Dédé Davi Makes Her Debut & Alan Wilder Is Back A La Mode

Dede
Dede

Alan Wilder steps back in from the sidelines as performer-producer on debut single from upcoming Londoner, Dédé Davi.

Alan Wilder, man behind the Recoil music project, formerly one quarter of Depeche Mode, those pioneers of synth pop whose music captured the zeitgeist of ’80s experimental electronica, and general all-round enigma, has, after some years of silence which presumably he ‘enjoyed’, resurfaced in the form of performer/producer on an R&B piano-ballad by an upcoming English singer/songwriter.

calling-the-clock

‘Calling The Clock‘ is the debut single from Londoner Dédé Davi to whom Wilder was introduced by erstwhile Mode road-manager, Daryl Bamonte, now a successful label and artist manager in his own right. Dédé, who has gone from a Uni degree course, through being BBC play-listed, to working with the likes of Steve Hewitt (Paul Draper, Placebo), is currently in-studio working on her debut album.

Rehearsed and recorded in a negligible four hours, the song sees Wilder reprise his role as accompanying pianist, and music composer and arranger, one that recalls his indelible contributions to songs like ‘Somebody’ and ‘Pimpf’ and which will doubtless reawaken the memories of many a Mode fan.

Speaking of the collaboration with Dédé. Wilder said:

 I was struck not only by her beautifully soulful and sophisticated voice, but also the simplicity and directness of the words along with a melody which left plenty of room to come up with the arrangement … With limited hours in the studio, an immediate focus was required to get the right piano and vocal performances … The whole experience was refreshing and rewarding …”

alan-wilder
Alan Wilder

Similarly, the song itself – lyrics & melody – was written in a matter of hours, early ones at that, in a creative burst that saw the Croydon-born artist put body to a title that had been lying around for quite some time.  Explaining how the track came about, the singer confessed:

I knew I liked the sound of it; I just didn’t have a clue what it meant to me or what it could turn into. It came out of frustration, I kind of just stopped caring what it could be and at 1am on a Saturday I just wrote what came out and what I felt like.”

Listening to the lyrics one can easily understand how they flowed during the lonely darkness of the small hours.  The sense of frustration is palpable, the emotion raw, the uncertainty the territory of the still of the night.

Wilder’s musicianship is as meticulous as it is intuitive and his understated yet effectual performance provides the perfect balance for Davi’s heartfelt vocal. Her voice, which is pitch perfect and well controlled throughout, has a warmth and silkiness that lends itself well to this style of soulful balladry.  Mr Bamonte certainly had a eureka moment when he conceived of this perfect musical pairing!

‘Calling The Clock’ is a masterclass in subtlety and discernment.  A modern day soul song, emotionally stirring without being overindulgent, performed with accomplished restraint, by two musical perfectionists.

Dédé Davi  is as they say, ‘one to watch’ and so in a way, is Alan Wilder. Where or when he will next be seen or heard is anyone’s guess. We can only hope it won’t be another four years. In the meantime, you can download or stream ‘Calling The Clock’ (our on Smile Records) here : itunes | spotify and watch Dédé perform the song in the video here,

Why Sometimes Saying Thank You Just Isn’t Enough … #Blogging

dervswerve

Emailed thank yous that no-one ever sees … discreet little intermittent likes on Twitter … the odd like of a post on FB.  Nothing obvious.  Not so anyone would ever notice. No words or actions that publicly acknowledge, support, reinforce, or help spread awareness.  The key words in that sentence are “publicly acknowledge” – meaning, “to show someone you have noticed them or heard what they have said; to publicly announce that you are grateful to someone for something; to publicly recognise how good someone is”.

Type Irish Music Bloggers into Google and two things happen …

Aside from the omni-present Hype Machine, which imo is a whole lot of exactly that, hype, two links dominate the SEO rankings.  The interesting thing about the top search result, ‘Irish Music Blogs – serenityb‘ is that the latter no longer exists. Having fallen off the Twitter bandwagon in February 2015, it disappeared into the blog-ether towards the end of that same year.

The search for Irish music blogs also yields a link to ‘The Best of Irish Music Blogs’ – a list compiled by the IASCA.  This list however, dates back to 2011 in comparison with the aforementioned site whose list is a little recently clocking in mid 2015. However, the stark reality is that of the 20+ music blogs recommended by both sites, over 50% of them are now defunct.

The sad truth is that the reality tends to be a lot harsher than the passion foresees – endless long hours gnawing into weekends, family, quality and recharge time, a seriously scaled back to non-existent social life, and the relentless allocating of annual leave to far flung festivals.  Not to mention the cost.  We haven’t even got that far yet.  Then there’s the ugly reality – the wake up and smell the one way aroma, wrap yourself around the cold comfort of unreciprocated support.

You see the fact is that unless the support network operates a dual-way system, then one side will eventually become redundant. . Like a pot plant that grows in half-light/half-shade, one side will thrive in the warm glow of attention, cosseted and nourished by a drip feed of positivity, whilst the unattended other, will simply fade and die.

The ultimate aim of most bloggers is simply to write about, nay rave & rant about music they love.  And to help promote it, as best they can.  To have their views, thoughts, emotions, values, and passions reach an audience of any size, age, colour and creed, as long as that audience is appreciative.

No-one likes to be derided.  No-one sets out to be ignored. No-one wants their words to fall, like crumbs off a kitchen table, down a virtual shaft of disregard. Nor do they want their time and effort to be used like newspaper clippings, to pad out a press portfolio that nobody ever reads.  A box ticked, a quota reached, job well done all round.

Which brings me back to the comments at the top of this piece … or, put simply and in the words of Amy Winehouse, ‘Love is a losing game’.  Love is a losing game and blogging is a mug’s game … if you’re green and gauche enough to let them both beat you and mug you off.  I was.  Not anymore.

Days, nights, bank holidays, weekends, holidays.  Time which should have been spent with loved ones, nights when I should have been out having fun, afternoons when I should have been working, Sundays when I should have been relaxing. Hell, even holidays when I hid the laptop in my suitcase, sitting up into the early hours typing reviews.  Why?  Because X had asked me, and if I said no, they might never ask again.  Because I had promised, and I wanted to keep my word.  And oh because it’s such a great song I need to be in on the action.  More often than not the reward was never as sweet as the sugar I was pouring onto the WordPress screen.

How many times have I spent hours, days, working on an album review to get it just so, to make it the best I could, only for it to pass through the social ethernet unnoticed.  How often have I sat hunched over a laptop on a Saturday night while everyone else was out enjoying themselves as I laboured over reviews for this publication and that publication because they operated on a strict 24 hour t/o, despite the fact that they rarely put out their requests before Friday and notwithstanding the fact that they themselves hardly ever worked over the weekend.

Possibly the biggest kick in the teeth you could ever give a reviewer is to ask them to review something and then completely blank it.  The biggest slap across the face? Ask them to review something on another publication, and then completely blank it.

And while I can take the saccharine emails teasing for my opinions, pining for my thoughts on this, the latest artist du jour’s best banger ever, I cannot accept the insouciant ignorance of the musicatti – self-anointed music royalty using bloggers like some free PR vehicle.

Which brings us to the crux of the problem and the real reason why so many of the afore-mentioned go-to blogs listed by their peers as being at the top of their game, have failed, have faded and have died.

Who do you think pays for the site, pays for the time and effort, pays for the music on Spotify and iTunes, and pays for the trips to festivals including travel, accommodation and food?  Where do you think the hours and days off come from?  Have you ever actually given it any thought?

The funds come from our own pockets, our wages from the real jobs we do every day – banking, teaching, sales, copywriting – and, from our savings.  Heck one 2016 trip even came courtesy of a bank loan!  When was the last time someone took out a loan to pay me to write something? [ B L A N K S P A C E]

The time comes from our holiday leave allocations, our weekends, our free evenings! Everything that’s there – we give it, US, for FREE. The bloggers.  The time, the money, the words, the research …

Now musicians you might counter the argument by saying that you rarely get paid for playing a gig – but at least you’re playing your own music!

If you ask a blogger to review your work or your artists work, if you cannot financially recompense them, at least show them the respect of supporting their blog.  And, AND, if you have enough brass neck to ask a blogger to post a review or make a submission to another site, at least acknowledge the author when you are blowing the trumpet of that very same and usually much bigger site, because without the writer, you and your music or your artist would not be there.

If PRs and musicians do not start supporting blogs in a mutually respectful way, there will be less and less small blogs, leaving a monopoly of a handful.  The big guns who hoover up all the “woo woo premieres” (really guys, they aren’t all that!) – big titles, big soundbites, one quote and no substance.  If that’s what you want, then that’s what you’ll get.  But with everyone competing for space within the limited confines of the few, how will every artist ever get press?

And if the big guys only ever want premieres, then does that not lessen the chances of cross-publication coverage? Because despite what some PR folks think, there can only be one premiere (unless the definition of the word has changed in the past couple of days).

Every time I am asked to post a review on another site, I respond with a simple question: how would you like it if I were to ask you to promote an unsigned band for free and/or your artist/band (tick where appropriate) to play only cover songs?

Just play 3rd party songs all the time there will you?  I don’t care that you write, rehearse, record and play your own songs; I love your voices and the way you play guitar, it’s really cool, but could you just see your way to singing A.N. Other’s songs.  I’d be so grateful. Smiley Fucking Face.

Let’s call a spade a spade.  If the Quietus asked Portishead to do an interview but only asked them questions about Goldfrapp, how soon do you think it would be before the words “fuck off” were used?  If Matt Horton wrote a piece about Taylor Swift stating that he loved her voice but she’d be far better suited to singing Demi Lovato songs, how would that work do you think?

Or, let’s look at it in another way.  You or your band or your artist writes/records/produces an album.  They give a copy to several reviewers whose email response is – wow, that’s super cool, thanks.  That’s it.  All that trouble.  All that effort.  Hardly anyone has heard it.  Hardly anyone knows who you are or that the album has even been released.  You’ve worked really hard, for no financial gain, no return and now, after everything, you don’t even get any kudos for a job well done.

Well folks, that’s us.  That’s blogging.

Every month another blog closes down; because they’ve lost their mojo, or they can’t keep dedicating the time, or they can’t build enough recognition to make any money from their labour.  If music artists and their respective management, PR teams and cohorts don’t actively and publicly support bloggers then why should they expect constant support themselves?  They want bloggers to review their music to help generate awareness of their brand, yet in return, they offer no reciprocal support to the majority of blogs unless the words Best Fit or Clash feature in the title! How does that work?  It doesn’t!

It’s not about the money, it’s not about the notoriety.  Hell no.  What it is about, is respect.  Over the past three months I’ve sailed very close to the wind of ‘give up’.  I’ve toyed with just fucking the whole thing in the bin.  There’s only so much anyone can put up with until they blow.  I’ve blown….red hot wired and blown.  But you know what? When the lava cooled I asked myself why should I give up doing something I love because of ‘the few‘?

From November, I am returning to the blog, with hopefully, the same verve and spirit that I’ve had in the past (or at least hoped I had). This time however, the rules have changed.

If you, or your band, or your PR don’t care to support me, then remove me from your lists.  If you want your music reviewed, please send it to me.  If you are PR and you send me music to review, I expect you to show willing on Twitter or FB.  If I don’t see any mutual love, three strikes and we’ll shake hands.

You see this is my time, my money, my life, my choice.  I started writing 18 months ago because I wanted people to know about so many unsigned bands that were going unheard.  I wanted to shout out about amazing Norwegian music and beatastic Danish Americana.  I wanted to bounce enchantments of Dorset other-worldliness off the moon.  And, I wanted to write about Radiohead.

All of that and more is what I am going to continue to do.

But I’m going back to basics.  I’m going back to basics.  Doing things the way I want to do them, when I want to do them and how. Blogging for the right reasons.  And, for the love of music.

If you’re with me, I’ll cya around.

Derv x

“Upon a Fit of Sickness, Anno 1632” – A Poem by Anne Bradstreet.

For this exercise on Anne Bradstreet and her work, I’ve chosen to look at one of her earliest poems, “Upon a Fit of Sickness, Anno 1632”, written when the poet was just 19 years of age.

This poem exhibits some of the disquietude experienced by devout Puritans like Anne; transience of life, inevitability of death and desire for eternal salvation.

“Upon a Fit of Sickness, Anno 1632”

“Twice ten years old not fully told

since nature gave me breath,

My race is run, my thread spun,

lo, here is fatal death.

All men must die, and so must I;

this cannot be revoked.

For Adam’s sake this word God spake

when he so high provoked.

Yet live I shall, this life’s but small,

in place of highest bliss,

Where I shall have all I can crave,

no life is like to this.

For what’s this but care and strife

since first we came from womb?

Our strength doth waste, our time doth haste,

and then we go to th’ tomb.

O bubble blast, how long can’st last?

that always art a breaking,

No sooner blown, but dead and gone,

ev’n as a word that’s speaking.

O whilst I live this grace me give,

I doing good may be,

Then death’s arrest I shall count best,

because it’s Thy decree;

Bestow much cost there’s nothing lost,

to make salvation sure,

O great’s the gain, though got with pain,

comes by profession pure.

The race is run, the field is won,

the victory’s mine I see;

Forever known, thou envious foe,

the foil belongs to thee.”

Anne Bradstreet Portrait

Firstly, some background.

Anne Bradstreet was born in Northampton, England on 20th March, 1612, into comfortable surroundings.  The daughter of an ardent lover of books, and, in the spirit of the Elizabethan tradition, Anne was well (home) tutored in the classics.  Married at sixteen to Simon Bradstreet, the couple along with her parents, left England as part of a fleet of Puritan emigrants in 1630, arriving in New England in June 1630.

Shortly after their arrival into this stark, sparse new world, Anne’s father, Thomas Dudley wrote in a letter to England:-

“We found the colony in a sad and unexpected condition, above eighty of them being dead the winter before; and many of those alive weak and sick; all the corn and bread amongst them all hardly sufficient to feed them a fortnight”.

These are the same conditions then, in which we find the poet in 1632.

Here we have a young woman, who having come from a well to do background, now finds herself and her family, trying to cope with the new and unfamiliar struggles of sickness, hunger and lack of basic comforts.

Almost hymnal, “Upon a Fit of Sickness” reflects what was to be a major theme in Bradstreet’s work – religion, life, death, eternity and the human battle with tolerance, denial and submission to achieve the greater end.  Undoubtedly pious and diligent, Bradstreet is still not beyond questioning her faith, or, expressing her love for this earthly world versus her desire for a place in the eternal kingdom.  Existence battles faith, penance over creature comforts, the ambivalent tussle is constant.

The bones of the poet’s intent – to highlight the brevity of life, inevitability of death and dream of salvation, are summed up in these lines:-

“O bubble blast, how long can’st last?

that always art a breaking,

No sooner blown, but dead and gone,

ev’n as a word that’s speaking.

O whilst I live this grace me give,

I doing good may be,

Then death’s arrest I shall count best,

because it’s Thy decree;”

We feel the strife between body and soul, hear the plea to give this young woman the strength to overcome the will and weakness of the flesh, in order to carry out God’s will.  Bradstreet was to continue with, and mature this theme throughout her life, probably reaching poetic climax in the acclaimed “Contemplations” (33 majestic stanzas full of the glory of God and nature.  Of man’s fall from grace, his subservient place on earth, and in facing certain death, his finally giving himself over to God’s will, in the hope of redemption and a place in the everlasting).

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“O Time the fatal wrack of mortal things,
That draws oblivions curtains over kings,
Their sumptuous monuments, men know them not,
Their names without a Record are forgot,
Their parts, their ports, their pomp’s all laid in th’ dust.
Nor wit, nor gold, nor buildings scape times rust;
But he whose name is grav’d in the white stone
Shall last and shine when all of these are gone.”

from  “Contemplations” – Anne Bradstreet.

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As with Adam in “Upon a Fit of Sickness..”, neither Kings in all their finery, nor “sumptuous monuments” can escape decay and death.  In the end, only God and his glory remain.
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Written in the more melodic “ballad meter” (four iambic lines), this poem’s alternate rhyming gives it a freer, more conversational flow.  Bradstreet’s language is striking in it’s honest simplicity.  Here is a woman, who for want of a better term, doesn’t mince her words.
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“O great’s the gain, though got with pain”.
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Bradstreet was a woman, wife, mother, Puritan and poet.  Her view of life is honest and arresting, challenging yet suppliant.
Her poetry like her life is filled with intelligent questioning, inner strength, consideration of failings, a strong but not unerring faith, and above all, love and perseverance.  It is not hard to understand how she has been deemed the “foundational spirit of American poetry”