Sunday, 30 March 2008


After the I AM X gig my hearing was shot so I've a had a rest this weekend. I'm also feeling pretty uninspired at the minute so I need to get back into the "zone".

The EY VOL 1 Launch party has been announced, can't wait, we haven't played live for a while. I'm going to revamp the older tracks and beef them up a little.

Big report on the tracks so far very soon.


Thursday, 27 March 2008

I AM X = E

Seriously I have never enjoyed a gig so much. I'm never one for
joining in at the front, I'm much more the type to stand at the back
tapping my foot.

But they had so much energy on stage, no wonder they are so thin. What
I particuarly love about them is the way they adapt their songs for
live, stripped down to the bare basics of kick, snare and bass. The
drum kit was simply kick, snare and cymbals.

I'm feeling quite inspired yet again by I AM X

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

LYRICS: 260308/DY

Dirty Youth
She sees a cute boy in the corner
She wants to be his date tonight
He licks his lips and thinks he oughta
Buy her a drink
Tell her what he thinks
Treat her right
The lights are low
Anything goes
Meet at the disco
I'll be smoking, while I'm waiting
Dirty Youth
Meet at the disco
Dirty Youth
She's dizzy at the thought of dancing
Her head is spinning round and round
He's stood at the bar sideways-glancing
Danger, danger
Gonna hit the ground

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LYRICS: 260308/ITB

Into the Blue
Don't let go
Dark and deep
See you reaching out
We are falling
Into the blue
Last year
it seemed so clear
now i disappear in waves
Hold the thought of me
Hold your dreams
You will shine
See you reaching out
We are falling
Into the blue
It's clear
it feels so weird
to be out here all alone
Hold the thought of me

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Tuesday, 25 March 2008


NK HQ is basically my house so when my daughter was born the spare room became the nursery, fortunately my studio has it's own dedicated space, now when Sarah comes over to record she gets the camp bed. We lost a vital plug for last camp bed so Zoé went and bought a really cool integrated sleeping bag/air bed, it looked so comfy and cosy I really wanted to have a go, I can't really explain what it is about sleeping bags but I think I have some kind of twisted fetish for them, nothing pervy though.

stay with me...

In 1990 ish I was walking by the local Waterstones and noticed a long queue of people, I realised there was a celebrity doing a book signing, so I joined the queue. It was Brian Blessed signing his then new book The Turquoise Mountain, about his attempt ( albeit failed) to climb Everest. When I got to the front of the queue it was my turn to meet him. I vaguely knew who he was but up until that point had no interest in him or his book. Anyway he said in his big bellowing voice, "are you interested in climbing", I replied "no I want to be a popstar" so anyway he wrote "Follow your own dreams" in the book. I read the book and became obsessed with the thought of camping and climbing, so I bought a sleeping bag and slept in it for about two months. Since then I have always wanted to go camping but Zoë hates the idea of not being able to plug her hair straighteners in.

So anyway this week I am stopping over at Sarah's after the IAMX gig in Sheffers and guess what!, I'm taking the ReadyBed™

This obviously has nothing to do with making music, so to add - The first two tracks to be released from our new album have been sent off to get mastered, these will become the Xerotic EP, I can't wait to hear the results.

INTO THE BLUE - is very different for us. Think of Goldfrapp (Felt Mountain) mixed with a little Depeche (Music for the Masses) - Currently my favorite track to emerge so far. I think this is quite a personal song Sarah.

DIRTY YOUTH - a pumping track, very NK, I can't say it reminds me of anything in particular.

Big day tomorrow, mega pitch in London so I'm off to bed early, fortunately the Lost Boys is on - What a great film and soundtrack, the 80's were great.


Sunday, 23 March 2008


Snow?  At Easter??  What is the world coming to...
Still looking on the bright side, I've got loads of choc and am having a nice, relaxing Easter time.  Wrote another track yesterday, with the working title tranquil eyes.  I love it - and can't wait to get cracking (soz - Easter pun). 
Ciao for now, Sarah x


Wednesday, 19 March 2008


Well, I have finally recovered from the game of cock or ball that Matt subjected me to last weekend, in between recording our new tracks.  So I thought I'd make a quick blog-stop.
The new tunes are really exciting - I'm very intrigued to hear how they sit together as they all feel very individual at the moment.  We're nearly there for album number 2!!  Bonza!
Just read Matt's notes about his aspirations for NK and wanted to give my take on it too.
NK facilitates singing, writing and performing for me - my very own holy trinity!  The stuff that I can't live without!!  Even though I didn't start out a die-hard electro fan, electro music actually provides a perfect backdrop for my vocal style and lyrics.  So while ever Matt's up for it, I'll just keep doing what I do with NK and keep on loving it.
Three albums would be the minimum I'd want us to produce - and that I feel would leave a sufficient footprint on the music world.  I would LOVE for this to be my sole occupation! 
I would also love to:
  • Perform our songs in the major dance clubs in Ibiza
  • Do a northern kind unplugged tour of our songs, with just me and an acoustic guitar accompaniment ;-)  (this works - I've already tried it with Tara Simms, the greatest guitarist on planet earth!!)
  • Sing guest vocals with The Editors, Hot Chip, The Happy Mondays and all my other favourite bands
  • Hear the Arctic Monkeys cover Dirty Youth
  • Write tracks for other amazing artists
  • Have Vivienne Westwood design my stage outfits
So that's my starter for ten.
I'm looking forward to I am X next week - not really heard a lot of their stuff, so should be good.  I'll check in again soon.
Laters taters x

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Tuesday, 18 March 2008


Going to see them in Sheffield next Thursday with Sarah. I AM X if you don't know is the brain child of Chris Corner from The Sneaker Pimps. His first album "Kiss and Swallow" was the catalyst for starting Northern Kind and was responsible for even naming NK albeit from a mis-heard song lyric.

"Simple Girl" from "Kiss & Swallow" is one of my favorite songs with a really lovely arpeggiated intro line, I played it to death on a trip to Florence a few years back and now it imprints such a vivid image of that time whenever I hear it.

If you get a chance buy Kiss and Swallow and The Alternative, both very good albums.


Monday, 17 March 2008


OK we are talking about the things that dreams are made of in this post.

Someone asked me the other day what was my ambitions for Northern Kind. A fair question I suppose but one that I hadn't ever really thought about. With the industry supposedly on it's arse commercial success is something we aren't looking for or expect. We do it because we love it, without Northern Kind my music wouldn't see the light of day. If NK pays for itself and allows me to indulge in buying equipment and software then I am happy. It also keeps me out of trouble!

My day job also consumes a lot of time and engery but they both feed each other. (I'm sure there is an earlier post about this)

However, the profile of NK is definiately growing and I find myself answering emails from peope in Europe, Japan, Australia and the US. I read a really interesing article the other day on niches within music and only the need to have 1000 loyal fans.

I guess that makes us micro celebraties :-)

Seriously though I want us to complete our second album which should see us releasing two albums within a year, which is pretty good going I think. The 3rd difficult album might be a while coming but there is definiately scope for another.

OK back to dreamland. I'd love NK to become a critics favorite and raise the profile of me as a producer and myself and Sarah as song writters. Writing for others is something we have been appraoched to do, at the minute however NK takes priority though. But my absolute dream job would be to produce a Depeche or an Erasure album. Personally I would prefere the DM job and ideally their final studio album. I genuinnly think I could do a great job with Martin & Daves songs and give all of their fans something to really cherish. I think what Tim Simmenon did with Ultra was fairly good considering the state of the band and after loosing Alan Wilder. Whilst the songs on Exciter and PTA were good I'm fairly critical of the production and think it could have been much better.

I would love to produce some other bands, the remix I have done I enjoyed but it's still quite a solitary way of working, producing a band I think would be much more enjoyable.

And back to reality.

We recorded a couple of great tracks at the weekend and will be recording a couple more over Easter. So that pretty much wraps up the songs for the 2nd album, with perhaps one more idea as yet unwritten. All that is needed now is to finanlise the arrangements and mixes. Quite a daunting task but I guess that's what I do best. We have really tried to do some new things with this album and hopefully that will become evident. I still thinks it's pop but perhaps with a darker edge, and definitely alot less Vince Clarke like.


Goodbye and POP were recorded this weekend, really pleased with them.

Also finished the final tweaks on Dirty Youth and Into The Blue ready
for the Xerotic EP.

Big update tomorrow.


Thursday, 13 March 2008


Just when I was started to become content with my set-up of hardware and software people started emailing about bits of gear. The first that got my attention was for some mental auto tune software. Melodyne has been around for a while but to be honest we have never really had to use any autotune software. Sarah always prefers to get the vocals right during the recording. What's new about this is a new feature name Celemony. This allows you to edit a complex polyphonic waveform by it's constituent parts. For example a recorded guitar chord can be edited in such a way that you can edit the individual notes within the chord, changig their pitch, length and even timing. Truly amazing stuff. Definitely on my wish list.

I'm also wanting to make my studio more aesthetically pleasing. I use a couple of 19" LCDs on my G5, these are great. However, the new version of logic now works in within one main window, whilst this is great it does mean the aspect ratio of the main window makes it more suitable for a widescreen. My square LCDs just won't do. We had one of the latest Apple displays delivered today at work, I now need one. It will make me a better person!

Recording at the weekend, can't wait. Also Easter the week after so hopefully lots of progress will be made.


Sunday, 9 March 2008


We've had some flirtation with management recently, this has opened up some avenues that are interesting for NK, however it's not stopping us plow forward with our album. The 2nd round of vocal recording is next weekend. Sarah is stopping over so we are gonna cram as much in as possible. This should see us with around seven complete songs with just the mixing and final arrangements to tweak.

So this weekend I had some time to work on a remix for one of "the managements" artists. This artist has some pedigree and also chart success, hopefully the fruits of my labour will make it on to their forthcoming single.

The original track was 115bpm, my version is 125bpm and uses the sound set for one of our new songs. This has given it the NK branded feel. The track has been completely reworked with only the vocals surviving. The vocals were treated with Logics' in built time stretch engine so I could get them working at the new bpm without altering the pitch. I remember the first hardware Sampler I had that could do that the Akai S1100, I think it could only manage around 32 seconds though and you ended up with something quite robotic sounding. The Akai samplers also had a really cool feature that would allow you to shorten a sample loop on the fly. I used that effect loads back in my first band. I also showed Bon from Nitzer Ebb that feature and low and behold it ended up on a remix they did of their track called "Captivate" :-)

Think I'm gonna buy myself a Little Fatty, the Moog analogue stage synth. Normally for live, the parts I play come from soft synths triggered within Logic but the new stuff is pretty complicated and I'm noticing a small amount of latency. Plus I'm always on the edge when it comes to using Logic live. I might have to render parts to audio stems for the next gigs and disable all of the AU soft synths.

OK so it's Sunday evening and one of my favorite non sci-fi flms is on, Crash.


Friday, 7 March 2008


Just making my daily visit to our blog and it occurred to me - where are all the girls??  I'm definitely a woman's woman (though must stress that I do NOT wear sensible shoes) and it would be nice to hear from any ladies that are into what we're doing, or any thoughts / comments really.  No offence fellas ;-)
Other than that, I'm looking forward to a quiet, relaxing weekend of writing. Got a fair bit to crack on with. I'll write soon with my progress.
toodleloo x

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Wednesday, 5 March 2008


We spoke about doing a video last year and I have been giving serious thought to doing one again. I know my way around FinaCut Pro but AfterEffects would require a steep learning curve. Therefore doing anything creative with graphics mixed with live footage is gonna take me ages. I hate the thought of not being able to do something but throwing myself into something at this stage will be a distraction from the music.

So if you know anyone that is cheap and good with AfterEffects let us know.


Bring it on! Can't wait to hear the progress of The Y/N song. I really like this track and enjoyed writing the initial lyrics and melody to go with it, which I felt should be quite robotic and dark. It will be good to develop it further.

I was intrigued to see this poster ad for Art Sheffield 08, which seemed freakily related to our idea for Y/N. Do you think artists all key into the same idea at the same time and the idea manifests in its different forms?

I'm sure Matt and I discussed this ages ago, thinking that it was wierd that we'd have an idea for, say a video or a song and then the next minute we would see it on MTV and be miffed that someone else had got there first. Maybe we should get new jobs as those people that forsee trends.......

anyhoo - better go and cook my tea (veggie spag bol) x

Tuesday, 4 March 2008


Are now working on the main site. My hosting company doesn't allow Crossdomain XML feeds and runs PHP in safe mode. I guess this is understandable. So I moved the site to another server, the domain now re-directs to the .net address.

Thanks to the people who emailed suggestions :-)

YES / NO was cracked tonight. This was an idea written back in October 2007 and was the first presented to Sarah for the new album. It's remained pretty similar to the idea I supplied however I have had to change the bassline and bass sound a little. It's actually got the feel of HLs' "The Lebanon" about it. One of the great new plug-ins in Logic 8 is the Delay Designer. The bassline now has some creative delay added to it and it really works well. I'm usually not one for adding effects to bass sounds as they then tend to dominate the bottom end of a track, I've solved that by filtering the low end frequencies out on the delayed parts. This is definitely a beat driven track. I think Sarah will need to write more parts for it though as it's a bit sparse and doesn't follow a proper song structure yet.


Sunday, 2 March 2008


Unfortunately I have come down with a cold, I'm not really one to take time off or wimp out but it has effected my sinuses and also my hearing. I'm always listening to music particularly on headphones so I'm conscious of the damage excessive use can do.

Last year I took a week off to mix our album, at that point my studio was in the spare room, I tried as much as possible to create a temporary mixing environment with spare duvets covering walls and pillows as bass traps in each corner of the room. As your ears start to become fatigued you instinctively turn the volume up, it's crucial to take breaks when working like that. Since then I have noticed some slight tinnitus in my left ear. Although tinnitus isn't actually caused by excessive noise it's used to describe ringing in the ear. Tinnitus is actually caused by infection, although studies show that prolonged use of headphones encourages the growth of bacteria in the ear, so indirectly they do effect it. HA HA you even get medical advice on this blog!

So I haven't done any music this weekend to save my ears, what I have done is add a really cool feature to our main website. A few people said "how come you don't update your site that often" so I said check out this blog it's updated most days. I decided to write an import script in Flash to load external XML from this actual blog feed. I tested it locally and it worked fine but then I realised Flash wouldn't pull a cross domain XML feed. Having trawled the web for help I finally stumbled on a PHP feature that would do this, only to realise that my hosting accounts PHP config didn't support this :-( I have it working on my works test server so I know it works, I'm just hoping that my NK hosting company can help.

Back to Alan WIlders letter. Apart from the sound quality issues he also went on to attack the record labels. Mute have always been a label I admired, manly because of its roster of great music but also it's general ethos and humble beginnings. I think Daniel Miller is of the industries true heros, Mute was probably the largest indie label before its takeover by EMI. One of the other labels I really admired was Factory. I'm surprised that Mute haven't had the attention of fIlms, documentaries and books like Factory has, then again I suppose Daniel Miller is a fairly tame character compared to that of the late great Tony Wilson. One of the main reasons for my love of Factory (apart from New Order / Joy Division) was their approach with the design and packaging of their products. Our first album was manufactured on a fairly small budget, therefore we were limited to what we could do with the CD packaging, the next album however will be much more special and hopefully something that people will treasure.

I think my biggest gripe with Alan's letter was his overriding grumpiness with the state of things. He's in a pretty good position having made no doubt a stack of money being part of Depeche Mode. If he is so disillusioned with the industry why doesn't he go it alone. I enjoy all the aspects of being part of NK, as I have talked about before in this blog we do everything ourselves and really try to push the creative aspects of the music, imagery & design whilst having a full time job. I/We do it for the love of doing it, not for the money.

Who needs a record label?

Re album name -

Cheers Gary!
It's interesting that you should suggest that as an album name, as a very close friend of mine has just suggested 'Where to from Here?'. 
Great minds think alike ;-)
bye for now x
It seems my whizzy new blog method is flawed, as I need a password to reply to comments.  Help!

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