sounds: we should have won…

it’s a strange thing working with sounds and in radio. i find that it’s very rarely that things actually come together in a way that really pleases. everything is a compromise or a fudge. things are close to how they should be.

out of all the things that i’ve been involved in making there’s only been one that, once it was completed, i actually really really liked. the norm is the clock runs out and you hand over something that you’ve worked with so long that you kinda despise it.

but when i was a student i was lucky enough to get involved in a couple of joint ventures. one of which was a piece called “embers” (a shitty title that i came up with and was never happy with) that i made with the awesomely talented eleanor mcdowall.

i’m quite proud of this piece. we even won a (second place) award for it.

sometimes things just come together.

this piece is a fictional reworking of an article that ellie read in a newspaper ( read the original here).

she asked me if i wanted to turn it into a script which i did. ellie guided me here and – thankfully – made me throw away my rotten first draft.

i lined up the lovely george tomlinson as actor for the piece. we spent an afternoon recording it (along with george’s patented clown-car hooter).

ellie and i spent some fun times recording lots of our own sound effects. we close-miked up chairs, kettles, pill bottles, doors, keys, etc etc. we recorded lots of different lighters. i made ellie smoke. there was a lot of giggling and we over-recorded like a fury.

we decided to put some music in there. so – and probably hugely against the artist’s will – we added in a few bits of lovely digitonal.

i had some other recordings lying around that i’d done on a field recording in the city course one night in London with chris watson and we threw some of that in there. that’s the haunting drunks singing “wonderwall”…

we also added a bit of a recording of a visit i made to a (not very good) psychic. and some automated speech. and some other music.

and we (really ellie) mixed it overnight.

it was very strange to hear it complete at around six in the morning, the previous night’s gins and stir-fry wearing off. it sounded good – which surprised me – but i remember mainly being taken by how quickly our random assortment of sounds had come together to actually make something that i liked.

and – to be honest – it’s not a feeling i’ve had since.

looking back on the piece now i think the script’s pretty flawed.

that was the bit i did.

my son (god bless him) likes it though. the other day he said to me “daddy, that smoking thing you made was very creative”.

he’s my favourite critic.

here’s embers. ellie and i made it and it’s alright: