I spent most of Friday 22 February at Piraxa Studios, recording some new promo material. I’d decided around the turn of the year it was time I had some demo material to show on all my serious instruments. Not least because a couple of agencies approached me in December about a job that might (though might not) have come off had I done this before then.
So while Matt Norriss patiently yet energetically shifted mikes, cameras, lights, DI feeds, headphones and music stands, triggered audio and video recording of multiple takes and repeatedly clapped in front of the camera for audio-video sync, I was (mostly) – playing mandolin.
(‘Mostly’ because I was also changing clothes, retuning (those unison pairs of strings, coupled with frets and high tension meaning you stand no chance of playing an in-tune note on an out-of-tune string, really show up if the instrument is still reacting to the new temperature and humidity!), tightening a loose pickguard screw, adding accompanying guitar and foot tambourine, and most importantly trying to see how many of the four resident cats would let me cuddle them. Although I had difficulty telling three of them apart.)
I reckon there are four likely genre / style areas where my mandolin skills might be hired:
country / bluegrass / Americana (realistically, in the UK the distinctions are rarely solid)
Italian traditional music
Irish folk and folk-like standards
So I had put together a set of four excerpts to cover all of them, and then set about trying to record (and to some extent finally use) little enough of each to be an under-five-minute showreel. Because it needs to be watched by busy people looking to make a decision quickly!
Impressively, just 11 days after recording, Matt has single-handedly completed editing, syncing, mixing, mastering, colour grading and sorting out the things I didn’t fully make clear in my written brief … which is credit to his work ethic. That it sounds and looks so good is credit to his combination of technical skill and musical perception and understanding.
Hire Matt for production, and me for mandolin (and viola and violin, and arranging). Simples, as apparently people from all walks of life say now!