Branding

A quick post …. I dislike the word branding as it pertains to companies trying to get you to buy their product or religion or whatever….

Branding, before marketeer muppets hi-jacked it, used to mean burning your logo into the ass of a animal with hot steel so that everybody knew who owned it.

It’s not like they even changed the name when they began to apply the principal to people. If you hear people talk about you or your brand…you can bet they are probably cowboys at heart.

How to Brand a Cow Correctly
All livestock must be branded clearly, using proper branding methods so brands are visible under all weather conditions. Branding improperly is a waste of time and money. Producers brand livestock to prove ownership and protect themselves when livestock stray or are stolen. Some common factors that can contribute to poor or faulty branding are:

irons that are not constructed properly irons that are too narrow on the face irons that are improperly heated irons that are too small branding a wet animal

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Branding

A quick post …. I dislike the word branding as it pertains to companies trying to get you to buy their product or religion or whatever….

Branding, before marketeer muppets hi-jacked it, used to mean burning your logo into the ass of a animal with hot steel so that everybody knew who owned it.

It’s not like they even changed the name when they began to apply the principal to people. If you hear people talk about you or your brand…you can bet they are probably cowboys at heart.

How to Brand a Cow Correctly
All livestock must be branded clearly, using proper branding methods so brands are visible under all weather conditions. Branding improperly is a waste of time and money. Producers brand livestock to prove ownership and protect themselves when livestock stray or are stolen. Some common factors that can contribute to poor or faulty branding are:

irons that are not constructed properly irons that are too narrow on the face irons that are improperly heated irons that are too small branding a wet animal

Genres and the new Meta Data

Here’s the thing that is really getting my goat. Genres.

It’s a hot topic for me as very recently I have had to enter into this little world of partitioning where you have to describe you and your whole body of current and future work under a genre….

Am I folk, pop, world, electronic, punk, or alternative? a mixture?

I started to think that it was maybe Alternative World Fusion (not that this exists in any music search engines) but then I thought that sounded w*nk and didn’t allow me to do a 30 second punk track with guitars or did it?

The genres thing just doesn’t work for me in the same way that I’m not always in one mood. Imagine signing up to a personal site and it asked you to classify yourself as happy OR sad OR agressive OR optomistic OR quirky and that description stuck with you and was pushed as your ‘flavour’. Madness huh? You feel differently depending on the day and who you are with. It’s the same with music…it’s a moving target and like you – not easily pigeonholed.

Most bands choose a genre like a gang or a badge….even bands that reject the whole genre thing are hoovered up into an industry obsessed with and built on it. There are conversations in backrooms on how to spend the bands money on them becoming the next X or how the new album the band have released is a different genre and therefore a commerical risk….(btw those record company contracts all have the clause “the band must deliver commercially acceptable masters”and that really means the record company can reject or change your music as it isn’t sellable under their interpratation of the market….they can do what they want.)

Sonia Livingstone argues thatDifferent genres specify different ‘contracts’ to be negotiated between the text and the reader… which set up expectations on each side for the form of the communication”. The only expectation I have of my listeners is that they will just listen to the sound coming out of the speakers and let the music take them …I don’t want them psychologically ‘prepped’ or expecting something specific….

Okay – so how to fix this polava or at least get some changes?

Songs have Genres artists don’t
I think that it’s the songs that should have the genre applied if anything not the artist. I’d be a little happpier to classify a song as having a certain mood rather than myself. That said, some artists do the same stuff all the time so this wouldn’t matter to them….yes I am being bitchy on that..

A different entry point to music other than ‘Genre’
Freak the metadata and allow people to access the music through different ‘angles’….instead of punters identifying their ‘consumer type’ from the familiar pick-list of genres such as rock, country etc.. Meta-data is data about data. So if my song is the data then all the keywords and descrptions associated with it are meta-data. Anything can be metadata. The instruments used, the location recorded, the tempo, a mood, the colour of shoes the singer was wearing when they did the song etc..

My imagined searches for new music might include :
All tracks that use harp and electric guitar together.
Songs that have movie dialogue samples.
All tracks made in someones bedroom.
All the tracks that have the word ‘cider’ in it.
Tracks that are under 30 seconds long.
Artists who don’t have any songs with the word ‘love’ in it.
Acoustic instruments only
Songs by their key

If we are going to label and categorise things more intelligently then let’s make sure we have lots of good data provided by the artists and not the middle men slapping a single descriptor on us. The technology is there for this to happen – Google/AI/fuzzy logic/automated song entry systems in the music industry….the reason the will is lacking is because the record companies use this framework of genres to ‘manage’ not only artists but consumers.

The genre thing is the big record labels speak. It’s the analysts. It’s the marketeers. It’s not the musicians. They say it’s there to help you – I say it hinders you boxes you in and propogates a ‘copying culture’.

History although you can’t stick petrol in it or a saddle on it is an efficient beast none the less. History does not ‘store’ copies very well in it’s books and indexes. The alphabet doesn’t have two letter f’s – it’s just inefficient and would be a duplicate. I think the genre thing at root is based on the concept of copying and reusing templates and my point is this – copies don’t survive history very well. Just be careful what game your playing . . .

Drongomala
p.s. my most disliked category is Ethnic…

Genres and the new Meta Data

Here’s the thing that is really getting my goat. Genres.It’s a hot topic for me as very recently I have had to enter into this little world of partitioning where you have to describe you and your whole body of current and future work under a genre….

Am I folk, pop, world, electronic, punk, or alternative? a mixture?

I started to think that it was maybe Alternative World Fusion (not that this exists in any music search engines) but then I thought that sounded w*nk and didn’t allow me to do a 30 second punk track with guitars or did it?

The genres thing just doesn’t work for me in the same way that I’m not always in one mood. Imagine signing up to a personal site and it asked you to classify yourself as happy OR sad OR agressive OR optomistic OR quirky and that description stuck with you and was pushed as your ‘flavour’. Madness huh? You feel differently depending on the day and who you are with. It’s the same with music…it’s a moving target and like you – not easily pigeonholed.

Most bands choose a genre like a gang or a badge….even bands that reject the whole genre thing are hoovered up into an industry obsessed with and built on it. There are conversations in backrooms on how to spend the bands money on them becoming the next X or how the new album the band have released is a different genre and therefore a commerical risk….(btw those record company contracts all have the clause “the band must deliver commercially acceptable masters”and that really means the record company can reject or change your music as it isn’t sellable under their interpratation of the market….they can do what they want.)

Sonia Livingstone argues thatDifferent genres specify different ‘contracts’ to be negotiated between the text and the reader… which set up expectations on each side for the form of the communication”. The only expectation I have of my listeners is that they will just listen to the sound coming out of the speakers and let the music take them …I don’t want them psychologically ‘prepped’ or expecting something specific….

Okay – so how to fix this polava or at least get some changes?

Songs have Genres artists don’t
I think that it’s the songs that should have the genre applied if anything not the artist. I’d be a little happpier to classify a song as having a certain mood rather than myself. That said, some artists do the same stuff all the time so this wouldn’t matter to them….yes I am being bitchy on that..

A different entry point to music other than ‘Genre’
Freak the metadata and allow people to access the music through different ‘angles’….instead of punters identifying their ‘consumer type’ from the familiar pick-list of genres such as rock, country etc.. Meta-data is data about data. So if my song is the data then all the keywords and descrptions associated with it are meta-data. Anything can be metadata. The instruments used, the location recorded, the tempo, a mood, the colour of shoes the singer was wearing when they did the song etc..

My imagined searches for new music might include :
All tracks that use harp and electric guitar together.
Songs that have movie dialogue samples.
All tracks made in someones bedroom.
All the tracks that have the word ‘cider’ in it.
Tracks that are under 30 seconds long.
Artists who don’t have any songs with the word ‘love’ in it.
Acoustic instruments only
Songs by their key

If we are going to label and categorise things more intelligently then let’s make sure we have lots of good data provided by the artists and not the middle men slapping a single descriptor on us. The technology is there for this to happen – Google/AI/fuzzy logic/automated song entry systems in the music industry….the reason the will is lacking is because the record companies use this framework of genres to ‘manage’ not only artists but consumers.

The genre thing is the big record labels speak. It’s the analysts. It’s the marketeers. It’s not the musicians. They say it’s there to help you – I say it hinders you boxes you in and propogates a ‘copying culture’.

History although you can’t stick petrol in it or a saddle on it is an efficient beast none the less. History does not ‘store’ copies very well in it’s books and indexes. The alphabet doesn’t have two letter f’s – it’s just inefficient and would be a duplicate. I think the genre thing at root is based on the concept of copying and reusing templates and my point is this – copies don’t survive history very well. Just be careful what game your playing . . .

Drongomala
p.s. my most disliked category is Ethnic…

Kostas Kostadinos (bass) Orbituary

I just got a call from Greece telling me that my very good friend Kostas Kostadinos decided to take his life in Naxos Island, Greece two days ago – they found him yesterday.

Kostas played electric bass on two tracks from Scale – ‘Money’ and ‘I Am Me and She Is She’. I especially loved his playing on ‘Money’ as we were both super broke at the time and the song seemed perfect for us to do together – he definitely knew how to play the stretched out blues.

When I visited him in Naxos at New Year 2005 he was in a very dark mood – not even my producing a CD he was on could rouse him. He was motionless and his language was peppered with negatives. His tone dropped into nothing before sentences were over. My senses were picking up real danger from him and a visited him a couple of times over the next few days before he headed out to Athens.

He was excellent with his hands and he had helped restore a fretless acoustic bass that I had. He gave it to me there complete at Christmas. He looked after it when I wasn’t on the island because he liked to play with a crazy drum maker on the other side of the island but the fella distrusted electricity and consequently chose to have none….it was always a long story with Kostas but never a dull one – you always felt reassured that your life was movie standard when he was around.

He told that in the past he had been admitted to a mental institution and that he was a manic depressive. His heart was big and true but he had scars of kinds I wont go into here. It is the nature of bass players musical role that they are the medium between the rhythm of drums and the chordal/melodic nature elements. So too in non musical life was Kostas a glue between elements when he was around – people felt like things were ‘solid’ and ‘taken care of’. He wasn’t precious with reputation and he spoke his mind. It’s a bass player thing you see….

His marriage ended more than 10 years ago and he then moved from Athens to the island of Naxos where I met him for the first time – a place called JamBar. A pub which had music gear for local or visiting musicians to jam on…hence the name. I met the owner first and he told me someone would come down and play bass and drums later on. ……Kostas came in with his big eyes, round belly, curly hair and mischievous smile… dressed terribly… but he pulled out a vintage Fender, got a joint arranged and asked what key we were in. We had a great jam – I played electric guitar and sang while the insane bar owner (another story) played lead guitar….a novice drummer fella leathered a 4/4 beat for hours…you don’t have your pick of drummers on the islands…it was a great night….highlights were a version of God Save the Queen by the Sex Pistols…

From there I got to know Kostas more and more – even when Jam Bar became enemy territory we still hung out at one anothers place on the island. Kostas made money from jewellery during the summer and in the winter tried to co-erce the rest of the musicians on the island to get a band together … his tenacity was admirable but I knew he was disappointed with the others and their efforts…islands have alot of social freaks that retire there and it can get difficult in trying to get progress. Even the folk music was locked up so tight that they didn’t want a sacrilegious bass guitar to be in the equation. I felt for him.

I knew all those times I called his phone in January when it was disconnected that he was slipping and I couldn’t do anything about it. Those that are serious about suicide never tell you they are going to do it. What a quiet place that decision must be taken in – where nothing moves and the world begins to look like a photograph that’s already fading. I’m angry at him but it’s ultimately his call how he plays it. The last thing I said to him was “don’t leave the island without telling me.”

His wonderful kitten was stolen from him last summer and he was so skint five years ago that he had to kill 8 puppies from an accidental massive litter by his own hand – he couldn’t afford to feed them or pay the vet. I remember his face telling that story. I remember him being so broke that he practically only ate spaghetti for months and him driving with no brakes on his chitty chitty bang bang motor for ages…I remember him playing bass in my tiny recording room in the belting heat with his top off and big hairy belly out…I remember sharing beers and chat’s about philosphy and life and music. I remember his help and I remember him breaking the mould of my preconceptions about Greek men.

I don’t have a photo of Kostas but I can remember him vividly. A poet with a couple of lines I didn’t understand.

Suck life dry people….all hail to a great man Kostas.

Kostas Kostadinos (bass) Orbituary

I just got a call from Greece telling me that my very good friend Kostas Kostadinos decided to take his life in Naxos Island, Greece two days ago – they found him yesterday.

Kostas played electric bass on two tracks from Scale – ‘Money’ and ‘I Am Me and She Is She’. I especially loved his playing on ‘Money’ as we were both super broke at the time and the song seemed perfect for us to do together – he definitely knew how to play the stretched out blues.

When I visited him in Naxos at New Year 2005 he was in a very dark mood – not even my producing a CD he was on could rouse him. He was motionless and his language was peppered with negatives. His tone dropped into nothing before sentences were over. My senses were picking up real danger from him and a visited him a couple of times over the next few days before he headed out to Athens.

He was excellent with his hands and he had helped restore a fretless acoustic bass that I had. He gave it to me there complete at Christmas. He looked after it when I wasn’t on the island because he liked to play with a crazy drum maker on the other side of the island but the fella distrusted electricity and consequently chose to have none….it was always a long story with Kostas but never a dull one – you always felt reassured that your life was movie standard when he was around.

He told that in the past he had been admitted to a mental institution and that he was a manic depressive. His heart was big and true but he had scars of kinds I wont go into here. It is the nature of bass players musical role that they are the medium between the rhythm of drums and the chordal/melodic nature elements. So too in non musical life was Kostas a glue between elements when he was around – people felt like things were ‘solid’ and ‘taken care of’. He wasn’t precious with reputation and he spoke his mind. It’s a bass player thing you see….

His marriage ended more than 10 years ago and he then moved from Athens to the island of Naxos where I met him for the first time – a place called JamBar. A pub which had music gear for local or visiting musicians to jam on…hence the name. I met the owner first and he told me someone would come down and play bass and drums later on. ……Kostas came in with his big eyes, round belly, curly hair and mischievous smile… dressed terribly… but he pulled out a vintage Fender, got a joint arranged and asked what key we were in. We had a great jam – I played electric guitar and sang while the insane bar owner (another story) played lead guitar….a novice drummer fella leathered a 4/4 beat for hours…you don’t have your pick of drummers on the islands…it was a great night….highlights were a version of God Save the Queen by the Sex Pistols…

From there I got to know Kostas more and more – even when Jam Bar became enemy territory we still hung out at one anothers place on the island. Kostas made money from jewellery during the summer and in the winter tried to co-erce the rest of the musicians on the island to get a band together … his tenacity was admirable but I knew he was disappointed with the others and their efforts…islands have alot of social freaks that retire there and it can get difficult in trying to get progress. Even the folk music was locked up so tight that they didn’t want a sacrilegious bass guitar to be in the equation. I felt for him.

I knew all those times I called his phone in January when it was disconnected that he was slipping and I couldn’t do anything about it. Those that are serious about suicide never tell you they are going to do it. What a quiet place that decision must be taken in – where nothing moves and the world begins to look like a photograph that’s already fading. I’m angry at him but it’s ultimately his call how he plays it. The last thing I said to him was “don’t leave the island without telling me.”

His wonderful kitten was stolen from him last summer and he was so skint five years ago that he had to kill 8 puppies from an accidental massive litter by his own hand – he couldn’t afford to feed them or pay the vet. I remember his face telling that story. I remember him being so broke that he practically only ate spaghetti for months and him driving with no brakes on his chitty chitty bang bang motor for ages…I remember him playing bass in my tiny recording room in the belting heat with his top off and big hairy belly out…I remember sharing beers and chat’s about philosphy and life and music. I remember his help and I remember him breaking the mould of my preconceptions about Greek men.

I don’t have a photo of Kostas but I can remember him vividly. A poet with a couple of lines I didn’t understand.

Suck life dry people….all hail to a great man Kostas.

Progressive Souvlaki No1

Just left Athens after spending two days with my buddy Dio. He’s a drummer in a number of bands in Athens and in my opinion is a star on the rise. Dio has the same birthday as me which when coupled with being a musician too makes him the closest psychological double I’ve got. That means unsuccessful phone calls but when we are together we can talk/play day and night….it’s a beautiful thing and I secretly try to plant Manchester in his mind more and more to get him over here. He tells me even though the Scene is Athens is shit he still wants to change it and own the city – I can’t blame him for feeling that way.

Dio explained to me the pisser of National Service in Greece when it comes to bands forming and staying alive. Dio tells me that he has been in many bands where the drummer is called up one year and then the guitarist the next. It’s a nightmare. the minimum to do is a year but you can do more if you’re that way inclined or if you’ve misbehaved. Men tend to do it after school or further education and in the very rare cases when you are much older – nobody escapes it. As Greece is in the middle of East and West you can see why they are paranoid about invaders and foreigners ….xenophobos.

The Greek Language, like French, has male and female nouns. Like the French the Greeks classify brassieres as a male word – I checked. I asked a few Greek friends what do they do when a new word is invented? How did they decide whether a computer was male or female? What about dumptrucks and polystyrene? Is there a national debate held and each sex makes their pitch for the noun? English came after Greek and Latin/Roman at luckily it could chop out some of the madness involved in the development of language. A chance to ponder on the nature of the tool a little….Most English speaking Greeks will repeatedly point out English words you speak and mention that it comes from a Greek word….it does my head in to be honest….my final feeling is “yes well done but in 100 years Greek will be gone”. English won – change your national language to Cantonese if you feel anti-British. You don’t hear the Indians banging on about inventing mathematics all the time….erm…actually you do.

We go out and it’s around midnight. We walk past an old man playing clarinet in the upstairs reception of a funeral parlour at midnight. It’s weird. Dio tells me that he always does this and he’s a local feature. I wonder if funeral directors should have two rooms – the music and the silent room. They could allow trumpeters and other instrumentalists to come in and play over the hushed dead. I’d want to be in that room if I popped my clogs. No metal though – might end up in a comedic third reach of hell.

We arrive at his mate Kostas’ who is pouring out a drink. Kostas had just moved to work in a bank a couple of months ago and when we turn up he tells us the bank was held up today with three guys in balaclavas with guns. When I asked him what nationality the bank robbers were from their voice he tells me that although they spoke good greek they didn’t say ‘Malaka’ or ‘Malachia’ once. Malaka is the greek equivalent of ‘motherfucker’ – a sort of psuedo cool punctuation in speaking and is used by men all the time. Like motherfucker it can be a bad or good word depending on context. If you only know one Greek word in a pub or club and it’s ‘malaka’ then you’ll probably understand a third of what was said all night. Kostas’ boss gave him seven bottles of booze as compensation for the stress of the raid. He didn’t seem stressed to me. Kostas says the raid took 1m30s to complete and the police came in 2m30s.We go out on his covered balcony looking over the city…he has a set of fantastical figures sitting on a table battlefield with burnt out vehicles and man-monsters. He’s old enough to know this is arkward but I set him at ease by being interested….which I kind of am…

We get drunk and check out some live bands. The saxophone guy is good but the rest aren’t so hot. Lots of English songs. I watch Dio play along to all the drummers all night and realist that his natural place is behind the kit – anything else makes him itchy.

Cities make your eye lazy – so many walls in the way means the eye muscles get no excercise of looking at the hidden horizon. My time on Naxos island has came to an end and I suppose I think of what I like about it. The long views and being able to know what weather is coming by simply checking the sky and the wind direction. Fresh fish and simple good food. Being able to find your own private stretch of coast day or night. Being miles from civilization and being able to tear about the winding roads on a crappy moped. I didn’t say people there did I? The Straw Dogs/Dogville nature of islands and remote places is something that I wont miss. I much preferred Athenian Greeks to those on the island. There you go.

Greece is a funny one. She wants me to be in awe of her but I’m not. The cultural insistence on shouting about the past all the time means that the only sound in the present is echoes. It’s all about today. Not to end on a bad note…and of course you can’t be with a girl that long and not feel something for her and of course I do – I love Greece as much as I hate her. It’s unfinished business and I suppose I want her to be in awe of me…..that’s romance for you – it’s grizzly and sweet.

Cheers
Drongomala

What is Souvlaki? Souvlaki is the traditional take away food of Greece – the equivalent of fish and chips or a taco. It’s a small pita bread brushed with oil, heated and then filled with pork, tomato, tatsiki and salad …it’s cheap and normally 1.50Euro’s (a quid) – most men buy two… The guy that makes them when he fills it does a final twist and it turns into a meat cornet of sorts. Souvlaki rocks.