Monday, 6 December 2010

9 Questions with Jeff Pianki

Jeff Pianki - Old Habits

Paper Window by Jeff Pianki was released December 15th 2010. It is nothing short of beautiful; every note, every lyric and every chord.

Even now as the record plays though my earphones, it is easy to forget that Jeff Pianki is not a household name and doesn't have a catalogue of albums spanning decades. The truth is, Jeff Pianki is an unsigned musician; a man at the start of what is looking to be a promising career in music.

It seems with this album Jeff has put his all into every second. There isn't an average song to skip, or a best one to jump to, just a collection of equally but individually, amazing pieces of music. The production on this record is also as impressive as the songs. All the warmth and depth has been captured in all the right places, swallowing you up as you lie back and listen.

With lots of artists releasing singles and "hits" it is refreshing to have an album to listen to from start to finish. If you've not already, you can download the album from paying however much you wish to. You can even download the album for free if you like, because Jeff's nice like that.

I recently got in touch with Mr Pianki and asked if he would answer some questions for this blog and he kindly agreed.

Q. How Long have you been writing and playing your own music and what drove you to start?
A. I started playing piano in my last year of high school after my parents got me a keyboard for Christmas. I spent a lot of time learning Ben Folds and Coldplay covers that year. I didn't start writing music and playing guitar until I got surgery on my wrist in 2007, and played guitar as a sort of physical therapy thing. It definitely developed into a lot more than that, considering I haven't gone a day without playing since.

Q. Which three recording artists inspire you the most?
A. That's a tough question. The obvious first choice would have to be the Beatles. Aside from that, I love Cat Stevens (now Yusuf Islam). His playing style and songwriting style have been a huge influence on me. The last of which is probably Sufjan Stevens. Listening to him made me want to learn how to play as many instruments as I possibly could. Plus he writes really beautiful songs.

 If you had to form a band, which musicians would you have join you? famous or not.
AI wish I had a band. The first person I'd want in my band would be this guy Noah who plays cello on a couple of my songs. I've never met him in person because he lives really far away from me, but that would be awesome if we could play together live. I'll try and be more fun with this answer now. Sufjan would play piano, Ben Kweller would play second guitar, my friend Rick would play drums, and my other friend Joe Hertler would play stand up bass. That would be the dream band for me.

Q. Apart from Folk and Acoustic music, what other genres do you enjoy?
AI love genres all over the map. I love jazz artists like John Coltrane, I love real hip hop like Talib Kweli, I really enjoy electronic music like Aphex Twin, and good pop music is a wonderful thing. I listen to more of other types of music than I do acoustic and folk music.

Where is your favourite place to practice?
A. I love playing music outside on a sunny day, or in a really echo-filled room. I suppose the echo-filled room wins though. You can't beat natural reverb.

Q. When you're not playing music, what would you be doing?
A. I love film, so there's a good chance I'm watching a film. I spend a lot of time with my family and friends, and I really enjoy that. Aside from those, I love outdoor things like camping, skateboarding, playing sports, etc.

Q. How does it feel now that you have a following of people you have never met and people who choose to buy the music you write?
A. Overwhelming, to say the least. Sometimes it's hard for me to make that connection because I can't really fathom some stranger choosing one of my songs over all of the incredible music that is out there. Words can't express how grateful I am. I think that's one reason I give people the option to get my music for free. Honestly, it just means the world that they would pick my music to listen to.

Q. Where in the world would you most like your music to take you performing?
A. I would love to make it to England, Ireland, and the west coast of the United States. I've never been to California, but I would love to visit there and play a show.

Q. If you was told you could only play one song and then never play again, what song would you make your last?
A. I'm not sure if I can really answer that. It's like a game of would you rather but with a bunch of different scenarios. I think the last song of mine that I would play would be "Sun Will Rise". That song means a lot to me every time I play it, and it's a fun song to play as well.

Many thanks to Jeff for taking the time to answer the questions and also for all of the wonderful music.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Dutch Uncles UK Tour

Manchester band, Dutch Uncles, have announced their first UK headline tour for early next year. The tour is set to coincide with the release of a new single in Febuary and a new album through Memphis Industries in the spring.

I first heard Dutch Uncles some years ago as a support act for We Are Performance at Manchester's Night and Day café. I can just remember being immediately hooked by the bouncy bass in "Doppelganger" and the ever so catchy melodies in "Face In". Clearly I wasn't the only person they impressed in their early days and with such a good start it is not surprising they are soon to play a nationwide tour with a strong fan base of their own.

Tour Dates:
02 Dec Leeds HiFi Club
27 Jan London Bush Hall Q Ones to Watch Sessions
07 Feb London Garage HMV Next Big Thing
21 Feb Brighton Prince Albert
22 Feb Bristol Louisiana
23 Feb Liverpool Shipping Forecast
24 Feb Nottingham Bodega
25 Feb Birmingham Victoria
26 Feb Leeds Nation of Shopkeepers
27 Feb Sunderland 7even
28 Feb Glasgow King Tuts

Monday, 1 November 2010

Brandon Flowers; Manchester Academy 16.10.10

On the sixteenth of October two thousand and ten I was lucky enough to be a few bodies from the front, around 7 feet, from Brandon Flowers.

As always with Mr Flowers, the music was spot on, but what made it for me was the intimate venue. If he wanted to, the O2 Apollo is only down the road, Manchester Central a tiny bit further and the is MEN Arena just as close. Any of the larger venues would have sold out just as fast and would have made more money; but the Academy provided the intimate atmosphere perfect for performing his latest material and engaging closely with his audience.

And that's what it was; intimate, engaging and amazing to experience from start to finish.

* On The Floor
* Crossfire
* Magdalena
* Bette Davis Eyes (Kim Carnes cover)
* Jilted Lovers and Broken Hearts
* Welcome To Fabulous Las Vegas
* Was It Something I Said?
* Hard Enough
* Losing Touch
* Swallow It
* Only The Young
* Playing With Fire

* The Clock Was Tickin'
* When You Were Young (acoustic)

Sunday, 12 September 2010

City & Colour 14.06.10





I took these pictures on the 14th June 2010 at the HMV Forum in London. It was an amazing corcert and well worth the travel and effort in getting there!

Friday, 25 June 2010

This website is awesome. I can honestly say this is an amazing idea and it seems to be working perfectly.

When stripped down to the basics it is a platform for musicians to sell and distribute their music on an international scale without actually having to do much. The service is free to use with the only charge being 15% per sale, dropping to 10% once a target is reached, which isn't too bad considering there are no other charges, costs or tie-ins. As each sale is made the money goes directly into your bank account so no waiting around for cheques every quarter etc, from day one you can be generating revenue from your music.

Not only is good for artists and labels, its also good for the fans. It is quite easy to spend a whole day browsing through the many many musicians and bands on the site, listening to their music, finding out who to add to your play list for the week. But the fact that it is a treasure chest of sounds is not the best feature, for me it is the option of being able to choose how much to pay.
Should artists want to, they can let the fans name their own price for the music they buy; some even offer it for free if you like. This again opens up the music to more people and makes the artist more accessible.

The site also comes with many more features useful to the independent artist or label including the ability to check their stats and sell physical CD's via the site.

In short this website is the tool and resource Indie artists and fans have dreamt about for decades; one that for some artists will change everything.

Band of horses; The Ritz Manchester 08.06.10

Tuesday the eighth of June, Band of horses performed at the Ritz in Manchester, and a three year wait was over.

Front man Ben Bridwell humbly takes to the stage, not even a dimming of lights, just the volume lowered and opens with 'Ode to LRC' joined by the rest of the band half way through. The band went on to play more of their older material, dropping in favourites from 'infinite arms' along the way; This was a nice touch for those of us who were unsure if we was just going to hear infinite arms track by track.
As the set progressed I was more than happy to hear favourites 'the great salt lake' and 'the funeral', as were the rest of the audience for that matter judging by the large cheers and applause that followed each song.
The band came on for an encore and finished the set nicely with 'The General Specific' which was nothing short of amazing, and a great cover of them twos 'am I a good man'

To me the concert had a genuine feel to it. It wasn’t polished over and perfect but raw and authentic, weather that was by mistake or not. I left the Ritz that night somewhat more complete, like something had been achieved.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

The sound of Michigan

Last year I was on YouTube looking for death cab for cutie covers when I came across Jeff Pianki covering 405. That night opened my ears to a wealth of unsigned talent coming from the state of Michigan.

The reason I find myself so strongly drawn to these musicians is because of their accessibility. They are writing and recording beautiful music without the bullshit that often comes with it; they are doing it because they love it and they appreciate it when we listen.

It seems they have stripped the process down to the essentials, not trying to go out and make it overnight, but to write and play music while selling a few records along the way (should people want to pay of course)

They are a credit to their own success and should be proud. I look forward to seeing more of them and hopefully they will be over here in the UK sometime in the near future.

Here are a few artists I think you should check out...

Jeff Pianki

Joe Hertler

J T Royster

Hope you enjoy, if you do google them and say hello.