I'll begin this post with the video I'm re-releasing today. It's called 'Hotel X', it was inspired in part by the George Orwell book 'Down & Out In Paris & London' and it's from my album 'Down There For Dancing'. This version was recorded in 2014... the music (which I think took about a year to make) was made by D&Dum Productions and stars Eryl Lloyd Parry. Watch it below...
I recently re-released another music video for a song called 'Wag the Wonderbitch' which was recorded in 2014 as part of the same album. Along with its re-release I published a blog post on why I had previously removed it from the internet, and then re-recorded the whole album - you can read the full post and watch the 'Wag...' video here...
I discussed a few talking points around those decisions and now, as I'm re-releasing another music video from that recording I thought I'd discuss the subject of 'creative pathways'.
By 'creative pathways' I mean, the notion that for every one creative decision that is made, countless other creative decisions are taken off of the table as a result. It's the reason that I tend to work in a macro fashion* rather than micro early on; often not nailing down melodies, harmonies, structures, instrumentation or production features for fear that it will 'scare off' potential serendipities hiding in the bushes... those happy accidents which will help me discover the 'true form' of any song I'm working on.
This has not always been my working process. In the past I more often wrote using Thought Ideas rather than Feeling Ideas. The difference between these two being that a Thought Idea is something appears to me as a Thought before I've put it into practice... for example: "I think that a song about two people that like different dance-steps would be interesting if it shifted time signatures along with the narrative perspective". This idea may not work in practice, it may be clunky or seem overly writerly and self-aware.
However a Feeling Idea will always be something that has already occurred in practice, I've already heard the idea in action whether that be by accident or design... this can be most gratifying when a group of musicians are working together live and feel the same inspirational brownian motion... it's something more instinctive. A Thought Feeling may work out successfully, it may not, but a Feeling Idea is always there, chilling those hairs on the back of your neck.
A lot of my work pre-Granfalloon is covered in Thought Ideas - having the idea first and then either trying to bend the song to my will, or using that idea as the bedrock for the song to be built upon. You can maybe see more Feeling Ideas creeping into the work during 2014's song-a-week challenge, maybe as a result of quicker nature of the creation with such short deadlines. By the time of Granfalloon's conception I had moved almost wholesale to Feeling Ideas.
This hopefully illustrates the differences between the Richard Lomax & The Tontine version of 'Down There For Dancing' and the Granfalloon version of 'Down There For Dancing'. When I discovered music, I became quickly enamoured with early rock'n'roll, rockabilly, skiffle, surf rock and various other offshoots. This informed my songwriting to an extent where I was wondering whether the genre was overshadowing the song... weighing it down in some way...
I was picturing these genre pieces in my mind's eye as the ornate gilt-edges of baroque frames. Was the frame pulling focus from the song within? Worse... would the song even exist it you removed the various generic ornamentations?
I was becoming obsessed with getting to what lay at the root of these songs (if... Shock! Horror! There was anything there at all?!)
Not only that I was beginning to look at the body of work I had recorded thus far taking shape** as being hemmed in by that which went before... pulling out to an even more macro angle, did the existence of these songs, recorded and arranged in this way, prevent me from creating certain future compositions? Had I closed off creative pathways by committing to these iterations?
I wanted to obliterate everything I had created before and start again. Tabula rasa. I took every song on 'Down There For Dancing' and tried to remove every choice (or lack of choice) I'd made. I removed all the chords, all my clever clever chords, all the rhythms, any hint of a Thought Idea, I tried to remove any sense of tempo and time signature (difficult) and strip these fumes of songs back to a the very minimum a song needs to exist. The way I had done it was to pull back just to the 'important' root notes and then to see how the 'liquid'*** of the melody spilled upon that shape. And then to listen, really listen to my trusty back-of-the-neck radar and ask what each song needed to develop.
This was why removing the previous recordings was so important to me. I didn't want those previous incarnations to influence me in any way.
What I didn't know I was sacrificing at the time, was personal history and context*****. And you can read more about that in my previous blog.
Now I'm in a position where I'm craving that history and context back. My move to a Bandcamp Subscription model in 2020 as a means of releasing music has finally afforded me a way to do that. As I re-introduce these albums into my back catalogue it's like an old memory reappearing into my amnesiac mind.
*Nowadays, that is
***if you will****
****o I will!
*****context context context