Tag Archives: Wasp Summer

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.

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

April Wasp: strange little girls

9 Apr

I’ve got a bunch of gigs coming up with Wasp Summer! They’re all listed on the Concerts page. Have a look!

But this Thursday, I’m playing at Kugelbahn in Wedding with Salon Band, great Berlin musical guns-for-hire. Salon Band host a monthly event where they invite and accompany guest singers. They picked three songs from my album – Dancehall at Louse Point, I Hope You’ll Mend and No Time For Compliments Now and asked me to pick three more cover songs. I chose Randy Crawford’s jazz-pop classic One Day I’ll Fly Away (you’ll be hypnotised by Ms. Crawford’s teeth), The Motels’ simmering Total Control (a hit only in France and Australia) and 60’s stomper Tobacco Road (which I’m approaching in a Tina Turner/Small Faces kind of way).

I’ve worked on “owning” these three songs – interpreting them, rather than just singing the melody and phrasings I know so well. In singing them carefully alone and with the band, I realised they’re actually weirdly structured. I had an epiphany about my songwriting – since I was a kid, I’ve always been drawn to songs where the form is dictated by the lyrics and melody, rather than creating a perfect chord progression and constructing/cramming the story into it. Perhaps, other people’s favourites amongst the songs I have written are the classically formed ones – even rhyming patterns, even line lengths, symmetrical structure. But my favourites are the bent and winding songs, the one-eyed songs, the crooked and eccentric songs with two verses at the top, one refrain and a long outro for a tail – my strange little girls.

The three songs I chose sound straight on the surface, but have a kooky, emotional view of their subject (getting over lost love, desire, and what the Germans might call Heimathassleibe), and structures – the length of verses, where and what the bridge sections do, etc. – designed (consciously or unconsciously) to emphasise the emotion/story the writer wants to tell.

I’ve often had bandmembers and arrangers ask, “Did you know there’s half a bar of 3/4 there?” or “What a weird keychange. Did you mean to do that?” or “Did you want 10 beats in that section?” or “Can we straighten this bit out?”. To which the answers are really?, yes, yes and no.  It just sounds normal to me because I “count” the song by lyrics and phrasing, not chord structure or bar numbers. Writing my charts isn’t straightforward. And the songs go how they go because that’s how they go. I don’t try to be dumb about it and I do edit my work, but if a song has an intrinsically strong melody or lyric, or keychange or structure, the only criteria are “Does it feel authentic to me?” and “Does it sound good to me?” If I play it in public, the answer is yes.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to email me back at waspsummer@gmail.com.

Cheers,

Sam

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:

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

Australian album release – September 3

26 Jul

I’m releasing my album in Australia on September 3, 2012. At the moment my label and I are busy sending out digital and physical copies of the album and chasing up reviews and other coverage on community radio, ABC stations, street press and in the dailies.

Having worked before as a music publicist, this is not my favourite part of the process of putting out a record, but I have some good contacts and good advice and am rebuilding the media list I left back in a different computer on a different continent.

It’s always a fine balance between pestering someone to the point of annoying them and making the album a priority through relentless, polite follow-up, but that’s how more people will come to hear about the record and I’ve just had to steel myself to the work rather than whining in my pyjamas.

Even though making and releasing a record is, like a novel or a film, a huge creative endeavour and achievement, it does sometimes feel like everyone else in the world is also doing it at the same time. I worry that this beautiful album that we worked our guts out for will be lost in the flood of releases.

The work is unforgiving and less fruitful than I’d hope for the number of hours we put into it, and of course takes time away from the instantly rewarding activities like rehearsal and songwriting. And messing around on the internet.

Please feel free to request the album at your local radio station. There are listening and downloads links on the right of this post through Soundcloud and Bandcamp. You can buy the album through iTunes, Amazon, eMusic and a whole host of good digital retailers as well as stream it on Spotify.

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.

Close as a Close-Up – making Shoebox Theatre music videos

4 Jul

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If you’re reading this you’re no doubt aware I’ve just released my debut solo album, Close as a Slow Dance. I’ve decided to make videos for three songs from the album: Dancehall at Louse Point, Our Old Oblivion and On the River Road. It’s also possible I may do one for No Time For Compliments Now but the visual ideas toward that song aren’t as advanced as the others.

To keep myself occupied on long car and train journeys to gigs in Hamburg and Kiel, and a trip on a very interrupted U6 train service in Berlin, I wrote scene-by-scene treatments for Oblivion and Dancehall that should now be typed up. These include a long list of things I need, but as I have pretty much no budget, I wrote these treatments planning to use a very old technology – Shoebox Theatre.

When I was a kid, Dad obtained these two amazing books where you cut out and glued together an old-school theatre and a Victorian-era London townhouse for rich people. I couldn’t bear to cut into them but spent many hours with each building’s history and pictures. The idea has stayed with me.

The set for Oblivion is a cheap motel room. I built that first by lining a shoebox with black paper. I realise now I should just have spraypainted the inside because when I actually use an HD camera, you’ll probably see the gaffa tape holding everything together. I cut in a door and window and lined them with baking paper. It’s by no means a realistic scene with the view through the doorway being as hazy as the window but the character in the story is a virtual prisoner in there so a dream-like haze is fine.

Today, I made some characters. I did a little visual research and photocopying at the Amerika-Gedenkbibliothek in Berlin and wondered if I should use a doll of some sort for the female character. I ended up tracing images I got from fashion magazines, modifying the lines and attitudes a little and gluing them onto black card. Considering I’m such a shit drawer, I’m pretty pleased with my characters.

For the male ‘lead’ and his two friends, I used a photocopy of a wonderful posed picture (below) from a book on the history of the Irish Republican conflict. It’s a photo of the incredibly well-dressed “Cairo Gang”, an infamous bunch of British detectives seconded to Dublin in 1920, where the IRA, presumably, had numbered each man for identification. Number 1 is the leading man of my video and Number 3 (who’s somehow incredibly charismatic) and Number 8 are his ‘friends’, from a lyric in the song, “There is no place, in this state, that I could go/He’s got a lot of friends who’d tell me so”.

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I did spend a lot of time today attempting to figure out scale and ratios for my model, trying to work back up to an actual room and down again so I could try and make the bed and the people to something approaching scale. In the end, I just used my eyes. It may make for some slightly weird looking scenes. We’ll see.

After making all the characters I set up the laptop in front of the shoebox theatre and took some experimental footage using the little low-res cam which I will edit together just to have a look at my handiwork. It will definitely be easier to frame with an HD cam.

I definitely need to do something about the lighting but I did experiment with a chain of Thai ball lights, a bicycle light and candles. Eventually, I got a nice back lighting effect with five candles behind the shoebox reflecting off a piece of tin foil taped to my wall, while I used the ball lights and bike light for front lighting.

When I’m finished with the test video, I’ll post it here.

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.