Mar 9 2011

Little Alex Blog #2: The First Preview!!

The time has come…

It’s all well and good me babbling on about my new project with Steve Alexander Little Alex, but what does the music sound like? I hear you ask… Well hopefully now we can give you some idea.

We’ve been spending a lot of time jamming out new ideas and recording our efforts at Chez Alexander and we had one rather successful live session at Terminal Studios. I’ve been getting used to my new Line 6 setup and programming a whole new sparkly range of sounds, whilst Steve has been torturing his thumbs on the kalimba (see the bottom of the page!) and getting to grips with his brand new Maschine.

At our last writing session we recorded one track of live bass that we quite liked as it stood. So Steve took it away and programmed some drums with the Maschine…

Ladies and gentlemen; here is the first sneak preview of things to come:

The Littlest Alex by simonlittlebass

We’d love to hear your thoughts. Remember you can sign up to the mailing list at Reverbnation and ‘Like’ us on Facebook (that sounds so naff, but that’s what they call it nowadays). Feel free to leave your comments here on the blog; in fact you can even click on specific bits of the track and comment in time with the music. Oh yes indeed folks; it’s all very technical here.

I’ll leave you to ponder the forthcoming joys that Little Alex has in store for you. And just for a laugh, here’s the video I shot of Steve hammering away on the kalimba from the same writing session. Just watch the concentration on his face…

Until next time :)


Feb 11 2011

Little Alex Blog #1

Hello folks,

Firstly, just to let you know that calling out from my solo album Mandala is today’s featured free MP3 download on Allaboutjazz.com, so make sure you pop over there and grab yourself some free music if you don’t have the album yet. There’s a great selection of past free tracks archived on the site too so it’s well worth a visit.

Many of you will probably have noticed that over the last few days I have been beavering away setting up a bunch of pages and profiles for my new band Little Alex. This is a collaboration with Steve Alexander in which we combine the live looping of my solo project with live drums and percussion from Steve. I though it was about time I posted something here on the blog to let you know where we’re at right now.

We’ve been on Twitter for quite some time now with both myself and Steve posting. Incidentally, Steve also has his own Twitter account now so do go say Hi when you get a chance (his username is @SteveADrums). Over the last couple of days I have also started up a profile on Reverbnation which is home to our mailing list if you want to keep up to date with progress. We’ve already had a fair few people ‘like’ the Facebook page, which has been great. Last night, and only for the sake of completeness, I gritted my teeth and put together the world’s most half-arsed MySpace page. If you feel the need to visit that one, please bear in mind that I can barely get my head around it’s out-dated and glitchy interface; but at least we have the username :)

We’ve been busy writing new material and recording various demos at Little Alex HQ. Unfortunately we have nothing to play you at this stage because we’ve yet to play together in a proper studio with all our gear. So far Steve has been playing sampled drums in the studio due to space and noise (!) restrictions. We’re looking at having our first fully live rehearsal next week…

Now for the geek stuff. You have been warned…

My live looping rig has expended somewhat with the addition of a Pod X3 Pro and FBV shortboard thanks to the lovely folks at Line 6. I’ve hooked this up with the old faithful Lexicon MPX G2 in the effects loop which has given me access to some seriously scary sounds. The Pod feeds directly into the Looperlative LP1 which goes straight into the desk for recording. For live playing I managed to get my hands on Cass Lewis’ old touring Warwick ProTube IX which has a stereo effects loop and dual DI outputs. I’m finding that it’s becoming increasingly important to keep the bass in stereo to get the full effect from some of the more spacier sounds I now have access to.

And Steve has been working on a brand new drum setup for the Little Alex project. It’s a much smaller kit with some more esoteric cymbals so we can have access to some really interesting colours and textures. He’s also looking at adding some toys into the mix too; kalimba and baby glockenspiel should be the next additions. We’re trying to keep electronics and samplers out of the drum rig at this stage to simplify our on stage setup, but we haven’t ruled it out entirely for the future. Here’s a little blurry shot taken by Steve this week to show the kit’s latest incarnation..

Anyway. Didn’t intend for this post to be so long! Hopefully next time I blog about the band we’ll have something to play you. We’re working towards putting together an EP to release later this year. We’re hoping to play a slot at the Limelight Music Festival at the Tron Theatre in Glasgow next month, as we will both be up there for the week working on another project. Watch this space (or one of our other many spaces) for announcements of upcoming dates.

Until then..


Nov 1 2010

MySpace? Who’s Space??

Well it’s been a strange couple of weeks for me and my ongoing struggle with the big pile of silly nonsense that MySpace has become…

As many of you may already know it was unofficially¬†Quit MySpace Day on October 24th. I believe this was initiated by Andrew Dubber on the wonderful New Music Strategies site; the basic premise being that MySpace was now nothing more than a spam-riddled, exploitative advertising tool for Rupert Murdoch et al and the time has now come for musicians and bands to simply close down their account en masse. Steve Lawson has also been blogging on the subject today,¬†having been quoted in yesterday’s Observer about the recent MySpace redesign and his experience with the site over the years.

I’ve posted various rants over the years concerning MySpace. When I first started putting my stuff online, MySpace was the place to go first. For many, myself included, it was a virtual shop window to showcase our work as musicians with it’s simple music player, embedded videos and photo galleries. Over the years MySpace really has struggled to keep up with the changing face of social media; mainly due to it’s dreadful corporate shenanigans since the Murdoch takeover in 2005.

Since then, MySpace has become less about us and so much more about them. I’ve already blogged extensively about why I cannot stand MySpace these days. So when Quit MySpace Day came along, I had to think long and hard about whether to delete my account or not…

I didn’t. No folks, I wimped out entirely.

I did however switch over to the new ‘redesigned’ MySpace profile which seems, to be frank, to have proved as good as deleting the account. I spent a lot of time over the years maintaining my old trusty MySpace page; uploading interesting photos, keeping my gig list up to date etc. The new interface couldn’t be worse (just when you thought the old interface couldn’t get any worse!) and the corporate branding has reached new heights of encroachment. My ‘redesigned’ MySpace is now just a collection of Reverb Nation widgets, links to this site and MySpace advertising space. The intention being that nobody could possibly bear to spend more than 30 seconds looking at it before moving on; ideally here.

But here’s the thing: I can’t bear to ditch MySpace entirely. I still see it, however unwisely, as an essential part of my online presence as a musician. I know for a fact that a large number of people still use MySpace as a first port of call when investigating new music and artists. It’s where they go to have a quick listen to a track or two, maybe to see where the act is playing next. MySpace (alongside YouTube of course) is still a huge part of many people’s online discovery process, and as a result I feel the need to be a token part of it. I might hate it, but at least I’m still showing my face and able to point people in a more sensible and worthwhile direction.

So what do you think?

How do you find out about new and emerging artists? And how do you listen to new music online? Are you getting into Soundcloud, Reverb Nation and Bandcamp? Maybe you are still a little bit obsessed with Last.fm, like me?

Let me know. But don’t send me a message on MySpace. I don’t know how to open them anymore…