Photo // 2 notes // Comments
In this silent and lonely room, I find myself looking out the window. I know the view intimately. I have seen it many times. Here. Instead of nowhere. Miles from anywhere. This isn’t the world that I live in although I have never felt more alive than now. As the rain comes to an end, daylight is going fast and the fog inside my head stops me from quite remembering reality. I’m out of touch, out of control and I want to escape before it’s too late. I want to wake up and really be here. Here. Instead of nowhere. This isn’t the world that I know and it isn’t the world that I live in, although, I have never felt more alive than now. Sitting in this silent and lonely room, I find myself looking out the window.
Text // 1 note // Comments
Juju, Saturday 28th April, on the train from Wuxi to Nanjing
There’s something that you learn as a singer that you can only learn the hard way. I’ve had to do it a few times and I absolutely hate doing it. It’s like committing some sort of suicide. What I am talking about is when you have to get up, stand on stage in front of thousands of people and sing when you know that your voice won’t hold out. It is the worst feeling in the world. I had to do it for the first time in Oxford the very first time that we supported Supergrass at the Town Hall. It was our first big show and I remember crying so much in the day before deciding to do the show. It felt horrid. Having to stand up in front of all these faces, staring, expecting, judging you, when all you really wanted to do was feel good and show them your best. This happened to me again in Shanghai, at MIDI festival. I knew that we couldn’t cancel the show as it was one of the best paying gigs here in China, it pretty much has paid for our airplane tickets here. It’s funny when you are ill also because I always feel like I can’t sing and wonder whether I ever could. Strange mind. Being ill really does play tricks on me.
The festival in Shanghai is part of the MIDI festival which takes place over two weekends, on consecutive weeks, a little like Reading and Leeds festival back in the UK I suppose. The festival seemed a little strange musically in the sense that there were bands playing all different styles of music on the same stage throughout the day. We enjoyed watching some sort of Chinese-American rock fusion band, which basically was a Chinese band playing American country rock, harmonica and all, combined with some sort of Chinese banjo. It was quite something. The rest of the bands seem to consist of post-rock-dark looking and sounding punks. One guy we saw had quite the hair cut, his head was dyed to form a leopard skin on his head. Hum.
Although I wasn’t at my best, I was happy to get through the show. The boys were very happy to play in front of a couple of thousand screaming people, our bodies projected onto a huge screen. For me however, the fact that we are playing Beijing MIDI this weekend means that I have the opportunity to redeem myself myself and really give the people some of the true Fish in performance. I look forward to this.
I am now sitting on a high speed train to Nanjing. We have played for three nights in a row and tonight will be our fourth show. Going back to the ‘learning’ part. Singing against adversity is when you learn the most. First you have to learn to get through a big show with a cold, chest infection, and vocals that you can’t control, and once you have got through this, you have to figure out how you are going to get through singing four nights in a row. Quite stressful, however, this is when you learn the most.
I figured that what I would do, is something that I, as LF singer, have never done. I have had to figure out how to sing smart. This means, I decided to start singing as softly as I can and let the soundman do the work on my voice. It seeemed possible in my mind as on all the new recordings that we are doing right now, I have been experimenting by singing as softly as I can, to see what it sounds like. It seems that it sounds good. Right. So, let me approach a show in this way. It seems to be working. I have managed to get through the last three shows and my voice doesn’t seem tired or sore in any way. This has never happened to me before. It makes me think of the time that we toured with Blondie. Debbie sings so softly on stage, you can barely hear her. She lets the amplification do all the work. Now, I understand. I’m on it. Makes life as a singer much easier, far less stressful and actually, probably far more musical, less strained and less shouty.
The last three shows have been in Kunshan, Suzhou and last night in Wuxi. All very different. In Kunshan we played in some sort of gambling den. The bar was something from a movie/ Western. People sat around barrels, playing cards, throwing dice, drinking beer, whisky and basically getting hammered gambling. I suppose we were an added bonus to the night. People, on the whole weren’t that interested in us, and to be quite honest, I wasn’t really interested in them. It wasn’t really a venue, it was more of a joint where people came to get hammered, not listen to music. I just played the show and got out of there. Out on the street, there were a few fans that were lovely to talk to. I got bought roses, which was lovely. I ended up giving them to the lady who was making a BBQ outside the venue. She seeemed very hard working. It is amazing here, you see many people who carry their lives, work and homes, on their bicycles.
The following night, we played Suzhou. This so far has to be my favourite city. It could have been to do with the fact that we were actually staying in a more vibrant part of town. It seemed a lot more cultured. There were many little rivers running through the city, it felt like some sort of Chinese version of Venice. Ben and I were quite happy to find a little coffee house where we both enjoyed a cup of English breakfast tea, a game of connect four and some popcorn (They do enjoy their popcorn here, it is about as Western as it gets).
The small venue we played could maybe have been my favourite also. It reminded me a little of The Wheatsheaf in Oxford, except that this venue was in the cellar of some sorts of board-game/youth club. The sound probably wasn’t the best, but we got some real cool kids down to the show, who really got involved. I invited some young kid on the stage to sing with me during The Umbilical Chord, wow, his voice was astounding. He said that he was going to come and see us play in Beiijing, so I am hoping to see him again and get him to sing with us.
One of the most beautiful things about this tour so far is the kindness and willingness of the people to be kind, involved and welcoming. Did I tell you about falling asleep on one of the train journeys and waking up only to find that the lady sitting next to me had put her coat over me so that I would keep warm - how often does that happen in England?
Here, we have found that people are dying to participate and wish you well for a show (in general, obviously except if you play in gambling bars with half-cut gamblers as your audience!). Whenever we give them a sing-a-long bit, whether they can speak English or not, they go for it, they sing, they clap, they jump. This really does make the shows fun for all of us. I know that it isn’t cool or anything, but I really couldn’t care less, I just want people to have a great night, go home happy. We have taken to handing out instruments to the audience during The Umblical Chord and well, we just improvise all sorts of sections for them to join us on, and it’s so much fun, they love it, as do we. Music is even better when you can give someone a new experience, take them out of their box. Last night, I got a non-English-speaking Chinese boy to sing with me. We sang one word at a time, he repeated the word after me, and after a minute or so, he was singing in English without my help. I love moments like these.
Last night, we played in Wuxi. Wuxi, again, is a pretty cool city. It seems quite cultured and has quite a few cool cats walking the streets. We played in an art gallery, a little like The Tate. Some amazing works and quite an honour to play there. The audience, again, were awesome. We made a few friends.
Just a few words, before I go, about the China I have seen. Try the dumplings, they are great. Go for a BBQ with some Chinese people who know what to order and try some grilled fish, octopus and rice cubes. Ladies, you will have to strengthen your legs as all the toilets are holes in the ground, so get your squat thrusting up to speed. Don’t expect any good coffee and fresh salads etc are kinda out of the question. Expect noodles or fried rice for breakfast and don’t expect your drinks to be cold - although they keep the drinks in fridges, they generally aren’t turned on. If you are going to travel, catch a high-speed train, they are amazingly comfortable and will make you feel like you are traveling from a space station. Also, if you don’t have anyone who can speak Chinese with you, get a pen and paper and learn how to draw, I didn’t even manage to order myself a portion of fries in KFC (failure on all levels). And lastly, don’t expect to use your Facebook or Twitter here to keep you entertained as you won’t have any access, make sure you pack yourself a good book.
Right. Only a few days left of the tour, three shows to go and then home. It’s been quite a few weeks. I’ll probably be able to write one more blog before we leave, so see you shortly. Bisous.
I’m listening to The Kills right now, Blood Pressures, great record. Juju X
Audio with 40 plays // 1 note // Comments
Juju was interviewed on this week’s BBC Introducing in Oxford show, talking about the new line-up and explaining more about the blog post that everyone in Oxford seems to have read. ;)
It’s a good interview, and it’s worth a listen (as always) for the top notch local music.
Text // 3 notes // Comments
I started my life with my parents,
I did the mum and dad thing,
I always knew there were more people in my head.
I roamed with my unreal heart,
Trying my best to appreciate a good ride,
Stepping into dusty roads under impossible skies,
I’d wake up to the cold howling world,
Hands in my pocket I did what I liked.
I think too much,
Maybe I don’t think enough,
When we have found someone to befriend,
Our soul goes back to the sky,
And more than death is to survive ones own self.
Photo // 10 notes // Comments
A great photo by a great photographer (HIT ME WITH YOUR BEST SHOT – BEST OF 2011 « Frank Ralph Photography)
Text // 9 notes // Comments
From the BBC site:
We had a great time recording this with Bob. When you’re playing in a “talk radio” studio you don’t get monitor mixes through headphones. Juju just sang and played completely acoustic and I had a little quiet practice amp to hear the organ. Listening to it this morning, with the radio compression and tasty reverb it sounds much better. ;)
This embedded player should work for a week (until Santa comes down the chimney to switch it off).
Video // 6 notes // Comments
We just found a demo of Error In Your Sunrise that we recorded with Gaz earlier in the year. We had almost forgotten about it, but it sounds great!
Nez is rocking away on drums, Juju is on great form and I seem to have discovered a tinkly synth of some sort, probably on the iPad…
It’s free to listen, embed, share and download so stick it on your iPod and make it the soundtrack to a beautiful moment. ;)
Update: Here’s the track in the new HTML5 Soundcloud player, which should work on iPhones and so on…
Page 1 of 3