Monday, 5 August 2013

Some Cover Version For YouTube

Well I've been a while updating the YouTube channel, but today I had uploaded two new cover versions for listening.

I'm trying to just upload plenty of tracks both of my own and covers in the coming weeks.  I'm trying to worry less about them being perfect and more about actually doing them and getting them up there!

Firstly we have Touch by Daft Punk;


and Man or Muppet by Bret McKenzie from the film The Muppets;



Enjoy!

Friday, 5 July 2013

Testicular Cancer

Well that has got right to the point!  The reason I haven't updated the blog for so long has been due in large part to going through treatment for Testicular Cancer.  Going into hospital to have a tumor removed and then having chemotherapy is not overly conducive to getting other things done.  However, I have had time in between things to try to get some things done but I haven't really done much of anything lately!  Part of that in the last couple of weeks has been due to watching copious amounts of tennis as Wimbledon has been on and I have been cheering on Andy Murray to win!

I had my operation back in April and as a result wasn't that mobile for a while I didn't feel like doing much music anyway.  I'm pleased to say that I feel a lot better now and the wound has been healed up for a while now, however it does still feel a little strange sometimes.  Also strange is only having one testicle now.  But I feel OK about it, after all you only need one.  Last week I had a single treatment session of chemotherapy and that really did one over on me!  But I am hoping that will be all the chemotherapy I need and I feel about a thousand times better today than I did this time last week that is for sure!

So not a lot of music has been done lately.  However I did compose something on the piano when I was feeling very ill last week.  I think that feeling so ill sort of freed up my brain to just play and not worry so much about what I was playing.  It was quite liberating in a way, but I don't think I want to go through chemotherapy every time I compose something new anytime soon.

I think I'm in the process of reevaluating a lot of the things at the moment.  It has been a strange year so far and I'm not really sure what to think.  But I do know I have a lot of music to finish and release and I want to still get that done.  I still struggle to know how to release things in terms of albums or singles or EPs.  I think I might have to just start releasing things a piece at a time and think about how that might fit into a collection afterwards, otherwise I will never release anything!

I shall update again soon, and perhaps even include some new music.  But for now, if you are a man, please check yourself down there right now and if you do find anything don't be afraid to go to the doctor.  I was lucky to find mine very early and it is far better to catch it as soon as possible.  Similarly, if you know a man tell him to check himself!  Once you have been seen by a couple of doctors you soon learn to not be embarrassed anymore.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

March Update

I Haven't been updating as much I as I hoped I would so far this month!  However I, after a brief spell of no productivity on my part, I'm happy to say that I'm back and recording again.

This last week I have been working on my vocal tracks and various songs. I may first upload some of these songs in the form of an EP and then release the album later.  I think this way may be better as I can test out how happy I am with the sound of them before committing them to a final album.  I find songs harder to get right than instrumental purely because I have to record vocals and I'm never happy with the way it sounds - both from a performance side and a recording side.  However I have been making progress with both of those aspects this week.  I have managed to get the background noise down on my vocal tracks which is a great help.  I am now fiddling about with equalisers and compressors, as well as experimenting with microphone technique.  So hopefully soon I shall have some semi-decent vocals to upload!

Once I'm generally happy with one song I may upload that as a standalone preview of things to come.  I also need to get back onto YouTube and upload some more cover versions of all sorts.  I have some good ideas in mind which should be quite eclectic and enjoyable I hope.  But now I should get back to work, so I shall say goodbye!

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

New Beautiful Things

I had no idea what to call this piece.  The original recording was titled 'new beautiful thing' as I found it very soothing to play and listen back to so I thought I might has well call it that.  'Things' are very vague so it allows the listener to bring their own interpenetration to the piece!



I recorded a very rough version of this many years ago on my old Casio CTK-610 keyboard which was the first full sized keys keyboard I bought from the Argos catalogue back 1997 or 1998, not sure which.  It was also the first keyboard I had that was touch sensitive which I had wanted for a long time.  It was this keyboard on which I learnt to really play piano and keyboards by learning all of the chords.  The display had a handy option to show what chord was been played on the keys and I found this very helpful when working out how I would play things and understanding the signifier of each chord shape.  The poor Casio now has a couple of keys broken and taped back on by myself.  I think this reflects more on how much I used the keyboard and probably bashed it about than the quality of it.  It's a good keyboard and I still enjoy going back to it and playing those sounds again today.

But back to this piece!  Although quite a modestly priced keyboard, the Casio had some good synthesiser options allowed you to change things like the attack and release rates.  I was playing around with those settings on a lovely warm synthesiser string sound (If you listen to the album you will probably realise how much I like those kinds of textural sounds!).  Many of the pieces I had written at that point were very chord based and I wanted to try something with a more definitive melody from single notes.  I played some chords on a nice soft electronic piano sound and over the top created this simple melody that rises and falls just as the sound does itself.  I had this recording for years and finally got around to rerecording it with new sounds and adding some new elements to it as well.  This version goes into a third section were a distance synthesiser voice sound comes in to take over the melody duties before culminating with the return of the first string sounds to end the piece.  I thought it made a generated a good sense of relief and tenderness into the piece.


Saturday, 23 February 2013

Under the Cherry Blossom

When I came up with the first few chords to this piece I immediately felt like it could sit well in a nice Anime soundtrack.  As such I ended up titling it 'Under the Cherry Blossom' as these are often featured all kinds of Japanese Anime both visually and thematically.



Here in the UK we also enjoy cherry blossoms from trees in the springtime.  Their time is very brief before they fall to the ground, but every year I always notice them when they appear.  I look forward to seeing them this year as they will signal the end of this cold weather!

simonwillis.bandcamp.com

Thursday, 21 February 2013

February Update

Almost the end of February.  How have 2 months passed already!  I've been a bit busy with other things lately.  However, I'm trying to update the blog, the YouTube channel and Soundcloud as regularly as I can.  I'm going to be uploading some more performances soon both of more cover version and of my own songs.

Speaking of which I am currently working through the many songs I have written over the years in order to iron out some things I'm not so sure about, except this time I'm actually going to say to myself, 'OK that's good enough, it's done!' and move onto the next thing.

I have quite a few songs in a state of almost readiness and have a rough idea of what will be on my first vocal album.  I also worry I won't record the vocals well enough, but I can always rerecord!  I may also write a couple of new songs for the album too.  Either way there should be plenty of material to have a vocal album up on the simonwillis.bandcamp.com page in the near future!  I hope you enjoy what I post in the meantime as I still have a few instrumental tracks from my 'Left Behind' album to post on here and will am looking into what other covers to perform.  I may even take requests!  Drop me a message if there is anything at all you would like to hear me play and I will see what I can do with it.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

She's Out of My Life

Here is my cover version of 'She's Out of my Life' made famous by Michael Jackson in 1980 and written by Tom Bahler.


This was one of the songs that, when I sung, I realised I shouldn't be afraid to sing in a higher range.  For a long time I was singing an octave lower than I probably should have for a lot of songs but I eventually came to the conclusion that I should push my limits a but more!  I love this song, it lends itself so well to being sung with a lot of feeling and fragility.  I don't think you can write a song like this without going through the emotions contained within it yourself.

Check back for more videos soon!