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What’s about to happen… New releases, Networking, Sŵn Festival and more!

I briefly spoke about what’s been going on this year, but didn’t mention what’s about to happen…

Workflow has been few and far between due to increased live shows and the day job. I spent quite a bit of time concentrating on how I was going to start performing my music live. Chose a drum kit, and created an Ableton Live template to have running beside me with my Livid Instruments CNTRL:R, a small Korg Volca Keys Synth, and sometimes a little Akai MPK Mini 2 Keyboard (mainly for playing the synth). Playing that synth live is a pain on the ribbon controller…

I’ve still got a lot of work to do on the live aspect of playing. I make a point of meeting members of the audience and talking to them about what they enjoyed, and try getting some honest critisism. Some love it, but some get bored of seeing someone ‘just play drums’ and want to see something more. I try to put as much into my live show as possible when I’m playing, but I think taking it one step further may be the key.

First of all what I’m playing. Live drums can’t be good enough if I’m just playing what’s already on the track, so my aim is to start experimenting more. Filling the holes a little, stripping back to the idea of live drums being texture to add to the production, something extra you don’t hear on the original to make my live shows unique. I discovered more recently that if I try recording my drums to place into my productions that it kills the need for them live, but I don’t want that to happen. For this reason I think the most I’ll ever record in is the odd cymbal or percussion. Adding a live sound on top of electronic drums is so much more powerful.

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NEW EP RELEASE 10/07/14

With this in mind, on the 10th July I’ll be releasing a new EP for you all to enjoy, entitled ‘Imperfections’. This release for me is a middle ground. I’m wanting to release another album by the end of this year, but that’s quite far away, so I wanted to get something out there for you all to enjoy in the meantime.

This EP is made up of 4 tracks… ‘Running Crows’, ‘Dancing Dragons’, ‘New Dreams’, and ‘Underwater Coin Catcher’.

I wanted to keep a vibe going throughout the EP, so I spent an afternoon creating ideas for it a few weeks ago in one session (picture below high on caffeine after I’d finished the session in my living room). Those ideas I arranged a week later in my studio, and I’ve been mixing them whenever I’ve had the chance to since. Finally I’m at a point where I’ve just got a few small changes to make before mastering them to send to you, and I really hope you’ll enjoy it.

I’m planning to do a short performance of this EP along with a couple of older tracks on the 16th July at Fizzi’s networking event at Fourbars in Cardiff. This is a free networking event for musicians and creatives to get together and meet each other. Create contacts, make friends… It was a great evening last time, and I’m so pleased to have been invited back to play for them. Although it’s a little nerve wracking.

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Free Music Networking Event 16/07/15

I would also like to mention that after the previous meetup I got in contact with Ian Tully, one of the attendees who runs ‘Cardiff Electronic Producers Group’ on Facebook. These guys meet up once a month or so, and the next one will be held at Waterloo Gardens Teahouse in Penylan, Cardiff on the 30th July. I’ll be there so it would be awesome to meet some fellow producers.

Last but CERTAINLY NOT LEAST I would like to announce that I’ll be playing Sŵn Festival 2015 in November. Details about venue etc will be announced closer to the time, but I’m so very pleased to be featured at this event.

swn-festival-listings-poster-web“This year’s Sŵn will take place on Saturday 7th and Sunday 8th November (a little later than usual due to the Rugby World Cup) across a bundle of venues in Cardiff. If you’re new to the festival, all you need to know is that one wristband gets you in to all the venues (subject to capacity), as you walk/run/meander around to discover as much new music as possible.” – http://swnfest.com/

It’s always nice to see how other people describe you too –> http://swnfest.com/artist/5th-spear-2/

What’s been going on… (With audio and video to enjoy)

So, previously I spoke about the beginnings of this year. Playing ‘Dim Sŵn’ in April, and the following gigs that playing such a great festival led to.

Well I have to say I’ve been kept busy. Since I’ve supported Bloodsport and Giant Swan at The Abacus, an art gallery that replaced the old bus station ticket office here in Cardiff. It was such a cool little venue to play, and the bands I was supporting were great to meet, making some awesome noises. Both bands were experimental and unique in their own way. I was massively impressed by Giant Swan’s crazy setup of of drum machines and guitar pedals. I felt silly asking them afterwards whether they had sidechain compression setup in there somewhere, the kicks were pumping so much. They didn’t even know what i was talking about. Pure, clean, analog noise. Awesome.

Shortly after I was given the honour of supporting ‘Slowly Rolling Camera‘. A band consisting of some AMAZING musicians, with jazzy electronic sounds often compared with ‘The Cinematic Orchestra’. I felt so lucky to support these guys, and to see some old friendly faces again. Their drummer being the amazing Elliot Bennett, and the tech head behind it all Deri Roberts, not forgetting their amazing bassist Aidan Thorne. All of which and worked with whilst studying at Uni. It was great to see what they’d moved on with and accomplished together.

This set saw me stripping back to just a laptop (no drums), controller and new Korg Volca Keys synth I’d picked up the week previous. It was an odd situation playing at the back of the venue next to the mixing desk, which I quite enjoyed as for once I could hear what the audience were hearing, yet led to people wondering when I was playing, thinking that I was DJing. However, it did lead to some wonderful comments such as ‘Is this Goldpanda‘ or, ‘This really sounds like Bonobo‘. I saw this as a good thing.

Anyway. My brother caught a few short clips and here was my fave.

Next saw me playing at Gwdihw. A small popular alternative bar tucked around a corner in Cardiff City Centre. They get quite a few bands playing in there, but this was a first collaboration between ‘All My friends‘ and ‘Electronic Music Wales‘, a night I hope they continue to do. All acts were electronic based. A duo called ‘Superhand‘ were headlining, with fellow support from a new group called ‘Ghostlawns’.

Superhand had elements of Clark in there, with vocals that reminded me of Emika. Some really nice chilled vibes, but crazy at times.

Electronic Music Wales were nice enough to invite me down to the venue for an interview earlier in the week, with a very passionate blog runner Harish. This was my first video interview, so I had no idea what to expect………..

I later got a last minute opportunity to play a short set at a new venue. Ten Feet Tall.. This was an odd mix of bands playing together. Fellow support were ‘How I Faked the Moon Landing‘, and indie band fueled by sounds akin to The Killers.

Tellison were great headliners, and again another great band to meet. Lovely guys, the lead having a day job working for Sega, which is freakin’ sweet. Their sound was a mish mash of bands such as Death Cab for Cutie and Reuben etc. One of the first bands in a while that I’ve walked up to afterwards and requested to buy a CD from, and I’m still listening to it. Some great tracks from these guys. Certainly my ‘cup of tea’ when I’m in the mood.

So that’s what’s been going on… Expect an update of what’s about to happen shortly…

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The Beginning of 2015

So my last post was looking back on 2014, re-capping on my achievements throughout the year, and rounding up with a compilation of work. Doing this has lead onto a great start for 2015 (even though we’re four months in already).

April 11th saw me play my first live gig as 5th Spear at this years ‘Dim Swn’. This was a one day event held by co-founders John Rostron and Huw Stephens. The event first started back in 2007, and was quickly labelled ‘Best Small Festival’ by NME magazine after a great line up held in 2013.

2015’s ‘Dim Swn’ was held only for one day, seen as a taster for a longer weekend event to be held possibly later this year, and saw some great artists come to play for an amazing audience. Below is a playlist put together on Soundcloud of the artists who played this year.

So being my first gig, there were of course some hiccups, but I’m told nothing noticeable. It was great to get to play to a crowd, it’s been way too long since I’ve had such an experience, and found myself exhausted after the fact.

Photographer Gareth Bull attended the gigs held at Clwb Ifor Bach and managed to get some great photos from the night.

He was generous to send over some photos he took of my set and was kind enough to let me post them. Check them out over on my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/5thspear

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Off the back of my set at Dim Swn, I’ve now been offered a small handful of gigs, and I’m really looking forward to my next one supporting both Blood Sport, and Giant Swan. I’m insanely excited to see both of these acts. Blood Sport being compared to bands such as ‘Battles’, and Giant Swan making loud techno-ish noises using guitars and FX pedals, which all looks like a hella lot of fun. You can buy tickets here and check out the even on Facebook here

Well I hope to see some of you at the next couple of gigs, and hopefully this year is going to be as productive as the last x

Looking back on 2014

2014 has probably been one of my most productive years so far. It started off Christmas Eve of 2013, which involved staying up all night writing a track whilst my partner (Clare) was putting together some Christmas hampers for the family.

Since then I’ve become pretty happy with the music that I’ve been making, and lucky enough to have kept on making it. My workflow has improved so much since the 2013, which has allowed me to make music around the day job (which unfortunately can be really tough sometimes. I image some of you can relate).

So, ‘Year One’ is basically my personal favourite tracks from 2014. I felt that my Soundcloud page had become cluttered with the 40+ tracks made over the year, so I’ve dumped all but a few, obviously with the intention to create space for 2015. The artworks a little basic, but I like it :)

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I’m still a little unsure as to where to put all of this music I create. Soundcloud is such a noisey place. Everyone fights for the same thing. A little bit of recognition. When I was 16 and spending the majority of my time glued to MySpace, this never used to be such an issue. Somehow people would come across your page through others a lot more easily, you’d start a conversation and form a relationship EASILY, where with SC everyone just seems to be a robot! (Often in the literal sense)

If anyone has any suggestions for an alternative then please do comment.

So anyway… This year I’m hoping to find a way of performing my material live. There’s a small community here in Cardiff dedicated to finding Electronic acts that perform rather than ‘just DJ’, the go under the name ‘Dragon Era’. I attended their previous compilation release at a bar called Gwdihw where I was pretty jaw droppingly suprised by some of the raw talent that was there. I was then lucky enough to get one of my tracks onto their compilation in March 2014. You can check it out here

Speaking of compilations, I also appeared in ‘AEP 3.1: Picking up the Pieces’ released in April 2014. A competition that took part on the IDMForums (and others) where you get the chance to use stems of tracks by particular artist (In this case it was ‘GrainBastard’) in order to create something completely brand new. Not just a remix. These competitions run sporadically and are certainly worth checking out.

So all in all, this year has actually been a little more productive than I though it had been. Probably why I don’t update the blog more often ;)

Lastly, I got to see some great shows last year. I had the chance to see Daedelus here in Cardiff, and even bought him a shot at the bar, followed by a short chat about record label experiences, taking some Caerphilly Cheese back for Shigeto to try, and where to find the best coffee in Cardiff (Waterloo Tea of course). It was such a surreal night though. A show that if back in LA (I believe) would be sold out and packed, where as here in Cardiff there were only around 20 people who attended. I was getting quite worried that this would ruin the night, but once he got up on stage (or should I say moved behind his equipment) it quickly became one of the best gigs I’ve been too.

These guys were going nuts to anything trap orientated. Tbf, I did eventually join in.

The end of the night felt very special indeed. (Sorry for the low quality videos. To be honest I don’t actually care, I remember the night way better than these videos)

I also had the chance to see Flying Lotus doing his final run with Thundercat and Captain Murphy before he released his amazing album ‘Your Dead’. This was a must, so I made sure to get my butt down to Bristol to see this phenomenon. I was too engrossed with the visuals to take any videos so here’s a link to someone who did.

I found it hilarious that the techs were getting so fed up of Flylo clipping the system, that instead of talking to him about it, proceeded to move onto the stage and mess around with his gear. Let’s just say that he wasn’t happy about this and made some mild threats.

Oh, and I shouldn’t forget that I also went to see Lapalux at ‘Start the Bus’ in Bristol later in the year too. No videos of that gig so here’s one of his more recent releases (if you haven’t already heard it). A wonderful 3 part track showing off some his different characters in production.

Well here’s to a new year anyway. This post ended up being way longer than I had originally planned. Hopefully just as productive as the last. Don’t forget to check out ‘Year One’, download it, share it, and have a good 2015. x