Multiple music projects for 2022

If 2020 and 2021 was the period for writing and recording music, 2022 is going to be a bumper year for music releases. I’ll be working across four main projects, which are the duet material with Towse, the resurrections of The Small Change Diaries acoustic ensemble, the Code E1 remix electronic work and the all electric Nick Cody and the Heartache band.

This means a lot of rehearsal time and a great deal of time working with a creative team for music, video production as well as social media. All music will be distributed through Green Eyed Records and we’ll be looking at digital and physical products.

The importance of a great creative team, plus time and money

Running one band is time consuming, but working with two ensembles as well as other projects requires a great deal of organisation and planning. The heart of all these projects is having an excellent producer and sound engineer, Carl Rosamond. This was never more evident than soundchecking the Heartache under very tight time constraints at a recent live performance. The whole sound check with five members took just 15 minutes and many people commented on how great the sound was. I’ve used Carl for all music releases to date and he remains an essential ingredient to all four projects. Similarly Karen Turner has been the photographer for all ensembles to date and has captured many great photos including those from overseas festivals.

I’d love to think that great music alone would be enough to reach a wider audience, but that’s simply not true. Any music distribution and promotion requires time and money. The recent downtime with Facebook and Instagram highlights the importance of having your own web presence online and not relying on third party social media platforms. I recently decided to use Kycker for all music distribution as the company is far more user friendly and personable that those I have used before. I’ve also started to hire external radio promoters and digital media specialists to increase audience reach and this is working really well. One of the keys to success is to only work with professionals and skilled individuals. Its also crucial to work with people with good communication skills as recording and promoting music requires a lot of coordination. I’m lucky to have a longstanding core team that get the job done and are a pleasure to work with,

Towse

The Small Change Diaries reunited

While working on material for “The Heartache” I listened back to some of the earlier recordings with my very first band “The Small Change Diaries” and thought “It might be fun to reunite the band” After making a few calls, Jessica Bowie, Dave Bowie Jnr and Rich Ferdi will all be joining me this Friday to do our first new rehearsal.

As well as looking at many of the classic SCD tracks from 2015 – 2018, we will also explore some of The Caravan of Dreams material. After all, both Dave and Rich played on nearly all the Caravan album tracks! In the last 18 months I have written and recorded an additional 47 tracks and we’ll also be exploring adding some of these into a new set.

New instrumentation

In the original band I played mostly ukuleles with Jessica Bowie. In SCD Mark 2, I am keen to add more instruments and more sonic variation. In the last three years I’ve had plenty of opportunity to refine my guitar playing skills as well as learning mandolin and mandola. I’m also interested in introducing my Collings tenor sounds terrific. Jessica also plays flute and of course is a superb vocalist.

Other music projects

As well as reuniting “The Small Change Diaries” I’ll continue to run a number of other music projects including “Nick Cody & The Heartache” and a duet project that see’s a new single release before the end of the year. In 2022 there will also be a series of releases from Code E1 which is very different to anything I’ve done before. I’ve also amassed a lot of great musical instruments from across the globe and during covid have had the time to really develop my playing. Three years of weekly singing tuition is also proving to be a game changer!

Conclusion

I’ve always had a love for the first band and it will be fun to return to the earlier material. Of course now I’m far more experienced in terms of playing, recording and music promotion, so its essentially a whole new adventure. Below is one of the highlights of playing with The Small Change Diaries in Lagoa. At that point I’d only every played four live gigs in total before playing a major guitar festival overseas.

Debut live outing for Nick Cody & The Heartache

We just completed a short 30 min support slot in Leeds to try out some of the new Heartache material for the first time. Below is the first outing for “That gal’s as cool as fuck”

This was the first time I have played electric guitar live as opposed to playing acoustic instruments. The Supro comet did not disappoint and I used two hardtail Stratocasters with graphite necks that sounded terrific. Its also the first time I’ve ever played with a second electric guitarist, although with the above track I stick to simply doing vocals. This was a “toe in the water, 30 minute support slot” and we deliberately chose 6 varied songs to test out the new material. A live setting is always the best way to measure how well material translates with a live audience and I was pleased with the results.

In 2022 subject to covid, we’ll be looking at more live options for Nick Cody and The Heartache and working up a much longer set, especially as we have a lot of potential material to showcase! Thanks to everyone who came to the show and who has shared our posts on social media, we appreciate it

Sylvie Simmons interview, Green Eyed Records and musical explorations

In recent years, I’ve been thinking a lot about music distribution and music deals. I’ve always been a massive music lover and set up Music for The Head and Heart and now Green Eyed Records as platforms to support musicians and help promote great music. With Music for the Head and Heart I approached the great rock journalist Sylvie Simmons to perform one of her songs. I’ve followed her writing for literally decades and now find she is a great performer and lover of ukuleles.

I was delighted when she agreed to interview me for Green Eyed Records on the concept of this platform. The central concept is “creativity through collaboration” and I talked about this in the Sylvie interview

What’s the idea for Green Eyed Records?

The idea for Green Eyed Records was a little bit influenced by Robert Fripp’s original idea in ’92 when he talked about is to reduce the distance between the people who are creating the music and the people who are consuming it. That was already starting to happen with things like Patreon and Kickstarter. Fripp wonderfully described it as “a model of ethical business in an industry founded on exploitation, oiled by deceit, riven with theft and fuelled by greed.” Don’t hold back, Fripp, just say what you mean!

So my thinking is: In the old days one of the main limitations on things was the ability to get to the wider public. The internet helps with that – YouTube and Social Media – so there are mechanisms to get to more people. The last information I had is that every day 60,000 tracks are uploaded to Spotify and the renumeration for that per play is absolutely miniscule, which is great for the tech companies and other people, but not for the people actually creating the product. It has to be funded in some way. And the only way I can think of this actually working is if people work together in some collaborative way so that we can, remove as many of the intermediary people as possible between the audience and the providers of the entertainment. That throws up a whole bunch of challenges of course, but I don’t see another way of doing it. Because unless you’re extremely established and you’ve been around for a very long time and you’re riding the momentum of what you’ve done before, the current model’s not going to work.

“Creativity through Collaboration” is Green Eyed Records’ motto. It’s a great line, but what came to my cynical British mind was, is this some kind of hippie dream? Like those kibbutzes in the 60s where you’ve got a guy who knows how to saw the wood and a girl who knows how to make curtains, and when evening falls they all sit around the campfire singing Kumbaya. Is this what you have in mind?

Hopefully there’ll be no Kumbaya singing! But herein lies the challenge.”

Herding musical cats?

Since 2014, in heading different acoustic and electric ensembles, I’ve realised the importance of being organized and working with like minds. I’m lucky to have a brilliant producer in Carl Rosamond and he’s been invaluable in creating over 70 tracks to date including 45 during this covid era. I’ve also been amazed at the amount of time it spends to organize events , band rehearsals and live gigs. One of the earliest examples of the need for organization was when the first band “The Small Change Diaries” in playing at the Lagoa Guitar Festival. I’d only played a few gigs before this outing, and this was a true baptism of fire. I was also lucky enough to meet my great friend Laurent Zeller, who has played on subsequent tracks with both “The Small Change Diaries” and “The Caravan of Dreams.”

“The music business” is like any other business!

I’m currently working on a number of very different musical projects, including “Nick Cody & The Heartache” which is an all electric roots outfit, Code – E1 which is all electronic music, a pop album and an album of duets. I’ll also be looking at GER and Music for The Head and Heart in 2022. One of the keys to success is to find like minds. I’m forever told about how things “can’t work” while I demonstrate the exact opposite. I have also realised that “the music business” is like any other business, its a series of trades and the question is for all those involved “Is it a good trade?”

Some artists can have superb creative skills, but can be quite delusional when it comes to marketing an basic business. I’ve thrown out great no strings attached financial opportunities to some people and some just don’t understand basic business strategy. Its not about “working for the man” or other such daft statements, but rather thinking about the steps best needed to reach your chosen audience. I’m reassured that there are some great resources online that echo my exact thoughts and highly recommend Rick Beato and Glenn Fricker both very outspoken but in my view very smart. Crucially they have the experience to offer useful advice and this confirms that “the music business is like any other business”

Of course there’s no right or wrong, just different ways of working. One thing is certain, music remains central to my life and I have had a blast meeting so many fantastic people, including Sylvie Simmons, Martin Simpson, Jon Gomm, and too many others to mention from all over the globe. I recently spent the weekend with a friend who has sold over 25 million albums and once again we agreed that “The music business is like any other business”

A complete list of songs written to date

Below is a complete list of all the songs I have written to date. Less than 50% have been released to date

  1. Adam blames Eve
  2. Aim High
  3. Airport Codeine blues
  4. All About Her Lies
  5. All is Fine Until the World Goes Pop
  6. All Kinds of Crazy
  7. All that loving
  8. Amish frame of mind
  9. Big Tony
  10. Birdman
  11. Bring This Strength
  12. Can’t Stop
  13. Come On Down
  14. Commons Sense
  15. Crack On
  16. Dunning Kruger blues
  17. Five String man
  18. Gather Round
  19. Go Now
  20. Grey skies
  21. Hang On
  22. Here in the silence
  23. He’s shooting blanks
  24. Hey Rona
  25. Hey Yes
  26. Hey You (w/t Jazz)
  27. Hold That Thought
  28. I Don’t Know if it’s the Time
  29. I Know it’s Time
  30. I’m driven here to comment
  31. I’m leaving this show
  32. Keep Lifting
  33. Luxembourg
  34. Let It Flow (w/t Old Times)
  35. Living in Haste
  36. Maybe
  37. Miles Ahead
  38. Move Real Slow
  39. Next Up
  40. No more street parties
  41. Nothing Sounds Good
  42. Not one of us
  43. One day I’ll disappear
  44. Open up
  45. Perfect Place
  46. Please Take This Time
  47. Rise Up
  48. Say what you’re thinking
  49. She’s Tough Enough
  50. Slow time
  51. Sticks & Stones
  52. Take Heart
  53. Tales of dark and light
  54. The other me
  55. The pink moon
  56. There’s only one of you
  57. They Don’t Mind
  58. Thinking In Circles
  59. This Aint No Dream
  60. This Gal’s As Cool As Fuck
  61. This heart wants what this heart wants
  62. This Way
  63. This World is Burning
  64. Times Gone
  65. Wait Until The Pain Has Gone
  66. We’ll draw you out
  67. We Made It
  68. What You Gonna Do
  69. When the pain begins
  70. Wild Hair & Cocaine Eyes
  71. You Don’t Know
  72. Your Chosen One

Epic fail music promotions?

As part of setting up the Green Eyed Records platform, I’ve been looking in live music events promotions and I’m constantly amazed at what I have found to date. I recently searched for an artist I knew was playing as a support act in a major city venue. Even with the date and the venue name, it took a fair while to find the support info. Aside from the actual name of the artist there was ZERO INFORMATION, that’s right, absolutely NOTHING! There was no bio info, links to social media, artist photo no video, just NOTHING!

I don’t claim to be the world’s greater music promoter, but this is really basic stuff. Ok, I thought, there’s nothing on the two support acts, lets look for the main act information. Yes, in this instance there is a photo and a link to one track of audio, BUT no social media, website or any other links. On searching on this headline artist, I finally found their YouTube channel which had 16 subscribers.

Post covid 19, I would have thought that promoters would be doing their very best to attract audiences and support artists. Even though this evening of three acts has a knockdown ticket price of just 6 quid, this basic lack of attention is not going to help attract an audience. The promo video for the venue on YouTube from the owner released in August 2020 has just 126 views, no likes and no comments! No wonder live music is struggling to attract audiences, when music venue owners don’t pay attention to basic marketing. To be fair the FB page is significantly better, but this is still IMO an epic music promotion fail as they are missing a whole load of opportunities here…

Too harsh? You decide…

In the studio with Agi

In the last few weeks, I’ve been working in my studio with Agi laying down vocals and BVs for new material. We have been using the superb Austrian Audio OC 18 mic and its proving to be an absolute gamechanger. We are also now using a 55 inch 4k monitor which is fantastic for editing tracks as we can see everything up close and it makes editing super easy. I’ve been working with Agi for two and a half years now on a weekly basis and now and she has totally transformed by vocal abilities and I have already recommended her to a number of colleagues. Not only is she a brilliant teacher, but she is also the best harmony singer I have ever met.

Both my producer and I were also amazed at how quickly she has grasped how to use Reaper as opposed to Logic. These studio sessions have been amazingly productive and I’m astonished at the quality and speed at which we are now working. In the last 18 months we’ve got 47 tracks “in the vault” and I’m really happy with the studio set up. My plan is to continue to write and record material across the four different projects currently in play. These are truly inspiring times and Agi’s input has been invaluable in working up these tracks. She of course was also key to my last band album with “The Caravan of Dreams” “Tales of Dark and light”

Agi
Agi

You gotta move released August 6th

You gotta move by Nick Cody and The Heartache

The Nick Cody and The Heartache follow up single to “Can’t Stop” is “You gotta move” and is released on August 6th on all digital platforms.

Special thanks to everyone who has made this track possible and especially Carl Rosamond for continued great sound production, Rich Ferdi for percussion, Howard Taylor for bass, Agi for backing vocals, Joshua Burnell for keys.

The pre save link for this single is here

The Nick Cody & The Heartache debut album and live work

This second single is one of five tracks already recorded for the debut Heartache album. We are currently also working up the live band for gigs, the first being on October 2nd at The Old Woolen in Leeds The live ensemble is Nick Cody, Fergus Quill and Rich Ferdi with additional guest musicians. This is a full electric ensemble and the initial “Can’t Stop” single has already received excellent radio play in the UK and overseas.

Alternate Reality Fender Tenor Telecaster explorations

Alternate Reality Fender Tenor Tele explorations

A rare but welcome addition to my instrument family

I had never heard about the Alternate Reality Fender Tenor Telecaster until my bass player Fergus Quill brought his tenor to one of the rehearsals. I thought “Yes it looks cute, but I can’t imagine that its going to sound that great” and how wrong I was. To my great surprise, the pickups sounded great and it played really well. I immediately started looking for one online and found the above placid blue version left in the UK. Aside from somebody asking a truly bonkers price for all three colours on Reverb, these simply don’t exist. Fender did one run and I suspect some players bought them out of curiosity and at a retail price of 429 its not a big financial risk. These are made in Mexico and once I changed the strings for a better gauge and got my tech guy to set it up properly, its a really great guitar.

Tenor tunings

I have a great acoustic Collings tenor, so I have some familiarity with playing tenors, but the Fender is a very different beast. My years of hanging out with Martin Simpson have alerted me to the terrific possibilities of using non standard tunings and of course the tenor’s standard tuning is essentially two thirds of a standard guitar tuning without the low E and A. With this Fender tenor guitar I am finding that open C is working really well and two songs have already emerged in the first two weeks of playing it.

Amp considerations

I also learned from Martin Simpson to experiment with different amps and currently I am a big Supro fan and have been playing through the Supro Comet and the bigger Royal Reverb which has two ten inch speakers. Most of my other amps have twelve inch speakers, so this has been a new exploration for me and I’m pleased to report that the Alternate Reality Fender Tenor Tele sounds superb through the Supro amps and I already have one track recorded, ready for BVs and mixing.

Nick Cody & The Heartache live sound

I’m looking at using the tenor live with the all electric Heartache ensemble and we are rehearsing every two weeks up until our first gig on Oct 2nd supporting Captain of the lost waves. I like the idea of a short 30 minute set to test out the new material and new gear. So when you see me pulling out what looks like a tiny telecaster, you’ll know its one of these rare Alternate Reality Fender Tenor Telecasters!

Alternate Reality Fender Tenor Telecaster

Can’t Stop radio plays to date

“Can’t Stop” now has the most radio plays of all tracks to date. Special thanks to Neil Atkinson for radio publicity and for Nick Bloomfield in creating such a terrific video for this track.

These stations have all played this track so far, with more to follow

  1. 920 WON: The Apple
  2. Access North West Radio
  3. Baks Radio 
  4. Big Ear Radio 
  5. Channel Radio 
  6. CJB Radio
  7. Eagles Nest  
  8. Exile Fm 
  9. Forest Fm 
  10. K107 
  11. KDUB Radio
  12. KL Radio 
  13. Miawpukek First Nation Radio
  14. Neptune Community Radio
  15. Nova Radio
  16. Power 91 
  17. Quasar The Album Station
  18. Radio Deeside
  19. Radio Candy
  20. Radio Saltier
  21. Radio Shields  
  22. Real Radio UK
  23. RKC 
  24. Seabird Radio
  25. Shaky Radio
  26. Shoreditch Radio
  27. Source FM
  28. Sound Radio Wales  
  29. Surgery Records Radio 
  30. Valley Radio 
  31. Valley Radio Grand Falls Windsor
  32. Vixen 101 

Can’t Stop is available HERE