My Upside-Down Summer

The Promised Blog!! Lots to tell you about and explain. Some of it good. Some of it great. Some of it bad. Some of it sad. But obviously all vitally important so here goes. To make it easier to write I borrowed ‘a friend’ to ask me some questions…

Well done, you recorded and released your debut album Harpsichord Row – how did that go?

Urm, it went very well thanks. I recorded everything in my old flat just off the Cowley Road in Oxford. Spare room became my home studio. Vocal booth out of sleeping bags, upturned couch, double mattress, flight case, broken mic stand and a lot of spring clips. April 2011 to February 2012 – quite stressful. Didn’t get out much. Recorded & mixed everything myself. Performed everything too, except for drums and electric guitar on two tracks…

Show-off.

Control freak more like. Also it was cheaper, allowed the sound to grow organically, and I like playing with audio. Anyway, at the beginning of February, after ten months of immersing myself in the world of Harpsichord Row and visiting some pretty dark places in the process,  I completed my final mixes. Off they went across the Atlantic to Mr Borthwick in Pennsylvania for some serious mastering magic. Meanwhile I set about organising the album release including sourcing eco cd-packaging and Annika’s wonderful artwork plus doing all the promo. Rather a lot of hard-work in actual fact.

Then you released it?

Yes. Harpsichord Row was released on May 7th 2012  on 1784 Records* and I was thrilled with the response. There have been some very complimentary reviews from all over the place, plus wonderful feedback from people who have bought the record. I’ve felt a little overwhelmed at times. After putting so much creative and emotional energy into making the album, when somebody tells me how much they love it – well you can’t beat the feeling. Particularly when juxtaposed against what happened immediately after the release.

Which was…?

A very long story but essentially whilst my musical life blossomed, my personal life had other ideas. For over eleven years I shared and built my life with someone. We lived together in the flat where I recorded Harpsichord Row; we played in bands, gigged, recorded; we shared hopes and ambitions. We even shared a car (his) and acoustic guitar (er… his). A decade connecting yourself to one person can bind you in ways you aren’t even aware of. A tangled web.

Unfortunately things disintegrated whilst Harpsichord Row was being created. Our last musical endeavour together was William and His Ghost on which he played the electric guitar parts one day in January. By spring we had reached our final death throes. Then suddenly it was upon us, Wednesday 16th May, ten days after the album release – bad timing. On the day we were breaking up I had to do a live radio interview for BBC Oxford. Nobody would have known but inside I felt like I was dying. Somehow I got through it.

Ouch. That sounds bad.

Yep. I felt like the world had literally been pulled from under my feet. Life as I knew it had disappeared. On a practical level I had no car and had to find somewhere to live. I also no longer had my trusted touring buddy / occasional band member. I basically had to just stop for while and pull myself together.  I managed pre-booked gig commitments but couldn’t bring myself to arrange anything new or follow-up enquiries. To be perfectly honest for the first few weeks I didn’t see how I could ever find the strength to sing again. I had quite a few ‘lying curled up on the floor crying uncontrollably’ moments. That was fun. But all fodder for album number two.

Which will be out…?

Hold your horses. I haven’t finished with album number one yet. Lots of things happening.

Like?

Well, after a pretty crazy few months I am now for the most part feeling fantastic. Strong. Better than I ever have before. Family and friends have been incredibly supportive and I’ve learnt more about myself in 4 months than I have in ten years. I can even listen to Harpsichord Row all the way through – for ages I couldn’t bear to as I blamed it for us falling apart. My recording it was probably a small contributing factor but by no means the sole cause. But that too is for the next album.

Returning to the present, I am now back up and running and following new paths that have emerged from the tumult. The adventure of Harpsichord Row continues. Here’s what’s going on:-

#1 – FULL UK NATIONAL DISTRIBUTION

Last week I met up with the lovely folk at Right Track Distribution to discuss giving Harpsichord Row a full UK release. At the moment whilst the album is available digitally pretty much everywhere, the physical release is only available from Bandcamp, from my local independent shops Truck Store and Rapture, and of course from the merch stand at gigs. This is a bit restrictive and so in the next few weeks Right Track and I are going to decide upon a date for a full release of Harpsichord Row and we can start the release process all over again! Ultimately this means the CD will be far easier to get hold of – Amazon, Play, maybe HMV. Plus Right Track are partnered with Universal so this is GOOD.

#2 – UK AND EUROPEAN TOUR

Plans are now underway for a Harpsichord Row Tour. Shows are still being arranged but it looks likely that UK will be the end of October and The Netherlands, Belgium and possible Germany will be at the end of November. I’ll be touring the album as a solo set so expect small intimate magical shows.

#3 – OXFORD SHOWS

September has become a bit of an ‘Oxford Month’. Normally I keep my hometown appearances quite far apart but inadvertently I’ve ended up with a host of lovely gigs. The first was the very special All Tamara’s Parties #3 which took place on Friday. It was organised by one of my favourite people Tamara Parsons-Baker – she rescued me when I needed a home and we watched Twin Peaks, ate cheese, drank wine – and most importantly she is a very, very good artist in her own right. I urge you all to catch her live when you can. Her songs will get into your bones.

Next up a gig on roof! This Thursday 13th September is Oxjam on the Roof at the Said Business School.  £5 entry. 7.30 to 10.30 pm. A very worthy cause and it’s on a roof! It’s hosted by the spectacularly entertaining George Chopping who is officially a poet but I would add comedian to his resumé as he has never failed to make me laugh. A lot. His book Smoking With Crohns has just been published by Unbound. Another delight for you to investigate.

Then on Friday 21st September I’ll be supporting legendary Texan songwriter Butch Hancock at The Bullingdon Arms. Doors 7.30pm. Tickets are £13 in advance or £15 on the door. Very much looking forward to this. The previous day I become one year older so I shall either be in a post-birthday blues or celebratory frenzy. Depends how many wrinkles appear overnight.

So two gigs in Oxford to choose from. Please do come to one. Or even better join me at both.

#4 – BBC OXFORD CHAT

Not strictly to do with Harpsichord Row but some of you my find this interesting nonetheless. Every Sunday presenter Bill Heine (he of the The Oxford Shark Through The Roof fame) invites local guests on to his show to chat and review the Sunday papers. I’ve been asked to come along on Sunday 16th September and I will be live on air between 9-10 am. Pretty terrifying but damn exciting too. Nothing like a bit of nerves to make you feel alive.  If you’re in the Oxford area tune in to 95.2 FM or alternatively listen on the BBC Oxford website.

Okay. That covers nearly everything for the present. #5 – Music videos, boat trips, tour dates + more all coming soon. Meanwhile if you would like to be kept regularly updated about the world of Bethany Weimers’ Music then please do sign up for my mailing list – see the box on the right. Newsletter #1 is being created right about now.

But for now I hope you’ve enjoyed this little diversion and well done for getting all the way through my ramblings.

Thanks everyone,

Bethany xx

*For those of you interested 1784 Records is the label is run by myself and a small team of invaluable assistants. The name is taken from the track 1784, which itself is named after the year of my great-great-great-great-grandfather John Hagger’s birth in Suffolk.

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