Trampoline Sampler – Reduced Price

Well ages ago I put together a digital release of artists who had played the music night I used to run in Edinburgh called Trampoline.  There were more artists asked to contribute and indeed, there was a second sampler planned for release.  However, the night ended and as such I never really got around to organising a second batch of tunes.

Each tune on this sampler is either a track that was unique at the time.  Be it a new track specifically for the release, a live track or a remix of an existing track.  You can download any or all of the 13 tracks from HERE.  It’s now only £3 for all 13 tracks.  I think you’ll find it’s 3 quid well spent.   So please, do pop over to the Trampoline bandcamp page and download some or all of the tunes. Enjoy.

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Trampoline Presents…Volume One

So yeah, it’s here….finally!  Please go here and download the 13 tracks.  It’s only a fiver.  I really appreciate it.  I would write more about it but I feel fucking horrendous today.  Sweating, dizzy, sicky.  It’s not a good day.  Make it better, download the music and enjoy volume one.

All Homemade Things

So this week sees me appearing on Radio Magnetic as guest DJ on the We Sink Ships Radio Show.  Heidi and Neil have both become good friends of mine in the past years and I’ve worked with them on various projects prior to this too, which has always been nothing short of a pleasure.  They are both lovely people and have been very supportive of me in my various musical adventures.  Here they asked me if I’d be up for putting together a mix of music, about 45 minutes worth, for the show, as well as answering some questions about all the many projects that I seem to be involved in.  The music was the easy part.  I loved every second of putting together my mix and I hope everyone enjoys it.  It should certainly give people an insight into the world of the Kays and the music that inspires me most.    Hopefully it will be a nice relaxing mix for everyone on a Tuesday night.

Anyways, the chat itself turned out to be me just blethering for 10 minutes into a microphone/dictaphone type thing just behind Ashton Lane.  Heidi had planned to ask some questions but, for some reason, we decided it would be more fun if I just got left to my own devices.  There is pretty serious chat in there, but the seagulls and squirrels were a distraction.  So much so that on my return to Brel we managed to decide that squirrels actually have scorpion tails hidden under their furry exteriors and have razor blades that shoot out of their little hands.  Vicious creatures rather than the little cute things everyone feeds at the Botanics.  So yeah, next time you don’t feed a squirrel nuts or seeds at the Botanics, or wherever, be warned, they WILL kill you.  Anyways, do check out the show here.  And enjoy.  Full track listing for my mix was:

1. A Mirror Sitting by Anna Rose Carter; 2. Anyone’s Ghost by The National; 3.Spirit Ditch by Sparklehorse; 4. Lodge by Nest; 5. Somewhere Nearby by Nils Frahm; 6. For The Backroads by The Japanese War Effort; 7. One Day Without Harming You by Dakota Suite; 8. Void Lighting by Small Town Boredom; 9. All Homemade Things by The Scottish Enlightenment; 10. Gleypa Okkur by Olafur Arnalds; 11.  Take Off That Dress For Me by Micah P Hinson; 12. On Planet Off by The Notwist; and 13. Giant by Conquering Animal Sound.

Please check out all these amazing artists at your leisure and again….enjoy.

When All Is Quiet

Ever feel like you take on too much?  Like you never seem to have a moment to stop and think?  That things get missed because you’re doing a million things at once and trying to hold down a full time job!?  Welcome to my world, where things just never seem to pause and my brain is working at a million miles a minute to try and remember all the things I have on the go.  Obviously there’s The Kays Lavelle.  We have the album launch shows coming up on 7th and 8th May – you can buy tickets now from we got tickets and we’d be grateful if you did as it makes the whole thing so much less stressful knowing that people are coming.  Ask anyone who promotes shows, knowing that tickets are being sold is a weight of any promoters mind.  People always say “don’t worry, people will come and pay on the door on the night”.  Thing is, a big promoter would cancel a show or move the show to a smaller venue if tickets were not selling.  We don’t have that luxury.  Once it’s booked it’s booked.  So yes, please do come along to Stereo in Glasgow on 7th or Wee Red in Edinburgh on 8th.  And if you can, pre-order your ticket now.  The album itself will be officially released on 17th May on Wiseblood Industries.  Probably the week before as a digital release.  Not sure yet how that will work.  We’ll see.  I’m very excited but also very nervous about the shows as the volcano fucked with our order and I’m now anxiously awaiting confirmation that the cds will be shipped on time.  It looks positive at the moment, but fingers crossed that the volcano behaves between now and then!

Outside of The Kays, I have a number of music projects on the go.  My solo EP entitled ‘Memorials’ will be released at some point this year.  Still working on the tunes.  It’s a much simpler affair than the Kays and, dare I say, bleaker too!  It’s something I’ve wanted to do for some time though and I’m enjoying working alone.  I think it’s going to be 4 tracks, maybe a bonus 5th one and it will be released digitally on Too Many Fireworks later this year.  I am however planning on making about 100 copies on cd to sell at shows and to people who are really keen to have the physical product.  Most likely these will be hand made and numbered limited edition.

I have two more music projects on the go as well.  One is with Heidi of We Sink Ships.  She took four sets of pictures for me and I’ve been working on interpreting them through music.  It’s very hard work but I am getting there slowly.  I have one of the tunes finished, which I am very happy with.  It’s a bit out of my comfort zone because it’s instrumental and has no vocals but it’s a lot of fun just sitting and trying to make these ideas come together without a vocal melody.

The other project I have on the go is with Chantal from Sleepingdog.  We don’t have a name for the project as yet but we’re working on writing songs together.  I write some and e-mail them to her.  She writes some and e-mails them to me.  When she is over touring in June and we are hoping to get the tracks recorded properly then – we shall see.  It’s been a lot of fun so far.  I think the tracks we’ve sent each other are sounding very positive.  So keep an eye out for something later this year or early next.  I’m thinking it will be a mini50 release.  But I’m not sure as yet.  Just enjoying the process for now.

Trampoline is kind of winding down.  I just cannot afford to keep the nights going on a monthly basis, so I’ve decided to stop the monthly shows for now.  We still have Conquering Animal Sound, Dead Boy Robotics and Adam Stafford on 15th May and Sleepingdog and myself on 2nd June but other than that, and the Xmas all day event, there’s no plans for running shows.  I think from now on we will react to opportunities rather than run a monthly night, which was becoming stressful and more and more difficult to keep interesting.   It makes more sense to me that we run Trampoline in this way.  That’s the plans anyway.

mini50 wise, things are really just beginning.  We have ‘The Best of Trampoline Volume 1’ ready now – well nearly, Russell is still to give me his bloody song!  Mammoeth’s record entitled ‘Nascent’ is due for release in June/July and then Conquering Animal Sound’s record will be out in August/September.  There are a number of other potential artists I want to get involved with but I think I’m going to hold off and see how these 2 albums get on.  I personally think both artists are great and the albums are sounding fantastic.  Keep and eye out at the mini50 page for more news.

The Smith/Chesnutt/Linkous tribute is coming together now.  We’re got 7 or 8 submissions and I expect another 7 or 8 before the posts start to go up on the blog.  I think it’s going to be pretty great and I hope people get behind it and buy the tracks to support the charity.  If you don’t know, the charity I have chosen to donate all the proceeds too is Depression Alliance UK.  I’m hopeful that the tunes will start to go up in the first week of May – though I have a pretty hectic week that week with the Kays launches so I am thinking the week beginning 9th May will be when the tunes and posts start to go up.  Thanks to all who have submitted so far.  There is still time if you want to send a tune.  I’m happy to accept contributions up to the date we start.

I have also been asked by Ed Stack to put a bundle together for Ten Tracks.  I am trying to organise this now – it’s not that easy!  Anyways, the idea being that I really want to put together a bundle of ambient, noise, drone and neo-classical music.  I really want to push some fantastic artists on people and use Ten Tracks as a means of getting some pretty great music, which is perhaps not as popular in Scotland, out to the masses.  That’s the aim anyways!

So I think that’s everything.  Though I could be wrong.  I will check my diary when I get home to make sure!

mini50 presents “Best of Trampoline Volume 1”

So I’ve been working on this for what seems like ages now!  I guess the nature of it has meant that it’s taken a little longer than I would have liked to get it all pieced together.  Some artists, mainly the ones who work at home, record at home and mix at home, were able to get me a track at very short notice.  Some were very quick with their submissions.  Others are yet to submit.  But for the most part, I know the tracks and have the tracks that will be released.  It’s really nice.  I always wanted this to be something a bit different to the usual mix cds.  I wanted the artists to give me a track that had not been used elsewhere.  This has been approached in a variety of different ways.  Some have written songs specifically for the cd.  Some have provided live tracks taken from shows they did in 2009.  Some have provided demo’s of tracks which may feature on a later release and some have provided remixes of tracks either released or due for future release.  It’s all very nice indeed.  So, the track listing, in order is:

1. The Japanese War Effort – Cradle Snatcher.

2. Little Pebble – Ghosts

3. Andy Tucker – True Love

4. Adam Stafford – Police No Speak

5. White Heath – So

6. Randan Dicotheque – Old & Grey

7. Cancel The Astronauts – Fanclub (remix)

8. Rob St John – Domino (live at the Retreat Festival)

9. eagleowl – Laughter (live at Homegame 2009)

10. Small Town Boredom – Polaroids For The Coming Winter

11. GLISSANDO – The World Without Us (Strings & Vocals)

12. Jonnie Common – Shogun (live at Trampoline)

13. Debutant  – Means To An End

14. The Stormy Seas – The Dancer

15. Esperi – Snowman

16. Mammoeth – I’m Glad That I Died Today

17.  Woodenbox with a Fistful of Fivers – I Won’t Go

I’m hopeful this will not be the only Best Of Trampoline.  I have plans for a second Volume, but that will be somewhere down the line.  I’m thinking at the moment that these cds will be available from the online shop once it’s set up and indeed at Trampoline shows.  They’re not going to cost much. £3 or something.  Just enough to cover the costs of producing them I reckon.  As always, it’s about promoting the wonderful artists that have played our shows.  Anyways the Best Of Trampoline Volume 1 will be available very shortly.

Does Anyone Want to Headline March Trampoline???

How sad is this?  I never thought it would come to this but I’ve been struggling so much to get hold of an artist who would be up for headlining the Trampoline 3rd birthday show.  It’s been a bit of a nightmare to be perfectly honest and I’m kind of past caring anymore.  I’ve asked so many people, all of whom were willing to do it, but none of whom could actually do it.  The list is long.  And it’s got me down if I’m honest.  I really can’t be bothered trying.  Just when you think you’ve finally managed to sort something out, a drummer not being avaialable, an imminent tour, a gig the week before,  a failure to bother responding to the request, get in the way and it’s back to sqaure one!  So yeah, just putting it out there to the masses.  We’ve got the wonderful The Last Battle and The Lotus Project down to play.  Suggestions for headliners please.  On a postcard.  And by postcard I mean in the comments box at the bottom of this article!  Remember it’s the birthday show, so I am looking for somebody to sell the gig.  Oh, and it’s Saturday 27th March….just in case you’re wondering.

Monthly Toadyness

So you can check out my latest pieces for Matthew over at his blog Song By Toad. It’s always fun writing stuff for somebody else, but it’s becoming more and more difficult because I have to spend more time thinking about interesting stuff for his blog.  I have a lot of new music and interesting stuff I’m keen to promote, so I may hold some of them back for March’s articles.  Anyways, go over to Song By Toad and not only can you read some stuff but you can also hear The Kays new single ‘the hours’ – the first track to be taken from the debut album ‘Be Still This Gentle Morning’.  Check it out.  Enjoy.

The Importance Of Venues

Pic: The Union Chapel, London.

Big thank you to Billy Hamilton of Under the Radar for his write up of Saturday’s night Trampoline show at the Wee Red Bar. It really is appreciated and it’s lovely to see them taking a more active role in reviewing live shows these days.  I do hope it’s not completely at the expense of unearthing new bands though as their contribution to Scottish music on this front is invaluable, in my opinion.

Anyways, reading the review it was interesting to note Billy’s thoughts on the layout of the Wee Red.  In my opinion, the way it’s laid out can be both a negative and a positive thing for the night.  When people arrive at Trampoline, it is true that they often grab themselves a beer then find themselves a seat and often remain seated for the whole night of music.  Some times this works.  In fact, sometimes we set out rows of seats depending on the style of music that is on offer.  Sleepingdog for example requested the seats be laid out to create a more relaxed, intimate and informal atmosphere.  At Glissando and Trespassers William nearly the whole venue sat on the floor and watch cross legged.  That was lovely.  When the music is more intricate and delicate it is often the best approach to things.  Perhaps for Thomas Western’s set it would have been appropriate on Saturday?  I don’t know.  However, there are other bands like Over the Wall, Cancel the Astronauts, Broken Records and Woodenbox with a Fistful of Fivers, to name a few, who would undoubtedly prefer the seats to be removed and the venue to be standing room only, or so I would assume.   Of course, it would be totally possible to get rid of most of the chairs and tables, but as the venue doubles up as a club there’s no way we’re moving the sofas!   I guess it’s down to the people watching though.  Like at most gigs, there is a tendency for people not to want to get too close to the front and, if chairs exist, then to sit down.  Over The Wall dealt with this beautifully by asking people to move forward.  Sometimes that’s all it takes.  Sometimes all it takes is one or two people to make the move and others will follow.  It’s a tricky one though.  I love the Wee Red for the staff, the sound system and how it looks when the lights are low.  Like other venues it suffers from not having a stage and without doubt it suffers due to the sofas etc.  Then again, I’m sure they’d argue that they have more club nights than gig nights so the chairs, tables, sofas all make perfect sense.  It’s certainly something I’m comfortable living with.

There was an interesting comment left on this blog recently about how Glasgow had better venues, better bands etc etc, than Edinburgh.  Personally, I think Edinburgh has a plethora of decent venues but could benefit from more.  Though I’d be the first to admit that I am not a fan of the Bowery in terms of sound quality and lack of stage, the actual space itself is bursting with character and with a bit of a cash injection could be the perfect gig venue.  Old churches are without doubt lovely places to play and convert beautifully into gig venues.  The Bristo Hall above the Forest Café, though a sound engineers nightmare, is another lovely space with bags of character and atmosphere.  I remember playing a show there with Thomas Traux.  On that occasion, the venue made the gig.  The Wee Red has character as well, but as mentioned above clearly suffers from doubling as a club.  I have never really been a fan of CabVol as place to watch gigs (cost of beer is outrageous!) but there is no doubt that Edinburgh’s underground network of caves do create a special atmosphere.  The same applies to the Caves themselves which have the same sort of vibe on a larger scale.    Electric Circus is a bit weird.  Really cool stage and screens behind the stage but the swanky ness of it might put many people off.    Personally I like it (perhaps cause I rate Solen as a top, top promoter) but I have heard rumours that it’s still open to anyone even when gigs are on, which can really impact on the noise during performances.  When we played there people spoke all the way through Wounded Knee’s set.  It wasn’t cool.   The Voodoo Rooms is a big old room with loads of character but also suffers from the table and chair issue present at the Wee Red.  I miss Henry’s Cellar Bar.  When I first moved to Edinburgh it was a smokey old jazz club but also ran loads of gigs.  I might just be out of the loop (I really do feel it sometimes) but I don’t think it’s used as much these days, which is a real shame.  It was a nice size and though it was awkward in terms of layout I always enjoyed watching and playing shows there.  I’ve also witnessed lovely shows at both the Collective and Stills Galleries on Cockburn.  Rob St John’s show at the Collective is maybe still one of my favourite ever gigs.  Tiny space, amazing atmosphere, intimate and lovely.   What I do wish Edinburgh had more of is venues like Stereo, Mono and the 13th Note in Glasgow.  When I’m through there I love passing the day sitting in those bars with their lovely relaxed atmospheres, good food and good music.  There are really no places like that in Edinburgh where you can just go and chill out and then go downstairs to see a gig.  Well, not that I know of.  I wish there was.

I guess above all what I wish for most of all is more venues in Leith.  The Leith Tape Club operates successfully out of the Iso Lounge.  However, in terms of catering for larger gigs there are not too many places I can think of.  The Leith Theatre is an amazing venue but in real need of restoration and really doesn’t appear capable of dealing with shows as yet.  This is a shame as it’s the perfect space for larger events like an all day festival.  The Leith Dockers club does seem to be a good place in terms of stage, layout etc, but it does have a Phoenix Nights feel about it, which might not appeal to everyone.  I enjoyed seeing the Wave Pictures there though and Withered Hand’s album launch took place there also so it might be a venue on the up in terms of putting on gigs.  Other than that though, my knowledge of venues in Leith is limited.  I believe the Kays might be playing the Queen Charlotte Rooms in Feb – but I have no idea where that is or what it looks like but perhaps this could be a good option for gigs down Leith way.  It would be lovely to have more spaces though.  Quite a lot of musicians live down Leith way so it’d be nice to have a bar/venue like Stereo/13th Note to chill out and put on good shows.

So yeah, what are people’s thoughts on Edinburgh venues?  What are we missing?  What do people like/dislike?  Just thought it’d be good to have a chat on this front.  Nothing too controversial for a Friday.

Money, money, money

Everybody who puts on music shows will know the pressure that exists with regards to paying musicians who you ask to play. If I’m perfectly honest, it’s not often been a major problem for me with Trampoline as I am honest from the word go with artists. However, there have been a few occasions the money situation has still raised it’s ugly head and it can be a really difficult situation. Like I said, at Trampoline we are always upfront as to how things operate. It’s simple. We offer no guarantees, unless that guarantee can be justified. And by this, I mean that the artist in question is likely to pull a crowd significant enough to cover costs and therefore deserving of the money. That’s not to say people who don’t bring a crowd are not deserving of the money just that, given the deal we offer, you should be aware that without the people through the door there is no money to offer. I don’t of course mean that if you ask to play and tell me all your mates will come along that I’ll guarantee you anything because I don’t put on shows to make money. Anyways, I really am talking about bands like Broken Records, Frightened Rabbit, Meursault, Withered Hand; artists who if I were to put on at Trampoline now, the shows would sell themselves. Those acts wouldn’t have to tell people they are playing, or ask them along and would totally merit a guarantee. Smaller acts though really need to consider the implications of expecting money. I’m not saying don’t ask, I’m just saying don’t assume. Most promoters out there are DIY promoters who put on/organise shows out of the goodness of their heart and usually out of their own pocket too. There is no financial gain for Trampoline EVER. In fact, more often than not, I am forced to dip in to my own pocket to cover costs or just be able offer artists a little something.  It often means that artists don’t get very much from us at the end of the night. But whilst we offer no official guarantees, we do state that at the end of the night, once costs are covered, all remaining cash will be given to the bands. However, this requires people to come along to the shows. We spend a lot of time on flyering and promoting the shows any way we can. There are plenty of avenues to find out about Trampoline shows. What gets me is when an artist turns up, brings nobody to to see them and yet still expect to be paid something. This is not possible and if you play Trampoline you are always made fully aware of this from the outset.

I’m a realist as a musician. Would I like to be paid to play? Yes, of course. Do I automatically think I deserve to be paid? No, of course not. Recently we at Trampoline were asked by a band to guarantee a fee. It was an amount greater than the standard fee the larger promoters would automatically pay an artist for playing a grassroots show. Sometimes it borders on the ridiculous. If you can justify the fee, of course I am happy to pay.  And if we have a really good night then yes, you’ll get paid well – we guarantee that.  However, if you don’t expect many people to come along then have a wee think about why you are asking for the money before you do.  I understand travel costs etc are a problem, they exist for everyone who plays outside their home town, but I’d never, at this stage in my career, have the confidence to expect to be paid for a show.  I have no problem with those who ask. Only those who expect or assume.  It’s like that old saying.  When you assume you just make an ass of u and me. It’s a delicate debate of course. And by no means am I saying that musicians don’t deserved to be paid for playing live – that would be like cutting off your nose to spite your face.  I just wish some artists would think a bit more about who they are dealing with before they fired off a figure.  Too much red wine?  Oh dear.