A Shared Touch of Madness
If you’re into pop/R and B fusion with more than a few gallons of early 2000s singer-songwriter thrown in, I know a couple gigs you should catch. But first…
In other stories for Front Page News, I have avoided, where possible, too much in-depth musing on the creative process. If you’ve read any of the other stories I’ve written for Front Page News, you might find yourself struck with the thought, “That was NOT in-depth musing?” To which I say, indeed, sir! That was shallow musing. It was meeting you halfway. I had to recognize my job, which is mainly to talk to all the wonderful people who want to go to shows and listen to music. Some of you are musicians, probably. There’ll be a larger proportion of fans of music reading these things, though. Stands to reason. There are just fewer musicians than fans of music in the world.
Which is how it should be. I just caught a few minutes of an interview David Bowie did with Charlie Rose. At one point, Bowie takes a few minutes to break down some of what it takes to even decide to be a creative person.
Way Bowie figured it, even trying to make anything creative at all took more than an ounce of madness. Just making anything, let alone trying to build your career on it. Bowie figures that the sane thing to do is get the basics covered for yourself, your family, and be contented.
It takes a few broad strokes of insanity in makeup to go a step further and make new things.
So no, I avoid getting too deep into the creative process, because it’ll sound like crazy talk. Because it is.
After talking to Lina and Anthony, a couple of musicians operating in the Barcelona area, I find it a little difficult to avoid the subject completely. And I will tell you why in a minute.
United in Mess-making
These two are seasoned musicians in collusion for their mutual success.
Lina’s headlining a project called Vosk. Vosk makes melody-driven pop, something like Alicia Keys but not like all her albums. In song construction, Lina’s producer starts with getting the percussion to be something special.
He’s constructing an album where the drums are treated more equally than they sometimes are on pop albums. Meanwhile, Lina finds her way into songs by way of the melody. It sounds like a good way to attack pop to me. Appeals to the metalhead in me. Pop music is good for a listen, I think, but some of it does lack backbone. I like the idea of starting with the drums and melody.
Anthony, meanwhile, is the central figure in a project called Radio Gamma. Radio Gamma is one of these pop/R and B acts that couldn’t have happened without people like Bowie getting us comfortable with layers of technology working as an aid to musicianship. I’d love to see one of their gigs live, which I usually don’t say about smooth and melodic pop like this. Usually, smooth and melodic pop, with a layered sound, makes me think of overdubbing—looping—of musicians playing with recordings of themselves.
Radio Gamma has that kind of layered, precise, highly-finished sound. In our conversation, I compared the sound to some of Bowie’s work in the 1980s, like Scary Monster (and Super Creeps). I might have my memory a little off on the dates and the exact albums, but there was a period there where Bowie was getting deep into constructing albums from clips of sound and layers of performances that had nothing to do with each other. His experiment was apparently to attempt to create in the studio an album that it was impossible to perform on stage. You can look it up. The result was stuff like “Fashion” and “Ashes to Ashes.” He went on to perform them live, because of that insanity thing. But the point was to make that impossible.
I mentioned that to Anthony. I wouldn’t have mentioned it to you, except that he made me laugh, because he said that he was all about doing the opposite of that. He makes a point of creating songs that he can DEFINITELY perform live and just with the two other guys in Radio Gamma.
Considering the songs they’ve got up on YouTube, I’d really like to see that done.
Anthony’s also a video producer and director. You can see some of his work on that same Radio Gamma YouTube channel. I got the impression from the conversation I had with them that he may not have been able to get the videos made if it hadn’t been for a collaborator. The collaborator also did some backup vocals for some of his songs. You’ll see her fingerprints on a lot of his work.
Okay, done with the coy setup. The big reveal is that Lina’s producer is Anthony, and that Anthony’s collaborator is Lina.
Fine, so it wasn’t that shocking.
The Lonely Art of Art and What We Do about It
There is another layer of depth to it. I’m not sure it’s exactly my place to tell all tales about it, so I won’t. Ask the cats yourselves. Here’s my take on it.
This is where I go a little deeper into the creative process.
Being a creative type person, of any kind, is a lonely adventure. Seeking an alternative perspective is the whole point of creative endeavour. A byproduct of which is a profound sense of otherness. It can be hard to reach back over that self-made gap and feel connected again. If we are lucky, we find someone who is willing to be allied to us, who will encourage us when it’s hard—which is always.
If we have a lightning-stroke rare flash of luck, that ally not only accepts and supports the artist’s insanity, they also understand it.
And one strobe in a million, this ally doesn’t just understand that madness, they understand from personal experience. Then, even burdened by the same madness, they will egg on their ally.
Lina and Anthony have that going on. Watch out for them. As far as I’m concerned they’re cheating, because they both know how hard it is and they’re colluding to push each other forward.
They have a few gigs coming up, so you can see Vosk live this weekend, and then Radio Gamma on the 29th of October.
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