Technical Specifications

Basic Requirements

For most electric performances, the following basic requirements will be work for me:

2 quarter inch jack inputs (into mixer or PA from iPad audio interface, 1 left panned, 1 right panned).

1 XLR input (into mixer or PA from microphone. Centre panned).

2 mains supply sockets (I can do it with none though if I have enough battery power and sacrifice some effects pedals or run them off battery as well).

Optional Requirements

I am normally travelling on my own potentially on public transport. So it would be really helpful if I could have provided, the following:

A Microphone stand

A Keyboard stand

My equipment

Electric or electro-acoustic mandolin, classical guitar, or bouzouki (goes into one channel of my iPad audio interface).

Percussion microphone (goes into the other channel of my iPad audio interface).

Vocal microphone (may go into a vocal effects pedal then into a mixer or PA amp, or directly into the mixer or PA amp if there’s reverb on it at least).

IPad + 2 channel, stereo Audio Interface (acts as my mixer for instruments and for some keyboard instruments)

Small Bluetooth midi keyboard controller (paired with my iPad for playing various instruments).

Small Bluetooth midi pad controller (paired with my iPad for switching channels, switching effects on or off, adjusting parameters of instruments).

Small Bluetooth midi foot pedal board (paired with my iPad, for looping triggers).

Hand percussion (various, can include snare drum, darbuka, triangle, tambourine).

Physical footprint

Normally only about 3 metres by 2 metres maximum I think.

Musical influences and inspiration

Most of the time while at home, I love to listen to recordings of the sea! I find the sound of the sea calming. When I am not listening to the sound of nature, my favourite way to listen to music, is through my collection of vinyl records, which I play on a nice turntable which was made in 1976. I also still listen to music on cassette, using a tape player which is a year older, and made in the same year I was born, 1975.

Sometimes I find it difficult to chose something to listen to, because some music can have a very significant emotional impact on me. I love a whole range of genres, including roots reggae (particularly dub reggae, which I also enjoying making), Jazz (I’ve been getting into late 1960s and 1970s Jazz recently such as Alice Coltrane and Pharaoh Sanders), and Latin American music. The music from perhaps my formative years, the 1990s, I still listen to a lot. Probably my all time favourite act from that era, is Portishead (Beth Gibbons is also one of my favourite singers). I also enjoy Massive Attack, Tricky, Leftfield, The Orb, Morcheeba, Everything But The Girl, Ozric Tentacles, Chemical Brothers and loads more.

I grew up with the pub rock scene, with covers bands playing mostly late 50s, 60s and 70s songs. I love Surf music, and I love the blues, including the 1960s blues rival artists. I am found of the Peter Green era of Fleetwood Mac, there’s such beautiful feeling in the music. I do also love the Stevie Nicks era, Rumours of course, is a classic album, actually, I even like some tunes from Tango In The Night.

My favourite singer is Elizabeth Fraser from Cocteau Twins. Their music, and her voice is gorgeous. So full of emotion.

Another artist I love to listen to is Curtis Mayfield. He was such a gifted, beautiful artist and the string arrangements on the early albums take his music to another level.

There is so much music out there that I deeply love. When I play though, I tend to improvise and just let whatever I feel, come out!

Album release: The Rise Of The Seventh House

The Rise of the Seventh House is my first full album release under the name Fire Healer. It’s now available for download on Bandcamp, and streaming on major streaming services.

Really though, this album is a 35 minute collection of older recordings which I decided to release largely out of frustration with myself for not getting any new music out there. A couple of the tracks have been released as singles previously but the bulk of it has mostly been sitting around, looking neglected for years.

These entirely instrumental recordings are by no means indicative of where I am now, or even who I am. Rather than a traditional album, it feels to me more like publishing a journal of unfinished musical feelings, but then, this is pretty much how I create music anyway.

All of the tracks on the album, started with me getting up one day, catching a moment of inspiration and motivation, getting the spark of an idea, recording it, then spending the rest of the day layering instruments on top of each other. Then, after some mixing and mastering, I seem to just walk away from it and can forget it even exists, until one day I go through my back catalogue of this stuff and decide it might actually be listenable and worth putting it out there.

I feel uncomfortable about promoting my music, especially these recordings. Partly it’s because the tracks feel incomplete, partly because I struggle with presenting myself and these tracks are an expression of me, and partly because I feel really bad about not having released stuff that I’ve worked on with others who have invested their time and creativity. Largely the reason for that, is that it normally involves my voice, and it’s normally been me doing the production and I that means spending lots of time focusing on myself through my voice, which can result in some painful feelings.

The thing is, I feel, and have felt throughout my life, unseen and unheard. Yes, I can be very visible, I can write a lot of words, I can perform in front of hundreds of people on stage, but this is performance. I think most people perform to some degree and that is ok, but there’s some conflict within me, maybe between my struggle to know who I am, to be authentic, and actually just being, just putting myself out there and perhaps seeming a bit messy, incomplete, and vulnerable. I both want to be seen, and hate being seen. I love it, and hate it. I love being seen and heard because I love making music, I love being creative, I love to express myself. Ultimately, it can feel truly powerful. I hate it because I fear rejection, or fear being hurt, it feels exposing because generally in life, I’ve been one of these people who is so scared of not being understood, and heard, that I am a terrible perfectionist, always trying to control things and make them happen in a way that leaves no room for criticism. It’s an impossible task though. The result is that I get what I think I want, no criticism, because I don’t put anything out there to criticise, but it always means I don’t get what I do want, to be seen and heard. The fear in me wins, it consumes all, and I self sabotage, render myself feeling powerless.

On the other hand, it hurts me to know that I’m getting older and there’s little evidence of me and my expression of creativity, or efforts out there. It’s like a weight around my neck, but it’s also a cross that I bear, and none of this is good.

So, here I am. Or rather, there I was. Because what I really need is, to let go.

Here is my release.

The Rise Of The Seventh House

The first track on the album, is the title track. So, why did I call it that? Part of me would like to give you some interesting story featuring Astrology or some mystical stuff, but the truth is, I can’t really remember. I think I just needed a title, and for some unknown reason, The Seventh House popped into my head and so I researched it just a little and then couldn’t think of anything else, so I just went with it. The way I create music, is often contradictory to the way I try to do everything else (including actually releasing music), things just happen and I go with it.

I think The Seventh House is the house of relationships, perhaps specifically romantic relationships, partnership (traditionally marriage).

The track itself, feels to me to be a bit moody, intense, perhaps a little chaotic, relentless but done with love and passion.

Yes. I did deliberately put those last two paragraphs together.

As with everything else on the album, there’s a kind of musical theme that I start with, guided by whatever form of music I’m in the mood for at the time, and also guided by whatever instruments I’m most into on that day. In this case, the musical inspiration is a slightly different one, because I was deliberately trying to recreate the vibe of a some songs produced by a couple of bands I’ve been in over the years. I’ve then added in some acoustic mandolin, and backing vocals (which is also unusual for me).

The lead instruments here are acoustic mandolin and electric guitar. This is all backed by drums, percussion, and bass guitar for the rhythm section, plus some blues harp and backing vocals for atmosphere.

Somewhere Along The Road

I think during this phase of my life, I was particularly into that early to mid 1960s (or even late 1950s perhaps) sound. It kinda surf/garage and perhaps blues rock influenced. The pace of the track felt to me like motion, like going somewhere, well actually, maybe going nowhere, just going, and so I think that’s where the title came from.

I think there might be slightly annoyed bee trapped in there somewhere as well.

Instruments are electric guitar (using a slide), drums, hand claps, bass guitar.

The Ghost Has No Chance

I felt like there was something a little creepy about this one, so it ended up with a title to suit. The pace is a bit lazy feeling too, something of a haze going on (at least in my head, but then, that’s normal).

Instruments are organ, electric guitar, drums, and bass guitar.

Alleviator

I don’t even know if that’s a real word but there’s a reason for it. I originally produced this piece, for a friend called Al. Al had introduced me to The 13th Floor Elevators, and so I did something with a bit of a vibe of the Elevators, and several other bands of the time. Also some of the early tracks by people like Link Wray have titles like this.

Al, levitation, elevator. Yes. There we go.

From Out Of The Sun

The lead instrument here is my four string electric mandolin. The inspiration is very clearly, King of The Surf Guitar, Dick Dale. It’s Mandosurf. Although I felt later it could be a little faster perhaps.

I have wondered if I’ve even ripped off the melody, but it’s basically influenced by the eastern melodies that Dick Dale was known for.

Instruments are electric mandolin, organ (Farfisa sound), drums, and bass guitar.

And The Rain Came Down

I like Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath.

Instruments are blues harp, bass guitar (with fuzz effects), and drums.

On Through The Clouds

I think I just got up one day and started recording something simple, meant to be atmospheric, taking the approach of not doing a full traditional drum sound and using a drone riff through some effects on the bass guitar as the main instrument.

Inevitably it kinda ended up like a bit of a clone of Pink Floyd’s Set The Controls For The Heart of the Sun.

Instruments are drums and bass guitar.

Zither Blues

My girlfriend at the time had brought a fretless Austrian guitar zither, which some people might call a table harp. It’s basically a flat thin curved shaped wooden box, with a hole in it, and some strings stretch over it.

I was walking home from work one day and started wondering what the zither would be like played with a slide. When I got home, I didn’t have a proper slide, so I found a glass candle holder, used it on the zither, and this is the result.

Last Night I Cried In My Sleep

A true story. Sadly.

Instruments are organ, bass guitar and some percussion.