Thursday, June 26, 2008

Control K on Best Of MySpace - wanna remix it?

I'm somewhat thrilled to announce that one of my tracks - 'Eloise Twisk' from the Control K album 'The Front Line (Redux)' - has just been featured in the latest episode of the 'Best Of MySpace' podcast by Gill Mills.

Apparently, Control K was nominated by a listener of the show - whoever you are out there, thank you very much!

As a younger musician, I always really wanted to get a track played on the John Peel show. This must the modern equivalent. While the music doesn't seem to be quite as diverse as his line-ups, it is nevertheless a fine selection of up-and-coming artists.

Jill described the track thus:
Well handled electronica from Japan, which, given the right remix, wouldn’t sound out of place on a global phone ad. As it stands you can quite happily drift off to this and imagine the summer you’d like to be having. Under water.
So here's a thought. If anyone out there is interested in remixing the track, perhaps we could nail some sort of licensing deal out of it. I'd be very interested to see what someone else would make of the track too, so here's a good chance to explore the collaborative power of the Web.

If you'd be interested in remixing 'Eloise Twisk', drop a comment on this post and we can take things from there.

For other visitors, do please have a listen. My track appears in podcast # 35 and can be found close to the end of the file. Clicking on the image at the top of this post will take you directly through to the Best Of MySpace page, where you can hear it and many other fine tunes. I've also added a widget to this blog too - scroll down to below the News section and listen directly from this page.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

UK live promoter wanted

My band are coming over here in August for our first ever live dates outside of Japan. I've put a video ad together to try and get us a promoter in order to organise some shows (don't quite have enough spare time on my hands to do it myself).

We are planning to play shows in and near London (such as in Brighton) on August 20th, 21st and 22nd. Support slots, festival dates, all gigs considered. It's only a couple of months away now, so I'm hoping to find someone soon.

If you or someone you know are up for doing some live dates this summer with an energetic Anglo-Japanese rock 'n' roll band with a well-honed live act, drop us a comment on the video, get in touch through our MySpace page or send us an email to shelflifemusic(a)

Promo CDs available on request.


Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Next POTUS

'A More Perfect Union' (Full Speech)

It's common and natural to take pleasure from being right. Who, after all, wants to be proved wrong? Sometimes, however, being right is the wrong thing for all.

Two US election cycles ago, back when stakes didn't seem quite as high as they do today in terms of the threats to our global future and American elections were still more of concern for Americans than for the rest of us too, I remember the deep concerns I felt about the Bush Coup in Florida. He'd run a relatively innocuous campaign and there didn't seem to be a whole deal of deep blue water between Bush Junior and Veep Gore, so there was a feeling that it might not matter too much which one became the next President Of The United States (POTUS). Not knowing the name of the leader of Pakistan or claiming to think that the Taliban were a pop group added to Junior being built up to be 'the kinda guy you'd like to have a beer with' (despite actually being a former alcoholic), whereas Gore was just 'too clever' to be President.

The rest being history, we now know that Junior turned out to be a lot less 'compassionate' or even 'conservative' than he appeared to be on the campaign trail and Al Gore went on win a Nobel Peace Prize - the differences between them that were played down at the time couldn't have been starker in the end.

I wasn't at all happy to be proved right about it, but once Junior had managed to grab the keys to the Oval Office, I just knew that there was a war coming. I didn't quite imagine that there would be two, three, many of them or that much of the world would become considerably more militarised than it needed to be, but either a feeling in my bones or an ability to sniff the prevailing global winds told me of more dangerous times ahead.

Being an optimist at heart, I consoled myself with the thought that no matter how bad they (Team Bush) made it, no matter how much damage they might do, a very possible upshot of it all could well be that Junior serves as the nail in the coffin of the 'rich, white, male POTUS', and that he would so discredit his creed by his actions in office that the American electorate would finally be ready to try something different. This in turn would be a good thing for those of us outside of US borders, for when America sneezes, the rest of the world catches cold.

This adage may now be less true than when Junior grabbed the wheel as he has been a most careless driver and in attempting to be the most forceful vehicle on the road, he took his eyes off his mirrors and allowed himself to be if not yet overtaken then likely to be soon. The Indian and Chinese cars on the road are looking in much better shape than eight years ago and there's some pretty nifty Brazilian and Russian ones too.

Anyway...back to the point. I'm going to dare to say it and stick my neck out with another prediction. This may not seem like such a revelatory thing to say, but that merely illustrates how much things have changed over the last eight years.


This will be, on the whole, a very good thing. Whoever inherits the job is going to have a hell of a mess to clean up, for starters. If there is going to be any clearing up to do, it will take someone really smart - not 'book smart' but 'wise from experience' and able to look at things from other perspectives - to be able to do the job well. There is no restoring America to the position it was in on the global stage before Bush, the world has changed too much for that, but there is the potential for the US to become the 'force for good' that it likes to think of itself as (and that doesn't mean military force). It may be that this can only happen when the person fronting the nation state operation doesn't obviously come from that long line of rich white Europeans that have been running things for so long, but is actually a blend of all the peoples that make America what it is.

Barack Obama is clearly a very smart guy. In terms of changing America's image abroad, his election would do that with one fell swoop. He's shown his ability to persevere and win graciously by beating Hilary Clinton in the primaries and then bringing her on board his campaign (she's gone from an attacker to an firm advocate in a very short time), suggesting that he can do the same with the Republicans. There is a lot of uniting needed to be done in order for the US not to become some battered and wounded animal that lashes out at the rest of the world in the future.

This is not to say that he would be perfect. It is an impossible job, after all, and all our leaders in the end fail, somehow or other. But I will nail my colours to the flag (so to speak) and state here that I believe he will get the Presidency and will do a pretty damned good job of it too. This matters now to the rest of the world as well as the US so much more than it ever has done before.


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Rural and online living

I'm going through a self-imposed moratorium on most creative activity for the time being, while we wait out the transition period of moving from Tokyo to settling somewhere here in the UK (hopefully London). The wedding is over and that was a major operation. The job hunt continues apace, with that dream job hopefully just around the corner to be more than just the cherry on the cake.

Until that next phase is reached, I can't really allow myself to get too into making any new songs, putting together the scraps of video ideas, compiling the book projects I have in mind, or writing many more stories or articles, as any of these would easily distract from the main task in hand. Almost there, almost there.

In the meantime, there's still a notable backlog of content patiently awaiting uploading and other online activity always beckons. As the eagle-eyed among you may have spotted, I've finally managed a little tinkering at the edges of my blogs. While not exactly a relaunch, this one does have some of the more recent Blogger features that I'd just not had time to even think about incorporated into it, and it certainly looks a lot better for the spruce up. There's as RSS feed button (at last) and I'm proud to claim 15 subscribers since I added it just a few days ago (thanks to Feedburner for showing me how easy it really was). Do please hit that button and join up - it might even encourage me to post a little more regularly!

The other links have been tidied up a little more, with my other sites listed near the top and a roll of blogosphere compatriots a little lower down - if you're reading this and you think yours fits with the Globalism scheme of things, drop me a link and I'll take a look. The posts are now more easily navigable and there's also a news feed on the page. Consider this an experimental move at the moment - might also throw some widgets for my favourite news sites up instead, once I've developed them.

For the time being, I'm back teaching again (at the best school I've ever taught at, which is lucky). The wife and I are are living at the folks' place while we get ourselves sorted out, and it is perched right on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors. After Tokyo, it's quite a radical change. Greenery everywhere and surrounded by nature - a delightful respite before we get back to the 'Big City'. There's pheasants in the garden, owls and foxes making their night time noises, grassy banks and neat gardens brimming with all sorts of colourful flowers, and such a clean freshness in the air.

We're also blessed with wide open and expansive skies too, and some of the most fabulous colours get thrown up over the hills and woods during sundown. The pictures on this post are a few tasters, advance previews before they make their way onto the Flickr site. Seems like they're good enough to share early, so here you go!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

A married man

Three weeks ago yesterday, I became a married man, a husband. The dust is finally settling enough on the day for me to mention it here, before it passes into memory.

I proposed way back on Christmas Eve 2006 and it took until now for us to get to the wedding day. Naturally, all weddings take a lot of care and planning but this one was quite a big job - most of it having to be organised and arranged long distance, from Tokyo. Truly a marriage of the internet era!

All the essential elements were in place before I arrived back in Britain, but the fine tuning had yet to be completed. These are the seemingly smaller details that should be just a little 'icing on the cake' but are actually far more time consuming. While this was going on and I was reintegrating myself back into UK life, my fiance was still on the other side of the world, finishing off her job contract, so it proved quite a challenge to get things right.

A key lesson learned (and passed on to me by my best man) was 'Whatever you do on the day, make sure you keep your bride happy', something I think I mostly achieved. Another one that I picked up myself was the importance of an Event Manager or someone who can deal with the big picture on such a big day. I wouldn't recommend moving continents, job hunting and organising a wedding at roughly the same time, but I think I just about pulled it off!

The event itself was in Brighton, on the last day of the Brighton Festival. Always a risk in Britain, but part of the thinking was that there'd be a good chance of decent weather, which we were fortunately blessed by a good run of it. The ceremony itself was at the Royal Pavilion (pictured above). I had a small studio flat opposite this building back in 1995 and was confronted by this grand vision every time I opened the front door. Given that it was to be an Anglo-Japanese marriage, it seemed only appropriate to let it take place in one of Britain's buildings that most symbolise the coming together of East and West!

Indian exteriors, Chinese interiors, and slap bang in the middle of a British Victorian seaside resort. As could be expected, there's a certain ostentatiousness to the building that makes it feel a rather grand place to be getting married in. We were pretty lucky to bag a booking during the Brighton Festival too.

I'd been denied a look at the dress until she actually walked into the room and I have to say that I'm glad I was - she looked quite breathtaking when she walked into the room. The ceremony was an enjoyable and good-natured one, with many people who'd not seen each other in years and some who'd never met each other all coming together for our big day, something I felt quite honoured by.

We took a little 'victory lap' through town once the rings were on our fingers, with photographer in tow (an uncle of mine, over from Germany) and it was a most amusing sensation to stroll through the streets I'd wiled away my twenties in, with a beautiful bride from the other side of the world in tow. How far I'd come since those times, I thought to myself.

People were out on the streets, soaking up the performers and entertainers that were rounding up the festival, and many offered us their congratulations - another enjoyably unusual sensation.

The evening event was held at a venue called The Old Market, a grand place often used for classical concerts on the other side of town. Most of my friends and family managed to make it there on time (hers were smaller in number and the Japanese are very good on timing anyway), but I had a little more of an element of desperation as I tried to pull everything together that I'd not been able to sort out in time. Another big lesson learned - there are some things in any event that you just can't control, no matter how hard you try!

Anyway, all-in-all it was a great party in the evening too. We had guests from eight different countries, which is probably the broadest range of nationalities I've encountered at any wedding. I began my groom's speech with a 'Good evening' in English, Japanese, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Welsh and Romanian, being languages spoken by those present.

One of my mates that came to it described it afterwards to me as 'very cosmopolitan', which was an interesting comment. It's not a word I would generally use to describe the circles I move in, which culturally tend to be very broad these days, but I suppose that if the company one keeps is less culturally mixed, it's a natural adjective to use. Either way, I'm happy to have been able to put on a 'cosmopolitan wedding'.

I embark now on a bold new adventure and am thinking for two rather than one (though I've actually been doing that for quite some time now anyway). This blog will contain the writings of a man with another perspective on which to look at life - that of a husband. I don't know how different that will make things or whether it'll encourage me to post more often than I currently do, but here's where it'll be happening...