Monday, 21 March 2011

Music: Mousike: Music for the Muses not the Masses

What a week. It was so heavy it's left me run down with a cold. So what better to do in a physical down-time than blog??

Another track's been recorded. Tuesday last week saw us piling into the studio in Ashley, setting up and playing a song 9 times - or till I couldn't sing any more. No click. Just eyes closed and straight through (Augen zu und durch). No crazy effects. It sonically manifests everything we've grown to believe in: don't give a shit. After all the word music is derived from the Greek word 'mousike' meaning 'arts or sciences governed by the Muses'. Music for the muses.

It was incredible to finally take our hands off our eyes and realise that making music that appealed or was accessible to all, was completely ludicrous and left our tracks lacking any 'gravitas or rock majesty' (Tim Oliver, 2010). It was good to record a track in it's raw entirety with no overdubs, capturing a moment instead of hankering after perfection. Take it or leave it. It exists with or without you. It's not at all as indulgent as I'm making it seem. We haven't gone prog. We've just grown up a little I guess. It feels like we've moved our tent a little further out of the musician's camp and into the artist's camp and are hanging around enjoying the view waiting to be kicked out and sent back to where we belong.

The last track we recorded captures this turning point, the new-found confidence and comfort in our own sound. It's repetitive, it's simple and it's powerful. I enjoyed every single take and felt a sense of sadness once the final chord was struck. I probably could have played it all night. I love it.

I hope you do too. And if you don't. Can't win 'em all. And that's jusssst fiiine!

Come watch us on 26th March (Saturday) in Moles, Bath. Supporting The Milk - so probably a 10pm start. The new, freshly recorded tune will descend on fresh ears... maybe yours?

NiFe xx

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

2011 mantra: Ctrl+Alt+Del


The command in the title kinda sums up the start of 2011 in the life and times of Nicole Fermie. It's been an emotional couple of months - as the first few months of every new year usually are. But it's good to hit the restart button every now again. And we really have reset in many ways.

A few weeks ago we split up with our management company. I say 'split up' because it really did feel like a relationship split in many ways. Fermie got emotional - but most things make me emotional. Comes with the genes. Every emotion is lived out to the full. Nothing English about me that way at all. But someone's gotta keep Kleenex in business - and I sure did my bit that day. Everything in music is an emotional rollercoaster. Musicians - thousands of them out there running around with their hearts bleeding all over their sleeves. It's amazing people pay any money at all to see or hear us do our thing.

But we were moving in a different direction to our management company. Lets just leave it at that. After all, I'm out of Kleenexes and I dont think eye fluid and computer keyboards are a happy couple.

The reset button has also been pressed on the issue of using my name 'Nicole Fermie'. Over the last year and a half since Scott joined the band I've started to feel a little silly introducing myself as 'Nicole Fermie' when really - we're a band. It's not a solo thing anymore. The boys are part of the music, the vibe, the songwriting - everything! So saying 'Hi, we're Nicole Fermie' - was just silly. Also. Ever tried telling someone the name of your band in a loud club? Especially when that someone is also three JD and cokes ahead of you? Well - Nicole Fermie just doesn't get remembered that easily unless you stuff a gig poster in someone's pocket or force yourself into their hands using a pen and skin.

So. We've decided to go for a name change. First two letters of Nicole and the first two letters of Fermie spell.....NIFE!

Awesome. Four Letters. Pow.

So within the next few months we're gonna go global with this one. And you're going to be the only lucky sods who know what the hell's going on. Nice one for reading this blog.

So without management we've taken on a bit more control (Ctrl), changed a few things, like our name (Alt) and gotten rid of Nicole Fermie (Del) as a band name.

The record is great. I need to step away from it sometimes to enjoy it. I still have those days when I hear it and want to cry because I think it sounds shit, and other times when I have it on loop with a silly grin across my Indian face.

The live set and the record are practically one and the same - just as I like it. Everything is real and reproducible within our tight 3-piece outfit. Perfect time to release a record like this in the time of Tinie Tempah, Burke and JLS (who rip off the 'Sound of Music'- shameless! What would Julie say???). Or are we simply too loud and organic for these times? We're a guitar band. Surely those will never die?


We're playing all the new material on home soil on 26th March at Moles. Come down and witness the official name change. The band are practically getting married on the 26th. It's not me anymore. It's a band. And I'm thrilled to bits.

Much love and kleenexes.

I'm gonna tuck into some pancakes and listen to the Zombies and some Gainsbourg. Sun's out. Bring it!



Monday, 27 December 2010

From the desert...

I'm in the desert. The Qatari desert to be precise. In a flat - all on my lonesome. The flat belongs to my older brother who flies buses. Airbuses to be precise. In fact he's flying one now to Moscow and has left me on my lonesome in his flat in Doha. A strange part of the world. A city that seems to constantly be in rubble. Rubble surrounded by 6km shopping malls and crawling with cars bigger than minibuses and gas stations which don't even need to list the prices of gas because gas is so dirt cheap out here. There's no culture here that particularly excites me. I'm bored. I don't have a guitar and I've been singing into the voice recorder on my phone and the poor quality on the playback is making me trash things as quickly as I record them.

I haven't blogged in a while because life has been too fast and exciting to actually sit down and write about it. I've had two bouts of flu. But more importantly, since October, I've recorded a new album. An album that I enjoy listening to. The guitar sounds real and loud (I had two cabs - 6 speaker cones in total) - my effects pedalboard was steaming after each session and my fingers are still raw. The vocals are more mature, a bit thicker and more voluminous - it's been a long hard slog these 3 years on the road and in the studio, but I feel like I've come on musically in ways that I hadn't realised. I feel like I'm in a band, and I love being in a band. A proper band. Where if one member is ill or unavailable -we cancel the show. There's no dep players. No compromising and doing the gig acoustic with just Howey and myself or solo. We have a sound. A collective sound. A sound that needs to be right every time. The album we've layed down really celebrates this sound.

Ok I've just read the last paragraph back to myself and it sounds like I'm trying massively hard to big up the new album - I'm not, I'm just in love. New love - you always talk too much about it to people who don't wanna hear about it. The last song you write is always the best one - probably because you haven't played and heard it to death yet (insert ranting about 'Taxi Man' here). I'm excited. And the previous paragraph is probably the reason why I've stayed off the blogging for so long - cuz I was scared I'd just channel my teenage excitement into every word and put off the serious readers among you. The music is new. It celebrates the rhythm section. The beats are creative but steady. I'm a geniune sucker these days for monotonous and creative 'tom-heavy' beats. I find I can play and sing over them with more freedom. I'm listening to Neu! at the moment actually - completely by coincidence. 'Can' still features heavily in my playlists as do the Banshees. My lyrics book is filling up. I'm a happy girl. Something has opened up within me and it's spilling out all over the place (metaphorically guys...).

Right. This blog has probably told you everything and nothing at the same time. I'm still everywhere and nowhere. I'm off to the homeland of India tomorrow to hang with my rents and my grand rents. Next year is gonna be a big one. I might actually learn to write as things happen...

Till then,

Nicky x

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Up, Down, and whichever other direction the music pulls you..

21 days since I last blogged. Gettin better. It used to be months...

The Weston-Super-Mare gig was rubbish. The set was pure filth (good filth - angry filth) - the audience, however - a disaster! Should have thought twice before stepping on stage after an RnB act that pranced up and down the stage beckoning an audience of pre-pubescent kids to 'Make some noooooiiiiiseeee' whilst miming over a backing track. I guess hard disks and laptops are lighter than amps or drumkits...but playing a CD would've probably been cheaper.

We were a rock band booked at a 'street dance festival'. Sick blud!

To top things off it was freezing and we were 'headlining' which meant that it was not only cold, but dark and windy and we ended up providing the most epic exit music to a dwindling crowd of kids and guardians. It does a lot for your ego to watch the audience clear off by the second tune. Nonethless, one of our new tunes, 'Chemicals', had me on my knees turning the 'repeats' and 'tempo' knob on my delay pedal on full and playing one note continously while glaring at some poor little kid in the audience who dared to hang around for the set - a trance-like state cut short only by Howey putting his foot through the bass drum skin resulting in us having to rush through the last number and clear off stage, pile into the Hyundai and head on home.

I pretty much sighed all the way home in Chris' wonderful Volkswagen Golf and subsequently drowned the experience out of my system with 4 Rockschools at the Wine Vaults.

We did a polar opposite gig at Priston Village Fete a week later to an attentive audience while we stepped out of our comfort zone and played an acoustic set...went down great. People were lovely. The day was lovely. The distance to Bath was negligible. I was a happy little Indian.

Which brings us more or less up to date methinks.

I have a new album's worth of songs. It's great. 3 years of writer's block dissolved in 3 weeks, and replaced by 11 brand spanking new tracks. Thursday and Friday saw us do a set entirely comprising new material - it was scary and weird as there was nothing old or comfortable to hide behind. Mr Wolf's in Bristol was a pretty quiet gig which suited me fairly well considering the set was still so fragile. The less ears the better when you're doing set with your eyes closed and your ears pricked for clues from the band as to where we are and what we're doing.

Moles last night was absolutely kicking on the other hand. Like giving birth for the second time around - we were more confident with the new tunes. The audience turn-out was spectacular as well - the vibe on stage was electric in every sense of the word. Stumbled into the house at 3am and woke up at 9am and watched Beverly Hills Cop 3.

I'm feeling that kind of feeling you have after running just that little bit longer than your body wanted to. I'm exhausted. These new songs fill me with hope, excitement and dread all at the same time and life has never felt more tiring and intruiging than it does now. We're teetering on the edge of something/nothing/everything/noise.

Love you dearly for reading this far.

Excuse the waffle. Brevity was never a friend of mine.

Nicky xx

Friday, 10 September 2010

Why I've chosen to meet here.

So. Myspace. The musician's online calling-card and one of the worst sites to have to navigate through. I'm not a natural writer and any excuse (such as the ugliness of a blog window or the half an hour loading time on myspace) will usually do, for me not to put my thoughts down on screen. Because more often than not - my thoughts scare me. But it is therapeutic if you can get through the first few slaps in the face courtesy of your own brain. I'm not schizophrenic. I'm a musician. So given the issues with myspace, I've chosen to seize control of the variables that stop me from writing by finally moving to 'blogger'. Which is why I've chosen to meet here. Your eyeballs and I. Together at last. Isn't it pretty? Don't you love what I've done with the place? Hopefully the muted colours and random objects of blogger's free 'travel template', which serve to tie the screen together, will help to tie my thoughts together too. Feng shui-ing the mind.

I've titled this blog 'the gap years' because I've taken to using the term 'gap year' when describing any years of limbo and toil since getting out of the cocoon of the 'system' (school, university, mind-numbing job), at various dinner tables the world over to people who attempt to coax an informal CV out of you over a starter of unpronounceable French items which usually ends up just being goats cheese and caramelised onions.

It's been an interesting few years. I did the University thing to keep the parents happy and then eventually decided to hop off the escalator of life and follow my gut instead of getting stuck in a job that makes me live for two days a week (the weekend) - which with my degree in straight Biology was definitely on the cards.

So now I'm a musician. I met my producer and mentor, Tim Oliver, in 2006 and his blind faith and incredible foresight have made me learn to play electric guitar in 3 years and find a creative voice.

I work two days a week running an open mic and serving coffees and spend the rest of the time attempting to write/rehearse/record/promote/manage my music and a fantastic band of Howard Gill (drums) and Scott Barter (bass). I have a lot of time to think and equally ample amount of time to quietly go insane and try and figure out if I have tinnitus by listening intently to any mechanical hum. But nothing prepares you for the anxiety, and self-motivation required by burgeoning artists.

This blog shall be where I vent, celebrate, lament and explore everything that is happening with the music. I won't be colouring it up with false excitement and I won't dumb down any true grounds for excitement and celebration. This is not a promotional blog.

I'm currently in the throws of writing and rehearsing up a new album for the studio. The gigs are few and far between at the moment which always leaves a lump in your throat as a musician. But hopefully once we have the new album and a more confident and defined calling card - we'll be ready to take on the strange and unpredictable world of music promoters, managers and the like. If not? Bugger.

We've got a gig this weekend in Weston-Super-Mare. Music capital of the world. We're going to play some new stuff and generally try to exorcise our demons and apathy towards certain people and aspects of our lives. It's also a great way of finding out if a new song is rubbish.

I love this job. The pay is rubbish but the job satisfaction is high. Something's gotta give.

See you after the weekend. Excuse any grammatical errors. I'm foreign and lazy.