New look, new promise

Chimpwithcans.com has a new look and a new promise. There is now a home page to welcome you, a blog page, and a podcast page. There will be a podcast episode released each week.

The podcast may not be the most polished production in the world, and it may not be very long, but in the name of taming my inner chimp through creativity I will publish an episode weekly. Please see the new ‘podcast’ page in the menu above for details on how to listen.

If you look up the podcast on your phone, you will find an old episode “On Lemons and Nappies” which I created over a year ago. Listening to this afresh makes me cringe, but it’s a good baseline to work with.

The new, weekly episodes will start this Thursday. This should be fun.

Drum kit musings

I have a digital/electric drum kit sitting next to me. It’s in a sorry state with cables unplugged, the drum chair at the other end of the room and not a drum stick in sight. In an office filled with music memorabilia, colourful pictures and record collections, the drum kit is a sort of physical reminder of a part of my life that is dead, wasted, shrivelled, kaput.

I no longer play live music. I no longer play the drums. I used to fucking love playing in bands, and now i don’t. So the next question is – Why??!

The easy answer is: if I knew why, then I wouldn’t be in this predicament! But I am in this shrivelled, pathetic predicament and so i must explore the genesis. A couple of points…..to make my point….pointedly:

Most recently – Having four kids in 5 years leaves little time for hobbies or passion projects. Even the most juicy passion will shrivel like a dead carrot under this pressure for time and attention……..However, I stopped playing the drums well before I had children. The last band I regularly played in was about…..14 years ago!!!! Therefore my kids are off the hook…dammit. What else do I have?

Traveling. I moved around a lot in the last 14 years. From Kenya to Australia to Johannesburg – back to Australia and now Cape Town for the last 6 years. This is a huge one – the most successful bands i have played in have involved friendships more than anything else. Friends getting together with music as the common interest and focal point. It feels like i haven’t been anywhere long enough to form the appropriate friendships. This is another way of saying I am bloody lazy socially. I have little excuse. I need to start somewhere. I can do this with work, with fitness, and with my household relationships – so I must do the same with friendships and music.

As with anything important – success comes from developing streaks. Pitching up time after time to play some music is the best way to play some music.

Sounds ridiculous but it’s not.

In a small way I think I also need to get an acoustic drum kit again. This electronic Kit was a gift from my wife and if i am honest I never quite took to it. I need to make some more noise.

Happy Wednesday all.

Discovery

As a boy, I used to have music played for me by my parents. Taste makers and influencers, my folks showed me variety and quality of music for which I am grateful. My dad worked for music companies so our collection of LPs and CDs was huge at home.

Then came adolescence and the urge to fit in and stand out in equal measure. I embraced playing drums, Aerosmith and metal music. My fellow band members at school were the biggest influencers at this stage. We shared CDs and listened to obscure radio stations.

The internet. At school in the late 90s our guitarist was very good with computers and the web. He must have been one of the earliest adopters of Napster. I used to watch him downloading catalogues with a mix of awe and disgust. This wasnt the way it was supposed to happen, was it? Little did I know.

Around about this time I also became hooked on music magazines like Q and Kerrang! As I headed off to university, These told me what to listen to along with Rolling Stone magazine.

Lately of course my discovery of music relies on an algorithm from Apple or Spotify. Sometimes this is a magical process. Serendipitous discovery of a favourite new tune. A sweet moment of bliss from an Apple music Radio station.

I am trying to influence the discovery algorithm actively, channeling the recommendations into my own playlist. I do miss sharing CDs sometimes.

SOSN Post 2 – How it started vs. how it’s going

While this meme has been flying around (see Ellie Goulding’s cool muso related effort at this link) – it has me thinking about the nature of popular music today. How exactly did we get here? How does the current state of pop compare to where we came from? A big topic no doubt. But let’s try to express this story succinctly shall we?

How it started

The music business was perfect for a long time. Radio was engineered to channel and market songs into the homes of teenagers, record chains were the outlets for owning your own copy of your favourite song at a massive premium – a copy which would no doubt need replacing soon enough (LPs scratch easily!). Rolling Stone magazine decided who would be the next big hit, and there was limited access to recording studios and marketing of content across the world. It all added up to a business that seemed perfect, one that could run for ever and ever.

How it’s going

The digital revolution destroyed this perfect business while enabling something extraordinary: easy access to the market by new musicians, and a quick and easy way to find every song ever recorded.

There is no returning to the perfect days of the LP (despite what the audiophiles and the small revivals would have us believe) – and in the last 20 years the artists have no doubt suffered as revenue streams dried up and touring became the most lucrative avenue. We have been force fed old music on tour for a long time. Just look at the highest grossing tours of the last 20 years.

So pop music is going much differently than before. But it is again (recently, finally) making money. Streaming of music is profitable and there is hope for future talent to feel as though they can get into the industry and have a future.

An imperfect industry then. But perhaps a more honest and fair industry allowing access to those who had none in days gone by.

Happy Wednesday, Chimps.

Boyhood and Classical

When I was a boy, my mother used to sing in a choir. She would go to evening practices and perform classical pieces such as Handel’s ‘Messiah’. At the time it was not so obvious what the appeal was. I could see how the Beach Boys and the Rolling Stones had an effect, but the slower and more formal music seemed all too stuffy, dull and boring. My friend and I were once dragged to a concert which we filmed, adding a tagline to the video which read “Party Time” sarcastically. We were bored boys.

Nowadays I am just beginning to understand the appeal of classical music. It can be magnificient. Uplifting. Lush.

One thing it requires is patience. If you can turn on a piece of classical music and just sit still and listen, before you know it you are loving the feelings, emotions, harmonies. Like a painting laid out infront of you it becomes the only thing that you have in your head. Sometimes it takes away the rest of the world. These moments are just lovely and unique to the genre for me.

I have just found Spotify’s Classical section and highly recommend the following playlist:

Roon + Tidal

I have recently signed up to both Roon and Tidal. So many websites and commentators are raving about it.

Linking your Tidal account to Roon gives you endless volumes of high fidelity music and MQA format recordings in a beautiful package.

It is convenient, sounds great, and the Roon software is staggering – it needs to be experienced to be understood but to me one of the key things that Roon does well is give you suggestions and notes to read while you listen to a track – this combination is key. The reading element brings back the old LP / CD cover notes vibe to streaming music. A wonderful thing and I am sold.

Now to optimise the Roon Core / DAC / MQA combinations! Can’t wait.

Embedding a track

Continuing with the podcast preparations, I am going to try and embed a Soundcloud track on this blog post.

This blog will be the primary place to go to hear my podcast. Therefore I want to be able to embed tracks so that they are playable without having to leave this site. This involves getting HTML code and pasting it into WordPress. I’ve never done this before, so here it goes with an old track I digitised from an LP a while ago:

Cute song. Radical embedding of audio!

One step closer to my podcast.