TSFPM1100x500

Introducing… The Self Fulfilling Prophecy Machine

Collaboration, Music, Songwriting

In late 2015, Geoffrey Stapleton and I formed a hard rocking band called “The Self Fulfilling Prophecy Machine.” Below is a video for the first single titled “Software Baby” from our upcoming album.

Just for the record, I’m feeling pretty excited right about now but watch this space for more details as they come to light.

Peace,

Corey 🙂

piano1100x500

How Music Has Shaped My Life (So Far…)

Music, Nostalgia, Thoughts

The Beginning

When I was five years old I asked Mum and Dad if I could have a piano in the house. We didn’t have any room for on nor was there enough money to buy one in the first place but that was okay with me… I still had my imagination to play with.

All through my primary school years I was writing stories and poems plus, making up songs to go with the poems and drawing pictures to go with the stories. Back then I was an unstoppable ball of creative energy.

It wasn’t until I reached high school though that my interest in music really came to the forefront. The school I went to had a very good music program which I was most keen about and it was there that I could really begin to immerse myself in all things musical.

My chosen instrument to learn was saxophone (it was a pretty cool instrument to play in 1983) however, they were all snapped up by other students so the next best thing to learn was apparently the clarinet, which I continued to play until I left high school in 1987.

Most of my recess and lunch times were spent hanging around the music room practising my clarinet and teaching myself piano. It was an environment in which I really felt I belonged to and through music theory lessons I was introduced to sheet music, manuscript paper, treble/bass clefs and a vast array of notes to play with.

Around about that same time, I wrote my first song after my best friend Andrew showed me an “A” chord on an old nylon stringed classical guitar which was given to me on my 13th birthday by my Dad, perhaps to compensate not providing me with a piano all those years ago and having the ability to teach myself guitar at home allowed me to take music home with me after the school day.

Add to that the thrill of writing a new song with each discovery of a new chord and my life was pretty much complete. All of my school friends were budding musicians, my whole life at that time seemed to be revolved around music, it couldn’t get any better than that.

When I left high school music became something that allowed me to escape the day to day pressures of living. Music made my growing up into a young adult a more tolerable experience.

I started up bands which seemed to endlessly rehearse but never played any gigs and at the same time picked up the bass because I could never find a bass player for these endlessly rehearsing bands.

Wherever I was working at the time I’d carry around a small notebook and pen and scrawl down song lyrics and songwriting ideas at every opportunity. I spent the rest of the time daydreaming what it would be like to play music professionally… That was my idea of Heaven on Earth and it was my goal to find it.

sydney1100x500

Sydney

My first taste of being a professional musician came in 1994 when I joined a band that was on it’s way to Sydney. We went there in convoy with swirling romantic notions in our heads of making it big, bolstered by the fact that the biggest band agency in Sydney at the time had decided to put us on their books.

We decided that nothing would stop us. “We’ll play as a cover band to get some money coming in then we’ll start an originals band afterwards” we said to ourselves, “yeah sure, we’ll be able to do both.”

Wrong!

After being shunted around every corner of Sydney playing in every shitty dive you could ever imagine, the agency dropped us after a year on their books. We didn’t know this but at the time but we were “that band from Adelaide” that played the venues that no-one else wanted to play at.

With no real Plan B in place and poverty knocking at our door, the band split.

It was at that time I gave up playing music and tried to have a go at living in Sydney as a “normal person.” Four years later, and after some sort of nervous breakdown I came back to Adelaide in 1999 with my tail between my legs and the dark cloud of shame and failure hanging over my head.

home1100x500

Back Home

Even in those really dark times, music never left my side. It would knock on my door but I just wouldn’t let it in. After a few months of not leaving the house (I was living with Mum and Dad at the time) I decided that I’d had enough of this wallowing and that not having music in my life was like living my life with an amputated limb.

The next time music knocked on my door, I opened it and embraced it with open arms and from that moment on my life became a process of rebuilding.

I was still working day jobs but I was also in bands that now had some drive and determination and were wanting to go somewhere. I started to find myself in situations that turned into great opportunities for advancing my music career.

In 2006 I had another opportunity to really make a go at playing music professionally. “Yes it’s a cover band” I said to myself, “but still, I’ll be doing nothing else.”

So, I ran with it and FIGJAM was born. We got our demos together, got out and about and networked like crazy, we played everywhere and for the first time in my life I felt that I was in control of my musical direction plus, I was making a living out of what I loved.

I was a self employed, professional musician.

Even though I was doing what I loved at the time, I still came across the same type of ungrateful, difficult, tight-fisted and clueless client/customer that you hear about but think “Nah, I’m a musician, that won’t happen to me.”

As the years went by and the novelty of being a professional (cover) musician wore thin, I started to realise that in my drive to make a living out of music by playing covers I was forgetting the real reason why I wanted to play music in the first place.

I was starting to burn out.

There were however, some bright lights during this time. I finished and released my debut CD “Seeing Stars” in 2012, I made the decision to start building a home recording studio so I can do all my future recordings in-house and I got married.

But all in all, it was decided that FIGJAM would wind up at the end of 2015 and in the vacuum left by that decision I had given myself some time to think. I realised that I had made pretty much the same mistakes that I made in Sydney all those years ago.

I realised that I didn’t have any balance in my life anymore and that trying to play covers to fund your own music is not as easy as you might think.

zencircle1100x500

Full Circle?

So where am I now? Well, I’m doing a lot more songwriting and recording plus collaborating with other songwriters and getting myself reacquainted with my blogging through this site as well as my other two blogs All About Songwriting and All About Music Business with more sites to be launched down the track.

Apart from the very occasional live gig here and there (if they land in my lap) I’m still taking a long break from performing and I’m happy with that at the moment. I’ll be back on stage when I start missing the gigs.

Have I come full circle? Well, I’m not sure but I’m looking at where I am and what I’m doing musically with a fresh pair of eyes and ears and that’s got to be a good thing.

What I will say though is that despite everything that has happened in my life so far, it’s comforting to know that music has never let me down, its always been there to pick me up, dust me off and be the means for me to get on with my life.

I would hate to think of who I am and where I would be if I didn’t have music in my life. It’s been there for me for as long as I remember and now, I just want to work on being true to myself and my chosen craft so I can create a way in which I can honour and repay the muse.

And repay her I will… In full.

Peace,

Corey 🙂

busker1100x500

The Pro’s And Con’s Of Busking

Busking, Music

Right now, I don’t think I could ever go busking again. I had tried though… Once.

It was many, many years ago before I started learning to play guitar. I was still just playing clarinet at the time and one afternoon I thought it would be a good idea to catch the bus into the city, go to Rundle Mall and start busking, playing some pieces from a book called 101 Songs For Buskers (the Bb Clarinet version of course).

I thought I was doing ok until I started getting seriously hassled out by this one guy who for some reason, thought it would be funny to interrupt me at any given opportunity whilst trying to steal whatever money I had made in the short time I was busking.

As I was 14 at the time I had no idea how to handle such a person and apart for some passersby who came to my defence, I got really, really freaked out and after about 30 minutes or so of being hassled, I just packed up my stuff and got out of the there as fast as I could vowing never to busk again.

So much for being spontaneous I thought…

(Fast forward to the present day) I know a few musicians through running Open Mics around Adelaide who make some sort of a living busking around town and I think they are the bravest souls around, especially the ones who busk at night.

While striking up a conversation about busking with these musicians they always ask me why I haven’t done it myself.

I answer them by saying that for me, busking is not an environment that I feel comfortable in because you’re far too exposed to randomness, chance and the idiots that will inevitably want to spoil your performance (I don’t tell them about my bad experience all those years ago, they don’t need to hear that).

I’d rather play in a more formalised environment such as a pub or club where you have some sort of control over the performance. To my amazement the reply I get is that they would rather busk because of the freedom it gives them and that performing at a venue is too restrictive and not a comfortable environment for them.

I suppose you’re either a busker or you’re not and right now I’m definitely part of the latter group. I guess it depends on whether your ideal performance is carried out in an exposed environment or in a structured one.

You’re probably asking yourself “why am I writing about busking?” Well, I was reminded of my experience through stumbling across a website called The Buskers Guide and in it is a series of articles about busking in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Brisbane and Adelaide and it got me thinking…

“Could I give busking another go?”

With the advent of busking licenses, busking auditions and councils having more by-laws and regulations concerning buskers and busking maybe the environment is a little bit more structured and safer than it was 30 years ago.

Giving busking another go is an interesting concept for me to grapple with because I do want to get back out and perform and I want to eventually venture outside of South Australia and busking would be a great way to add to the touring income. I realise that by being too scared to busk I am cutting myself off of many gigging opportunities.

Before I make any decisions I need to find out more about what today’s busking environment looks like and websites like The Buskers Guide is a pretty good place to start.

Maybe I need to unshackle myself from routine a bit, gain some artistic freedom in my life and live a little. Should I give it a go and see what happens?

What has been your experiences busking? Feel free to contact me and let me know. Let’s start a conversation about this.

Peace,

Corey 🙂

buggered1100x500

Fab Feb/Mad March – Phew! Glad It’s Over

Adelaide Fringe, Geek, Rants, Thoughts

<rant>

Today is March 31st, the last day of the month and I’m telling you… I’ve had enough of Fab Feb and Mad March, that time in Adelaide where anything and everything remotely resembling a festival or an event gets bundled into one supposedly huge party that lasts for two months.

Now, I don’t want to appear to be some sort of wowser party-pooper type here but please… Adelaide has so much to offer its citizens (as well as the greater national and global population) but this city doesn’t do anyone any favours by cramming most of its events into a two month period.

There’s just too much competition for the disposable income of a finite population of punters who are suffering more and more from “festival fatigue” every year.

I mean it’s not like Adelaide has crap weather for the other ten months of the year especially as we keep on being told that we live in the driest state on the driest continent on Earth.

Surely we can put on a festival or two at other times of the year? Surely we can space things out a little bit more which in turn will give us performers (and the punters we rely on) a bit of a chance to catch our collective breaths?

Whether you agree with it or not, the article “Has The Adelaide Fringe Festival Become Too Big For It’s Boots?” featured in The Guardian which was inspired by a Facebook rant from British comedian Alexis Dubus (now taken down from Facebook) highlights the issue about the competitive nature of Mad March and the effect it has on performers and punters alike.

NB: I know the article is primarily focussed on the Adelaide Fringe Festival and Mad March is of course a combination of many events but the Adelaide Fringe does take up a lot of Mad March.

Please don’t get me wrong, as a songwriter/musician myself I love any opportunity Adelaide offers to showcase the wonderful talent that we have locally, nationally and globally but to cram everything into a two month time-frame and neglect the rest of the year doesn’t really make any sense to me.

What are your experiences as either a performer or as a punter? Are you suffering from “festival fatigue” or are you sad that Mad March had to eventually finish? I’m interested in your thoughts.

</rant>

Peace,

Corey 🙂

songmachine1100x500

What’s Been Happening At SongMachine

Home Recording, SongMachine, Songwriting

Lately, I’ve been doing a hell of a lot of recording and I’ve been enjoying the opportunity to just be creative again.

It’s really good for the soul.

Now that I have taken stock of my artistic inventory, I have all of my songwriting stuff in one place and because of this I realise that I’ve got a pretty extensive backlog to get through whether it be recording songwriting snippets, ideas, demo’s or full mixes.

I’m using this backlog of material as an opportunity to gradually sort out my home recording studio “SongMachine” and at the same time practise my proficiency at mastering Logic Pro X.

SongMachine exists not as a means to record other people but to ensure that all of my future songwriting and musical projects can and will be done in-house. I’ll make sure I keep you informed as to what goes on.

In the meantime, it’s time to fire the studio up and do some more recording.

Peace,

Corey 🙂

storage1100x500

Taking Stock Of My Artistic Inventory

Creativity, Geek, Songwriting

Recently, I’ve just finished cleaning out all of my external hard drives, all 20TB (yes terabytes) of them and let me tell you, I’ve realised I’m not as organised as I thought I was.

The reason why I undertook such a mammoth task was that I wanted to have all of my songwriting ideas, snippets and demos (plus all of my music business, home studio/recording and general songwriting information I’ve collected over the years) all on one external hard drive and not spread out over many which was the case previously.

The process was that I’d go through each of the old drives one by one and transfer over to the new drive all of the files I wanted to keep and once finished I’d format the old drive and put to one side.

Sometimes It was like trying to unscramble an egg.

Now that I have everything I want under one roof so to speak I’m feeling much more in control over my creativity because I can access everything from one hard drive. I now know where everything is.

For me, being organised means that any song idea that I need to present to a songwriting collaborator is only one click away and no more am I wasting precious time searching among my numerous hard drives trying to find THAT particular songwriting idea that I wanted to work on.

I’ve realised already that the end result of the work I’ve put into organising my artistic inventory is that I’m finally finishing more of the songs that I start and that is inspiring in itself.

Another reason why now more than ever, 2016 will be a very creatively inspiring year for me. I look forward to uploading the fruits of my organised labour soon.

Peace,

Corey 🙂

cscases1100x500

Creating An Aural Portfolio Vs Creating Albums

Aural Portfolio, Creativity, Music, Songwriting

Here’s a bold statement to start things off with…

From now on, I’m not writing albums anymore but I’ll be creating and maintain an ever-changing and constantly evolving aural portfolio of songs instead.

Photographers have a visual portfolio available for their clients so why shouldn’t I, as a songwriter, have an aural portfolio of my songs available online?

I came to this conclusion after looking back on my experience of writing, recording and releasing my first CD Seeing Stars which took an extraordinarily long time to create.

I learnt the hard way that creating an album took a lot of effort, money and some time off the live music circuit to produce the thing.

I also remember the huge stressful build-up to the release of the CD which at the end of the day was very successful however, because I didn’t have a plan on how I was going to market, promote and sell my CD’s post release I still to this day have a few boxes of CD’s under the bed.

Personally, I found that writing songs for an album of 12 – 15 tracks was too limiting in its scope to me.

The more I look into this paradigm shift from creating albums to maintaining an aural portfolio I’ve become more a fan of the “record and release often” concept.

Putting together a body of work by recording and releasing one song at a time will allow me a constant flow of momentum while still playing live and doing all of the other necessary activities an independent musician needs to be doing at the same time.

Don’t get me wrong though… The concept of carrying physical CDs purely for sale at gigs still rings true for me but for the online world, the CD (and even downloads for that matter) are becoming less and less relevant.

Another part of this shift in thinking is that I’ve decided to give away my music downloads for free and devote all my energies on finding ways to be found online, re-purposing my music and building/maintaining my mailing list based on my aural portfolio rather than trying to sell individual downloads online.

I am taking my lead from a San Franciscan songwriter by the name of Dave Hahn. He’s set up his own aural portfolio at songwriter.fm

David gives his music for free for two main reasons which he explains on his website. He says…

“First, I really want people to hear the music I’ve written. The only thing better than creating something exciting is sharing that something with others. For me, writing songs is about connecting with people, telling a story, and sharing a common experience. Writing a song is, then, only half of the thrill of being a songwriter. I also want people to hear it!

Second, I want to build a career as a songwriter. As a Broadway conductor, I worked with some of history’s best songsmiths. I’ve seen what it takes to write a great song and to make a career out of it. What it takes is this: People need to hear your songs, like your songs, and give you the resources to make more of them. That could come in the form of a Kickstarter donation, a TV or film placement, a commission, a publishing deal – or any kind of songwriting project. I want to work on those projects.”

In giving his music away for free, David Hahn is concentrating on the other ways that a songwriter can make some money out of their music rather than the old buy/sell downloads model. I know that there are plenty of artists that have adopted a “pay what you want” model but me, I want to start giving away my music for free too.

Doing this is not an exercise in devaluing my music. I’m looking at this as increasing my chances of getting found, increasing my chances of exploring the other options for monetising my music.

On songwriter.fm you can sign up to David’s mailing list where you get a free song each week plus, you can browse his site and listen to all of his other songs. Each of his songs have their own page with lyrics, sheet music downloadable as a PDF, a YouTube video of the song and a Soundcloud version of it too.

I really like the idea of each and every song being a focal point of music discovery for somebody and utilising social media at the same time.

The site layout is extremely simple and specifically designed to facilitate some sort of dialogue between client and songwriter. For me, stumbling upon David’s website was a real game-changer for me.

It was very inspiring indeed.

Through studying songwriter.fm I realised that there are many ways that a song can be re-purposed for discovery or monetary purposes. My job as a songwriter (besides writing songs) is to find the many different way that my songs can be re-purposed such as:

    • To be performed by me
    • For others to perform
    • To get a publishing contract
    • To be licensed in Film, TV and Theatre
    • As a stepping stone to my next song
    • To collaborate/network with other songwriters/musicians
    • To self promote via social media
      • YouTube
      • Facebook
      • SoundCloud
      • Twitter
      • Google+

My belief is that as a songwriter I shouldn’t necessarily have to worry about genres, trends and fads because what I write, what I create and the output of my creation should be anything that I want it to be not to suit some arbitrary collection of songs.

If I write something that can be turned into something with a country twinge then so be it. If I write a song that has a strong leaning towards rock then so be it.

I always thought that to be truly a liberated songwriter is to create without prejudice to the outcome and the aural portfolio approach I’ll be adapting in 2016 is something that will take me one step closer to artistic and creative liberation.

I’ll be using this blog as my way of keeping you posted as to my progress however, I have started off my aural portfolio using the songs from my first CD “Seeing Stars.”

Have a listen and let me know what you think.

Peace,

Corey 🙂

handshake1100x500

The Joys Of Collaboration (And Wanting More Of It)

Collaboration, Creativity, Songwriting

This year I want to get back into a really productive rhythm when it comes to writing songs and one of the ways I can achieve this is by co-writing with as many songwriters as I can.

I’ve been collaborating on and off for a little while now and so far I’ve been loving the experience.

I’ve been really enjoying the bouncing of musical and lyrical ideas off and from one another as well as the conversations which evolve from this process. It inspires me to keep going as well as challenge my sense of how the world is through my eyes.

For me, collaboration forces me to constantly think about and analyse, my own songwriting process.

This is because no two songwriting styles are truly the same and the inevitable comparisons of each other’s songwriting styles makes for fascinating insights. Creativity is a fickle beast sometimes and having a little help from your friends can achieve great results.

Results which I will proudly upload to my Aural Portfolio when completed.

Very recently I cleaned out all of my external hard drives and transferred the files I wanted to keep onto my home studio computer. From doing this I realised that I had scattered across many different locations, countless amounts of recorded demos, half finished song ideas and song snippets ready for me to finish off and upload for all the world to hear.

I hadn’t realised the sheer volume of stuff just sitting in my archives waiting for me to finish off one day. I became very aware that I’m really good at starting something but not at finishing things.

This year I want to make a real dent in my songwriting archive.

I’ll still be coming up with new ideas because I just can’t help it but I also know that putting aside those old songwriting ideas to be finished one day is a fruitless task as “one day never comes.”

I’m actively looking for more collaborators to work with me so if you feel you want to be part of a songwriting team that has no shortage of ideas at its disposal then contact me.

I’m looking forward to getting stuck into some works in progress.

Peace,

Corey 🙂

CSGigAlert

This Is What Happens When You’re True To Yourself

Adelaide Fringe, CS Solo, Gigs

I was asked the other day if I had missed doing cover gigs since making my decision to stop doing them by the end of 2015, and my short answer was a big “NO!”

No, I don’t miss doing cover gigs at all. In fact by the end of 2015 I wasn’t missing doing any gigs because by then I was a bit tired, jaded, burnt out and needing a little time out from everything.

Let me tell you though, it’s amazing what happens when you start being true to yourself. Since I’ve stopped playing covers I performed my first originals only show (with the wonderful Darren Zaza) at the Hotel Metro on January 27th.

As first gigs go it went off very well as you can see from the below video…

I’ve also managed to secure another three gigs at the newly established Mischief & Mayhem Wine Lounge Art Space for the 2016 Adelaide Fringe plus, I’m doing a 1 hour SCALA spot at the German Club all because word had got around my network that I’m now only concentrating on writing, recording and performing my own music.

All of this has happened and I haven’t even started seriously re-engaging with the Adelaide music scene as yet which further reinforces the feeling that my decision to stop playing covers was definitely the right one to make.

Below are my upcoming gigs for February and March 2016 so far…

Thursday February 18th, 2016
Corey Stewart (with Darren Zaza)
Mischief & Mayhem Wine Lounge Art Space
68 Broadway, Glenelg South
7:30pm – 9:30pm

Thursday February 25th, 2016
Corey Stewart (with Darren Zaza)
Mischief & Mayhem Wine Lounge Art Space
68 Broadway, Glenelg South
7:30pm – 9:30pm

Saturday February 27th, 2016
The Synchronicity Police
Published Arthouse
11 Cannon Street, Adelaide
7:30pm – 9:30pm
Entry: $33 @ FringeTix

Thursday March 3rd, 2016
Corey Stewart (with Darren Zaza)
Mischief & Mayhem Wine Lounge Art Space
68 Broadway, Glenelg South
7:30pm – 9:30pm

Wednesday March 9th, 2016
Corey Stewart (with Darren Zaza)
The German Club (for SCALA)
223 Flinders Street, Adelaide
9:30pm – 10:30pm

I’ll be promoting these shows either personally or via social media as well. It would be wonderful to see some familiar faces in the crowd. If you have any questions regarding these shows please contact me.

Peace,

Corey 🙂

freedom1100x500

My Transition From Covers Musician To Originals Artist

Corey Stewart, Covers, Creativity, FIGJAM

I made a decision at the beginning of last year that by the end of 2015 I would let go of all the things that I didn’t want to do and only do the things that really wanted to do. For all potential future projects I would use this statement as my guide in what I say yes or no to.

Throughout 2015 I did let go of a lot of stuff. I wound up all of my contracted covers gigs and other related projects so I could devote my time to writing, recording and performing my own music plus, getting stuck into my new (non-music related) day job.

Fast forward to right now (February 11th, 2016) and I know that THAT decision I made at the beginning of 2015 was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life.

No longer do I have the insane amounts of stress and anxiety that came with having to play covers in the large variety of projects I had to be in to ensure that I had enough income coming in.

Let me tell you, I don’t miss working weekends at all.

I no longer feel that I have to put my own creativity in a corner and leave it there for a rainy day because I had no time for my own stuff.

I also don’t have to play songs that I don’t like to crowds that don’t care in venues that don’t respect musicians as the professionals that they are. I can now practise my own songs for my own shows rather than other people’s music for gigs that felt like more of a means to an end than a creatively enjoyable experience.

At this time I’m devoting my time to making friends again with the creative part of myself that I had neglected for such a long time but what I can say is that for the first time a very long time, I am truly happy with where I am musically.

This was all the end result of me making a decision to finally be true to myself. That is the real power of letting go.

Peace,

Corey 🙂