This question has come up in a few separate conversations recently. And I find it interesting in that it reveals a number of camps of belief. There are those who believe that all musicians should always be paid, and to ask them to do otherwise is a serious insult. “I don’t ask you if you’d come round and do your professional job for free, or for ‘the exposure’, or for maybe a free drink…” There are the equally passionate camp who believe that all music should be for free. And anyone who charges for it is an artistically bankrupt sellout who is no better than one of the major record labels.

I also find it interesting, because when I was at school I had it drilled into me by my guitar teacher that no musician ever really makes money out of music. You’ll get ripped off by the industry, or just waste your time for pennies. We had a joke: “What’s the difference between a professional guitarist and a 12 inch deep-pan pizza? Answer: the deep-pan pizza can feed a family of four.” So I resigned myself to music just being a hobby. Then it occurred to me that it might be a part-time income. And now I’m really taking the idea seriously that it might be a full-time income.

But I still do work for free, provided it is (a) fun and (b) not a huge drain on my time. It can be a good way to meet new people, try new things, and I feel there’s no pressure because, hey, you’re not paying me! Music is like any other job: it has its quirks, and it’s less easy to rigidly compartmentalise as you might think. A mechanic, for example, might well fix a friend’s car for free, because that car is an original Shelby AC Cobra, and it is a pleasure just to touch it. But they’re not going to help you out with your Ford Fiesta. Continue reading

“This is the real me, ladies…”: Midnite Vultures by Beck

Do you ever get that thing, when you’re scrolling through your music library and choosing what to listen to next, and you happen upon an album that you used to love, and you think: “Oh, I forgot this even existed! And now… I know I’m going to hate it.” That was my experience a few days ago when, tidying my office, I was looking for something upbeat and energetic that I hadn’t listened to a million times recently, and I happened upon the 1999 album Midnite Vultures by Beck.

Obviously, I didn’t hate it, or I wouldn’t be writing about it for a website called Eulogize This. But what I loved about it was absolutely not what I was expecting. Not least because this time I was really, really expecting to hate it. But let me backtrack a little. Continue reading

Warnings To The Curious

Legend has it that Montague Rhodes James—late Victorian medievalist scholar, provost of King’s College, Cambridge, and perhaps England’s most acclaimed writer of ghost stories—hated all forms of modernity. He considered James Joyce a “prostitutor of life and language”, and voted against women being allowed to receive degrees at Cambridge. I have no doubt that a good part of the legend is true, although I think it’s easy to get the man wrong. Or at least, it’s easy to paint him into the satisfyingly prudish and fearful Victorian that makes us all feel sexy and adventurous by comparison.

Firstly, I think his stories are frequently funny and self-aware. He can be happily rude about golf, and university life (particularly the habits of those at ‘another university’). And most of the victims of his ghost stories—dusty late-career academics and bachelors obsessed with all things historical—seem to be thinly-veiled self-parodies. Continue reading

Part of the reason for me doing new content every month was to force me to prepare two new tracks for serialisation. And I gave myself a headstart of… remixing everything I’d released so far, basically. But after next month that’s going to run out, and I don’t have a new album lined up yet.

I found myself explaining this to someone recently. How I started it earlier in the year, but when I came to look at the ideas I’ve been sitting on since my last album release (in 2013) I realised I’d just moved way past them. Many of the songs I had lined up were written over a decade ago, and… they’re fine. But I don’t have a record company pushing me – I am really doing it purely for the love of it. And I don’t want to do ‘fine’ anymore. I have a lot of new ideas, and they’re already taking shape, but I’m sort of rebuilding everything from the ground up. I feel I now have the chance to make the music in my head that I’ve always wanted to hear and that I feel no one else has quite managed to get close to. And I may not get that chance later, so I’m very focused on getting it done.

But still… months go by… Continue reading

I wonder how many other men walked out of Blade Runner 2049, thought to themselves ‘I’m not an expert on this sort of thing, but that film had kind of a lazy and/or shitty attitude to women, right?’, only to then be frustrated by finding all of their go-to film critics gushing about how, finally, a worthy sequel had arrived to their favourite film ever. I’m a fan of internet & US TV star Adam Savage’s Still Untitled podcast, and Savage is such a fan of the original Blade Runner that he actually appears in a recent spinoff film, so he unsurprisingly liked the sequel. But I was heartened to hear that at least he and his (all male) crew took seriously the issues that (mainly female) filmgoers were having with this movie.

Anyway, the reason why I mention this is because I found myself grinning a few weeks later when listening to the latest Still Untitled episode, when Savage said he had been enjoying a stunningly good podcast made by film historian Karina Longworth, called You Must Remember This. I was grinning because I was wondering whether he had done exactly what I did after seeing the Blade Runner sequel. Had he also read about the debate, and concluded that, as a man, he simply didn’t have anywhere near enough understanding of this issue to be able to critique the film properly? Did he also feel like he needed expert help? I wonder how many other subscriptions Ms Longworth has acquired from men post-2049 typing the words “women review movies” into their podcast apps in exasperation.

You Must Remember This is not a movie review podcast. It is a movie history podcast, about “the secret and/or forgotten history of Hollywood’s first century”. It was not the podcast I was looking for. But it was definitely the podcast I needed. Continue reading

On 9 July 2013, novelist India Knight tweeted that she had been enjoying reading The Cuckoo’s Calling, a modern private detective novel with a distinctly classical feel written by an enigmatic former military policeman named Robert Galbraith.  Someone replied to her tweet saying that Galbraith was none other than Harry Potter author and literary titan J.K. Rowling.  This piqued Knight’s curiosity, and she initiated her own detective investigation, which ultimately revealed that yes, Galbraith was indeed Rowling.  The tip-off tweet had come from the best friend of the wife of one of Rowling’s solicitors (who, in a display of conciseness any book editor would be proud of, had managed to trash his professional reputation in under 140 characters).  This big reveal unsurprisingly became a news story in its own right, and led to one of my favourite Daily Mash parody news items: JK Rowling recorded two dubstep albums as Burial. Continue reading