2021 In Review

Here we are again!

Confetti has been a relentless torpedo….always moving, always exciting. I booked some dream guests for Industry Week and beyond: Steve Albini, Tony Visconti, Trevor Horn in what has been a bit of a defining calibre of industry guests I want to maintain.

2022 is heavily about writing some degrees..undergrad and post grad: writing a couple and steering the rest

I’ve released a fair few library tracks this year…….somewhere between 30 and 50: some on Arms, and some on other labels.

I made a conscious effort to release more songs this year : there’s only so many ticking tension tracks you can write for a library! …songs, though, remain my biggest passion. Library music tends to be pretty formulaic: you get reference tracks, and, essentially, you’re trying to copy them enough to match them, but not enough to end up in court! What I like about this, though, is it forces you to study arrangement and production….so I do learn stuff every time I write music that doesn’t necessarily move me, but it intrigues me……. but there’s soooo many other writers competing for the same space……. same types of tracks…….With songs, though, there’s always more of you as the writer in them and it’s easier to get your originality in them. I really like forming fake bands in my head, doing 3 or 4 tracks, then moving on. This year I did a few tracks with Sally Hossack in an Agnes Obel type project, another few with her in a 70s lush type vibe, then a few with Naim Cortazzi in a sad boy electro indie thing under the guise of ‘Guilty Partner’, a few with Hannah Brine: 4 tracks of moody synth pop and 4 channeling Folklore that I wrote at the tail end of last year to be finished this year.

I’ve got a dozen or so tracks in progress or finished awaiting release in a month or three and I think I’ll be doing way more songs this next year than instrumental library tracks: it just feels lots more rewarding creatively to me.

Commercial mixing has been happening with a few great singles mixed for a few different artists, but my main creative energies have been around pushing the library stuff.

Arms ends the year just inking a new deal for distribution in India,  Pakistan,  Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Mauritius, China, Macao, Taiwan, Hong-Kong and Singapore. We reached our 46th release with a steady album a month schedule, and had our first ‘Artist’ releases and our first ‘Songs’ releases, too.

Plug Ins of the year: I can’t remember if I got this plug in this or last year, but the Abbey Road Saturator is great, if a little hard to tame!

….but my latest plug in love goes to the new SSL plug ins. I only just downloaded the whole suite on a trial but I’ve used most of them on three commercial tracks I’m mixing at the moment and they really are next level, so I think I’ll be subscribing rather than buying… the prices are pretty steep for plug ins to buy I think……especially compared to the Waves stuff, but the subscription feels reasonable to me for such high quality. Highlights are the Voice Channel, HF Compressor, Saturator, Flexverb, Drum Strip. The GUI’s are gorgeous and really ‘grown up’

Gear…I got the Warm Audio Neve copy pre amp

…and I got the SSL 2 in/out+ MIDI interface. I’m yet to hook them both up…..

I bought an Arturia Microbrute for a library project. Very wild!

Finally, work wise, I took on a new role as External Examiner for Point Blank in London, and an External Quality Assurer for RSL Awards which keeps me up to date with music education and feeds good practice into my work at Confetti. Many plates a spinnin’ !

Albums of the year………..I can only assume the fact I’ve been writing more songs this year, thats the reason I haven’t listened to as many new albums as normal. I can barely remember many I’ve loved. My Spotify Wrapped thing suggests I listen to the same old stuff as any other year. A couple of stand outs though from 2021 are the Self Esteem one and the Matt Maltese one who continues to be consistently brilliant on album 3.

Song of the year though has a couple of contenders:

I have, however, curated a monthly playlist of new music for the last few years, and you can find December’s here if you wonder what I dip in and out into.

No gigs this year. Booked to see the Cure next December and Billie Eilish with the kids in June

Books…I only really read when I go on holidays and I really wish I had the desire to read fiction……..but I just don’t! : this year I read the second Stephen Morris biog which I loved….New Order were my Joy Division (? !) so I loved reading about 80’s New Order

…and the Moby one which was fine: he’s a fascinating character. I enjoyed the Reprise album he did a bit.

I read Eno’s diary years ago, and it’s recently been reissued, and I got it for Christmas, so I’m loving revisiting that….what a life he had and has. He wrote this a year younger than I am now, and it’s inspired me to start my diary again for 2022….for two reasons: one to collect my ‘actually useful’ Oblique Strategies (I guess I’d just call them ‘Strategies’) as they crop up (‘try the verse without the hi hat’) and the other is to help keep check on my mental health: you know..those situations where life feels too much…..bad day at work, bad encounter with someone…helps to write it down and refer to it when you come up against the same hurdle.

Films…..I’ve never ever been a Beatles fan at all, but I found the new documentary absolutely fascinating: like watching the most interesting paint dry. Macca came out as ‘the one’ for me……he brought the drive and the best songs. Lennon was borderline irritating. Ringo was consistently brilliant a drummer in a way I’ve never appreciated before. Harrison just came across as an ‘OK’ guitarist and a bit thick! Take that Beatles fans!

‘Under The Volcano’ was about Air Studios in Monserrat….you got glimpses of classics in the making, and had interviews with some great engineers like Chris Kimsey (who I booked for Confetti after seeing this…he’s going to do a straight to tape session in January)

I really enjoyed the Woodstock 99 film…what a disaster that was!

Probably the best music doc I’ve seen in ages is the Sparks one: I’ve only ever been a passive fan, but this was just ace start to finish. What a pair of unique individuals.

I really loved the Echo in the Canyon film…released a while back but I only got around to watching it this year. Best scene was Neil Young roaming round recording his electric guitar like he was putting out a fire. Dude.

Non music shows I loved:

Handmaid’s Tale…..late to the party on this…loved the 1st 2 seasons.

Also late to get into ‘Succession’ which really is amazing…..a bunch of the most dislike-able people who you slowly start to understand why they’re as vile as they are and start to like. Scenes with Greg and Tom are so funny..but the whole show is belly laugh filled!

Onto more music and ‘doing stuff’ in 2022!

One Reply to “2021 In Review”

  1. What a Truly Amazing year it has been and looking back @ some Great moments and Great thoughts going forward into 2022

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