creation, my shit

solfest 2016

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There was shit all over the bedroom. Leads and clothes and blankets and plates and im a fucking useless messy fuck. I cant stand things being put away. It confuses me. So this is why I spread everything all over my house like some mad spoilt child. A tidy room will last no longer than a minute after I enter it. I don’t see the mess. Unless someone points it out. But I was now buried up to my waist in crap and nothing was ready. I was burning the backing tracks on to CD for tonights show, and trying to pack for a weekend of gigs in the Lake District with my fave party crew in the land, Lost & Found.

I dragged my sacks of shit down the stairs, including a bag of drum breakables, kindly borrowed to me by Torrie of The Crypt Jam room in splott. We had just spent two weeks jamming in his studio. I had planned to buy a kit. But I had run out of money that I had stashed from France. We piled into the packed car. Me, Shag, Pestis and Gogo. And off we fucked to the north of england….

The TeddyBears blasted all the way up. The boys were stoned out of their boxes, or did they always go into this amount of detail? They also seemed to know every single line of every film we talked about. I cant remember fuck all. I watch game of thrones and the next day people are describing what happened and im thinking did it? I don’t rememebr shit. I seem to not posses a memory. Mates rant about fucked up adventures of times past and I literally have no recollection. Did I fry my brain with all the naughtiness I fed it in my youth? Or maybe i use different parts of the mind. Or maybe I was born without a memory.  I read books manically. And ok, sometimes I hit an epiphanical breakthrough which changes the shape of my psyche, but as far as recalling anything ive read…. zero.. So I politely ignored the conversations and drifted off into my weird place. Neither here in the car nor anywhere else in particular… just kind of in a day dream of nothingness.

We pulled up on the road about 10 minutes from the festival. Pestis had been toeing it up the motorway and his driving was spot on. But now we had hit the lanes and his 3 passengers were all crying and varying shades of grey. I was ready to Ralph. We parked up and I, walking round in circles, I spotted Shags skinny legs in cheerleader socks as he hung over a gate, blowing chunks into a cows field.

Damien welcomed us to the festy and I set up my tent, borrowed from my flat mate, nextt to Shag and his long mate, Nick The photographers. My tent was covered in a pretty pattern of butterflies and heath, bright purple and pink. Within 4 mintues all the shit I had scraped off my bedroom floor was now spread around the tent. It stunk and I couldn’t find fuck all. Home!

Darkness descended and the glittery lights and muffled throb of soundsystems brought out the ravers in force.
I was struggling with the hi-hat clutch. the soundman looked on baffled as me and shag both tried to put the kit together.
“But, arent you the drummer?” he asked.
“Um, yeah, but ive never set up a kit before. I been playing 10 days”
He then set it all up as I headed backstage. Dj slipped disc had turned up in red despite us all agreeing that no colours were to be worn on stage . he was also saying he didn’t want to play the backing tracks on the CDj as requested. I didnt want them imported as mp3s, or played from the dodgy laptop drive, or connected to the system through a £1 lead. Nerves were high, Shag and The Wraith were on the verge of sickness while jabz seemed chilled in his poncho, and Flakira was, despite her debut dance at afestivalonly being a short while ago, one of the most relaxed amongst us.

I had no idea what was going to happen but was already regretting not putting in a few live shows locally before our first ever festival performance. We had tried to play Cardiffs Gwdihw a few nights previous but the idea had fallen apart moments before our stage time, due to lack of interest from, well, anyone, and logistics, lack of drum kit….. etc.

It was time to let fate do with us as she pleased. We were in the hands of the gods now

We kicked off with the The Grey Woman, an unreleased tune featuring The Wraith who paced nervously in a black hood until she sang inaudibly due to shit monitoring / festival soundchecks. Pestis took to the stage in his nighty looking like he had just escaped from the secure unit… Flakira winded her hips and Jabz and Shag rocked it hard. It seemed to be working… I was drumming on time (ISH),  I planned to come out of the headphone socket of Slipped Dic’s CDJ but the booth was the other side of the tent. :/ This was confusing as no one could see how the music was coming out of the speakers. Defo needed him on stage…

During my practice sessions, the previous fortnight, I had caught myself drifting off and having to correct my timing. A space cadet,  hmmm Crumpets. or going into stories, or negative spirals…its become a habit over my lifetime. And what I love about drumming is how you cannot leave NOW, and you learn to stay present. This is Buddhism 101….. this is the loudest meditation in the fucking world. This is THE NOW -the very place where happiness resides! Let’s get enlightened..

After having to correct myself on stage i was convinced it was the track and not  me. I ran through the crowd over to the dj booth to discover Slipped Disc had sneakily set up his laptop through a cheap lead and was playing the backing tracks from his laptop CD Drive!!!!!
YOURE PLAYING THROUGHT THE UFKCIN LAPTOP CD DRIVE?A?A??A
YES!!!!
THANKS. ITS JUMPING LIKE FUCK OUT HERE ON EVERY TRACK!!
NO IT AINT!
YES IT FUICKING IS, IM TRYING TO DRUM TO IT!!!!!
NO IT ISNT….
IT FUCKKING IS!!!!

I sat back on the kit and screamed YOURE FUCKING SACKED!!!  we plodded through the set. Which was in totally the wrong order due to the cd not displaying track names. So no one knew when their song was on, and I was drumming to a jumping backing track..  It was like a bad school play with people coming on and off looking confused and not knowing what they were doing.

At the end of Paramatma the boys done the outro so out of tune and dragged it out so long that people seemed to be falling asleep in the front row. Then the extra long intro from Music Like Dirt droned on, with it being an instrumental,no one had anything to do on stage, so they all left, along with about 80% of our audience……I  drummed along solo on stage. At the end there were two audience members left. We had cleared the entire fuckin tent. Result!

We had to remember we were doing this for ourselves. Not to try and impress others. This was always the rule. So, in having two people left we had in some way failed.

One was a man who, on studying the video footage after, appears not to move a muscle for the entire performance, just peering on looking completely baffled. Next to him is another chap in a cap, who is completely losing his shit to us. He gets it! And he’s the only fucker in the north of england that does. He danced like a maniac, whooping and flailing his limbs for the entire set.

Backstage we congratulated ourselves for getting through it and enjoyed the strange absence of any feedback from anyone in the vicinity. A telling sign that no one knew what the fuck it was. We had confused everyone. And had a great time doing it. I can only thank Damien of Lost n Found for taking a chance on us… here is a short clip of Dark Angel at our first ever gig as Clusterfuck……………………… 360 view (drag the screen around to look around the tent!)

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I joined Flakey in the Funk tent, a goth in a funk tent! Amazing… I went off and danced to wonky house and then headed up the Cottage where I danced to drumn bass til the wee hours. Everyone was off their tits and seemed about 12, I was like a Dad age. When did this happen. Did they all think look at this dad trying to rave with us kids? The records seemed to be pitched up to the max as the tiny venue went ballistic to jungle and DnB I had a jig but then some young ones with those weird kid n play style hairdos and big selfie machines started swarming so I fucked off to my tent. As I laid down all the music on the festival site was turned off. 4am. Ahhhhhhhhhhh perfect timing I thought and then laid there til midday listening to a generator which was parked the other side of the hedge. Drove me fuckin insane.  It may have been the nerves too, because in my stress in learning how to drum over the last fortnight, since my return from france, I had completely neglected the fact I was playing Sunday night at solfest as Flapsandwich…

I ran round the site putting my usb into peoples devices collecting any flapsandwich songs people had with them and then exported a few things from Ableton I had been working on, most notably a new collaboration with Cosmo…. I made a fat playlist in my tent and bing! I was ready to go. My nerves never settled once during the entire day and I headed off for a nervous poo. This weird phenomena I remember happening the first time I played in The Lion in Chepstow when I was 17. I was stuck in the bog with a churning gut and the runs. And now at the age of 39 it hadnt got better. And I still had 12hours til I was on…

9 poos later….
A taxi was parked up near the entrance and two sharp men with cases looked completely out of place, the smaller one had an ACID logo on his top. Hardfloor, had to be. They looked like scientists. In a way they are. I went over and told them how much I loved them and made a complete tit of myself. Never phased by famous people usually, I fell apart and was like a teenage Beleiber. I bowed to them and said I love you and said mahogony roots was the best song in the world and then bowed again and walked off awkwardly.

An hour later they were eating soup back stage, and there was a empty seat between them. ~So I sat in it. It was really awkward. They slurped their soup, really seriously and I just sat there trying to think of something to say.
Good Soup? I offered.
Good soup. came the robotic germanic reply from the smaller guy as the big one ignored me.

At Loungevity  I bumped into Lindsey who used to run the trailer trash tent at beatherder. She had seen Clusterfuck the night before. She said it was Goth as fuck and said it would suit their new tent at beatherder! (yes please, my fave fest of the year for many years). I went back to her van, met some of her crew and chatted about music. She said how lost people were when sicknote ended.

On the chalkboard outside Lost N Found Tent: HARDFLOOR. and then me, after hardfloor. I got to the front of the tent and danced with the pregnant girl, who was having contractions while stomping around like a warrior in the dust. What do i dfo of the baby comes? Dont worry she said theres a tent out back ill nip in there.

Hardfloor took the crowd to ecstasy, everyone sweaty and rejoicing. . They dropped Mahogony Roots! The trailer trash crew turned up and and we had a stomp together, one of the guys said he loved the clusterfuck gig last night, and could see the potential in it, ‘but you need to find something to do on stage, you are not a drummer. Get a real drummer.’; fucker. He’s right. But im loving it so much!! Fuck it I will drum! And I will get better! I aint playing the fuckin mouse again… no chance…

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1.30 I took to the booth and played a little set to wrap up an amazin weekend in the lake district once more… thanks to every one who made it happen.

Heres my set…. free download..

https://soundcloud.com/flapsandwich/solfest-2016

‘The true artist has no public; he works for the sheer joy of it, with an element of playfulness, of casualness. Freedom discovers man the moment he loses concern over what impression he is making or about to make’ – Bruce Lee

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camino, creation, life, my shit

19 Mistakes I made Publishing my First Book

Many people are self publishing these days. Aside from the Success stories of 50 shades of Grey, The Martian and a few others, is it possible to actually make a living from this?

I say NO! At least not until you have published many titles and have a solid fan base. My book has received positive feedback from anyone who has read it which is lovely but it has failed to spread into the world and make me rich!

Here, are the mistakes i think i made in publishing my first book.

  1. I failed to generate any reviews from any media. Aside from one review from a friends news site, I failed to get the book into the hands of the people who could have got the word out there.
  2. The content of the book was spread out over a measly 84 pages, much of which were illustrations.Was there enough literary content to make an impact strong enough to engage the reader to recommend it?
  3. I gave away approximately 50 copies of the book to people I thought may scream about it. I received a few private messages with feedback on the book, which done nothing to promote the book!
  4. I priced the book too low, at just £5, the profit was only £1.40 per book and therefore it was impossible to make enough to pay the contributors and make it profitable. (see point 20)
  5. My writing style was very messy. It was my first book and with little experience felt I was yet to find my voice. Luckily I had a friend who was an editor who made the whole thing make sense before we went to print.
  6. The spine on the book failed to print, and I only learned later that the minimum page count for spine printing is 130 pages. The book can never be recognised on a shelf, and looks more like a pamphlet from that angle.
  7. A team comprising of Welsh author, Welsh illustrator, Welsh graphic designer and Welsh editor then relied on an American company to manufacture and deliver the product. Shame we couldn’t complete the whole thing locally.
  8. I failed to get the book into any stockists or reviewers in Portugal or Spain where the events of the story took place. Or in Wales, the living place of the author.
  9. I failed to mention the Camino in the title of the book which has made it impossible to market it to people who are keen walkers or are familiar with the Camino de Santiago. I would definitely re-title the book to appeal to these people, as i am yet to sell one book to actual Camino walkers!
  10. The Web address that I printed on the inside cover is a dead link. I need to build a website.
  11. I did not arm my early adopters with the tools to spread the word about the book, and only gathered a few Amazon reviews. If they liked it, I just prayed they would recommend it, but a more solid plan could have helped it spread.
  12. The author should, as recommended by successful self-publishers, have a follow-up book within 3-4 months to keep the buzz going and build momentum. I am writing, but i dont have a book. I just have pages and pages of nonsensical rants with absolutely no thread – Brain Farts. (Now there’s a book idea!)
  13. We made the book paperback only, forcing physical copies of my work into the world, as real books are my preference. I now think it would have made more sense to release the Kindle and other E-book versions simultaneously, as many people read this way, the price is much lower and the profit MUCH bigger.
  14. Making my 1st book illustrated, although beautiful, made the whole process much more difficult, as we had many problems with formatting. Also it made the task of creating an e-book version much more difficult and contributed to the decision to postpone it.
  15. Having so many people involved in the book, unpaid, also extended the time frame as I was reliant on people for favours who had other more important things going on (ie. Paid work!)
  16. I had little capital to invest in marketing or promotion and compared to a publisher’s marketing clout my marketing plans were pathetic.
  17. Contacts in the world of publishing were minimal as I am a music producer. This means it was difficult to acquire advice or experience in this world. I failed to reach out to many people who had done it successfully. (Apart from Sue at Starships & Aliens and Derec at Opening Chapter – Thank You!)
  18. No Pre Promo, no buzz built, No launch party – locally or online, again just a facebook post on day of release. I relied solely on social media for promotion.
  19. I walked 200 miles, wrote 15,000 words and untold hours were spent by various friends editing, formatting, designing and illustrating the book. All in all making it a labour intensive project which has so far only netted approximately £300. Take away the cost of the free copies and i have so far made about £200. And i haven’t paid any contributors to the book!  Was it worth it?

 

There’s nothing more exciting than seeing your first book in print, and i would highly recommend it! When i ripped open the box and first cradled it like my first born, i squealed and popped like cheap bacon in my new tefal titanium pan.
The book is getting great reviews on Amazon and it has inspired a fewfriends to change things in their life and has made others laugh. Surely effecting people is more important than MONEY?

Huge thanks to everyone who has read it and had the time to share their thoughts or recommend it.

If you don’t have a copy yet, some Amazon sellers have now completely devalued my art, and for some reason you can grab a copy for £3.01, here!

massive thanks to Norris Nuvo, Laure Lajarthe, Paul Bevan, Cai Hughes and Eleanor Burns.

 

 

 

‘PAIN? It makes you more spiritual!’
-Thomaas the Astronomer

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