make a sexy sort of meaning out of themselves. It's a great song to sing, raunchy as. I guess it's this album's equivalent of 'Free'.

Right. So! I'm off. Back tomorrow. Hell. This retreat thing is really working.

 

 

Love this bach

 

 

x

H
 

 

 

Wednesday 28 June, 2006

 

N-n-n-n-nine

 

It's an absolutely stunning day here. Sun streaming in the sliding doors. I worked hard this morning, again, to get other things out of the way so I could have this time here. Updating the blog, adding the photo's, washing and drying the bach's linen. Answering emails and phone calls.

I recorded all the songs I've written so far - there's nine, for goodness sake. Some of them are very rough demo's, but at least they're down. I can polish later (quantity not...etc).

Please. Indulge me while I write another list - the songs so far and their 'sound-like's:

1. Island     (Gillian Welch)
2. He Niho to Te Moni     (Cornerstone Roots)
3. Harm     (Ani Di Franco? Sheryl Crowe? Rickie-Lee Jones?)
4. I Can Run     (Cake / Jolie Holland)
5. Room She Leaves     (Beatles / Christine White)
6. Matariki     (Van Morrison / Waterboys)
7. He Tuahine     (Whirimako Black)
8. Fragile Katie     (Greg Johnson / Cake)
9. Go Slow Switch     (Christine White's 'Dumb White Girl' )

It's going to be hard to stop coming here.

Of course the gorgeous Mary and Kate have said it's fine for me to come back whenever. But I've decided that I want to finish up tomorrow. Friday we're off to Nelson for four days - Christine's got gigs there - then when we get back I'm rehearsing for my upcoming gig at Te Papa. Plus. We'll be attending the 4 am (gulp) dawn ceremony opening of the Ngai Tahu exhibition.

So. It's looking like a natural, organic kind of ending, anyway. I feel like going along with that. Today is my second to last day here. Day 13.

This whole process has taught me a lot. I'm shocked at how well I've responded to having a place to come to - a space where my creative stuff is ready and waiting, all set up. Like an artist's studio I guess. It's set aside - tapu I guess.

I've had offices before. What happens is that room often becomes dominated by the administrative side of my arts work and self-employment. Dayjob writing, emails and other communications, writing proposals, accounting (insert suppressed guffaw here), making and answering phone calls etc. So it no longer feels like a creative space.

It would be very cool to re-create this bach - to have it available all the time. Just a money thing I guess...I could try and make it happen at home somehow.

Anyway! I've gotta start on today's song - and first, of course, I have to open today's little taonga.

Day 13 Care Package:

A small box wrapped with red ribbon, pinned with a small length of white ribbon on which the word 'BRAVE' is embroidered in red.

Inside, shavings - a whole pile of wooden shavings from coloured pencils, all colours. Shaved off with a stanley knife or scalpel, not a pencil sharpener. There's a fine dust in the bottom, like a mix of soot and glitter, fine pinpoints of colour.

Ok. Gimme a minute.

 

 

  Brave

 

 

x

Well this one is a spoken word number. More like 'Long Time Coming Home', I guess. But this time just telling strange little stories from my life and from the day. I think it needs work but it's fine as a first draft. And it could be fun to explore it musically - there's a lot of room for other instruments and vocal stuff. The delivery of the spoken parts has to be fairly low-key, though.

This one isn't called anything yet. How do I know it's finished?

 

Good question.

 

I'm going to walk on the beach and clean the bach. Then I'm gonna go home and spend some time with Chris - we've both been missing each other a bit.

Hei apopo - till tomorrow, e hoa ma. See you on the last day.

x

H

 

 

Thursday 29 June, 2006

 

There's no place like home

 

Just listening to yesterday's song on video. I didn't record it at home last night - I didn't even play it to Chris. I feel less confident about this one than any of the others. And yet, if I heard another performer doing this song, I would be impressed. I'm being very judgmental about this one, for some reason.

I've got a lot of tidying and readying to do today. Mary and Toby are coming up to spend the weekend. I'll be in Nelson, but I want to make sure there's lots of treats and that the place is really cosy for them. I've set the fire and cleaned the floors. Gonna make the bed fresh and leave them a little pile of luxuries on the table...

Also, Tyree is coming up with Chance to see me today. She's bringing a tarpaulin for the bach's woodpile, so it'll stay drier over the winter. We'll take the dog for a walk. Then it'll be time to go.

About to open today's parcel...last one. However!! I've decided that as a reward for getting to the end and writing so many songs, I am also allowed to open...

<drumroll>

...the Emergency Care Package. Actually Sian has told me that I *must* open the Emergency Care Package because it's not what I would expect.

First things first.

Day 14 Care Package:

 

   I made it

More foresty fragments - this time some silhouetted shapes as well as some drawn ones, cut out and stuck together in two big shapes. For some reason these ones put me in mind of a whole lot of creatures frolicking, or people holding hands and dancing.

Man, she put a lot of work into her 'Jungle' exhibition. The amount of detail and just sheer pencil-on-paper time that's gone into just these two fragments...

 

   Foresty fragments

 

OK here goes.

EMERGENCY CARE PACKAGE:

 

  What's he building in there?

 

Ha! I'm laughing out loud here.

Ha ha! Brilliant.

I'm sorry peeps, but I'm going to let the photo speak for itself on this one (see below).

In another spooky coincidence, one of the package items is...

<drumroll>

a harmonica.

x

I've written another short song. It's only two verses, and the only instrument in it is a harmonica. Which I have yet to learn how to play.

: )

It's called 'Drink a Toast'. It's a melancholy little number. But it's nice to write something just for my voice - like I did last time. This one, however, won't be opening the album the way 'He Mihi' did. It's more like a hidden track, or a fresh if slightly gloomy interlude in the middle.

Right. That's me.

And that's the Retreat. I'm going to make a cup of tea. I'm going to eat a Fruit Digestive biscuit. Or three. And I'm going to start making the bach pretty.

 

x

 

I've just spent a couple of hours recording the last of the songs. I'm now *really* happy with the one I felt weird about. I realise it was because it's not a performance song, it's a studio number. I fecked around making random layers and placements of a bluesy vocal riff that goes way high and way low, winding through a lot of spoken narrative - stories of my days and my life. But because of the layering you never quite get to the punchline. Well, sometimes you do - at the moment it's all accidental. I like that quality about it, so does Chris.

 

I also recorded the drinking song (as it will come to be known). Again, it's a studio song, that one. I can't imagine performing it live - and that's cool. The way I've recorded it at the moment is kinda perfect - because I don't quite know the melody yet, and therefore I don't quite know the harmonies, and I definitely don't know how to play the harmonica. So it all sounds like a whole bunch of drunks singing a hymn they barely know sober. Exactly the effect I wanted.

 

: )

 

I'll have to make sure I don't practise that one too much - I'd like to preserve that uncertainty and weirdness in the final version.

 

I've also recorded 'Remember' - the song I wrote in March. It definitely feels like part of the whanau.

 

All there is left to do is send my Day 14 photos in to my website guys. and bugger off to Nelson tomorrow. And then when I get back, I'll record the reprise of 'Harm'. That'll make 13 tracks.

 

x

 

This won't be my last blog entry, I've decided. There'll be a small hiatus. But I've decided I want to keep the blog going through the whole process of trying to get funding for this album, of recording it, of launching it and performing it. The 'cradle to the grave' approach.

Plus! Any moment now, there'll be a video up on Day 5 of me on location opening stuff and burbling. And of course today's photo's will be up very soon...so do tune in again.

In the meantime, I would like to send big love to everyone whose encouragement has helped me get here and stay here for this precious time. Mary and Kate and the Camp whanau. Sian Jungle-Bunny. Fiona Vicarious Clark. Chris, Tyree, Andrew, Karen C, Fionnaigh, Kirsty, Svenda...everyone else who emailed.

Now excuse me. 

 

  <click click>

There's no place like home...there's no place like home...there's no place like home.....
 

x

H

 

 

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Draft list of songs for new album:

 

1.  Island    
2.  He Niho to Te Moni  
3.  Harm   
4.  I Can Run    
5.  Room She Leaves    

6.  Harm (reprise)

7.  Matariki    
8.  He Tuahine    
9.  Fragile Katie   
10. Go Slow Switch    

11. Untitled

12. Remember

13. Drink a Toast

 

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Saturday July 8, 2006

 

The First Performance!
 

Hey! We performed two of the new songs at Te Papa, at the opening of the Ngai Tahu Exhibition. Which incidentally went exceptionally well.

 

 

Photo: Andrew Dalziel

 

If we look a little tired, it may help to know. We got up at 2.30am.

 

We got up at 2.30am.

 

We got up at 2.30am, people. To make it to Te Papa in time for the 4am powhiri.

 

4am powhiri.

 

Christine accompanied me for 'Island' and 'He Tuahine'. We were going to do 'I Can Run' but the set got cut a bit short - there were many other performers to consider. However we did rehearse that one - and actually, in all our practice runs, 'I Can Run' is turning out to be an audience favourite. Interesting. It's not the one I would have picked, but there you go.

 

The Devastatingly Sperlunky Andrew Dalziel came and mixed us on the day, running from his shift on the Kim Hill show at Radio New Zealand down to Te Papa to arrive at a screeching halt in front of a sound desk he'd never seen and operate it like the Doctor that he is. Plus! He took the photo. WORD UP.

 

So another milestone down. The great thing about Saturday was that the songs were received well but I didn't even really care. I just wanted to know that I had performed them well - and I did. Andrew's comment was that he is starting to hear a band now...and it's true. There's enough space in these new ones, I'm not climbing all over them in solo-mode. Plus I think I'm relying much more on my song-writing than my voice/performance with these new ones.

 

And I must say, it feels really nice to be singing more in my low register.

 

Thanks to everyone who came along to the gig, especially Tyree.

 

Creative New Zealand applications close on the 28th of July, I think.

 

x

 

H