Just completed a 30 minute long video titled 'Uncanny Valley,' to project behind myself and 'Orchestra Futura' at the upcoming 'Plectronica' event. A half-hour of random images that will add some visual interest to the performance. I've been working on this for several weeks and glad that it's finally finished. However, I'm adding several audio tracks from various albums of mine so that it can be uploaded to the 'Essoldo Cinema' section of my website after the 'Plectronica' event is over. A second life for it. But, for the live performance, the album tracks won't be heard in the auditorium, only the live improvisations on the day. The video will form a silent accompaniment to the new live tracks I'm working on.
Speaking of the live tracks, I've yet to decide on which ones to include in the set. Especially difficult is preparing something for 'Orchestra Futura' to improvise over. It's tricky getting the balance right between too little sonic information to too much. It needs to be something that doesn't negotiate too many chord changes as we'll have no time to rehearse...it's literally made up as we go along, in front of the audience. Instant composition in action.
We will probably also attempt one or two pieces without backing tracks, which is even more risky, especially as I'm the only person in the trio with an instrument capable of playing chords, the sax and flute and bass being more single note oriented instruments, (though the bass can produce some limited chordal material.) I also have a problem playing chords now because my arthritis makes it very painful to form certain chord shapes. It's a struggle and very frustrating.
One thing that has cropped up is the possibility of another artist sitting in for a number during the live set, possibly as part of the 'Orchestra Futura' performance, expanding the trio to a quartet for one piece. I'm not going to reveal who this might be. If it comes off I want it to be a surprise, but if it does work out, those of you who have tickets are going to remember it as a very special moment. Enough said!
Still haven't found time to make any inroads into creating original artwork for the event. I've bought two large white ceramic plates to draw on, plus a cardboard mask to decorate, and a sheaf of A4 sized coloured card to make several drawings on and then place in frames. I've even bought some DAS clay to make a couple of three-dimensional pieces but, how much of all this will achieve fruition is a moot point. There just aren't enough hours in the day.
Arrangements were made today for the filming of a Cherry Red Records documentary interview about the 'Sunburst Finish' album. It will take place on the 7th November here at the house, using my little home studio as a location. My old pal John Leckie is travelling up with the video crew to share the interview with me. I hope he can remember more about the sessions than I can!
Also, I've today been emailing back and forth with the press officer of Cherry Red Records trying to fix up a date for the 'Classic Rock' magazine interview...it was supposed to be a face-to-face one but arranging a mutually convenient date and time has proved difficult so it's now going to be done via telephone, which can be a little strange without being able to read the other person's facial expressions...but I'm sure we'll get by. Equally frustrating is that the main focus of the article will be on an album I made over 40 years ago. I've tried to avoid becoming stereotyped as 'the guy in Be Bop Deluxe' for many years now, but it still comes back to haunt me!
I shouldn't complain though, as it was the launch pad for my continuing career. Despite that I've not exactly traded on the '70s era like many other artists. I've had much more to say.
It can be frustrating when I get constantly tagged with that old chestnut, 'Ships In The Night' when I've created so much more music over the years. I'm not dismissive of it...it certainly served a purpose and, whilst it's perhaps my least favourite Be Bop Deluxe song, I do recognise its role in gaining the band and myself slightly wider commercial success.
That said, these days I'm quite content to work in a kind of semi-obscurity as long as I can get by and make the kind of music I need to make without any commercial constraints. And that is a rare thing, a blessing of sorts. The internet has its downside but it has certainly allowed me to connect directly with an audience of like-minded people who appreciate and enjoy my work. And for that, I'm very grateful...