The new year has brought with it a new Cloud Hex tune. "Jarnana" combines heavy guitars, big beats and perky vocals straight from the Balkans. If Obituary was fronted by the Buranovskiye Babushki it would sound a little like this. Be sure to block your ears at the 1:46 mark where i do a guitar solo!
They tell me you can hear me
When I play my song for you
I wrote it half by accident
But straight away I knew
I didn’t really intend it
To be as special as it became
I just knew when I wrote it
That you would feel the same
I doubt if others heard it
They’d be very impressed
But it’s taken on more meaning
Than I ever could have guessed
It really is just one chord
Moved up and down the frets
But for that minute when I play it
It drowns out my regrets
Most would be tired of hearing it
I’ve played it for 6 years
But I know each time your eyes well up
With none but joyful tears
They tell me you can hear me
So I play it often through
I’d just feel so much better
If I could ever hear back from you
I was lucky enough to be in tropical Bali. I was staying there with my wife and my good friend was also in town and hanging out with us by the pool. Over a beer or two, my friend and I had been working on some music. It start off as a tongue-in-cheek One Direction song. It was a good laugh and we weren’t really taking it very seriously at all.. in fact as the days went on, the song ended up getting more and more silly to the point where it turned into an over the top camp disco instrumental!
During that week I had also heard about a charity album that Celldweller’s record label was putting together, and was taking submissions to be on it. Now I am the biggest fan a Celldweller, and thought of having a song on the same album as him was too much to pass up! I just had to be part of it – now all I needed was a song.. And with the deadline approaching fast I thought “could this silly bunch of sounds we had been laughing over be turned into something?” I just had to find out! And seeing as it was the only semi-complete song I had done to this point, it was going to be the best candidate.
So we put down the beer and started getting a bit more serious about the little tune – adding some cool fills, tweaking the drum break in the middle, adding more harmony notes until the little tune turned into a neat little song. The only thing missing was a vocal line, but with neither of us being singers what were we to do?
After a little while it dawned on me.. my iphone had an app that you could type words into and Siri would talk them back to you. And with the little hands-free microphone, we could record it from one phone to the other and drop it in the track. Quick and dirty? Definitely! But with few other options, we knew we had to make it work. And work it it! Siri turned out to be quite the little songstress. After cutting and stretching her to rhyme on the beat, she sounded right at home!
We made the final touches to the track on the way home on the plane, and a few hours after landing I was home and had submitted it to the record label. Now the song never ended up on the album, and truth be told it was a little rough around the edges to say the least! But I sat back and beamed with pride – I had successfully completed my first complete song! It showed me I could do it, and gave me that little nudge I needed to kick-start creativity.
The track is on my first album “Light Beam Connect” but I have recently gone back and polished it right up to give it some Cloud Hex shine! Check it out below. I like to think would make Siri proud (and MAYBE even 1D??) 😉
It all started at sweet 16! Well not so sweet in my case I guess.. More like a scruffy rebellious kid who loved music and loved playing guitar as loud as possible. Me and my ragtag bunch of friends didn’t quite fit in with the cool kids or sporty kids or even the brainy ones – we were the ones obsessed with music and we looked up to the rockstars of the time. On TV we’d watch them on stage effortlessly peel off riff after riff and all the while looking damn cool in the process. We were lucky if we could even play some of the riffs let alone be cool while doing it! Chances are we were hunched over the instrument with ourmost idiotic looking ‘concentration face’ frowning away while sloppily running through a riff that had made our jaws drop when we first heard it.. But it sure didn’t stop us trying. We would meet up at our drummer’s house and jam to the simplest songs from our favourite bands, practising away in the hope we’d perform them some day.
We got our wish one night when we turned up to birthday party in this dive of a bar The Riverton Hotel. The band playing onstage was a bunch of older kids that we knew and were quite a friendly lot. They had played half their set and came off stage for a break. I wandered over to the stage to gaze at their expensive instruments. After a minute or so my drooling was interrupted by the voice of my very eager friend who blurted out “Quick! They said we could jump up and play 1 song before they come back on!” At once my stomach knotted with fear but my heart also suddenly beat faster with excitement! Sure we had practised some songs, but would I freeze under the pressure of having an audience? It was probably lucky that I didn’t have too much time to think about things. I hurriedly jumped up on stage, and picked up this awesome but unfamiliar instrument and launched into the song we had hastily chosen. And is if by magic, sound came out of my guitar although it felt like I was not even playing it due to how nervous I was and how fast my mind was racing. After a few seconds I realised: I’m doing this!! We didn’t even have a singer, but that didn’t stop us. Onlookers started singing the words to the song, and it was like the biggest compliment I could get! I was giving my first performance and getting my first taste of what it felt like to be a rockstar!
Later that same year, I went to check out a gig at Curtin University. The band was Def FX, and they had come over from Sydney for a few shows. As they started to play something struck me right away as being different to anything I’d heard before – They had super loud metal guitars, but *SHOCK HORROR* they had no drummer on stage! They had dance beats that they rocked out to, and not only that they had keyboard effects more akin to dance music than rock. They had a female singer who could scream and mosh with the best of them but could also sing sweetly when the song required it. I had found my favourite kind of music! At that stage I had no idea how I was going to do it – I didn’t even own a keyboard or a computer that could handle a sample without exploding. I had not even written a song that had any structure to it by that point. But I knew something right away after hearing it – this was the kind of music I just HAD to make!
And to this very day in every song I write, I try to capture the magic and excitement that 16 year old kid experienced that blew his mind and changed his life. So when you the listener hears my song and really digs it, it is the greatest feeling to me as I know I have in some small way transported you to that gig at Curtin University – and I am right back on that stage at the Riverton Hotel playing my guitar and grinning from ear to ear as people in the crowd sing back to me in appreciation.
I look forward to many more sometimes hard, sometimes ugly, always worthwhile experiences along this musical journey. Here’s to hoping that you are part of that journey. Thank you for being a listener and for making it all matter!