Koh Tao Flood Relief Album

Finally after almost a week of incesent downpour the rains have stopped. Now it’s time to clean up the mess. The damage caused by the record breaking falls is tremendous. Roads, homes and businesses washed away. It will take months before the community recovers, and I’ve got a way that you can help from afar.

Click “download” on the link below to make a donation and get some music made right here on Koh Tao.

Some of you may have already read about my unfortunate flood story. On the 6th of January 2017 we had the worst of the storm. 190mm of rain dropped that day. 40mm of that happened in just one hour early in the morning. So much water rushed the island that almost every road became a turbulent river. Choppers, a venue that I regularly perform in, was flooded and unfourtunately my gear was inside. When I arrived the following morning I found my gear floating around in the muddy flood water. I was heart broken. Any musician will know the feeling. My guitar is not only a tool it’s a part of me, it’s a close friend. I felt like I had let it down, left it in the cold wet storm to drown. The image of Hannah pouring water from it’s sound hole will haunt me for years. But the pain didn’t stop there. My loopstation, the tool that has now defined my stage performance and given me the opportunity to travel the world with my craft sitting there in the dirty water, it seemed all hope was lost. What will I do, I can’t afford to replace it and I can’t afford to continue my journey without it. This wasn’t even the extent of the damage. Also amongst my gear was my laptop, full of material I will never see again, my mixing desk, my microphone, a brand new, still in the box MPK midi controller and my guitar tuner.img_0685

As a result I decided I needed to raise some funds to get my tools back.

Back in 2014 I recorded a live album right here on Koh Tao with my good friend Andy V. Two days ago I put that album on my bandcamp page with a “pay what you feel” price for all of those out there that would like to contribute. Over the years I have met some beautiful people while sharing my music across the world and in two days I managed to raise about 10,000 baht. Though it is not enough to cover the damage I incurred financially, it is definitely enough to heal my broken heart and put me back in a positive mind set. I no longer feel overwhelmed, instead I feel excited and ready to face the world and whatever it can throw at me. And though the 10,000 baht is not enough, it is enough to get me started so I can rebuild. Now I would like to do the same thing for my Koh Tao community. From now until the evening of the 12th Jan 2017 all funds raised by this album will be donated to the Koh Tao Rescue team that were so invaluable to the people of the island during the storms, and will continue to be in the clean up. I will be presenting the funds to the team at a benefit concert I will be performing at Banyan Bar on the night of the full moon.

To donate simply click the download button on the link above. Please dig deep, share this article, buy the album and get in touch. Empathy and love are the greatest of all emotions, they bring us together and teach us what it is to be human.

Enjoy the album with lots of love from all of us on Koh Tao. Happy New Year.

img_0686

If you are on the island or know anyone that is, please make sure you’re at the benefit gig on Thursday. We will be raising money for 5 Burmese homes that were destroyed in the floods.

Advertisements

Australian Musicians: “Get a Real Job!”

Australia, you need to sort out your juvenile attitude towards the arts. Actually no, it’s not juvenile, children have an insightful view of art and expression. Australia, you need to stop with this “get a real job” rhetoric and start recognising the cultural and financial enrichment the arts bring to all of our lives.

Since first venturing across the seas I’ve noticed that my beloved home country is a long way behind when it comes to appreciating what the creatives give us. Just last week the Australian federal education minister, Simon Birmingham, dismissed an entire industry as a “lifestyle choice” after announcing almost 60 diplomas in the arts will no longer be eligible for student loans. Since the Abbott Government in 2014 we have already had $204.8 million dollars cut from the arts budget. Just today I read a deplorable article in the Advocate by Elanor Watt –  Is Exposure Payment Enough for Musicians in which she argues that if you are passionate enough you should take any opportunity offered to you “because we have all seen the movies, anything can happen.”… urgh. There is an attitude in Australia that working in the arts is a cop out. A job for pot smoking couch potatoes, or worse, not even a “real job” at all.

real-job

Unfortunately this comes as no surprise to me. I first met with this attitude in my youth. Fresh out of home and learning to earn a living for my self I met with hard times. Unemployment benefits were the closest thing I have ever received to assistance in developing my trade, and thank god they were there. Newstart gave me time to find my feet. Time and time again I was asked by Centerlink “what is your profession?” and time and time again I was told “that’s not a real job”. Simple recognition would have made the progression of my career a lot less stressful and possibly a lot quicker. Back then, though it was not enough, I was making more from playing music than anything else. Now, music is not only how I travel the world but it is also how I pay my taxes.

Thanks to national research at the University of Tasmania we now know that the live music sector contributed a whopping $15.7 billion dollars to the Australian economy in 2014 with $3 worth of benefit to the community for every $1 invested. Even more than the footy. These figures are no secret, yet still it doesn’t take much effort to find the typical attitude on public forums of “Why should my tax dollars pay for your hobby?” At face value it may seem like a legitimate question, however dig a little deeper and it’s easy to see that the arts are paying more than their fair share in tax revenue and economic stimulation. Unlike the fossil fuel industry, for example, this is achieved in most part with little or no government assistance.

“Our research shows that for every dollar spent on live music, three dollars of benefit is returned to the wider community. This is a significant, and unrecognised, contribution that includes the dollars that flow to the national economy as well as the ways experiencing live music enriches people’s lives.” – Dr. Dave Carter, Lecturer in Music Technology at University of Tasmania.

One of the first things you notice when travelling through Europe is their pride of culture. I’m not talking about nationalism or patriotism, though they do come into it. I’m talking about their love of food, music, language and heritage. It’s a beautiful thing. Dedicating ones life to the arts is a virtue celebrated by all. I see the same across Asia. I’m yet to visit the Americas or Africa but from my research into future destinations, I keep seeing the same thing. The arts define heritage and heritage defines us.

Maybe it is Australia’s distance from the rest of humanity. We sit alone at the bottom of the world. A nation barely 200 years old, with a tendency to ignore the rich depth of art history laid out by our indigenous peoples. Possibly for the fear of admitting the cultural genocide committed by our forefathers, or maybe because white Australia doesn’t feel as if this is their heritage to be proud of. Maybe it’s a symptom of Australia’s tall poppy syndrome, where we hack at the things we admire most. Maybe we just haven’t properly discussed the situation yet.

In any case, music is my love, music is my life and music is my profession!

*UPDATE
It’s recently come to my attention that Elanor Watt, the author of the article “Is Exposure Payment Enough for Musicians” mentioned in the above blog post works for Fairfax media group. The same group that asked Sydney based reggae band black bird hum to play for free at Fairfax Media owned Noodle Market. Strong arm corporate bullying! Shame on you Elanor. I wonder if this young journalist is aware that she is a pawn of this evil media manipulation. I also wonder if she avoided mentioning Black Bird Hum by name in her article as that would be free promotion, in which case she is promoting herself off the back of the musicians she criticized for not taking an “exposure” gig.

“She’s always ahead of me, I’m not too far behind. We’re like peas in a pod, we’re two of a kind. Music this lucid partner of mine.”

P.S to all you creatives out there, click here to check out some inspirational words on the topic from my man Tony “Jack The Bear” Mantz.

DubFx to Produce Debut SW Loop Album

It’s been a long time coming but it’s time to lay down what I’ve been working on. In January 2017 I will be hitting Tree Top studios in Victoria, Australia to record my debut studio loop album. I’m super excited to announce that producing the album will be the studio owner and one of the worlds most recognisable loop artists, Ben Stanford (A.k.a DubFx).

Ultimately it will be a hip hop album but I’ll be breaking it up with my signature blues, reggae and soul influences. I hope to compile what I’ve learnt not only as a looper but as a song writer, musician and independent artist over the past 10 years. Up until now I have not released a full length album and the EPs that have been released, due to a hand full of reasons, have fallen short of what I’d hoped for. This time I plan on going the whole hog. Spending the money and taking the time.

I’ll be calling on the talents and experience of not only DubFx but also some of the amazing artists I’ve had the pleasure of working with over my career to help develop both new material and a few old classics. If there are any songs you’d love to hear on the album please feel free to make suggestions.

The project in it’s entirety feels a little overwhelming right now but over the next 6 months I’ll be chipping away at it bit by bit. I hope you guys are excited as I am.

Gig Profile: The Beach Hotel Byron Bay, Australia

This will be the seventh instalment of the #looptheworld Gig Profiles. As I travel the world playing music for a living I will be writing up these Gig Profiles in an effort to help out those that dream of doing the same. I hope you find the information helpful. If you have any questions feel free to contact me. I’ll do my best to help out as much as I can.

beachie3
“The Paul Hogan Show” 1973-1984. John Cornell and Paul Hogan in their comedic heyday.

The Beachie as it’s known by the locals, or if you’ve been around long enough, The Top Pub. Also famously known as Paul Hogan and John “Strop” Cornell’s pub. One of my favourites! Not just because of the view of the ocean, or the size of the stage, or the quality of the lights and PA, or the professionalism of the sound man, or the generous rider, or the great pay, or the big crowds, but because it’s in my home town and it carries so many memories. I used to go to the Beach Hotel when I was a young boy to see my father perform. Back then it was a fibro shack, not the $65 million award winning beach side beer palace that it is today. The venue holds an impressive 2000 people and over the summer months it is often a full house. I’ve been lucky enough a few times to play to capacity crowd there with my band The Eclective. Memorable moments. The stage has been known to host impressive international acts. Everything from The Wailers to members of the Wu-Tang Clan. Unfortunately since Cornell sold it a few years back the entertainment budget has taken a cut. Some of the headlining international acts have been replaced by DJ nights, but with music still happening seven nights a week there are still plenty of opportunities to get on that stage.

beachy4

 

The type of crowd you can expect is varied. Backpackers and locals, stags and hens, young and old. One thing they all hold in common is that they are there for a good time. Melancholic singer songwriters will unlikely get a look in, they are more after anything you’d put on at the hight of your house party. Funk, rock, disco, up beat reggae and dance. Anything they can stomp their feet and shake their hair to. It’s going to be a bit more difficult to book a gig here than most of the other venues in my Gig Profiles. Almost every musician that has stepped foot in the place has dreamed of playing a show on the Beachie stage. You are going to need a decent enough presence on social media, a website, an album and some high quality videos. Glen Ward, or “Goobs” as he’s know affectionately by his work colleges back in his home town of Melbourne, is the man you’ll need to talk to. He is also the professional sound man I mentioned earlier.  He’s very busy, so don’t be offended if your emails receive no reply. Be persistent but not a pest. The pay is going to vary a lot from the solo Sunday afternoon acts to the headline touring artists on a Saturday night. Don’t be afraid to ask for top dollar but don’t overprice yourself. Like I said the competition to get in is fierce. Once you do get in, if you impress the boss, it will be easier to get in next time and you can always negotiate the price again. You’ll need to lock the show with about 4 months notice as they book well in advance. If you are finding it difficult to get Glen’s attention, there is always the open mic on Tuesdays where you can get a spot to show him what you’ve got.

Playing the Beach Hotel was always a high point on my east coast Australian tours. While writing up this Gig Profile I’m getting excited about the next time I’m back in Oz, back home in Byron, playing music for my family and friends on that impressive stage.

Gig Location: Johnson St, Byron Bay, Australia
Venue Contact: Glenn ward via email glenn[at]beachhotel.com.au
Pay: $300 – $10,000
Capacity: 2000 cap

Gig Profile: Spiritual Caipirinha, Camden UK

This will be the fifth instalment of the #looptheworld Gig Profiles. As I travel the world playing music for a living I will be writing up these Gig Profiles in an effort to help out those that dream of doing the same. I hope you find the information helpful. If you have any questions feel free to contact me. I’ll do my best to help out as much as I can.

Spiritual2This is only the second time I’ve come to the UK but already I have played at Spiritual Caipirinha five times. It’s a great gig for starting out in the competitive London music scene. I’ve found that London’s music scene is very healthy, with literally thousands of acts and venues, it can be a little overwhelming at first. I’ve also found it to be super competitive. The fight for the spot on the best stage in town drives the performance fee right down. Most places are offering you payment in “opportunity to promote yourself” or “a couple of free drinks”. Most musicians find this situation extremely frustrating but in a city where everyone is trying to get that break, if you don’t do it, someone else will. There is a lot of talent in London town, a lot of money too, but to get your hands on any of it is going to be an uphill battle. The gig at Spiritual is not going to bag you a fortune but at least they are paying a little and giving you an opportunity to get in front of an audience that is there to appreciate music. I’ve landed some great opportunities thanks to the music community that is Spiritual Caipirinha.

The owner, Raf, is a super chill bloke from Brazil that loves his music (he plays himself) and has created the space as much for his own enjoyment as it is for his customers. He also runs a record label out of the bar called Spiritual Records. They often film and record live sessions and Raf helps book and promote the small roster he has collected from acts that have performed there.

Raf
Rafael Pesce the owner of the bar. Good bloke.

It’s only a small bar, holds maybe 50 max, but that means creating a vibe is almost instantaneous. The punters are there for the music and a decent Caipirinha (the house specialty). They do host bands, although I wouldn’t suggest booking a full band there as the stage is very small. Solos and Duos are much more suited. The PA is nice and you’ll be provided with a sound man. Every night but Mondays have  live music with an open mic on Tuesdays. Every night it’s a full house. Typically there are three acts per night, giving each artist 45 mins to strut their stuff. The performers are always of high quality, hand picked by the boss himself. He’s usually after the blues, roots and folk side of the musical spectrum but is willing to give anything good a go.

Camden is a very happening area, Amy Winehouse territory, a great place to be seen. There are hundreds of happening night spots, a great market and colourful buskers all day and night. If you are in the London area I highly suggest spending some time there. And while you’re at it, drop in to Spiritual Caipirinha and say hi to Raf and the gang for me.

Gig Location: 4 Ferdinand St, Camden, London, United Kingdom
Venue Contact: Rafael via the Spiritual Facebook page
Pay: 30 to 50 Pounds
Capacity: Approx 50

 

. c r a z y . b e a u t i f u l . k o h t a o .

Leaving Koh Tao is bitter sweet. I am sad to be leaving this beautiful paradise where I have had some excellent experiences, made some wonderful friends and also learnt so much about myself. However, as the saying goes “Where one door closes, another will open.” and I believe it is quite an important motto to live by when on the road. Keep your heart open to possibility and you never know where it might take you. And let’s be honest, as anyone who has stayed on Koh Tao before will know, I’ll be back, the door is never closed, I’ll just be exploring another room (or two or three) for a while.hannah underwater

Whilst here on the island I’ve been lucky enough to get a few more dives under my belt. I love diving! I love the breath awareness, the weightlessness, the flow and of course, the whole under water world. I find diving to be a wonderful form of meditation. I chose to dive with Mojo Divers and I’m so pleased I did. The crew there are like a family, perhaps a slightly crazy family but a happy, fun and knowledgable one. Mojo Divers has been my introduction into the diving world and now I’m hooked. I want to dive everywhere! Simon and I are travelling to Ios in Greece next where I will be doing my Dive Master Training (DMT). For so many years I have been searching for my passion and, outside of life, I think diving might be it….. But I’ll get back to you about that after I’ve at least completed my DMT and hopefully I wasn’t speaking too soon. I would like to thank every one at Mojo Divers for your knowledge, kindness and friendship. You have been an excellent introduction into the diving world.

For me, Koh Tao is an island where I instantly felt at home. I love the heat and the humidity, the diving and the parties, the relaxed atmosphere and the food and I particularly like the type of people that this island attracts. As we all know, travelling is good for the soul, it feeds our imagination, dreams and sense of self. I believe that as travelers we allow ourselves to be the person not only that we want to be, but who we truly are. We allow ourselves to let go of all the bullshit that we carry when we are slogging away at the daily grind, which creates a contagious happiness.
11326047_704420693003642_984164711_n

Simon had a busy gigging schedule playing nearly seven nights a week. Monday’s, Wednesday’s and Friday’s he played at Choppers for the Koh Tao Pub Crawl nights and you could find him at Fishbowl nearly every other night. For anyone who hasn’t experienced a Koh Tao Pub Crawl they are raucous and sweaty events. I have never actually participated in a Pub Crawl because I am always at Simon’s gig but from what I understand this is how the night plays out: It starts at Choppers at 8pm where each participant receives a T-shirt and a bucket of cheap alcohol, from there the hoard of humans who are still getting to know each other spill out onto the street and head off down the road, still sober I might add. They visit a pool party, the Queens Cabaret (which is exactly what you think it is) and then back to Choppers for the live music part of their night.

Simon and Casey onstage at Choppers for Koh Tao Pub Crawl
Simon and Casey onstage at Choppers for Koh Tao Pub Crawl

Now I understand that my explanation of it so far makes it seem relatively tame, however I didn’t include the number of buckets, shots, free shots and drinks that each person has probably consumed by the time they stumble, bump and grind their way back into choppers. Man, do pub crawlers know how to party! As an avid people watcher this is possibly my favourite part of the night. I like to find myself a seat overlooking the crowd and observe. The energy of the room is almost feverish, the atmosphere is thick with expectation, pheromones bounce off the walls, it is hot, it is sweaty and everyone is having the time of their life. By the time the Pub Crawlers stumble out of Choppers and onto their final party destination for the night Simon has been playing for over an hour. He is completely exhausted. I’m becoming quite the roadie/pa and I try to always have a beer and a water with electrolytes ready because the golden rule is always “one beer, one water.”

It hasn’t been all diving and parties. We’ve had some chill days (ok, quite a few of those), we’ve been snorkeling and swimming, we’ve enjoyed adventure days where we explored the island via scooter with old and new friends and we’ve eaten well, really well! thailand sunset

I would like to thank everyone who I met and signed up to this letterbox at Simon’s gigs. Thank you for your words of encouragement, your travel hints and tips, your appreciation of music and for sharing in this #looptheworld adventure with us. I am genuinely excited to find you all again in different parts of the world. If you do have any requests or recommendations of places we should visit then please do get in touch, we would love to hear from you and will definitely make a special effort to visit you in your country where we can.

The beautiful Sofi who travels the world living life to the fullest and me.
The beautiful Sofi who travels the world living life to the fullest and me.

Simon Wright and Andy V Are In the Loop

Another great review from Jeff Hinton at irrationalconfidence. Thanks Jeff.

irrational confidence

I’m always fascinated by what can be done with a loop station. Maybe it’s because it starts out as a puzzle, with each new layer building upon the last until you can finally recognize what song’s being played. Or maybe it’s just me being amazed at how easy it is (or at least how easy the most talented people make it seem) for one person to turn themselves into a full band. Or maybe I’m just a huge Reggie Watts fan. That could be it too. Whatever the case may be, I’m always eager to see what someone has done with something familiar just by building it in a new way.

Irrational Confidence favorite Simon Wright (You may remember him from our review of The Simon Wright Band’s excellent Live at 52) hooked up with one of his old bandmates, Andy V, to play a series of shows in Koh…

View original post 404 more words

Cabaret du la Monstique

Cabaret du la Monstique

This is a nice snap captured by a long time good friend Jarreau Farrina at a gig I did for another long time friend Nikki Roberts called named Cabaret du la Monstique. It was a great night with a wild variety of entertainment. Including a burlesque performance that ended with a naked girl covered in mustard and tomato sauce.

Loops, the new age one man band

In November last year I bought myself a loop station. I’ve seen them used since I was a kid, but these days they seem to have gone to a whole new level. There is a new genre emerging in the solo scene. Loops. Check out DubFX and Bernhoft.
Basically a loop station is a fancy guitar pedal. It gives you the option of recording yourself on the fly then playing it back in a continuous loop. Meaning one artist can now accompany him/herself. Be it with bass lines, beatbox, vocal harmonies, sound effects, percussion, the possibilities are endless. Making these little tools powerful music makers. The pedal I’m currently trying to get my head around is the Boss RC-300. With so many variables it’s like learning a new instrument. And like learning a new instrument the results are so satisfying.

Here is a video of me performing a Fat Freddy’s track named Wandering Eye.
The track perfectly lends itself to the loops format as overall it is quite repetitive and at the same time it is such a brilliant song.

Over the coming weeks I will be recording more of these videos and posting them to our youtube page. Please subscribe to our channel and we’ll keep you informed as to when the next one is online.

http://www.youtube.com/thesimonwrightband