The Bedlam Six and I will be releasing our very first DVD next month. It is a concert film shot at The Dancehouse Theatre earlier this year. It was a lovely event featuring special guest vocalists and a sold out auditorium. It coincided with my thirtieth birthday and we played thirty songs to celebrate. The ones we own the rights to (or have permission to release) are included on the DVD (unfortunately the duet with John Robb – Bugsy Malone‘s “Bad Guys” – could not be included for this reason).
My friend Andrew Dubber has just published a new book about the music industries (not for the first time). This one’s a little different though. It’s a collection of short articles written by practitioners from all parts of the creative sector – indeed from all over the world. I am one of the contributors.
Here’s the description from the press release:
This invaluable book collects together a series of short articles (approx 360 words) from successful music industry professionals and musicians from around the world, each giving the most helpful advice they can think of to people just starting out.
Rock star or professor, DJ or classical violinist, record label exec or community music worker – here’s a group of people who have been where you’re at in one way or another, they know a bit about what lies ahead, and they have useful knowledge to share.
- Useful, practical advice
Music industry pros and seasoned musicians share their tips that will help you in your career and steer you away from common mistakes
- Inspirational stories
Ideas for building a life in music that is sustainable, meaningful and rewarding
- More to read
Whether you’ve heard of them or not, every person included in the book has so much to say and give. Links are provided to every author’s online presence and other works.
Price : $3.60 (or more if you wish…)
All proceeds from The 360 Deal go to Music Basti – a youth-led charity in India which brings music workshops to homes for children affected by extreme poverty.
It is available HERE
When I was a stage actor I tended to play villains and insane people. That’s what I enjoyed and that’s what I was best at. I’ve never been the good-guy and I’ve never been the love interest (except when I was Theseus in the school play aged eight – but the girl who played Ariadne broke my heart the week of production and I’ve never been the same since). There’s a line in one of my songs that goes “he could’ve been a tragic hero, but he never had the height” – well that’s me: five feet, eight and a half inches tall… sometimes a little bit less if I’m stooping like Richard III.
Bad guys are always more interesting. In any given situation there is usually one way of doing the right thing and infinite ways of doing the wrong one. Villains are complicated. They are easy to imagine yet hard to explain. They have forged their own immoral compass. Theirs is a dark perverted alchemy concocted from riddles and intrigue. Where good is transparent, its nemesis is opaque.
And the wonderful thing is that villains hardly ever really exist. They are just a trick of perspective; their horns and hooves typically being drawn on by the opposing side.
Which is why they are so much fun to play. They are the ultimate fantasy. If you imagine someone good you imagine someone static. Someone who is entirely good cannot become even more good – their character has nowhere to go. Someone bad, however, well… the possibilities for further corruption are almost endless. It’s amazing how far one can sink.
The narrator of my songs started out as a villain. One of those moustache-twirling scoundrels that inexplicably tie helpless women to railway tracks in silent movies. I was happy for him to be two dimensional. In the Bedlam Six’s first album he is always the low-life, he is cruel and petty and vengeful and angry.
But now I don’t see him as a villain at all. I see him as someone who repeatedly gets trapped in his mistakes, endlessly entangled in a deadly mixture of pride and folly. I’ve played this character too long for him to be a bad guy. No one can be the villain in their own story. It’s an utterly impossible way of looking at the world.
I’m writing this because we just made a new music video. The song is called “Waiting For Bad News” and will be on the new album (lyrics are here if you’re curious); it is directed by Andrew Ab who made the recent videos for my label-mates Bridie Jackson (Scarecrow) and Felix Hagan (My Little Lusitania). The film portrays the disintegration of a relationship, with the warring lovers in question being performed by myself and Ellie Cowan.
In it there are a couple of moments of violent struggle. So far, so Bedlam Six music video. But for the first time I found myself really concerned about how people would perceive my character – perceive me. It seems so stupid when in the past I’ve written creepy stalker songs like “You Can’t Run From My Love” – I really should be past caring what people think. Still, I’ve become rather protective of the guy that crops up in all these narratives. Yes it is always the same man. Yes it is always me.
Ellie and I spent most of the shoot giggling as we went through the different scenarios. Particularly the ones in which we had to fight (I grab her hair, she slaps me in the face etc). But when we actually had to wrestle it just looked horribly like a rape. So we adjusted the scene so that I was seated and she was looming over me, to put me on the defensive. It was really important to me that the narrator, whilst so often an object of ridicule or disdain, is never one of outright hatred.
This man is the projection of all the things in myself that I wish to put on trial, but he is not someone I ever want to see injured in any permanent way. He is, after all, a huge part of who I am. His twitching outlook is the filter through which I compose nearly all my songs. He fails and he fails and he never learns his lesson. He is constant in his stupidity and fragility. And yet he is also that most tragic of creatures: a cartoon that has begun to notice the frame around him.
I have stopped laughing at him. I am fond of him. I am ashamed for him. I completely understand him. He is precious to me.
And I am the only person in the world who can protect him from harm.