Tag Archives: Songwriting

Artist Feature: Hallowed Bells

Hallowed Bells

As we take in every experience, we respond to it by building something new with it in our own minds, and reflecting it out.

– Hallowed Bells

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

HB: Currently, we both reside in West Philadelphia. Darian grew up in Central Pennsylvania but has been living in Philadelphia for 11 years. Alison grew up and went to college in Maryland, then lived in Washington, DC for a few years before coming to Philadelphia three years ago.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

HB: We both agree that for us, the more relevant definition of reflection is that which deals with reflecting out. We both believe that nothing that we create truly comes from inside us. Every idea that we have is a synthesis of other things we have heard, seen, and done. As we take in every experience, we respond to it by building something new with it in our own minds, and reflecting it out.

How does your work fit in with that definition?

HB: Because the music of Hallowed Bells is written collaboratively, the two of us are always reflecting back and forth off of each other, responding to, transforming, refracting and mirroring each other’s ideas. 

Alison: Also, whenever I write a piece of music, it is because there is something that I can vaguely imagine, that I want to be able to listen to, but can’t quite find. So I have to make it myself. Sometimes the ideal that I’m going after is really general, but sometimes it can be a very specific reflection of, and response to something that I hear in a piece of music that already exists. I’ll hear a brief musical idea that I like, just a pair of chords, a short rhythmic figure or something, but wish it had been developed more or used in a different way. I’ll remember these specific sounds I wish I could hear, and then, when I write my own music, I draw ideas from what I wish other music sounded like, and reflect my own version back out, eventually made so different that it seems to bear no resemblance to the things that inspired it.

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next? 

HB: We just finished recording, mixing and designing our first release, which is a cassette EP that will be released this summer, and we are setting up our first tour to go along with that.

Alison: I am studying to become an electronics technician and we’ve both been spending a lot of time fixing old electric organs and building synthesizers. After the tour, I am hoping to start a larger-scale synthesizer project that I have been thinking about for a long time, and which will probably end up taking a pretty long time. The plan is to start with one of the old combo organs that we know and love, and transform it into a modular paraphonic synthesizer. We’ll probably be recording some more Hallowed Bells music after the tour as well.

Darian: I also run a record label called Edible Onion and am always really busy with that. Most of the releases involve elaborate, handmade packaging so it’s very time intensive. I’m also working on a film score for a friend’s film, and I have another music project called Still Sweet and plan on finishing a full length this year for that. It is mainly a recording project at this point, though I would like to create a live lineup once the new songs are done and do a tour.

Who or what inspires you?

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Artist Feature: Gavin Dunaway

Libel

Standard operating procedure. When something stimulates a reaction, we must reflect – on our personal feelings and experience as well as all available information – before formulating our reaction.

– Gavin Dunaway

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

GD: I was born outside of Washington, DC, in Northern Virginia, and spent 27 years trying to get out. I kid, but it’s very hard to get away from the DC area – there are good schools and government jobs; the suburbs are safe and comfy. And a little dull. On a professional (for a living, I’m an industry journalist) and on an artistic level, I needed something more, something bolder. I still love my hometown, and the choice to move to New York (really Brooklyn) was a tough one, but I’ve been here six years and have never felt more at home. A few years ago, I found an amazing deal on a big apartment in Bushwick near the Jefferson L, and I’m sitting pretty near my rehearsal studio as the neighborhood rapidly transforms.

 The main reason I migrated to Brooklyn was to extend my rock’n’roll dreams: I’ve been playing guitar since I was 7 and jammed in bands for longer than I can remember. While I jumped around from band to band for a while, my main focus now is the group I lead, Libel. I try to blend my love of 70s glam (e.g., David Bowie) with 90s post-punk (e.g., Fugazi), while sprinkling socially conscious lyrics on top – examining the contemporary state of identity; the decay of the middle class and domination of the plutocrats; the slide into hyper-reality; and even the volatility of love amid cultural confusion.

Libel

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

GD: Standard operating procedure. When something stimulates a reaction, we must reflect – on our personal feelings and experience as well as all available information – before formulating our reaction. Technology has encouraged us to respond without reflecting (I’m looking at you, Twitter), turning so much of our culture into a series of knee-jerk reactions with little depth. Indeed, I think many of us are so lost in the flood of information that we desperately seek guides to follow and allow them to tell us what to think – about politics, art, etc. Reflection withers, response dominates – we’re all desperate to be heard, and ultimately validated, in an ocean of voices.

How does your work fit in with that definition?

GD: I tend to let songs gestate for years; crafting both music and lyrics require a great deal of reflection before finalization. For example, I’m finishing up lyrics to a song focused on gentrification. When I finished the first draft, I thought, what is this trying to say – gentrification is bad? No, it’s more complicated than that. Am I just merely describing what I’ve seen in Bushwick the last few years? If so, is there a message below the straightforward chronicle? In the end, I realized the lyrics reflected the callousness of the gentrifiers (which includes me) to transform areas without any – wait for it – reflection on the environment they are disturbing. And then we move on when we get priced out or just… bored because the area turns into something we don’t recognize (or like).

 So my creative work feels much more dedicated to reflection, and encouraging others to reflect and develop their own responses.

Libel

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

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Artist Feature: Alan Pugliese

Alan Pugliese es un cantante punk rock que nació y vive en Buenos Aires, Argentina. Conectamos con él por su padre Angel, un amigo de Peter cuando él vivía en Argentina hace unos años. Recientemente contactamos con Angel otra vez, estuvimos emocionados cuando Alan se apuntó a la idea de hacer una entrevista con nosotros. Alan forma parte del grupo Pegamento que toca en vivo a menudo. El cantante habla del papel de Reflexión en el proceso de componer canciones y Respuesta en el acto de tocar en vivo. Nos alegra la colaboración de Alan como parte del colectivo the LIFESTYLE. Lee el dialogo y mira los videos abajo!

Alan Pugliese is a punk rock vocalist straight of Buenos Aires, Argentina. We connected with Alan through his pops Angel, who was a friend of Peter’s while he was living in Argentina a few years back. After reconnecting with Angel recently, we were juiced when Alan was down for an Artist Feature with the LIFESTYLE. Alan is part of the group Pegamento and they perform live regularly. In our dialogue, Alan discusses the role of Reflection in songwriting and Response during live performance. We’re juiced to have Alan as part of the LIFESTYLE collective — peep the dialogue and some videos of his work below!

Alan Pugliese (2nd from left) & Co.

Alan Pugliese (2nd from left) & Co.

Estamos en contra de las canciones tristes; lo que queremos es transmitir alegría. Cantamos lo que vemos y lo que sabemos, las cosas que nos pasan, aveces escribimos las canciones de forma irónica.

We’re against [making] sad songs; what we’d like to do is communicate happiness. We sing about what we see and what we know, the things that happen to us, [and] sometimes we write songs in an ironic way.

– Alan Pugliese

Para empezar con algunos puntos básicas, de dónde vienes? Dónde estás?

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at? 

AP: Mi nombre es Alan Pugliese, soy de Bs.As Argentina, y actualmente vivo hay.

AP: My name is Alan Pugliese, I’m from Buenos Aires, Argentina, which is where I live now.

Que quiere decir “reflexión,” y “respuesta,” para ti?

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

AP: Reflexion es pensar sobre un tema o experiencia tratando de mejorar ese aspecto, o madurar si la situación lo requiere.

Respuesta es la acción que puede cambiar una situación conflictiva para mejor.

AP: Reflection means to think about a topic or experience in order to try to improve it, or mature [from the experience] if the situation calls for that.

Response refers to an action that can change a difficult situation for the better.

Cómo se mete tu arte en esta definición?

How does your work fit in with that definition?

AP: Aveces reflexiono sobre un tema antes de escribir una canción, la respuesta la veo cuando subo al escenario.

AP: Sometimes I reflect on a topic before writing a song, and my response comes out when I get on stage.

Que más estás haciendo actualmente? Que proyectos estás pensando trabajar próximamente?

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

AP: Aparte de cantar creo veladores artesanales y soy fumigador.

Estoy apunto de sacer mi nuevo cd con mi banda. 

AP: Aside from singing, I make hand-crafted tables and I work as a fumigator.

 I’m also getting ready to release a new CD with my band.

Quien o que te inspira?

Who or what inspires you?

AP: Me inspiran las buenas experiencias.

 AP: I’m inspired by good experiences.

Hay algo más que quieres que sepa el Collectivo? 

Is there anything else you would like the Collective to know?

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Artist Feature: Mike Gervais

Mike Gervais is a guitarist, singer, and songwriter, and  lifelong resident of Seattle, Washington. As he witnesses a changing city climate, Mike writes image-based music that inspires feelings in the mind of the listener, preferring to position his creative output within the physical dimension of response. In the interview below, Mike describes the natural imagery behind one of his songs Aurora Borealis and some of his inspirations such as impressionism and Chuck Close. Working extensively with his brother Matt as “Mikey and Matty,” the two have begun a busy 2014 playing dozens of shows and writing new songs they look to record over the next few months.

Mike and Matt Gervais

I don’t want to change or rearrange anything. If I could be successful at songwriting at all, I’d hope that what I came up with put a picture in the listener’s mind. I’d prefer to be an impressionist or even a Chuck Close to being a Jackson Pollack. Even though I envy that type of work.

– Mike Gervais

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

MG: I realized recently that I’ve experienced 21% of the entire history of Seattle as a life-long resident. Imagine the time elapsed since the Denny party first settled here- 163 years, as the price of your dinner date… My age is the tip. I suppose that I should consider this when lamenting the construction projects that seem to be replacing all of the old brick and 70’s architecture with steamy hot-yoga windows under impossibly expensive “mixed-income” apartments. I walk around mostly humming tunes and looking for plants coming up through the cement. Even though we’re so close to the mountains, it seems like it’s getting harder to feel that they’re so close. I think we could all use a good long walk up there.  

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

MG: I think a reflection is a response. I’m mostly about the tangible, equal-opposite reaction type of response. If light waves are bouncing on a puddle in the road, I want my music to be that reflection. I’m only looking for images that convey feelings. I don’t consider myself worthy of interpreting and translating events and relationships- I don’t want to change or rearrange anything. If I could be successful at songwriting at all, I’d hope that what I came up with put a picture in the listener’s mind. I’d prefer to be an impressionist or even a Chuck Close to being a Jackson Pollack. Even though I envy that type of work.

How does your song Aurora Borealis fit in with that definition?

MG: I work exclusively with my brother, Matt Gervais. Most of our work fits somewhere into the imagery=feeling spectrum. This is the first time I’ve had an interview without him, so I chose to highlight a song I can speak to more personally, Aurora Borealis. I tried to tell this story exclusively through pictures, and I normally look to nature for the best ones. The tide goes out twice a day and these squishy, delicate animals are exposed to the seagulls and the sunshine. You could write a thousand songs about that. Or the chaos of Saturn missiles going off on a dock at dusk in summer. I love the grandiose and the hopeless.

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

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Artist Feature: Franz Rothe

We’ve been fortunate enough to have become close friends with Dresden-born musician, writer, and filmmaker Franz Rothe over the past year here in Brooklyn, and his versatility and creative output are huge inspirations for us. In an insightful interview, Franz guides us through his perspectives on Reflection and Response, explores how these concepts fit in with his musical process, reflects on a recent album called Away that he worked on as part of the band Franz & Frau Schneider und dieser Andere, and talks through various current projects. Let’s dig in:

Franz Rothe

I believe that the urge to write a song results from the need to capture and express a certain feeling…You chase this feeling, this impulse, because it is haunting, like something you have once known but forgotten. And you try to figure out what it is, what it wants to be, how it wants to sound.

– Franz Rothe

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

FR: I am from a beautiful city called Dresden in Germany. But I have been living here and there in the recent past. Right now I live in New York, which is wonderful but won’t last very long either.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

FR: I think that, in a way, Reflection and Response describes the very essence of music or really any kind of art. I believe that whatever we create can only be seen as a response to what we have seen, heard or experienced before. At least I would say about myself, that I’ve never come up with any kind of idea that was not a response to something somebody else did before me. We reflect upon our experiences, our impressions, and we respond to them – knowingly or not – and sculpt them into something new.

Pessimistically, that view could lead to questioning the mere idea of originality, as everything is just a combination of what was there before. But on the other hand, I enjoy the thought of being a part in an endless chain of Reflection and Response.

(For example, I am not ashamed to say that my biggest form of admiration for any kind of art is the thought ‘Why didn’t I think of that?’ followed by the thought ‘How can I take that and turn it into something new?’…)

How does your album ‘Away’ fit in with that definition?

FR: I think the album ‘Away’ is on many levels the product of Reflection and Response – it is what we made of music we heard, songs we love, songs we hate, books that touched us, people that surrounded us and places we have been. But it is also what we made of each other and ourselves.

I believe that the urge to write a song results from the need to capture and express a certain feeling. It’s never about which chords might go well together and which words might rhyme. You chase this feeling, this impulse, because it is haunting, like something you have once known but forgotten. And you try to figure out what it is, what it wants to be, how it wants to sound.

I think, in the best case an artist should be like the needle of a record player, materializing an invisible something.

As we were three musicians working together on this album, the most important part was responding to our surroundings in a similar way. Sharing an understanding of the feelings that we wanted to transport in the music we made. And with every musician we brought into the studio, we hoped they would be telling a similar story as we did, adding to what the three of us shared.

Then again, that sounds way more complex than it actually was. In the end we just made music together, simply loving each other for that.

Franz Rothe & Vivi

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

FR: I’m trying my hand at a couple of different things right now. There are so many languages in which you can express yourself, so I tried to look for other languages like film or writing. Kind of to find an outlet for things that haunted me, but couldn’t find their way out of my head through chords and melodies.

I made a documentary about forced evictions in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, with my dear friend Michael last year. It’s called ‘The Final Days’ and I’m happy about anyone watching it on vimeo.

Right now I actually started writing a book, which has been on my mind for ages. But first novels usually suck, so there’s really not too much to expect there…

Who or what inspires you?

FR: Places. People. My friends. Vivi and Lukas, who are the other two-thirds of the band. Their talent and their ability to always just naturally come up with exactly the right thing – that never ceased to amaze and inspire me!

Generally speaking though, in the best case, absolutely anything could be inspiration. But unfortunately I often have a hard time keeping the open eyes it takes to be aware of what’s actually around me.

So what I do is I travel a lot and try to see and live in as many countries and cultures as possible, to absorb as much as I can.

Is there anything else you would like the Collective to know?
FR: Check out the photographer Ben Zank! I just had the pleasure of meeting him and he is as nice a guy as he is a brilliant artist.
Shout out to…?

FR: Huge shout out to Vivi and Lukas, with whom I made the album ‘Away’ and whom I miss terribly when we are too far away from each other to make music!

Franz, Vivi, Lukas

Reflection and Response.

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Artist Feature: David Bornstein

Songwriter David Bornstein comes at us straight out of Madrid via New Hampshire. We got a chance to catch up with him in Madrid after a performance at Café la Palma, and he brings us some inspiring Reflection & Response below. Exploring themes around his music and independent creative processes, David lets us know what’s good from the mind of an active creator establishing his own lane. Peep the dialogue below and catch his group PATIENT 108 live in Madrid this Saturday!

David Bornstein

I believe music has the power and place in society to create awareness and make people think and question the world in which we live. Candor is the key.

– David Bornstein

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

DB: I spent most of my life in Durham, New Hampshire. I went to the school district and then after traveling/working majored in history with a dual major in International Affairs.

I didn’t really start playing the guitar or writing songs until after I graduated high school, but slowly and surely it became a part of me. After I graduated from U.N.H I came to Spain to work on a music project with an old friend fusing original alternative rock with the technicality of flamenco guitar. After many a trial and tribulation and multiple attempts at making the project work I found it necessary to cut the cord and move on. When people ask me what I’m doing in Madrid, I can´t help but remember that I originally came here to work on that project. In the end, Madrid has been the place where I learned to find myself and grow as an artist. That’s something I find more important than any song or work alone.

Shortly after the project ended I started playing solo gigs and organizing shows with other musicians at bars and pubs around Madrid. During this time I focused on improving my abilities on the guitar and developing a more percussive sound to emphasize rhythm.

Right now I’m playing with my newly formed band PATIENT 108.  Kester Jones (electric guitar) hails from England, Xabier Aquino (bass) is from Mexico, and Q (drums) has an identity crisis. They’re all phenomenal musicians and a pleasure to work with. We released our first, 5 song EP, Preacher’s Got The Gun,  in October 2013.  You can stream or download that album here:  http://patient108.bandcamp.com.

Our next show is February 1st, so be sure to come if you live in Madrid!! Details below.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

DB: To me the ultimate test of good music is candor. If music, any type of music, comes from someplace honest and earnest with love or passion, then the result will be something naturalunforced, and unique. There are no rules or genres to this, it’s just something I feel when I hear something.

Music doesn’t have to have a message or exactly mean anything at all to be earnest, but I try to write songs that say something or raise questions I think are important without giving any exact answer. I’ve become interested in working on songs with themes of human nature, war, identity, and illusion. I spend time reflecting on these issues not only as objects to be studied apart from myself, but as an inward study of self inquiry. The end result is a response; a social commentary, and a reflection of society which ultimately serves to express my individual experience and perception. I believe music has the power and place in society to create awareness and make people think and question the world in which we live. Candor is the key.

How does your work fit in with that definition?

DB: Each of the three songs I’ve included deal with themes mentioned above in their own particular way. I don’t like to say too much about a song, allowing instead for each listener to reflect and respond to them in their own way.

Child of War explores humanity’s  relationship with war, progress, civilization, murder and denial.

Transmigration deals with identity, temporality, and the interconnected nature of all things.

Right Gun looks at power structures in the U.S. and how we are used as weapons against ourselves.

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

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Feature: Padraig O’Connor

The beautiful thing about Reflection and Response is that it is about experienceinteracting with as well as observing life and the cycles it presents. When it comes down to it there is a special chemistry that bonds people to their environments and likewise plugs us into a matrix of aesthetic circulation. It’s a dance—romantically passionate with a sort of rhythmic groove, a backdrop scene set by a flow or mood and daring to go wherever creativity leads you. Here, Padraig O’ Connor eases the Collective onto the dance floor of artistic expression as he spins a tale full of energy and intuition. This is great, almost reminiscent of an amazing first date. Enjoy…

Padraig O'Connor

As a songwriter, there´s a constant battle to capture those little moments of magic where you get an idea for a melody or a phrase…So the reflection is that first inspiration… your mind making sense of the world… and how well you respond [to that initial engagement] influences how well the song comes out. It´s a matter of not getting in the way of the inspiration. The best songs just flow.

– Padraig O’Connor

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

PO: Where I´m from is a village called Kill in Co. Kildare, which is close to Dublin in Ireland. Difficult place to hitch-hike to. Picture holding up a sign that says KILL on it. I moved up to Dublin after college. It´s a great city, and has always been a big inspiration for me. It´s full of history. We´ve had writers like Joyce, Wilde, Yeats, Kavanagh, Behan who´ve lived in the city and written about it, so the streets are alive with stories and verse. Where I´m at is Madrid; Malasaña to be exact. I´m recording an album about Dublin over here in a friend´s studio in Goya: Rob Green and Richard Harris’ Spaceland.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

PO: As a songwriter, there´s a constant battle to capture those little moments of magic where you get an idea for a melody or a phrase. Those ideas can come first thing in the morning, when you wouldn´t mind sleeping in a bit longer, or when you´re away from home with just your phone to record them, or before you go to sleep late at night, and you have to write them down there and then or lose them forever.

So the reflection is that first inspiration… your mind making sense of the world… and how well you respond [to that initial engagement] influences how well the song comes out. It´s a matter of not getting in the way of the inspiration. The best songs just flow.

I like to collect little words of wisdom from other songwriters, and there´s something John Lennon was supposed to have said to George Harrison that ties in with this. The gist of it was: as soon as you get the idea, try to finish it. Write an extra verse, try to write a bridge, because that original inspiration might not come again, or if it does it may have changed into something else.

So that´s my approach. The reflection is very important, but you don´t really have control over that, it just happens. The response, to try to stay true to the essence of it, is probably more important. It´s that old adage: “1% inspiration, 99% perspiration”.

How does your song Free fit in with that definition?

PO: This song I wrote, Free, is about a weekend I had in Ireland. I was back for a friend´s stag party in Carlingford, but before leaving, I met up with some friends to sit out on the grass in front of The Pav (The Pavillion, the bar in front of the cricket pitch) in Trinity College, Dublin, where I did my Masters in Music & Media Tech. It was a beautiful sunny day, and I spent a few hours just enjoying that with friends. You don´t get so many [sunny days] in Ireland, so when you do, you have to take advantage of them. I had already written the melody, but when I got back to Madrid, I woke up quite early the next morning (unusual for me) with the song playing in my head and went straight to the piano and guitar, finished the new lyrics, and recorded a demo of it. It sounded something like this:

The first verse is about my hometown, Kill. There´s an old pub there called The Dew Drop Inn, and as a kid I loved the double meaning in the name “Do drop in…” I always pass by it on my way into Dublin and that´s where I was going that day.

The second verse is about walking by the Grand Canal, where one of my favourite poets Patrick Kavanagh was inspired to write some of his best poetry. It´s a nice spot.

The third verse is about sitting on the grass by the Pav in Trinity College as the sun goes down, after the exams and deadlines were all over with. Nowhere you have to be, nothing you have to do, taking your foot off the pedal and letting the world take care of itself. Some days are just perfect like that.

It features Woody Woodman on drums, Karl Twyford on electric guitars, and on backing vocals along with Amber Stiles. Still needs a bass and a couple of other instruments.

 What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

PO: I´m constantly writing, but mostly I´ve been working on the album, which will be called The Lights of Dublin. A lot of the songs I´ve written about down the years were about my experiences living in Dublin, so it seemed natural to use the city as a theme for my first album. They´re mainly written from first hand experience, and songs name check different parts of the city. Some songs are about good times in the city, others about struggling to pay rent and keeping your head above water, other about characters I´ve met, places I´ve been.

One of the songs, Porcelain Doll is like a modern fairytale, inspired by working in an office, and seeing some really two-faced behaviour going on there. It´s about a woman who pretends to be all sweetness and light on the outside, but as soon as a person´s back is turned says something horrible. People who act that way are never truly happy though, so she meets the same fate as Humpty Dumpty, but unlike him she has the opportunity to pick herself up and start again.

That one wasn´t written recently, but it´s a finished song that I´ll be including on the album. It features Julien Lonchamp on bass, Adrian Hart on violin, and me on guitar, melodica with some glockenspiel thrown in for good measure.

I´ve had help from some great friends and great musicians too: Rob Green, Richard Harris, Woody Woodman, Karl Twyford, Amber Stiles, Lionel Gray, Clem O´Regan, Sean Twomey, John Leo Carroll among others. And I´ve even recorded my dad playing harmonica on one track. The goal is now to finish it. At the moment I´ve got most of the basic tracks done, so I´m looking to record extra instruments like trumpet, sax, trombone, violin, viola, cello. It´s taken me a little bit longer to locate those musicians, but I´m hoping to get most of those tracks down in the next couple of months.

After that, I want to move on to album number two. I have a big backlog of songs to record, so it´s a matter of getting them down and moving on to the next ones.

 Who or what inspires you?

PO: Anything and everything inspires me. It´s all about feel. It´s like Keith Richards says:

“The thing about being a songwriter is, even if you been fucked over, you can find consolation in writing about it, and pour it out. Everything has something to do with something; nothing is divorced. It becomes an experience, a feeling or a conglomeration of experiences…”

As I said above the album will be called The Lights of Dublin, and it´s going to be a kind of concept album. When I fly into Dublin at night, it´s all lit up, and on my way home to Kill I look back at the lights of Dublin from a distance. When I lived there, I was in a band called The Lights, and this was one of the songs we recorded, and another song that´ll be on the album is a tribute to that band. It was made up of three of the most creative people I know, and yours truly. Conor O´Hara on drums, Julien Lonchamp on bass and Karl Twyford on guitars and vocals, while I sang and played keyboard.

This song, Daydream, started out as a stream of consciousness thing, where I wrote lyrics that suggested a melody as Karl simultaneously came up with daydreamlike chords on a guitar. We used to record all our ideas on Dictaphone tapes, and somehow we managed to lose the only recording of this one for about a year and a half. When we eventually found it, it took us another half a year to work it out, write the intro, and bring it to the band. It was recorded on the Roland Multi-track recorder live with the band and then we overdubbed vocals and samples from the television, traffic, and the Dictaphone. Very oldschool. 🙂 It starts off with the sound of waves recorded on the seashore at Dublin Bay.

For me, that track is about the process of inspiration, about a smell, a taste or a sound that brings you back to your childhood, or somewhere you´ve been, about the half dreaming state before you fall asleep, building castles in the sky, possible worlds, echoes of something you once heard, a memory of a time or a dream, or a daydream…

My biggest musical inspirations would probably be The Beatles, Velvet Underground, Dylan, Randy Newman, The Beach Boys, Sigur Ros, Radiohead, Pixies, Love, 1970´s punk, jazz, Gershwin, Rogers & Hart, Tom Waits, Neil Young, Ennio Morricone, Henry Mancini, Debussy, Satie, Beethoven, minimalism, anything and everything.

Is there anything else you would like the Collective to know?

PO: I do a Song of the Week blog here on wordpress where I choose one of my favourite songs, and go into a bit of the background behind it. It´s not always as weekly as it should be, but I try to post there most weeks.

Shout out to…?

PO: All the people I mentioned above who´ve helped out with the album etc, along with all the talented people who play every week in the Triskel Tavern/Café La Palma/ Toast and other bars around the city. I´m sure I´ll forget someone, but Richard Harris, Amber Stiles, Victoria Bolorinos, Woody Woodman, Michael Dixon, Sally Smith, Miguel Gonzalez, Vivian Garcia, Sean Twomey, Jorge Bee, Alyssa Rasmussen, Francisco Hernandez, Mary Elaine Jenkins, John Leo Carroll, Rico Adventura, Rob Green, Taylor Mann, Rob Bertels. There´s a really good scene going on at the moment.

Thanks a million to Peter Muller for the interview too, and keep up the great work with Fede Valenciano doing the open mic on Sundays in Café La Palma.

Reflection and Response.

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Original Mondays: Hip Hop English With Peter

This project started as a collaboration between the bad-ass teacher I work with in second grade English and Science, Ricardo , and the textbook we were using at the time. The unit the kids were doing was on animal habitats and we decided it would be dope to write a song and have me record it to rap later with the kids to see how they would respond. Ricardo wrote the first version of lyrics that would become my first track, “Habitats.”

The version I brought to class turned out to be too fast so I went home and slowed it down. Then we were on a roll. As summer is approaching, I thought it would cool to record a full album of tracks so my students can listen to something different in English in July and August. Thus, “Hip Hop English With Peter,” was born. For a week and a half, I’ve been recording and rerecording tracks based on units from textbooks we work with at school as well as consulting English teachers on common mistakes.

The album contains a range of levels and goals for learning and comprehension. The first 4 tracks were written specifically for second grade, “Work” for third grade, and the last 3 tracks are aimed at practicing 5th and 6th grade common mistakes.

I am also nearly finished with a preschool edition of Hip Hop English, and am working with a preschool teacher who is helping me make songs more enjoyable for younger language learners.

I look forward to working further on this project. This is only the beginning, Below are the lyrics from the first Hip Hop English With Peter for Elementary School English Learners:

 

Habitats

I am oviparous

I lay eggs

I am a toucan

Fly with friends

I live in a habitat

Rainforest

Weather is warm

Rain is pouring

Wet rainforest, dry desert

Cold polar region

Forest trees birds and bees

All the animals singing

I am viviparous

I don’t lay eggs

I am a camel

With friends

I live in a habitat

Yes, the desert

Night is cold

Day is hot weather

Wet rainforest, dry desert

Cold polar region

Forest trees birds and bees

All the animals singing

I am oviparous

I lay eggs

I am a penguin

with friends

I live in a habitat

The polar region

The weather is cold

No chameleons

Wet rainforest, dry desert

Cold polar region

Forest trees birds and bees

All the animals singing

Wet rainforest, dry desert

Cold polar region

Forest trees birds and bees

All the animals singing

Towns and Cities

Towns and cities

Cities and towns

Cities are bigger more noise and sounds

Towns are smaller buildings are lower

And the streets those are shorter

We can do many things

Go shopping then go out in the evening

And some are by the sea

Others by in the mountains it’s so pretty

Towns and cities have a mayor

With counselors at town hall they work there

organize services for all

Festivals, like the winter ball

Towns and cities

Cities and towns

Cities are bigger more noise and sounds

Towns are smaller buildings are lower

And the streets those are shorter

So What’s in the city?

Some public transport

Underground and the bus

Get my toys at department store

Watch a movie at the cinema

In the town smaller buildings

My house is next to a square

Medicine at the chemist

There is a school, my friends are there

Forces

Push your table

Pull your hair

Forces move objects from here to there

Drop a pencil don’t be scared

Gravity a force in the air

Push and pull forces move objects in different ways

A big object means a big force

They can even change shape

Blow a balloon- it changes shape

Push a rock- it doesn’t change

Squeeze a sponge it changes shape

Forces happen everyday

How does a force make an object move?

A force is invisible but we can see what they do?

Start moving kick a ball

Stop moving block that ball

Move faster go on the swing

Change direction move slower please

Seasons and Months

Autumn September, October,

Wear a jacket it is colder

Back to school to learn new things

My new T shirt is cool to me

It’s Winter it’s cold outside

Please put on your jacket don’t cry

Put on a coat and wear some trousers

Make a snowman for an hour

It’s Spring March April May

Take off your coat put on a shirt is great

It is windy sometimes it rains

Sometimes it’s a sunny day

It’s Summer June July August

Put on shorts outside it’s hottest

Put on your suncap and shorts

Put on sunscreen open the door!

Means of Transport

Train, bus, helicopter, and car

Means of transport, yes they are

Underground, ships, and planes,

Carry passengers goods, and freight

Boats. Motorbikes, and lorries,

Move people and things fast and slowly,

Roads have one lane going each way

Motorways have more lanes

Vroom vrrom goes the car

Choo choo I am a train

Ummm I am a boat

Now wings fly like a plane

Vroom vrrom goes the car

Choo choo I am a train

Ummm I am a boat

Now wings fly like a plane

Train, bus, helicopter, and car

Means of transport, yes they are

Underground, ships, and planes,

Carry passengers goods, and freight

Boats. Motorbikes, and lorries,

Move people and things fast and slowly,

Roads have one lane going each way

Motorways have more lanes

Trains stop at stations

Plans land at airports

Buses taxis underground

Public transportation

Ships stop at ports

Taxis and cars road vehicles

Cars, bicycles, bikes

Private transportation

Train, bus, helicopter, and car

Means of transport, yes they are

Underground, ships, and planes,

Carry passengers goods, and freight

Boats. Motorbikes, and lorries,

Move people and things fast and slowly,

Roads have one lane going each way

Motorways have more lanes

Work

We work we do activities

We get money from the work we do

For example people work on trousers

And work to sell them to me and you

Some jobs use resources from nature

Mining, fishing, farmers with a cow

Some jobs make products

in the industries of furniture, textile, automotive, wow!

We work we do activities

We get money from the work we do

For example people work on trousers

And work to sell them to me and you

Some jobs provide services like

a doctor that helps patients

Some work in retail

As shop owners or shop assistants

We work we do activities

We get money from the work we do

For example people work on trousers

And work to sell them to me and you

 

Present Perfect

I haven’t ever been to London

But I’m planning on going later on this summer

I have lived in Spain for all my life

I go to school everyday see my friends at night

This is the story of my daily routine

I use the simple present with regular things

Use the present perfect to talk about facts

That are still happening but started in the past

Everyday wake up and have breakfast

Get to school at 9 for a science lesson

After that I have maths then the playground

snack is an apple tastes great wow!

Then more class, lengua and math

When the bell rings I meet my friends to relax

Next to the park I finish my homework

After is dinner san jacobos are so good!

I clear the table after the meal

then we watch a movie that’s our family’s deal

next I brush my teeth and I go to bed

And tomorrow the routine starts over again

I haven’t ever been to London

But I’m planning on going later on this summer

I have lived in Spain for all my life

I go to school everyday see my friends at night

This is the story of my daily routine

I use the simple present with regular things

Use the present perfect to talk about facts

That are still happening but started in the past

What is the present perfect?

Actions in the past that are still current

Like “Hi my name is Peter, the class assistant

I’ve worked at school since 2011 teaching English

Or I have just made a cake.

Why is that current?

Well… I still have a piece and if you are hungry

And I would just love to serve it

I haven’t ever been to London

But I’m planning on going later on this summer

I have lived in Spain for all my life

I go to school everyday see my friends at night

This is the story of my daily routine

I use the simple present with regular things

Use the present perfect to talk about facts

That are still happening but started in the past

The Right Way to Ask

I forgot my homework in the other class

May I go and get it is the right way to ask

May I come in? not “I can pass?”

May I go to the restroom, not I can.

If you are late ask “may I come in.”

We shouldn’t disrupt the other students

If I need a pencil ask “may I borrow one,”

and remember to bring one tomorrow son

After school I ask “may I play.”

Depends on what myp arents say

After dinner I ask “may I watch TV?”

Only if you finish studying.

I forgot my homework in the other class

May I go and get it is the right way to ask

May I come in? not “I can pass?”

May I go to the restroom, not I can.

At the breakfast table I need the butter

I say “Would you pass me the butter, mother.”

With a smile she says “here you go honey,”

I tell her thank you, the pancakes are lovely

My friend Alex from school fell down

I asked “would you like some help right now?”

I went and got a teacher, she said it was fine

she put on a band-aid Alex gave me 5

I forgot my homework in the other class

May I go and get it is the right way to ask

May I come in? not “I can pass?”

May I go to the restroom, not I can.

Once A Week

I listen to music, he watches TV

She looks at a picture. What does she see?

It is a man sitting at a table

Having lunch using a fork to eat

On a Saturday in September

Talking with my friend Vanessa

She told me hello, I said “what’s up?”

Just took an exam, man it was tough

Once a week at 5 P.M.

I go to Maria’s house with all my friends

All day I can’t wait to go

Will it be fun? Yes, I think so

I am good at speaking English

I am bad at dancing tango

But I’m better than my teacher Peter

Man, he dances like a flamingo

I have a brother, I am ten years old

Do we have homework? I hope so.

I wrote it down in my agenda

and I’ll do it, ‘cus I always remember.

Once a week at 5 P.M.

I go to Maria’s house with all my friends

All day I can’t wait to go

Will it be fun? Yes, I think so

Reflection and Response.

-P

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Feature: Richard Harris

Richard Harris takes the Reflection and Response interview to heart. In this piece, Rich informs about his perspective becoming an integral part of the Madrid music scene coming from England,  highlights the role that Reflection and Response has played in some recent events in his life, and stresses the importance of creativity and expression. The interview touches on the talent found throughout the Spanish capital city and how this Collective inspires artistic creation. Three of Richard’s tracks accompany the interview to provide an audio reference to the interesting and enlightening words below. Without further adieu, we’re proud to present Richard Harris.

The Red Telephones

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

RH:  I’m from Basildon, Essex. Close to London & famous for being home to Depeche Mode & very little else! Where am I at? Good question. Here in Madrid & immersing myself further & further into what is, at the moment, a vibrant music scene. I’m currently running the open mic at Triskel Tavern, recording an album with my band The Red Telephones & playing live whenever I can. There are so many people making good music in the city at the moment & I take the opportunity to see just about all of them when they play live.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

RH: Reflection & Response. Still a difficult one this is. I lost one of my oldest friends to cancer just over a year ago & my response was to write a song about him because I miss him. Recently, my mum had cancer & it was a difficult time for my family. Fortunately she is ok now. The response was at once to write a song about it. I also split with my girlfriend around the same time, so no prizes for guessing what the response was! Let’s just say it’s not going to be the happiest of albums when it’s done. On reflection, I have to move on for my sake but I’m still finding it hard regarding Lee. I miss him, simple as that.

How does your work fit in with that definition?

RH: Read the above. Lee’s Tune, The Ties That Bind & Love Is Blind. It’s difficult to remove yourself from your own writing but I reckon The Ties That Bind is possibly the best thing I’ve ever written.

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

RH: I’m incredibly insecure about my voice, probably because I know so many great vocalists here in Madrid so I went into the studio during Semana Santa & recorded a cover version for the first time. The song is an old traditional called I Know My Rider & I know the song because The Byrds did a version of it. I wanted to see if I could sing in a different style than the Joe Strummer/Punk Rock thing that I normally do. I think it worked & I’m happy with the results. It has given me some ideas regarding what to do with some of the remaining vocals on the album.

Who or what inspires you?

 RH: Inspirations? Musical ones first. My biggest one is The Clash; inspiring, life changing & as a 14 year old in Essex with some of my peers drifting towards right-wing politics, The Clash coming out in favour of The Anti-Nazi League & Rock Against Racism had a powerful & lasting effect. I despise racism & racists to this day. My favourite album is Forever Changes by Love, it’s a masterpiece, simple as that & if you haven’t heard it make sure you do a.s.a.p. I’m a massive fan of The Stone Roses, La’s, Byrds, Velvet Underground, Stooges, Stones, MC5, Bo Diddley, Dylan, 13th Floor Elevators, New York Dolls, Pistols, Smiths & countless others. I’m into most types of music, very big on reggae & currently really digging country for the first time in my life, in fact I don’t know how I lived without it for so long. As I type this I’m listening to the Black Angels, proof that there are still good bands out there.

Life Inspirations? Anyone who has stood up against oppression—Gandhi, Mandela, Rosa Parks, Victor Jara, Jan Palach etc; all of these are bigger heroes than any musician.

Is there anything else you would like the Collective to know?

RH: What else? Well, not that it really matters but I’m not exactly young. When I came here 4.5 years ago I’d pretty much given up music & I’m still in a state of shock that this is actually happening! I didn’t expect to finally be recording, gigging & organizing open mic nights in my 40s. I’m happy that I am though-it feels great. I really get a buzz out of watching other musicians, particularly the ones who are nervous to begin with, just like I was. Watching their confidence grow & their stage presence improve is really satisfying.

Shout out to…?

RH: Too many people to mention because there are so many wonderful musicians & friends so I’m going to keep it in house. Woody, former open mic host, Red Telephones drummer & Pop Robinson Guitarist/Singer gets the biggest shout of all. If he hadn’t encouraged me to come back after a rabbit in the headlights first night at Triskel I wouldn’t be doing this interview now. Not only is he a fantastic musician he’s a top bloke, even if he prefers Guns & Roses to the Stone Roses!

 Padraig O’Connor. A fantastic composer & singer songwriter in his own right, Padraig plays piano & sings backing vocals for the Red Telephones. His own stuff is great & ‘Cream Seems Fine’ is one of the best songs I’ve heard by anybody in recent years & I wish I had written it myself!

 Amber Stiles. Best voice in Madrid as far as I’m concerned. She has contributed backing vocals to some tracks on the current album. Her sweet vocals are a wonderful antidote to my less than dulcet Essex tones.

 Joe Wellwood. Not an open mic regular but the new Red Telephones bassist. Great musician & top bloke as well.

 Rob Green. Former resident of Madrid & owner of Spaceland studios. Rob has produced all of the Red Telephones recordings & played bass on the second album. He has also played live with us, on one occasion learning an entire set in a matter of days when another bass player had to cancel a gig.

 Mark Doran, now in Korea but bass player on the first album. Also a shout to Rhys Berry, former Triskel regular & now Barcelona resident who played harmonica on Chime & Melanie Lawrence who played viola & violin on The Ties That Bind & a number of other tracks.

 Last but not least, Jim Montague. My best friend & a fantastic percussionist. He’s on the current album playing a variety of instruments & singing poignant backing vocals on Lee’s Tune. He misses him too.

The Red Telephones mobile upload

-Reflection and Response

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