So Long Solemn artwork, by Carrie Watkins and Rosie Reed Gold.
I’m naturally inclined towards collaboration. I mean… I play bass. Unconsciously or otherwise I was never going to do any of this alone! When I started thinking about the album art it wasn’t long before some kind of collaborative idea started forming in my mind. The first person I knew I wanted to work with was Rosie Reed Gold (have a look! http://www.rosiereedgold.com/). She’s a really dear friend and around the time of recording the songs she finished a piece of work she had been working on for months. Like really, forever. She’d written the word ‘waiting’ over and over in various sizes on a huge piece of paper until the whole thing turned into noise. I can’t imagine how long it must have taken her. I saw her, and it, as the piece evolved but I wasn’t actually there for the hours and hours that she was just there on the floor writing it out again and again. When I first saw the finished thing I was overwhelmed, it was an emotional experience. It was such a heavy thing to look at, all those hours of ink piled up like that, and it’s a lot for your eyes and your heart to take in.
At some point, lying awake in bed one night, it occurred to me that our work was connected. We were putting ourselves into these intense, lengthy, meditative processes of really dwelling on the things that were hurting us, and physically going through that process with the art in order to kind of exorcise the sorrow through the things we created. When it’s all out there on the page or in the songs then it really is like an exorcism, you’ve wrenched it out of yourself and taken the time and gone through all the ritual to really let it go.
I had the idea that I should wear something that Rosie applied the same technique to. So I found Carrie Watkins through a mutual friend, and she designed and made the dress that I’m wearing on the cover. It came out a little like a wedding dress, and then the headdress is more funereal - inspired by the traditional Spanish Mantilla. So the outfit seems suitably ritualistic; it embodies both that bridal sense of fully committing, tying yourself to the idea, and then at the same time letting it die. When the dress was ready Rosie went to work painting on the text - just ‘so long solemn’ over and over. The text literally holds me around my waist, and falls behind me on the train, and collects like a puddle on the floor. I’m dragging it around but also walking away from it, so the narrative of the album is literally and figuratively in the dress, and subsequently in the artwork. And lastly of course, Rosie took the photographs - another one of her many, many talents. I wear the dress in one of the music videos we’ve made and I’ll wear it for a lot of, if not all of our launch tour, so you'll be seeing much more of it as this thing rolls on! Huge thanks to Rosie and Carrie for being fantastic, to work with, and at what they do. Both heroes of mine, and I hope we get to do more together in the future.
Thursday 3rd September 2015
We Did It!
Holy cow we made it guys! We just this very moment passed our target! All of our most heartfelt thanks and deepest gratitude to every single one of you for making this happen. We really honestly couldn't have done it without you. It's overwhelming to think that there's quite literally a hundred people on our side, rooting for us, and putting their hard-earned cash into this project.
We promise to make the best album we possibly can for you to have and enjoy forever.
Thank you thank you thank you, from the bottom of our hearts!
Thursday 13th August 2015
Here's a little look round our idyllic 'pop-up' studio in Bagnols-en-Forêt
Tuesday 4th August 2015
We're ready to crowdfund our first album!
It's launched and ready to go! As of this morning our Kickstarter has gone live and we now have 30 days to raise our target so that we can make our first ever album! If you want to get involved please head over to our campaign, take a look at the various rewards we've created, from pre-ordering the album itself on digital, CD or vinyl formats, to handmade lyric books, original artwork, music lessons, house concerts, year guestlist passes... there's something for everyone! And every penny really does help, so what are you waiting for! It would also really help us if you would tell other people who you think might like the music, share the campaign on Facebook, tweet it, do anything you can to help us get the word out.
Thank you so much! We can't wait to give this album to you once it's done!
Only two more sleeps until it's time for our most exciting show we've ever done. I wasn't that nervous about it until I told my mum, then I realised how much of a big deal this is, I haven't heard my mum go that high pitched in quite some time. In case you hadn't already noticed, we're supporting Van Morrison on Sunday, and it is ridiculously exciting and also nerve-wracking. And to make it more exciting (and nerve-wracking) we're going to record our show and release it a week later as a free download. You'll be able to get it via bouche.bandcamp.com, and actually you can pre-order it now, in case you forget later! Do it now! Here's a great picture I found of Van as a tower coming out of a boat with a little and also younger Van inside it. Of course.
Wednesday, February, 25th, 2015
Double double bass
It's the year of the new. New website, new line-up for the band with Leander Lyons on electric guitar, and possibly most exciting of all, for me anyway, a new bass. I've known Daniel Kress, master violin maker, for about two years now. He's an angel. He once stopped my bass from entirely exploding - a thing I had no idea was about to happen, but he did, and he intervened in the nick of time and saved the day. From then on he's pretty much been my hero.
He's based in Köln, Germany, so whenever I'm there, or near there I go to his workshop and play old basses, new basses, five strings, full size, all kinds of amazing instruments. He's always got dozens that he's selling or repairing, plus coffee, and cake, and if I'm there towards the end of the day a glass of red, or maybe a kölsch, the local and exceedingly delicious beer.
When I was there back in October he knew I was on the look out for a new bass. We had a coffee and a smoke on the balcony, the usual routine. Looked at some Youtube videos, played some basses, all normal until Daniel appears from somewhere or other with a beautiful dark brown bass and a massive grin on his face. "Try this one." And I do. And I am in love. It had come through his work shop a couple of months earlier and when he saw it he thought of me, so he'd been keeping it hidden away.
His hunch was right, it's exactly what I'm looking for; the tone, the volume, the way it plays, the lush and gorgeous bassiness of it. It's incredible, and soon it will be mine! I've had to do some saving and begging and borrowing since then, but I've just about scraped together the cash without having to sell any vital organs, and I'm heading over there in a couple of weeks to go bring my baby back home. I can't wait. This will change everything. Here's a picture of me trying to figure out how much I really need both of my kidneys while playing this thing of wonder. Can't wait to play gigs on it!