Home Cooking is an hour of spoken word radio for digital station basic.fm – here’s Joel Barrow on his show going out on Thursday 13 June. For more info, click here!
The show came about as a happy co-incidence of two things: Egle Dubinkaite’s (from Bar Loco) idea to stage a show in conjunction with ‘The Late Shows’ at SYSTEM gallery comprised of improvised music with an open invite for anyone to come along and perform, recite or improvise a spoken word piece; and my invite to a local poet to come along and put their poetry to some improvised music.
Initially, all that was required, was for poets and musicians to be contacted. I put together a number of musicians who I knew worked well together along with some that Egle knew were interested. As to the poets, I encouraged some I knew personally to get involved, they passed the word on and with a few posts on various facebook pages a list of performers began to take shape.
Not much else needed to be done, apart from a few meetings with Egle to discuss how things were evolving. One thing we discussed was how the evening would work; we wanted to allow the space and freedom necessary for the unexpected to happen but also had to keep in mind that the music should not overpower the voices. The poetry was the focus of the event, with the music acting as a backdrop.
We decided that the musicians would play whilst poets wanting to perform to the current music getting up to the mike in turn. If no poets got up to the mike after a short interval then the musicians would end the current piece, swap over and begin a different musical style. That way the poets could have some control over the music being played and increase the chance of having music suited to their performance style or material.
By far the majority of the work was on the day, setting up all the equipment and sound-checking with some helpful early arrivers, to try to ensure that the music was at a level for the spoken word performances to be heard. This was also where I learnt how to use the ZOOM recording device – with some level of success amounting to a little tinkering, pointing towards the performers and pressing record. The device proved relatively easy to use with only the added headache of faulty or at least incompatible batteries.
My main fear was that very few performers would turn up and those that did wouldn’t understand how the event was hopefully going to work – poets self-regulating the running order.
I’m very happy to say my fears were unfounded; after some initial polite British dithering it all fell into place. The musicians played a variety of styles that went perfectly with every performer’s delivery, who kept coming up to the mic one-by-one. There did exist an ongoing problem, of mitigating the volume of the musicians so that the poets could be heard – musicians being forever prone to play louder the more excited and exuberant they become! This was monitored and dealt with throughout the show with a combination of fiddling on the mixing desk and giving the ‘band’ crude hand signals.
The show went perfectly, with little to no hiccoughs and everyone present really enjoyed the event. Musicians and poets were all fantastic with some absolutely incredible recordings produced. It was great to observe the interplay between musicians and poets, each influencing and adapting to the other and the sound changing and evolving.
All that remained was for me to upload the ZOOM device files, work on the sound of the recordings and convert to MP3. With some tinkering I got the spoken word vocals to the most audible level possible without drastically changing the overall sound (if I were to do this again I would spend more time on the levels and equalisation of the equipment to optimise the end sound). All I had to do then was decide what to put into the hour radio show. This wasn’t easy, as pretty much all of the recordings were worth listening to! I Eventually narrowed it down and with help, put the chosen files together with some introductions in-between.
The result is the radio show to be aired on Basic FM on Thursday 13 June at 1pm.
Check out previous episodes of Home Cooking below!Read More