I’m half Australian & half Turkish and I was just thinking that both my ancestors could have been staring down the barrel of a gun, trying to kill each other in cold blood on the shores of Gallipoli. It’s Anzac day morning here in Australia, a public holiday for the entire nation where Australians remember the sacrifice of those who died in the war. In 1915 the Anzacs landed in Gallipoli Turkey, and a bloody battle went on for eight months. Thousands of young men were killed on both sides, the Turks and Aussies suffered great hardship. There are never any winners in battle, only loss. Lest we forget.
A beautiful sunny morning here in Melbourne; I’m sipping on my Aldi coffee and listening to one of the most poignant songs, well to me anyway. It’s such a beautiful song, and you may know it. It’s Cuddle Up by Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys. I’ll share a little story with you about this song.
My closest friend & song-writing partner in crime Robin Millar introduced me to it about five years ago. I was at his studio in London, putting down some vocals for a tune we just wrote. I had done a few takes that were ok, but I was having a really hard time. Sure I was in tune and all the rest of it but it just wasn’t working out, the magic was missing.
Robin was sitting on his famous black leather couch that has followed him around for decades from studio to studio; may I say it’s been in the presence of some of the greatest records ever made. It’s almost a shrine piece. It was made by French designer Le Corbusier and is in fact over 100 years old but looks kinda good as new and like it was designed in the 1980s.
So, feeling stuck on how to approach the vocal… I could see that Robin was also in thought mode… we both just sat in silence for a while. We knew that we had written something really special, and we knew the vocals had to be just as magical. I’m sure sometime past and Robin must have made me his famous tea with a ginger nut biscuit accompaniment. By now I was probably sitting at his wooden coffee table from his travels to morocco by the window looking out to the park. Almost a ritual.
Out of nowhere Robin says, “Abdul have you heard Cuddle Up by Dennis Wilson?”, [Abdul & Achmed are our songwriting names … no idea why] “No” I replied. He said, “fuck man, you need to hear this song, it will change everything”. So we found the song, Robin played it to me and I was bowled over, simple as that. Yes shivers down the spine filled with emotion. It was the most tenderly sung vocal I had ever heard, it’s so powerful it makes me cry every time I hear it. Where has this song been all my life? Robin you are a genius mate!
Robin was right, and he knew that I would understand what Dennis Wilson would show me. Mr Wilson really taught me a thing or two that day, and it wasn’t about trying to copy vocal imitations, but about understanding the approach I was missing at the time. It changed everything about my recording of ‘You broke my heart’.
So, we walked back into the studio and cranked up the gain on the U87 till the point you could hear a mouse fart. Instead of singing I started whispering in your ear, my voice was so faint that I couldn’t feel my voice working anymore. It was such a dreamy vocal, so unperfected and so far removed from anything I had ever sung before.
I don’t really know why I feel like sharing that little moment with you now, but I feel indebted to Cuddle Up maybe that’s why. And I’m glad to be young and alive. I remember sitting cold and alone in my bedsit in London many times after that, feeling hopeless without a friend. Missing my mother at times who had left for another world. I would turn off the lights sit in complete darkness; play Cuddle Up and just cry. It’s amazing how you can count on a song; it’s your rock, your inspiration and an outlet when least expected.
So here I am, back to the here and now. I’m sure many of you think I gave it all in. Never in a million years! It has been quiet on the music gig front, but I’ve been working really hard behind the scenes and practising the piano like mad… I didn’t tell you I bought an old but REAL piano… what a difference from the plastic electronica!. I’m obsessed.
I’m trying to gain traction in the rain, as David Crosby would say. I’m still partially wearing my invisible cloak, and to be honest working for the man is really taking its toll on me. Am I an artist or a bloody telemarketing guru? I’ve got to keep reminding myself.
I’m still feeling the backlash of being a free and independent artist, I’m almost certain that most of my emails end up in a trash folder of agents and managers. I’m getting really used to that. Heck… even venue bookers don’t want to know you unless your screaming dollar signs now days. I get it guys I really do we all need to eat, but if nobody is willing to put their neck out to take a risk then what chance do we all have as artists?
It’s all trivial I know, I feel foolish for having a whinge about it… on this day of all days!
My higher self reminds me every day that there are still over two million displaced refugee’s from Syria right now, with no home to call their own and just the clothes on their back who would do anything to trade places with me. I’ve got no right to be sour about a damn thing… I’m healthy, I’m loved and I have a roof over my head.
There is a lot to be positive about, as they say good things come to those who wait. Here are some updates.
I’m playing at the Corner Hotel in Melbourne on May 14th @ The Super Unsigned music festival, it should be fantastic exposure for me and I’m going to need you guys to get behind me and buy some tickets. Haha!
I’ve also just been asked to play as the opening act at the Melbourne Town Hall May 17th for a Turkish artist Ismail YK. Ismail is massive back in the old country [that’s Turkey not Blighty!] and playing in front of a Turkish home crowd of 1’500 is pretty exciting. Hmm I will need to start brushing up on all those Turkish phrases my aunties used to shout at me when I was, as usual, getting into trouble! I wonder how that will go down as my between song patter “good evening everyone, now get down off that wall this minute or I’ll give your dinner to the dog!”…
I feel like a broken record sometimes and I know I keep telling you guys there is new music; it’s no lie honestly. There is. I’m determined to put out a new record later this year, so watch this space dudes and dudesses..
Thanks to those who continue to support me. There is much more oil in the pipeline believe me, and I’ll be posting the dates of my upcoming shows very soon.
Your blessed and over-sensitive friend
Here is a link to Cuddle Up by Dennis Wilson. I hope you love it as much as I do!
And here is ‘You broke my heart’ by me if you haven’t heard it.