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The December Diet and other news…

The December Diet Mystery…where did all the chocolate brownies go? I just made a batch supposedly to last the next two weeks and like some kind of freak accident…we ate them…all…in two days…jeez…

Here’s the thing, the December Diet is all about warming up and stretching the stomach ready for the onslaught of 10 rounds with the monster turkey…come on people, you know it makes sense right? I mean, you don’t want your body going into Christmas Day shock in a sort of reverse “there’s no way a baby’s gonna fit through there, I’m sure there’s been some mistake nurse, NURSE” kinda way…no no, December is a month of exponential growth of appetite with the waistline expansion in parallel, feeling knackered, bleary eyed “ugh” sickie mornings and mood swings (from the “Bah Humbug” variety right through to the “life and soul dancing, I love EVERYBODY” with some choking up at the family Christmas movie in between)…oh my god, December is, in fact, like cramming nine months of pregnancy into 4 weeks, no wonder we all look like hell in January…

Soooo you may be wondering what we’ve been up to in the Offbeat Hub…apart from partaking of the Christmas spirit at our Christmas Party…nooooo, I can’t show you any pics, they’re all far too embarrassing 😉

In other news, we’ve been beavering away on compiling a compilation album to come out in the early spring of 2012 🙂 This involves a lot of arguing the toss as I listen to the back catalogue of amazing music the Boss has produced and collaborated on with various artists and then get frustrated by the fact that a CD is in fact not time limitless and therefore there is only a certain number of tracks we can squeeze on one album…hurumph…well here’s my mission statement people- it is my duty to you to keep pushing to release as much fantastic music as possible so this means that as soon as we finish this compilation, I will start pushing for the next one…

…and we’ve been working on finishing another album due out next year by the Offbeat Rhythm Section and let me tell you it’s Offbeat Upbeat sizzling hot! Every now and again in a moment of madness (and these happen more than I’d like to admit) I put it on in the studio and go crazy…I would love to think I look like Shakira but I’m fairly certain I look more like a bucking bronco with an itch but hey, it makes me happy and I haven’t knocked anything over…yet…

So plenty to look forward to from us in 2012 🙂 Merry Christmas and I’ll see you on the other side in January for the New Year Resolutions…but let me leave you with a little December Diet warning right here…

Years ago when the Husband was still just The Boyfriend With Potential, we were wondering around the supermarket in December like a pair of space cadets, hypnotised by Christmas Musak and aisles of festive sparkley stuff when he turned to me with dilated tinsel reflecting eyes and said “I’ve never had one of those big tins of chocolates at Christmas time before!” to which I, of course, replied “Baby, you can have whatever you want” (I told you this was before marriage turned me into a naghag and I was aiming for “Girlfriend with Potential”, back in the days when I cared if my undies matched) Well, that was the Christmas we worked our way through a 2 kilo tin of choccie in 3 nights, boy the turkey barely touched the sides we were so match fit…and I decided he was the one ;-p

Ghetto blaster retro cool and other news…

Not to be competitive but what’s your brain like to live inside? Quite often my thoughts resemble nitrous oxide fuelled party poppers- going off like the clappers but sadly mostly pointless…spent 50 minutes speed talking my stream of consciousness whilst circular breathing on a car journey recently…you know the usual when you have a captive audience locked in the car with you? Oh, I see….maybe you’re the captivee rather than the captivator…anyway, generously (I thought) turned to Himself and asked for a download of his thoughts and he actually thought about it for a moment and came out with “I really fancy a beer”…and that was it…oh lovely; simple, uncluttered, minimalist chic that. Yes, ok, I admit I did have a moment of brain envy…

In other news, I am feeling a need to dig my chemistry set out of the cupboard, get my evil laugh on and clone the Bossman and myself because WE JUST DON’T STOP WORKING HERE…I’m so late getting this chalkboard up this week because there’s just not enough Jen to go round, y’know? No, no, it’s ok, it’s better this way, less opportunities for getting into trouble…

Loads of music vid filming which involves me running around with a ghetto blaster in hand (don’t even…), several cameras round my neck, a stepladder over my shoulder and my coffee in a handy thermos mug…oh yeah, I’m a cool dude, me…

Loads of editing said film and working out better shots for these music vids…and I can’t remember why but I insisted on a mug of Grand Marnier during one session- apparently I was quite adamant it would help but I think it just helped me to get lippy…

More Story Of Film soundtrack work with Mark Cousins, lovely lovely man, pleeeeeeeze can I interview him next?

Gavin Blackie in working on a NEW song- but I can’t tell you anymore about it, it’s all hush hush…honestly, secrets are no fun if you can’t share them 😉

An artist who cannot be named was in doing a dirty electronica track…rrrrrr…

Joanne Livingstone’s in again mixing down one of her tracks…

Another Offbeat Rhythm Section cover track into an artist’s dropbox (I think this one may have been in a hotter country, maybe the Bossman can dropbox me over there?) In this case, Iain McKinna playing your very own virtual band for a backing track for live gigs…you see why I need to clone him now?

Maggie Aitken’s been in finishing the Heritage Detectives‘ sound effects…

The Offbeat Rhythm Section is getting revved up for the new album coming out soon…the rumour going around is that there are drums getting recorded and mixed down this week for a track called “Pressure On”…watch this space coz there will be a new webpage going up very soon with sneaky peeks of tracks for this album and more on the ORS with interview footage galore…

We’ve had a few meetings with artists in between sessions and I’m sure they probably wonder why the bags under our eyes are a little alarming but seriously, we’re living on coffee, Grand Marnier fumes and the natural high of being in the music biz…ahaha, or in the style of the new lingo I learnt off the naughty girls in the Prestongrange radio chatroom on Sunday night at Tam Mac’s Sunday service, lmao…oh yeah baby, getting hip to the jive now 😉

Offbeat Featured Client- Jim Connor

I can rarely make my husband laugh…well, on purpose anyway, he laughs all the time at things I come out with that I don’t mean to be funny… I wouldn’t mind but he makes me laugh on purpose all the time…I tell him it’s because I have a more eclectic sense of humour than him but to tell you the truth I’m always secretly worried…so it’s somewhat affirming to meet someone with the same sense of humour; when Jim and I emailed each other recently to touch base about his interview with me, Jim’s parting line was

You did say to keep the answers light. Hope you don’t regret it. I do much prefer discussing the origins of the universe…I will now return to my darkened room.

One day Jim, you and I will go on a journey into space, into the great cosmic latte that is our beige universe and hopefully we’ll make it as far as the restaurant at the end of the universe because the question can only be truly worked out over a very good dinner and several bottles of gigglejuice…

Drift Away by J A Connor;

Buy Drift Away at the iTunes store

Beautiful Day by J A Connor

In the meantime here’s Jim’s interview with me; are you sitting comfortably?

Do you have musicians who you admire?

Yes

What’s the story behind your name? Nicknames?

I got my name from my Mum & Dad

Seriously, there is another artist called Jim Connor, hence the JA Connor tag.

Has anyone ever bought you an embarrassing present and how did you react?

No one buys me presents.

If you were on a desert island with electricity and you could take 4 dvd’s what would they be?

As an old fashioned gentleman, I’ll let electricity choose.

What personality trait has gotten you in the most trouble?

I know you’ll find this hard to believe but my sense of humour has sometimes backfired big style.

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?

Difficult one, I’ve got 4 walls.

What’s the process that you and Iain go through to create each track? Tell me what it’s like working with Iain McKinna, our producer at the Offbeat studio?

Writing my own material I can never decide on the preferred sound. Using Dropbox I’ll send Iain the drum and vocal track. After that the Offbeat Rhythm Section takes over and delivers the goods. We then add the vocals, harmonies and associated effects in the studio. This process works for me, as Iain has the gift of identifying the right feel for the song.

(Just don’t mention the pipes).

Is there a moment in your life that defined you as a musician?

You mean………. I’m a musician?!!

What’s the most impressive thing you’ve seen with your own eyes?

I go along with my doctor at my last physical.  I have an amazing nose. Apart from that it has to be Angel Falls in Venezuela.

If you could play a gig with any musician throughout history who would it be and why?

There is this guy called Iain McKenna or McKinna, something like that. He’s quite cool. Second choice, Jimmy Buffett as long as we do a Carribean tour.

If you had a time machine, where and when would you go for a vacation?

1950’s California.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

I’ll tell you when I grow up.

If you could give your younger self advice, what would it be?

Don’t wait for tomorrow, do it today.

Where in the world has been your favourite place to visit and why?

There’s been a lot of cool places, Havana, Dallas, Mexico’s Pacific coast. But my favourite place at the moment is Offbeat in Edinburgh, because that’s where I finally got my songs sounding the way I want them.  Oh Shucks!

Aw Jim, flattery will get you everywhere 🙂

Read the Bossman’s Blog On Jim

Find Jim on Offbeat Records

If you want to find Jim’s website it’s at;

http://www.ja-connor.com/

How to do the breakfast meeting successfully and other news…

Oh yes yes yes, joy of joys the Bossman took me for a breakfast meeting this morning 🙂 I see a fry-up and my eyes get all dreamy and I start to slaver shamelessly…I gotta tell you I have the requirements for this type of meeting down pat…take it from a pro, this is how you do it;

elasticated waistband for extra room for stuffing in sausage and egg etc and remaining comfy…

a big napkin/apron for collecting said sausage/egg fallout…coz you’re yapping about work at the same time…nobody said it was pretty…

a doggy bag kit for taking extras home…

a travel pillow for compulsory post -meeting snooze on a park bench en route to pick up sprog from holiday club…

rennies for post fry up tummy regrets…never give in to the guilt…

Ahhh, it was goooood, in spite of the scolding we got from Offbeat Kirsty for falling off the veggie wagon…her addition to my list was to take a sick bag but the Bossman and I have tummies that are well practiced in the art of coping with the meat laden fry-up…and I promise I started the day with a healthy apple and carrot juice so it all balances out, right?

In other news, this week we have already had Gavin Blackie in session, laying down a new track…and having a giggle at teabreak 🙂 No I can’t tell you what we had the gigglies about coz it was extremely naughty and rude, obviously…

Filming interviews- remember the rehearsals last week? Well this is it, the beginning of the “for reals” now…the artists are all really well behaved, it’s me who’s driving the Bossman mad 🙂

Then of course there’s all the editing of the interviews…yawn…more CSI chalkduster…

Joanne Livingstone’s in for sessions this week with Tom Findlay, the jazz pianist, laying down jazz keyboards and recording and mixing for gig demos…

Mandy Hinchey In Wales is having Dropbox sessions recording and mixing backing tracks with the Offbeat Rhythm Section, recreating the likes of Bonnie Raitt and Connie Lush tracks. Cool or what? Mandy sends her tracks to the studio by Dropbox, the Offbeat Rhythm Section records and mixes the tracks (while Mandy can do other things like enjoy a cuppa, check her emails, other multitasking taskies…) and then we dropbox the mixes and she can decide on any changes she likes. Mixes then fly back and forth through cyberspace till she’s happy with what she’s got…personally I’d be doing this from somewhere hot and beachlike but Wales is great too… oh yeah and she uses these backing tracks in live gigs…the Offbeat Rhythm Section, your own virtual band…

Maggie Aitken is in from Daisy Chain Associates editing sound effects for the Heritage Detectives performances coming soon…

Iain McKinna, producer fabuloso, is taking a masterclass in studio production…I have to sit there all day listening to how great the Bossman is from everybody- yawn, yawn…no gossip only praise :-p

Actually, to round off the week and seeing as how we’ve been working incredibly hard these last few months, me mainly at working the coffee machine to death, I’m allowing the Bossman some time off this weekend before he gets in trouble with “her indoors”…and before I get into trouble with “him indoors”…my other half got a shock the other night when he saw I had 2 ears instead of a phone permanently glued to the side of my head…

Offbeat Featured Client- Colin Asquith…

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

Colin’s Website

Colin’s Webpage on Offbeat

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.

Secret careers

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

http://offbeatscotland.wordpress.com/

although I’m warning you now, there are no Pina Coladas over there either…just so you know…

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