Went back, but there was a farmer, so we went to another haunted place nearby…
Found this place on the island. Explored about half of it. Incredible place, hoping to go back tomorrow for more.
A dramatic title. Truth is, it is dramatic. Long time readers will know that I’ve been to Watercolour Music in the foothills of Ben Nevis on the shore of Loch Linnhe before, and written lots about what that was like. I’m not going to link to those posts here & now. Go find them, if you like. It was years ago. Doesn’t matter what I said then. That was then, this is now. Shit is different. I learned, grew, developed, invested in myself. It paid off. I believed I could, so I did, the driftwood & shells wall art says, and you know what, it worked. Here I am.
Josienne is recording her new album. I can say no more than that about what that is. Go ask her!
I’m playing bass guitar, recording videos & taking photographs, which is more than I ever dared hope for myself. I brought some lights and some camera stuff. Not lots, because there’s only me. We do this ourselves. A select few seem able, willing & prepared to help – special, patient people who are worth their weight in gold. We’re back in a month or two with some jazz musicians who I’ll get to play with. Best and most talented musicians on the planet. And little old me. Believe & invest in yourself. Find a thing you love and try to not let it kill you.
Notice – legendary Mary Ann Kennedy there, playing harp. that’s a gift from me to you. Wait til you hear.
I’ve done a lot of stuff this year, it’s been a busy one. Mainly, I’ve been focussing on learning, getting better at what I do & trying to do more of the things I enjoy. I think I’ve succeeded, in some ways. I am sure I have failed in many others, it’s not been the perfect year, no doubt, with both personal disappointments & global disasters, there have been plenty of things that I am delighted to leave in my wake, but there’s been some good, too.
I want to share some of my favourite photographs of the year. It’s not exhaustive, and I likely forgot some good ones, but just a kind of review 🙂 There’s a real mixture of digital, 35mm & 120 medium format here, I won’t call them out because then you’ll laugh and call me a nerd, which might be accurate but still, fuck you, I’ll do what I want.
I’ll start with these working portraits of Lukas Drinkwater, I think these were all taken at his Stroud Polyphonic Recording studio during the 3 day recording session for my ‘A Place Like Home’ EP. He can do monophonic things, too! I’d strongly recommend working with Lukas if you like to make music. He’s a magician and I believe there is very little he cannot do. I hope to work with him again next year.
Here’s a selection of my portraits of my favourite person, best friend & wife, Josienne, taken at various points in the year, in studios, in our house, on stage at Union Chapel and a festival in Bury, Glasgow city centre & a Clydebank beach. You’ve seen these all before, but it wouldn’t be a year in review if I didn’t repeat myself, now would it? I do so enjoy capturing tiny bits of her soul in my little electrical box of light & magic.
What’s next? An important portrait. This is the legendary Scottish musician, Mary Ann Kennedy. She has graced Josienne’s recordings with her harp a few times and hopefully more in the future and I asked her to let me photograph her as she recorded, which is an intimate thing that not all musicians are ok with. She agreed and I took this, which is one of my favourite photographs of mine. I’m hoping she will let me take more in future and I think you can see why.
Here’s Josienne with her friend Belinda O’Hooley at a festival in Bury. That was a good day, they were both just as happy as they look.
These are some shots I took at the Glad Cafe, that’s Broken Chanter, Jill Lorean, Roddy Hart & Flinch. Another good night. I used to hate taking live photographs compared to to studio, but these days, I dunno, I think I’m starting to mellow to it.
And then a pretty cool thing happened. Josienne supported Will Varley at Union Chapel in London, and I got to shoot Will, both during his soundcheck and during the show, and he used the photograph with the white semi-circles on it for his 2022 tour poster! A hero of mine, a wonderful guy, honestly, the Will you think you know is the Will that is there, he’s a straight-up brilliant bloke and I could’ve cried when he asked to use the picture. He only ever uses good stuff for his posters, and to be associated to that is a thing I am very proud of. Doesn’t it look good?
A band called Junior Bill played the same festival, I shot them & I think they used this on their socials. It’s a good shot, eh? They were ace, too, like black midi if they weren’t stuck up pretentious art-school wankers and just really liked The Jam.
I got to see Badly Drawn Boy play live again. It was something else. I don’t know how he does it. He’s so grounded, human, likeable, talented in such a relatable way. I love his music and always have. I remember buying those early 7″s knowing something timeless was going on. And I shot him at a festival and guess what? I only had a 35mm prime, I spent the whole day kicking myself. No filters and just one prime, for a festival shoot? I just packed badly. Ha. I’m quietly hoping I can talk him into a shoot, one day, and I’ll try to take better shots, so in the meantime, he’s what a 35mm Prime does at a festival, laughing/crying face.
Here’s Sophie Jamieson live at Union Chapel, shot on my Pentax 67 with a 75mm f2.8 lens which is a bananas thing to do in a venue, but here’s why I bother:
And here’s Burd Ellen live at … uh I’ve forgotten where … somewhere in Glasgow …
Here’s a few shots I took that aren’t people. Just nice things I saw. Apart from the bins. They were in London, but still beautiful in it’s own way.
Josienne & I made a little EP together, you can find it at the Corduroy Punk Records bandcamp page.
Josienne released ‘A Small Unknowable Thing’ this year, but I did all the work on it the year before, but it remains a shoot that I’m incredibly proud of…
I made a load of videos for this release and you can go see them all at Josienne’s YouTube channel 🙂
One of my favourite projects this year was making the video for ‘Driving at Night’, the first single from Josienne’s new EP. Josienne had a solid concept for her video but it needed help, a thing I am not used to having access to. But I realised that I could, so I reached out to Daniel Odoom via his Odoom Brothers production company in Glasgow and I’m glad I did. Benjamin Ahadzi got in touch and set up a meet where we threw some ideas around. Daniel & his crew are a beautiful bunch of true creatives, and together we made this video, one dull Glasgow evening. I’ll not forget driving while Benjamin hung out the window to get those credit shots. Not OK, really, but above & beyond, no doubt. There was so much more we could have done, and I can’t wait to work with them again.
I’ve been working on a little project for a while now, it’s moving slowly around all the others, but it’s getting there. I don’t even know what it is yet. A motion picture! A TV movie? An episodic YouTube adventure? It’s coming on. It might never leave my hard drive but I dare to hope. Here’s a glimpse of my odd labour of something like love. Keeps me out of trouble, eh?
My IMDb profile might be interesting to you if you want to know more about this stuff as soon as it happens.
I released an EP on Corduroy Punk Records, called ‘A Place Like Home’. Here’s the cover shot, by Andy Low, taken on his Mamiya (I think) RZ67. He’s a careful wizard with light. You can get it from here.
Here’s a collection of the artwork I made for ‘I Promised You Light’. Maybe my best work?
I hope you’ve managed to understand 2021 & your own place in it, resolve it into something you can live with inside your own head then relate it to your place in the universe. Not easy to do but seems important. Keep trying, and don’t be afraid to ask, however difficult that might seem. Good luck.
Josienne recorded an EP at Hackney Road Studios in June (all social distancing & local guidelines were followed, before anyone says a thing, studios are tightly controlled spaces & everyone was very careful to make sure ) & it was announced a few days ago.
I took the cover shot & the promotional shots for it, which have proved very popular so far, so I thought I’d collect it all together here in a post, some shots from recording, some failed attempts at the cover and the real thing. Enjoy!
Here’s Josienne & Mike Hillier, the engineer in the breakout room.
This is Matt Robinson (keys) Dave Hamblett (drums) and me (bass) working on parts in the main room.
Here’s Josienne tracking some guitar in the control room.
And here’s Josienne singing into some huge beautiful delicate ancient microphone.
Not sure what Josienne is doing here, but it looks mighty important.
This portrait of Josienne was taken outside the studio.
And that’s me tracking some bass guitar in the dark, for some reason.
Here’s a gallery of shots taken around Hackney during the sessions, a beautiful, quiet time in the city’s roar.
There’s some of the promo shots we made. Josienne had a really specific idea of what she was aiming for, and it was a concept I loved and thought would be perfect. This was the second time around we shot because I wasn’t happy with the lighting the first time. It was hard to get this look and feel, but I reckon we did. Finally, there’s the cover shot. It’s from the same session as the rest. It was an easy scene to photograph.
Here’s a gallery of some unused shots, B-roll from the day, behind the scenes.