Saturday, 29 December 2012

Introducing TOMO

When we decided to release the BJ Smith covers of Mos Def and The Pharcyde we wanted to create a limited edition package for the vinyl junkies and collectors amongst our friends...

We had been aware of Liverpool based artists, TOMO via our brothers over at No Fakin' who had been using his artistic skills for time on various posters and promotional material... Plus having ran into him at various events and record fairs we knew this cat was right for getting involved...

So no more rambling from us... here is what TOMO had to say and hopefully the photos tell the story!

BJ Smith 'Umi Says / Runnin'' available here with limited edition hand screen printed sleeves by TOMO

When I was first contacted about working on this project I thought "Not bad eh", this being the kind of interesting work that I always look forward to. At the same time though it was a bit daunting, having not only to create something worthy of B.J Smith's wonderful craftsmanship but also that of "The Greats" - Mos Def and The Pharcyde. I started just exploring how the themes of both songs related to my own creativity. The messages in both tracks are not only great but also important, facing your troubles and sharing your positivity, universal stuff really. So like most people I'm trying to do this anyway, the inspiration is there already. I was sitting in my kitchen drinking tea with some guests whilst explaining the fundamentals of locksmithing when the spark hit me, I could finally see how it would look. So I grabbed a pencil and start making it happen. There's a lot of symbols common in my work, the moving hand, the running man, bricks, clouds, gemstones etc. Some of it quite cryptic but in a nutshell it just basically shows my interpretation of the music, it came out alright and I hope you all enjoy this one as much as I did. Peace. - Tomo

TOMO Website

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Dedications to the Greats!

For our next release we have lovingly covered two stone cold classic, soulful, Hip Hop tracks... We had heard Benjamin James Smith cover one of our favourite bands and friends of NNS, Crazy P. After we had finished The Movedrill Projects with Ben, we suggested that he do a couple of covers for us, and below the endeavours of his work...

This will be released on Monday 28th January 2013, you can pre-order HERE via Bandcamp

B.J. Smith 'Dedications to the Greats' [NUNS002] Sampler by NuNorthernSoul

Rather then us ramble on about this, we asked Ben to give us his reasoning and thoughts... enjoy the read!

[BJ Smith]
How this project came to be.
This cover versions project began when Paul and I were asked by Crazy P to do a Smith & Mudd remix of one of their tracks from their 2008 release Stop, Space, Return. For one reason or another Paul and I couldn't get together and the deadline was fast approaching. I had just finished watching the film on music legend Johnny Cash "Walk The Line" and had to sit down and work on an Ad pitch for Robinsons - the brief was quirky acoustic. Halfway through the often thankless task of composing a pitch for a sync company, I slid me and my guitar at speed across the room on my wheelie chair, away from the studio and towards the kitchen, strumming as I went. I was consciously channeling the Johnny Cash style in a bid to remember what I love about music, where things begin for me, escape the "work" brain by going into my own private virtual Sun Records Studio and make a cup of tea.

This was when a penny dropped somewhere in my brain when the various jobs and extra curricular activities collided together in my mind. It's moments like these (normally but not reliably when one is making a cup of tea) that magic can happen.

I knew CP's song Fascination very well having been privalleged to early pre-album completion versions, and suddenly it jumped into my brain as I was strumming Cash style in the kitchen, waiting for the kettle to boil. Danni's lyric "You've been looking ... in the right place" lept out of my throat and sat perfectly over the opened chord rhythm guitar part I was playing, so I got straight on to Danni for an accurate copy of her lyrics and dashed into the studio to set up a mic ready for a one take wonder. 

Rather apologetically I email CP my re-imagination, knowing that they were waiting for a Smith & Mudd remix and would not be expecting my Cash cover. I held my breath sure that I would here the belly laughs all the way from Nottingham. Thankfully and surprisingly they loved it and 2020recordings released my version of Fascination coupled with CP's original, all packaged up in a pseudo Sun Records format.

I am still threatening to cover all of their album in this Johnny Cash style, but for now that project is on the shelf for another day as NuNorthern Soul approached me with the interesting challenge of picking classic Hip Hop tracks for re-imagination. Only this time I decided to be more true to my own sound (whatever that may be) - I suppose a sort of blend of legends: Terry Callier, JJ Cale, Charlie Byrd, Nick Drake and more contemporary artist like the Stone Roses and Talking Heads.

In fact I have almost completed a Terry Callier cover in homage to the great man and his influence upon me, that blends a Roses indie vocal delivery with the rootsy folk picking patterns of Callier. This should be out early next year on NuNorthern Soul.

Big love and respect to NuNorthern Soul for all your support and kindness.
[BJ Smith] 
Trade secrets: A possible process I sometimes go through when deconstructing a song. 

  1. Begin with scribing out the lyrics and getting into the story. 
  1. Then listen to and focus on the melody lines and hooks from the original to find the essence of the "song".
  1. Before a new concrete vocal line has been worked out, pick up the guitar or get in front of a piano to find the "song", by strumming/playing out a structure and listening for picking patterns or new chords that allow the "song" to breath.
  1. Then spend several days playing around with the 
  2. deconstructed song, working out an introduction and ending, finding a comfortable meter to deliver the lyrics (when dealing with Rap this can be a real challenge), till it all feels natural - like the lyrics and the guitar/piano belong together. Your aiming for an "unplugged" version.
  1. Once an unplugged version comes to life it's time to record a "guide" track like they used to do in olden times - a one take wonder of vocals and guitar/piano.
  1. After an atomspheric guide track full of character has been recorded, it's time to add layers of live instrumentation as if a "band" has turned up to develop the "song": live drums, live bass, live keyboards etc 
  1. Once all the parts have been recorded and some dynamic shape (louds and quiets) developed, it is time to tweak the arrangement, get in to the mixing and add production sparkle.
  1. Job done - turn around 2/3weeks!

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Times are a Changing...

We are currently working on our new site... It will be the hime to lots of lovely music and info on events, releases, artists and general NNS musings...

Here is the designs as it stands, we have some tweaking to do, but it will give you a feel for the new styles...

Friday, 27 July 2012

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

The Selector Show - Benjamin James Smith

Those lovely people at the British Council do a regular podcast, it is called The Selector and it focuses on the best of NEW British music. The recently featured The Source from the Benjamin James Smith album, 'The Movedrill Projects' and they are bringing Ben in to record some tracks on Thursday 12th July 2012 for a future broadcast, Ben has a couple of treats lined up including an acoustic folk version of the track below.

 You can check the recent show here...


Friday, 1 June 2012

Our New Record Label... Our First Release

Perhaps calling it a record label is not correct and proper in the time of digital and CD releases, but we are releasing music and we would have certainly put this to vinyl had it not been so darn expensive...

We have taken the plunge, we are releasing an album of joyous music from long time friend of NuNorthern Soul, Benjamin James Smith.

Ben has been involved with NuNorthern Soul after a mutual friend introduced Ben to Phat Phil after Phil had been gushing about how much he enjoyed the musical outputs of Mr Smith, a meeting was arranged, a few pints of the Irish black stuff sunk, and music was discussed... The end result was Ben agreeing to put the first album out on the NuNorthern Soul label!!!

Benjamin James Smith presents The Movedrill Projects is a journey that has seen Ben working with several collaborators across a 10 year span. Musically NuNorthern Soul like to describe it as Gruff Rhys meets The Beach Boys on a Balearic Folk meltdown...

If you like what you hear please share the tracks, you can also pre-order the digital album below or the CD now from Amazon, release date is the 25th June...

  Benjamin James Smith presents The Movedrill Projects by NuNorthernSoul

Sunday, 8 April 2012

NuNorthern Soul Session 39

We have been a tad lazy at NNS HQ of late, sorry about that...

Here is the latest instalment of our podcast series.

Track List
Alan Parsons Project - Time
Benjamin James Smith presents The Movedrill Projects - Show Me Love
Bobby Goldsboro - Summer
Double - The Captain Of Her Heart
Forget Me Not - What Were You Gonna Say
Cerrone - Hooked On You
Lo Tide - Yello Brick
Ave Blaste & Lopez - Yesterday's Games
Synkro - I Miss You
The Slow Show - Brother
Jabru - Vice
Joash - Assassin
Morris Chestnut - Doodlebug

Friday, 9 March 2012

CREAM - My First DJ Set

So it was 1995 I think that I first played at Cream,… I was a huge fan of US Garage and DJs like CJ Mackintosh, The DEF Mix Crew (Morales, Knuckles) and MAW were the dons for me and I was a big collector of anything on black wax that fitted that US groove, so imagine my shock when I was asked to warm up the Annexe for Andy Weatherall… The Annexe at that time was a room for Techno, not the soulful swinging sounds of US Garage and the bumping delights of Tony Humphries inspired New Jersey deep grooves…

Anyway, not one to turn this opportunity down, I went through my records to pick out the chunkiest of beats and toughest of grooves… Todd Terry and DJ Duke productions made the grade, deeper proto progressive cuts from Danny Tenaglia and the legendary Vasquez beats and Morales Red Zone dubs all started finding their space in my impending set… Vocals got cut for a tougher beat driven sound...

So my set was 10 to 12 then Andy was to play till 2am... Andy the gent introduced himself and said he had not seen me play at CREAM before and I explained it was my first set so he said "well you should play till 12.30 then", it was rocking and he could see I was enjoying it so I ended up dropping this (see below) as my last track and the whole room went off, the heat level went up and staggered back off the mini riser in the DJ box and ended up on Weatheralls lap, he then said, "a tad cheesy mate, but it bloody works!' with big grin on his face...

For more CREAM nostalgia click HERE