The Smoke Signals Players
I would like to dedicate this post to the musicians that do it for the love of music above anything else. I was lucky enough to come across each and every single one of these individuals who contributed in a meaningful way to make my EP what it was. I am not famous. I am not wealthy. I am not influential. I am unknown. But I am a writer and I create stories and songs that simply did not exist before. However, without these people and their like I would be a writer with an extremely blunt pencil; which translates to a furiously strummed out of tune guitar and a haggard breathless voice (evidenced by countless demos that exist on my hard drive). The ones that helped me this time around include the peerless:
Radi Safi: The man who picked me out of a sea of singer-songwriters and said “let’s do something” at a time when it was either that or a bullet. I have never met anyone as dedicated to the art of creating music as Radi. In this business it is extremely easy to get bitter and distraught over any number of things; yet he maintains a single-minded approach that focuses on the things that make music worth making in the first place. Radi produced the record in spectacular fashion and played lovely piano, keys, guitar and what I refer to as “studio knobs” (which is a blanket term that includes the film reel you hear in Fruit Juice). Without Radi this EP would simply not have been made. Rather the songs would exist in the form of four-track demos with more reverb than Jonsi and Sigur Ros would know what to do with.
Dan Shaw: Dan is one of the sweetest souls that you will you come across. He remains calm in situations that require me to neck half a bottle of Jamiesons whiskey. He also remains patient in the face of a guitar player (that would be me) that constantly forgets what key his own songs are in. Dan was responsible for all the bass playing and is the first person to ever transcribe my music into musical notation.
Russell Crawford: Russell came into a bizarre situation that many drummers would have run from at first sight. He walked into a studio and saw a kick drum turned on its side, a giant suitcase with microphone placed inside it, a snare with a box of nails taped to it and two excitable musicians telling him to “embrace it”. Instead of running Russell nailed it (his hands almost suffering the same fate as the box of nails started to disintegrate with each hit). Afterwards I was enormously grateful for Russell’s open mind and a little relieved that it all worked out. However, the suitcase did not survive.
Rich Bessell: Rich is a long-time friend of mine that I have played music intermittently with for years. He came into the studio and played a particular guitar part that I was having trouble realising on the electric guitar. I think he got a bit of a taste for it and has been taking a much more involved approach with current happenings. Without his contribution there would likely only be four songs on the EP.
Joshua Issac filled in as drummer for the launch show of Smoke Signals as Russell was on tour with one of his other projects. He brought a wealth of talent to the table including his “spirit hands”. This musical technique involved playing the full drum kit with his hands. It was a sight to behold and brought a great thundering quality to the song in a live context. All my future drummers will have to be able to replicate this technique.
Sam Hirst contributed her voice to the opening of Stage Lights at Angel Place. She left a message on my phone saying that she couldn’t make a gig that I was playing that night. Radi and I heard it while recording and the idea just clicked. However, the recording was a little messy so I tried to get Sam to re-do the message at a later date. After about three hours of drinking red wine and trying to replicate the “vibe” of the original one we gave up and just used the original one. Turns out Sam isn’t much of an actress, but she is a good friend.
Thank you one and all,