Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Christmas Single.

I love Christmas and for as long as I can remember I have wanted to write a Christmas song. This  has conflicted somewhat with also wanting to establish credibility for Northern Kind. So my suggestion to Sarah to do something Christmassy was maybe me admitting that I was in fact out of touch with popular music.  Ultimately I write music for me to enjoy, that fact that other people do enjoy our music and often write and tell us is still a bit weird but none the less very satisfying.

Right, so we have a Christmas song, it will be released on iTunes on December 3rd, I have no idea where it will get placed and this still seems pretty random. It was great to reach prime position across Europe, I never expected that  but boy was it great to be higher in the charts than Bjork, Kraftwerk, The Knife plus many of the artists I have been in awe of.

Myself and Sarah had a conversation on the way back from one of our odd gigs, amongst the topics where the new world order, relationships, drugs, babies and the oscillators used in the roland system 700 modular synth we talked about Christmas songs.  A pattern emerged that the best songs always had a dark and sometimes anti Christmas themes. 

For example, 

Greg Lake - I Believe in Father Christmas
All the things that Christmas promises but never delivers. Lies full of tinsel and fire, snow but usually rain, piece on earth, yeah right!

Jona Lewie - Stop the cavalry 
Again quite an odd topic, the video depicted a WWI scene however the line "Nuclear fall out zone" confused me a little. But anyway another depressing Christmas song. Also for the obsessive geeks out there. Jona Lewie also had a couple of other hits including - "You'll always find me in the kitchen at parties" If you listen to the melody of that song line it's exactly the same melody from Erasures "Don't say no" the B-Side of "Heavenly Action. I really am a nerd.

Band Aid - Do they know it's Christmas
OK I'm not going to knock a brilliant song, but again a sad message at Christmas time and quite rightly so.

So what I am getting at is... Christmas is a magical time for most of us but for some it's just another day. That is really what our Christmas song is about. Nothing to do with personal experiences... honest.

It is a great frickin song though and it deserves to be massive

Nuff said.


Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Sheffield (Sarah)

I was trundling along the other day, lost in thoughts of shopping and work, when I came across this. It's a gigantic poem called 'What if', that has been installed on to the side of Sheffield Hallam University. It's been written by the Poet Laureate Andrew Motion.
I love it, for raising my eyes to the sky and giving me a flash of inspiration in an otherwise dull day. I love what it's saying - that our thoughts and actions impact the environment that we live in - and that we can be whoever we want to be.
But most of all I love the way it sets Sheffield up, as a city of possibilities.
I think it should be compulsory for all ugly buildings to have inspirational art stuck to their sides.
(You never know - you might see some of my lyrics up in lights one day)
This photo sums up why I love Sheffield.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Slight Rant & News

I'm not one for moaning about other artists especially those that have sold more albums that I could ever dream about selling BUT The new Kylie song and video "2 Hearts" is just boring.

Not that Kylie has ever been an innovator but like Madonna she has stayed current and fresh, I get the feeling the background for this song was. "I want to sound like Goldfrapp, but don't make it too electronic as that would be obvious." - the video also has the look of "Ooh La La" which came out two years ago. Sorry Kylie but you're "Loosing your edge"

Anyway we are recording the vocals for our Christmas Song on Friday after going to see the lovely Marsheaux who are performing live at the Hoxton Sq, Bar and Grill tomorrow night. They are coming all the way from Athens so hopefully there will be a good crowd.



Sunday, 16 September 2007

Next Release is project X

To wrap up 2007 we have decided to release a digital only EP this coming November. The EP will contain two new tracks plus remixes from our debut album 53 Degrees North.

We will sell this release on iTunes and also via our soon to be launched digital download store. This will have the songs available as DRM free high quality MP3 files.

The EP will have a slight festive feel to it as one of the songs will be our take on the Christmas single. There doesn't seem to be many Christmas specific singles released anymore, probably because the single format is dead and buried, but anyway we love Christmas and I have always wanted to write something Christmassy.

The other new track will be something more in tune with what we are planning for our second album... as Sarah has hinted at already this will be a little darker and more futuristic. We are hoping to spend the winter writing new songs and will pencil in a release for sometime in Spring 2008.

More on the EP soon.


Thursday, 6 September 2007

Move over Sheena (Sarah)

A close friend of mine said something recently, that I want to share with you:

"Everyone should see Prince in concert at least once in their lives".

I was lucky enough to see the wee-man at the 02 arena last week, and I've gotta say that he completely bowled me over.
I always liked his music - but now i am a FAN.

I'm telling you, it was more a spiritual experience than an evening of entertainment! He made me laugh, he made me cry - he completely inspired me.

How can someone so small effect people on mass like that?? The 02 arena is massive, it's like a futuristic amphi-theatre. We were seated very high up, so standing up to dance was not for the feint-hearted. But I swear, when he played 'You've got the look' I pushed aside the vertigo and boogied my ass off!!!! It would have been physically impossible not to dance - a bit like sneezing with your eyes open.

So if you ever get the opportunity, please see PRN in concert. He's small, he's purple and he'll blow you away.

Saturday, 1 September 2007

Our first album was mainly written on a laptop in various parts of my house, we recorded the vocals in my spare room and in Sarahs living room, now though we have some dedicated space. Rock on!

View from the hotel in Stein.

Stuttgart Airport

The obiligatory shot from the plane.

Like I said it was a flying visit to Germany.

Thursday, 30 August 2007

Good intentions

I really did want to write something but I guess jet lag got the better of me, it's that hour difference it's a killer.

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

DE to UK

Back from a quick visit to Germany...

Had a good review from someone called Marc Tater therefore we like Germany very much.


Next Month Zurich

Photos and blurb to come later.


Wednesday, 22 August 2007

(Sarah) Phil Oakey spotted busking in Sheffield City Centre

Matt and I were strolling through Sheffield City Centre, on a cool late summer's afternoon. To our amazement, who should be walking towards us but the Oakey and two of his musical chums. He looked straight at me as if to say 'I'm sure that's that bird from NK who keeps stalking me with her awesome album...'. Two minutes later, the musical trio set up their instruments (including a big bass drum) and started busking. Bold as brass.

This was a dream I had last night - but one that I thought was worth sharing.

Bye for now!

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

blog rocking peep peeps

You will see an obvious gap in the posts to our blog, so what is the reason? I think pure plain bone idleness to be honest and just too many things to keep up to date. Facebook, Myspace, Website etc etc etc.

H O W E V E R... We shall endeavor to be a bit more talkative now.

SO as you will know our album is finished, it hits iTunes on September 3rd. We had an initial 1000 copies made so that we could use these to send to press & radio. As a bit of a tester we decided to start selling them via our myspace & main website. The response so far has been well... overwhelming and we are really pleased. What is more encouraging is that some people who have ordered the album have started to talk about it in various forums and really help spread the word, they have even started to defend us if there are any negative comments. This is amazing and is main reason why we decided to make an album, basically because of our love of music.

I'm going to try and make this blog as candid as possible... wait that has made me think of a story... more about that in a bit. Anyway what I mean is I think it's important to engage with people that show any kind of interest in Northern Kind. For over a year we have been fairly modest in promoting what we do, mainly because we have been making the album and didn't really want to shout about it until it was finished as not to big ourselves up too much. Now however that it is finished we want to tell everyone. YEY!

BUT it kind of feels wrong, because ultimately that makes me feel like I'm pushing people to buy our music and hand over cash for the privilege of hearing us. Don't get me wrong I'm in to free enterprise and the prospect of being rich but self promotion in music makes me feel a little dirty. I think this is where record companies have worked so well for bands as they separate the artistry from the business side. Making music is creative but then again so is marketing it. As an artist I love doing what I do and talking about it, but doing the hard sell just seems wrong.

Ultimately I'd love to earn a living from doing what I enjoy, but I already do and that is design related. So why do I do music? Well because it's part of me and always will be and I fucking love doing it. The feeling I get from writing something is one of the best feelings of accomplishment. Have you ever listened to a piece of music that completely lifted your spirits? well creating something is a million times better. When I collected our album from the plant I was content, content for that fact that I had achieved something I wanted to do. I didn't care if I sold any or if people liked it.

Sorry but in the words of Forrest Gump, "I'm pretty tired now" but before I go here is the "CANDID" story.

When I was young there was a TV program called CANDID CAMERA. It was a hidden camera show, for that very fact I had always thought that the word CANDID meant to hide things or to conceal something. So anyway 25 years or so later I found myself in a difficult meeting with a client. During the meeting my client said "may I be candid", I interrupted and said "well actually I'd rather you tell us what you were thinking" he said "well I'll be candid with you", I said "NO I want to know what you are thinking" so anyway you can imagine how stupid I felt when I learnt what candid actually meant.

Tomorrow I may talk about music and TV.

Turrah x

Saturday, 17 March 2007

Direction (Matt)

We are getting very close to completing our album now and we have started to talk with PR people about the promotion of it. Having had complete control over the creative process and direction of the album for me it's always a tense time when letting people hear our work for the first time. I'm very precious about what we have created and this week we have started to get feedback from the people that will be doing our press. One of their comments was that we needed a harder mix of the track we will be releasing as our first single "On and On" - Anyway to cut a long story short I got up pretty early today and worked on this mix, have a listen here.


Hope you like it.

Wednesday, 14 March 2007

Parallel lines (Sarah)

I too have a Townsend story!

In my first 7 years of life, I lived on the Eyres Monsell estate in Leicester - next to Sue Townsend! Not only that, but my mum & dad donated her a pair of curtains when she first moved to the estate. I'm sure her daughter was called Vicky and we used to hang around together, with my big sis' Gina.

Gosh Leicester is such a hot-bed of phenomonal talent; Sue Townsend, Mark Morrisson, ShowaddyWaddy....

My dad worked on 'Linekers' fruit and veg stall too. Apparently he got the hump, because Gary was better at calling out 'Come and get your bananas'.

Of course, Sheffield is my adopted home town now - but I'd like to think Matt and I will join the Leicester alumni eventually. Then life will be complete.

Ttfn x

Friday, 2 March 2007

Funny night (Matt)

Well I guess this is what having a blog is all about. It will probably become the "not so sectret diary of Matt Culpin aged 30 something..." Funny as this sounds, I actually grew up with Danny Townsend who's mum is Sue Townsend the author of the Adrian Mole books. I don't remember a girl called Pandora but we were both 13 and 3/4 around the time of the TV programme. I only ever see Danny walking around Sainsburys nowadays so I expect his mum to write a book fairly soon called "Adrian Mole the Sainsbury's years" Like me Danny was into music and technology and had some very cool gear. He set-up a recording studio in Leicester about 15 years ago and also owned the White Room night club for a while.

Yesterday I was at the Emirates stadium attending a conference and happened to sit next to a very cool Italian guy who worked for AC Milan. During our conversation I learnt that his cousin filmed a series for the BBC called Francescos Italy, I remember watching this and felt that it did a great job at selling Italy to the British public. For me it's interesting that a table of 8 people from very different backgrounds find common groung in talking about food, travel and music.

It's late now and I need to sleep. Night! x

I also have a confession... (Matt)

My own Influences to some maybe be very obvious, however there are very specific songs that kick me off in a particular direction with most of our tracks.

Loser - This was spawned from re-discovering an old Gary Numan song called "We Take Mystery (To Bed)" I guess the main synth line is pretty similar but the rest of the song is very different. The original Gary Numan version I think is a blatant rip off of Japan, the bass, synths and even the singing style is a pretty obvious rip.

Millionaire - This started life after hearing a track by Matinee Club (fka - The Modern) called "Sometimes". It was the driving bass-line that I liked in particular and this became the main component when writing Millionaire. There isn't anything similar about these tracks anymore other than you could probably sing the chorus to "Sometimes" over Millionaire. Many people have said that Millionaire reminds them of Yazoo, they are a big influence but I don't hear anything in this track to suggest that.

Seen the light - Depeche Mode "Just Can't Get Enough" for the main synth sound.

Sometimes - I think the bass-line reminds me of a Pet Shop Boys song, probably the one they did for the theme tune to the 80's Clothes Show programme. Although I like the PSBs I have never really thought of them as an influence.

Step Back - There is nothing that really influenced this when I first put the track together. After recording the vocals I changed some of the sounds as I wanted to create a very electronic feel. I really liked the sound of The Human Leagues last album "Secrets" so sonically I used this as a reference point.

Home - This started out with a completely different backing track which in part was influenced by a song by a band called Hard Corps, they were around in the late 80's and supported Depeche Mode but didn't really have that much commercial success. After recording the vocals I felt it didn't really work yet I really liked the vocals. I then worked on another three other versions of the track and finally came up with one that we liked. Listening to it now it reminds me loosely of an early track by Depeche Mode called "The Sun and the Rainfall" , in my opinion a very underrated track.

Please - We are going to drop this from the album and probably the live set. This started out as an old Minithin song called Keith, there are some obvious Yazoo references in this. I really like the song but we feel it's not really ours as the lyrics and original vocal melody where written by Stuart Simpson.

Thursday, 1 March 2007

I have a confession to make (Sarah)

I was never that in to synth music. For one, I'm far too young to remember Matt's favourite bands (LOL) and two, I'm actually an indie-kid / raver at heart! HOWEVER, I'm pleased to say that during the process of NK's manifestation, all that old codswallop is changing. Writing the tracks for our debut album has been a journey of discovery - and I am succumbing to the dirty funky world of electro-pop. Besides, I live in Sheffield so it would be rude not to.

More soon....... x

Monday, 26 February 2007

Some tech stuff... (Matt)

I use Logic Pro 7 running on a fairly powerful Mac with a whole range of plug-in synths such as Imposca, Oddity, 2600v, Minimonsta, MS-20, Poly 6, ES2 & ES1. I tend to use synth sounds for drums and percussion rather than samples. My favourite tool is my SSL Duende, this is an external piece of hardware that gives me 32 channels of SSL quality EQ & Compression. I have a borrowed AKG vacuum tube mic which is very nice and I mix everything through a pair of Dynaudio monitors. No REAL synths are being used on this album.

In the begining (Matt)

I first met Sarah in 2001 after remixing a song for a band she was in called Minithin. I was introduced to them by a mutual friend called Stuart Ball. I also produced and recorded a track with Minithin called 'Between Love & Hate'. They sort of fizzled out, however I kept in touch with Sarah and we did another couple of tracks together but nothing really ever happened with those. One thing that came out of this was my introduction back into music and I guess my fascination with the new software synths that were starting to emerge.

It took another four years before I started to get serious about finally doing a new music project. I think this desire was spurned on by a couple of albums, notably Goldfrapp and I AM X. For me there was a genuine lack of music that I really wanted to hear so I just thought about creating something that first and foremost was for me.

I initially contacted singers through Myspace although I think the official term is stalked :-), nothing really materialized then one day I was sorting through old phone numbers after getting a new mobile and came across the name Sarah, I only really knew one Sarah so I thought I would send a TXT. I didn't hold out much hope as I had changed numbers about three times in fives years but surprisingly I got a TXT back from Sarah who seemed genuinely interested. Weirdly she had been checking out my Northern Kind site only a few days before after searching for old Minithin songs. We exchanged a few emails and I sent her a bunch of ideas including some tracks from Goldfrapp and I AM X. In June 2006 Sarah came down from Sheffield and we recorded some of her vocal ideas that she had written around the tracks I had sent. Step Back & Home came out of this initial session although it took a while for Home to take shape, I think there are about three previous versions to this song. We then continued to work like this for a few more months. At the end of 2006 we had written and recorded six tracks, not bad considering we had only met up three times to record. We both felt that there was something worth pursuing and we now have another 5 tracks in production which should go to complete our first album.

Sunday, 14 January 2007

Influences Part 1 (Matt)

When I started to think about my influences for the NK biography there was obvious a theme relating to electronic based bands and artists. I started to wonder where such tastes in music had originally come from.

The early 1980's where when my tastes started to develop, with bands like Depeche, Human League and Ultravox appearing on TOTPs, I was fascinated by the instruments they were using and the sounds they were creating. Whilst bands like Kraftwerk weren't in the charts that much, bands like DM and THL would always credit them in interviews. There were also a few TV programs that I had watched, one in particular was a documentary about Jean Micheal Jarre playing in China. The program not only focused on the fact that JMJ was the first western artsist to play in communist China but also the insutruments he used. I started to buy his albums, he would always list the instruments. There was always a vast array of Synthesizers and bits of equipment mentioned so I guess my interest in Synths started there.

I had been aware of the term Synthesizer after reading the sleeve notes on my mums Abba albums, Benny Anderson would always be credited with Piano & Synthesizers. I noticed when the appeared on TV there would always be this little keyboard sitting on top of his Piano. I wanted one even though I didn't really know what one was, my mum said it was a kind of organ and that Christmas 1978 I got a Bontempi. It wasn't quite what I had expected but never the less I learnt basic keyboard skills even though it sounded like a cross between a hairdryer and a recorder.

When Punk was in it's heyday 1976/77 Kraftwerk and Jean Michael Jarre were making totally electronic music. For me Punk was nothing new, it was just guitars and drums. To me electronic music was the future, I became very blinkered in my music buying and refused to buy anything that had a real instruments on it. This became more difficult when bands like DM started getting into sampling, I let them off because they were still being played via a keyboard and at that time sampling was cutting edge technology.

All of my school friends seemed to be following the trends in music and fashion, the 80's started with Two Tone/Mods & SKA then came the New Romantics with bands like Duran & Spandau. Although I liked their music I stayed pretty faithful to electronic music which was fairly underground still.

Tuesday, 9 January 2007

First post

Well it was about time that I started to write a blog, I don't actually like the work "blog" so maybe that's why I haven't done one before. So to document the process of starting Northern Kind to hopefully completing an albums worth of material ready to be released I hope to share my experiences but first I thought I would give you a bit of background info.

I thought I would initially write about my musical history, this is really going to be about my first encounters and early appreciation of music, the things I listened too, to the things that influenced my own music. The first encounters with other musicians and my early blinkered views. So I guess this will start off more as a retro blog.