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Chris's Blog Archive: February 2022

I ended up doing a fair bit of live streaming this month, not just on my own channel on Twitch but also as co-host of FAWMtalk with veteran presenter Juha Keränen. I had a lot of fun and got sidetracked even more than I usually do.

As it was February, I also ended up making music. A lot of music.

I make music. In fact, I make lots of music. And the results of all that music making are available for you to listen to. My latest release is called By The Numbers. It comprises fourteen tracks in a weird selection of time signatures which range from a waltz to 19/16, and you can even hear me singing in 7/8 time. Once again, it's a name your price deal, so you can get it for free. Go!

My most recent commercial album Oneiric Tulpas is available on Bandcamp! You can also check it out on Spotify, Amazon Music, Apple Music, Tidal and all your other favourite streaming services. My previous album Beyond is also on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, Tidal and the rest as well.

My earlier albums Generator and Fort are also available at Bandcamp, together with a large collection of other music from me.


I definitely have that sinking feeling this morning.


It's at times like these where trying to bring creativity and positivity into the world seems like the only rational course of action. No wonder, then, that focusing my day around FAWM has taken on more importance than usual. I continue to co-host FAWMtalk with Juha and each show has proved to be a lovely hour-long diversion from the rest of the world's woes.

Last night we were joined by Benjamin J Spencer, a.k.a. sw1n3flu. We talked about all sorts of stuff (no change there, then) as well as his approach to music and I'm sure that you'll be pleased to hear that after the show Ben tracked down his replacement pickup switch, got his guitar out of the box, fitted the switch, and gave the guitar a good tune...

We were still nattering away an hour after the show ended!

We played the following pieces of music from our fellow FAWMers:

your grave (a gender neutral bathroom) by clownresidue
The Boy Remains by radiobenedetto
Love in the way things are by bandybum
open letter to jeremy by bigmood

That's another stunningly good selection of music. I've listened to some amazing songs this year created by members of the FAWM community. But I bet Jimmy Fallon won't be featuring or praising any of them on his TV show in the US; he only seems to get his kicks from punching down on other people's efforts.

Yeah, given the events of the day I'm clearly not in the best frame of mind at the moment. I shall head upstairs and go and make some more music, I think. I'll be back on Twitch tonight at 19:30 GMT and Juha and I will be back with another episode of FAWMtalk tomorrow evening.


A palendromic date! This pleases me immensely for entirely childish reasons. I hope it pleases you, too.


Did I say that Juha and I would be running FAWMtalk twice a week? Well, it turns out that we will be busier than that for the remainder of the month. Much busier. We'll be back with another show tomorrow, then again on Friday, Saturday, and Monday. And on March 2nd we're going to be doing a "FAWM is over" show. And we have guests lined up for every one of those shows who will be talking with us about random stuff but also about how they approach the challenge of writing a song. Couple that with my regular livestreams on Twitch on Thursday and Sunday evenings, and suddenly I find myself spending a lot of time in front of a camera. I've been very surprised by how much I've enjoyed that.

On Saturday, Juha and I were joined by veteran FAWMer Errol, who kept us very entertained before the show, during it, and afterwards as well. It was huge fun to be a part of the conversation and we overran by a fair amount because I didn't want it to stop...

We played the following pieces of music from our fellow FAWMers:

Collision Time!! by zecoop and metalfoot
Hollywood Queen by tinear and nadine
Skyscraper by nadine, katestantonsings, richie123, meadows, and zeekle1998
Billy The Quid by spikedirection

We were back with the regular Monday night show last night, and for this episode we were joined by my pal Wobbie Wobbit, who revealed the identity of her biggest musical influence. It was a big surprise to me!

During this show, we played the following pieces of music from our fellow FAWMers:

Feeling Gravity by santadharma and lanasolyluna
Time Has Gone by frenchcricket
Chemical Waste by mattoxic
Chemistry (Looking Up) by Nahlej, CTS, DJTJB, Zecoop, Splittybooms, and Gm7

It was another fun show, and hearing Wobbie talk about her involvement with the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony and recording at Abbey Road Studios was absolutely fascinating.


With regular practice, I think I've become slightly more professional in my approach to livestreaming, although I still forget to slide my faders up from time to time, and since I updated Ableton to version 11.1 it's been crashing on a regular basis. It did it twice during my Twitch show on Thursday, which annoyed me sufficiently for me to uninstall it, download a fresh install (all 2.6 Gb of it), and then reinstall it. I'm not sure that's been successful, as Live is still doing weird things but it hasn't just suddenly disappeared without any warning whatsoever, which it had been doing earlier in the week. But Live's "snap to grid" still struggles with 4K monitors. It completely fails to add locators at the grid markers I click on, which is extremely annoying.

Despite this, I continue to be very productive this month. As I type this, my song count on my FAWM profile stands at 27 songs including one exquisite corpse and one collaboration so I should have reached a double FAWM by the close of play today. Sustaining an output of more than one song a day has been demanding, but also very enjoyable. I can hear my mixes tightening up and my songs don't have as much fat in them as they used to have. And on several occasions in the last week, I've gone from having the initial idea for a song to posting the finished, full-production number to the FAWM website in less than two hours.

I hadn't given much thought as to why my productivity has increased so much until my friend Martyn Greenwood asked me how I was able to select the "right" synth patch for pieces I worked on. I explained that my Native Instruments MIDI controller integrates closely with Ableton, and it has a controller that lets you audition each preset by scrolling through a list. A brief sample of what the preset sounds like plays when you come to rest on it. It's a simple idea, but I now realise that it has saved me literally hours of loading presets to audition them. It's not the only reason why I can work more quickly; my new studio setup has improved matters in dozens of different ways—but it's certainly been a significant factor in boosting the speed at which I can work.

So I'll post this blog and then retire upstairs to the studio and start work on song number 28. And I'll probably stay in there for the rest of the day. With all my gear on, things stay nice and warm in there. So much so, in fact, that I've reduced the amount of time that the central heating system comes on each day to heat the rest of the house...


It was very windy here yesterday as Storm Dudley moved through. It blew out windows of a hotel in Bristol and left widespread damage across the country. Here, it wasn't as bad as all that; I live in a nicely sheltered valley, although during the afternoon, I noticed that the cover of my barbecue was about to take off. Fortunately I was able to rush outside in time and secure it before it flew away, but it was windier here than I've seen for quite a few years.

Right now, there's a gorgeous blue sky outside, and the wind has dropped. But the bad weather is not over just yet. Storm Eunice is expected to arrive in the small hours of the morning and by 9 am tomorrow the Met Office have forecast that I'll be getting wind gusts here of nearly 65 mph.

It'll be a day for staying indoors, I reckon.


Ianuarius and I are still doing the FAWMtalk show twice a week on YouTube. We talk about all sorts of aspects of home recording and musicianship, and there's always something in the online chat that sparks an interesting diversion or two.

On Monday's show, Juha talked about playing the guitar at speed, which is something he can do very well and I can't do at all, so I was paying very close attention to what he was saying!

We played the following pieces of music from our fellow FAWMers:

Emergency by sierain
I'm Ugly I'm Ugly I'm Pretty I'm Pretty by apolez3
Deine Liebe befreit nicht by chroes
Sputnik I by apauls

On last night's show we talked about a condition that musicians know very well: Gear Acquisition Syndrome. Its symptoms are easily recognisable. It's the condition of realising that there's a musical instrument missing from your current collection that you absolutely need in order to record the piece of music that you've just had an idea for. It leads to the ownership of multiple guitars, or basses, or recorders, or harmonicas, or whatever.

We also talked about why so many beginners who start playing electric guitar give up because it hurts to play the thing. It's not just about building up calluses on the ends of your fingers, although once they build up, playing certainly becomes much easier...

We played the following pieces of music from our fellow FAWMers:

Pretty by sw1n3flu
Dark Speaks by caseewilson
Your Eyes by cheslain and stephenwordsmith
Intro by ryako

Juha and I will be back with an extra show this Saturday night, when we will be joined by a surprise mystery guest, so I hope you'll be able to join us then.


A few years after I signed up for FAWM way back in 2009, I thought that it might be fun to keep a tally of the number of songs that I had been writing for the challenge (and outside it, in events like Fifty/Ninety.) Because I'm a nerd, I created an Excel spreadsheet to keep my records on.

On Friday I uploaded my fourteenth song to the FAWM website (yes, I've reached my target and we're not even half-way through the month yet) and when I duly added it to my songwriting tally and the spreadsheet displayed my updated total, I may have punched the air with a great deal of satisfaction, because the spreadsheet now needs four figures to display the number of songs I've written since I signed up.

A thousand songs. If you had told me back in 2009 that my output would have increased by such an amount, I'd have thought they were mad. But here we are, and here I am. And since Friday, I've written another song as well.


The latest episode of John Nicholson's Songwriters and Original Songs podcast has just dropped, and it features some splendid songs from my fellow FAWMers. As promised, it also features an interview with yours truly about my musical history and my production process. There are a few glitches in my audio, which had to travel from my studio to John's over in Australia—although I sound like I'm drunk at some points, I really wasn't!

John and I talked about having a heavy metal childhood, finding fresh inspiration for songs, the process of production, and how there can be darkness behind the funniest songs. If you're interested in why I do what I do these days, I hope you'll find it interesting.


Rather predictably, I have been spending most of my waking hours this month in writing and recording new songs for FAWM. As I type this, I only need to write one more song to reach my target of fourteen, and I already have that track partially completed. I've been having a whale of a time putting new pieces of music together and I have been exploring all sorts of musical genres that I don't normally dabble in. After listening to some of the songs I put together last year I can also hear a marked improvement in my production skills. Mixes are sounding clearer, even though the number of separate tracks that I use in my DAW for a song has increased considerably; some recordings use around forty separate stereo audio or MIDI tracks.

And yet somehow I also found the time this week to continue doing my regular Sunday and Thursday night shows on Twitch and co-host FAWMtalk on Monday and Wednesday night with Juha, a.k.a. Ianuarius on FAWM.

On Monday night's show we were joined by Coolparadiso, a.k.a. John Nicholson. John's a singer-songwriter from Australia who has been FAWMing since 2018, and he recently interviewed me for his Songwriters and Original Songs podcast, for which was both extremely grateful and highly flattered. The episode with me in it will be released in a week or so, and I'll post a link in the blog when it's up.

Although FAWMtalk only lasts for an hour, the three of us were talking in our online "green room" for well over two hours, because we are all inveterate music nerds. We were still nattering away more than forty-five minutes after the show ended!

We played the following pieces of music from our fellow FAWMers:

Fipple Piercing by Dragondreams
Earworm by Darci Strutt
Antipode by Standup
Playa Tranquila de los Sueños by Airbagtester

On Wednesday's show we were joined by my buddy Mel, a.k.a. Ryako, who is currently writing and scoring a "Choose your own adventure" game on FAWM as well as doing music and sound design for a commercial video game. She talked about how that came about, and we also discussed the process involved in creating her new score for Fritz Lang's 1926 science fiction classic Metropolis, which recently got a screening at WorldCon.

We had great fun together, although there were one or two audio glitches (because we're CURSED, I tell you) and Juha's internet died completely at one point, but it was a wide-ranging, informative (and occasionally sweary, because Mel) show that was a blast to do.

We played the following pieces of music from our fellow FAWMers:

Storm Chaser by Songs from the Moons
The Lines on His Face by pfaffbrill
Wise Sage by Coolparadiso
Falling by the Karlos Kollective

We have more guests lined up for next week's shows, so stay tuned...


The pandemic rages on, and musicians still need your support. Bandcamp (bless their little cotton socks) have therefore reinstated Bandcamp Fridays. Hooray! They will waive their cut of any purchases made on the site between 08:00 UTC on Friday, 4th February and 08:00 UTC on Saturday, 5th February.

Needless to say I have therefore released an album of new music to take full advantage of the fact. This one's called By The Numbers.

By The Numbers

I'm in the fortunate position at the moment where I can devote most of my waking hours to making and recording music. As a result, I've made more progress as an artist in the last eighteen months than I used to achieve in a decade. In order to keep that progress happening, I have been setting myself challenges. The idea I had for this album was that I should record a CD's worth of music where the top number of the time signature for each track (the number of beats in the bar) was one or more than I'd used for the previous track. I started with a track in 3/4, which is in waltz time, and ended up writing something in the quite frankly ludicrous time signature of 19/16, so each bar has nineteen semiquavers (sixteenth notes) in it. It took me in all sorts of unexpected directions, which was definitely a very good thing.

Once again, I'm making this album a "name your price" deal, which includes free. I hope you'll get yourself a copy and give it a listen. Have fun counting along!


Juha and I were back on Wednesday night with another episode of the FAWMcast. It looks like we'll be doing these every Monday and Wednesday while FAWM is running and bringing you up to date with whatever's happening on the FAWM website.

We've also settled on an hour as being the optimum format, and Juha did a grand job keeping us on schedule.

We played the following pieces of music from our fellow FAWMers:

Trapped by Dasbinky
Initium Finis by A.Eye
Keep On Singing by Phil Henry
A Time Beyond Time by Sapient


It's February, and that means that the annual challenge of writing an album's worth of songs—fourteen of them, to be precise—has started once again. I've already polished up my profile page on the FAWM website and I'm about to fire up the studio to get my first track under way.

The blog will, as it usually does, be taking a bit of a back seat as a result, but to keep you amused, my buddy Juha and I will be doing regular FAWMcasts on YouTube. Here's the show we did last night to get everybody fired up for the challenge, which was great fun to do (and thanks to Juha for inviting me to act as co-host):

We played the following pieces of music from our fellow FAWMers:

A Thousand Paper Balls by Metalfoot
The Late by Brad Brubaker
Do The Empathy by Unpronounceable
I Fell In Love With A Beaver by Ray D Opossum
Vertigo by T C Elliott and Blueone
Astronauts by GM7 and RobynMackenzie
I'm Waiting by Sheslin
Just for One More day by Dragondreams