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Error 404 series – metal also…june july updates.

Error 404 – Metal

Lots to report but first…another Error 404 feature. This was due last week, then there was too much on. So here it is…one day late (technically on time if we consider international clocks)

Here’s a double feature of Error 404. There was a challenge laid down that I never actually EVER did metal. I’m not sure if this qualifies as a legit attempt…but points for trying eh? Also, I don’t think my throat likes metal too much.

Again since it’s part of my error 404 page a random refresh on a page that does not exist on aka will/might play this version to u.

Here is Error 404 metal  in English (Russian)

AND Russian. Special tks to my little brother Zhihao for translating it to Russian and teaching it to me. I only hope I’m intelligible. Here’s to possibly badly pronounced  Russian.

Note: Domovoi is a Russian poltergeist of sorts. I thought it made sense to feature local monsters with every translation rather than try and translate the kraken.

This month’s round up

It’s been a busy month. The joys of freelance composing is that one minute you could be lounging about biting your nails and being anxious about people getting back to you about jobs, then in another instant ,a few things that you say yes to suddenly reappear with deadlines from hell.

I no complain. It’s joyous. But after a few all nighters and working through weekends since late last month, I’m sitting in the sunshine a bit to catch my breath before plunging back in….tonight. The forecast is that I’m probably going to be swamped until the end of the year. This is a great thing.  For now, right this instant… this is me furiously catching up on blog posts, promised releases etc etc. Gotta air that composer brain a bit.

This month’s highlights? One of the scores I had to write was particularly watery and bendy. So I got it into my head that maybe I should sample instruments immersed in water and write the entire score with whatever I can pull out of the water — so to speak.

I’ve been having a little bit of fun investigating underwater recording. (hydrophones) . Here’s a DIY method, (recommends condoms)  but I ended up using balloons…I believe it’s the same effect. I recommend the ones used for animal balloons. Normal shaped ones aren’t a particularly good fit. (so to speak)


The director (Luke Marsden) is a helluva good sport and was coerced into helping with recording. Welcome to low budget film making. Here’s a wok scraped underwater recorded with SM58 underwater.

It did occur to me after that maybe there was some risk of electrocution after the fact. Ah well!  For Music and SCIENCE! (I did double bag the mic)

Few other projects I’ve been working on too with differing levels of insane sound and music experiments. I love it and can’t wait to tell all BUT I’ve been sworn to varying levels of secrecy so that’s all I can report. At least for now. Single release of Twisted Tales end of this wk. Expect something wintery. The land of OZ has been freezing over a bit.



Day 2 – Song Summit (Songwriting highs and lows & impt minion missions)

Stephen Schwartz – Writer of Colors of the Wind is going to review my song as part of a panel.
Good GAWD.

A little admission, Colors of the Wind was just about sparked the moment when I decided I’d have a crack at creating words to music. I remember how much I liked the imagery of that one song and how I listened to the disc till the plastic melted. (Or it could have been the high humidity in Singapore) That…and Lion King’s soundtrack….which led me on a one way ticket to a lifetime love for world music….and a teenage crush on Hans Zimmer.

There I said it, I have Disney beginnings…

So seeing the man himself and knowing he was going to listen to some creation of mine was a quiet and internally very loud moment of “ohmygodohmygodohmygod” followed by “I’mgonnadieI’mgonnadieI’mgonnadie!!!!!!” which then culminated into “Oh hey! here’s a pillar I’m going to hide behind this beautiful architecture…did I tell you how much I love architecture?!!!”

Of course, I wasn’t really forwarned that part of the listening to the music panel meant that you had to sit a metre from the man himself on stage and that you were going to have to have a very public conversation with the man himself about songwriting.

Stephen was very kind. The song up for review was one called “Disconnected” I had recently had it remastered and mostly always had a very soft spot for it. The tune was mostly liked, he liked the poetry in it, loved the verses (thank u v much) questioned some of the word choices and encouraged some thoughts about the choice of the chorus .

Some which I agreed on but will not change, some which I disagreed on,…and will not change…but it was good to hear where how it sat with his ears and how he’d actually like to hear the song again and some more. That broke my happy metre.

There were other things he brought up about the song that made me rethink some songwriting decisions but mostly, it wasn’t bad and the man was gracious and kind and probably understood that right then, I was squirming like a nematode under a microscope.

More importantly the song survived. I didn’t feel like I needed to destroy it in the end which is also an uber step forward for myself as a songwriter.

It was nice and warm and fluffy to hear that my process of songwriting was somewhat similar to his where he mentions that he first writes the titles to songs, then works out the stories then writes the songs….my newly cerebral songwriting methods salute his very cerebral songwriting methods.

My only regret was that somehow the recording got wrongly sampled by those running the panel, and Stephen got to hear an awful recording where my voice that got pitched up an octave as a result. I only wished he got to hear the better version, but heh…I did the other songwriters whose vocals got chipmunked by a wrong sample rate. No matter, I sent a ninja his way and who promptly delivered my CD into his hands. Hope he gets a listen.

Sacha Skarbek’s songwriting panel

I enjoyed the panel. Good to see the writer behind many songs I try very hard to hate…but cannot. For an idea he wrote “You’re Beautiful” with James Blunt. Though it got killed to death by overplay in then end, that’s really hardly his fault. I remember liking it before gross repetition killed the love.

Sacha came across as a little bit of a shy performer although it seemed to me that he had a bloody good voice and a rollicking sense of humour. I was enjoying his panel quite a bit…until….he announced that he was working on the soundtrack for Chuck Palahniuk’s Lullaby with Starsailor.

I am Yunyu’s broken heart
I am Yunyu’s seething green serpent of envy

If you slow motion the reading of this sentence, you could probably pin point the exact moment my heart split in two

Because lullaby is one of my favourite horror/comedy story. Read it here.

and I want to write the culling song that features in the tale.

I already hear the culling song in my head…except I promise no one dies, though the effects might be convincing..

and I believe that when it comes to death put to music, I have a little bit of an authoritah on that.

No matter. I’ll get there. I’ll finish the bloody album, get the word out, then badger screen people to use some of my dead people music.

Still it hurts…because I want to write music on Lullaby.

Meanwhile…yoohoo Sacha. Can I write a culling song with you? I’m great at death, I would have loved to speak with you, but post panel, it seems most panel speakers are harder to seek than unicorns. I’m not sure where they go, and I was looking.

So there, Sacha, if you google yourself and find this, I want to write that culling song, I also want to work with you and learn from you. Meanwhile I’m sending the word out on how to bloody hell find you…so I can write THAT culling song.

I has your website
I see your management contacts … and will write to your gate keepers or keymasters.
but I rather write to you. Artist to Artist. Songwriter to songwriter.

Minions, if you know Sacha Skarbek, send on my love, and my need to write the culling song and that I want to work with him.

Minions…you has mission. Find the man.Find Sacha. Find him with your twitter, ask your friends, ask your enemies, send for your psychic pets, post on facebook. send word. Now. Get his email, get his number.

Find Sacha Skarbek.
Find him.



Go Now.

Fly my pretties…fly.

can you tell I’m obsessed?…with the culling song?

Internal Assasinations….and other things.

Dear minions,

First off, happy not so new year, and then the gong xi fa cai, and the very belated merry happy easter celestial zombie offspring day…now that we’re all mostly caught up. Hope you are all well, and thanks for checking if I’m still twitching from time to time. I’m appreciating the facebook pokes, tweets and general updates in your world. Keep your stories coming.

The first order of business is that we’ve got the emo bunny in check. For her crimes of hijacking the blog post she has been wiped by the Internal Ninja Muse Squad and has been placed in the attic. The rest of us are thick in the middle of bon-fire celebrations…yeeehaaar! Feel free to join us…offerings are welcomed
internal ninja muse squad

Now as long long promised, we also bring you…Updates! Updates Updates and answers to the long evaded questions of “How IS your album going?”

It’s taking a millenia and three quarters and counting…I’m painfully aware of that. But hopefully, some details I’m waiting on are locked in blood soon, and I can start telling you stories I’ve been bursting to for a good while now. As mentioned the writing bit has been long loooong finished, what remains is that we’re thick in the performance, production and recording of it with some songs practically done, some three quarters through, and some we’re still hiding away from….AND you will soon see why. I blame the voices that go “WHEEEEEEE!!!” in my head.

So here are some discoveries I’ve made in the process of album creation that are fun to share and won’t kill the concept album surprise when it’s finally all done.

1)This album is starting to feel like a long running thesis. I’ve just stolen a look at the number of news/historical and musical references and sound samples tied to the album and now realise that the little worm of a list has grown into a mammoth python of sorts. I’m enjoying the process…slow as it is, but I’m realising how much this feels like a thesis we never meant to write. Still, I’m looking forward to sharing the long list of references once this is done. Tis very good minion fodder…

2) While I think that it is good to write in a multitude of different genres for ONE concept album, one has to be able to perform it too. This means getting into the headspace of different genres of singers and trying to pick up singing in the said style very quickly, while not sounding like an overly schizoid voice actor with a million voices. Make sense?
This means it’s important I still sound like me so there’s a connecting voice throughout the album. I guess it’s kind of like variant type of method acting and in the words of my dead panned manager/producer Lee McIver ” as long as it’s not methodone acting.” (ahaaar..haaar…very funny Lee).

My latest project includes climbing into the headspace of a 75 year old drug addict/ ex-hollywood wannabe who now lives in an alleyway as a lady of the eventides…. I remember that it was difficult to write her into being as a songwriter who only quite recently discovered the interestingness of Jazz (2.5 years ago to be precise). Now, I’m finding it even more of a challenge to sing her into life…or at least deliver a performance good enough to do the wonderful production justice. So practice, practice practice…and a lot of blind faith, a sprinkle of delusions…and alot of listening to Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday – for the purposes of this ONE song. ( You’ll hear of this in another post)

3) In a similar point to point no.2, I’m discovering that the songwriting bit is positively the eeeeasiest bit in the making of this album…everything else is an exponential up-hill climb from there. So there have been periods of re-learning, unlearning and then fast-tracked learning of in the realms of the implicit and explicit. Oh, and trying to wimp out by giving challenging songs to other singers wasn’t an allowable option. The result was that I was frog marched to take a whole heap of vocal lessons…and history lessons, to get some genre deliveries in context. The lessons are coming good, my tendencies to sound like a banshee has been minimised, (this possibly a good thing for the life forms that work with me). Also, no more sandpaper throat from incorrect technique.

On top of all that, long lists of listening homework to do, depending on the genres, which seems to keep the muses very happy…which is always good.

All this prep work builds up to a certain math-rock-like song written with a time signature of

33/8 ( for verses)
3/4 (waltz – for chorus)
2/4 (Swing- for bridge)

This – for all the stalling and procrastination in the world – will need to be recorded.
The song was last seen lurking in the back of everyone’s minds last week like an especially sick and perverse AI in the Ultimate Boss Stage….The Kraken…the Horror…

4) The fourth point is simple chemistry… Coffee. Coffee + Your Royal Madness = B A D. I recently found out that trace amounts of caffeine makes me hear time funny and I speed up like a speedy speedy rocket..Weeeee!!!!

So just like that….a lifetime ban of my all time favourite beverage at all live sessions.
Oh the humanity…

5) As I much as I thoroughly enjoy the whole lengthy process of making the concept album, working with an awesome team of people etc… etc….I’m finding the whole process quite a lonely one as I can’t talk about too much “making of” stuff with my dear minions in real time while I’m creating it. This lack of sharing it is proving to be very un-fun because Your Royal Madness is really very egomaniacal and craves minion attention at all times. So there, something to consider the next time I attempt another concept album…

So this is it for now minions, some sneak peaks, some revelations. More on the way. Till then…

Your Royal Madness,

The dusty altar of spiders

Ahem * steps gingerly onto the dust invaded altar of spiders* . I’m back again.., after the distractions and the nest move amidst all the mayhem that is life.

Hope you are all well, dear minions. Much has happened on my end, as per the last post. After failing in an epic battle of sonics with the Von Trapp family that used to share spidey’s balcony, the spiders have promptly uprooted her 2 by 3 metre tardis of a studio and left her matchbox apartment to seek quieter ground. Oh I also forget to mention that the final clincher was when the landlord wanted to remove spidey’s alien repelling aluminium foil on her studio windows. This let too much sunlight in and rendered all of spidey’s muses unconscious or foaming at the mouth. (Either which was a huge mess to clean up after).

{Ok…in short my studio window faces a very sunny zinc roof and I have no blinds, so unless suntanning eyeballs and getting cataracts was the latest fashion trend…}

Fast forward into 2 months later…

Finally settled into what was a very chaotic move where there was NO INTERNET but now I’m all happy settled and thought my minions should know. 🙂 (pretty pics in a bit!) All this and I had a writing deadline for another music project that I can yet mention. ( No it’s not my album…)

so some miscellaneous updates at which I shall be as brief as possible:


Getting there. Still a secret. Don’t curse at spidey. She’s done with her writing….it’s the other non writey album bits that take time…
Same goes for gigs as well, no shows until the new tunes wail their way into existence.

Non Album updates.

– some projects of interestingness in the world of Sci-fi/ Fantasy which can hopefully be announced maybe…I’m still keeping fingers crossed for this one.

– sketching idea bits for a 3rd album – because this is what you do when you’ve done your writey bits for the second album and you are basically waiting for everything else to catch up.

– Back to regular blogging. Aiming for (in the midst of still recording and video clip logistics) one blog post a week. Yes, your royal madness will be disciplined and write on her alter once a week from here on end. To show that I mean it, I’ll be telling u about my next post everytime I post one :). There. Let’s see how long we can keep this up this time …

Coming up

– Before the return to blogging I decided that the first order of business was to clean out how my wordpress was broadcasting (ie crossposting) entries to the ever growing number of social networking sites that is growing way way faster than mutant hydras of mayhem. — The fact that I am also on, possibly, a dozen other networks other than myspace and facebook is making things generally unfunny now.

So for the benefit of those who face this problem, or similar, consider the next post a is public service one – albeit wordpress centric – because wordpress has all my base. I spent a precious week researching plugins and testing what works and then another week getting it all running, I decided that noone else should have to go through this again.

Internet time is fun time, not painful test monkey time.

Coming shortly… Everyone is everywhere – How to shave time off crossposting blogs and status on the internets…because this is becoming a more urgent issue than shaving personal ape hair.

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