Sunday, 31 May 2009


“Basically we’re making a vessel, we call it, that deals with shelter, of course, energy, food, water and air. Almost like on Walden Pond – those were the things Thoreau said people needed. Well, we need them, but we need them without nuclear power plants, we need them without power lines, and we need them without destroying the earth’s aquifiers. We need to provide them in each unit that we build. And that’s the idea we’re dealing with here. And so we’re providing food, shelter, power and sewage treatment, all in one unit.”

Mike Reynolds, the architect who designed the Earthship, quoted in Chris Turner’s exellent ‘The Geography of Hope’.

Yesterday I was out trekking on Bowen Island, which is a small island off the coast of Vancouver. Amazingly beautiful and chilled. Lovely.

The sun was shining, the breeze light, birds singing, huge trees providing shade.

The bountifulness of the environment surrounding me reminded me of something Mike Reynolds (quoted above) said about when he first started making earthships. He was talking about harnessing wind power, solar power, collecting rain falling on the roof, and using thermal mass in the walls to keep the house cool in summer and warm in winter so you don’t need heating or air conditioning.

He said that he realised that, with all this freely available power all around, we are sitting on a goldmine. All we need to do is harness it.

It’s funny how people think of oil and natural gas as being really precious, but ignore the wind and the sun. Building huge coal plants and nuclear plants while ignoring what is right in front of our noses – everything we need is available in our immediate environment. A house needs no power lines going in, no sewage pipes going out. It can regulate its own temperature, provide its own electricity and collect its own water.

Incredible that we are still using that old, dirty, expensive stuff that is owned by a few companies holding the entire world to ransom. People fight wars over it! Astounding!

Anyway, my life in the city is going fine. I am happy. The older I get and the more I move on, the clearer it is to me that one's experience is largely mind-made. Wherever you are, your mind projects itself onto the world and that is fundamentally what you experience. Still, if I was in a war zone, I would move...

Went to a zen group last week which was fun. Lots of meditation and a drink of tea. (Jasmine tea, not proper tea. I like jasmine tea but when someone tells me there’s going to be tea after the sit I’m expecting tea, you know? Anyway, moving on...)

A very cool independent record store (there are so few of them left) has agreed to stock my album. So if you’re in Canada and you want a copy, buy one from me! But if you’d rather get one from a record shop, go to Recat Records.

Got a nice email, as I do from time to time, from someone who had read one of my articles and is living off grid. It’s great to hear other people’s stories. One guy sent me an email explaining how to make felt (for yurt lining) out of local sheeps wool. Actually the area where I live in Spain is mostly goats, and I have vegan leanings (though not the strength of will for 100% compliance), so I shall stick with using blankets, but nice to hear anyway. Another guy got in touch who was living in one of those funky yellow American school buses. There are many interesting people in the world, tucked away among the trees, up mountains, and in the remote places of the world.

I am very behind on emails but do enjoy hearing from people and do get back eventually, so feel free to drop me a line and share your story.

The other interesting news is I have decided to include a book with the next album. It will be about my time on the mountain, where most of the songs were written. Working title for the album is ‘Wild’, though I do tend to change my mind on these things. I originally thought of ‘Wild ‘Un; Or, Life in the Yurt’ might be good, but I have a tendency to turn everything into a joke and ruin the vibe, so, probably will just leave that as a private chuckle between us.

Hasta luego


PS The pics were ones I took yesterday of and on Bowen Island. Nice huh.

Friday, 22 May 2009


The other day, someone asked me my opinion on the MPs-expenses scandal which is currently providing journalists with something to write about in the UK.

Parliamentary politics is of limited interest to me these days (I did a degree in politics) but the question still got me thinking.

Basically, I have spent a lot of time being angry, disappointed, frustrated and outraged by the cruelty, greed and stupidity of a significant proportion of the human race. MPs often included.

All the injustice in the world can quite easily make one’s blood boil. Many people in the activist world see this kind of response as a good thing. Something to be encouraged. If more people got angry, then change would surely be demanded, and change would come. We get the government we deserve.

This may be true, but I’m fed up with feeling like that. And what’s more, I think that action born of such emotions is quite likely to end up causing as much damage as the damage I would be trying to combat. Men (and occasionally women) with visions of how the world should be are often dangerous. There’s a part of me that wants to be that man, but another part of me keeps it in check:

Look around
You’ll find the ground is not so far from where you are
Don’t be too wise.
(Nick Drake)

Plus, in reality I wouldn’t be combatting very much of it at all, even if I committed my entire life to the cause. So there’ll always be plenty for me to get wound up about.

Over the years I have come up with (or read) a number of thoughts on this issue.

The most controversial view, which I begrudgingly hold at the moment, despite my distrust of hierarchical models, is that of the existence of an evolutionary scale with regard to consciousness.

That is, that there is a hierarchy of consciousness and people are at different levels in that hierarchy. You can’t blame a dog for chasing cats or shitting on the street. That’s just where dogs are at. It doesn’t make a dog a bad person.

People’s ways of going about things are based on where they’re at. George Bush wants to own everything and blow people up. That’s his thing. He’s freaked out about the fragility of his own wellbeing and this is his response. I might try to stop him doing it but to be angry at him for not being like me is to miss the point.

Some MPs become MPs because they want a better world and they want to help to make that better world. And some MPs are fuckheads who I wouldn’t trust with a bag of chips, let alone the country. What can you do? (Note: these two groups are not mutually exclusive. I could draw a Venn diagram about it but hopefully you already get the picture).

In the end I always conclude that the only rational action is to develop one’s character and to invite other people to develop theirs. We can wipe out a Bush, a Hussein, a Thatcher, but there is always another one waiting to take their place. They’re like the cockroaches from Freak Brothers comics ("Don't worry! There's plenty more where they came from!")

Like old Bill Hicks (and a number of other mystics and existentialist writers) said, ‘It’s just a ride’. And his whole act was based on moral outrage!

To live in the flow of imperfection, humiliation and injustice is the only way. That’s where we’re at. You don’t have to add to it, but you can’t wipe it out either. You do what you can and find peace in the moment, because the moment is all there is.

And anyway, who really knows what’s going on with this universe? Why are we here? Maybe all this greed, cruelty and injustice is helping to keep it all in balance – preventing oblivion?

Probably not, but it’s worth considering.

Thursday, 21 May 2009


Here's one of the things I did while I was in London:

Tuesday, 19 May 2009


Dear All

A little while before I went off to the yurt there was a period when I was left utterly alone in my studio. After about 48 hours I emerged, exhausted, hungry and squinting into the daylight. The good news is I had given birth to a beautiful bouncing baby song. It was a fairly painless delivery and required no drugs. But it's not like my other kids.

It's called 'The Bloke Downstairs' and is utterly different from anything else I've been coming out with. The lyrics are pretty political and it contains no guitars whatsoever! I know!

I've been scratching my head as to what to do with it and figured the best thing might be just to give it away.

It's available exclusively to people on my mailing list. You can join my list, listen and download it right now from

Happy bopping.


Sunday, 17 May 2009


The community where I am living recycles 95 per cent of its waste. They are almost at the stage where they don't need the garbage truck to turn up. In fact there was a strike a while ago and no rubbish was collected for six weeks. It was piled up all over the city, but this community was fine.

I bump into people on the stairs and have excellent conversations about vipassana meditation or art or Vancouver before there were any high-rise buildings. People set up in the communal areas and practice their cello or guitar. Someone cooks for everyone once or twice a week. I am digging this place.

I’ve been reading a book called ‘The Geography of Hope’. It’s by a guy called Chris Turner, who stayed in this community for a few days when he was in town. Basically the guy went touring for a year and found a bunch of places where people are living sustainably, and therefore are part of the solution. The quiet revolution that might just save us all. He mapped out a vision for a post-fossil fuel world. And like he says, quoting some economist dude: ‘Anything that exists can happen’.

The book is journalism with soul. Kind of like Lester Bangs or Hunter S Thompson writing about climate change. Highly recommended.

I also read up on the Whole Earth Catalog, after stumbling on a quote that turned out to be from it: ‘We are as gods and may as well get good at it’. Too true.

Musicwise I am waiting for my stuff to arrive by sea before I can do any audio recording. Sitting in front of the computer twiddling my thumbs and checking my watch. Right now I am confined to midi. So I am programming drums and making backing tracks with soft synths and playing along in my own private karaoke. Kind of doing live demos to get my head around the direction of the next album. I think it will be vibrationally similar to the first album but I think it’s gonna have a bit more of a groove.

The working title is ‘Wild’, after the place where much of it was written. But I’m also trying to get across a sense of what the mountain and yurt life was/is about for me.

Been listening to Elliott Smith a lot recently. Anyone can write a song, but hardly anyone can write a song. Humbled as ever.

I don’t seem to have as much time here as I did in the yurt. Which is weird since it takes much less time to do anything and it’s not like I have a TV or anything. I guess cities just suck time out of the day. Surrounded by a whirlwind of busy-ness, destroying everything, just so we can get by.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009


Yep I have arrived. Just about over the jetlag and the mild strain of swine flu that I caught on the plane over. They just shouldn't let pigs on planes. It raises all kinds of issues about expressions starting with "If pigs could fly..."

But I digress.

Between leaving the yurt and arriving here I've been writing articles, doing interviews and performing on web TV. Thus not much time for blogging.

You can read about my journey and all the stuff I got up to in England here: There are also some nice photos of me (oh, and the yurt).

And see for a couple of vids of me performing tracks from the first album, and an interview about my time in la yurta.

And see for an article about Just Music - the record co I am signed to. If you haven't already got Padma fatigue by now, the article also includes an interview with me.

There are some very groovy people in the community where I'm staying: Oneness blessing givers, whirling dervishes, musicians, artists and regular nice people. I am enjoying it.


Started recording the album, got first gig lined up in Vancouver, and got my eyes on a sexy Edirol midi controller keyboard from a GIGANTIC music store downtown (will post a picture when we are married). Experimenting with drum programming. More soon!