Category Archives: Masterclasses

Electro Sensitive Behaviour

“Perry Blake is a musical maverick who is keeping pop safe for thinking people” (Hot Press).

Masterclass with Perry Blake as part of the Phase one Phase One: Electronic Music and Arts Festival
Sunday 5th April 4 – 5pm at the Dock Arts Centre, Carrick on Shannon

When Sligo-born Perry Blake released his first, eponymously-titled, album with Polydor in 1998 there was a buzz of expectation in industry circles. Here was a rare package: an articulate songwriter with an exceptional melodic sense who understood, instinctively, the art of constructing a pop song. Citing influences as various as European cabaret, west coast funk, and 60’s & 70’s film scores (especially Bacharach and Barry), Blake compiled a collection of songs that uplifted with their melodic hooks as much as they saddened with their glimpses into the damaged or disappointed lives of his characters.

The reaction to his debut album was ecstatic. A number of music magazines tipped Perry Blake as the “next big thing”. Jo Wiley, on BBC Radio 1, made his first single, “The Hunchback Of San Francisco” her single of the week. Word was beginning to get around. Meanwhile, Universal swallowed polygram, and anything that wasn’t Britney was booted out. The musical antennae of the French however had been picking up something distinct and original from across the water. (The album went Top 40 in France), and already Blake was becoming a cult figure there. Not surprising, then, that he was soon signed by hip French label, naïve, for his second album.

“Still Life” was released in December 1999. It was a darker album than the debut; perhaps a purer expression of the melancholic soul of Blake’s songwriting. It was propelled by some glorious ensemble playing, and the growing assurance evident in Blake’s singing. There was an altogether more organic feel to the album, further bolstering his reputation among his fans, especially in France, but also extending this reputation to other European countries, such as Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Italy and Greece. However, he remained virtually known in Britain and Ireland.

After touring the songs in Europe, to increasingly enthusiastic audiences and to massive critical acclaim, Blake went back into the studio having been invited to write the soundtrack for a French film – “Presque Rien”. Three new songs were recorded and combined with “Wise Man’s Blues” and “This Time It’s Goodbye” from “Still Life”, were released as an EP soundtrack for “Presque Rien” in may 2000.

More live dates followed in Europe, to growing audiences. One of these, at the Cirque Royal in Brussels for Belgian cultural week, became a live album released in September 2001. “Broken Statues” saw the songs from the earlier albums deconstructed and re-invented with the Ensemble Musiques Nouvelles. It also saw the inclusion of Blake’s personal take on the Diana Ross “I’m Still Waiting”. The album’s austere arrangements and emotional directness again drew glowing reviews from the European music press with Holland & much of Scandinavia now joining in singing his praises.

In April 2002 Reekus released Perry’s studio album “California”. Recorded with a live band over a 12 day period in Belgium and co produced by Italian composer Marco Sabiu, the album draws comparisons with classic old Motown, using lush strings, brass and choral arrangements. It has always been difficult to find a box to put Blake’s music in, but with “California” he has made a record that is instantly recognisable as Perry Blake. A single from that album, Ordinary Day, was a hit on Irish radio. His last album on Reekus, Canyon Songs, was somewhat of a departure in style, with a distinctive country feel.


Panel Discussion on Irish Electronic Music and Digital Arts (Podcast)

Donal Dineen chaired a public panel discussion on Irish Electronic Arts as presented in Phase One i.e music and visual forms. The panel included Blue Stack Record’s Mark Willis, One half of Feel Good Lost Brendan Canty, Niall Byrne AKA Nialler9 and Mark Graham of A Year Of Festivals.

Fiona Gavin from Radio na Life’s An Meangadh Mor recorded the talk and you can listen back here: 

The talk considered the areas of music and visual media and look at them from the perspectives of dissemination of work where, how, when with input from each of the speakers and then an open questions and answers session for the audience.

Donal Dineen is an Irish radio presenter, photographer, film maker and former television presenter from County Kerry. Until recently he presented an assortment of electronica and world music on his Small Hours (formerly Here Comes the Night) late-night radio show on Today FM and is currently broadcasting from 2FM and 2XM.

Drummer with King King Company Mark Graham, as well as playing at Phase One (among other festivals), attending and writing about festivals for The Irish Times and blog, publishing the Year of Festivals in Ireland book, also has an MA in Music and Media Technology from Trinity and teaches Music Technology on the Music Degree Course in WIT.

Niall Byrne is the blogger at the helm of the most-read Irish music blog Nialler9 and a writer based in Dublin, Ireland. He was on the judging panel for the 2008 Choice Music Prize – the annual Irish album of the year, is a digital columnist for The Irish Independent’s Day and Night magazine, and a freelance web designer, DJ and Curator.

Feel Good Lost is a video production house, music label and development company working out of Cork, Ireland. They make short films and visuals to music they love. They perform their our own brand of live visuals. They also create digital art prints and work in design and photography. They have a music label and a music artist development agency. They promote gigs in Cork and Ireland. In the past two years their videos have been watched by over 6,000,000 people in nearly every country worldwide.

Bluestack Records is an independent record label based in Sligo and run by Mark Willis. Bluestack Records is an independent record label. We publish, promote and release music by artists from Ireland and further afield. We work with musicians of all genres together with film-makers, designers and producers and love to support new, original music by artists who take pride in their creative output.

Phase One Festival in collaboration with the Harnessing Creativity is delighted to deliver a series of FREE creative masterclasses and talks this Easter weekend. More info here!

Capacity is limited so advance registration is recommended.

Harnessing Creativity runs until May 2015 and is it expected two hundred creative-sector businesses with talents ranging from architecture to film, design to photography, music to creative applications of technology will benefit from the project, as will around a hundred small to medium businesses in the broader economy. Through mentoring and master classes, events and exhibitions, the region’s prodigious creative talent will hone its business skills, develop new and innovative products, and showcase the region at its creative and commercial best. It also encourages people working in the business sector to use creativity as a tool for achieving new growth with the aim of revitalising the border region economically in a way that can be replicated elsewhere in Europe.

Harnessing Creativity has received funding of €799,880 through the European Union’s INTERREG IVA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB).This project is being delivered by Leitrim County Enterprise Board in partnership with Leitrim County Council, Fermanagh District Council, Omagh Enterprise Agency, Tyrone Donegal Partnership, Leitrim Design House and has been developed by the Irish Central Border Area Network (ICBAN) through their Multi-Annual Plan.

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