Masonic Boom

"Crazy" "Oversensitive" "Feminazi" "Bitch" bloggin' bout pop music, linguistics and mental health issues

Friday, June 30, 2006

Hyperspace and Grannies

I think this is one of the most beautiful images I've seen in a long time. Thanks to Astronomy Picture Of The Day. I'd love to use this as a record cover.

Been reading Michio Kaku's book about Hyperspace, which is warping my mind in lovely non-Euclidean ways. (And includes the mathematical proof of my usual claim "I'm not drunk, in the Fourth Dimension, I'm walking a perfectly straight line.")

Field theories are clumbsy and inelegant in 3-dimensional space. (OK, 4-dimensional space-time, really.) But when you jack the number of dimensions up to 10, the maths suddenly becomes simple and beautiful and elegant. I'm trying to think of this as a metaphor for my own life right now. Things may seem convoluted and inelegant, but on a higher level, they make some grander kind of sense.

Also, totally unrelated, my father told me the story behind the "Mathematical Ring" that I inherited from my grandmother. She bought it "for herself" with the royalties from her first book. (My Maths Grannie wrote mathematical textbooks. As distinct from the Science Grannie, who lectured and wrote papers on Botany.) This somehow makes it even more special.

Thursday, June 29, 2006


Right now, things are coming close to total meltdown because we aren't even allowed to approve, let alone even choose the FONT used for our logo on the record sleeve. The day that YOU form a band and WRITE AND RECORD A SONG, then you get to design your own band's logo. You don't get to impose yours on us.

Yes, it has got this bad. I just want to cry. As far as I'm concerned, I am disowning this record and having nothing more to do with it.

It really is down to a battle of wills at this point. This is a guy who thinks letting the band have any say whatsoever in their own record or artwork = "design by committee" = bad.

WTF? Is this our single, or is it just another exercise in narcissism whereby he gets to inflict his "taste" on his "audience"? As far as I'm concerned, this is no longer even our single, it's just us contributing another track to a compliation album that happens to be spread over several different discs.

And you know what? I'm tempted to just burn a sampler CD for the {Lorry Festival} which includes this song, do the artwork myself, number them as collectors items and sell it for cheaper than his is. THAT will be our first single. Not this.


I overslept today, quite badly. I was woken at about 6am, by the sudden, very belated arrival of the Red Dragon. Then, when I woke, I remember feeling quite pleasantly refreshed. Lay in bed waiting for the alarm to go off, and then, when it didn't, after a somewhat considerable amount of time, I looked at the clock to discover it was 10. Cue mad rush to get showered and out the door to work.

{Fermat's Femmes} are currently reshuffling and rescheduling shows. Some we may have to do with an abbreviated lineup, others we have to cancel outright. Someone suggested we draft in an understudy for those performances which one or the other of us can't make. (This is not the first time that such suggestions have been made.) Now, immediately several objections were raised to this.

Personally, I like the idea of understudies. Partly, I like the idea because of the theatrical associations, the stalwart of every rags to riches musical ever written. And partly, obviously, because I like the flexibility such an arrangement would offer us.

I mean, that's what people get for having pesky work and social lives that interfere with the band! I don't have a life, grr, etc. so why should anyone else be allowed to have one? Well, whatever, I immediately booked off two weekends in August to see the new TSM Go To Marfa To Look For UFOs movie and to go to the Palmipsest Festival in Cambridge with Rhys and Chris from City17.

The argument against understudies is that this band is as much about the personalities of the performers as the songs, and that we are *not* an interchangeable band of interchangeable girls. (Though this argument is somehow disregarded when I argue that I don't want us in matching outfits.)

However, I don't know... I'd been thinking quite a lot lately about getting an understudy - or, even, a replacement. When I start to feel discontented with this band, and my role in it. When I start to feel superfluous or forced out of the public faces of the band (the MySpace, the blog) - like no one is the slightest bit interested in reading my meanderings if it's just me, and not {Fermats Femmes}. And then I think it would be GRATE to train someone else to sing my bits, and record all of my guitar and electronic bits and mix them down into iTunes, and just get to turn up with the audience and watch my band from the floor. Or retire from live performance like Brian Wilson and spend the evening in bed eating ice cream instead.

Retire, become the eminence gris everyone accuses me of being. Less stress, less hassle, and who would even notice (let alone complain) if I were gone, replaced with a younger, prettier, more tractable girl?

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


When I don't like someone, it affects and infects every single interaction I seem to have with me. It's really hard for me to separate the Twat from What The Twat Is Doing, especially when irritatants and annoyants drip from every word that spills out of his mouth or his keyboard. Instead of minor problems, they become symbolic of Every Single Thing that I dislike or mistrust about him, and his Twathood in general. My gut instinct reinforces my perceptions, and my perceptions reinforce my gut instinct.

I know I'm a pretty negative person. Maybe it's a defense mechanism, that the lower my expectations are, the less likely I am to be disappointed. Maybe it's the emotional equivalent of rooting for the bad guys in the Bond Film so you don't get scared when the hero is in danger. Maybe *I* am just a twat.

I usually think (well, not even think, but just that split second automatic assumption) the worst. When someone's late, it's because they're an inconsiderate twunt who doesn't think my time is as important as theirs. Private posts on the interweb (don't even get me started on that) immediately make me think that the person is being nasty about me specifically. Random disgruntled comments on messageboards must always be directed at me.

Why am I like this? (I nearly said "Why am I so shit?" and realised that even that was negative.)

Stress; that's the excuse that I'm using for everything from why my back hurts to why The Red Dragon (to use La Spliffe's evocative phrase) is a week late. But it's deeper than that. I've carried my negative experiences and disappointments with me in a way I've never carried the triumphs or good times.

Ah well. Things I've learned from this experience:

-Do not allow yourself to be talked into things. Trust yourself, because you will feel more resentful if something goes wrong with something you didn't want to do in the first place.

-Never go into business with someone you can't go out for a drink and a chat with. No matter what you're promised out of it. This is supposed to be fun.

Sigh. Been listening to Six Organs of Admittance and Sunburned Hand Of The Man all day. Sod this indiepop lark - I freaking HATE it and the sort of twats that inhabit this world. I'm going back to making weird psychedelic records in my bedroom again.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


I spent last night faffing about in Photoshop, trying to regain my retouching skillz. Back when I was still working at the ad agency, I used to be almost unreasonably good at retouching, but my skills have been atrophying, so I've only practised on myself, and uploaded some of the results to my own personal MySpace. Nothing major, just playing with the colour filters, removing pot bellies and double chins, erasing creases, making my legs more model-like, that sort of thing. Please let me know (here, not there) if you spot any obvious edits - more because I'm curious as to how convincing the effects are because I'm dealing with flat screen monitors, where it's hard to detect edits.

I've been doing some more advanced photoshopping at home, but won't upload the results until I'm happy with them. There's really not that much difference between fixing a double chin in a photograph, and the airbrush style photoshop art I used to do. It's nice to make myself look like one of my cartoons, especially when many of the originals made me wail with angst "I don't really look like that, do I?" and I've always considered myself to be too ugly to be vain.

That's not a cry for compliments, BTW, that's my genuine self assessment, though it doesn't stop me from being disappointed in my own lack of looks. Been reading too much Germain Greer and it's really been depressing me, how I guilty I am of so many of the things she's been talking about, the fetishisation of romance, the disgust and self loathing of the female body. And yet, here I am contributing to body fascism by perfecting myself in art form.

Last night, I dreamed I was in NYC, staying with Lauren in LIC (I think she lives in Brooklyn, which is odd but I was around the corner from Kaliflwr). And in my dream, I found the most amazing Boots Of Sex - they weren't just riding/pirate boots, they were proper, full on, thigh high Cavaliers Boots with loads of buckles and everything. As I was walking down High Holborn, strangely enough Jones Bootmaker had a sale on! With lovely riding boots included! Bloody things didn't zip up over my calves, though. It's mine own fault for walking too much, and for not wearing stupid high heels which destroy your leg muscles to make your legs slim. Sigh.

Now I just have to figure out how to upload old demos to MySpace. Like a fule, I burned them as AIF files, so I could get them on the same CD as the photos, and neither Windoze nor MySpace want to recognise them as music files. Sigh.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Fem-Dom and F**tb*ll

The way to handle pre-gig nerves, is to have a FAP meet-up beforehand, with loads of Strawberry Beer and discussion of Forest Pine's Hobby and random fits of laughter about the concept of Custard Subsidence. (Not sure if I can even explain this... something about having custard wrestling in your back garden, and how to dispose of the evidence.) There was f**tb*ll going on in the main pub, but the garden at the back was deserted, so we had a peaceful and lovely afternoon in the pub, as Ed discussed his cunning plan to make Emsk a Pirate Queen so we could get canal boats whenever we wanted.

Went to the NHAC as the match was ending, blinded by the near total darkness of the venue, but in the murky gloom, I just about saw the dim outline of... KISSY CHRISSIE!!! fresh off a plane from Texas, almost incoherent with jet lag and whiskey. Cue much shrieking and jumping up and down and hugging and then babbling catch-up. Only for us to have to hush when Pagan Wanderer Lu came on. However, by three songs in, we were captivated by his gorgeous pop.

There was definitely a kind of a theme to the evening, aside from the obvious (yeah, yeah, single release party) - and one that I'm not sure how we fit in with. Blokes sitting at tables full of lo-fi electronic gear singing witty casiopop songs. I did actually enjoy all the other bands (which is pretty unusual for me) - especially Napoleon IIIrd, who AMP has been raving about for ages.

But when I started {Fermat's Femmes}, that was the dilemma I was faced with. The songs were created by one girl, sitting by herself at a table with a load of gear. But I just couldn't stomach the idea of going onstage like that, I wanted harmonies and singing and dancing and girliness to counterbalance my geekiness. So it was interesting to see how other artists dealt with this quandry. Tim Ten Yen dances about like a mad robot (The Singing Salaryman) while Napoleon relies on the coolness of his tapereels - and also the sheer raving, wibbling beauty of his music - to carry the show, and it works.

Anyway, yeah. Our set. No soundcheck (which was entirely our fault for not wanting to hang around all afternoon) so the stage sound was a bit erratic. However, what we lacked in sound, we more than made up for in energy, bouncing around, new dances and new songs. We all had matching individual bottles of pink wine, with our names on them. I saved mine - hope the others did, too.

For once I managed to get through a set with no serious f*ck-ups. I debuted a fuller sound, with more pedals - both distortion and overdrive, and the brand new V-Wah. Which was nice, because Frances came up to me after the gig and was all "Wow, you're a really good guitarist, I don't know if anyone ever tells you that, and they should" which made me really glow because no, people don't usually tell me that, and yes, I do need to hear it occasionally.

Time stood still, it's weird when that happens onstage, when go manage to get into The Zone and stay there for the whole set, so you have no idea afterwards what happened, except for tiny glimpses of moments like the whole audience errupting into dancing as we finished up with Noyfriend.

Got utterly rat-arsed by the end of the evening. I have vague memories of buttonholing Napoleon IIIrd and demanding to collaborate with him, though, surprisingly, he seemed quite taken with the idea of mailing Cubase files back and forth to one another.

Managed to avoid getting into a major row with {Lou Liverlust} mainly through repeating the phrase "talk to our manager". It's kinda shit that things are sour between us. I'm never again doing anything with a record company where we can't just go to the pub and have a quiet talk about stuff. But even though both of us go into conversations with the best of intentions, just something about both of us seems to rub the other one the wrong way, and it turns into a pissing competition if not outright argument.

Wandered around Notting Hell for ages trying to find a pub, then I had the best falafal I've had in years (lord knows, I'll never find the place again). Stumbled home on the nightbus incapacitated. I found evidence of my efforts to sober myself up the next morning (pot noodle and 7-Up) but I've been ruined all day. It was worth it, though, for such a great evening. Hurrah!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Do You Know, Where You're Going To

I have written this post once before, and the computer ate it. :-( It was all about people with Career Goals and Three Year Plans and all that rot, because I was buttonholed by one last night, when I went out drinking with work colleagues. (Why is it these people always work in things like "Corporate Finance" and love Three Letter Acronyms and throwing jargon around?)

His metaphor for his Three Year Plan was that of the Great Circle - i.e. "If you want to get somewhere on a plane, you have to take a circuit which doesn't look like a straight line on a map!" He repeated this like it was some kind of Great Truth, when really I suppose it was meant as a metaphor for lateral thinking, even though he probably wouldn't recognise Lateral Thinking if it bit him on his Back End Implementation. I liked the metaphor, because, well, I like anything to do with maps. But the amusing thing is that it says more about the problems of Euclidian geometry in translating the topography of a sphere to a two dimensional surface than about "career trajectories" or whatever. There *is* no such thing as a straight line on a globe. It's an illusion created by the limitations of the human mind.

And then he started on about how "Everybody has a goal! Or at least, everybody knows what it is that will make them happy!" Rather than call bullshit on this, I simply told him, "well, I must be in your tiny minority, because I've not got a clue."

I really don't have a clue about where I want to be in three years. And I've given up on the idea that any thing will just... MAKE me happy. I've never put any particular planning into my "career" - it's just something I've kind of drifted into, paying the bills to keep me alive for other interests. I have vague fantasies and dreams ("If we don't believe in fantasy, we are lost" - Circulus) but Goals?

Funnily enough, I feel happiest (or, rather, more content, less stressed or pressured) when I *don't* have some kind of grand Goal. The times I've had a grand Goal, I've either driven myself crazy in the single-minded pursuit of it, to the exclusion of enjoyment of anything else in my life - or else I've experienced a sense of crushing disappointment when I achieve that goal, and realise that no, it hasn't made me happy, it hasn't made my life perfect, and it's not really changed anything.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Topless With Beans!


An Exercise In Branding

Carrying on from the comments a few comments on the old blog, I've been thinking about Branding, both of bands and of record labels. An anonymous person pointed out that on {Fermat's Femmes'} new single for {Liverlust Records} the logo of the record company was far bigger and more prominent than either of the bands' names, let alone the actual names of the tracks on the single!

I'm actually more genuinely amused than pissed off. (Too many other things to be angry about.) But what I find funny is that one of the first conversations I had with {Lou Liverlust} was all about how he couldn't listen to bubblegum artists like Britney Spears and Girls Aloud because, quote unquote, all he could hear was "marketing". Yet this record looks to me, for all the world, like an exercise in branding, to the exlcusion of any actual music. The ironing is delicious!

You know, I've looked through my record collection, both alternative and pop, indie labels and major labels. With the exception of a couple of anonymous dance records which have a standard design, and some 60s records which have tiny logos in the lower right hand corner, modern releases just don't display the name of the record company on the front cover. Nope, neither Creation Records, nor Pete Waterman. The logo of the label is usually on the back of the cover, sometimes the spine in the case of CDs, and on the actual label of the Vinyl or CD.

Even back in the golden days of the bubblegum hit factories, the brand identity was disguised in made-up bands like the Ohio Express and the Archies and the 1910 Fruitgum Company. The brand, visually, certainly wasn't Buddha Records or Kasenetz/Katz. That's what I find intriguing about them, the idea of the songwriter/producer as eminence gris.

So what has happened, with indie record labels in the past 10 to 20 years that the label brand has become more powerful than the bands brands? Much more so than these "major labels" that the indie boys hypocritically despise for their "sound of marketing"? I don't know anyone who buys an EMI record or a Sony record. But I certainly know people who will buy Constellation Record or a Warp Record on the strength of the label.

So this puts the idea, perhaps, into the heads of people like {Lou Liverlust} that this Indie Lable Brand is far more important - and therefore more symbolically important on the cover itself - than the bands involved or even their music.

And I'm sorry, but that makes me feel for more effectively like a Product, whose Art is being subsumed into a Brand Identity than any Girls Aloud or Sugababes record ever did.

Maybe it's a power struggle - *I* created the {Fermat's Femmes} brand, and I'm just not having it subsumed into someone else's Tony Wilson act. But what amuses/pisses me off the most about it is the hypocrisy of these indie boy types, slagging off bubblegum for marketing, while pushing their own personal brands so heavily. It's like slagging off Witchcraft while privately running a discount counter for the selling of souls.

Rip It Up And Start Again

New blog. Gloves off. All my mouthy opinions with no holds barred.