Wednesday, 6 April 2011

By the way...

my blog is all wonky because the background image disappeared and I hadn't time to make a new one from scratch so just grabbed one for the noo...

Things I have been listening to lately:

Lately I have been enjoying music. I say lately, it's not a new thing.

Perhaps what I should have said is that I have been really getting into all aspects of music. 
I've only just started writing again and I've already got myself flabbergasted!

In Swansea there is a place called Mozart's. It has swiftly become one of my favourite venues, nay, places! The poetry crunch and folk/accoustic night (Skye) together with the candlelit-red-wine-bare-floorboard atmosphere and a gathering of brilliant people make it magical. 
A couple of people I know have played it too, and they say playing is more amazing than being in the crowd - hard to imagine anything better so must be an experience beyond description!

I also went to see Noah and the Whale with my sister in Brudenell Social Club in Leeds and it was fantastic! The Brudenell is a working men's club so it's rather small or 'intimate' as I believe it's called in the industry! (not as 'intimate' as Mozarts - I ended up sitting IN a band the first time I went!) There were around 200 of us in BSC, which is a rather small bunch for the likes of NATW, making it more intense! 
After, we moseyed (trying to look cool) outside and hung-out - chilled, if you will. pretty soon we saw the HAPPIEST drummer I have ever seen. Throughout the gig he (Michael Petulla - newish edition to NATW) beamed non-stop from beginning to end and sang along - not your usual drummer I think you'll agree. After a few pictures with said percussionist, Fred and Urby, we had a chat with Charlie Fink and Tom. Both very nice guys - my sister said to Charlie 'You deafened my sister at the Isle of Wight…'  he looked shocked, turned to me and said 'I'm so sorry, but we like it loud! Really loud!'. It's ok - I didn't mind being deafened in one ear by them. Most bands would've been reprimanded for such audio-damage but fortunately, I did not which to berate Fink nor his lovely Whales. 

That was me taking a break from thought and singing the violin solo from First Day of Spring, as a whale. Fitting, I think you'll agree. 

Which reminds me - My darling sister *almost* told Tom, the violinist (I say that, they all play a multitude of instruments, but seeing as it's getting late and wikipedia is being reliably unreliable, none of what I have written tonight should be taken as fact. Not even the bits of my own life I am retelling) where was I? ah, the violinist - my sister turned, but luckily did not say to him - 'Everytime you play the solo in FDoS, YOU BREAK MY SISTERS HEART!' which is true, but not something I wish him to have shouted at him! 

Reminds me of the time I met Benedict Cumberbatch and introduced him to my (genuinely named) friend, Moriarty! That happened on the same night as I met Ruth WIlson and Frankie Boyle. I'm not name-dropping, merely naming the only famous people I have met in the past ten years (I don't get to mention it much in day-to-day conversation)!

And last, but CERTAINLY not least, I must rave about a few (fairly new to me) artists I have been listening to recently:

Laura Hocking - Her voice is so beautiful and clear. Both the melodies and the lyrics seem simple and charming, but on further listening they reveal a complexity that one could happily ignore or just not hear for a lifetime (I have spent a lot of times trains recently and have had a lot of time to REALLY listen!). She's just released an EP with The Long Goodbye.
Songs I recommend: Oh La, Lolita, Leonie Lauder's Morning Jaunt, Strongmen & Acrobats

Benjamin Francis Leftwich - Supported NATW and did a great cover of Bruce Springsteen's 'Atlantic City'. He's awesome, though I haven't had much of an opportunity to listen to much lately. 

Tiny Birds: I must admit, these guys are quickly becoming a favourite of mine. I first heard them because they were in For Folk's Sake's 'Best of new band panel 2010' and then their Christmas album. 'Ariadne' has been in my head for roughly four months. Though not ideal, it's a rather dandy song to have in one's head for a prolonged period of time. That being said, the three or four weeks since the release of 'Hymns for the Careless' have been filled with angst and frustration. Being a poor student, and it being the end of term, I had to wait until yesterday to buy it. Was it worth the wait? Yes, yes it was. 

Their myspace page describes their sound as 'Smatterings of ukulele and thick daubs of techicolour banjo, nestled alongside lyrics of mournful nostalgia and regret'. You know what, I think they've got it spot on! 
their 'sad songs with happy music' are just that. The vocals are real and vulnerable, but clearly strong enough to carry the lyrics in a pleasantly tumultuous journey. Alas, I do not know the members of the band's name, who plays what or each of their preferred flavours of ice-cream, but they each bring something pretty special - try listening to one of the songs one instrument at a time and you'll see what I mean! The highlights of the album are 'Ariadne' - it's promises of keeping Venice afloat shows the softer, though not less strong, side of their music. And, in contrast, Sunshine and Silence - a delectable bouncer of am almost complaint that I cannot give justice to through my incoherent dribble. The rest of the album is equally great, but I feel I am showing some bias towards this band…
The only slightly negative I have to say about the album is that the character on the cover looks like my old german teacher in a pair of bunny ears. Not a biggie though - he looks better with bunny ears than he ever did without! 

That is all. You may leave now.



PPS. My writing is crap tonight - I beg your forgiveness!

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Things that happened in 2010 and things I hope will happen in 2011:

Unless you have been living in a hovel in the middle of nowhere with no calendar/computer/iPhone/way to tell what the date is, you will be aware that it is the New Year. The newest of years to date.

A review of 2010:

Due to my oft chronicled bad-memory, I am relying on past posts and facebook to review last year. I think, therefore, that this is roughly in chronological order:

I spent a lot of time at home - after eleven years at boarding school, this was both heaven and hell. Hell in the sense that I went form living with 80 girls and seeing my best friends everyday to living in a Hamlet 300 miles away. Heaven in the sense that I got to live at home, with my darling mother and her excellent cooking! 


My sister, her beau and I went to the Isle of Wight Festival and had a rather dandy time! (minus the rain, dirt, dust, heat and sleepless nights) I am still having problems with my ear though, after standing less than a metre from Noah and the Whale's speakers. Despite all that, it was one of the best weekends of my life!

Hop Farm with Laura M, Mumford & sons, Johnny Flynn and Devandra Banhart, but you can read about that in the earlier post. (I still have a camera to develop from Hop Farm - I'll do it when I get back to Swansea)

I did photoshoots. I did not post much about them here, but I did do them! The results are on my Flickr. I'm going to do some more now that I know some of what's on offer in Abertawe (I am perfectly fluent in Welsh now, yn amlwg)

I started at the University of Swansea. I've only been there a few months, but I really do love it there - the people are pretty awesome too. You'll hear more about them in the future, no doubt! (I have managed to avoid almost all D&B but have had to put up with horrific mainstream club music instead). Also, I quoted my own post on feminism and genuinely believed I'd read it somewhere - everyone else seemed to buy it so it was ok… 

Laura Marling played live in Cardiff and I stood front row, one foot on stage and was repeatedly hit by Pete Roe's keyboard. Best music I have ever heard (Have bought tickets for my sister and I to see Noah and the Whale at the Brudenell Club in Leeds in March)

We (Mummy B, Sister and I) spent Christmas in the most quintessential Dorset cottage ever. It's called Smugglers Cottage and was perfect. We all had flu, and I had an additional kidney infection, but it was marvellous all the same!

New Years Eve - I had originally planned to spend it in Dorset with some of my uni friends (they come from there too) but with the flu and everything, I spent the night in the appropriately named 'The Hut' in the village. Everyone made an excellent effort and I had a really good night involving New Ears, people being surprised at their own noses and being gifted a tin of olives.

There seems to be no one else there... promise there was! 

There's more, but I can't remember it…

It is customary for people to make New Year's Resolutions and though I normally avoid this, last year I made three:

1: Become a vegetarian
2: Be as self-sufficient as possible
3: Learn guitar

I have, minus the tiniest bit of turkey at Christmas, have managed to be vegetarian for a year AND taught myself guitar. Self-sufficeincy went on the backburner when we had to put our house up for sale in the Spring (still here though, so in hindsight, could've used the allotment). 

In many respects I am a quitter. In many more respects I am stubborn and refuse to give-up, but when it comes to self-improvement by resolution, I am the first to give it the old heave-ho and wave tatty-bye to such things. Therefore, my keeping two resolutions for an entire year calls for a celebration. Huzzah! There, done.

It is with some trepidation that I thought of this year and any possible resolutions - can I follow last year's victory? I don't thing so, but I'll give it a damn good try. I am going to write them here, so if in the coming year and I am not doing them, give me a sharp jab to the ribs and make me get on with it.

FionaFBaillie's resolutions 2011:

1: Write something worth playing and play it
2: Learn to surf 
3: (This one's under construction - will write when I've perfected it!)

Ok, so they're not the most challenging/epic, but baby steps Fi, baby steps. 
And I think learning to surf's got to wait to the summer. Wales is cold. Very, very cold. In terms of guitar, I rather need to expand my repertoire to more than the entire LM back catalogue, Bruce Springsteen and Noah and the Whale and the occasional Joni Mitchell... 

Things I hope will happen in 2011:

I will pass my exams
We will find a nice house to live in and be happy
Lots of other lovely things!

Ok, think I may have gone into the rambling realms of Frank Pickle and so will sign off for the time being. 


Sunday, 2 January 2011

Back to blogging...

I am currently taking a HUGE breath in order to convey everything (well, lots of things) that have happened since my last post. And it's going to be huge. Never mind Trojan War epic, it's got Hundred Year War written all over it!

Exciting stuff :)

ps. This should happen in the next couple of days

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Just a quick one...

Est-ce que vous regardez ma photo, sil vous plait? 

Basically I have finally got round to getting more actions for my Photosho Elements, and this is the first results I have. Feedback will be highly appreciated, and I will photoshop any photos  you want! Just let me know if you're interested - I'll give you my email.

F xx

Thursday, 8 July 2010

"The Spice Girls have a lot to answer for..."

First of all, let me apologise for a number of things.
Uno: I have not written since 31st May.
Zwei: This is going to be long. Like, Trojan War long. I seemed to stop blogging when I started doing things. In hindsight, that sentence seems ridiculous. That's the rubbish you're in for today - you have been warned.
Trois: Most of this will be nonsensical to most of you.
Pedwar: I have forgotten most of what I was supposed to write about...

Last weekend I went to The Hop Farm Festival and had a rather dandy time. Et je vais vous dire pourquoi.

It started with queuing. Lots of queuing, but that's no fun to write about, so I'll skip to the fun and games. Actually, it didn't start with fun and games, it started with the Bruce Springsteen look-a-like and the nondescript one (more on these names later) having deep conversations about war and the ethics of killing. I am of the view that killing other people is wrong, and that there is better defence than killing those attacking you. I know it's not that straight forward, but you've got to have basic principles, and those are mine. This meant I quickly ran out of things to say, and so sat back and drank Pimms.
Next up was Feminism. As you may have already read, I have some pretty strong views on this subject, but due to the fact that both boys had already read mine on here, I had drunk my share of the Pimms and it was quite hot, the best I came out with was 'I think all men and woman are equal, and anyone else who does is a feminist'. I told them about seeing Germaine Greer on the plane from Rhodes, and was so tempted to shout 'Germaine Greer! Get your tits out!' - a phrase my sister and I like to swap from time to time, though I can't remember why.
I  have since started reading 'Votes for Women' and am searching for my copy of 'The Female Eunuch'.

There is nothing like the smell of home-marinated salmon sizzling on a BBQ to get you friends. It was salmon that first made us the most popular bunch of Hoppers in the camp. Soon we had  Glaswegians, Brighton ex-sex-shop workers and two very charming, if slightly intoxicated, ladies in our little dwelling. I liked these two girls - they were there only briefly, but in that time they pointed directly at me and said 'She has a flawless face, hasn't she? And you [To the Welshman] look like Bruce Springsteen'.

I'm assuming she meant young Bruce, which I can sort of see now, if only slightly.
Nothing was said to the Englishman. He is therefore, known as 'The nondescript one'. Shame!

The Glaswegians were a riot! In both senses. Their Turkish absinthe was apparently, to die for. Or die from. Everyone had really raspy voices after so it was hard to hear what they were saying. (I would like to add I was perfectly content with Pimms and wine). The security guards were also Scottish, so juxtaposed with Sigur  Ros playing serenely in the background, it was pretty surreal. Like a Jonsi/Glas Vegas mash up. Even that was better than the Drum and Bass I had had to put up with earlier. Apparently this attitude will not do at Swansea, but if they expect me to enjoy D&B they can stick it in their pipe and smoke it!

Saturday was far more fun, apart from only having two hours sleep and lying there listening to Scottish men talk about football into the wee small hours of the morning and accumulating a hangover that could barely justify itself.
Ok, so maybe I was a bit grumpy, but I couldn't help it. I do feel bad about it now, but to be honest at the time I couldn't care less if everyone around me had wanted to grab me firmly by the shoulders and shake until all vital signs faded. But then, that's one of the traits of being moody I suppose.

Those of you that have spent more than an hour with me over the last six months would have noticed I rather enjoy the music of Mumford and SonsLaura Marling and Johnny Flynn. They were all playing Hop Farm - I still get super-excited whenever they come onto my playlist and will tell anyone around (mostly the dog) that I have seen them live and they were amazing. They couldn't have been anything less than immense in my eyes. This may be because I love them all. True, incontestable love. Ok, maybe not but it runs deep.
Words cannot describe how good they were, partly because I can't remember details, but I remember being giddy with happiness. Or dehydration. Perhaps both.

We had time between acts so decided to sit in the shade for a while. Yep, we paid over £180 to spend an hour and a half sitting against a metal sheet. I sat, the nondescript one and Bruce lay with their feet against it, giving me a lovely dusty/festival foot smell to match the hairy/scrawny legs in my peripheral vision. It was lush!

I feel I should mention The Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, because Bruce and the non-D One loved them, and they would accuse me again of not liking them out of stubbornness. I did not like them, and I am stubborn but surprisingly, these things are not related. 

The first weekend of June was also amazing - my sister, her boyfriend and I went to the Isle of Wight. Luckily they didn't tell me to blog about it, so I'll save you that...
We did, however, see a band fronted by Devendra Banhart. He was great live - really connected with the music and the crowd. He even managed to make me dance to a Justin Bieber song, which technically goes against my morals.
Banhart was also playing Hop Farm, and though his set wasn't as exciting as IOW, I was in the front row for his performance and touched him. That looks very perverted.
He was singing 'Lover' (a very catchy tune by the way), stood on a speaker and leaned back, giving the front three rows the perfect excuse to grab him, which we did with pleasure.

It's quite late now, and I have just woken from a 5minute daydream about a goat tattoo and Notting Hill, so will wrap it up.

I have been asked to take some photos for a wedding - this simultaneously makes me very happy and very nervous, lots of butterflies in my tummy.
Also the legendary Mad Cows Hockey Festival is coming up in August, and I have therefore, started to go running again.
Finally, I am getting a good guitar for my birthday this year. Hoping this will somehow make my playing a bit better, but I guess it'll really be the hours of practise. Such fun. I have tried song writing, but everything sounds  perverse when in song form so I have a notebook of very good sentences, should you ever need any.

F xx

Monday, 31 May 2010

Things I have done:

Saturday was a very weird day.

It was the village book and plant swap - I was helping mum with the plants, meaning I had to stand in the pouring rain (the only day it rained). My hair went very curly, my shoes were soaked, and trying to make polite conversation with villagers I had never met. 
It wasn't all bad though - I went into the hut (village hall, but small so it really is lovingly called the hut) with Ma Baillie to look at the books. Most of them were Richard and Judy's Summer Read types, but there was the odd other book, such as a collection of dictator's biographies. My favourite was an erotic vicar/vampire book with the subtitle 'They came at the same time, but only he was alive', and a picture of a busty vampire-type and a dashing Vicar. Someone bought it. Mum has her suspicions. 

I bought Long Way Down because a few people have been talking about it recently, and when we watched it I managed to miss out a third of it. I also bought a Discworld book for my sister.

Things started to get a bit different when I was invited to go to an art studio/gallery to help interview the artist Andrzej Kuhn. The gallery's owned by a lovely pair of artists, who love music as much as their art. Kuhn was interviewed (he is such an interesting man and artist), the other three artists were at their easels and Mrs Kuhns sat on a sofa with the 2nd most adorable dog in the world. She really fascinated me - she was the type of woman that authors find so physically interesting, they use pages to describe. She looked like she had a hundred stories to tell, and she probably did. I liked her very much. I have just realised this is probably because she reminds me of Ms Deborah Jenkins.

After lunch, I was fetched the most amazing guitar and asked just to play. And I did - for hours! My fingers were aching and I was pretty sure everyone had noticed that I'd been playing the same things over and over again, but every time I stopped a shout came from behind one of the easels to 'Carry on, carry on!' Also, I couldn't move because Mrs Kuhn was drawing me. Unfortunately I had to leave before it was much more than a sketch, but I was still incredibly honoured. I have just asked my sister to draw me. She laughed. I'm going to draw her instead. 

There's something about rain that makes me tired. I love the rain - as long as it's proper rain, none of that misty stuff, but after a while I just want to snuggle up with a cup of tea. 
So when I finally got home and discovered a mother's meeting in the living room, I chose to sulk in the kitchen. Not really being in a sulking mood, I chose to get rid of my excess energy by playing hockey in the kitchen.

Saturday night was Eurovision. I am not going to say anything else about it. 

Almost forgot - I went to work with mum's friend at the cookery class. It was rather amusing - lots of loud, characterful women (aged around 60 and dressed nicely) who would not stop giggling. I can't remember most of it, but I do remember laughing in the pantry a lot. Amazingly, they asked me back.

Um, that's pretty much it. I think.

F xx