Thursday, December 27, 2012

Storm, part two (Phildel's "Storm Song")

In my previous post, I noted that the absence of any mention of music in the woman's 2005 interview was unusual. Over the next few years, the woman's love for music would manifest itself in a very big way.


[W]ay back in 2008 I first encountered [her] sound checking in a Soho venue playing a track entitled ‘Ghost’, it totally mesmerised me.

And Stevo wasn't the only person who was mesmerized. In the course of his interview with the woman, he noted this:

You’ve been very lucky in having not one track but two used for commercials ‘Piano B’ for Expedia and more recently ‘The Kiss’, used by both Marks & Spencer and Apple’s new I-pad? How did they come about? Has the income helped your bigger picture?

The woman - whose name is Phildel (a combination of her natural father's name and her mother's name) - responded:

Four of my tracks have been used in commercials around the world, two of them in the UK. They all came about in different ways, through different individuals, agencies or publishers. But my publisher Warner Chappell have been very proactive in the realm of pitching my music for advertising. I re-invest whatever I income I make into top-of-the-range studio equipment and cameras for documenting everything and creating visuals. So, it all goes back into my music.

In addition to signing with publisher Warner Chappell, Phildel has also signed with Decca, and in the process has recorded an album that fleshes out some of her songs with dramatic instrumentation and production. As an example, compare this solo ukelele performance of "Storm Song."

A powerful voice singing a quiet song.

But Phildel has now released another video of the song, with the track that will be released on her forthcoming 2013 album.

The result is a much more dramatic piece. Phildel spoke about this with Stevo:

I would tell Ross Cullum, the producer, all of my ideas – from the large-scale concepts of how the choirs represented ethereal water spirits in the sonic landscape, down to the smallest details of how I thought a cymbal should be EQ’d, when I thought specific sounds were too metallic. He listened carefully and we worked together to create the best album we could. He had the experience, intuition and technical ability, to enhance all of my creative thinking. Out of my music career so far, working with Ross was undoubtedly my greatest highlight.

We should all be able to judge for ourselves.

Her debut album "The Disappearance of the Girl" is set for UK release in January 2013.

She continues to have her champions, including Stevo. I first heard "Storm Song" when he shared it on This is My Jam. As I write this post, it's my jam also.

A final note - I intentionally separated this blog post into two separate parts (the first is here if you didn't see it). While those who have read both parts understand the connection between the two, and why Phildel writes about storms and girls who disappear, it's also quite possible to enjoy "Storm Song" on its own merits.

Storm, part one (no music in Alabama, Iran, or England)

John Bredehoft of Total Plumbing Services is not the only Bredehoft with an Alabama connection. Several of my relatives hail from Guin in Marion County, northwest Alabama, which is where you will find Liberty Christian Academy, a ministry of the First Free Will Baptist Church in Guin. Students at Liberty Christian Academy must meet conduct standards that are foreign to many of us:

A sense of the need for spiritual growth in the light of these principles has led Liberty Christian Academy to adopt the following standards which are conducive to the environment that will best promote the spiritual welfare of the student. The school, therefore, requires each student...whether at home, school, or elsewhere... refrain from swearing, attendance at movie theaters, indecent language, smoking, drinking, alcoholic beverages, the abuse of drugs, gambling, dancing, involvement in rock music, touching or over familiarity with the opposite sex.

For those who thought that the movie Footloose was a complete work of fiction, read that last paragraph again. But these sentiments are not unique to Guin, or to the 20th and 21st centuries. If you go back several centuries, you can find similar views in certain Christian circles.

The Puritan minister Cotton Mather wrote in the 17th century that dancing was a creation of the devil, and warned that a “CHRISTIAN OUGHT NOT TO BE AT A BALL” [capitalization from original].

But before you completely condemn Liberty Christian Academy and Cotton Mather, note that they did not ban ALL music.

Ali Khamenei, the supreme religious leader of Iran, has made several pronouncements regarding music.

Q: What type of music is forbidden?

A: Music performed exclusively in debaucherous (lahw) circles is forbidden.

Q: What is the ruling on teaching various musical instruments to children at or near the age of puberty?

A: The matter of teaching music relates the basic ruling on music. In a general sense, the teaching of music is not compatible with the goals of an Islamic order. To teach music during the most suitable ages for learning is not devoid of corruption and sedition (mofsedeh).

Q: With regard to the teaching of music, I note respectfully that, replying to the above question, you stated in writing that the teaching and propagation of music is inconsistent with the goals of the blessed order of the Islamic Republic. Is the above ruling one of guidance, or an official governmental ruling? It is worth noting that some responsible parties recommend the teaching of music, especially for the youth. My humble question is: What is the concensus opinion between yourself and those who favor the teaching of music to the youth?

A: The teaching and playing of music to and by the youth causes them to deviate and results in corruption, and thus, is not permissible. In general, the propagation of music in not compatible with the goals of the Islamic order. It is not permissible for people to use their own preferences and inclinations in the name of culture and the art of teaching and training the youth.

These restrictions on teaching music to youth are not restricted to Iran. They can also be found in England. There you can find the story of an eight year old girl whose mother remarried. Her new stepfather "banned music from their household, claiming it to be an unholy waste of time." Since the girl loved music, this became too much to bear, and she left home at age 17. Several years later, in 2005, the girl (now a grown woman) spoke about this decision.

Despite the times when my step-father did help with my homework and attempt to lift my spirit, which I am grateful for, the values of my mother and stepfather in general were very different to my own and this certainly led to tensions. I continued to live at home for almost 10 years but during my A-levels I knew it would be best to leave. So I began living at my father’s house.

I felt very unhappy about leaving my sister because I knew my decision would be hardest for her to accept. I had to rely on the hope that, remembering how diffi cult it had been for me, she might understand. Luckily for me, she does and I know we will always have the bond that first made me feel less alone all those years ago. As for my mother and stepfather, our relationship actually improved dramatically once I had moved out. I feel closer to both of them now than I ever did before. I think this is partly because there is less stress on the family as a whole.

The 2005 interview does not mention retrospect, a curious omission.

To be continued.

(Postscript: if you were a member of the Empoprises Public Community on Google+, you would already know what I'm going to be saying in the next post, and what the "storm" is that I'm talking about in the title.)

Saturday, December 22, 2012

When the rap wars got a little TOO heavy

For ignorant Americans like myself, I should clarify that this headline didn't really refer to the Compton-based rap group, but to North Waziristan. The article ran in the Pakistani newspaper The Nation.

But if the violence from the 1990s had continued unabated, who knows what could have happened?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

On page 5, Leonard Bernstein

I found this floating around on Facebook.

P.S. This happens to be post number 666 in the Empoprise-MU music blog. Go figure.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Rebecca Black's career resurrection continues

Despite my recent comment at the end of this post, I actually like Rebecca Black. In my view, she got herself into a bad situation by putting her trust in the wrong people. However, there are a lot of young people (and a lot of old people) that have made similar mistakes.

Therefore, I was pleased to hear that Black will be performing at the House of Blues in Anaheim on December 23. (And yes, it's on a...Sunday.)

For those who haven't been following the Rebecca Black story, she has been working on rebounding from the negative reaction to the "Friday" video. Her first step was proving that she could actually sing (hint: the U.S. national anthem is not the easiest song to sing). Her second step was to get better management. Her third step was to start getting better material (which isn't a hard thing to do). For example, here is a video that she posted last month for the new song "In Your Words."

The new song, which received advance coverage on noted online music publication Mashable, is somewhat more mature-sounding than her previous releases. Purists will argue that it's not blues, but there are purists that will argue that Eric Clapton isn't blues, either. It's a good song.

I do have a quibble with House of Blues, however. "In Your Words" hadn't been released when the show page was posted, but House of Blues did post three other song samples - "My Moment," "Person of Interest," and one other. Part of me understands why they listed that other song sample first - after all, that's the song that she's known for - but I don't think I would have made that choice. If you want people to come to your venue to hear Rebecca Black, you want to give them a reason for coming, and therefore you'd want to promote her newer, better material.

And yes, this is an all ages show. Otherwise, the performing artist herself wouldn't be able to get in.