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Running Up That Hill

7 Feb

How is your Winter/Summer progressing? All is well in the Wasp Summer camp. We are working towards recording our second album, tentatively entitled Mitropa. I have to write a couple more songs but the ten we have are sounding really strong. You can hear four demos here.

Running Up That Hill compilation

Running Up That Hill; Kate Bush Covers for Reproductive Rights

compilation to fund reproductive rights organisations in the USA

Wasp Summer covered a Kate Bush B-side called Under The Ivy for a wonderful compilation called Running Up That Hill: Kate Bush Covers for Reproductive Rights that was launched on Bandcamp on February 4, 2014.

It is as it says on the box and sales support US-based pro-choice organisations, most located in politically conservative US states where women’s rights have been threatened. If you buy songs or the whole compilation from Bandcamp, you support the printing of download cards that are given free to the selected organisations who can then sell them to directly raise funds.

Artists including Nona Invie from Dark Dark Dark and Karl Blau have contributed tracks. Kate Bush (via her manager) has given her blessing.

Upcoming Gigs

We have a bunch of Berlin shows coming up over starting on February 20. Come along and hear the new songs. More news about European Summer tours, the single/album launch dates and other shows soon.

Wasp Summer
w/ Ryan O’Reilly (UK) + Redvers (UK)
Donnerstag 20. Februar
Marie Antoinette
Bogen 47, Holzmarktstr.15-18
10179 Berlin-Kreuzberg
20:00. 5€
Fb Event

Wasp Summer
w/ The Fever (US)
Freitag 21. März
Madam Claude
Lübbener Straße 19
10997 Berlin-Kreuzberg
21:00. 3-7€

Wasp Summer
Freitag 11. April
w/ guests
Tiefgrund
Laskerstraße 5
10245 Berlin-Friedrichshain
(nr. About.Blank/Ostbhf)
21:00. 3-7€

Wasp Summer (duo)
w/ Remarkable Shipwrecks + Eamon McGrath
Freitag 2. Mai
Ex-LG Security
Donaustr. 115
12043 Berlin-Neukölln
20:30. By donation.

Cheers,
Sam Wasp Summer

Inspiration from The Wasp Woman

18 May

On this, Eurovison Final Day, my vegetables and flowers are healthy on the balcony, someone is playing Debussy figures downstairs in the music school and my head is a-whirl with plans.

My friend (and soon to be collaborator in an Alt.Country musical) Jason, found this fantastic movie poster for my birthday. The Wasp Woman is a Roger Corman B-Movie from 1959 about a cosmetics mogul and badass who takes wasp royal jelly serum to become fabulously youthful.
Let’s overlook the gaping scientific flaws in the film’s premise and the thematic rip from The Fly, but when I saw this, I felt fabulously badass too.

It’s good timing because I’m working on the production notes for some new full-band recordings. Next month, we get to test out some cool DDR microphones in a new studio set-up. If the collaboration works, we’ll be making the new WS album as my annual Winter Project.

I often use visual inspiration to help me set the stylistic tone for a new project. The Wasp Woman‘s noir-ish colour scheme, melodrama, feminine force and, of course, the overt wasp theme, is a helpful focus point while I work on the sounds I want on guitar and from Simon’s bass and Stu’s drums.

Storyboard for 'Close as a Slow Dance'My first record, Close as a Slow Dance, was deep pomegranate, black and dusky earthen colours. Perfectly appropriate for the alt.country folk on the disk.

I’ll take down the old album’s collage storyboards on my wall and start making new ones while I work on the sounds I want on guitar and from Simon’s bass and Stu’s drums – more fuzz, more muscle, more groove. You can hear my home demo for new song Burning here to give you an idea.

While the Summer looks incredibly busy, Autumn and Winter are going to be digging-in time writing the rest of the songs that will make up the album, playing more with the band and finally learning more German.
Enjoy the melodrama of Eurovision and hopefully we’ll meet in a smoky basement somewhere and share some new songs.

Cheers,
Sam Wasp Summer

New Song: Burning

23 Mar Wasp Summer at Schokoladen, Berlin

I think this is probably the best demo I’ve ever made. I am really digging the harmonies – they’re so tense, tight and quietly dramatic. This song points to the new direction I’m taking Wasp Summer in, especially now I have the three-piece band with bassplayer Simon Morrison (Remarkable Shipwrecks, Dead Sentries, ex-Assassination Collective) and journalist/drummer Stuart Braun (ex-Dust) – sexier, looser, less folk and more rock, noisier. I’m fronting a band on guitar for the first time. It’s exhilarating.

Here’s Burning:

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.

Our Old Oblivion shoebox theatre film clip

4 Jul

Our Old Oblivion (test video 1) from WaspSummer on Vimeo.

After yesterday’s post, I took some test footage of my shoebox theatre using candles for backlighting and Thai ball lights and a bicycle light for front lighting. This is the 2nd edit. I’d appreciate feedback on my experiments and how to do this better.

I have written video treatments for 2.5 songs from my debut album (see sidebar to hear the tracks!) but I have no budget to have a film clip made. When I was a kid, my Dad obtained books where you cut out and glued together your own scale model cardboard theatre and Victorian house. I couldn’t bear to cut the books up, but it stayed in my mind.

When I thought about making this filmclip, Our Old Oblivion, in particular, I thought shoebox theatre format would be easy enough to do and tell the story without being ultra-literal, so I’ve made the set (a dirty, cheap motel) and my cast (the ‘I’ in the song, the ‘he’ in the song and ‘his’ ‘friends’ out of cardboard, gaffa tape, tracing paper, pencil, black card and photocopies.

What do you think? I’d love some feedback on my test clip.

The Last Dance, or Final Tour Updates

15 Jun
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Tour update #23: This song is my tour obsession! I’m home straight off the Paris to Berlin sleeper train and my body is still feeling a loooooooong right-hand curve. I must give a huge thank you to all my hosts: Petronella Pflaumenstein, Boumchaka and Le Nimby, Celia Wagenfuhrer, Sylvain, Sam Rasschaert and Salla Lahtela, Oscar, Denis Quélard and Eric for the great gigs and couches and wine and conversations.
Tour update #22: This morning, the Loire Valley skies were leaden, filled with rain and the air smelt like woodsmoke and blown roses. Later, the sun pushed through and I saw the broad river Loire running unusually high and fast, too dangerous to swim in. I saw the indigenous windmills of wood and pale yellow tufa stone, sentinels over the poppies and the low, yellow wheat.
Tour update 21: Dusk. Wandering in Don Walker’s steps “on Rue Île Saint-Louis”, I hear the most glorious singing from a blocky grey building. Of course, it’s a spectacular church and Friday night is full gospel service with 12-piece choir, live band and gooseflesh-inducing vocals from a Jean Carpenter. Went dancing into the night to eat Roquefort by the Seine and met a flute-playing Wizard under a wing of his *butterfly bicycle*. Last drinks at Pop In.
Tour update #20: Last night in Paris. Great time with Irene Wareing. On an otherwise serene Seine cruise, our self-appointed and inebriated “tour guide” exclaimed, “Look! Look! That’s where Diana crashed in the bridge!” Tonight I am contemplating dinner at “Saint Meat” followed by drinks at La Feline.
Tour update #19: Doing after-show shots with my mother at Pop In. That is all.
Tour update #18: Breakfast in Montmartre, then directed some American rockband looking for Jim Morrison as I headed for Edith Piaf to ask for a strong voice for tonight’s show at Pop In with This is Avalanche. — at Cimetière du Père-Lachaise
Tour update #17: Paris. That is all.

Tour update #16: Oh Brussels, I had a great time but I can’t take your emergency sirens seriously. They seem to have added vibrato which makes all emergency vehicles sound like a robot child running behind you making “scary” ghost noises. Also, I will never diss lacemakers again.

Tour update #15: I have no sense of direction in Brussels. Well, I was warned. However, I had an awesome plate of Muamba when I eventually found the Matonge district, plus some shopping at the St Gilles street market.

Tour update #14: Walking in Ghent, we saw two little boys forcefully herding a tiny black and white cat – “KAT! NEE, KAT!”. As we passed, they stopped us and, in hard Gantoise dialect, said they thought, because it had no collar, that maybe it was a lost cat so they were keeping it off the road. They pointed to a child’s handmade missing cat poster nearby but said they didn’t think it was the same cat because the cat in the poster was purple.

Tour update #13: From the pre-show dinner, this idea needs venture capital and a documentary immediately, Sam. Drunkle.com – short a drunk uncle at your next wedding/christmas/christening/sauna fest? Drunkle.com will compile a profile of your desired drunk uncle traits (including interviewing said relatives) and send a substitute drunk uncle to your event. Pelvic thrusting? No problem. A vast knowledge of football “songs”? Easy. Tie as ninja-style headband? Obligatory. Incoherent speeches? Our specialty.

Tour updates #5-#8

31 May

Tour update #8: Yesterday involved a scoop of banana sorbet, two new friends, a 14y.o. Chardonnay/Savagnin blend, a new song, a headful of ideas and a very good band in a very sweaty cellar. Today involves busking and an overnight bus to Brussels. Thank you Strasbourg!

Tour update #7: Slow busking day but I did get a lesson in extracting tourist money from the original Gold Mouth Woman, a wonderful withered Roma Dame who came to me and indicated that I had an OK voice but needed to ‘work it’ more – she sang to me this amazing song of longing and suffering. With her eyes, her voice, she suffered and loved the suffering. She touched her heart and then stretched out the cupped hand as if offering her heart. Then she said, “Shit spot. You need to go by the Cathedral.”

Tour update #6: Wonderful Strasbourg hostess (and skilled whistler) in *fairytale* Petite France district and a profitable busking session today including selling CDs, jamming with local street musicians and pissing off the local busking mafia. Tonight, flinty Alsace Pinot Gris and further wanderings.

Tour update #5: Great show last night in Thionville, but it was so hot my thumb kept sticking to the back of the guitar neck. I started outside, singing on the street and got a hug from the bar owner at the end. Today a festival in Metz and then onto Strasbourg.

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)

Album Launch

13 Apr

Album News

cover art for Close as a Slow Dance

first look at full cover art for Close as a Slow Dance

I just got the artwork for the album back from my wonderful graphic designer, so I’m all set for getting the album pressed into shiny digipacks. There’s a preview. What do you think?

I’ve decided on two Berlin album launches – an intimate club show at Heroes Neukölln (Friedelstraße 49  12047) on International Star Wars Day, May the Fourth (be with you) and a Sofa Salon house concert for my birthday on May the Eleventh. Then I’m out on tour. Check the current dates below.

Please have this free Bandcamp download of debut rockabilly-flavoured single ‘Dancehall at Louse Point’ to help me celebrate the record’s release or just listen to the song.

Tour Dates

Apr 24, 2012 – Berlin, Ber (DE) @ Club der polnischen Versager – ANZAC Eve: Berlinerin Aussies & Kiwis w/ Sandra Serala & Lavender Drake & Kate Camp

Apr 26, 2012 – Berlin, Ber (DE) @ Ufer Cafe – Wasp Summer & Lena Tjäder w/ Lena Tjäder

May 4, 2012 – Berlin, Ber (DE) @ Heroes – Wasp Summer at Heroes

May 11, 2012 – Berlin, Ber (DE) @ Sofa Salon – Wasp Summer Sofa Salon Album Launch and Sam’s Birthday

May 26, 2012 – Thionville, LOR (FR) @ le Nimby – Wasp Summer’s ‘Close as a Slow Dance’ Tour

Jun 6, 2012 – Paris, IDF (FR) @ Pop In – Wasp Summer ‘Close as a Slow Dance’ Tour

Jun 9, 2012 – Blaison-Gohier, PDL (FR) @ Eric’s House – House Concert for Eric’s Birthday

Jun 22, 2012 – Berlin, Ber (DE) @ PANDA Theatre – Berlin COMPASS: Summer Edition

Jun 29, 2012 – Hamburg, Ham (DE) @ Makrele – Wasp Summer ‘Close as a Slow Dance’ Tour

Jun 30, 2012 – Kiel, S-H (DE) @ Gaby’s House – Wasp Summer in Kiel