Friday, 21 May 2010

Consumers of the World, Unite, live, with loop pedal, and purple hair.

OK so it's not quite as shocking as MIA's new video, but it does feature a minority hair colour. Got to be worth a few Youtube views, surely.

Here is the first video footage in support of the new album. There are more on the way, but for now, check out a live rendering of 'Consumers of the World, Unite!'

'Consumers' will be the first single from the album. You may be familiar with Karl Marx's famous quote: "Workers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains."

Here we are in the 21st century and the workers are away in another country, where the labour laws allow greater profitability and there are no unions. So today it seems that consumers are the sector in society with the power. We can bring about change through our buying habits: "Consumers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your chainstores!"

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

The winding road to album release: Latest news

I was supposed to be filming and doing a photo shoot this weekend. In the end the photo shoot got postponed, which worked out well since I was totally exhausted and it was chucking it down with rain all day.

The filming went pretty smoothly though:

Film guy Josh Klaassen filming "Consumers of the World, Unite... on Twitpic

Beautiful weather, beautiful room, did a nice live version of 'Consumers of the World, Unite!' complete with loop pedal, plus an interview for the EPK (electronic press kit).

I will of course be posting these when they are edited. Thanks to Josh Klaassen for the filming and post production, and Lauren for pulling this all together.

Since Saturday was cancelled I ended up spending much of the day uploading the album to Tunecore. That's who I'm using to distribute the album digitally. They need the tracks in very specific formats - bit rates, sample rate, and all that malarky, which took a bit of getting my head around. And the files are pretty big and take a while to squeeze up through the pipes and into cyberspace. So that was a few hours, and I still haven't finished!

I've also been working on layout of the album cover after receiving a totally excellent illustration from a friend in Athens (check out his other work at

I have decided I will offer the album in both digital and CD formats, since feedback from various quarters strongly suggests that people who still buy music often buy it on CD.

For me personally, this is a bit of a compromise, since the environmental impact of CDs is bigger than digital only. Still, the packaging will all be from recycled sources, containing no plastic, and the inks used will be organic and non-toxic. So I have found ways to limit the impact at least, while at the same time giving the album a decent chance to get out there in the world and be listened to.

I am actually quite excited to be getting another CD out. It DOES feel different to be creating something physical with music on it, rather than just a bunch of ones and noughts floating around on the world wide web.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Initiate headless chicken mode

Even though the album isn't due out until mid-July, everything has to be rolling now so that I can get promo packs out to reviewers and radio in time, and start generating a bit of anticipation for when the album actually is available to buy.

It's quite a job, releasing your own album. I mean, being a musician is plenty of work in itself - maybe get a blister on your little finger, maybe get a blister on your thumb - but when you add all the other stuff it really mounts up.

It's really mounting up at the moment. I've got an illustrator friend working on the album design, shooting videos next week (which means we've been having meetings to work out what to do and how to do it), photo shoot in the next couple of weeks (so I've just been out buying clothes and I'm gonna need a haircut I guess), researching physical and digital distribution options, building a website for the album, writing promo babble and press releases - I can see why record companies were invented.

Oh yes, and I've got a Canadian and a UK tour to organise too.

At the same time, I'm developing a new live set, to include my shiny new loop pedal, and probably a harmonica mic, so I've been playing about with that quite a bit.

I've also got an MA dissertation to get in for the end of May - with LOTS still to write!

And living in community means meetings and spending time with people - a community isn't a building, it's something people do. Friday night was spent eating nachos and houmous and talking about how we can reduce waste. The goal is to get it to zero and I LOVE being around people who want to try to achieve this. We are going to be constructing a dedicated recycling room soon. Someone raised the idea of making it out of recycled bottles and stuff, a la Earthship. So that'll be cool!

Anyway, time to initiate headless chicken mode.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Opinion poll dancing (to music)

Have you ever bought a download? Do you prefer to buy CDs? Would you be prepared to buy a book with a download in it and try downloading for the first time?

Given that election fever is in the air (in the UK at least) and opinion polls are going to be coming out left, right and centre (hopefully more left than anything but I'm not holding my breath), I thought I would have my own.

I am hoping to release the album WITHOUT the option of buying it in CD format, because CDs are toxic and not recyclable, and 100,000lbs of them end up in landfill EVERY MONTH.

Instead I will produce a book of images, lyrics, illustrations and essays, with a download code for the album in it.

I have had mixed views on the feasibility this idea from friends in the industry. And I need to at least break even on this release and preferably make a little pocket money for what has been over a year of hard work so far.

So please share your thoughts, opinions and music-buying history. All wordage received with gratitude!

Sunday, 4 April 2010

The Buddha said everything changes. I say fine, let's change everything.

I am now the proud owner of a full-body arctic camouflage suit.

I have decided to go with my gut. My gut is having visions. Last night's vision was me dressed as a soldier, standing in a forest for the photo shoot for my new album 'In Defence of the Wild'. Today I went shopping for an outfit.

As some of you will know, my first album came out on a UK-based indie label and had a few thousand pounds thrown at it. This second album will be supported by a couple of labels (one in the UK and one in Canada) but it will basically be self-funded. The upside of this is I can do what I like, promotion-wise.

So today I found myself standing in a shop in downtown Vancouver trying on army gear, while several young ladies from Mexico gave me fashion tips.

I am, in fact, a pacifist. A love soldier (the ladies in the shop found this amusing - I said it in order to justify my wearing multi-coloured sneakers with my arctic camouflage suit - a fashion no no, apparently).

But just because I don't believe in violence, doesn't mean I don't believe in conflict.

The current political and economic system is doing massive violence to this planet. For the benefit of all humans, particularly the children and the poor of the world, as well as the other species with whom we share the planet, we must say no.

We must get into active conflict with people who care only for their personal and immediate gain and we must force another way, non-violently, but effectively. I do not like to use force at all, but time is running out, and they will not listen to reason.

I am not talking about hatred for those in power. We must act out of love and compassion for all beings, including power-hungry, wealth-obsessed lunatics (sorry, that last bit just slipped out).

We must recognise the power we have as citizens and as consumers.

We can all make a contribution. My way is to sing, dress up as a soldier, and stand in a forest having my photo taken. And blog. And gig. And generally be in dialogue with as many people as possible on these important issues. And to come up with other solutions for living. And to live those solutions.

Right now, for example, I live in a cohousing community that recycles over 90% of its waste, uses greywater for the toilets, makes decisions by consensus, and is a multi-generational, multi-family 'village within a city' that is totally cool and I think is a good model for city living. Not only that, it's fun! (And it works - it's been going for over 10 years and there are plenty of others like it).

My cunning plan is to live in such a way that the current economic system is undermined (reduce, reuse, recycle, and practice mutual generosity with your friends).

By making active choices about the way we live, we can make a government that does not care enough about this planet and its people quake in its communal boots, as it is made irrelevant by an electorate who increasingly take charge of their own lives, and joint-govern their own communities by participating in making the decisions that affect their lives.

Democracy is not just putting an X in a box once every few years. The Buddha said everything changes. I say fine, let's change everything.

<a href="">Consumers of the World, Unite! by Padma</a>

Thursday, 1 April 2010

The music that they constantly play, it says nothing to me about my life

I'm starting to look at booking a UK tour for later in the year. Where should I play? Who should I approach?

I care about music so much that most of it drives me insane. Most of what I hear on the radio makes me want to smash things up. So it is perhaps unsurprising that my music does not sit comfortably in the standard live music scene.

A room filled with beer-drinkers, chatting to each other about bugger all and checking out the opposite sex. While the musicians stand on stage and try to make an impression. They either play loud enough so that they can't hear what their friend is saying and are forced to jiggle in time to the drums, or look sexy enough or strange enough that at least half the audience look at the stage for a while.

What's the music like? What are the lyrics about? This is of secondary importance.

But sometimes you play a gig and the audience gets it. They are silent. They are concentrated and connected. There is what you might call a vibe. It's an amazing experience.

That is why I do what I do. At so many gigs I feel like one of those nutters standing about in Picadilly Circus, shouting my head off about Jesus, to people who don't even register that I'm there. But sometimes it's not like that. And right now I'm trying to figure out how to get more of those rare experiences on this tour.

My music is not entertainment (though it is hopefully entertaining). It is about communion, connection and change. It's about what we are doing to this beautiful Earth and why we should do it all differently. It's about my experiences of trying to walk a different path.

So I've decided I want to play outside of the standard circuit on this tour. If the mountain with not come to Mohammed, etc.

I need to be playing for people whose heart is open, who are not satisfied with the current state of the world and are aware that they are not satisfied. People who care about the planet and want to hear that they are not alone in this. People who don't want to yap yap yap about what was on TV last night, or what they just bought from Brent Cross (or whatever your local shopping centre is called).

If you are involved with a group or community that might fit this bill, please give me or my manager a shout (contact details are on my site at

And just so you can get a sense of where I'm coming from, here is a snippet from the new album:

&amp;amp;amp;lt;a href=""&amp;amp;amp;gt;This Land is Your Land by Padma&amp;amp;amp;lt;/a&amp;amp;amp;gt;

Monday, 29 March 2010

Totally Independent

This is a blog about my blog. My blog just got featured on the front page of The Independent website! Cool or what? Check it out:

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Zen mastering and Woody Guthrie

Since I'm pretty sure I am done with working on the album (hurray!), I have uploaded one song for you to listen to.

Please buy it and help me fund the release!!!! You can pay a dollar (the cost of about three mouthfuls of coffee), or more if you want to generate some good karma, or want to email a copy to a bunch of your friends without feeling guilty.

It's my version of This Land is Your Land by Woody Guthrie (I wrote new lyrics for it). It's the most stripped back, straight-up folk song of all the songs on the album. Got that down-home country feel, yee haw!

This week I have been getting my head around The Campaign. I met with Lauren (my manager-type person) to talk through all the various things we need to put in place over the coming weeks and months: photo and video shoots, lists of places to contact, press releases, electronic press kit, update website, work out what to release when (and how), where to tour (and how and when) ... the list goes on and on. It will be loads of work but I'm really excited to have the freedom to do it exactly as I want.

I also had a final crack at mastering the album.

When we made the first album I had no real idea what mastering was. I couldn't see why you would need mastering on top of mixing. I mean surely once it's been mixed, it's ready to go, right? Wrong.

Mastering basically means taking a bunch of songs and turning them into an album. You take the final stereo mixes of each track and make sure all the volumes are right - both within the song and from one song to the next - as well as being comparable to other music in the same genre. You make sure the frequencies are balanced (not too bassy, not too top endy), and the loud bits are not too loud, and the quiet bits are not too quiet, while at the same time maintaining the dynamics of the song. And then there's the overall 'texture' or 'flavour' of the tracks - smooth or rough, warm or cold, bright or thumpy. There are a bunch of techniques and pieces of kit for making all that happen, and it is harder than it sounds! I have spent quite a few hours on it now (much longer than a mastering engineer would have spent, though with significantly less efficiency) and have done at least four versions, learning as I go.

With the first album, a mastering guru did the work. He has a beautiful studio designed specifically for mastering and has done work for everyone from Nick Drake to George Harrison to Depeche Mode. But now I am DIYing it and so I have had to learn fast (fortunately learning fast is something I have become quite good at - a bi-product of refusing to stay in one place or specialise in one thing).

And other news - I found out this week is that you need to allow two months from submission of your music before it shows up in digital retailers (itunes, etc.). I thought it would be, like, five minutes or something. So that was a handy find! Better get designing an album cover!

Tomorrow I am heading into downtown Vancouver for a seminar on digital music marketing set up by the nice folks at Music BC. Timely or what???

Until next week...


Monday, 22 March 2010

Doing a bit of DIY

Yes friends, my second album will be a truly independent release. Just Music, the record company who released my first album, have decided that they don’t feel they can market it.

To be honest, I agree with them. They are a chill and downtempo label, and my music has been moving increasingly away from chill. In fact, my aim with this album is to incite people to do the exact opposite of chill. I am hoping to inspire people to action.

The album is not just an album, and it’s not just about me. It’s a call to action – all about climate change, sustainability, the need for political and economic change, and our need to reconnect our spirit with nature. We are living in the biggest crisis, and the most exciting age, that humanity has ever experienced. I’ve been banging on about this in my blogs and at gigs for ages. Now, finally, it will be reflected fully in my recorded music.

Last time I had press, radio and online promotions people helping me out. I had people with their fingers in important and tasty pies all over the place. I had people who liked having meetings in Soho, having meetings in Soho on my behalf. I had people who knew their way around the music business making their way around the music business for me.

This time things will be a little different. I’m a tad daunted, but mostly just excited about doing this on my own. Well, I won’t be entirely on my own – my manager Lauren at Backstage Vancouver will be helping out.

I’ll also be relying on you guys to – PLEASE! – help me get the message out there. Word of mouth (and word of mouse) is going to figure quite strongly in the promotion if it’s going to make any kind of splash at all. Which is great, since that’s the most authentic way of going about things anyway.

The latest, and probably final, title for the album is In Defence of the Wild. I have decided not to pursue another deal for this release, at least for now, to leave me free to do some fairly unconventional things without having to argue with anyone about it. I shall tell you more about those things another time. But the key thing is I’m hoping to make it as zero waste as possible. The medium is the message.

I’ll be posting some music from the new album very soon, and will be documenting my solo journey much more regularly from now on. I figured it might be interesting for people who are looking to release their own stuff to see how I do it, and how I do. I learnt a fair few tricks from doing it with a label the first time around, so let’s see how this goes!