13-Oct-20 : Ghost Writer
Well, I did it. I actually did it. I finished the first draft of that elusive first novel. And I couldn't be happier. Seriously. Goal unlocked. Another one off the bucket list.
And the best bit, I had so much fun, I kick started the second novel even before I finished the first. I couldn't leave it alone.
Another goal completed.
Eagle-eyed visitors may notice but ... we're on another server. I finally got tired of the creative accountancy employed by our former hosts and so we've moved Infection Music and SkinMechanix over to One.com. I'm still clearing any bugs out but the transition was remarkably pain free in the end, even if our original vendor refused to give up our domains until the deadline had already expired. Dicks.
01-Oct-20 : Writer's Block and the way forward
Four months ago, I wrote a short update about my apparent writer’s block.
I detailed some of the causes - the arrival of our son, Christopher, a day job that was taking every waking hour, a number of R & D projects that were moving too slowly to get anywhere fast, and all coupled to a rising mountain of DIY jobs.
However, I don’t think I ever uploaded that missive. I may have done but then I may have deleted it shortly afterwards. It probably smacked of teenage bleating and there’s already enough of that on Facebook and beyond so...
I talked the issue over with Jules and we made a list of all of my outstanding DIY jobs. We agreed to tackle the job mountain one at a time. That worked well. I still have a heap of jobs but the list is smaller than it was and by some considerable margin, too. I have to admit that I really enjoyed most of those adventures anyway, especially swinging off a ladder at the back of the house, whilst trying to coax a stuck soil pipe into moving. Yeah, I did enjoy that one even if it was incredibly dumb.
Did this make a difference to my musical activities? No, it didn’t.
The summer recess kicked in and, without any major teaching commitments, I was able to spend three months working on some projects for Infection Music. However, whilst the IML stuff worked out well, I still wasn't able to come up with any new tunes, and that began to affect my mood. My mood then began to slide into the deep, dark pit of self-doubt, that mysterious, other-worldy domain which all musicians must visit at least once in their career. Regular readers will know that I am regular visit to this haunt, and that I have a season ticket, money-off vouchers, a stool at the bar and a running beer tab.
I'm not one to settle for a spot of introspective navel-gazing - I'll leave that shabby practice to the Philosophers - and rather than throwing in the proverbial towel, I decided to try something new. I decided to walk away from music for a while, maybe three months, perhaps four, and then go back to THE NOVEL. Yes, the novel.
It’s an old idea, one which I began kicking around roughly ten years ago. I’m not giving away any details - so don’t ask - but I’m pleased with the progress. As of today, I went through one hundred and twenty thousand words and I'm still going, still enjoying the process. Doing something this creative hasn't been so easy in decades.
How did this happen? Simple. I agreed with the family that the hours between 0600 and 0800 were mine, to use as I pleased. I also agreed not to work on the novel during our usual business hours so that the Infection Music and WEA/RAS projects could continue to function normally.
Getting up at 6 am proved difficult at first but the obvious solution was to go to bed earlier. Hence, I’m no longer a night owl. I’m usually in bed by 2300 hours. How rock ’n’ roll is that?
I decided to set myself a writing goal - at least two thousand words a day. I’ve only missed that goal once and that was because I had to re-write an entire section I’d buggered up the night before. I have not missed a single day. I've been late into the office on one or two occasions, when getting out of bed represented too much of a challenge, but I've never missed a day.
Most of the time - say 95% - it’s not real work anyway. I just type. A little voice at the back of my head just prattles on and the result is a page of stuff that, most of the time, I don't remember writing. I have a general idea of where things are going but the rest? I just let go. See what happens next. It’s completely seat-of-the-pants stuff.
Is it fun? Yes. Absolutely. Do I want to keep doing this forever? Definitely. I genuinely love it.
I’m creating something from nothing. It doesn’t feel like work. It doesn't feel difficult. It feels completely natural, like something I should have been doing for the last forty years even if I have to spell out words like necessary andFebruary every single time.
And yes, when the first novel is finished, I still have another two writing projects in the pipeline. The first is another novel set in a different Universe. The second is a continuation of the current novel.
Do I have a publisher? No, but I do have some interested parties. Will I self publish? Yes, but only if no proper publishers are interested.
Of course, the sixty four million dollar question is this. Is this the end of my musical career, of my musical ambitions?
Right now, the thought that the musical adventure may be over is still a terrifying thought but that’s okay. I’m actually glad that it’s a terrifying thought. I don’t really want to give up music so I probably won’t.
I say probably but there’s a real, solid and very tangible possibily that probably is much, much closer to definitely than I am willing to admit, either in public or to myself.
04-Aug-20 : Web page updates
In recent months, we've seen a slow but steady rise in the number of visitors coming through our web pages. This seems to run contrary to the general feeling that the era of the web page is over, such is the dominance of Facebook and the other social media giants. Whilst not huge, we felt that the numbers were enough to justify giving the web pages a facelift.
One area that we really needed to improve was the Showreel page. We put a lot of effort into updating the page last year but the end result was a significant drop in the number of people listening to the Showreel tracks. Puzzled, I tried to figure out what had gone wrong. The simple answer was that nothing had gone wrong. It all worked perfectly. What was wrong was the design. When the page loads, all of the sound files load with it, which is brilliant if you're working on a desktop computer with a fast internet connection. However, the vast majority of our visitors are on mobile devices and they don't have access to speedy, zippy internet browsing. Even with 5G just around the corner, load times on mobile devices were just slow to the point of being tedious, and visitors just assumed that the page was broken.
So, we added a new streamlined streaming service to the main web page. Have a play. Tell us what you think. The playlist will vary on a regular basis to encourage you to come back time and time again.
We've also decided to move away from a multiple web-page installatiom. We're putting as much information as we can in one place. The blog will feature one or two entries before they're archived off elsewhereand replaced with something new. Similarly, the news section won't carry anything older than a couple of months. After that, it too will be archived off. The only area that will be held on a page of its own is the gallery. That's being extended and enhanced so that visitors can fully immerse themselves in the experience. Yeah, we have some plans for that...
So, welcome to the new, updated SKinMechanix page. Let us know what you think.
22-Jun-20 : Identity Crisis
For some time, certainly the last couple of years, we’ve been dealing with something of an identity crisis.
We’ve been gigging as SkinMechanix for around four years and, during this time, our other band, Ion, has effectively been on hold. Why? Way back in 2016, when we started to put together a list of projects we wanted to develop, there was a collective realisation that we'd perhaps said all that we could say through Ion. We acknowledged that this mindset might change in future but, at that point, Ion was more or less done. In it's place, we wanted a harder, edgier, more guitar-oriented sound rather than the silky sweet, somewhat cinematic Ion approach.
Skip forward a couple of years, to January 2019, when Tunnel Club offered us a support slot for their Northern Exposure event at The Little Buildings. We knew that the SkinMechanix sound would be too harsh and aggressive for a club night but we also knew that SkinMechanix were better known in this part of the world.
So, for the Little Buildings gig, we came to compromise - our set would be rooted in dance-based electronica and based around a number of modified Ion tracks. However, we would still go out under the SkinMechanix banner even though such a shift in focus might confuse our (albeit small) fan base.
That decision proved to be a very good move - the Little Buildings gig was sold out within hours and, better still, the gig itself turned out to be one of our best and certainly one of my personal favourites.
A year or more down the road, there's been renewed interest in the Ion project and so we're left with something of a dilemma. Do we dump Ion altogether and continue as one entity, SkinMechanix, perhaps accepting that the band has something of a Jeckyl and Hyde personality, even if that leaves the punters confused?
Or do we go back to the way things were where Ion is left to focus on the dance/club sound and SkinMechanix are free to return to their dark, subterranean lair on the outskirts of town? This question has been nagging at me for a couple of months and it was time for a resolution. Consequently, we came to a decision over the weekend.
Ion will resume normal activities, holding on to the soundtrack/filmic vibe but also taking on a more dance/trance/club sound. SkinMechanix will continue with their darker, guitar-driven, angst-ridden Scandie-Noir sound. Both outfits will return to working on film/soundtracks, effective immediately. We’ll also be updating the web pages over the next couple of weeks to reflect these changes.