Category Archives: My music

Music for University of Leeds promotional videos

I was recently asked to write some music for the University of Leeds to use in some promotional videos.  The short videos are designed to allow far-flung former students to ‘revisit’ the campus as it looks now by watching panning shots of different locations on campus.

The Alumni and Development team at the university gave me quite a broad brief, so I went with what I knew best – business funk.

The videos are here – however, they’re all quite short, so I’ve also uploaded the tracks to Soundcloud. Enjoy!

 

Further Galaxians gigs coming up!

My band, Galaxians, have a few gigs coming up.  Here’s the list so far:

More details will be forthcoming on all.  We’ll also have a website for all Galaxians-related matters in the very near future!

Galaxians to play British Wildlife Festival on 4 March

My band, Galaxians, will be on the bill for the awesome British Wildlife Festival in Leeds this March.  Spanning three days, it’s the sixth annual weekend of exciting music from all over the world (and Leeds).

We’re going to be playing Oporto on Sunday 4 March.  Doors are at 3pm and it’s a donation entry.  My bandmate Matt Woodward will also be performing as part of Azores on the Saturday.

More info about Galaxians can be found here – and here’s a copy of the flyer.  Roll on March!

 

Music section totally revamped

I’ve changed my music section around.

There’s two subcategories that I’ve called ‘music for fun’ and ‘compositions for my degree’.  (This was also fun, too).

So now, I’m hoping things will be both simpler and more informative, as I’ve tried to include a bit of background information about some of the pieces I quite like.

You can now learn out all about why I smashed a piano to pieces and recorded it, discover the academic justification for me recording the vibrations of the Humber Bridge, and read up on all the 20+ samples I made a song from once.

Enjoy!

New track ‘September’: Dubwave? Chillstep?

September by Jed Skinner

I’ve made a new track.  I think it’s quite good, and it’s the first one I’ve made for eight months.  I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to make one, but finally it’s done.  The creaking hardware that I use to make this has been stretched to the limit, so I’m sorry there’s not granular synthesis or extremely well-defined LFOs at 63Hz (which rattles your ribcage, apparently).  Nevertheless, I think it’s better than quite a lot of other things I’ve made over the past couple of years.

Fellow weirdos may spot the sounds of a Sequential Circuits Prophet 5 in there, and a Prophet 10 too.  Regrettably, they aren’t mine, but taken from free sounds online, but that’s it as far as sampling goes.  Produced in the late 70s and early 80s, they make wonderful sweeping sounds due to their analogue circuitry, and were probably most successfully used by the electronic musicians of that era such as Kraftwerk, Eurythmics, New Order and so on.  I’d love to own one, but they’re ridiculously expensive (about 2 grand) and prone to going out of tune when they get warm.  Also the lack of MIDI means that nowadays modifications have to be done at the back, but I don’t think I could trust myself to so much as look at a Prophet wrong for fear of it falling to pieces.

There’s one.  Nice, aren’t they?

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the track, and feel free to share your thoughts if you like.

Keep It Foolish

Keep It Foolish: Louco Ritmos Brasileiros by Jed Skinner (productions)

Woo!  It’s summer!  Yeah!  The sun is out!  Maybe.  The suntan is on!  Possibly.  There’s people partying in the streets until daybreak!  Er, yes – maybe not – this is Britain, you know.  Pffffffffff.

And it’s precisely because I can’t party in the street until the break of dawn that’s led me to put together a little half-hour compilation of Brazilian tracks, mainly from the 70s, that I would love to hear blasted out of a massive soundsystem in the centre of the M1.  I’ve tried to steer it along a course taking in the sounds of mad samba, fast-talking bossa nova and neglected, percussion-laden cover versions – with a bit of asymmetrical 7/8 space fusion along the way.

With the exception of one track (the cracking Heavy Üsker Remix of Cesar Mariano’s Futebol De Bar – also on Gilles Peterson’s excellent In Brazil comp), they’re all from the 70s, and either buried in compilations or cheekily ripped from vinyl and uploaded to the net.  I’ll be honest – I’ve not been to Brazil, I haven’t got enough money to go ‘digging’ (although I would happily buy my own weight in Brazilian records), and although all this can be found online, I think this mix might save you some time Googling.

Besides the lack of vinyl, a major downside to online music mixtapes is that these Soundcloud mixes lack liner notes.  So, to rectify it a bit, here’s some information I’ve gathered about each track or artist featured on the mix.

1.  Paulinho Da Costa – Berimbau Variations

The berimbau is a traditional Brazilian instrument, which features heavily in the music of capoeira, a Brazilian martial art-cum-dance.  The berimbau consists of a piece of wood about 5 feet long, with a gourd at one end.  There’s a wire attached from the top of the wood to the gourd, giving it the appearance of a bow.  While holding this in one hand, the wire is struck with a smaller stick, or baqueta, in the other hand, which is also holding a shaker.

This creates a low-pitched noise, which is the sound you hear on this track.

2.  Papete – É Assim Que Eu Sou

Real name José de Ribamar.  This is an excellent example of Brazilian samba – the fast speed, large percussion and polyrhythms being typical features of this style.  Prominent in the recording is a cuica – a friction drum that sounds a bit like laughter (appropriately enough, another name for it is the ‘laughing drum’).

3.  Ronald Mesquita – Balanca Perma

A track from what I think is his only album, released in 1972.  Awesome song – no idea what it’s about.

4.  César Mariano and CIA – Fábrica

Mid-70s fusion.  Jazz pianist from São Paulo, and taken from the appropriately named album São Paulo, Brazil.

5.  Wilson Das Neves E Seu Conjunto – Pick Up The Pieces

This is cracking!  What a find!  Wilson Das Neves – another great percussionist.

6.  César Mariano and CIA – Futebol De Bar (Heavy Üsker Remix)

Great remix.  The original has about 30 seconds of the drumming part in, before fading out – which clearly isn’t on, so thank god someone decided the same and remixed it.  Features on the Gilles Peterson comp I mentioned earlier.

7.  João Bosco – O Ronca Da Cuica

One of several with a cuica in.  Bosco’s known as a guitarist, but I picked this because of the drums.  I bloody love drums.

8.  Osvaldinho da Cuica e Grupo Vai Vai – Cozinha

I think the title can be translated as meaning ‘kitchen’ or ‘cooking’ – if it’s the latter, it’s accurate.  This is ridiculous.  So fast.  Really loud cuica, and a weird melodic cuica solo in the middle, before thrashing back into it.  Play on loop.

9.  Zuzuca – Eu Nasci Na Roça

Nice call-and-response, Afro-style track.  I don’t know anything about Zuzuca, but he has an amazing name.

10.  Bateria Nota 10 – Sai Da Frente

Another great samba, with whistles, tamboras, congas and cuicas – the whole lot.  I think the name means ’10 drummers’ – maybe?  Certainly sounds like it.  Which is why I picked it.

11.  Nicola Di Bari – Mas Que Nada

‘Oh – that’s what that song’s called!’ is what everyone says.  Yes, Nicola is a bloke, so it seems.  Originally made famous by Sergio Mendes, this is a overlooked cover version that I like because it’s a bit funkier.  Just imagine it’s sunshine outside…

New mixtape: The Winter Blues Beater

It’s been a while, but I’ve made a new mixtape!  Why? Well…we’re all skint/out of work/in debt.  And it still isn’t warm enough yet.  So I made this – The Winter Blues Beater Mixtape!  Listen and you’ll find some gems from Nigeria, Ghana, Cuba, Brazil and Colombia (including the mighty Martina Camargo, a real favourite in my Colombian drumming band, Tambores Lejanos).

Enjoy – and if you liked it, please let me know by leaving a comment!  I plan to arrange some live gigs really soon, so watch this space.

Muchos besitos!

The Winter Blues Beater Mixtape by Jed Skinner (productions)

Tracklist:

1. Tony Grey Super 7 – Yem Efe
2. Seguida – Love Is
3. Max B. – Bananaticoco
4.Afrosound – Caliventura
5.Wganda Kenya – Fiebre De Lepra
6.Manteca – Abacua
7.Martina Camargo – El Playón de Santa Rosa
8.Banda Black Rio – Gafieira Universal
9.Orquestra E Côro – Kriola
10.Orlandivo – Onde Anda O Meu Amor
11.Teo – Adeu Ceara
12.Jorge Ben – Comanche
13.Gang do Tagarela – Melo da Tagarela
14.Ofo The Black Company – Egwu Aja

Tambores Lejanos on BBC1!

I’m a member of a Colombian drumming group called Tambores Lejanos (meaning ‘distant drums’ in Spanish).  We play music from Colombia’s Caribbean coast.  The group was set up last September by my friend and ethnomusicologist Ian Middleton, who spent two years living in Colombia.

We have just been featured in the BBC’s A Symphony for Yorkshire project along with other musicians from the region, after several months working with the BBC and composer Benjamin Till.

The programme was transmitted on August 1st (Yorkshire Day) on Radio Leeds, Sheffield, York and Humberside, and also on BBC1 as part of Look North.  You can watch the full version online and in HD on Youtube!

Watch A Symphony for Yorkshire! (We’re about 1’05” in!)