Music streaming is the new radio without the DJ. Is this good or bad? Well, it depends on your preference. For me, who is part of Generation X, radio WAS a thing back then. DJs have the privilege to introduce new artists. They can also add little bits of info about the artist. They even say something about the current situation teetering on the verge of being political. They can even insert their own reviews. DJs also personalize the playlists, especially when they know the demographic listening to the show. These days, non of that happens. It makes me long for the day when humor gets injected between songs. However, there are singer/songwriters who introduce their own brand of humor, wit and irony. One artist who does that is Dee McIlroy from Northern Ireland.
For me, Dee McIlroy is a musical chameleon. Well, you would e surprise to learn that he is a guitar builder by day. Music is a passion, whether performing them or creating musical instruments that deliver sound quality of the highest caliber.
Still Waters is his 2021 album. He wrote and recorded these songs in the middle of the pandemic. You can feel his frustration on Like A Book which is the opening track. While other artists resort to maudlin delivery, his approach has an ironic and even sarcastic feel. Of course, we are in the middle of a ridiculous situation. It’s either we succumb to the negativity or approach the dire situation with indignation and humor. Other memorable tracks are Strange Times, The Soap Box Song, and It’s The Ordinary Things. One standout track is the jazzy Summer In New York. This track clearly showcases his musical skills as well as his diverse musical influences. Still Waters is out, and you can listen to it via Spotify for all those streaming fans.
It felt like ages since I updated my Sphere Music blog. This pandemic has either moved people in the positive or negative direction. There is no middle ground. You either do things, or you avoid doing them. So, for a year now, I have lost passion for something that consumed my life back in 2009. It’s about writing posts about new releases and exciting artists who are not in the mainstream environment. I prided myself on knowing genres and bands that only people with sophisticated ears listen to. It is almost like an elitist game which is not something I am proud of. Still, it is really great considering that mainstream music is so dull and boring. Anyway, let’s move along as this post is not about my situation but about an artist named Alex Pardini.
My correspondence with him goes all the way back to the early part of my music blogging years. He has released quite an extensive discography of singles, EPs, albums and even music videos. He is into fitness and healthy food, and I think that is why we click.
Chating with him again is like a breath of fresh air amid a pandemic. I mean, I’ve been riding my bike without any dip in passion, but my blogging is not doing great. Yes, you need to take care of your fitness music is the soul’s food, and you need to balance things out. So this conversation is quite interesting because I get to ask him something close to me: creativity, the process of creating music and also the current situation. The album is called “Honest Li(f)es”, and the release date is October 22, 2021. There will be two singles up front, with according music videos.
Alex: Hello Baxter. How are you doing? Riding that bike like a pro?
Me: Listening to it now. Wow, I am loving it and digging the groove!
Alex: Thanks, Baxter, glad you like it.
Me: I got questions.
What inspired you to write this album?
The songs came together over a period of time and are influenced by things that I encountered in my life, directly or indirectly. It is as much about me as it is about you. It is about life and about the world we live in. The album covers topics like privilege and bullying, relationships, climate change, the pandemic, faith, religion, doubt and self-awareness.
What’s the process of writing and recording?
Could you elaborate on question two for me? Do you mean in a technical way?
Oh yes technically
There is no clear process concerning the creative part. Sometimes I come up with a certain sound that gets me going; other times, it is a chord progression (although usually, it is as much the sound I use to play the chord as it is the chord progression itself), or a drum pattern with a special feel to it.
What happens a lot is that if I feel that certain musical spark I strive for, after a while, I come up with lyrics. Just a sentence or two, but that is usually enough to finish them. Still, music pretty much always comes first.
Technically speaking, I use a combination of hardware and software. I embrace both worlds.
Classical instruments like bass, guitar, keys etc., but also (soft and hardware-) synths, a modular synth, plugins, sampling. I record everything at my studio, including vocals. As I have limited skills as a classical musician, whatever that might be, I often record a draft to get things going and later re-record until I get it right. In more than one way, limitations can push your creativity.
Creation, arrangement, mix-down and mastering are the usual steps. They tend to overlap, and I tend to make a mess out of the steps. C’est la vie.
“Who are you” has this gorgeous piano solo part. What’s the story behind that
Actually, “Who Are You” was not supposed to be on the album. The album was finished. I was experimenting and having fun in the studio. I had this slow musical loop going and, even though I’m no piano player at all, was jamming a little to it. I posted a short video of it on the usual social networks, and people liked it, so I sat down again and made a whole song from that little jam.
As the solo was somehow the main part of the video I posted, I placed it in the middle of the song. It is something that you don’t hear quite often in popular music, but I actually like having solos in the middle or even at the start of a song (or more than one of them). A solo is a very personal and precious little creature inside a song.
How did the pandemic affect you artistically and personally?
I suppose this is where privilege comes into play. While the pandemic was (and still is) interfering with my life and is responsible for a lot of suffering, I am very aware that I am, like most Europeans, in a privileged position. A roof over my head, enough to eat, heating, a working healthcare system, proper ways to protect myself and hell, even an internet connection.
Work-wise (musically), it didn’t affect me as much as I have my studio at home, but obviously, the pandemic found its way into my music. The song “Crown” is proof of that. I suspect that other songs like “Who Are You” or “Lose You” might have been affected by the pandemic too. To what degree, I don’t know, as introspection and extrospection are an integral part of the work I do and the human being I am.
Glad to have this short but sweet interview with Alex Pardini. His album Honest Li(f)es will be available this October so watch out for it!
We all have our own “Through the Looking Glass” adventure during the pandemic. Yes, it isn’t over yet, but things are getting better in some parts of the world. Everything was surreal, and perhaps a piece of music is needed to sober one up. Kandemic is one of the answers to that. It is what we need. There is rage, anger, empathy, and a sense of humor that the band carries well.
You can read more about the band’s manifesto through their story. Here’s one exciting paragraph from that:
If we understand that nature has an abundance of anything we need if we treat it right, how could you profit from it? How could the powers that be control us if every one of our needs were met? This is why for years, they have oppressed our natural abilities to the point that we forgot how to use them.
These musicians came from different backgrounds in terms of musical influences. So they used that to create something different and fresh.
The new single was released this March of 2021.
According to the band’s bio:
The production team consists of Killabase (ShotgunMunkeyz, Sudalicious ) Zar Acoustic (Headtrip Acoustic Project, Counter Intelligence), J.P. Kallio (Sliotar, Boneyard Bastards, Liberty Hell), NikMartken (Headtrip Acoustic Project, Krude Band)
You can learn more about them and check out new releases through their social media sites. Oh yes, this band is highly entertaining. They are not novelty acts. The music speaks for itself. There’s a lot of artful craft in there, through years of touring and recording.
I have written about Tom Lugo’s musical projects in the past. This guy keeps getting better. He also serves other interesting pursuits like martial arts. I even featured him in one of my health/fitness blogs in the past. It’s fascinating how something that you are passionate about can carry you through all the changing seasons of life. It’s like, you can undergo a lot of tests and still be the complete person that you are, especially in the presence of music.
Cielo Oceano is such an auspicious debut-more so as I am writing this blog at 5 am in the comfort of my bedroom. I also added yellow LED lights that resemble fireflies in the corner last night. I did not know how, but it seems my subconscious has picked this album up for review today. Everything seems to fall into place. The mood, the time, the coldness outside, or the pervading sense of peace and hints of melancholy. This music is like little dancing lights in the pond of one’s existence. It is so easy to tap into that because I embrace this kind of musical style. The Space has Always Reduced Me To Silence is the title of the debut album. It contains ten songs. I suggest you listen to it, at the same time as I do. You can also do it for meditation because the music is hypnotic. It focuses on dreamy and shimmery guitars. The same things that you can find in any Robin Guthrie and Simon Reymonde(Cocteau Twins) projects. I am on the third track, which is the title track; and I love how they end and start each song seamlessly. There is nothing that jolts you out from one mood to another. The production decision is consistent. This is the kind of band where the lyrics are secondary, as the mood is more important. This also reminds me a bit of Brian Eno, in the ambient style department. Nada mas que decir is a personal favorite because it has an 80’s nostalgic aesthetics to it. This album is a must for people who are into bands like This Mortal Coil and Souls Whirling Somewhere. I love Cielo Oceano and will be looking for their future releases and incarnations. It is great music to start the day. Let’s dive into this beautiful, sad, exciting, lush sonic voyage and come out better and stronger!
One of the good things writing about young talents is that you can learn what motivates them. I think it is challenging to make it big in this world of constant distraction. It is pretty challenging to be an artist today because there’s a lot of competition out there. At the end of the day, it’s all about finding a way to express yourself and also make a living out of it. I give hip-hop artist Lane Allen a lot of credit for being gutsy with what he does and also how he approached his music on the business side of things. You will never know until you consciously stir your career in the direction where you want it to go. This is something that applies to all types of careers. You have to take the opportunity when it presents itself and also give 100% of yourself to your passion. Freestyle, for the uninitiated, is a hip-hop style of improvisation with or without the presence of instrumental beats. This is where lyrics are recited with no particular subject or structure. More like the stream of consciousness for those who are into beat poetry. It is like other styles found in jazz, where a lead player does the improvising while the band backs the player with beats and other instruments.
“My old roommate D.lee motivated me to start freestyling because he was already good at it when I was 15,” Allen responded when asked how he got into music, especially freestyling. When asked about the first album he bought, he was quick to say “Blue Side Park by Mac Miller. “ By the way, Miller passed away in 2018. He was a huge and influential singer, songwriter, and record producer from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He launched his successful career at the age of fifteen.
His single New Whip(with $teve Cannon) is now out and it’s gathering a lot of views via YouTube. This song is also available via Spotify and other music services for your pleasure. ” It was a lot of fun and easy-going (the video shoots)and nothing was forced at all. (The director) we were having fun in LA.” I was also curious about the artists who he currently credit s as his biggest influences. “Mac Miller and MF Doom.” Doom is a British rapper, songwriter, and record producer raised in Long Island, New York. His music is also associated with artists like LIL Wayne, Drake, and Eminem. “I’ve got 5 releases coming with a label I’ve partner with, one being a new single featuring D.Lee, our first track since 2016.” It looks like the future is hectic and exciting for Lane Allen. Be sure to check him out and share his songs. They can provide a great boost to your day the way a brewed hot coffee does. And I think he’s got his heart in the right place.