Live pics by lisa (nabbed from Nemo's
So…I’m on a plane heading for NYC. There’s about 4 hours still to go with no internet connection. It’s the perfect opportunity to catch up on everything with y’all.
Tomorrow i’m playing “hide and seek” at the MTVu Woodie awards.
Fingers crossed I can make that high note! Apparently I’m opening the show, which is great, as it means I get to relax for the rest of the evening and get to watch Beck play. I’m pretty excited about it to be honest. I’ve never been invited to an award thingy as a nominee before. Thank you to all those people who put me forward it was very unexpected and a very welcome surprise. I feel loved ….*tear*. My first thoughts of course would normally have been “Oh my!!! what will I wear?” but thankfully this lovely lady named Pinar Eris
, she got in touch with me through my website asking me if I’d like her to make a dress for me….er…..let me think about that for a minute….yes!) has spared me a week of indecision as she’s made me this beautiful outfit. Last time I was in LA I met up with her, took measurements in my hotel room and went looking for fabrics, birds and butterflies together. I imagined I’d get it when I got to LA next (the gig at the Wiltern) but bye gum she’s already finished it. It’s going to be waiting for me at the hotel in 5/6 hours. I love it when a plan (even though I didn’t really plan it) comes together!
So….as usual where to start? It’s been another good few months. I think I’d like to start by thanking all those of you who have come to see us (Nemo
, daily myspace band/artist winner and myself) on the UK tour. I really did have so much fun and every night I got to play my beautiful clear perspex piano thing. I’ve been dreaming of it for a year but have only now got it together. Boy oh boy is she (I think it’s a she anyway) special. The shape of a baby grand piano but with all my electronic techno geeky gubbins within so I can still do all I need to do. Complete of course with coloured lights and ivy twisting through it. Here she is!
A huge sorry to those of you who had tickets to see me in Norwich, Cambridge and Oxford. I’ve never had to cancel a gig before in 10 years of doing this and then 3 in a row. I felt awful in every way. I just had a cold at the end of the day. Most frustrating! I could have done almost anything else but sing. I tried every cough medicine, pastille, tea, lozenge, steam-vapour-washing-up-bowl-towel-over-my-head, sofa-sinking-movie-watching trick in the book and It’s STILL wouldn’t budge. The dog ends are still with me now. We’re rescheduling the lost gigs for 3 week of January. I hope you can make it then instead.
Touring with Nemo
has been great. They are a band from London who I go to see every gig I can of theirs coz I LOVE going to hear them play. I was chatting to James (singer) about the upcoming UK tour after their last London show and he asked if they could open and … well… there we are. They come up on stage with me and play a few songs too so I can leap about a bit. It’s a real rish to be on stage with them. Loved every minute of it.
The first band/ artist on each night have been the winners from my myspace competition. So many people sent in requests to play it caught me a little off guard! At least 100 entries per gig for their chosen cities. I was struggling to get through them in time before the gig. Thank you to everyone who has put their band/ friend’s band forward. I’ve gotten quite into 8bit-chip-hop (I don't know what they call it but hot dang is it good!) As a result thanks to Pixelh8
So I’m just looking in my calendar now to remind myself of all the millions of things I’ve been doing since I caught you last. I
have to go back as far as July! In short…(actually reading back now…in long)
11th July – Headlock video shoot with Simon Henwood
It was so much fun working with him. In the silhouette outfit my tail was made up of my long purple sheepskin rug thing that I have in my bedroom…wrapped up in string and stuffed with stuff. The tip of the tail is a feather duster my mum bought me (coz she thought I’d like the orange feathers…not to dust with…) I had so much fun getting the outfits together for this video. I’d like to thank Harriet’s Muse
again for the loan of that delicious egg shell green dress (pictured) that I spilt miso soup on…eeek….but I got it out. I got him to help me get together this little short for the Silver ticket/golden apple draw. He got me running down Oxford street in a wet suit
fully kitted out with tank and all! Also in a tiger suit,
an old creeky lady and a spaceman
. Check out Klong
(who’s sitting with me in the spacesuit with my suitcase on Shaftsbury ave). He doubles up as the perfect sleep cushion/companion for these long-haul flights (round my neck now). “Klong can neither see or hear you but senses your kindness”…ahhhh.Here's
a link to the competition video. Winner annonced at the Rondhouse London gig 31st oct.
13th July – I finished this song I’ve been working on for the Plague songs CD
called “Glittering Cloud” which is one part of The Margate Exodus
. It’s out now on itunes UK and up on my Myspace
if you’d like to hear it. I was called up a couple of months ago by Brian Eno
(yelp) asking me if I’d liked to get involved and to call up his mate Michael Morris (who's behind Artangel
) to find out more. Here’s what I wrote for the inlay of the Plague songs booklet about it.
"My mission, should I choose to accept it was "to write a song about Locusts" That had to be the strangest request I've ever had so of course I took it on! What I had no idea idea of is that for the most part our locust is actually a pretty nice solitary kinda guy. It's only until the rains fall and they're forced to hand out together to eat and breed they become the creature we all know and hate...Our locust is battling between his two sides. In the verses he's trying to explain that he's misunderstood, that he's not really like that and and in the chorus, he's become the tribal cop-eating warrior! I thought that when they are swarming they're probably having a fantastic time about it. Hedonistic even. I imagined them all at some huge rave or something"
15th July – began preparing the studio for my next guest….enter…Josh Groban.
Now…let me fill you in a little on this one. I know it may seem a little bit of an odd coupling but that’s exactly (as I’m sure you know this about me by now) why I did it. I love a good challenge. Josh is also the sweetest guy. He’s been to see me play quite a few times and had always expressed that he’d love to get into the studio “bed “ with me – as it were. We had fun exchanging nonsensical sentences, mingling somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean courtesy of ichat (my favourite route to freeing the “flow” when it isn’t there to start with) to come up with an idea for a song. Josh came up with a cracker “nothing monster” and even though we didn’t use it, it got us rolling on an idea. He came to London for 3 days to write the song with me at “the hideaway” (my studio). We worked really hard on it and wouldn’t let it rest until we were both satisfied that all fluff and fat had been removed from our song. Then Josh went back to LA to continue working on the rest of the album and I, finding days here and there between travelling and festivals etc, finished it eventually. It’s the first time I’ve recorded male vocals and written and then produced a song for another artist. I want to thank Josh for asking me as I learnt a lot in the process and think we came up with something really really good. Josh’s album comes out 7th Nov and our tune is “Now or Never”. Check it out.
22nd July – off to Dallas to meet up with the lovely Ryan Obermeyer
. He has designed the artwork for Headlock (single out last week) and it is just breathtaking! 3 fold, spot gloss full colour digipack (complete with flamingos) and clear slip case (with condensation effect). We didn’t get into quite as much trouble as last time (cookie box encounter) but I did have a ride on the back of some big biker’s Harley, twice, with this huge feather mohawk I was donning from the photo shoot! Quite a sight I can tell ya… Here’s the Minisite
he’s put together about the making of it. I have spent a long time just drooling over the single artwork. I really can’t believe the CD has such a beautiful outfit.
25th July – Up to Seattle to fulfil my promise to Heidi. It’s been a long time coming! The competition was way back in December but Ballooning
season in Seattle was not going to arrive any earlier for anyone. Strictly June through September. I invited Zoe
to come along (and also roped her into filming some footage for us), coz I hardly ever see her out of touring… plus she conveniently lives in Portland – a short (for the US) jaunt up the freeway. Zoe
very kindly picked me up from the airport and we made our way to Woodinville and checked into this great hotel a few minutes walk from Tully’s coffee shop (our rendezvous). At around 6pm Heidi arrives. The first time I met our Heidi was at the Neumos gig in Jan this year…in drag no less! That stubble was pretty realistic in the dark and the rain. This time Heidi was fresh faced and as excited as we were. We had a few drinks in the garden then pegged it up to the coffee place where we met up with our remaining passenger, Heidi’s mum, Barbara. Filled out some forms…we signed away, not reading the small print…just get me in that big picnic basket! Our pilot, Eddie, has been flying balloons for over 30 years and apparently had never come down in one…yet, It was a gorgeous evening. We arrived at a nice grassy spot “fill up” with air. The guys set the basket on it’s side and switched on the fans to inflate our balloon.
We took some footage of ourselves inside the balloon before it got roared on by the propane burners, (that was cool). It’s so wonderful up there. Blue blue sky. We could see for miles and Mt Rainier in the distance was clear as a bell, which is the first time I’ve seen it as it’s always been overcast when I’ve been here previously. We were just loving it. It’s just so calm, floating, drifting effortlessly and then….the loudest sound every minute or so as Eddie topped up our balloon with some more propane. Those burners really do make a big racket! I think we were up there for about an hour? It went so so quickly of course. Horses below us were jumping about at the sight of us and all the dogs in the area went crazy, barking their heads off at the sound of the burners overhead (they give off this high pitch frequency). Heidi grew up in Seattle and was pointing out all these places that she and her mum knew. Up and down we went with the currents and then before we knew it…we were in a field deflating it as the sun set. Just lovely! I really want to do it again. It strangely felt so natural to be up there.
Then we went back to the lovely hotel and had us some chat and drinks (pics from Heidi)
Seens as I was in such a beautiful place in the world after the ballooning I thought i'd go for a spot of kayaking here in a place called Alderbrook.
I was minding my own business in the fjord and what pops it's head out the water but a seal! I LOVE seals...really really love them.
So then a few weeks of Josh Groban
mixing, flamingo film meetings a couple of Pool (no water)
talks (I’ll get into that later) and various interviews takes me to…
The next big thing which was V fest
18th Aug. My first festival ever as a performer. ( I don’t really like that word…I sound like a monkey or something but can’t think of a better one right now). So many people came to see me! I was quite touched actually. I thought the tent would be maybe 1/3 – 1.2 full but it was PAKCED! (perhaps even more packed in Stafford as it started to piss it down with rain just as I came on and people ran for the nearest shelter…I planned it all of course).
Then I had a few days to start on a remix that I’m doing for one of my favorite atists, Milosh
. He’s asked me to have a go at The City (which I still haven’t managed to finish….eek). Had to cut that short to record the B-side for Headlock. I only had a few days so I spent it singing all kinds of funny sounds and out came “Mic Check”. I just love it! I have been wanting to record a track like the way I do “Just for now” live for ages. All vocals. This however takes that idea to a whole new level and I even had a go at some special Heap style blip/beatboxing! Must be heard to be believed. It’s up on myspace
too, for now.
30th August: Edinburgh gig at the beautiful sounding Queen's hall, which doubled up as some catch up time for me my mum and my mum’s brother, Uncle James. You see my mum’s a Scott and I am also part Scottish on my dad’s side. Now my Dad worked out a while back that I’m 9/16 Scottish (In case you were losing sleep over the fractional intricacies of my ancestry...or something).
2nd Sept – off for my all too regular dose of La la land. Initially I was just going over for The Last Kiss
musical get together session for Zach Braff's
103.1 radio takeover. It was good to see Cary Brothers
and label mate Rachel Yamagata
again from the Hotel cafe tour
tour the previous year. Zach
, I might add, is pretty cute. It was a fun day. Even the piano microphone falling onto the strings just as I played “let go” worked out quite nicely. You can hear what we recorded that day on Rehearsals.com
. Later in the week we saw a screening of the film and I enjoyed it. It’s out in the UK now for people this (or that in 3 hours) side of the pond. “Hide and Seek” gets a prime spot (thanks again to Zach who did the same for Frou Frou’s “let go” in Garden State
) which is fantastic. Later than night a few of us went to the Chateau Marmont
(oo er…don’t you know). I met a guy there who came up to me to say he was a fan and loved the record and could I go and meet his director friend. Which I did. We got chatting and ended up talking about Kenna
(who I think’s great). Anyway, they asked me to go to lunch with them….and that Kenna
would be there too as he’s going to be involved in the music for this film that they want me to do something for also…So…maybe…there’s a Kenna/Immi tune on the sweet horizon!
Before I left London, I sent some emails out to various folk I know there and also folk I don’t (but would like to) meet while I’m there. One of these guys was BT
. Now I have to say I was a little funny about meeting him as he’d mentioned in an interview that he and I were going to be doing something together on his new album, which I would love to do…except he hadn’t asked me yet! I thought that was a tad presumptuous of him. Nevertheless we met and I loved him. We’re going to do something in the new year when we can both find the time. He out geeked me by quite some margin so I picked his brains.
I also squeezed in a little dinner with my old pal Dave Stewart
, from "I megaphone" days, which coincidentally is being re-released (FINALLY after 7 years) next month. I ended up in a studio (seems to be a running theme) adding a little vocal heapness to this Greenpeace song he was working on (also Annie Lennox is on it…mmmm). I extended my trip so as I could play at his/greenpeace’s 30th birthday party. We sang the song and I did a couple of others too. Met up with quite a few other people I haven’t seen for ages which was fun.
Then…in the SAME week…I was summoned, by Hans Zimmer
into his rather ornate LA studio to “Jam” with him and his musical buddies on this new film he’s scoring called The Holiday
. I only had my harmonizer and sampler with me so I jammed all vocal. It was soooo nice to get into a roomful of fantastic musicians and just simply…play/sing…whatever came into my head. I haven’t done that in a while. That’s how I’m going to start off work with the flamingo score now for sure (come January) and I can hardly wait! So if you go and see the film (out 8th dec, bizarrely exactly a year after the Narnia
film) you’ll hear plenty of my warblings throughout.
Then…got back…more press then…rehearsals with Nemo for the UK tour. Then Justine
, my good friend who makes great short films of jelly arses and synchronized swimming (amongst other things) and who also films a lot of me too (we hope that one day we’ll get all the footage together and do something with it) got married to the wonderfully quirky and handsome Toseki! Congrats my lovelies. A little bit of Heap trivia…Norma, who cooked THE most amazing food for the reception afterwards also plays “the interfering old bat” in the silver ticket video thingi.
Here for a few days in between rehearsing I worked on the music for the Pool (no water)
production. A while back Steven Hoggett and Scott Graham the directors/founders of the Frantic Assembly
group asked me if I’d be interested in having my music (mostly from "speak for yourself") set to physical theatre. He gave me a first draft of the play, written by Mark Ravenhill
and on another plane journey, I had a read and I was in. So in this week I went for the first time to see a rehearsal and watched the 4 actor/dancers move to my music. It was such a thrill! Very powerful stuff. Please go and see it. Some of it is quite full on though I warn you. Here you can see when and where they are on. I am so looking forward to going to see it on 1st Nov in London. I went back to the studio after taking notes and played with the music accordingly to fit with the different sections. I took some lyrics out here and added some more vocals there, extended bits and added beats. I enjoyed reworking them to be used in this context. What they do with Mic Check is so awesome! Can’t wait to see it. Here
is an article Mark wrote about the process of writing play for Frantic.
Then more rehearsals…then UK tour!! Which almost brings me up to the present day…here…sore assed in my seat now for a good few hours 20,000 feet over the Atlantic cloud blanket with 2 hours to go until landing. Are you really still reading?
Just yesterday I was on XFM
singing some choons live on air…dashed back to the studio to prepare for tomorrow’s Woodie gig then packed frantically, sleep, wake, cab, airport, plane…now!
When I get back it’s the London Roundhouse
will be there too. I’m really looking forward to it. Arve Henriksen
is also going to be playing that night too. PLEASE get there early to both Nemo
and Arve Henriksen
play. I saw Arve play at 93feet east in London and hands down it’s my favourite gig ever. I cannot express how good this guy is. Truly inspirational. I was with Guy
(who may be popping on stage for a couple also!) at Arve’s gig and I think he was worried about me as I was crying so much! It really was so beautiful, it hurt. I will also be golden apple dunking (as it’s Halloween) for those of you who found sliver tickets on the UK tour. Whoever’s number I grab in my pearly whites will be on their way to NYC for the gig on the 8th Nov with hotels and everything paid for! Yummy. I hear that Nemo’s fans will be turning up in fancy dress…so please feel free to do the same should you so desire. I have a little something up my sleeve too…it’s a secret though and I can’t tell.
So…what about after that? Well sadly, Magnet
has pulled out of the North American tour (7th Nov – 20th Dec). I was pretty gutted about it at the time but all is fine now. I know many of you would have surely loved him if you don’t already know his music. He is fantastic live. It’s just him and his lap-steel guitar. Never mind… the show must go on and indeed it will with the incredible Kid Beyond
opening. It is freaky what this guy can do with his voice. He’s also going to be helping me along in a few songs too. I wonder if he’ll teach me a few tricks? I do hope so!
Also opening for the US tour is Levi Weaver
. Now Levi won the Birmingham myspace competition slot and those of you who came to that gig loved him! He sold out all his CDs (80+) in no time. I really enjoyed his set so he's going to come along also. Armed with cello bow, melodica and loopy stuff. Also playing on stage with me later on. You see what I'm doing here....it's all about pulling your resources! I am really up for this US tour I tell you. We've got Rob Jost
also coming along with us and he's going to be playing double bass and french horn. Also Jez Wiles
(my next door neighbor) to come bang and chime his various percussive noodlie bits (mainly vibes). It's gonna be a good'n!
There’s also European, Japanese, Australian and poss South African dates all coming up in the beginning of next year too. Hopefully I’ll catch some of you along the way.
The announcement has been made….we’re landing in 15mins. That was the fastest 7 hours in west.
Love to you
Be in touch soon