A blank piece of paper.
An untouched keyboard.
A steaming cup of tea and two pieces of vegemite on toast.
1. Just start.
Don’t think too much about it. See what comes naturally. Play with it. Throw your imagination far and wide. Scrawl down lyrics on paper, jot down musical ideas, record sounds you like. Be messy.This is the fun bit. And remember that your first idea or take is often the best.
220.127.116.11.18.104.22.168.10. Come back later to sort out the good bits. Shape and arrange. Ditch the rest. Repeat.
A place where no one can hear you caterwauling.
Early bird or night owl, it doesn’t matter which.
I tend to work in intense two hour bursts.
Damn – I knew you’d ask that.
Select people that you like and respect and can feel relaxed with. Bribe them with goodies. Have a few laughs. Talk through what you have in mind and then leave them to do their thing.
Pay a professional to mix and master your songs. You may have created them but they now have a life of their own. Try not to be too precious.
Work with an artist/designer to create a cover that evokes the same feel as your music. Have a few arguments. End up happy.
On a CD, or digital outlet near you.
DON’T SIT UNDER THE POO TREE
Why ever not, you ask?
It seems as good a place to sit as any…
The POO TREE song came about when I was talking to my flatmate about a particular tree in Taranaki St, Wellington, where birds choose to roost of an evening. Forsaking all other trees, this and only this tree has a white poo stained circle underneath, and, although nice and chirpy, it’s worth avoiding if you don’t want to cop it on the head. “Oh,” he said. “You mean the Poo Tree.”
I was astounded because I had no idea others shared this descriptive title.
Kids particularly like this song. I would like to think it’s because of the innate musicality, country swing and quality of singing, but it is mainly because the word Poo features in every chorus. There are even sound effects.
The first line gives away the irreverent tone:
“You can fart in a jar, you can spit at a star, but don’t sit under the Poo Tree…”
In a piece of casting brilliance, Shannon Williams (aka Thrill Collins) came and recorded the voice of Granny up in my little tree house studio, and the song came to life.
DON’T SIT UNDER THE POO TREE was the obvious choice when thinking of an animated music clip for the CIRCUS OF FLEAS album. Every mother, uncle and grandmother reported it was the hit song…and the weary way they said it told me that it had been on high rotate on the latest long car trip.
I always pictured a hillbilly family band playing the song on their ramshackle porch, along with the animals who lived unhealthily close to them. Then my friend reported that her indomitable mother, aged 82, had painted the roof of her Kelburn house the previous summer bylashing herself to the chimney with rope. That led to the idea of Granny doing all the physical work around the place, while the rest of her good for nothing family whiled away the day strumming and singing.
Stephen Templer drew the hillbilly family in a cartoon style using ink and brush, and false background colours (browns and purple) so the characters stand out. The undoubted star of the show is workaholic Granny, with her saggy little breasts tucked under her belt as she single handedly paints the house, pumps water from the well, ploughs the fields (with a chicken), and chops firewood.
Stephen was keen to bring in Ross Payne as the animator…they share a studio in Wellington (Honey Badgers, in Victoria St). Ross is an animator by trade, and is particularly fond of the old fashioned 2D Warner Brothers technique involving hand drawing each image…which is fine when you have a whole studio on a good wage but very time consuming when it’s just oneperson working at night under a naked bulb. So yes, it took a while, but Ross is a craftsman, the quality of movement is seamless, and Ross added lots of humour and charm to the story.
Sorry to tease, but we can’t show the clip to you just yet… we recently made the NZ International Film festival deadline with just seconds to go, and are sworn to secrecy until it debuts around the country (July/August). The animation programmer (Malcolm Turner) liked POO TREE so much that he wants toscreen it at the Melbourne and London film festivals.
He gave us some good advice…never mind the word‘poo’, the childish sound effects, the whiff of bestiality or granny’s shrunken breasts. The thing that big American film festivals will object to is the harmless old goatsitting on the porch in the rocking chair…because he’s SMOKING. And that’s the funniest thing of all!
PS: The goat is no longer inhaling
Once you get over the unexpected novelty of finding such a fabulous collection of art objects and curiosities in such an unlikely place, you discover there is a logic to Stuart’s choice of venue. First of all, it would be hard to afford such a beautiful old wooden church (circa 1920s) in downtown Auckland. And secondly, while Stuart has lived in New York for many years, and curated shows throughout the USA and Europe, he was weaned on the aesthetic of small town New Zealand A&P shows (Agriculture & Produce), and his gallery echoes that carnival atmosphere.
|Lorde with her voluminous Kate Bush-like tresses|
Gecko Press is a successful niche publishing house based in Wellington. Currently with 80 titles in print and a slew of awards (including Best Children’s Publisher of the Year in Oceania at the Bologna International Children’s Bookfair 2013), Gecko’s by-line is ‘curiously good children’s books from around the world’.
On the last weekend of July, Christchurch hosted two awards ceremonies.