At the Roost Launch last October a violinist jumped on staged and improvised some wretched jazz for about 10 minutes. I was absolutely awed at how bizarre it was, and vowed that when I returned from overseas I would perform on the stage in some capacity. I found a new love for the cello and, with a lot of inspiration and modelling from Jorane, devised a 25 minute set which would involve me simultaneously playing cello and singing.
|My favourite shot that Chris did.|
There was a bit of preparation to be put into the event. I went about recording several demos - mostly they were covers by artists like Leonard Cohen, Lady Gaga and Sarah Slean, but I also wrote a few original works. Once I felt reasonably happy with the results, I contacted Room 60 and got in touch with Leila Cosgrove. Leila organises all the music and was intrigued by the idea, and was very enthusiastic. I was asked to send through a bio and a promo shot, so I got my friend Christopher King to shoot some shots in an abandoned house and in a large green field. The bio was more difficult, because I have no credentials when it comes to music. I ended up blubbering something about how I was a 'sound designer' and wanted to experiment with jazz. That's another thing - people ask me what genre I play and I have no idea what to say to them. Once sent through, Leila confirmed I would be playing at 7pm on April 11th. Phew!
So once I had a date locked in, over a few months I learnt the basics of the cello again and learnt some of my favourite songs which I thought the cello could pull off on its own. It's interesting that people are so amazed by the concept of singing while playing, since cello isn't that different to guitar. It certainly has a deeper, richer timbre, and it's unusual to play with the bow - but it's also possible to strum the strings as if it were a guitar, which is a staple in most of my arrangements. It's restrictive, since I feel there's only so much you can do with it. It's not possible to play beautiful melodies while you're on your own, and much of the accompaniment sounds too sporadic and empty if there isn't always a lot of noise coming out of it. But it's relatively unheard of in Brisbane, and people seemed to like the idea enough.
I ended up playing six songs that were all covers - four pieces by Jorane (Musique Pour Gabrielle, Stay, Red Mountains and The Cave) plus one by Lady Gaga (Paparazzi) and Lior (This Old Love). I had written a few songs myself, but I felt that it would be more fun to play covers that people knew, and also it would be useful to gauge how feasible it would be to do something along the lines of it again. Predictably, Paparazzi and This Old Love were the favourites, The Cave and Pour Gabrielle were a bit too bizarre for people, but Stay and Red Mountains were lovely. I think the key is to play simple pieces (in English), and not to take it too seriously. Paparazzi got a lot of laughs, and during Stay the barmaid kept on opening the door to the fridge, so there was some cute comedic timing while I waited for it to shut.
|The only shot of the night - courtesy of Ellen.|
The response was staggering for me. So many people said things like 'I loved it and can't wait for the next one' or 'I'll be there for the next one', which makes me wonder what the future of me playing is. I have a lot of French pieces I want to sing, but I think the language barrier would restrict people's enjoyment. There are also a lot of gorgeous songs I want to play which require looping and layers, which I don't know how to do live. And many more would need more people other than me, and I hate depending on other people. That, and I'm doing this for fun - NOT for my career. So what's the point . . . hmm . . . ?
The best part of the evening for me was the wonderful turn-out of the audience. People who I had met with over the years, people I am and had worked with, family, friends and future friends were all there - that really meant a lot to me. It was very humbling that people had taken the time out of their evenings to come down for such a short event, and it made me feel so warm and fuzzy :] . I think the premise, length and venue were perfect, and the atmosphere and people there couldn't have been much better. It reminded me how much I loved singing and performing - maybe I'll try it again some time.