Tag Archives: band

Hard Times; Or, What Will Become of Ideal Koala

I have some sad news. The UKBA has decided I should leave the country, and, since I would like to be able to come back someday, I’m going along with that decision. This obviously means that the way Ideal Koala functions is going to change for a while.

First of all, Seb is still a member of the band. He will be a less active member for a while, but that time is going to be as short as we can possibly make it. Since there’s not a huge call for solo drummers to perform in pubs, he’s going to primarily focus on his other band, GagReflex, until I return.

There are some upsides to the situation. I am going to be performing as Ideal Koala in America, and I know there are some of you over there who have been sad that travel costs to get to our shows add upwards of £600 to the ticket price. Also, believe it or not, but I have musician friends in the states who have expressed a willingness to perform with Ideal Koala, which will enable me to perform some pieces that require instruments such as piano, violin, and electric guitar for you all. Also more cellos. You may not have known this, but most of our songs were originally composed with two or more cello parts, which were then condensed into one for live performance.

Finally, we are also planning on taking advantage of this time to solve the problem of us not having any nice recordings for you wonderful people. We have two EPs planned for this coming year, and we will also be preparing to record a full length album sometime in 2015.

If all goes to plan, I will be back in the UK in late 2014 or early 2015. This coming year will be difficult, but we’re trying to make the best of it. Thank you all for your support, and I hope to see you at a show soon!


Why I Use a Music Stand; Or, I Need All of the Stickers, You Guys

In the past couple of months there has actually been video and photographic evidence of Ideal Koala, the band. You may have noticed that there is a pretty beaten-up music stand in all of these. The music stand is there because I finally came to terms with my needs as a performer, and it’s beaten up because some music stand company decided to make a music stand that could become irreversibly bent upon first opening the box and decided not to put instructions anywhere for how to avoid it. But that’s another, not likely to happen, blog post.

I have wanted to be good at memorisation for as long as I can remember. I mean, there are loads of reasons everyone knows. You can focus on the music better, you can maintain a better connection with your audience, you can jump around with wild abandon…oh wait, I’m a cellist. But for as many good reasons to memorise music, the most important one to me was always “no one else uses music stands in the shows I play.” Which is really silly when you think about it. No one else uses a cello in the shows I play, either.

The awkward feeling of bringing my sad-looking music stand on stage kept me from suggesting Ideal Koala perform again for months after our first gig, while I spent all of my time trying to memorise all of our songs so far. As I started to know a couple of our songs by heart, we started going to open mics, where I rapidly discovered that my stage fright would tear out my heart, surgically remove all traces of song, and sew it back in, leaving it beating far too quickly. That’s when I realised that my determination to memorise our songs was hurting the band.

I had crossed the line from reasonable attempts to learn songs into forcing our band practices into two people playing the same songs over and over again because nothing was ready and we can’t start adding to our repertoire now. As soon as I decided to forget about memorisation, our rehearsals became more productive and we started to play in front of people again. And people like us. No one ever brings up the fact that I use music onstage. So I’m going to go with this for now.

Except, as you might have picked up on, I hate my music stand. I have a plan to solve this problem, but I need lots of koala stickers. So many. If you see some nice ones anywhere, please let me know. I want a variety, so the more places I can get them from, the better. Thanks!

Great, now try it whilst standing on your head!

Lately I’ve been focusing on really settling down and getting some songs written. I’m aiming to have enough to be able to start a band in September or October without running into this conversation:

Person 1: So what should we play?

Person 2: I sort of have a start to a song, but it’s not done and I don’t have a part for your instrument. You could figure something out just by listening, right?

Person 1: …I could try…I have some unfinished stuff too.

Nothing ever gets finished and there is never an actual rehearsal. End band.

Right now I’m working on two pieces in particular and they’ve made me realise that my part writing has gotten stronger just because I keep writing for the wrong instruments. The first piece I’m working on was finished as an instrumental piece for my composition class last semester. It was originally intended for guitar and harp, but since I am not overly familiar with harp music, I ended up writing a harp part that was better suited to two harps. We only had one, so we had the bass clef line covered by cello, with worked really well. The great thing about this was since I’d been thinking of the two lines as one instrument, even though it was physically impossible to play, the two parts fit together really well. In my re-write, I’m moving the guitar(which was originally on melody) to cover the rest of the harp part and writing lyrics to the melody I have. In this piece, it would have also sounded great to have two harps, but I’m trying to make sure I’m writing for instruments I’ll have easy access to.

The second piece I started by fooling around on the guitar and coming up with a chord progression and rhythm. This is the first time I’ve started by laying the structure and mapped out the progression before coming up with lyrics and a melody. On one hand, it feels a little backwards, but on the other, it’s been putting some helpful limits on possibilities. Once I had the progression, I started to try and write a melody, and I wrote about half of it before deciding I’d start trying to put some lyrics in and taking the rest from there. That was when I got completely stuck. I wasn’t writing anything I was happy with, and though the line was strong enough, I felt like I was getting pushed away from a song I had previously been obsessed with. The other day I was trying to work on it again, and on a whim, I changed the vocal line to the cello part.* Suddenly it all made sense. I still have to write the vocal line, but I have a strong accompaniment. This means I have officially turned my normal song-writing method on it’s head.** Hopefully my momentum keeps up so I’m prepared for fall.

Also, I suck at band names, so people should put suggestions(serious or not) in the comments in order to amuse me.

6 minutes left.

*Can you tell what instrumentation my band is going to have yet?

**I am resisting making a reference to a youtube video on inverted chords that probably no one will get.