Monthly Archives: May 2015

Sleep Tonight

In March of this year Robb released his second album ‘Sleep Tonight’.
The album was written in the summer of 2012 in Italy. Robb started writing blogs and posting demos from the album at the end of the year 2012. It was the start of what became a long but great project with an amazing result. Robb`s initial plan was to record a relatively quick second acoustic solo album. Acoustic yes, but relatively quick? That didn’t happen… 

The first decision Robb made was to not go into a studio to record the album. Time pressure would be of great influence and instead of buying time at a studio, he decided to invest in good studio equipment and build a studio at home. That way there was plenty of time and when things didn’t work out with recording, they could just come back another day and try again.
That decision, along with this way of recording, brought about the final result… which is now the album Sleep Tonight.

I was lucky enough to see the whole process of the recordings. Robb shared little previews whenever things were recorded and mixed. It was great to actually hear the songs grow. It often got me so surprised at how the songs were developing and how it all sounded. Every time Robb shared a preview there was something new to hear. It was great to see (and hear) everything fall into place. Thinking back, I’m still amazed by the skills and the perseverance of all musicians involved.

There’s a song that always stood out for me…right from the start.
It’s very hard to explain why, because I love all the other songs from the album as well.
But this song in particular is a song I still remember hearing for the first time very clearly.
Robb wrote this blog about it and posted the demo in March 2013.
http://www.robbmurphy.com/RM/Blog/Entries/2013/3/3_Sleep_Tonight_-_The_Storm.html

I still remember that I had goosebumps while listening to it for the first time and it’s been a favourite ever since. It’s also a good example of how a song can develop. There actually are better examples, but this is just one of my favourite songs 😉

The demo for this song wasn’t available to listen to for a long time, but I asked Robb if he could make it available again for the public to listen to, so I could use it for this blog, which he did! (Thanks Robb!)
Take a moment and listen to the demo:

What started with a 4:28 minute demo ended up being a really amazing 6:25 minute song. The last song on the album. This song also features The Ulster String Quartet; Danny McCann-Williams, Thomas Jackson, Nicholas Rippon and Sian Hetherington. A lot of the songs on the album relied on the string parts and Sleep Tonight is one of them. The strings add so much to the song.
Here’s how the song ended up. It’s not very different from the demo, but you can very well hear how much this song has evolved during the recordings.

Sleep Tonight was one of the last songs Robb was working on before he finished the album. The last part Robb added to the song are these lyrics:
“I am able
I am willing
I am hopeful
I am stronger
I am patient
I am grateful”
I remember that I thought the song was finished and then Robb came up with that last final touch. Sleep Tonight became a really beautiful end of a great album!

Robb actually made himself finish the album before he went on holiday last summer… He is a perfectionist and there would always be something that he would want to change or make better…

Actually, it was weird that the album was finished at some point. First of all it must have been weird for Robb, because he worked on the album (almost non-stop) for months. And then the band, and everyone else involved as well… a lot of time when into recording this album. I know that I’ve been in serious withdrawal…no more previews… this was actually something I got so used to. It was good that it was summer and a summer break was needed to let everything sink in and to look forward again on what was coming.

If you want to know more about the album Sleep Tonight, the recordings etc., read the blogs Robb wrote about it.

http://www.robbmurphy.com/RM/Blog/Archive.html

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Pull ups – Secret Sessions – Musician

It’s Saturday morning and I’m waking up with coffee. I wanted to do a lot of things this morning, but it’s raining. Change of plans. Instead of getting ready and go out and do everything I planned, I decide to stay in my jammies a bit longer and write a blog. So here I am, writing… music in the background, Iron & Wine…didn’t listen to their music in a while, nice music for a rainy Saturday morning.

And then the phone rang…When the phone call was finished a lot of other things came up and got me distracted from writing this blog…
That is how it often goes. Most of the time my days don’t go as planned and often it’s hard to stay focused on what I want to do.
But, there’s time to write the blog now. Coffee sorted so I’m good to go.

My last blog about the bacon pancakes and stroopwafels definitely was noticed…
Also by the band. Kevin noticed the blog and responded, which led to some interactions on Twitter. Kevin said he’d better get into shape to enjoy all the awesome food. That led to Robb involving Dave in the conversation and asking Kevin if he was going to do pull ups…
Robb said he could get it to 3 pull ups…and I just couldn’t resist suggesting to do 3 pull ups before they’ll get a pancake…
Eventually Dave responded saying that he’s up to over 10 pull ups now… Seems like the band has got some work to do to be able to beat Dave. I’m afraid Dave will end up being the only one who’ll be able to do pull ups in October.
I’m not sure what happened there on tour last year, but I’m guessing that Dave showed the rest of the band how to do pull ups and that they all tried to beat Dave on that…to find out pull ups aren’t that easy to do…
If you need a giggle, here’s the conversation that happened due to the blog I wrote last week:

https://twitter.com/Kirsten124/status/600366675683373058

Meanwhile more things for the tour are sorted now. Instruments are (partly) sorted and an accommodation is booked. An accommodation with a slide in the garden! There will be no time for the band to get bored!
Besides that, we’re still busy preparing the release of Robb’s new single Headstrong.
Robb visited John Bowe’s show ‘Locals Only’ on Nova Radio last Sunday. If you missed the show, you can listen to the song Robb played here:

And, on Wednesday Robb had a gig as part of Society Sessions at The Belfast Empire.
Another thing that happened this week is that Robb was invited to be part of the first wave of selected artists for the launch of the new Secret Sessions platform.
Secret Sessions is a platform that provides opportunities for musicians and empowers fans to contribute to the success of the musicians they love by sharing their profile.
We made a profile on Secret Sessions and it’s really good to see that people notice and that it’s being shared a lot!
If you have a spare moment, check out Robb’s page on Secret Sessions. And don’t forget to share Robb’s artist profile on Facebook or Twitter!
And while you’re there, have a look around on Secret Sessions. You can find a lot of great musicians and great live sessions on there!

The word ‘musicians’…there’s something about that word. Yesterday (after reading that word a lot) I remembered that I can’t say ‘musicians’ properly…and I can’t say it 5 times in a row without making mistakes (yes, I actually tried that)…
I said that to Robb and he suggested to make a vine of myself saying ‘musicians’…
If you don’t mind, I’ll just ignore his suggestion. 😉
But it’s true…it’s a word I can only say properly when I say it slowly and the more I say it, the weirder the word sounds.

To end this blog…here’s a picture that sums up this blog post:

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Bacon pancakes and stroopwafels

Stroopwafels…those of you who have ever visited The Netherlands will probably know what stroopwafels are. It’s a typical Dutch treat. A stroopwafel is a waffle made from two thin layers of baked dough with a caramel-like syrup filling in the middle.
When I was a child my mum went to the market every week on Tuesday. There was always a stroopwafel vendor making and selling fresh stroopwafels. During school holidays my mum always took me and my sister with her to the market to treat us on stroopwafel crumbs. It’s a memory I still have, because it was something I was looking forward to when we had school holidays. What a treat!

You might be wondering what stroopwafels have to do with Robb Murphy and the behind the scenes stuff…
Well…a lot! First of all…Robb and the band just love treats!
When they came over to The Netherlands for the first time we treated them to stroopwafels. And while they were here, we let them taste more typical Dutch food, like Dutch pancakes, ontbijtkoek (literally translated breakfast cake, which is a spiced cake, often spiced with cloves, cinnamon, ginger, succade and nutmeg) and stamppot (Mash Pot in English, which is a traditional Dutch dish made from a combination of potatoes mashed with one or several other vegetables, sometimes also with bacon).

Result? Robb and the band experienced serious stroopwafel withdrawal after returning home from a tour and an online ‘Who Makes The Best Pancake’-competition….
I’ll let you decide which pancakes look the tastiest!

Pancakes

The first 3 pictures are from Robb. You can see that he’s getting quite experienced at baking pancakes now (just for the record…I left the first pictures he posted out, because I don’t know what he was doing, but you could hardly call them pancakes).
Picture number 4 is from Alan Ladd, picture number 5 is from David Bennington, picture number 6 is from Kevin Carlisle and I made the pancakes in picture number 7.
Maybe not all fair that I put a picture of my own pancakes in too, because I have years of experience in baking pancakes. I do like winning though!

Another result is that I can’t bake pancakes anymore without having this song stuck in my head, thanks to Kevin who brought up this song while eating bacon pancakes….:

I think Robb and the band are used to living without the Dutch treats by now. In the first months after the tour I saw random pictures showing up on Facebook of them finding stroopwafels in stores in Northern Ireland, but I haven’t seen those pictures for a while now.
Thankfully there is another tour coming up in October. The tour and the treats that come along with it, will sure be something everyone can look forward to. I’ll make sure I have stroopwafels with me when I go to collect them from the airport.

Here’s a silly video to end this blog with…Dave proving to be an excellent pancake baker!

Decisions…

In the past few years there have been numerous opportunities and we’ve made numerous decisions. But not everything always went the way we hoped for. You have to try things to see if it works.

More often than not things didn’t work out. Rejection, disappointments, criticism, it’s simply part of it all and it’s something you get used to. Some things turned out to be way too laborious and time-consuming and didn’t bring the results that we hoped for. People we’ve met turned out not to be as genuine or professional as they first seemed to be and besides that, there are always people who try to have a negative influence on you. And sometimes things didn’t work out, but we never found the reason why.
Most important is how you deal with this all. It may sound very negative, but it’s not. It all made us learn a lot. I’m not saying that it’s always easy, we sure do vent at times. That simply is necessary to get rid of the negativity and to be able to move on. The negative things happening brought a constant awareness of we stand for and what we’re grateful for. It’s a trigger to keep trying, make new decisions to reach the goals we set. And it’s a trigger to try to keep doing the right things, treat people the way we want to be treated, no matter what happens. Everything that happened in the past two and a half years (both positive and negative), shaped the way we work now and made us work more effectively, focus on what does work, focus on the positive things happening and move on when things don’t work out.

To give an example. The tours of The Netherlands. In my previous blogs I wrote about the tour more often. But why The Netherlands? It’s simply because the support in The Netherlands is growing and booking gigs in The Netherlands appeared to be easier than booking gigs in Ireland/UK. Like I mentioned in my previous blogs, expenses need to be covered. It’s just not possible to tour without paid gigs. And this is something that works very well.

The support in other countries is growing as well. The US for example. More often we get the question when Robb will come over to the US for a tour. We’d love to do a tour there, but we have to be realistic… It’s not as easy as that. Despite the growing support in the US, there’s not enough of a fan base at the moment to do that.  The expense of travelling and the vastness of the country cause many dilemmas when considering a tour.

Our main focus areas are Ireland, the UK and The Netherlands, simply because things are working out best in these countries at the moment.
That doesn’t mean we are ignoring other countries. We’re trying to spread the word in other countries as well, but it simply takes a lot of time to make people aware of Robb’s music. Hopefully we can expand the tours to other countries in the following years. Work in progress!

This is just one of the many examples I can give.
We will just continue doing what we love doing… Robb will continue making great music and I will continue helping out on spreading the word.
There have been numerous opportunities and we’ve made many decisions. I’m sure various options will follow and we will make the best decisions we can in the future…
Decisions….Robb wrote a song about it, called The Best Decision.
It’s about making the right choices at the time and being able to stand by them, even if they don’t work out the way you hoped for.

 

Lyrics:

I went looking for a winning horse, put my money on its back
Now I’m struggling to stand by it, and it was all the coin I had
I won’t look away
I’ll be man enough to stay

I am standing tall in the face of defeat, I will stick to my goal
And if I find myself alone, remote, I won’t be swallowed in my doubt
I won’t look away
I’ll be man enough to stay

I’m an honest man with an honest heart
I will choose my fate, I won’t be ripped apart
I’m holding onto what I’ve got

Overreaching in the dark, out sourced and ill-equipped
I won’t be following the rest, I just want to do my best
I’ll  be holding onto what I’ve got

I’m an honest man with an honest heart
I will choose my fate, I won’t be ripped apart
I’m holding onto what I’ve got

I am an honest man with an honest heart
– Beat me up broken battered bruised and I’ll be coming back for more
I will choose my fate, I won’t be ripped apart
– Aloud, I’ll cry that I’ll get by without a chain around my neck
I’m holding onto what I’ve got
I’ll be holding onto what I’ve got
I’m holding onto what I’ve got

And if all is lost then I’ll be holding on to you
If all is lost then I’ll be holding on to you
If all is lost then I’ll be holding on to you
If all is lost then I’ll be holding on to you

If all is lost then I’ll be holding on to you
If all is lost then I’ll be holding on to you
If all is lost then I’ll be holding on to you
If all is lost then I’ll be holding on to you
If all is lost then I’ll be holding on to you
If all is lost then I’ll be holding on to you

 

A quote to end this blog with…While writing this blog, one of my favourite quotes came to mind. It’s a quote by Thomas A. Edison:
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

 

Tour

We’ve been busy behind the scenes last week. Preparing a lot of promotion things for the upcoming release of Robb’s new single ‘Headstrong’ and preparing the tour of The Netherlands in October.

The tour… I wrote about it in previous blogs. It’s definitely one of the highlights happening during the year. At the moment we’re at the stage of looking into flights, searching for a good accommodation for the band to stay and looking for a car/van to hire. These are nice things to do and it makes me look forward to that week in October. It’s always very tiring but also so much fun!

The tours made me aware of a lot of things I never really thought about until the first tour. First of all, Robb and the band are in a completely different country… So many things are different from what they’re used to. Starting with driving on the right side of the road (or the wrong side depending on how you look at it!) and the language being different. It’s similar to being on holiday, going to a different country where everything looks and is different from home. Exciting yes, but so much to take in! What also makes it tiring is the travelling. Driving simply is tiring. But there’s also the gigs… Doing gigs takes a lot of energy too, simply because Robb and the band are giving all they have during every single gig. And it’s not only that, it’s hard work, because unlike big and well known artists who have a crew to set up everything on stage, Robb and the band are doing that all themselves. Plus the schedule is very busy, a lot of things are planned. It’s not only gigs, but there are also radio shows, showcases etc. It has happened that we’ve returned from a gig in the middle of the night and then need to be at a radio station very early in the morning, followed by a gig again at night.

I am not quite sure for whom a tour is more tiring though….Robb and the band or me… 😉
Keeping 5 or 6 people in line, making sure everyone is where they need to be….on time…making sure there’s food, water, sweets, fruit etc., sorting out last minute things with venues, making sure everything goes as planned. That is all pretty challenging and it’s tiring too! Being on time is probably the most challenging thing to do….I’ve found a good way to deal with that though… If we have to leave at a certain time, I just tell Robb and the band to be ready half an hour earlier. That way I’m sure we will be on our way in time. Maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned this in the blog, because Robb is reading this too, but I think he knows anyway.
To be honest though…, it’s not only Robb and the band who can cause trouble being on time. Last year I miscalculated travel time to a venue, which caused us to be an hour (or more…) late. Gig started in time, but it was much more stressful and there was less time to relax before the gig. And then there’s that thing about me being very good at driving the scenic routes… There’s always a moment when I will drive the wrong way…yes, even with navigation…

As time passes by and everyone is getting more tired, the amount of silly things happening increase.
To give you an idea…here are some pictures of silly moments during the last tour… I think that says enough…

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Tiring yes, but at the same time it’s great to experience all of this and I’m sure that every tour has been and will be different. One thing for sure, a lot of memories are being made! A lot is being captured on camera or film and every time we look at the footage and the pictures it brings back so many great memories.
All of the silly things that happen, the great hospitality at radio stations and venues, the kind people we meet during the tour. Venue owners, radio DJ’s, support acts, fans and all other people involved.
There are always a lot of people involved. People lending us instruments to use, photographers, videographers, but also my own family. My parents lending me their car to use, my husband taking time off from work to take care of the children and giving a helping hand with the merch when he’s able to come along as well. And there are the wives, partners, children from the band members who are staying at home, following everything through social media. Without their support we wouldn’t be able to do this.

Here’s some more silliness to end this blog with.

Check out Robb’s profile on Vine to see more silly things happening behind the scenes:

https://vine.co/u/982374993415606272

Gigs and ducks

I already mentioned it in my previous blog…gigs…
It’s probably one of the most challenging things to get sorted if you’re a musician.
We book all of the gigs ourselves, both in Ireland/Northern Ireland and The Netherlands. There’s a big difference between booking gigs in Ireland/Northern Ireland and The Netherlands though.

Booking gigs in The Netherlands goes pretty well so far. Sure it’s a lot of work and you’ll have to search for venues who do pay artists to play, but so far we’ve been able to get paid gigs sorted. It’s simply necessary. If you’re a touring artist, you’ll have to get expenses covered. It takes a lot of time, effort and phone calls to find the good opportunities though.
Robb always comes over with the band. So when booking gigs we just have to try to get as much of the expenses covered as we can and besides that we have to be creative. Booking hotels is much more expensive than booking an accommodation for a week or 10 days. You can’t cut on flights, but it is helpful to book early, because prices for flights are always going up fast around 8 weeks before the departure date. Renting a car instead of a van is also helpful to keep the costs as low as possible. I live in The Netherlands, so I’m always driving too. But it’s not only that. We’ve been very lucky with the instruments and equipment so far, which we’ve been able to lend from very generous and kind people over here. Besides that, we’re always trying to avoid big expenses when we’re travelling. Taking food and drinks with us, so we don’t have to eat at restaurants etc. and some venues are very welcoming and take care of us all very well by providing us with food and drinks.

The first tour was the hardest one to get sorted. No experience at all and no idea where to look. There wasn’t much to wish for, we were happy to get paid gigs. During that tour there was a variety of venues, from music bars to a chapel. With the 2nd tour things went a lot easier. We found good venues and were able to book better gigs than we had during the first tour. Again a variety of venues and it was fun to do. With the third tour we’ve found a lot of new venues and some venues wanted Robb and the band to perform there again. Good venues for songwriters to perform at, and again every venue is different. We’re already looking forward to that tour!

Booking gigs in Ireland/Northern Ireland is a completely different story though. Sure booking gigs in The Netherlands isn’t an easy thing to do, but with some effort and finding the right venues, we’ve been able to book gigs.
In Ireland/Northern Ireland that seems like an impossible thing to do. You either play for free or pay for a venue yourself to do a gig, hoping that there’ll be enough audience to break even. What’s even worse is that there are more and more festivals making artists pay when they want to apply. That is just really wrong.
One of the reasons why things are so different might be because of the amount of talented bands and singer/songwriters in Northern Ireland. There seems to be much more ‘competition’ than there is in The Netherlands. Music simply is much more part of the culture in Ireland/Northern Ireland than it is over here.
There are many more differences though. In Northern Ireland/Ireland the support for local music seems to be very good. There really are numerous radio stations, including the big stations, who pay attention to new music and besides that there are some really good organisations promoting local music in Northern Ireland.
Sure there are some organisations like that in The Netherlands too, but those organisations seem to be very inaccessible. What does happen is that there is a growing amount of initiatives from people (music lovers)/organisations supporting unknown talent (from The Netherlands and abroad) by hosting gigs. Radio stations are a different story though. There are some good shows that play unknown music, but you won’t hear it on the big radio stations. And besides that…most radio stations (not all of them!! There are some exceptions!!) are always behind over here. When a certain band/artist breaks through in the UK it often takes at least 6 months to a year before radio world in The Netherlands wakes up 😉

These are just some differences between music world in The Netherlands and Ireland/Northern Ireland. And I’m sure things are different in every other country as well.
This blog may seem like a very negative story, but it’s just how the way things are and something every artist has to deal with. There’s nothing negative about it, it’s even quite positive, cause that means that we (and every other artist/band!) will have to be creative and see it as a challenge to make things work and come up with different ideas to spread the word and reach the audience that will like the music. Don’t put energy in the negative things happening, instead of that, find your own way and be you. Don’t compare yourself to others. Every single artist/band is unique and what works for others doesn’t mean that it will work for you too. Be creative, push a few boundaries, take a helping hand when offered, be thankful for the people who support you and stick to your goal.

Something totally off topic to end this blog with…
In one of my previous blogs I wrote about the unexpected visitors we had last week. Mr. and Mrs. Duck who came for a swim in our pond. They were back yesterday!!
Seems that they liked it…maybe the food supply wasn’t bad after all 😉
I sat outside for a while, watched them and gave them some bread. They stayed for a couple of hours before leaving. I wouldn’t be surprised if they become regular visitors from now on.
IMG_1064 IMG_1081

I shared this song, To Be A Fool, in a previous blog, but I’m sharing it again, cause it’s about the things I wrote about in this blog. Anything is possible if you put your mind to it and stick to your goal.
Have a listen!

Headstrong

It’s a very lazy Sunday out here…
It’s raining and we didn’t have to go anywhere, so I decided to just stay in my jammies, nice and comfortable! Perfect day to just take it easy.

As you can read in my previous blog, Headstrong will be the next single from Robb Murphy’s new album ‘Sleep Tonight’.
What most people don’t see is what needs to be done to prepare a single release. Of course it starts with picking the song. Not always an easy thing to do. There are a lot of things to keep in mind when deciding which song from an album will be released as a single. Maybe the most important thing is to look at the feedback the album and songs got so far. Next is to decide which other songs will be included with the single. An album track? Record a new song? Live recording? A lot of other decisions have to be made as well. Sell the single as a digital release online? Have CDs or Vinyl copies manufactured?  Do it all? Shoot a video or not? Artwork needs to be sorted and a plan to promote it all is needed as well.

There will be a video for Headstrong. At the moment Robb is planning and sorting things out for a video shoot.
The artwork for Headstrong is finished. In the past few years Robb worked with the very talented Ronan Reid. He created the artwork for the album (and the singles from) ‘Take A Stand’ and also created the artwork for the album ‘Sleep Tonight’, the single ‘The Mysteries of the Heart’ and now ‘Headstrong’.

1.artwork Headstrong

Headstrong is one of the songs that features The Ulster Quartet. The song has a very infectious melody, it will make you smile and tap your feet!!

Lyrics:

Spiders creep across your skin like tickley fingers
Ice melts down your spinal chord like lights on a highway
Feels like nothing’s going your way, you’re in over your head
Not smart, heart is in the car park pining for home time

You haven’t really lived
You haven’t really lived ’til your far from
The strongest and the wise
The hopeful and the few that lay between
I need my headstrong

Caffeine fuels you when your stressed, messed, chocolate or cinnamon ?
Irate people in your face waste your only coffee break
Trapped, caved, man your feeling brave, escape is priority
Sparks fly, cogs and leavers just die, ready for beddy time

You haven’t really lived
You haven’t really lived ’til your far from
The strongest and the wise
The hopeful and the few that lay between
I need my headstrong

Relax, cut yourself a break mate, your mind is a fragile thing
Brain waves crave a little respite and skin needs sunlight

do do do do do do
do do do do do do do do do do

You haven’t really lived
You haven’t really lived ’til your far from
The strongest and the wise
The hopeful and the few that lay between

You haven’t really lived
You haven’t really lived ’til your far from
The strongest and the wise
The hopeful and the few that lay between
I need my headstrong
I need my headstrong

Keep an eye on this page and on Robb’s facebook page to stay updated about the release of the single.