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INTERVIEW: Alternative Acoustic 4-Piece Ensemble ‘The Small Change Diaries

Hi guys, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Thanks for the interview opportunity. We are really well having just completed our second album “Lullabies for Cynics” and playing a number of established UK festivals. We are delighted with the response to the “Lullabies for Cynics” promo video and are now organizing for the album launch at Sunnybank Mills in Leeds on November 3rd. This evening concert is already sold out three weeks ahead of time and it’s going to be a great night with guest musicians Phil Doleman, Laurent Zeller and Sleepy Kev Bishop as well as support from Astraluna.

Can you talk to us more about your new single “Birdman”?

The tune is based on a real-life experience of a character in New York who owned a record store having previously been a trader on Wall Street. The store is totally chaotic with no cataloguing of products. The CDs and records are stacked so high that they literally crash into each other which provoked the first line of the song – “Elvis crashes into Madonna…”

Our Birdman video does take some artistic license in the storyline, as the original NYC Birdman never gave away all his possessions and certainly went native with only a sleeping bag for comfort!

A version of Birdman was on the original album “Adam Blames Eve” but when we selected it for a movie short we decided to improve the bass line with Adrian Knowles now adding his personal touch as well as adding the new violin part from guest member Laurent Zeller.

Did any event inspire you to write this song?

The song was inspired by visiting “Rainbow Records” a few years ago in the East Village in New York.

On the outside it looks like a pretty good bet with some great CD box sets in the window. The shock however is when I opened the door to the actual shop. I have seen some pretty chaotic stores in my time and my own CD collection at home could do with some organizing BUT trust me you have never seen anything like this store…

There is only room for one customer to walk into the store at any one time as there are so many CDs, tapes and records stacked on all sides. There is no obvious system to locate any music specific titles and Bill instead adds direction to customers throwing out suggestions in a strong New York accent –

“You like Peggy Lee? You like Dylan? Jazz is down the end to the right…”

Bill was nicknamed “The Birdman” and he earned his money as a trader on Wall Street in previous times. There are around 20,000 CDs in the stores and thousands of albums, but it’s totally impossible to do any kind of logical product search.

As you walk down the store existing customers have to back up to negotiate who can more in the shop. During all of this CDs regularly crash to the floor and Bill is heard to say, “Don’t worry about it” He also remarks “One time I got stuck in the back of the store for hours.”

How was the film experience?

The film was produced by Jay Siilence of Ink Blot Films and was shot over a 14-month period, across several locations in Yorkshire. Kier Brown played the Birdman character and Amy Hamilton played “the girl” as well as doing all the choreography. This was a lot of work and we are especially pleased with the dance sequence in the record store Vinyl Eddies in York.  The dance sequence is not that dissimilar to some of what occurs in LA LA Land, which came out after our movie short.

I have a whole new appreciation for anyone making movies as it’s a crazy amount of work if you want to make something that is engaging and well edited.

The single comes off your new album Lullabies For Cynics – what’s the story behind the title?

In an ever-changing world, where there is increasing cynicism about, especially with the new “fake news” buzzword, which makes many people wonder if they can believe anything they see and hear.

This album title acknowledges the turmoil of what is going on globally, while at the same time advocating the importance of taking a breath and calming down for all our benefits.

Firmly with this in mind, the track “Not one of us” is directed at many who walk the corridors of power reminding everybody that “No one of us is smarter than all of us”

The album contains s a wide range of songs exploring many hot topics that have been in social awareness in recent times. These subjects include “Draw you out” is about the Paris massacre, “Hold on” which is a reference to current USA politics, “Voodoo Doll” which is about online stalking and “Lullaby” which is dedicated to David Bowie.

How was the recording and writing process?

Jessica and I would meet every week for 2 – 3 hours and work on musical ideas. In most instances I will have written the bulk of the lyrics, many of which are observations on what’s happening in society as well as personal experiences. Once we have worked up the structure of these songs, we then take them to the full band. Adrian as musical director is crucial in further refining the arrangements and Rich Ferdi and Adrian help ensure that the material works all four of us. We then record in The Billiard Room Studio with Carl Rosamond who also produced our first album “Adam Blames Eve” and the “Protest Songs” EP.

We are delighted to have longstanding musicians Laurent Zeller, Phil Doleman and Sleepy Kev Bishop guesting on this new release. These musicians add a whole new sonic dimension to these tracks.

The track “Draw you out” was initially a solo track from myself and the rest of the band and Laurent brilliantly added parts to the original take.

What aspect of terrorism and social climate in the past 18 months did you get to explore on this record?

“We’ll draw you out” was inspired by the first Charlie Hebdo Paris incident. I felt so outraged by what I saw on TV, that I wrote almost all the lyrics in under an hour. Jessica was key in the editing of this track with my favorite line “We’ll draw you out with our Sharpie pens”

“Hold on” is about the changes in USA politics, with the line “Click your fingers one, two three, time to check your liberty”

“Not one of us” is an observation of the increasing trend of narcist behaviour among politicians and world leaders globally.

The line “No one of us is smarter than all of us” is from a Japanese proverb.

Voodoo Doll was written after a real-life experience with an online stalker. The song is an accurate description of this kind of obsessive behaviour.

Any plans to hit the road?

We are currently planning gigs and festivals for 2018 and will be announcing these on our site www.smallchangediaries.com as well as FB and other social media outlets. We will be playing “The Loom Festival” in May in the UK as well as a number of local gigs.  I have been invited to play in New York next March and after playing The Lagoa Guitar Festival in 2016, we would love to play more overseas festivals.

What else is happening next in The Small Change Diaries’ world?

In 2018 the band will continue to write and play live, but we also have a number of side projects. These include a solo album from myself with the working title “Tales of Dark and Light” We already have the first track recorded and are back in the studio this November before the SCD Lullabies for Cynics album launch.

In the band we talk about “The Small Change Diaries universe” which refers to not only the recorded music, but also live appearances, video shorts, wonderful graphics from Max Wootton and of course our connection to an increasing number of great guest musicians who work with the band. Our focus is on writing and delivering original music for the head and heart to provoke, inspire and entertain.

We are planning live opportunities for the UK and overseas and welcome any enquiries from interested parties. Enquiries should be directed via the press page on the main site – http://www.smallchangediaries.com/press/

Watch ‘Birdman’ here

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About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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One comment

  1. Thanks for the interview opportunity. We are really excited by the new album and the launch on November 3rd.

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