Boris a Bono

Boris a Bono
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18 Feb 2017

Add some new colours to your music production palette

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You may have noticed a couple of adverts appearing on the blog recently. This is because I have become an affiliate for Plugin Boutique .

As well as a part time blogger I am also a practicing music producer and sound designer. I work as a live sound engineer (get in touch if you'd like me to work with you and also have fun making noises in studio. 

I fully support the music software companies behind all the amazing tools that we use every day. Websites like PlugIn Boutique make it possible for music makers, engineers and general enthusiasts to get their hands on some really good quality professional plug ins for a fraction of the rrp. I can not recommend them enough...

Some of the current deals worth noting include the essential Izotope vocal bundle, OhmForce plug ins and Sunrizer soft synth. 

There are many other offers on the website if you are looking to add a little more colour to your music production palette.  

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These deals are time limited offers so make sure to visit Plug In Boutique website on a regular basis to keep up to date. 

15 Feb 2017

Bywyd Studios open their doors in the heart of Cardiff Bay

Bywyd is a new venture that opened in the heart of Cardiff Bay last week. After a well received open weekend providing potential clientele an opportunity to visit the studio located at the Douglas Buildings complex. It is clear that a lot of work has been put into this cosy music production venture. With high ceilings, a wooden floor and plenty of light, the studio has a warm and welcoming feeling. 

The space is situated on the second floor surrounded by a cluster of small creative businesses ranging from music production to meeting rooms. The studio is an open plan design with a monitoring set up and a fully equipped live room which includes a full drum kit, a large range of keyboards and other noise making oddities available to add the essential sparkle to your productions. There is also separate spaces for vocal recording and amp isolation.

Bywyd is a partnership between Leone Vuetivavalagi and Tom Westgard who met at the USW whilst studying MSC in music production and audio engineering. Their work ethics and philosophies resonated enough to start up a musical partnership and studio space. Originally in the now closed Abacus next to Cardiff central and then a brief flirtation with the Coal Exchange before the historic building was sold to be turned in to a hotel. The duo found their gear in storage for a few months whilst they waited for the perfect place to become available. 

Their motto ‘where the science of sound meets art’ is a clear indicator of attention to detail and a willingness to embrace creative approaches to recording and mixing. The services they offer range from simple tracking sessions right through to realising full album projects from conception to completion. Just by meeting and talking with Leone and Tom it’s clear to see an enthusiasm, energy and approachability that makes the stressful process of choosing the ideal space for your creative projects that little bit easier. 

Alongside the studio, Bywyd will also become a platform for artists to release their music to the world. Bywyd records will begin releasing very soon with the band Them Dead Beats set to be the first followed by singer songwriter Eleanor Brown. 

It looks like the new studio space is off to a flying start with many musical projects already in the pipeline.

EMW: What made you want to start a music production space in Cardiff? 

B: The reason we wanted to start a music production space was that we both cut our teeth in the Atrium recording bands and would do anything we could to cover up those un-inspiring four white walls, fluorescent lights and grey carpet by bringing in throws, different colour LED lights, oil burners and even a kettle! 

After a few successful collaborations we realised we both approached music production and engineering from a similar place and decided to continue that relationship in the future. 

We had looked at the possibility of using other fine studios in Cardiff but found a lot of closed doors.

We were approached by chance by Victor Frederik who offered us a space at the Abacus. We jumped at the opportunity and whilst we hit a few hurdles we still managed to keep working towards a goal, of having our own studio.

Even whilst we were learning to do basic carpentry and juggling jobs and other commitments we found we worked well together bouncing off each others enthusiasm for music and the possibilities that lay ahead.

EMW: What can you offer to prospective clients? 

B: We offer a range of services as a studio, but as a production/engineering duo we are really trying to push artists/bands to create records that w ill also see the light of day, by  setting up the label, since we know it can feel like a daunting prospect when it comes to releasing a record.

Working together we are able to accommodate many genres and tastes giving our clients a service which is not easy to come by. We do our best to be as creative  in our approach  as the music we are working with,  from recording techniques to finished mix and production.

EMW: What do you believe musicians are looking for when finding creative spaces to realise their projects? 

B: We both believe the environment in which you are recording has as much of an impact on the performance as anything else we have worked hard to create a space that reflects this ethos. We wanted to create a space that compels artists to be creative and allows us to work with them in such a way that there are no barriers whether that means technically or in communication. Trust is a big part of the recording process and for us that means not only being technically proficient but serving the song at all times, taking care to make sure that the emotion that created
the song is conveyed through the speakers once it's recorded and being played back.

EMW: What can we expect from Bywyd in the near future? 

B: In the near future we are starting production deals for three more albums and a couple of
EP's as well as looking to build a group of solid reliable session musicians in the local area that we can call upon to work with us on projects.

We are also bringing in a group of students to see how a n  open studio functions and to show a musicians studio. 

We look forward to bringing you more exciting and new music in the future.

Pluginboutique - VST Plugins Buy Instruments Effects and Studio Tools

3 Feb 2017

Boris a Bono 'Epoch' review

On his most recent release ‘Epoch’ we find Boris a Bono in a state of uneasy rest, hiding in the sanctuary of his duvet in a flat in Roath. Filtering and tremolo haunt his vocals as grains of found sound are sprinkled over beats. The schizophrenic combinations of acoustic and electronic initially suggest that there is more than one person involved but it appears this is not the case as BaB explains, “originally Boris a Bono were meant to look like two different people. One was more involved with the acoustic side of the sound and the other involved with the electronic. Since then the idea has evolved into one person and with different people contributing to the live performance - it makes more sense this way”. 

It’s music that hangs between the dream state and consciousness, a juxtaposition between rest and having to get out of bed to face the day. As the creator reveals a little more about the character known as Boris a Bono:

“Boris a Bono is a timid introvert with fears and stresses of everyday life. He’s an over-thinker and a very shy man. He is closed and distant. Writing songs of daydreaming, fear of interaction and placing himself in other people’s shoes exploring emotion through music.”

As the world becomes increasingly interconnected and the role of musician seems to be intertwined with the ‘other’ of music which includes promoting oneself as an artist and maintaining some social media presence it is no wonder that creative introverts the world over are hiding beneath the sheets. By stressing about social media exposure and getting enough plays it is possible to let the pressures get in the way and disrupt the essential creative process.

Speaking of the creative process BaB says “I quite like the idea of putting myself in someone else’s mind and write from their head. Or just make up scenarios for the character I think they are. The window is always a good place to start”. Whether it be from the perspective of a passer by or his own emotional state ‘Epoch’ is a fragile sonic painting of a slightly withdrawn but intrigued individual attempting to make sense of his day dreams through his songwriting.

You can listen and download Epoch on the Cul:De:Sac records Bandcamp.

Also listen to Boris a Bono previous release 'In the Doldrums EP' available through iTunes .

Boris a Bono performs at Cardiff Made on March 4th alongside Swansea Laptop Orchestra, Ani Glass and Friends - Facebook event

18 Jan 2017

…there’s something crazy going in the forest over there: R Seiliog EP review

Aneglur is the closest Welsh translation that could be found for the word obscure. The direct translation would be not clear, indistinct. It is from obscurity that R Seiliog appears on the radar. Transmitting from a market town in North Wales, stories of hearing bass frequencies on the Denbigh moors*, and his love affair with the countryside all resonate. Capturing sounds as some kind of aural diary. Approaching his music from a sound art background R Seiliog has embraced the philosophies and practices of Schaeffers musique concrete and le objet sonore only to mould them in to his own hypnotic interpretations. This is not academia, this is artistic expression through sound. In all of his works there is no lead, no vocal to guide, no distinct choice of language to place. 

The clash of different languages used in track titles (see Cloddio Unterdach) is reflective of the clash of styles within the music and the clash of genres that one would experience growing up in the obscurity of the Welsh countryside with only poor radio signals (pre-digital) to guide. To be fully instrumental benefits the artist’ palette. It is his microscopic attention to detail in this carefully designed sound world (Listen to In Hz - R.Seiliog for a full explanation). There is an important connection with the Welsh language, as a musician, R has performed with Welsh artists in bands but there is no clear affiliation with a particular scene in his music. The artist benefits from being an ‘outsider’, that these sonic pieces are born from obscurity reinforces the allure of his experimental electronic music. There have been studies** as to whether persons with a different mother tongue hear music differently. The conclusion that this is not the case is of great importance when considering these works. Language barriers do not exist here only ones own perception and emotional attachment to sound. 

Shedhead EP was released last year via Cardiff label Turnstile Records.   

* I have borrowed information and the blog title from an interview conducted by Anastasia Connor for DIS - 

R Seiliog performs tonight (19th Jan) in Brighton, Hope and Ruin (Free event) -

17 Jan 2017

Late Junction at Chapter Arts

BBC Radio 3’s Verity Sharp brought her experimental music show Late Junction to Cardiff last week with three special performances from artists based in Wales. The event was held at the excellent Chapter Arts Centre in Canton, Cardiff and was free event. The size of the audience was encouraging and a definite sign that there is a strong interest in experimental electronic music in the Welsh capital. The first act to perform were the Swansea duo Deaf Pictures. A collaboration between guitarist Daniel Linn-Pearl and violinist Rose Linn-Pearl. Presenting a sonic landscape that filled the theatre with sublime drone from Daniels electric guitar  using extended techniques including the use of a light controller and violin bow. A mixture of improvisational and minimalist compositions married with the use of looper pedals and various fx with the beautiful performance of Rose’ violin over the top. 

Farmhand is the pseudo name to Shapes label boss and Islet band member Marc Thomas who has taken a step back from running the label to focus on farming in the welsh hills. His solo performance was a delight to behold with plenty of banter thrown in for good measure. Consisting of a selection of field recordings, drum machine rhythms and a trusty synth his tracks were short and sweet. Sometimes messy, at one point Marc politely asked the BBC producer not to put a particular track on the show (this track happened to be my favourite from his set). An electronica induced psyche out and an enigmatic stage presence made this a joy to behold. Laughter is a wonderful cure.

Finally to the stage the Swansea Laptop Orchestra introduced a completely different aspect to the possibilities of electronic music through a sometimes academic but always entertaining approach to live electronic music performance. Three musicians, three laptops and an array of interesting and innovative controllers. Their set went from Indian classical through to much more experimental compositions that celebrated the computer as an instrument. There was a brief discussion on performing electronic music live and the importance of gesture in performance. The SLO  manage to get rid of the stereotypical ‘checking your emails on stage’ look and are bringing a new approach to experimental music performance. Consider the school of IRCAM in France, the spectral compositions of 20th century Modernists combined with amazingly playful future music instruments. 

You have another chance to listen to the event on Verity Sharps 'Late Junction' show on 26th January. 

14 Jan 2017

Emika to release first full length orchestral work Melanfonie

Emika is set to release her latest LP and first fully orchestral work available on iTunes after a four year journey of composition that was finalised with recording sessions in Prague. Funded through a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised €25,000 towards the project. This is a musical success story that is well worth paying attention to. Emikas career has been one of great interest within the world of electronic music with affiliations to the seminal label Ninja Tune and explorations in the sound worlds traversing Techno and DubStep.

The UK producer now residing in Berlin is known for creating dark and melancholic songs that pick up on the forward thinking styles emanating from the turn of the century. Her voice carries the music and so to step back from this role and allow for other musicians gives a great insight in to her compositional prowess and classical music composition background. Emika’s second album 'DVA' released on the above mentioned Ninja Tune label featured the track 'Dem Worlds' that introduced a collaboration with soprano Michaela Šrůmová from Prague. On 'Melanfonie' this collaboration comes to fruition alongside Emika’s deep understanding of electronic music sound composition. Utilising the sound-space of the former Communist Party studio in Prague and employing the 50 piece Prague Metropolitan Orchestra to transform her compositions. The arrangement of the instruments were placed to better suit the needs for her bass heavy and wide atmospheric sound design.

Emika has pulled together an exceptional work broken down in to traditional movements. This is an exciting step forward for electronic music producers interested in learning from the classical world. Other artists in this field include Goldie, Jeff Mills and Carl Craig, all electronic music pioneers who have ventured in to the world of orchestral arrangement to push their musical careers to new levels and at the same time bridging the divide between two different social and cultural phenomena.

Melanfonie introduces a new palette of sounds from Emika and what an amazing piece of work this is. The sense of community through collaboration and social funding adds a dynamic to the work and should be noted as a key moment in the artists development. It takes a lot of self belief to be able to get to where Emika is right now and without the solid back catalogue of self produced works perhaps this album would not have been given the exposure it needed to be completed. There is still an exciting realisation that if an artist puts her heart and soul in to a project the possibilities of success are very real. 

Melanfonie available on iTunes 

11 Jan 2017

Nat Osborn Band Live at GwdiHw Review

Nat Osborn from Brooklyn New York brought a stripped back version of his live band, Nat Osborn Band, to GwdiHw Cardiff tonight treating the audience to an all original set. The trio including Nat Osborn on keys and vocals, Reuben Cainer on bass and Will Haywood-Smith on drums met in the bustling live music scene in New York and began playing together four years ago although the band itself have been working for much longer than that. There is a very raw connection that comes through as a trio and although he prefers to perform with a full band it was a great opportunity to hear Nat's songwriting talents take centre stage. Mixing up traditional songwriting with the inventiveness of free form jazz improv. With pop sensibilities and a great vocal range the set captivated the small but attentive audience from the start.  

There were songs about the city and love, plus an extra special appearance from the supporting Jack Mac brass section to finish off the night. Stand out songs where the opener ‘Cagey’, a song about living in New York city, the slow and atmospheric "Leave All This To Me", which included some great soundscape from bass player Reuben Cainer, who took advantage of his Line 6 M9 pedal to create a deep, textured background, and the excellent ‘Too Late’ which came to life with the added brass (who had only just met and practiced once in sound check!). It’s moments like this that make live music scene in Cardiff so exciting and worth braving the cold. A great performance with bucketloads of soul.