Whilst working at the Riverfront Theatre in Newport, I have crossed paths with Krystal many times through various shows with Ballet Cymru. We found a connection through our love of writing and have talked of collaborating many times. Our first collaboration was hindered slightly by the Covid lockdowns, but we managed to create a music video together for my song 'my, my' which you can see here.
Today in the hot sun at Belle Vue Park we had a conversation about a new project idea and this is what we came up with.
Krystal writes a poem - I write music inspired by that poem - Krystal choreographs movement to the music - I film the end product.
We couldn't decide on how to approach it, in terms of theme and rules. We decided in the end that I won't know what the poem is about or if Krystal even decided on a specific theme - I will just read it and work from there. At no point are we allowed to discuss the other persons work whilst we are creating, simply to try and keep the reactions and responses neutral and channel it all into the responsive piece of work. So Krystal won't know if I am using the poem as lyrics or if it will just be instrumental for example. We allow ourselves a month between each handing over of the creative baton. Due dates being the 10th of each month. We will come together for the final section (filming) because it requires both parts, but I will direct the content and make the creative decisions from a filmmaking point of view - I think I will struggle with not asking Krystal for her input on this, but those are the rules!
After the project, we will look into potentially trying again but with different rules about the collaboration, maybe completing each section together. Not sure about me dancing though...
Just gonna quickly analyse EVERYTHING for you.
I have gone over things as they've come up, but It will probably be best to gather it all up and get some key parts together on here. I love talking positively about my self so this will be easy...
1 - Workshop.
Not yet happened. See, this is easy.
2 - Tracks.
I have delivered 4 tracks over this project. 3 of them were mixed and mastered by someone else and I think one of my key strengths through that process was my communication. It is harry to describe what you don't want, but not so easy to describe what you want. I've had a really good back and forth with Tobias in which we are developing a really good understanding now of how we both work and what we expect from each other. We've planned to make more music together. The fourth track isn't about audio quality whatsoever, it was put together in a morning with the aim to raise some money, I'm proud of the song more than any I've other written. It's a subject I never thought I'd be exploring anytime soon. It also makes me want to never 'force' a lyric again. I don't want to ever write a line just for the rhyme - it has to have meaning. Not that I do that a lot, but I have a few lines that I cringe every time I sing them as they are pointless and empty emotions.
4 - The Show.
I've done a better analysis of the show HERE But the key strengths from this I think are my networking skills with the company Ratio Studios and the delivery of the show. I've had a lot of feedback saying that it felt like they were actually at a live show for the first time during lockdown, this is mostly due to the quality of technical equipment.
5 - The 'Zoom' Sketch.
I wrote this for a different medium and then quickly had to transfer it over which was pretty stressful, but I really enjoyed the process. And I think the end result is great, I much prefer Gareth's version to mine, however some have said they prefer mine. I have also used the script for this sketch as a tool to network with other actors. I have emailed it to Sue from the Performing Arts department at UOG and she forwarded it on. Still waiting for a response from the students but its a start.
Something that I think I'd like to highlight is my change in persona as araby on social media.
Before this project I would share things as Araby with a professional and formal vibe. I would try to make it sound proper just in case someone professional was watching - not that that really means anything!
I would then share it on my personal profile with a witty comment or casual remark - creating a clear line between Araby and David. But I think that the Araby 'character' needs to be more consistent with when he's on stage, which is essentially just a nervous version of me, telling crappy jokes in an attempt to hide my nerves.
So I have started thinking of what I would say on stage if I was presenting something and then adding that to the Facebook post - For example the above picture of the make believe video and caption along side it - I'm letting the David come out in the social media araby now as well as on stage.
Despite having positive back and forth with Dave from Upbeat about the storywriting workshop, I haven't been able to commit to a date to start the process. It's completely my fault, due to lack of time management and also not really being in the right frame of mind to 'switch on' my teaching persona for kids. I've apologised to Dave and we're looking at trying again in the near future.
This could lead to more work later (if it goes well) so I need to get on with it and try to pad it out so that it looks appealing to headteachers who may be desperate for an online material that isn't just a lesson.
I've booked in to deliver the first session on Thursday or Friday this week.
Following that, I shall get some feedback and try it again with a different family. Hopefully leading to more families and so on...
Here is the full cut of the livestream. What you are watching on this video is exactly what the audience at home would have been seeing. (stream starts around 15:20).
In terms of planning the visuals for the how, I wasn't specific for every song. I know Emily was lighting it and she was going to 'busk' it. Busking on lights is when you are programming as you go- we have pre sets made for the moving lights and if you want to change colour or move or create an effect then you just push the buttons to tell it to do so. It's not simple or easy, but Emily is very, very good at it and she knows most of my songs already so I trust her judgements. I was specific on only a few things, one being the song waiting - I want it to be subtle up until the end when its a Big Bang and I'd like the lights to help carry that. Unfortunately this didn't happen as I'd of liked because Em had to tend to a tech issue during the song! C'est La Vie.
I also asked for the song 'Hey Dude' To be as simple as possible - no distraction in the form of moving or flashy lights - I think she absolutely nailed it.
So having seen the success of the quality of broadcast, I have forwarded the idea to Ratio that we approach some appropriate people about making this a regular thing. perhaps I could host a Friday night of live music with a guest performer each night. We are also discussing the funding, we feel like Arts Council Wales would be really interested in this platform as it's (from what I have seen) the only professional live stream environment available to South Wales that isn't costing an arm and a leg to run. The set up we have is essentially a studio theatre with HD TV quality streaming availability - I imagine there will be plenty of interest in it, so maybe we could make it more than a music platform? Maybe like a magazine show of sorts, a South Wales Blue Peter for everyone. Who knows? Exciting none the less.
I will use this blog post to type up my thoughts after each live stream gig I attempt. It's practice as research.
Sofa Stage Wales - 25th March LINK HERE
So I have just finished my first attempt at a live stream gig. And... overall pretty negative. The main issue being the massive latency between me and the comments. I had specifically decided to design the story telling to be interactive, meaning the audience would help me tell the stories. But because it took so long to for me to see the answers/comments people had written in response to the questions I was asking, there was SO MUCH empty space. Had I of planned better, then maybe I could have thought of things to do in this empty space, but I was also unsure as to whether people would be writing anything at all anyways. I realised after that some one was hosting the video as a watch party, meaning I didn't see all of the comments anyway. It was over a bit of a shambles from my perspective, but I carried on and just kept it going, even though the stories took 10 times longer than usual to tell. Don't feel like you have to watch the video, I don't want to either.
Utilipub - ? I honestly cant remember the date for this one. It was recently though, for sure.
This gig was a lot more informal and social. It took place on a zoom call and it was very much like being at the pub and having a chat with friends. I only performed two songs for this gig, the first of which was a story song, and because it was a zoom video call, there was no lag and the input from the audience was instant. The story went down well and people appeared to be enjoying it. From my perspective it was a good gig and I'm looking forward to the next. I am hoping to get the footage of it at some point.
Utilipub (SECOND LIFE, PABLO) - 8th May LINK HERE
Well, that was weird. I felt like I walked into a Salvador Dali painting after eating some suspicious brownies. Trying to work out where the physics start and end, all whilst trying to balance on a giant bubble. It might make more sense if you see the video.
There are obvious tech issues with this performance, all of my own doing! Despite having it working well in the soundcheck, it all went tits up. I think the issue was with my audio input on the SL programme - I'd had it at 50% for the sound checks, but after the performance I realised that it was at 100% - something I should have changed when logging in to second life. It was nice to perform the Pablo songs though. This was probably the most fun I've had at a gig, but I don't think I will use it again for my main performance.
Cul-de-sac Festival - 30th May - LINK HERE
Well, that didn't go 100% according to plan! Gary Martin had asked artist to come up with a piece in response to the restrictions during lockdown. I had written a piece and was going to perform it live during the zoom call. BUT we had a phone call from the ambulance service saying that they were going to pick up an oxygen tank from my house in Cardiff at some point today so we should be there. At this point I was in Porth and I couldn't get to Cardiff as I didn't have my car. So I waited for my car to come back from the shops, when I would go to Cardiff and wait for the Ambulance people to pick up the tank. This was all on the day of the festival. I didn't know at what point the ambulance would arrive and if they were to arrive during my performance then it would be a bit shit, so I recorded the performance instead and sent it to GM to screen. Does that make sense? No? Good.
The short video was screened and it got a positive response as well as a new instagram follower. I managed to log into the festival after the ambulance had been and got to join in with the whisper karaoke and GIF disco. A good time.
Sofa SHARE Wales - 6th June LINK HERE
This was my last livestream before the big one on Wednesday. It was really nice as there was a lot of support in the comments. It gained me a few followers on Facebook so hopefully when I do the big show it will all come together. I didn't do any stories for this stream as I just didn't want to after what happened last time, but the music seemed to go down really well on its own. More than anything, this gig was just me dipping my toes in to make sure the water is warm enough for when I jump in on Wednesday.
Ratio Studios Araby Live 10th June - thoughts are at this link here.
This has been updated in response to the Black Lives Matter movement.
Having taken on board the design thinking process, I have made some decisions surrounding the live show and what it will be and look like.
Firstly, I've worked things out with Ratio Studios and I'll be travelling up on the 10th around 2pm to prep for the live show to kick of at 7:30 (ish). The reason behind choosing Ratio Studios is because of the wow factor that will come with the show quality. The promo footage from their website looks phenomenal (link here), and as I know both Gavin and Emily very well, I trust in their abilities to pull it off. I have even worked on cameras for them during live stream events for live visuals at arena scale shows - they are GOOD. They have also implemented strict safety guidelines regarding COVID19 - there will only be them two and myself. Gavin will not leave the control room, and Emily will stay put in the corner with the lighting desk. All cameras are remotely accessible and controllable via a joystick.
I have planned for there to be two guest speakers. The first will be Krystal S Lowe who is the dancer and choreographer for my music video My, my. I will be chatting to her about the process behind creating the video and how we managed to communicate about physical ideas whilst only being allowed to talk digitally. Secondly I will be talking with Tobias Robertson who mixed and master my 3 latest singles. We're good friends and his music is an inspiration to me, so I am encouraging him to play a song for us too. The reason behind getting some guest speakers on board is that they have been very much a big part of the process during lockdown, and I feel they need to be seen/heard - so this is my way of giving back to them as best I can.
Social and Political factors. (updated)
I'm adding this section in here as it is certainly worth mentioning. BLACK LIVES MATTER.
The BLM movement is currently pouring across the world, and rightfully so in my opinion. I fully support the movement and am open to learning about how I can help. It is no longer enough to not be racist, we must be ANTI RACIST.
Lost of performers stopped releasing content in a solidarity with the movement, myself included. I participated in blackout Tuesday. Things are starting to reappear now and I am juggling with the timing of the live show - is it appropriate?
After some thought and discussions with friends over at the charity 'Show Racism the Red Card' (home I know from previously collaborating with), I have decided to go ahead with the show and I shall try my best to support the anti racism fight in the process. I have pledged that any money that comes through my Bandcamp on the day of the show will be donated to SHOW RACISM THE RED CARD in full (excluding the percentage that Bandcamp take).
Marketing and Things.
I shall be using my videos as a way of sharing my name far and wide as best as possible. I mentioned in a previous post about how much more screen time the videos on Facebook get in comparison to YouTube. Plus the Facebook video has the option to invite people who have commented or liked it to officially 'like' my araby page. This is a super handy tool as it means I am broadening my reach beyond the friends and family! I shall also be sharing the posters and engaging more on the social medias leading up to the event.
I'll be limiting my posts as I feel it is still a bit improper to promote things during the current political climate, and despite the aim of raising money to battle racism, I fear that it could be seen as a way of selfish promotion. I don't want people to think that I am only tagging the donation aspect to help get the word out about my music and projects. I am not using an anti racism charity as a horse to ride on, I am hoping that my show is the horse that the charity can ride on.
Because a lot of my focus goes into the video that accompanies the tracks, I need to make sure I am uploading the videos to the best platforms. There is no rule that says you must restrict the platforms you use, so I will be uploading them to most platforms. I will pay most attention however to Facebook. This is because a video on Facebook is a lot easier to share around. The numbers also speak for themselves in my own experience -
Bulletproof 2.0 Facebook - 1.3k views.
Bulletproof 2.0 Youtube - 164 Views.
Both videos were uploaded around the same time, but you can see the clear difference in views.
I will still upload my content onto youtube, but will focus on the Facebook side of things.
I've arranged for my good friend Tobias Robertson to mix and master my 3 tracks. The reason I asked Tobias is because he recently released his own EP where the style of master is very similar to the vibe I aim for. His EP is called 'Moving On' and is available HERE.
I also have a good musical relationship with Tobias and trust his judgement when it comes to my music. For example we discussed the 'shit drum machine' vibe that I'd planned on my songs and after a discussion he helped me realise that it is possible but maybe not on all of the tracks as it takes some songs to a different place where they don't really need to go. We are always honest when critiquing each others music, which is very valuable as we know we can be honest without upsetting the other.