Copyright © 2005 Martin Newell
Pepys 0.1 Blogware © Steve Dix
In lieu of a newsletter, here's the summing up and future projection, so far as I can predict matters. I've had to look very hard at music, my relationship with it and the people I deal with.
I hear music everyday on the radio and I don't like most of what I hear. Am I jaded, or has music just become overcalculated, over-produced and generally dull? It's probably a mixture of the two. Like a man who's spent too long in a gourmet restaurant, I find I just want a plate of egg and chips. I have therefore embarked on a series of 4 track analogue recordings, where I can litererally, only use 4 tracks and no overdubs. This ascetic course of action seems to have revived me. The results are rough, imperfect and... very inspiring. The first set of songs is already up on the site as a download. The next set is coming soon. I'm writing a third set. The process of getting music from heart, through fingers and wires and to ears is remarkably fast and simple.
The process has a d.i.y immediacy which is very satisfying and I see no reason not to continue with it. Cherry Red and I have been in discussions about the new CD. However, in the small amounts that CDs sell, the drawn-out process of recording them, designing them, doing the sleeves, releasing and distributing them, just doesn't make sense anymore. And for all this fuss and effort it doesn't really make much money. The Online Shop has been a roaring success by comparison. In the past two months more money has come in from that, than I see from a record company cheque in six months...and with a lot less bother too.
I am thinking about this. Can a complete return to DIY, albeit a more hi-tech version of it than when I first began, be the next move forward?
I never originally expected to make any money from music. The type of people who do make money from music, don't always make great music, at least, not for long. The pressures are too great and they become bored and exhausted after a time. The fact that I ever made any money over the years is some sort of miracle. I suppose I'm now thinking that with a small and specialist listenership who mostly know where I am and where to get the music, I may as well deal straight with you all and cut out the middlemen. Why expand? I don't want the money. I don't need the fame. If only 500 of you want me to carry on, then I'll do it for you -- and sod the rest of the world.
In the meantime, I have got myself a job for the autumn...a great job.They're re-designing a local railway station which used to serve Colchester industrial engine room, the Hythe port. As the area is regenerated, the station , previously chiefly a workmen's rail-station is to be revamped. They want to fill the hoardings which will surround it the new station with artwork and poetry which will refer to the rich historical and industrial heritage of the place. I'm charged with doing the poetry parts of it. The job might have been invented for me! A chance to serve my community in what I do best, at a time in my life where I'm absolutely at the top of my game. This project will take over my life until the beginning of November.
Naturally, I'll delay making an album. Something had to go and it was the area most in doubt. However the downloads we've been doing can be put up there fairly easily, so over the course of the coming months, you'll be getting regular tracks. This is provided that I can write the songs, Fiona( who's just round the corner,can record them and Paul can install them on the site.
I've also been working hard to finish my next book Psycle-Geography. It's in first draft, which I just finsihed. It needs proofing, copy-editing and a little bit of a re-write but it should be out in time for Christmas. Along with regular pieces for the Sunday Express and The East Anglian, not to mention several gigs, it's been a busy year.
At 56 years old, I think back thirty years ago to when I was struggling in a rock band, making my first solo demos and washing dishes in a restaurant. I've come back home now. I write for a regional newspaper, I have two publishers, both in the town where I live, and now I'm trying to get my musical activities confined to the local economy too. Only by working within my own area and not decamping to the big greedy city, can I contribute to... and help enrich the region which spawned me. This is, I suppose, is very gently putting anarchism into practice.
Of course, it helps to occasionally do something nationally-geared---a radio show, a TV show or a work in a national publication. It reminds critics and skeptics that I'm not a big fish in a small pond,and that I stay in my own region because it's where I want to be. If all the bleeding-heart Green Doomsday merchants in the media were to do the same, we'd save an awful lot of petrol, jet-fuel, cardboard and paper. If working-from-home really is the new going-on-tour, then I'm the pioneer of it. People in the media are pre-conditioned to think bigger, more, global. I'm trying to change that old battered goal to smaller, enough to make a living and local. It's kind of going alright really. I'm travelling an old road in a new vehicle.