A Different Kind Of Normal is HERE!

It’s here – and I suddenly have writer’s block and can’t figure out how to start this post. However, given that this has never stopped me before, I shall randomly start writing and see what happens. Firstly, here is a VERY IMPORTANT LINK which you should definitely click!

I should probably talk about Friday evening. My only real mistake was forgetting to organise anyone to take photos! So I’m very grateful to friends and fans with phone cameras, otherwise this would be a photo-less post! (Is photo-less a word?) Anyway, this montage is by my sister-in-law Leanne.

Carys A Different Kind Of Normal album launch

I’ve just realised a title would probably be a good idea.

A Different Kind Of Normal – Album Launch, First Half!

The evening started with Keith Sadler…actually no, lets go back a bit further than that. It started when I first saw the CDs at a little before 5 in the afternoon! This left just enough time to unwrap some for my backers who I knew would be at the launch, listen through one to make sure there weren’t any exciting little errors like track 7 being repeated 6 times, and put the cakes in the car. Actually, the cakes aren’t strictly relevant, now I come to think of it. Also, wouldn’t it be funny to have an album where track 7 really did repeat 6 times? Imagine everyone’s confusion!

Anyway. I watched most of Keith’s set from the “green balcony” which isn’t really a thing but it should be. (The John Peel Centre doesn’t yet have a Green Room, but performers can watch from the balcony which gives a great view not only of the stage but the entire audience). I really enjoyed his songs as always, and I’m really pleased to hear he’s planning another album for this autumn.

Next was…me! I’m not sure what to write about this, so I shall start with the running order for those who are interested in such things:

  • Siren Call
  • Welcome Home
  • Face the Raven
  • Max the Pirate Cat
  • The Sentinel
  • Rewritten
  • 13

This was the acoustic set, and I thoroughly enjoyed it – and I think the audience did too! Rosemary Griffith (the other half of Celandine), joined me onstage for “Rewritten”, but my favourite was undoubtedly “13”. This is actually the title track of the album, though calling it “A Different Kind Of Normal” would have been far too normal, wouldn’t it? I wrote it about what it’s like to be inside my head, despite swearing a couple of years ago I would never write an autobiographical song!

The Break

In which homemade chocolate fudge cake, random plain cake with yellow icing and purple glittery sugar on top, and gluten-free vegan chocolate brownies (all made by me) were consumed; t-shirts and CDs were purchased, and this photo was taken by Robin Sermon, of me with Ian Ralph Huckin.

I should probably also mention the t-shirts, which you can almost see in the photo. Is it daft that I’m more excited to have a t-shirt with my name and album title on it than I am a CD full of music I’ve written? Yes? Oh, okay then…

 

A Different Kind Of Normal – Album Launch, Second Half!

Anyway, Triangle started the second half. I have to confess I missed a fair bit of this due to covering my face with glitter and changing into my dress. The dress also needs a mention, because it’s called…Carys! I found it on the Debenhams website sale while I was trying to find suitable bridesmaid dresses for my mother and stepdad’s wedding, and got very excited that there was a dress named after me. It’s even more exciting because it was designed by Jenny Packham, sister to Chris Packham who also has Aspergers. Well I like the synchronicity of it anyway.

For the second half David Wright joined me onstage (it feels very strange to put it that way around!), we used backing tracks, and the running order looked like this:

  • Apocalypse Dreams
  • The Piper
  • Charm
  • Sir Dominick’s Bargain
  • Fountains of Hope
  • The Promise
  • Beating the Streetlights Home

The high points here were…all of it! For those of you who haven’t heard “Apocalypse Dreams” yet, its a 10 minute prog track and the song I’m most proud of. I was a bit nervous about performing it live (not least because I’d never sung it live before) but…it worked! Then things got interesting. Due to a bizarre double glitch, we had no backing track for “The Piper”, so Triangle (with Sophie on whistle) and I performed it acapella and completely unrehearsed! Nobody got up and left, so I think we got away with it..!

For “Sir Dominick’s Bargain” and “Fountains of Hope” my stepdad Mike joined us onstage. This was actually the first time we’d ever performed together and I had to work hard not to get emotional. It was hard to realise that the evening was almost over, and all too soon it was time for the final song. “Beating the Streetlights Home” is actually a Celandine track, so Rosemary joined me onstage again. This photo was take by John Whittaker – you can just see David Wright behind the synths!

And now…

So, fast forward to Monday. All my backers’ albums and perks (with one exception, Anton!) have been sent out, I’ve been receiving lovely messages all day from people who have got their CDs, cards and scarves, and I’ve already received the best review I shall ever have, via my sister-in-law Leanne, who was playing the CD in the car this morning with her daughter. Here it is:

“Auntie Carys has a very beautiful singing voice Mummy.”

My niece is three and a half years old. ❤

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“A Different Kind Of Normal” Track Listing

After much discussion, many lists and final arrangement tweaks we have finally decided on the track listing for my album! Hopefully some familiar titles in there, and with any luck a few surprises, too. I’ve tried to keep some of the songs secret so even those of you who are most familiar with my music are going to hear something completely new.

So, without further ado, here it is!

  1. Siren Call
  2. Welcome Home
  3. Rewritten
  4. Face the Raven
  5. The Sentinel
  6. Charm
  7. The Piper
  8. 13
  9. Sir Dominick’s Bargain
  10. The Promise
  11. Fountains of Hope
  12. Beating the Streetlights Home
  13. Apocalypse Dreams

I’m planning to perform almost all of these – though not necessarily in this order – at the album launch which, if you haven’t seen my posts about it, is at the John Peel Centre in Stowmarket on Friday 27th April. Ticket are still available, priced just £5. For that you get me, acapella trio Triangle and the excellent singer-songwriter Keith Sadler. And there’s a bar – what more could you hope for?!

Now the album is *almost* finished, its time for something different this weekend – we’re in a different studio with Code Indigo in preparation for E-Scape on 2nd June. Photos may follow. If I remember to take my camera, that is…

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The sound of a nose…

…or, Yet Another Album Update!

First, the really exciting bit – the album is actually starting to sound like an album now! We’ve finished nearly half the tracks and the rest are well underway. By this Sunday I’ll have been in the studio seven days out of the preceding nine and my car knows how to get there without any assistance from me. We’ve recorded most of the guest musicians… I’m sitting about three feet from an electric guitarist (see below!) as I write this!

Last weekend was particularly fun thanks to the snow. I’d actually had 3 days off work (schools with a rural catchment are always the worst affected by snow thanks to the buses) and wasn’t completely sure I was going to get to the studio. But aside from a fun few minutes driving uphill on sheet ice, I made it..! We had a productive weekend, only slightly hindered by my communication issues. Sometimes what is totally clear in my head comes out wrong, or I can’t figure out how to say it at all. Which is why, when struggling to explain why I liked a particular rhythm section more than another, I eventually declared

“That part doesn’t sound so much like a nose.”


But you know the really scary part? David understood exactly what I meant!

So, that song sounds more like a nose, which I promise is A Good Thing, and everything else is coming on nicely. I shall have to end here because I spent an hour trying and failing to get wordpress to align the pictures. So here are some random photos of people who will be playing on my album:

Sophie, Mim and Sue: Backing vocals. Mostly in latin.

Rosemary, aka the sensible half of Celandine

Sophie playing whistles

Tim, composer of “The Promise”, playing electric guitar

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Album launch party!

Being an Informative and Entertaining Guide to Getting A Ticket For Carys’s CD Launch Party

The Date: Friday 27th April 2018

The Venue: The John Peel Centre for Creative Arts, Church Walk, Stowmarket, IP14 1ET.

The Schedule: 

 

19:30 Doors open

20:00 – 20:30 Keith Sadler

20:30 – 21:00 Carys

21:00 – 21:15 Break

21:15 – 21:45 Triangle

21:45 – 22:30 Carys & Guests

 

The Tickets: Available from the following places

  • from Carys in person. (This only really works if you live in Suffolk.)
  • from the AD music website.
  • from the John Peel Centre, their box office is open from 10am to 2pm. I have no idea why they’re not advertising the event yet.

The Price: Yours for the very reasonable cost of £5 per ticket.

The Other Stuff:

  • The John Peel Centre has a licensed bar. Beer is £3 a pint. Wine and spirits are not £3 a pint. Nor are they served in pints.
  • There will be CDs for sale! Not just mine, but Keith and Triangle will have albums available as well.
  • I got really distracted when I was writing this because we say “An Exciting…”, “An Informative…” but “A Useful…”. I still quite can’t get my head around why this is the case because they’re all vowels. You will notice that I decided not to use the word useful.
  • The above point was not at all useful.
  • I shall stop now.

Hope to see you there!

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Spam, lovely spam!

*Disclaimer* This post has absolutely nothing to do with music!

You know one of the most exciting things about writing blog posts? When a real, live human being reads one and makes a comment. Especially when its something even more exciting than “I agree” or “I’m really proud of you. Love Mum xx”. (Mum, I’m sorry I never actually set that one to being visible…). I’ve got comments set to be approved by me, so if you reply to something I’ve written it might be a few days before it shows up. However, the alternative is lettering the sp*mbots add their massive lists of unsavoury links. And frankly, I figure that if anyone reading this wanted to find p*rn, the fact that you have fingers and a keyboard is all you need!

But last week, I had a sp*mbot so hilarious I almost – almost – approved it. Rather than the usual linkfest, it had an extract from what might have been a badly-written eleven year old’s homework, which I quote for you here:

“Okay,” Lеe said after which he stopped and thought.

“Ꭲhe perfect thing about God is, hmmmm..???” he puzzled as he had ѕo many things that were nice about God. However he wished to choose the perfect one so he would win the game. “That he knows everything. That’s really cool. That means he can help me with my homework” Larry concluded with a proud expression on his face.

Admittedly, I’ve edited this from the original quite a bit. I removed the entire lines of question marks and ellipses, not to mention the random cyrillic letters. I added punctuation so it actually made sense on the first viewing, rather than the sixth. But, folks, I’m proud to report that artificial intelligence has discovered religion! Not only that, but this is a teenage AI that needs help with its homework!

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Coffee Breaks!

Honestly, is there anyone who wouldn't adore this?

I’m starting this post knowing what I want to say, but having absolutely no idea what order the words are going to come out in. This is probably not good. Anything could happen in the next few paragraphs…

So, last Saturday was my first concert of the year, with David Wright in Best in The Netherlands. I’m never entirely sure if I should capitalise the “the” in “the Netherlands” or not. Anyway, the first half was just us performing, the second half was the “aHonestly, is there anyone who wouldn't adore this? nd guests” part, including Stephan Whitlan, Ron Boots and Frank Dorittke. We’d planned the set lists, we’d rehearsed, and we were all ready to go! I was particularly thrilled because the leads on stage ended up looking like this:

(I had to untape my mic lead because I like to wander all over the stage, but not until I’d taken this photo!)

Except David and I were both struck by variations on the winter virus that’s been doing the rounds. Our symptoms were different, but one thing was the same…neither of us could stop coughing! Which is annoying enough when you’re playing keyboards, but when you’re singing it becomes noticeable fairly quickly!

Or should that be cough-y breaks?

So we did the only thing we could do. We admitted to the audience right at the start that we were coughing. We proudly displayed bottles of water, throat lozenges and cough medicine next to us onstage. At the end of the first track (“Dreaming Desire”, from Beyond the Airwaves volume 2) we both coughed. And coughed. Someone from the audience shouted “its a cough-y break!” And so, what could potentially have been an embarrassing problem became the joke of the evening!

The concert went well, despite us both coughing like we’d had a 50 a day habit since we were twelve. Miraculously, my singing voice was entirely unaffected. For the first time, we performed the full (edited) version of “Prophecy”, including the part I swore I’d never risk singing live – the top D at the end of “Beyond the Veil”, a note I’d never before sung in public. Result!

In the second half, the high point for me (and, I suspect, quite a few other people) was “Chameleon”. It started out quite sensibly and quickly turned into a 5-way jam, with both me (with mic) and Stephan (with keytar) playing extra notes on Ron’s synth at one point!

So despite the coughing, my first concert of the year was a success. I’m just about recovered now, David’s not quite there yet, but we’ll be back in the studio tomorrow, now to concentrate on my solo album for the next few months…

…and in other news, my crowdfunding campaign is now on 102%! There are still 4 more days to go though, so if you haven’t backed me yet and have been wanting to, please do!

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Happy New Year..already?!

Dear 2018,

You’re going to have to work pretty hard to beat 2017 in terms of music. I’ve performed in 4 different countries (England, Germany, Norway and the Netherlands). “Prophecy”, released in March 2017,  is nominated in the Schallewelle awards. Then the preparatory work for “A Different Kind of Normal” and the launch of my crowdfunder in November. All of which made for a pretty eventful year.

Then, the downside. I’m not going to go into details, but my ex partner has recently got a huge bee in his bonnet about some aspects of my life. Mainly, he is insisting to me and others that I don’t have Asperger Syndrome. Apparently I’m pretending to have Aspergers and doing it for attention. If I “really” had Aspergers I wouldn’t be able to get up on stage!

I’m thoroughly confused by this; I have no idea how his insistence that it’s not true would benefit him, and literally nobody else has ever doubted me. On the contrary, when I’ve told friends that I have Aspergers the response has generally been along the lines of “Yes, now tell us something we don’t know!”

Yes, I have Aspergers, but it doesn't define me. It's a part of who I am. The thing is though, Aspergers doesn’t define me, it’s just a part of who I am. Yes, it means that I’m terrified of new places and I need to know exactly what’s going to happen before an event. Yes, it means that sometimes I have meltdowns and yes, I have been known to end up screaming on the floor when I get overloaded (unhelpful BT call centre operatives, I’m looking at you here!). And yes, I will sometimes stare into space for no apparent reason. Oh, and I am still listening even though I’m playing a game on my phone. I can probably repeat everything you just said back to me, word for word. If I had to look at you I’d be so busy concentrating on doing that properly I wouldn’t have enough energy left to listen.

After E-Live 2017. Photo by Jez Creek.

But it doesn’t stop me from going places. It doesn’t stop me from going onstage, because it’s only a part of me, not who I am. It means I get to explore backstage at theatres in a way nobody else does. I see things most people wouldn’t even notice, and just because I’m terrified doesn’t mean I’m going to hide. Because the being onstage part is where I really get to be ME, and that energises me enough that if you’ve ever talked to me after a concert, in that 45 minute window after I come offstage, you might have assumed I’m completely normal. Hey, I might even have looked you in the eye while I was talking to you!

Mind you, catch me after that window of euphoria has faded and I’ll look as bloody terrified as if I’ve just been dropped off from my home planet with no hope of rescue..!

The Jolly Bit

There was a point to this post. I just got a little bit distracted along the way. Right now I’m distracted by the annoying readability scores claiming that I’m using too much “passive voice” than the “recommended maximum”. Honestly, which twit sat down and said “we shouldn’t allow more than 10% of sentences in the passive voice; it’s too hard to read”? What sort of a human being reads a story and thinks “I’d enjoy this much more if paragraph three started with “This confuses me”?

Aaand…now I’m distracted again! I almost want to end here and thus I’ll have rambled gleefully for almost 600 words without ever making my original point. But no! Because…my crowdfunding campaign now has less than two weeks to run, and I’m less than £100 from reaching my target.

I’m so excited about this. Logically, when I started the campaign back in the middle of November I was sure people would back me. But I still get excited every time a new email notifies me that someone else is supporting me. Every single time, I’ve said “THANK YOU!” out loud as soon as I’ve opened the email. No matter the amount, it’s your support that means the world to me. If you’ve been meaning to back me, please make sure you do so before 16th January. That’s when my crowdfunder comes to an end, and I really hope it goes out with a bang!

Thank you (especially if you’ve read this far!). Here’s the link to “A Different Kind Of Normal”  where you can back me and get your hands on a CD or download…or a handmade card or lyric sheet…or even a concert! Wait…how can you get your hands on a download? And on that happy note of confusion I shall say…

Farewell!

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Carys is hopeless at titles

Seriously. I’ve been known to spend an entire year performing a song before I finally manage to give it a title that suits. And that’s something important! So poor little blog posts really have no chance… and already I’ve digressed from what I intended to write. So, here goes…

(Wait. Why have Radio Four listeners got such an issue with starting a sentence with “so”? Sometimes it just fits there really nicely, and if I can start sentences with “and” I can start them with “so as well. Herewith endeth the second digression.)

The interesting bit in the middle

Three weeks today I launched my crowdfunding campaign for my forthcoming album, “A Different Kind Of Normal”. Since then I’ve spent several days in the studio, recorded acoustic guitar for 2 tracks and vocals for three. I’ve also started working with 2 of my guest musicians and I shall be publicly embarrassing them  telling everyone how wonderful they are very shortly.

I’ve also been having sudden flashes of inspiration. These include “Hey, I’m going to make a video for this track!” which is a good idea, and “Lets write a random festive song for no apparent reason”, which is slightly nuts considering how much else I have to be getting on with. Speaking of which…my to-do list tells me I need to be recording the guitar track for “Fountains of Hope” this evening. Ooh, did I just give away another song title there?

Anyway, if you’ve already backed my campaign, thank you and my current goal is to get all my guitar tracks recorded by the end of December. If you haven’t backed me yet but you’ve been meaning to, please click on the photo and bag yourself a perk. Maybe you’ve found this page by accident, in which case please click on the photo because I’m really proud of myself for embedding a link into a picture and I still can’t quite believe I figured it out. Yay!

 

 

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A Different Kind Of Normal

Just over a week ago I launched my album crowdfunding campaign. I knew the theory – create what you hope are exciting perks, explain what you need to money for, then publicise the heck out of it on social media. The first two parts were relatively easy. I want my album to be the best it possibly can be, and I would struggle to find the cash upfront to pay my guest musicians even before thinking about mastering and pressing the CDs.

The third part was where I anticipated problems. My ludicrous lack of self esteem meant there was a very real fear that I’d talk myself out of publicising the thing! Which is a bit like opening a shop and putting a closed sign on the door, it rather defeats the object. And in the first few days, I found myself dealing with almost constant anxiety attacks! But thankfully, at the same time I’ve surprised myself by eagerly looking forward to sharing my progress.

“What can I tell people today?”

Quite a lot, as it turns out. So far my updates have mainly been delight at my lovely supporters and the crowdfunding progress (70% as of writing). But as the campaign progresses I’ll be sharing news of studio sessions, announcing guest musicians and revealing the track listing. That one might be a while though, because I haven’t decided it myself yet!

If you haven’t come across my crowdfunder yet, the link is at the top of the page. Please take a look, watch my video and maybe even get yourself a copy of my forthcoming album!

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Updated!

*this blog post is not in use*

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