Paul Jackson Music

Paul Jackson Music

Monday, 4 September 2017

#37: Preps and Plans

Ahead of performing live sets hopefully in the not too distant future, I was recently urged to supply promotional material including artist name and web links. The ridiculous mental debate I've had with myself over the last year about what form my live set up should take was nipped in the bud when I had to make a decision. Probably at the relief of the few friends I've no doubt bored senseless with my indecision.
So for this vocal and piano venture, I shall be simply going out as Paul Jackson. That's it. Done. Next!

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I've been gathering up some songs and reworking them as acoustic versions. Not really one to leave things unfinished, I am still aiming to the next album of electronic pop tracks before wrapping up the Production moniker. I have always felt a disconnect between me, the vocal take and the music. Recording vocals over an electronic backing track is something I've always struggled with and it has never ever come out as I wanted it to. But sat at a piano, pressing keys while also singing lyrics has a very different feel. More freeing in a way. Whether it's related to being more in control of the musical notes as well as vocals I don't know but I can sense I perform better that way. I think so anyway.

So at present, I have a set list forming of my own songs for just vocal and piano. There are no keyboard stands and racks of boxes for me to hide behind, or sweeping synthesizer lines to cover myself with. Not yet anyway
I tried out another open mic night in August at the Duke Of York in Tunbridge Wells. I decided to risk trying out a song that I'm currently recording called A Long Way Off, which is quite an upbeat electronic pop track that I never envisaged could be performed on piano. But I didn't want the piano set to be just slow songs so I thought I'd try it out and while it felt tricky and not exactly as I intended, I think it might be worth persevering with.

I also decided to upload some earlier material to my Production Bandcamp page that includes songs I am currently adding to my forthcoming piano set. Live With It and Lost Again are two songs from years and years ago I thought might work. So at you will find two digital ep's called Studio Archive EP and Remix Archive EP containing a few tracks I recorded for the Production album 'Studio' as well as some remixed versions.

And purely for keeping record of songs I've tried out at recent Open Mic nights, I decided to list them here

24 February 2017
The Elm Tree, Paddock Wood
It's My Life (Talk Talk cover)
Fireflies (Owl City cover)
Getting Away With It (Electronic cover)
To Everyone Unknown

27 February 2017
The Duke Of York, Tunbridge Wells
It's My Life (Talk Talk cover)
Getting Away With It (Electronic cover)
To Everyone Unknown

15 May 2017
The Duke Of York, Tunbridge Wells
Love Comes Quickly (Pet Shop Boys cover)
Frozen (Madonna cover)

14 August 2017
The Duke Of York, Tunbridge Wells
To Everyone Unknown
A Long Way Off
Come Dancing (Kinks cover)
Getting Away With It (Electronic cover)

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

#36: Open Mic Nights

So I survived my first try out at an Open Mic night back in February. Up until a couple of weeks prior to it, I had never attended one. I had always associated Open Mic nights with stand up comedy. It had never crossed my mind that there were ones for musicians as well until several years ago when a musician friend of mine mentioned that they had done one. I immediately thought they had turned their hand to being a stand up comedian.
The first one I performed at was at The Elm Tree, Paddock Wood, and I didn't even need to supply my own keyboard as there was one there I could play. But not having tried it out until I was up for my first song, it was a little hard to get used to a different keyboard feel, keyboard stand height and general set up and sound. It was a very busy Friday pub night but I got through the songs and it seemed to go down okay. 

I performed It's My Life (Talk Talk) and Fireflies (Owl City) to begin with. I was later invited back to do another where I played Getting Away With It (Electronic) and then later on in the evening I performed one of my own called To Everyone Unknown: a song I have been recording for the next Production album though this time I was performing it as vocal and piano rather than with synths and sequencing
The following Monday I went to the Open Mic night at the Duke Of York, Tunbridge Wells, which was a smaller and more intimate setting, and a very relaxed atmosphere and welcoming bunch of people to perform to. I performed It's My Life, Getting Away With It and To Everyone Unknown and they seemed to go well.
This time I brought and set up my own keyboard and stand and sound module, and it didn't take as long to assemble as I feared it might.
Then a few weeks passed until I decided to have another try.
Last night (Monday 15th May) I went back to the Duke of York for another try and this time performed Love Comes Quickly (Pet Shop Boys), Frozen (Madonna) and then another of my own called Turn. They seemed to go okay though I felt  I could have performed Turn a bit better. But its all good testing ground and a good learning curve.

So it took me a while to get round to it but I gave it a go. I would quite like to do them as and when I can and eventually get a full set worth where maybe I could perform a gig. Though the intention is to then incorporate some electronics and extra keyboard work into the mix to vary the sound and arrangements. Nothing too overblown as I may have done in the past, but I think a more subtle approach with a view to reinterpreting songs rather than any straight covers.
But one step at a time.....

At The Elm Tree, Paddock Wood, Feb 2017

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

#35: Open Mic... Prep

When I kickstarted the idea of playing live again early in 2016, I wasn't quite sure in what form it would take. While I mentally debate about whether to go for full synth/sequencer set up doing original material, or vocal/piano set up or even a vocal/piano with minimal additional synth arrangements, I was aware that it could all be for nothing if I end up not performing that well anyway - or even not enjoying it. So  I decided it was test the water. If only to see what might work, what path to venture down and what to rule out. Even if that means ruling out the whole idea..
So the other week I had a look online to see when and where there would be an Open Mic night for singers and musicians for me to watch and listen and see if that should be the next step. I saw there was one that very evening in Tunbridge Wells, so after getting home from work I ventured over to watch a selection of singer songwriters performing a mixture of covers and originals. Though all were guitarists, I was invited to come back with a keyboard and try out some songs. So that's what I aim to do on Monday 27th.
In addition to that, the other day I found another Open Mic night advertised for this coming Friday at a pub in my village. On contacting the person running it, it now turns out that I'll be attending this week with a view to playing some songs. I have an idea of the songs I'll be trying at both nights which are mainly covers but I have a couple of my own songs ready to drop in if the time is right. They are songs I've already recorded and arranged as full electronic pop songs for the next Production digital release, but I shall be trying out minimal piano versions.
So it feels a little bit like I'm peering over the diving board and not really knowing how it will feel or how it will be received. After Friday and Monday, we shall see what happens next.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

#34: Wrapping Up The Present

So as I wrap up another year, I have a brief look back over musical activity in this area. Not one but two Duster Jack albums were composed and recorded and uploaded to the Bandcamp site in the last two months.

Both were fun to write and record and kept within the instrumental electro synth dance style that fit under the Duster Jack moniker.

You can stream and download them here..

Theory Of Something

Since the beginning of the year I've had a Production album which currently consists of finished backing tracks. I did start recording vocals but want to try again and hope to have that done in the new year. I've also started arranging covers for a possible live venture. I have been toying with the idea of playing live again in some form or the other. Initially I wondered about performing original material in a solo electronic set up, as I used to do, but I've also been mulling over the idea of performing as a covers act - interpreting songs from various eras and styles in my own way and while I've rehearsed and recorded some of these, they need a little bit more work.

And aside from creating music, I've felt that I need to go back to having some sort of landing webpage from which to link to Bandcamp and the Blog and wherever else. So there's a few things to set my mind to in 2017. Until then I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Friday, 2 December 2016

#33: New and Ongoing

Following a musical prolific 2015, I hoped I could continue on the same path this year whereby I finish work on various ideas I've previously sketched out, or start and complete new projects. That hasn't quite happened as I intended, but I have found myself embarking on yet another idea that I've probably been spending far longer than is required at this time.
Last autumn I did start writing a new Production album and actually finished all the music for the ten electronic pop tracks that would form it. But I have yet to find adequate time and space to finish recording vocals and mix the whole thing down before setting it free into cyberspace.
At the start of the year I focused a little on how much I have missed performing live - be it with a band or solo, and I began toying with the possibility of breaking the haitus in some way. At the same time as doing my typical thing of overthinking, overworrying and overplanning on how I would action it, my brain has been awash with thoughts on how it might be perceived, how many people would be there to do any perceiving in the first place, and how I would feel in carrying it out.
Would I perform original tracks and pick up where I left the Production 'act' hanging at the turn of the century, or should I maybe not put it under any guise or umbrella and just perform behind a keyboard or two and delve into covers? I've chatted at length with a few close friends who have remained patient enough to hear me pour out ideas and thoughts and concerns and have received generous support in return. I have an idea of how I want to perform and present a selection of tracks - whether covers or originals, but nothing is going to happen until I actually find somewhere to play and turn up and just give it a go. But rather than just procrastinate and worry over it,  I have consistently been collecting songs, arranging and sequencing accompanying synth and rhythm parts, as well as mappingout vocal and piano arrangements of various songs from various eras in various genres. So now I have quite a large bank of material to collate into performable sets, my next task is to record a few so I, and maybe select others, can hear and critique them, before I decide to take the next step.
I was sure I could reach performing stage by the end of the year but it hasn't quite worked out. I'm not too keen on trying it out in public before I feel I've confidently learned the material and my limited vocal and playing abilities are as fit for purpose as they can be.
As well as sequencing and arranging cover versions on my travelling studio tablet set up, I have also occasionally delved into musical ideas for instrumental tracks and reworking early Production tracks which I hope to air sometime in the new year.
A few weeks ago I decided to push myself a little with the challenge of creating some new musical ideas and experiments for another Duster Jack album. Purely for a fun exercise and workout. While starting on the basics for 12 new tracks, I found a bunch of ideas I had put  down several months ago but had never expanded into full tracks. I had forgotten about them.
Theory Of Something

So out of those, I created 12 full tracks for a fourth Duster Jack album now released as Theory Of Something. And the newer 12 ideas were then expanded into a fifth album called Timeline which is all ready to publish. Just need to hit the button to make it live which will happen any day now. So I managed to get to the end of the year with putting something new out into the ether at least. And I hope the fun it was to make the tracks comes across to those who hear them.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

#32: Cassette Box

By 1994 I had got into the habit of recording demos of songs from my little synth/drum machine/portastudio set up and making up cassettes to scatter around the corners of the earth. In the summer holidays of that year from university I set up a mini recording area and began reworking and rerecording old songs as well as writing new songs and instrumentals. Partly for fun and partly for the cataloguing side of me I started compiling them as cassette albums. They didn't really venture outside anywhere other than into the hands of a few friends that showed an interest. However it was a way of archiving what become the results of a musical prolific few weeks and it was good fun. I cobbled together some sleeves courtesy of the library colour photocopier and typed up the tracklisting. I was sorting through some old boxes recently and had a little browse through these little cassette tapes from over twenty years ago. The latter two were compiled a couple of years later in 1996 but I never reached the colour sleeve packaging stage. 
So for perhaps posterity and a little nostalgia and maybe even for the amusement of anyone who may remember any of the songs from that time, I've decided to list them here on the blog. 
And while I'm not at any stage to even consider giving the audio another airing, I haven't ruled out maybe revisiting and reworking some past ideas for future ventures. 

A Personal Possession (1994)

A Personal Possession
1. Would You?
2. Let It Go
3. Night Exodus
4. Possessive Mind
5. Let Me Hold You
6. Obsessive Mind
7. Confession
8. Just Another Love Song
9. Be Mind
10. Never Need You
11. Don't Leave Me Now
12. I Couldn't Really Care Less
13. For You

Trks 4,9,11,12 features Simon Partridge on guitars
Trks 1,2,8,13 (1994)  3, 5, 6, 7,10,12 (1993) 4,9,11 (1992)

Dreams and Illusions (1994)

Dreams and Illusions

1. Tomorrow Could Be A Different Thing
2. I'd Rather Not Know You
3. Don't Ask Me Why
4. I Could Do With A Little Love From You
5. But I Forgive You
6. What's It All For?
7. So
8. Would It Be Alright?
9. I'm Not Telling You
10. Isolated Virtue
11. On The Edge
12. Destiny

Trk 7. features Simon Partridge on electric guitar

Dark (1994)

1. Last Night I Stayed Awake
2. I Need A Place
3. I Don't Want To Be Here Anymore
4. It's Not So Easy
5. Wanderlust
6. Miles Away
7. Sitting In A Room
8. One Night
9. Time To Go
10. Poetry
11. One Of These Days


Club (1994)


1. NRG Overture
2. Moments I Long For
3. Repercussion
4. Nightlife
5. Portrait
6. Don't You Feel Unreal?
7. One More Day
8. Masquerade
9. The Product
10. Would You Like To Take A Trip To The Moon?
11. Interlude 9
12. Productivity (Reprise)

Optimistic (1994)


1. It's The Only Solution
2. I Know A Place
3. I Would Like To...
4. After All This Time
5. You Are
6. Great Expectations
7. You Take Control
8. I'd Like To Know You
9. Do What You Have To
10. I Never Knew
11. Your Only Lover

12. What Can I Do?

Trks 8 and 11 feature Hannah Cygan on lead(8) and backing vocal(11)

Synth Disco (1996)

Synth Disco

1. Open
2. We Could Be Good Together
3. Thinking Of Me
4. Together
5. Blowing Your Mind
6. Long
7. Forever
8. Making Mistakes (I'm Alive)
9. Live With It
10. This Could Be
11. Club Pop
12. We Could Be Good Together 
(S-cape mix)

Recorded 1995-96

Machine (1996)


1. I Want The Machines
2. Someone You Could Change
3. Moving Closer
4. You Wouldn't Want That
5. Calling Me
6. I Could Easily Forget
7. Living Tonight
8. Something More
9. Making It Real
10. Live and Die

Recorded 1996

Thursday, 4 February 2016

#31: All things pending....

I'm currently in one of my favourite lunch hour retreats from work where on occasion I sit with my tablet, a notepad and a coffee. I usually scribble down some music ideas and sketches, or on this occasion, take to my blog for a catch up. Last September I began noting down new song ideas which have now taken shape in audio form and I'm just now listening and reviewing all ten backing tracks. Certainly a lot faster process than it was for the 'Tonic' album but perhaps finishing that album has become the motivator to push ahead with continuing to create rather than stagnate. 
The album has taken shape quite quickly and pending some vocal sessions I'm hoping I can put it out into the ether very soon. It rather depends on if I can hit enough right notes to be happy enough.

By the end of 2015 I had managed to finish a few little projects under various monikers I have been accustomed to jumping between, and I wasn't sure whether to continue in that fashion or create a new one and stick to it. Especially as I've been more recently mulling over the idea of maybe trying to do some live performing again. Not entirely sure where, when, what or why but as it's something I've missed doing I think it's at least worth another shot. Tried lots of different things over the years since I last performed and always had the intention, or maybe the hope, that I could pick up where I last left. Before I knew it fifteen years had gone by. So we'll see what happens after I spend a bit of time working on arrangements and performance strategy with a new set up. Maybe if I post it in this blog and I have knowledge that it has been read by someone somewhere, it may propel me to forge ahead with the idea instead of ducking out without good reason.