What is the Album Going To Be Like? (And How I Got There)

What is the Album Going To Be Like? (And How I Got There)

I have been amazed and quite surprised by the response I got to my announcement last week. So many people reached out to me and told me that they are excited to hear that I’m making music again. I honestly didn’t expect that. I’ve been making this album very quietly and completely on my own, and now I feel like I’m making it for you. It changes my perspective a little and makes everything even more exciting. So, thank you!

I never meant to take a 10-year break. Velcra played its last gig in October 2008 and I moved to Bristol in the following December. I got a job at Nokia Music, where I was surrounded by music and music lovers every day. Bristol is world-famous for its music scene and there’s always lots going on. I soon got to know some local DJ’s and joined them playing at local venues like Timbuk2 and Lakota. I was mostly just messing about with some samples and jamming but it was fun and I really needed that after Velcra.

Check out me and Dr Moody playing at Timbuk2:

I did have thoughts about doing something on my own, and I’d started writing some tunes, but I was really in the dark about the kind of music I wanted to make. I was really done with metal and rock, but I felt completely out of place with any other genre of music.

In an attempt to figure it out, I got together with Herranen, (who used to play the drums in Velcra) and who is also an awesome record producer. I thought I’d find my feet if I just started to create something. Together we did a fun cover version of Eartha Kitt’s “I Want To Be Evil”, but I was no closer to clarity. In the end I never played it to anyone, apart from a few close friends.

So, that track and those first few song ideas ended up gathering digital dust on my computer and oops… almost 10 years had gone by.

So why is it happening now?

Like all good things, my return to music started out of my own yearning to hear stuff that I love. Maybe it was a sign of a rapidly approaching mid-life crisis, but I found myself listening to lots of records that were made in (or influenced by) the 1980's when I first got into pop music. Such as Depeche Mode's Violator and Music for the Masses. NIN's Pretty Hate Machine. Janet Jackson's Control, Eurythmics, The Cure. Roisin Murphy, a bit of Skinny Puppy... you get the idea. Oh and Grimes is my latest girl crush.

I like the combination of hard-hitting beats, coupled with good old-fashioned songwriting, something that I think has been forgotten in our era of sequencers. Inspired by the music I started to get ideas of my own creeping in my head.

I dusted off one of the old songs from all those years ago, and decided to finish it off. Armed with this newly discovered clarity about the style of music that I was excited about, I was finally able to do it. Then I wrote a couple more. And then I re-worked “I Want To Be Evil”. And hey presto I had four tracks in the space of a couple of months and I was a bit stupefied by that.

What was happening?

Was I going to go back to making music? Was I in the process of making a record? I hadn’t really planned on doing that, and I felt quite unsure whether I was going to actually take this pursuit seriously and devote proper time and effort to it all. Yet, I really loved these songs, and I felt that it would be real shame if they didn’t see the light of day.

So I kept going.

Throughout the process I’ve felt more like the music is pushing its way out of me rather than me driving it. I’ve been resisting it. I’ve felt reluctant, hesitant, and doubtful. I haven't had much time, and still stuff keeps happening. In fact, writing these songs has felt quite effortless. I’m having fun, it all feels easy.

Surely this is not how it’s supposed to work?

Then I stopped over-thinking and decided, I’m just going to do it. I called Herranen again and asked if he would like to help me out. He took about 2 seconds to say yes. So, I’ll be heading to Finland to his brand new studio in early December and we’ll start putting this thing together!

So what IS this album going to be LIKE then?

Will old Velcra fans be excited or disappointed?

To be honest, I have no idea. This is not going to be a rock album, or a heavy metal album. I’m not going to be grunting, rapping or screaming in any way. There will be no guitars, probably. There may be some live drums. Maybe. It’s not going to be sad and moody like Hadal. And it’s not going to be angry like Between Force and Fate. 

So far I’ve been describing my music as 80’s-influenced synth pop with a gothic twist. I’d like to think it falls under the genres of Dark Wave, old school Electro-Industrial, Witch House, and 80’s synth pop. (If all these terms really confuse you try searching for playlists on Spotify or YouTube with these keywords.)

It’s dark but it’s dance-y. Yes, it’s definitely a dance record. It has some gritty moments, but all songs have strong melodies. Lyrics-wise it’s more cheeky and fun than dark or aggressive.

Why did it take me this long to get back to it?

The creative process is a weird one. You can’t rush it, you just can’t. I wish it hadn’t taken me that long, but unfortunately it did. I guess I really needed that time to clear my head, before I was ready to have the clarity that I needed.

I tried to push it by just getting on with it, but that didn’t work. And then, when I was ready, the music just came out, despite my reluctance. Even when I wasn’t sure I wanted it to. Weird. Amazing.

Also, what has helped is that I have no agenda whatsoever. Just the act of creating this album is bringing me so much joy, I don’t really bother thinking about what happens next. I just want to do it.

Maybe this thought helps you, if you’re struggling with finding clarity in your own projects. Do it for you. If you’re always wondering what other people want or what they are going to think, you’ll never trust your own vision. You are always going to be second guessing and doing it for praise or money or whatever. That’s a recipe for disaster. Do it for you first.

And now I’m really excited and I can’t wait to go to the studio and I can’t wait for you to hear the new songs!

As always, if you want to chat about the any of the above, leave a comment below!


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