Monthly Archives: June 2011
Last week I emailed the mother of a gorgeous girl called Sam who comes into the studio to record every now and again. Her reply had me choked- in the past, in a very different capacity, I have worked with children on the autistic spectrum and I can tell you that it is some of the most challenging and rewarding work I’ve ever done. I wanted to share Sam’s Mum’s email reply with you and, of course, the cover of a song Sam recorded in her last session, “Bring Me To Life” by Evanescence- Sam, you and your family are a 10 out of 10 on the inspirationometer, we are proud to have you record at Offbeat.
Samantha E (17) is a young lady who loves to sing. She was diagnosed as a non-verbal autistic with a pervasive communication disorder when she was just 2 years old, somehow music reached into her and gave her a voice.
It was her first way of communicating with the world and it continues to help her expand her communication skills and helps her with speech, diction and gives her confidence to use her voice out with the music.
Working with her vocal coach Sergei Desmond and at Offbeat Recording Studios with Iain McKinna, she has been recording her progress over the last few years, to show that with the right help and encouragement children with autism can be helped to improve and become more comfortable with the strange world they perceive our world to be…
Some of the music has been of a good enough standard to be used to help raise funds for certain causes and children’s charities and most importantly to her and her family to help raise autism awareness. Her biggest achievement to date is to have her song “Never Give Up Your Dreams” on Dr.Temple Grandin’s – A View from the Inside DVD.
Since becoming involved with her vocal coach Sergei at the age of 13, he saw within her that she had the capability to not just sing, but to compose, arrange and produce music too.
Sergei is also a music teacher and he knew she could easily pass certain exams on the practical side but her communication disorder would stop her being able to do so easily.
Through her placement at Teens+ she was enrolled into Drake Music Scotland and with the help of a support worker was then able to work towards become qualified in the areas that she was already adept in.
She received her first ever music qualification when she graduated on 9th June 2011 with a certificate for Midi sequencing SCQF level 5.
None of this would have been possible without the help of some very good friends who continue to support and encourage her to reach her potential whatever that may be.
This has always been a journey and no one has any ideas of the destination.
Blackboard Monitor Jen- Feeling very important and slightly smug as now I will be in charge of the blackboard, the chalk and most importantly the duster…For those of you too young to remember the blackboard, or indeed its evil, weighted little counterpart the duster at school, this piece of equipment was generally hurled at school pupils in the classroom who committed such horrendous crimes as “looking at the teacher funny” and was certainly my first experience of a UFO…ah, the days before I discovered the not disimilar UBI (Unidentified Beer Injury). The difference being the chalk dust of course…
Anyway, here I am, drunk with my own power, to chalk up this week’s shenanigans at Offbeat;
Offbeat interview film rehearsals start this week – yes, I will be the interviewer, no you may not laugh…
Joanne Livingstone is in recording some covers for local gigs…
Iain McKinna and I will be down at Leith FM on Tuesday at midday on the show “Noise Up” to talk about how fantastic we are and why you need to come and join the Offbeat Family (I paraphrase you understand)…
A load of editing for the Scotland Under 18 Hockey Team video- they came in on Saturday, all 24 of them, it was riotous in a good way 🙂
Final mix of the song Vicarious by a band called Dashnelli, more on them soon…
More editing of “the story of film” episodes 7&8 (while I try throwing my blackboard duster from various angles around the studio and make solemn CSI notes about the results, you do know that I do all the important stuff around here, right?)
The Heritage Detectives are in doing their sound fx- apparently lots of gurgles and body sounds and that sort of thing- I can’t wait to meet them and find out what they’ve been up to- I will be featuring them here very soon 😉
The Bossman is in a second session with John Lesley, Ross Bradford & Paul Dickens this week…
and there’s another round of recording & mixing for some mystery artists who I’m not allowed to name…because um…well to retain the mystery I guess…
There’s a bunch of other stuff going on too but, you know, you’ll have to wait for the “behind the scenes” YouTube footage to come out before I can take you there…
Yes, I know, it was a long time AGAIN…what can I say? The Edinburgh Summer, hmmm…I promise you I haven’t been lazing around on a sun soaked beach drinking pina coladas out of a bucket sized frosted glass topped up for me by various handsome lovelies all day long…sigh…no no, I don’t give it a moment’s thought, we don’t do that here, it’s all been hard graft with the heating secretly turned on. Och, it’s ok, who wants to be on the beach anyway? And bikinis are such a horrid subject are they not? And boys, really, budgie smugglers are just too awful to mention right? Although there was one time on a beach many years ago when I came across some nudey drumming…well yeah…
…anyway moving on, I have had SOME fun; I interviewed the very charming Colin Asquith who’s been in to Offbeat recording songs recently. What a sweetheart he is! I’ve been humming this song of Colin’s called Fireworks Fade Away- I’ve put it up here for you to listen to while you read Colin’s interview, coz I’m nice like that 🙂
Let me make it easy for you to find Colin;
Find Colin on Facebook
Find Colin on Twitter
Do you have musicians who you admire? What’s on your playlist at the mo?
I have a really eclectic mixture of musical styles on my playlist, but mainly I tend to admire well written songs, great singers or songs with interesting lyrics. So a usual night’s listening would be a mix of Beatles, The Smiths, Sinatra, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Manic Street Preachers, Radiohead, Nirvana, Kinks and ABBA (see one of my other Offbeat sessions for my take on an ABBA song that I love).
Irritating and favourite ads
I can’t stand any advert that takes a song I love and replaces it with nonsense marketing lyrics. The Clover adverts that rip off “The Wild Rover” – I’m looking at you.
Most hated household chores
I have a bad habit of keeping too much stuff in my house, which makes it difficult to tidy up as there is nowhere to put everything, so chore wise, it’s that game of clutter Tetris that I play when I try to cram everything I own into cupboards. I keep telling myself, I just need some good books, a bed, my guitar and a laptop… but never get anywhere near that!
What personality trait has gotten you in the most trouble?
I tend to be very spontaneous and couple that with my tendency to say ‘yes’ a lot more than I should, which either makes for some ridiculously surreal and worrying situations, or fantastically amazing stories, depending on how you look at them. My friends no longer seem to be surprised when I tell them my latest adventures.
Has anyone ever bought you an embarrassing present and how did you react?
Not really sometimes I can’t work out how someone came to the decision to buy me certain things, but nothing too crazy, it’s always nice to get presents! The most embarrassing thing was probably being given a very rudely shaped hot water bottle for a charity show I was doing.
If you were on a desert island with electricity and you could take 4 dvd’s what would they be?
There are some films I can watch millions of times and still feel the same, Amelie – which just gives me an amazing feeling each time I watch it, Fight Club- I just love the way it’s shot, and the story gets me every time. Every scene seems to have a catchphrase in it. Happy Gilmore – with Adam Sandler, it’s about the only film that makes me laugh no matter how many times I see it. Probably I would also take the Empire Strikes Back.
If you could only have one picture on the wall where you live, what would it be if it couldn’t be a picture of your family?
The Kiss by Edvard Munch, there’s something about that picture which to me sums up the spinning emotions and togetherness of an amazing kiss.
Is there a moment in your life that defined you as a musician?
I’d always loved music, and singing to myself from a really early age, so have always loved to make up songs and to just sing to please myself. It took a while to get to the point of singing for other people though. For inspiration, hearing the album Back in Black by AC/DC just blew me away when I was young, and it really made me want to pick up a guitar.
What’s the most impressive thing you’ve seen with your own eyes?
Hiroshima in Japan. I went on a holiday to Japan and it’s such a beautiful country. I visited Hiroshima for a couple of days as part of my trip, and the people were the kindest I think I’ve ever met, everything was so beautiful as there is such fantastic scenery around it. The A-bomb museum was truly humbling, and although it was challenging, there was something amazingly uplifting about seeing what Hiroshima is like now, and how kind and welcoming the people there are. It really was one of those moments that changes how you see the world.
If you were in a séance, which musician who’s passed over would you most want to talk to and what would you ask them?
Probably Kurt Cobain- although I don’t really know what I’d ask him. I’d probably still get a bit star struck even though it was a séance. It would just be good to kind of chat, you get the feeling you know a bit about people through their music, but it would be good to find out more. There’s something about the way Nirvana songs sound quite poppy, yet either have interesting chords or lyrics that makes them great.
In your fantasy flat rent, who would be the other 3 flatmates you would share with?
Nicky Wire from the Manic Street Preachers, George Best (maybe I’m overlapping with the last question about people who’ve passed over), and Audrey Tautou. You’d have nights of music, some beautiful French spoken by a beautiful woman, chats about politics and art, as well as having a great flatmate to go drinking with, but also being able to take along to a game of fives. Perfect.
In a zombie attack, what’s your plan of escape?
I think too many people focus on running away, surely with our advances in science since zombie films began, we could make a human flesh substitute. Kind of like they did for vegetarians with Quorn.
If you had a time machine, where and when would you go for a vacation?
I think I’d find it quite interesting to be around kind of the 1900s, Edinburgh or Glasgow would be fine, nothing too exotic, I think we forget how fantastic the things on our doorstep are. I’d go there just to see how people lived in similar places that I recognise now, but with less technology. It would be amazing to see, and see if I could handle it. Although I would have a hard time not telling people things I know from now, or get drunk and keep saying to people “we’re going to get rid of all your trams, then decades later we’re going spend ages and loads of money bringing them back”! Or telling people who would win at the football.
When I was growing up, I think the only things I remember wanting to be were a bus driver and superman. I thought that bus drivers always seemed really friendly, but also they could drive wherever they wanted. When I got older, I found that bus drivers aren’t as friendly as I remember, but also they don’t get to choose where they drive. Also – it’s not very easy to grow up to become superman if you didn’t come from Krypton.
what’s the strangest concert you’ve played
I put on a charity concert where everyone that came got to vote for things like how I was dressed, what songs I played and stuff like that. It was great fun, and the people who came raised a large amount of money for charity. In the end I was dressed like a disco pirate playing mashed up versions of classic songs mixed with girl and boy band songs. It was an unusual night! I’ve tended to play more traditional shows since then!
do you have any plans to record more?
Recording at Offbeat has been great, and really been a good push to get some of my material recorded, as well as recording some covers of songs that I love. To me, if you can sing a song in a bit of a different way, then it’s fantastic, if you can’t, then you should probably leave it alone. Ideally I would like to get an album’s worth of songs together as well as get out and play more gigs. I have a habit of either playing lots of gigs at once, or not doing many, so am trying to get back into the swing of playing more often, especially now I have some more songs I’ve written I’d like to give an airing before recording again!
Well I enjoyed that, I’m off to find out what rudely shaped hot water bottles I can buy for those of us who are not on the beach and are staring out at the summer rain…grrrrr. If you want to visit the Bossman’s blog for more on Colin, go to
although I’m warning you now, there are no Pina Coladas over there either…just so you know…
What a long pause between chats we’ve had haven’t we? Dearie me, whoever invented family holidays clearly didn’t have kids did they? Never mind, it all went well, we’re back home and still talking to each other and we even have some photos of smiling people…not us but you can’t be picky can you?
…just me in the studio tonight, looking out at the city and dancing round the mike to DJ Miles Green and his gorgeous mix of samba and reggae, soothing and mellow for a quiet Sunday night, aaaah…sadly my dancing is a combination of the same 3 moves I’ve been throwing around since I hit those horrid teenage years, just executed with more or less sophistication depending on…well so many factors really 😉 My 3 trusty (?) moves are;
The twisty bendy limbohnono- no I’m fine, I thought I’d try dancing horizontally on the floor for a while (perhaps nobody will notice I can’t get up coz my back has gone horribly wrong, or depending on my state “whoshoo mean am onna floor, can’t you shee am danshin’??)
The side to side “safety catch is on” mode- I’m sober, I’m behaving myself, I’m therefore self-conscious and the hen just dragged me up to do the birdie dance coz the DJ has an effing sense of humour at 2 a.m- ahaha…grrrr…
The Shakira (no no lovey, I invented it, you must have seen me and copied me, with a few slight changes of course, but yes it was me originally…) only ever performed at heights above floor level for maximum effect, diva gene well and truly excited and switched on, embarrassment factor well and truly damped down (like a spring loaded jack-in-the-box set on timer for tomorrow morning with added shame thrown in for free) usually accompanied by some kind of stripping off of something…yes a nearby male wearing something easy to rip off will do in the event that at attainment of desired height level, most of my clothes have mysteriously slunk away into corners of the room, pretending no connection to me whatsoever…
So yes, here I am alone in the studio “working” but really “escaping home for a few hours” doing the visual equivalent of singing that should only ever be allowed in the shower and something amazing happens…some amazing blueprint of fantastic dance cool descends over me…I’m goddamn amazing! Wow, I can really dance, I mean really dance, wow, I don’t want to breathe in case I disturb this miracle…
Yep, you guessed it- DJ Miles finished his lovely grooves and I started watching Step Up 2- The Streets which I had loaded up on another window on the computer, but my poor fatigued little mind made the seemless shift into delusion…aw bless, it was fun while it lasted…
On my way out I pat the wall of the control room and blow a kiss to the machines sleeping round the room, safe in the knowledge that the studio has entered a pact of confidentiality with me and will never let on to anyone how unbelievably ridiculous I looked dancing with the mike tonight…and then realise that you may think I’m a bit nuts…and then think screw it, you knew that back on the first blog, first day of the job, if you’re still with me now, you’re a keeper 🙂