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January 23, 2018

Grant funding - knockbacks and new tracks ...

OK, so I applied for some government grants to support the Tetrafasi Project late last year. I asked for about $40k each from Arts Queensland and The Australia Council. That's a lot to ask for straight up! The AQ grant was to pay for the services of James North to produce the set of recordings, and the OzCo grant was to pay for the services of the musicians who will play on them.

I deliberately applied in this way because there are less Queensland applicants and thus I figured I'm more likely to get that one. It's essential, whereas I can probably persuade a few mates to play on the things for love and a cut of the proceeds. I'd rather not, though ... musos deserve to get paid and I want to do the right thing!

In any case, last last year I received rejections from both and asked for feedback on each. OzCo sent me a form email saying the application had been ranked in the lowest third of applications and had scored worst on "Artistic Merit". Predictable ... at least they pointed me to a different grant for which I can apply.

However, today the wonderful Alyssa from Arts Queensland rang me to discuss the application for about 20 minutes. In summary, she said this:

  1. The assessment panel loved the innovation and said the project had "high potential".
  2. They wanted heaps more detail on the workshops, how they would improve the output of participants, the extent of the reach ... and so on.
  3. They wanted a marketing plan attached
  4. They wanted to see the criteria by which the songs had been chosen (fair point!)
  5. They wanted "demonstrated demand for this" from industry via the Letters of Support
  6. They wanted more details on the project's legacy

Plenty to work with there! I had wanted to supply lots of this but had been deterred by the small spaces on hte forms. Did not think of attaching stuff as additional supporting documents! (Tips for beginners)

So, I will try again with Arts Qld and will also apply for the PPCA/OzCo grant, which looks perfectly suited, though the amount is a little low. Something is better than nothing, right?

Need to completely re-draft the schedules, budget, etc ... and find additional support from industry ... not much of a challenge at all, really ... thanks, Alyssa!

Posted by Huge at 4:39 PM | Comments (0)

January 15, 2018

Donnie's Black Dog - the full story

I was mowing my parents' lawn last week ... in the Queensland heat and humidity ... when a flash of inspiration popped into my head. Now, my head usually reverts to playing music when the rest of me is doing something mundane - that's quite normal. It's very refreshing to let the mind wander in its own direction when the body is on autopilot and often results in hooks and song ideas and philosophical resolutions. On this occasion, however, two thoughts intersected in an unusual way.

The other thing that my head likes to do when I let it take over control of itself is gripe about things that have been concerning it. That often means ranting at people about minor upsets, solving the problems of the world, or ponitificating on some issue over which I have absolutely no control.

On this occasion, the music of Led Zepplin coincided with a rant at Donald Trump. I have no idea why, but these things have been known to happen when I let my brain take its own direction.

It may have been the macho throb of a lawnmower dessicating overgrown lawn ... but after running through Led Zepplin's Black Dog in my head a few times in between gripes about the despicable behaviour of US President Donald Trump, I was inspired to shout to the world: "Hey, Hey Donnie, with the shit you talk, you gonna say that stuff, better walk the walk!"

It was a very cathartic expression, which I ran through my head in several forms and word combinations before I settled on the one that appears below. When I switched to thinking about how Donald likes to torment people like a schoolboy, I came up, surprisingly quickly, with a schoolboy tease about the issue that most upsets him: "Russia! Russia! Russia! Russia! Russia! Russia! Raaaahh!!" This very conveniently fit another part of Black Dog, which was still running around in my head.

As dark approached I hit on several other ideas that appear in the version below, including a reference to "Rockin' Robert Mueller" and "Pissing Russian hookers all through the night", of which I felt particularly proud.

When I had packed up the mowers and headed back for dinner, I mentioned the idea to Suzie, who thought it was very funny. By coincidence, we had both attended a YouTube marketing seminar run by Van from Comes with Fries in Brisbane just a few weeks before, and had been looking for content to get my YouTube channel going.

We had already agreed that I should make simple lyric videos of the songs that had no videos in the channel (more about that elsewhere) and we thought that something like this, with international appeal and a clearly funny purpose, might make great content to take my channel to a new audience.

So I came home from the farm and wrestled with it in my head for a few days. Then last Thursday morning I got up at 7am and by 8am had written most of it! Remarkable productivity ... but I have noticed that about myself: once I have a clear concept in my head I can write very fast. I made a point of leaving out anything that referenced innocents - the Trump family, Whitehouse staff, etc. Only wanted to point the satirical bone at people known to be deeply dodgy or on the side of righteousness!!

I needed a backing track and did not have anything like the skills nor eqiupment to reproduce a useful backing track in the time allowed, so I bought one from Karoke-version.com (their work is excellent!) and stripped the vocals out of it. I realise others own copyright on some of this material, but understand this to be Fair Use for the purposes of parody or satire (in this case - both). Weird Al Yankovic made a career out of doing this.

So ... could my voice do anything even remotely Robert Plant-like? I sang it to the family and they thought yes - close enough, anyway. So on Friday I set up the mics in my little studio and had a crack. The first two lines below were recorded for the purposes of setting levels and clearly show that I had not yet placed those notes in my head (technique) ... but by the time I got to the end, reasonable takes were appearing quickly and some of them even sound quite good, I thought! We kept the first two flawed takes because we wanted this to sound authentic - like a normal guy with something to say and no spaectacular vocal skill.

Mixed the thing quickly and played it to Suzie and the kids. Despite lots of laughs, Suzie thought some lines could be improved, so on Saturday morning we re-wrote a few (most noteably "Rockin' Robert Mueller gonna come your way" became "Righteous Robbie Mueller brings Judgement Day", which is both easier to sing and more pointed).

Re-recorded these and re-mixed very quickly. Dumped the finished version out of Pro Tools. Now ... the video!?!

I had spent some of Friday looking for pics that might suit each line and figured a still-image video with lyrics would do the job. Tried to find pics that suited each phrase ... fudged a few with videos. Spent all of Saturday night pulling bits into iMovie.

Saturday morning I realised that I needed something to fill the instrumental interludes, of which there are lots! Searched YouTube for videos of Donnie dancing ... got a few but only one was useful. There were LOTS of him giving speeches and I noticed that his public speaking has a certai rythm to it. Found video grabs that fit the pace and timing of the song. Deliberately left out anything that had a broadcast logo on it ... don't need them involved!

Viola! By Sunday night a full version was complete. Got up this morning and finshed it ... dumped and uploaded this arvo ... Houson, we have a launch! See below:

Now the hard part - try to get some attention for the thing. The goal is to reach YouTube's completely arbitrary threshold of 10,000 views before monetisating the Channel. Not an easy goal, since the Channel currently has about 250 views and I have no budget ... Will try Social Media Marketing and see what happens!

If you think this is funny and want to contribute to the experiment, please like, comment, and share. Who knows? I just might go viral and change the world ... regardles, thanks for reading this far ... :-)

Donnie's Black Dog

Hey, hey Donnie, with the trash you talk
Gonna say that shit, better walk the walk
Ah ah child with the tantrum thing.
Gon' tweet your ass, gon' make you sting
Hey, hey baby with the orange hair.
Can't take away Obamacare.

Donnie, Ronnie Al-zhei-mers. Donnie, Ronnie Al-zhei-mers
Donnie, Ronnie Al-zhei-mers. Donnie, Ronnie Al-zhei-mers

All I ask for all I pray.

Righteous Robbie Mueller's bringing Judgement Day
Cuz there's a snitch dobbed you in.
A cornered rat called Michael Flynn

Russia, Russia, Russia, Russia, Russia, Russia, raaaah

Hey Donnie, orange Donnie, little Donnie
Putin made you what you are
Hey Donnie, orange Donnie, little Donnie
Alec Baldwin is a star

You talk so tough, now here's the call.
The Mexicans won't build your wall.
What you've done, don't have to guess.
Learned it all from Fusion GPS
With eyes that shine, glowing white
Pissing Russian hookers all through the night.

Donnie, Ronnie Al-zhei-mers. Donnie, Ronnie Al-zhei-mers
Donnie, Ronnie Al-zhei-mers. Donnie, Ronnie Al-zhei-mers

Now here comes Oprah, heaven sent.
Won't tell no lies, when she's President.
So get thinkin'. Time to choose,
Gotta get out before you lose.

Russia, Russia, Russia, Russia, Russia, Russia, raaaah

Hey Donnie, orange Donnie, little Donnie
Putin made you what you are
Hey Donnie, orange Donnie, little Donnie
Alec Baldwin is a star

Hey Donnie, orange Donnie, little Donnie
Just release your tax returns
Hey Donnie, orange Donnie, little Donnie
I bet Fire and Fury burns

Posted by Huge at 4:07 PM | Comments (0)
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