“IN A SEA OF LOVE, ONE SINGER SONGWRITER TRACKS MEANING BEYOND ‘YOU’”
I’ve been meaning to write about Amy’s album Cinnamon Heart for a long time now, (which you can get for free at http://www.amywood.ca) but never found the time to do so. So I’d like to show off and talk about her latest work. Amy helped us out for Music Track Day and her song “Symphony” is finished and being mixed by Jesse Bell, so stay tuned for that!
Amy’s current project is called “Not-Love Songs,” where she creates and records covers of songs that aren’t focused on love. Surprisingly, there are fewer out there than one would expect.
Each week previous had been someone else’s material, but for her latest release, Amy showed off an original track, “Universe.” Teaming up with Julia Gummo of Gumo Productions, Amy set out to create her first music video.
Now with “Not-Love Songs,” there are three things that we need to take into consideration:
- The Video
- The Song
- The Project
I think it would be better to look at all these parts individually, as opposed to clumping it together into one whole.
Starting with the song, Amy provides us with her signature style – her lone voice accompanied by her piano. Having heard Amy’s album, I feel that “Universe” is a pristine example of how Amy composes, writes and sings.
With quick arpeggios and bouncing bass notes making up the verses, the dynamic range of the vocal is captivating. Some lines are sung at a half-whisper, while some are sung quickly, the variation appealing to the ear. Amy’s voice rises above the piano and draws the listener in, especially after the second chorus into the bridge. A held note falls and then climbs pulling you into the ending of the song.
Amy’s style can draw comparisons to many of the female artists who base their music around a piano. Sara Bareilles immediately comes to mind for me, as the vocal liking and the piano both sound similar.
Next, let’s take a closer look at the video. There are a few things that immediately catch my attention, and not necessarily in a positive way. In a music video, it is very obvious when a musician is lip syncing with a song as opposed to having the audio being included in the video recording during the shooting process. I understand this is usually not possible and that lip syncing is the only feasable manner in which to record videos, but that’s the focal part for the viewer and it needs to be done spotlessly. In “Universe” there are a few moments where the song and the video don’t line up, and it makes the video seem unnatural.
The message of the video is spelt out for us, quite literally in fact, as we see the words “Follow your path” and “and let them talk” written out on scraps of paper. I like the stop motion effect during these parts as the papers travel. It adds congruency to the other stop motion style parts – particularly the bench scene. The synchronization between the piano line and the cutting frames also works at this point.
My favourite scene occurs at 1:45 when Amy is silhouetted on the blue sky backdrop. I think this scene works because of Gummo’s composition as well as the natural elements that create the natural universe Amy is singing about. The birds that fly through could not have been timed any better, and the visual element matches well with the sonic, creating a lovely scene.
The video as a whole seems to be built of a few parts – that don’t necessarily relate to each other.
- Amy singing on a mountain
- The words on paper
- The bench scene
- Some slow motion parts
I think it would have been nice if there was a unifying tie to these visual elements. Perhaps the words could have found Amy on the mountain – and she would have followed them down to the bench, where they get caught in the tire and she rides off into the distance. The video is just missing the glue in which holds together all the composite parts.
Lastly, the project as a whole is a unique experience, inspiring us to look into the music we listen to every day, and examine how much of that involves love. Songs in which a lover’s heart was broken, or a ballad preaching one’s undying love to whomever fill a majority of our musical libraries.
Amy defines a “Not Love Song” to be:
“[A] Song that doesn’t deal with ‘before you’ ‘you’ and ‘after you’ in a romantic way. I don’t think I’m gonna write-off songs about human connection…. The point is to level the subject matter playing field out there in the [musical] world.”
I am kind of embarressed to admit – but I’ve just looked up the entire track listing of Justin Bieber’s My World 2.0, and there is not one “Not-Love Song” on the entire album. This album is certified double platinum in Canada. I think Amy’s onto something here with this idea.
Already, Amy has covered “Big Yellow Taxi,” “Steer,” and, “Life is a Bowl of Cheeries.” Accompanying each song is another music video. So far, all videos have been live – using the sound from the actual performance, with “Universe” being the first to use a pre-recorded track. Amy’s fallen off her once-a-week upload schedule (and understandably so) to finish her music performance degree, but that doesn’t mean she’s given up. Hopefully we will get to see at least 40+ Not-Love Songs over the course of this year.
You can head over to her Facebook page and offer up your own suggestions for Not-Love Songs for Amy to cover! My pick was City and Colour’s “Happiness by the Kilowatt”.
It’ll be interesting to look back once this project is done and see how the videos have evolved and if Amy ever runs out of Not-Love Songs to play! I’ve started to look into my iTunes at all the music I have based on love, and this is just one more thing to add when listening critically.
Amy Wood has set out on an ambitious journey to show the world you can sing about more than love, and her song “Universe” is a perfect example of that. If you’re looking for a fresh take on popular, check out what Amy is doing with her “Not-Love Songs” project. See the other Not-Love Songs here!
(Update: Here’s Amy’s latest Not-Love Song, with West My Friend! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agsJlmTsBAg)
So this is the continuation of the previous post, but more what I really wanted to talk about and less about everything that’s been going on in my life.
Over the past week, I’ve been able to meet and talk with to some great people about this whole music thing in general. Last Wednesday I went to a coffee house show put on by a girl from my music classes. I have her CD and really enjoy her music (http://www.amywood.ca) and decided to go – especially since it was two blocks from my house and I was not going to be getting anything done that night. As you might have seen – I’m that guy who goes to concerts and music events by himself and so I brought my computer and sat at the back and tried to enjoy myself without seeming too awkward. Amy and I are friends on Facebook but not super close – mostly because us CombinedMusic/ComputerScienceKids are a weird breed that rarely permeate into the social culture of the Music kids (but this is another story for another time).
After Amy came Nicole Byblow (http://www.nicolebyblow.com/) and after the initial flub of the first song and the jitters were gone – she played a really good show and I thought her music was really quite good. Being the nerdy-awkward guy I am, I was tweeting at her while she was playing her show (it’s a good thing she’s a good musician and probably turned her phone off before hand). When she was done, I bought a CD and told her that she’ll see a bunch of tweets from me later. We ended up talking more and met for coffee later in the week. It was fun to talk with someone who has already established herself in the industry (a foot in the door is still a foot in the door).
Nicole mentioned reading this blog and she actually called it a “Music blog”, which I found kind of funny, since I haven’t really done anything super musical on this here for a long time. I’ve been in touch with a guy on Twitter who works for CTV, and he’s apparently sending me some CD’s to write reviews of – so hopefully that comes and I can start writing again. There were two main reasons I had for starting this blog almost two years ago, one was just writing a chronicle of my life – in case my memory fades quicker than I hope and I can always come back to see what I did, where I was, and who I was back then. The other reason was to write CD reviews for my university paper. I’ll probably start off with writing a review of Nicole’s album “Plays All the White Keys”, so look for that soon.
And if you’re one of these new people whose just found my blog – leave me a comment? Let me know what you think! This whole blog thing is a lot more fun when you guys interact.
I later spent the evening again with Amy and Nicole and their friends listening to them playing. Again, the awkward-music-computer-science-nerd effect kicked in for me. I recognized some of the people there, had classes with them, even worked on projects with them – and yet, I still didn’t feel like I fit in. Maybe that’s just me being paranoid, maybe that’s just me being awkward, but it’s a weird cliché-y situation. Nicole referred to it as being a “party” and I joked saying that “it better not be a bunch of people sitting around politely listening to people play the piano.” It was.
It wasn’t til the next day that I realized how special that is though. And how much I want to go to more of these kind of things. I was poking fun at one of our professors who does the same thing with his classical music friends – saying we were just like him. And we were, because it’s a collection of great people in a great place sharing their talents. And that’s something really cool and I’m glad I was apart of it – even if I was the socially awkward concert guy.
You should have already heard my favourite track from her CD; “Things I Learned When I Worked In The Hospital”, so here’s a video from Amy Wood!
So I guess it’s been a long time since I’ve actually written anything about my life on here. A lot has gone on since I last posted.
I ended up having my best semester in school, with 2 A-’s, a B+, a C+ (which is being appealed), and a C. Hurray for me.
I moved out of my place in residence at school. I have definitely accumulated way too much stuff over my two years living there. I had two medium sized tupperware containers and one large (maybe 6 foot x 2 foot x 2 foot) tupperware container – just filled with books and stuff and crap and all this stupid random stuff. I had 2 x 3 ft ziploc bags full of clothes, 1 5 ft ziploc bag full of clothes. Then one re-usuable bag for my picture frames, two gym bags, one box for my keyboard. And that’s just stuff I left there. I brought home another box and another tupperwear, my guitar and two suitcases of clothes. And then some shoes and other crap.
So I was fortunate enough that my two roommates had gotten a storage locker and had enough room for my stuff too. On my last day I got my stuff into the locker and headed downtown with girlfriend for dinner at our favourite little Chinese place. Which was nice. I really miss her lots. She won’t be coming home at all this summer. She’s finishing up her degree and staying behind without me. Makes me sad.
I flew out here last Wednesday and got home late-ish. And every time I come home from the airport I hope and dream that my mom will let me sit in the front seat on the car ride home. And every time, without fail, my hopes and dreams are shattered. So I finally got home and relaxed.
And that’s what I’ve been doing basically for the past week. Nothing. I went to see the KGB on Thursday. They were pretty good, luckily we came early enough that we didn’t have to pay the $15 cover. I was impressed that they’re playing so many shows and have a bit of a fan base going. It was really awkward, I saw my old band teacher at the show that night. He came and sat with us and talked for their entire set. Unfortunately he conned us into buy tickets to his jazz show on the weekend. We got suckered and bought tickets. (http://www.myspace.com/kronicgrooveband)
This show was at the Beat Niq and featured a bunch of people I had never heard of. It was okay – probably not worth the money we paid but whatever. It was what I like to call free jazz – which follows a very loose form of chorus – solo – solo – solo – chorus. Where each player (there was 3 and a drummer) would take solos. This is fine and all, but the choruses sound so off and random. The band doesn’t really sound like a band. Each player does their own thing and the sound is very incoherent. I’m not sure if this is the sonic goal of this style, but it’s definitely not something for everyone.
So basically the only point for me coming home was to work all summer and make lots of money. So far that’s a flop. My brother has deemed me a ‘jobless shithead’. But that’s okay. Maybe I’ll just free-load of my parents all summer. Sounds like a good plan to me. I had an interview today with the City, as an event crew member. I’m probably going to get this job, but it’s only on call, so that probably won’t yield very many hours. I was going to have an interview at the Gap – but the guy hasn’t returned 3 of my calls. I also had an interview @ CJSW – the local university radio station. Doing a job that I would really love. Unfortunately I got a phone call from them this afternoon saying that although I had a great interview and a great portfolio – there was just someone out there that’s better than me. The shitty thing for me is that my resume is so specific that it doesn’t apply to anything else. I really have no skills in the service industry. Or any other industry other than my own. Sigh.
Umm. I hate being home. I hate living with my parents. They drive me insane daily. Every time I sit down for dinner, I feel like it’s the “15-minutes-of-interrogation” where they try and ask me as many questions as possible in a little time span. Since my brother took our other car to Edmonton with him for the summer, our 3-piece family is left with one vehicle. My dad takes the bus to work (how green of him) and that means my mom and I have to share our other car. This is a pain in the ass. Being at home is a pain in the ass. I spend most of my time in my studio – where I lose most sense of time with no windows.
Most of my friends here have been either too busy or just don’t care. When talking to them about coming back they all seemed excited about seeing me and wanting to hang out. So far I’ve seen four people since I’ve come back. I don’t expect that number to get much higher in the coming months. I’m starting to learn that people are generally really excited about the idea of seeing you when you come home from university – but in practice it doesn’t really happen.
I’ve been having a terrible time being away from Girlfriend. It’s terrible trying to do a long distance relationship again. We said we were going to break up for the summer – but it’s just stupid and too hard for both of us to not want to be together. I hate being away from home, from her, and Geoffery. We’ve been watching lots of new Robert De Niro movies, Raging Bull, and Taxi Driver. Both weird fucked up movies. De Niro was good though. I’ve been watching the second season of Parks and Recreation – it’s pretty good. Definitely better than the first, but not as good as the Office. Hopefully it keeps going. Next is Breaking Bad.
Sigh. Here’s a few pictures of my new set-up at home.
So basically I hate being home and I hate living here! How are you doing? Probably better than me. Can’t wait for this summer to be over.
So I am busy doing some ‘studying’ for my listening to music class. Which is really just sitting here and being on the internet while I listen to some odd, and modern, and terrible music. All in preparation for my first of two finals on Monday. Not that both finals are on Monday, I just have two, and one of them is on Monday. The other is on Saturday. It’s in computer science. In case you cared.
Life for me has been rather peachy lately. I’ve done the more ‘partying’ in the last two days than probably all year. On Thursday after work, I came home and had some wine and drinks with my roommates. And yesterday I went to a friend of mine who I used to live in residence with and played poker. It was a $5 buy-in, and I thought I had a pretty good chance going in. I ended up placing third and a hand that I played right. I just got beat by a pocket pair. Unfortunately. Other than that, the night was good. We had to cab home because the stupid buses don’t run past 11:30 here. (That’s a little bit of an hyperbole, it’s more like 11:35.) We cabbed downtown and tried to catch a bus, to no avail, then we managed to meet up with some guys my friend knew, so we shared a cab with them, all the while talking very loudly with the cabbie about hockey and politics.
Thursday was a crazy adventure of it’s own. I had to go downtown to work. This involves me bringing: a recording box, 100 ft cables (x 2), two microphones, two microphone clips, a microphone bar, and a microphone stand. Well first, I take a bus down there, lugging all this equipment, then I get to the church, to discover that I can’t get in for another half hour. So with nowhere to go, and a big tub full of recording equipment, I head to the place where all the crazy’s go. McDonald’s. I essentially sat there for 20 minutes just watching all these 16 year olds come in with their 25 year old boyfriends and socialize. It’s so odd. Once I did get in, I start setting up, and realize that I don’t have a microphone clip. Just one, for two mics. Great. I made a few calls, with no success, so I decided to wait that one out and focus on my other stuff. Well that didn’t go so well either. The recording box I was using decided to not work for me. At this point the choir started showing up…
Now side-note: Everybody I have ever met has known That Guy. He’s the one in the class who seems to know everything about everything and feels the compelling need to tell everyone else what he knows. Well in my case, there were TWO That Guy’s in this choir. Both of them are in my recording techniques class and definitely wanted to help me out with the problem. Now, to make this simple, the recording box has one cable that goes from the box to the computer. So you can’t really screw that up. But nonetheless these guys were crouching down, trying to figure out what’s wrong with the cable, jiggling it, plugging it in and out. Even though it really wasn’t their job and they just wanted to be the hero. So ONE guy, who just so happens to work at a music store, get’s on the phone with his boss or someone, and starts asking what the problem is. By this time we’ve acquired a small congregation of onlookers trying to see why the recording guy is fucking up.
So when another member of the choir arrives, who is another recording tech, I ask him for his advice, and he said we should go get a new cable. But since he needed to be there with the choir, he gave me his car keys to drive back to the school. Which was quite a shock for me, no one has just given up their car to me for something like this. I thought maybe he’d drive me or something. But that was fine. It was the first time I’d driven a car in almost 4 months, but it’s just like riding a bike. Or so I’ve been told. (Thanks Dad)
Eventually I get back to the church with what I needed. And when I did get back, the other recording tech guy came in with a brand new box. Apparently he had gone to Long & McQuade and picked up a whole new rig. Anyways, the stuff eventually worked and the show went fine.
Goodness that was a long convoluted story.
Umm…Trying to remember what else is happening around here. Girlfriend and I are back together. We’re working things out, and going to try long distance over the summer. And see how that works out and then make a call then. (I think? Right Girlfriend?) She always searches my posts for mention of her name. So here it is! LOOK HERE GIRLFRIEND. Hi :).
So, my second year is done. And after all these thoughts of switching schools and dropping out, I think I’m deciding to stay here. It just means less courses each semester. I feel like I’ve been doing better in most of my courses this year. We’ll see after I get the marks back. I’ve definitely become accustomed to getting B’s and C’s now. It’s not great, but I feel I’m learning it and still enjoying myself without pushing it to the breaking point.
The whole housing/living situation is getting pretty interesting here. My one, more well-off, roommate’s parents were here over easter. And it’s look like they’re going to buy us a house to live in next year. This is a crazy idea to say the least – in my opinion. I am perfectly fine living wherever and I feel like a house would be a little over the top. I have made this clear to these guys and I’m considering other options for living. Girlfriend and I still want to live together, and hopefully that can happen if I make lots of money this summer.
Well I guess I should get back to ‘studying’. I leave you with one of the pieces of contemporary music that I really like.