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Mitropa, Mitropa

26 May

The new Wasp Summer album cometh

In February, Simon and I started recording the second Wasp Summer album. In previous letters, you read about Wasp Summer’s history, so you know that this is our first album as a band. The name Mitropa comes from a railway company that ran sleeping and dining cars across Central Europe from 1916-1994.

The new songs are muscular and outward-looking. Living and touring in Mitteleuropa has definitely influenced the themes and the tempo of the songs. Imagine long journeys through the night between one mysterious metropolis and another. That’s what this album will sound like.

We recorded over three days at Pebble Music’s studio in the old DDR Rundfunk Buildings in Köpenick, working with drummer Romain who plays with Elyas Khan and the 17 Hippies.

Go here to Soundcloud if you want an idea of what the new songs sound like.

See you at a show. If you want to chat, Wasp Summer is on Twitter or Facebook.
Cheers,
Samantha

Busking Stories

14 Apr

I’ve been paid in insults, drugs and sometimes even money.

Busking Stories
Concerts

Busking Stories
He passed Lena to stand directly in front of me. He leaned down into my face, hissed “Schhhhlamppppe!’, then firmly poked his tongue out at me and stomped away.

Lena, my jazz singer friend, and I were busking at Hallesches Tor. I slowly turned to Lena, “He just called me a smurf and stuck his tongue out!”
“Oh no, honey,” she said, “He didn’t call you a smurf. That’s ‘Schlumpf’. He called you a slut.” Our howling laughter ricocheted around the tunnel.

Lena Tjäder and Sam WareingHallesches Tor, a Berlin U-Bahn station, has a long tunnel connecting the U1 and U6. Buskers with station permits prefer stations where lines cross because the long tunnels have great acoustics. People hear you long before they see you which makes you money.

It’s fascinating people-watching: old Berliners, hipsters, immigrant families, punks, street people, kids, yuppies and tourists. A cheerful psychedelic man squatted next to us. “Mädels! Sounds great! I got no money, but I want you to have these…,” and dropped two tabs of acid next to the coins in our guitar case. I’ve also been “paid” with hash, booze, joints, promises of work and business cards with private numbers.

At Stadtmitte, an old man wanted our spot. His busking tactic was to jig next to us, blowing on a harmonica and holding out his dirty hat to reveal a seeping head wound under old bandages. He won.

We busked for a year in the U-Bahn, 4-6 hours at a time. That’s how I learned guitar in public. We found friends, gigs and fans, and sold CDs. We featured in the children’s magazine Geolino Extra, and played live on Radio Eins promoting a photography exhibition on street musicians. It always paid for coffee and hot meals and showed us a lot of Berlin life.

Concerts
You can find any upcoming concerts on our Facebook page here. If you don’t have facebook, you can check the Concerts page here on our website here or go to our feed on Twitter.

Cheers,
Samantha Wasp Summer

Wasp Summer Australian Shows 2014

9 Oct Wasp Summer tour poster 2014. Coming to a club near you!

Earlier this year, I got an email out of the blue from Geoff, the Editor of Going Down Swinging, the long-running and innovative Australian journal of poetry, writing, graphic novels and art.

He requested that, for one night, we reform Sean M. Whelan and The Mime Set, the 2005-2008 collaboration between my former post-rock band and one of Australia’s best spoken word performers. They had funding to fly me back to Melbourne from Berlin for the show. I actually cried.

So, Sean M. Whelan and The Mime Set will perform their One Night Wonder on Friday 28 November, 2014 at the Mission To Seafarers Chapel in Docklands, Melbourne. Click here for tickets. We’ve also picked up a Canberra show on Sunday 30 November, for the Bloody Lips night held at New Acton.

Sean M. Whelan & The Mime Set
Friday 28. November – Mission to Seafarers, Melbourne
Saturday 29. November – Bloody Lips @ New Acton, Canberra

And while I’m in the country, why not show people what Wasp Summer’s been working on in Berlin? So I’m organising solo Wasp Summer gigs in Victoria and Queensland. Here are the confirmed dates.

Wasp Summer
Thursday 20. November – The Old Bar, Fitzroy, Melbourne
Friday 21. November – The Eastern, Ballarat
Saturday 22. November – The Bridge, Castlemaine
Friday 5. December – Couplet @ Brisbane Square Library, Brisbane
Wednesday 10 December – Skukum Lounge, Brisbane

Last Berlin shows for 2014

1 Oct

Wasp Summer by Kate Seabrook

Wasp Summer has three gigs Berlin gigs coming up in October and November, the last before the Wasp Summer Australian shows.

Sunday 19 October at 14:00, Sam is doing a solo show at Donau 115‘s Donaufrühstück, If you’re Sunday Mornin’ Coming Down, this concert series presented by Cow Hearts and curated by the amazing Emperor X is for you.

Friday 31 October at 21:00, Sam and Simon are playing a Wasp Summer duo Halloween special at Moabit’s best Musik Lokal, Kallasch &.

Thursday 6 November at 21:00, Wasp Summer present their first full-band show with new drummer Ben Johnson (that’s him on the right above ^^) in a live recording at Culture Container.

This excellent band photo, in Ben’s rehearsal space, was taken by Kate Seabrook Photographer.

Mitropa Mini-Tour EP Giveaway

21 Oct

To celebrate the two shows Wasp Summer is playing in Bratislava and Budapest, we are giving away our four new demos for free download as the Mitropa EP. You can download them from Soundcloud.

We are looking forward to the food, the hat shopping, the overnight trains, the new friends, the new cities, the new clubs and bars, the old towns, the spas and saunas and the beer. For both shows, Wasp Summer is playing as a duo. Here are the details.

October 23 – British Rock Stars, Nám. 1. mája 14, Bratislava Slovakia w/ Silverspoon and Hell’s Gang 20:00. 3€.
Facebook Event. Couchsurfing Event.

October 24 – Gólya, Bókay János utca 34., Budapest, Hungary. 20:00. Entry by donation.
Facebook Event. Couchsurfing Event.

A new month, new resolutions

1 Feb

February 2013. After a slow January hibernation, I had the sudden morning sense of the months’ temporal velocity. And an ache over how few of my many ideas make it out of my brain or past a coffee and chat with a potential collaborator. I do a lot of things – playing concerts, a house concert series, a new booking agency, friends, longer tours, songwriting, writing, collaborative events – but could I be more effective, more engaged, more organised?

Firstly, the promotional parts of the post: I have concerts coming up and I’m testing new, different material. If you’re in Berlin, I’d love you to come along.

Tuesday 12 February at Das Hotel, Kreuzberg. 21:00. Free entry. Two sets.
Saturday 23 & Sunday 24 February – English Theatre Berlin. BERLIN-KREUZBERG DE. 12:00 – 16:00. 5€. One on One singer-songwriter shows produced by Sofa Salon and Everyone is from Somewhere.
Friday 1 March supporting Bocage at Amiga Club, Treptow. 20:00.
Thursday 11 April with Salon Band at Kugelbahn, Wedding. Salon Band are reinterpreting songs from my ‘Close as a Slow Dance’ album. 20:00.

I am in my cave at 9pm on a Friday night doing up a blog post on organisation, engagement and resolutions.  Honestly, I’m not in much of a bar mood at this time of year. Winter, especially a grey, wet one, is like a damp, heavy St Bernard sitting on the knees of my sociability, so I tend to use Winter to plan, book Summer tours, make lists, found new years’ enterprises and the planning meetings force me out of the house. A useful Winter Blues coping strategy.

Plans for this year include taking guitar lessons to polish up the things I can do and add to my skill set. Take Yoga classes on a weekly basis, but I am yet to leave my cave at 8am in order to do so. Buy a Hagstrom semi-acoustic guitar to boost my live sound. Write new songs for the new band format. Rehearse weekly alone and also with the band. Find a band residency. Promote my shows more effectively. Use my diary everyday. See more songwriters. Get my booking agency’s festival and club lists in some sort of order. Find a writing class. Leave Berlin for reasons other than touring. Get a weekly sauna. See my friends more.

You can see the list is endless. I am an inverterate list-maker after my father, I suppose but, like him, many of those things don’t get done in the intended time. A rehearsal is delayed. I’m behind with the booking. I am as yet Yogaless. ETC.

The problem is that I don’t really know where to go from my position of (limited) success. I think that issue is rather one of goal-setting and prioritising. I came to Berlin with several goals in mind – to make a record, to tour Europe, to create collaborative opportunities, to write better songs, live as a musician. I have achieved all of them, even the living as a musician goal, but it’s still breadline scale. I was told last week that I’m not actually successful. I disagree, but I am aware that I had fairly achievable expectations and it’s not the wider definition of success.

On the day-to-day level, and even with years of organisational experience, I still find myself adding yesterday’s unfinished work to today’s To-Do list without much in the way of prioritising. I still take what’s coming at me rather than looking towards a greater plan. I still feel under-confident when picking up the phone to find work.

How high should I set my goals? Should I am for high expectations and achievable goals or high goals and achievable expectations? But I either work everyday for small money or find some way of raising my value. I can have another year of longish, small-scale tours or invest the year into developing the band project. I can take guitar lessons or refresh my singing training, but not both. Where are the hours in the day to do enough booking, practice, writing, planning and socialising?

If I think about my goals now, in twelve months time, I would like:
– to have become a better guitarist
– to have two sets worth of new material for the band in the direction I am starting to articulate
– to have established a working rhythm, income and reputation for the booking agency
– to live by myself
– to be in a kick-ass live band
– to double my 2012 income
– to utilise my health care and get my teeth worked on
– to holiday to at least one of my dream destinations
– to be well towards confirmed US and Australian tours
– to have a handle on the UK touring market
– to play at at least one music festival
– to have dinner parties more often
– to see more live music
– to develop a promotional strategy
– to develop a business plan or at least a set of goals and logical steps to achieve them. A friend does an annual life contract with himself.

Do you have suggestions for organisation and goal-setting? How do you manage your time and your life? I’d love to start a conversation about this and add helpful strategies to the website.

Cheers,

Sam

Tonight Lovelite

6 Sep

I have strange feeling this morning. It could be too much Party, as I’ve been frantically sucking all the juice from the remaining warm weather. It could be too little sleep as I’m work on the six Berlin Music Week events I’m involved in, plus helping with Eric Eckhart’s amazing DIT: Do-It-Together project, plus rehearsals, plus trying to find time to write new songs, plus tour booking for December.

It’s those things, but it’s also the feeling I get when I’m about to achieve a goal. A kind of weightlessness and unreality mixed with a heaviness or weariness. The Hanged Man tarot card has been my guide in this recent part of my journey – a suspended state where worldly cares fall away and you have the opportunity to assess your path, hanging between heaven and earth. I’m dangling from that tree, pockets empty, hair streaming down and a small smile on my face. I’m taking in all I have achieved and all the help I’ve had to achieve these things. I’m wondering what to aim for in the future and I have some intriguing, unexpected opportunities before me.

In recording my album ‘Close as a Slow Dance’, and in the last 15 months of touring, I have succeeded in both the major goals I set when coming to Berlin. Tonight I will achieve two more goals – making Wasp Summer a band in which I play guitar and supporting people I really admire in a major music festival showcase.

Two Australian friends of mine in Berlin happen to be great musicians – Stuart Braun, a journo-rock dog and gun drummer and Simon Morrison, a writer and long-standing punk bassplayer. They’ve kindly joined me to make Wasp Summer a three piece and we’ve hammered out some semblance of unity in the last few weeks and given these six songs a band feel. To make it work, I’ve had to radically change my playing from singer-songwriter strumming to a more minimal style in this short time. Paradoxically, as the sound gets louder, I’ve had to pull my vocals back, condense them, to keep the songs powerful in this new context. But I hear what I need to do. I worried I wouldn’t know how to do this stuff. But I do.

Tonight, we debut the band at Berlin Music Week, in a showcase with some of my favourite Berlin musicians and people. I have had some press, my Sofa Salon concerts have sold out, the hard work has paid off. Tonight, I crank up the overdrive and tell six stories the best way I can with some good friends around me. This is honestly the work I live for. Making music, making events and playing live.

On the weekend, I got an email from Bernard Zuel, head music writer for the Sydney Morning Herald, saying his review of my debut album ran in Friday’s Metro. Here’s the review. It’s really nice.

CLOSE AS A SLOW DANCE (A Headful Of Bees/bandcamp.com)
Three and a half stars
An Australian in Berlin makes an album of alt. country in Italy, Switzerland and Argentina. As you do. Those oddities aside, Sam Wareing’s voice has sand in its grooves and her songs have sadness in their bones so that they are both fragile and resilient. Best of all the songs have a rolling certainty to them: they feel good and they feel right whether it is organ and violin laid on neatly, suddenly swelling backing vocals or the right tone to the acoustic guitars. Waiting has whiskey drama, Dancehall At Louse Point rides a big twang and On The Outside Of You aches. It’s more than country rock though as the powerful I Hope You’ll Mend has something of the otherworldly grandeur of Dead Can Dance. – Bernard Zuel

So every time I think that this can’t possibly work, something new comes along to tell me it can. Today, I am grateful for my gifts, my opportunities, my friends and collaborators. I am grateful that the hard work pays off in big or small ways. It’s not taking over the world, but it is making a life on my own terms. Today, every day, I have succeeded.

Thursday 6 2012
Wasp Summer + Eric Eckhart + Nina Hynes + Miss Kenichi + Ken Burke + DJ Lapkat
LOVELITE, Simplonstr. 38, Berlin-Friedrichshain. 20:00. 5€ .

Love,

Sam

Our Old Oblivion music video (test edit 2)

10 Jul

Our Old Oblivion (test video 2) from WaspSummer on Vimeo.

This is the second edit. After the first edit, I recorded some new scenes, played with some extra effects (screen in screen! overlay! blur transitions! – I know I have gone overboard with the blur transitions…). I have also recorded further new material with some new characters so I will do a third edit with this new material.

I asked advice of some professional filmmakers and they have offered to take me through the process of storyboarding which will hopefully clarify both my storyline and edits.

Album Launch #1 Wrap-Up

5 May

The album launch last night was lovely! A full room of enthusiastic listeners at Heroes bar in Neukölln. I played well, I think. I felt ‘there’ from the first song. Bliss. And proof I’ve become a competent, if idiosyncratic, guitarist. God I love my capo and ’65 Fender Deluxe pedal. I’ll post some photos in the next few days.

Crammed into the bar’s toilet, Krista Krull from radio show Green Tea Berlin came down and did an “On the Road” interview with me before the show and recorded part of the soundcheck. Efficiently, she edited it down overnight and posted it this morning. Here it is:

And for the many people who commented on the slow-jam version of my album track ‘I’m Going Mining’, here’s a stream of the song:

You and I, we’re as close as a slow dance

3 May

Dearhearts,

I am finally here. At this moment. It feels a little like taking acid because I’ve wanted it so long that it’s become quietly surreal. It’s unimportant why it took so long, just that it’s done. I’m really happy about it.

After a year of dreaming about sounds and visual inspiration, mixing, discussing the artwork on Skype, researching online sales options and various phonecalls to the pressing plant; after failing to find out why GEMA (Germany’s APRA) wants to charge me to make my own record; after all the fun bits – recording in Italy, the photoshoot, the production notes and songwriting, my lovely rootsy songs, products of my work since 2002, are finally in shareable form. I would describe it as Alt.Country Folk and will say that it was inspired by Martha Wainwright, Neko Case, Patsy Cline and Wanda Jackson amongst others.

Tomorrow, my first solo album ‘Close as a Slow Dance’ (through A Headful of Bees) goes live into the world on CD Baby and Bandcamp with pretty digipack CDs to follow next week.

 

Please, have a listen to the album on Soundcloud, share with friends, buy it if you haven’t already pre-ordered (IndieGoGo funders, rejoice – they come, and with it, further gifts!). Curiously, ‘gift’ auf Deutsch means ‘poison’, but no poison here.

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THANK YOUS
There are many, many people to thank for inspiring, working on or funding ‘Close as a Slow Dance’. Some to start, Mark Steiner for the connections and confidence, Henry Hugo for his production, thoughtful arrangements, contacts and generosity, Marcelo and Toto in Buenos Aires for the final sound, Mum for her good wishes, support and rent assistance, Damian Stephens (design), Jan Bechberger (photos) and Elizabeth Delfs (styling) for the lovely artwork you’re seeing, Susanne at Interdisc who shows such care for her clients’ CDs, Sascha, Dam, Justin and Darren for inspiring the songs, Michelle, Nicho, Chez, Naz and Lena – my Council of Ladies who always counsel courage, and those who, knowingly or not, gave a well-timed wise word to inspire this album – David Creese, Julitha Ryan, Sean Simmons and Bron Henderson, Andreas Lautwein, Cameron Wilson, Eric Eckhart, Matthew Barker, Ola Karlsson, Ben Revi, Jen Hval, Sean M. Whelan, Emilie Zoey Baker and Guy Dale. And the musicians who were so kind and surprised me with what the songs could be: Fabio Gallarati, Stefano Caldonazzo, Paolo Zangara, Vicki Brown, Henry Hugo, Leigh Ivin and Julitha Ryan.

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SHOWS
I’m doing two album launches, a club show at Heroes in Neukölln on International Star Wars Day – Friday May the Fourth – and a special Sofa Salon house concert/birthday fest at my place on Friday 11 May. Email berlinsofasalon [aet] gmail.com for reservations.

Plus I’m doing house concerts and club gigs across Germany and France through late May and June and a whole heap of Summer gigs. If you would like to host me for a house concert, email waspsummer [aet] gmail.com. Those folk who bought Skype or House Concerts, I will be in touch in the next week or so.

Links:
Soundcloud (listen)
Bandcamp (buy)
waspsummer.com (info)