Monday, January 27, 2020

EP Day 1: Pre-production & guide-tracking.

*Post updated on 30/01/2020

Our good friend and talented producer José Arteaga offered to record us an EP. José, who started out as an indie-rock guitarist has spent years composing and producing music for Spanish theatre and film, including award-winning productions.
Last Friday was spent making rough phone-recordings of songs we might want to include. We sent these to José after the session and he had a say in which ones we should go ahead with.

Then, last night José worked through finding just the right tempo for each track, by both using some rehearsal recordings as a guide and working with me on whether playing the tracks like this felt like as if they were 'pushing' or 'dragging'.
So, EP guide-tracks done. Next, time, the whole band may be in.
It all starts here!

Post from producer José.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Top Ten Tips to Conquer Stage Fright for Musicians.

***Updated 30th May 2020 to include Ricky Wilson (Kaiser Chiefs) discussing his stage fright***

One of the music students I’m helping out is anxious about performing in public, so this has inspired me to come up with some tips that work for me in helping conquer stage fright/performance anxiety:

1. Be prepared in plenty of time before the performance (sound-checked, instrument tuned, amp/lead etc in place. Write a set-list out if one hasn’t been done for you, get familiar with your part of the stage) and allow enough time to relax after all this/before the show. At least half an hour. These preparations/rituals themselves will also help get rid of some of the anxiety.

2. Before the show spend some time breathing in and out slowly and deeply.

3. Look around the audience, make eye contact with them if you can, and think ‘what’s the worst that can happen ‘?! 

4. Tell yourself that the butterflies in your stomach isn’t nerves, it’s excitement! The mind is an amazing thing and you can talk yourself into this and then realise it’s true!

5. For me (and many others) I like to do a mixture of relaxing and using up physical energy to get rid of nerves. So as well as the deep, slow, breathing you might want to run manically, super-fast for a minute on the spot, or jump up and down. I will often go for a walk outside of a venue for a few mins too for a change of atmosphere. Stretching exercises are also excellent for both relaxation and preparing yourself for the physical rigours of a gig.
It is normal to feel very tired or even exhausted before a gig, it’s your bodies way of preparing you for the adrenaline rush to come.

6. One of the best things is to have a good laugh before you go on stage, brilliant for getting rid of nerves! You could even contrive a completely ridiculous thing you do with your band-mates before you go on (maybe you’re own band-version of the Haka, but a ridiculous version that will make you fall about laughing)!

7. For some people it helps to mingle with the crowd beforehand  so you realise they are nice, and not the crazed axe murderers who will hate your music that you thought they were.

8. Remember, the audience are on your side. They can’t do what you do and they’re looking forward for the gig to start.

9. Don’t worry about mistakes you will make, all the greatest musicians make mistakes. What to you will be a huge mistake, won’t even be noticed by most people. You won’t draw attention to it, just keep playing, smile to your band-mates as they probably will notice because you’ve rehearsed.. if you’ve got lost in the music you will just join back in when you know where you are. 
Anyhow, if you do make a really big mistake, big mistakes are the bits the audience love best! They find it endearing!

10. The butterflies get easier to manage with the more gigs you do but remind yourself that all the best live musicians get nervous (or excited!) before a gig. Eric Clapton used to play with his back to the audience a lot in his early days because he was so afraid of everyone looking at him. There’s a top opera singer (can’t remember her name, sorry) who actually throws up before every single show, so hopefully you’ll do better than that. Most great musicians are agreed that if you’re not nervous/excited before a show, it’s time to retire! If you don’t feel those butterflies, it means you don’t care enough!

I hope some of those are of help!
J 😊

If this article interests you, you might also like my post on my battle more generally with social anxiety, here:

***A further update; Ricky Wilson talks with guests about his coping with extreme performance anxiety/stage fright***