Hi, I'm Charlie McDonnell: Video-Blogger, musician, and nerd. Have a poke around this website using the navigation bar at the top, or catch up with what I'm up to at the moment with my written blog, which you'll find below.


Forever Yours

December 3, 2011

When I first had the idea for this music video, I quickly dismissed it as being way too ambitious a concept to ever pull off. There was a good chunk of stuff of which I had no clue how to accomplish on my own: gun effects, good zombie make-up, making Alex fly around like a super-hero … it was all going to be too hard, too much of a jump from everything I’d done previously, and there was no guarantee that it was actually going to be any good either. However, after week of failing to think of anything better to do in it’s place, I just decided to go for it. And not only that, but apparently I actually finished the thing too.

Here’s what I learned during the process of making this video: if your ideas seem like they might be too farfetched to make a reality, just try to make them a reality anyway. A big part of this is finding people who are more talented than you and getting them involved. We were a relatively small crew compared to the size normally needed to get something like this made, but as someone who usually does everything on my own when it comes to making videos, this felt like a scarily massive production. But this is how you learn new things, pushing yourself to places that you’ve never been before.

Watching this video back now, there are things that I’d do differently with hindsight. It’s not my perfect Forever Yours music video. But I wouldn’t know what to change about it if it wasn’t for the fact that I’ve gone though the whole process and actually come out with something watchable on the other side. And because it is too late to alter anything now (I promise never to pull a George Lucas on you all) the best I can do is take all the things I’ve learnt, apply them to my next big project, and then hopefully keep on progressing from there.

This was a hard one, and I won’t be able to make anything of this style for a while (I’m no freddiew). But I want to say a massive thank you to everyone who’s watched it, liked it, left a nice comment, shared it and all that lovely stuff. I mean, I’m always happy when you do that with any video of mine, but seeing the reaction to this one has been a particular joy due to all of the hard work that went into it. You’re awesome, and made all the stress of film-making worth it in the end.

The Zombies on their break in Nandos (Photo by Scott Jackson)

Ready for an influx of hyper-links? People who helped make this happen: Alex Day, who wrote the song (which you can get on iTunes, by the way) and for putting up with me when I told him to lie in front of a cardboard grave so that I could cover his face with leaves. Emma Duke, for acting too well, and who’s totally our music video “girl” forever and ever now. Toby Dale, who did the majority of the special effects for the video, helped me a lot with all of the ones that I did, and for just being the loveliest guy to have around. Ciaran O’Brien, for being the mastermind behind the camera and an absolute joy to direct. Adam Hickey, for all of the brilliant zombie make up – the crux of this video wouldn’t have been possible at all without you. Scott Jackson, for helping Adam with the make up and for all of the awesome behind the scenes photos. And finally, Lex CroucherKayley HydeMyles DyerBecky Smith, and Toby Dale (again!) for allowing me take you all to Zombie school and back – you were all positively disgusting.

Here’s to the next one!

{ 269 comments }

Happy Things #2

August 3, 2011

NB: I wrote this blog post a week or so ago, but due to the insanity that was VidCon, I completely forgot to put it up. Sozlol. Here it is anyway:

Even though I managed to throw all of my bad feelings from last week out of the window, I’ve successfully filled up the empty space that they created with a bunch of new annoyances that are making me feel like rubbish. I’m usually pretty good at not letting negative comments get to me, but after finally getting everything together and making a new video (above) I’ve been met with more disappointed faces than I’m used to. It sucks that I can’t make a video wanting to share something that I’m really, really proud of, without seeing a bunch of people telling me to shut up about my music and just make funny videos again. I know it’s not all of you, but the negative always sticks out more than the positive, and I can’t really help that.

However, I’m not here to whine at you about my YouTube woes. I’m here to cheer myself up by telling you about all of the nice things that have happened to me over the last couple of weeks, so lets do that. Firstly: I’m in America. And I quite like America, I do.

My now apparently annual excursion to the US started on the 7th when I arrived in what is easily the hottest state that I think I’ve visited so far, Georgia. Maybe it’s just my quaint, British temperature gauge, but my first words after stepping out of the airport were something along the lines of “It feels like I’m constantly standing next to a barbecue, or that I’m sitting in a sauna. Oh god, how hot are the actual saunas here?” They also have mosquitos, which is another new thing for me. I have discerned from these two things that Georgia is in fact Edward Cullen: Not only is it hot, but it also wants to suck my blood. Bracing the heat, I visited Atlanta and went to the Georgia aquarium, The World of Coke, The Bodies exhibit, and Dialogue in the Dark. All of which I’ll now go into more detail about.

The Georgia Aquarium is mostly just like any other aquarium that you’ve ever visited, with one notable exception: it’s the biggest one in the entire world. The largest tank has three whale sharks swimming around in it. Three whale sharks, guys. Three of the biggest fish in the entire world, right there in front of me. In the middle of Georgia, a state where there isn’t a single natural body of water anywhere, and there they were. The World of Coke is right next door, which was equally fascinating to me for a completely different reason. If you’ve never heard of TWOC, it’s basically the Coca Cola company’s attempt to do what little they can to turn their sugar water drink into entertainment. I like coke, but I have no idea what possessed the company to make anyone sit through a 6 minute animated musical about what happens inside of a vending machine, featuring some of the creepiest characters in existence (they didn’t have eyes). I loved every second of it, just not for their intended reasons.

The next two items might seem like sad things, but I can assure you that they are happy ones: I went blind for half an hour, and I saw a bunch of dead bodies. You might have heard of the Bodies exhibit before, but for the uninitiated, it’s essentially the best human biology lesson that you’ll ever get. The bodies of real men and women, who offered themselves up to education, have been sliced up and preserved so that you can find out what we’re really all like under our skin. I won’t post pictures, it’s something that you have to want to seek out, but I thought it was brilliant. It definitely gives you a heightened sense of awareness, one that’s encouraged me to try and take better care of myself.

Then, right next to the bodies exhibit I found this thing called Dialogue in the Dark, which basically gives you the opportunity to discover what it’s like to lose your sight. You’re given a cane, a brief lesson in how to use it, and then you’re directed around pitch black rooms by a tour guide (who’s an actual blind person). It was one of the strangest and most enlightening experiences I’ve ever had, and I feel confident now that, the next time I see or meet a blind person, I’ll be to understand them much better. Being blind is really, really hard by the way. I was the one who accidentally stepped into the road and got run over by a car when we were crossing the road.

As you might have gathered from my latest video however, I’m currently in the company of Chameleon Circuit, and not in Georgia anymore, but in California. I’m here for the rest of the month in the build up to VidCon, which I’m speaking at and at which Chameleon Circuit are playing. Needless to say that I’m not ready for any of these things yet, the talk, the gig, or VidCon itself. But hey, I’m in California, with my friends, making videos and playing music. Any moaning from this point onwards isn’t really very justified. Ok. Feeling better now. Hopefully the next time I speak to you all, I won’t be trying to perk myself up!

{ 807 comments }

Happy Things #1

July 12, 2011

I’m feeling slightly stressed out. Last week I tried and failed to make a new video on two separate occasions, so I’ve decided to write a couple of blog posts about some nice things in an attempt to cheer myself up. This is the first of those blog posts.

To start us off, the big project that my fellow band members and I have been gradually chipping away at for the last however-longer-it’s-been has finally been released out into the world. Still Got Legs is no longer mine, or any of the other band member’s, but yours. I’m so proud of it, more than any musical project that I’ve ever been involved in, and I really hope you like it too. Though if you don’t then that’s obviously fine.

To everyone who pre-ordered a copy of the physical CD it’s on it’s way to you now, and if you check your email inbox now then you should also find a free digital download of the album so that you can pop it onto your computer right away. For everyone else, physical copies are still available at DFTBA.com (you’ll get a free digital download there too) or you can just go over to iTunes if that’s your thing. Lastly, like with my solo album, if you’re on the fence and would like to try before you buy then whole album is streaming for free over at bandcamp.com

However, the news of the album being out isn’t the only thing that’s cheering me up. Alan (DFTBA’s head honcho) posted these photos on his dailybooth recently that made me smile from ear to ear, one with the CD and poster insert (oh, and there’s a T-Shirt too) and another with all of the boxed up pre-orders ready for shipping. I think the second photo is especially brilliant, as it’s hard evidence of the fact that this is actually all happening for real. It’s so strange to have something that you’ve been hiding from the world for months to finally be in the hands of others, but so heartwarming too.

Check out those legs aw yeah

Oh, and there’s also this thing where (at time of writing) we’re number 4 in the iTunes rock charts, and number 50 overall. Thank you so much to all of the people who have commented/tweeted/emailed me and the others passing on your reactions to the CD, and to those who’ve already purchased a copy of it. You’ve made this whole thing so much more than worth it, and it’s so cool that we can achieve this kind of thing on our own, without any help from the mainstream music industry. Your support has been amazing, thank you a hundred times for making this happen.I can’t wait to play all of these songs live at VidCon.

I’m definitely feeling happier. But there’s more to come.

{ 296 comments }

Still Got Legs

June 7, 2011

As I write this, I’m sitting in a mixing room listening to Kiss The Girl blast at me through a huge pair of speakers, and I’m watching Michael and our mixer, Trevor, make the final tweaks to the album that we’ve been working on for about five months: Still Got Legs. We’re finally getting to a point now where this project is almost done, and I’m pretty darn happy, mainly because this is an experience that I’ve never actually had with a Chameleon Circuit album before.

Back in 2008, when we were in the process of recording the first CC album, I took a three-hour trip to the producer’s house (who I won’t name and shame here) so that I could record the vocals on my final song, Friends Of The Ood. When I turned up, however, I was given the files of everything that we’d done on the album up to that point and was politely told to go away. The producer didn’t want to finish it for us, and so it just never got finished. After months of trying to find someone new who could help us out, we were eventually forced to release the music uncompleted. I’m sure that we would have been inspired to make a second album at some point, but the urge to make the most decent Chameleon Circuit album that we could, one which we didn’t have any regrets about and more importantly one that was actually finished was definitely the kick-starter for this CD.

Still Got Legs has had its fair share of producer related problems, though just with a different twist. A lot of you have probably already heard about Michael’s forced vacation to France, but to sum it up: Michael, who came over from the US to produce this second album, got stuck in France for two months due to reasons that we’re all still a little unsure about. Basically, the people at the border just didn’t like him very much and initially wouldn’t let him back into the UK, and so production of the album was moved to Paris for a month. It was nice of them to eventually let him back in, though, even if it was just for a week so that he could wrap things up here. I guess it’s our own fault really that Chameleon Circuit is cursed; we just had to name our band after the one part of the TARDIS that didn’t work properly…

Regardless of all the obstacles that were put in our way this time, though, we’re almost there. On June 3rd and 4th we had a couple of listening events where people could come and hear the album in its current state. “The last album was a great album about Doctor Who” someone said “but this is just a great album in its own right.” This comment made me really happy, and I do hope that the rest of you feel the same way if you decide to get a copy. The physical CD is currently up for pre-order (you can get it here) and it’ll be released there and on iTunes etc. on July 12th. Also, here’s the album artwork and track-list; just click on it to make it bigger:

Dude it's so pretty looking

One thing that I should mention, something that I’ve seen a fair few people bring up, is Doctor Whats absence from the album. Unfortunately, this was one of the later songs that went through production, and we didn’t really feel like we could find a good place for it on the CD simply because it was too different from the other tracks. The choice was either to release a bastardised version of it to force it onto the album, or to release the song later and give it the treatment it deserves. It’ll be available at some point, but in the meantime you’re obviously welcome to listen to the version on YouTube as much as you like.

By the way, to the people who are nice enough to actually read this blog: sorry for neglecting you recently. As you can probably tell from the fact that my last video took me two and a half weeks to get up, I’ve been pretty busy recently and have had trouble maintaining all of my online spaces. I’ll try to be better. Over the last couple of months I started to convince myself that I wasn’t updating my blog because I didn’t really like writing blog posts, but I have actually quite enjoyed putting this one together. So, you know, maybe I’ll make a written comeback now. Maybe being the key word in that sentence.

{ 324 comments }

It's my face. On a wardrobe.

In a video that I posted about about a month ago, My Crib 2, I made the mistake of mentioning to you all that I had a story to tell, and then decided not to tell you said story – a decision that seems to have left many of you in a state of dire frustration. It’s like when someone tells you that they have a secret, but follows straight afterwards with an oh, I wasn’t supposed to mention that – forget I said anything. It’s always massively maddening, and they’re lying in a sense anyway, because they know that if they really, truly, honestly couldn’t tell you the secret, then they wouldn’t have mentioned it in the first place. And then of course, eventually, they give in and spill the beans anyway, which is exactly what I’m going to do now. So, with all of that in mind, here’s The Story of the Wardrobe Face. But be warned, it really is a bit odd.

It all starts when I was in my early teens (probably) being forced through the ritual of getting your school photos taken. I say forced, but school photos were never really that big of a deal for me. We got to miss first period, I was always pretty ace at pulling the right smile, and unless it was a milestone year for me, my Mum didn’t particularly mind if she received a copy of the photo or not anyway. On that particular year though she decided that, sure, I’d like one of them, and so the photos arrived in due course. The important thing to point out here though is that we didn’t just receive a single photo that particular year, but also a bunch of little, passport photo sized versions of the main photo. Which were all completely useless as actual passport photos, because I was smiling in all of them. But, you know, we bought them, so we kept them.

Months, or possibly years go past. If you haven’t already noticed, I don’t tend to remember the dates of events like this very well, just the events themselves. I was a bit older, not at all wiser, and in the middle of a prank pulling phase – a phase out of which I’ve never really escaped. My Mum was dating a guy called Lee at the time (who’s a jolly nice bloke, I still see him sometimes) and they’d been seeing each other long enough that she had a few pictures of the both of them in her bedroom, and in other areas around the house. And so, seeing pranking opportunities where nobody else would, I decided to cut out all of the passport sized photos of my younger, uniform clad self, and replace any photo including Lee’s face, with my own face. Yes, just like how some kind of insane, serial killer would. It was very creepy, I was very proud of myself, and the reaction from my family was one of confusion, followed by “oh, Charlie” chuckles.

Over time, for no particular reason, one of the the little photos from the prank made it’s rounds around my house. I stuck it to our front door at one point, on the inside just above the handle, so that everybody could leave with a little picture of my head in their, well, heads. It actually stayed there for years, because we completely forgot that it existed for the longest time. However, after rediscovering it later I stuck it to my bedroom wall, and then later still took it on the journey to London, where it now resides. For the most part, I now use it as an aid for framing my videos correctly. And now you know.

Although that story is a bit weird, to be honest, my main reason for not mentioning it in the video was that I just wouldn’t have been able to fit the entire tale in there. I think I kind of needed to put it in a blog post, so that you could all have the freedom to sit back and digest the mad thing that I did. Because it is still a bit weird. But you asked for it, and you’re welcome.

{ 639 comments }

My Crib 2

February 12, 2011

At the beginning of this year, the only resolution that I gave myself was to try and focus on quality over quantity when it came to my videos. There were definitely moments in 2010 when I felt like, given the schedule I had forced myself onto (trying to upload a video every week or so) I was 1) making videos just for the sake of trying to keep up to quota and 2) uploading videos that I wasn’t always completely happy with – stuff that I knew I could probably have completed to a much higher level had I given myself more time.

A couple of weeks ago, I almost broke my resolution, and ended up shooting a video which was just an update on various things that were going on in my life at the time. To put it simply, I knew I needed to get something up that week in order to earn some cash, and the video had no real purpose other than that. I watched it back, realised how boring, vapid and useless it was, and then deleted it pretty promptly so that I could move onto something new. It was at that point that I also set a new rule for myself: If I was going to make a video, it had to be something that I actually found fun, and that would be fun to watch. It can be too easy to lose sight of why I even make YouTube videos sometimes, which I think is a bit of a common problem for partners who hold YouTube as being both a hobby and a job simultaneously.

There are definitely some people on YouTube who have decided to let the job aspect of their channels overtake the hobby side, and I don’t have a problem with those people at all. Some of them make absolutely brilliant videos, on a schedule that they stick to religiously, MysteryGuitarMan being a great example. There are also people who definitely opt for quantity over quality, and again I have no problem with anyone who wants to do that. Sometimes I really enjoy watching videos that have lower production values, so long as the content/person in the video is engaging. But none of that works for me. I’m not on YouTube to try and pull in eyeballs, I’m on here to try and make stuff that I’m really proud of.

I’d love to be able to make a short film at some point in the near future (something that I’ve already started work on actually, though it’s early days) and then maybe even a feature film after that. To feed that ambition, what I’m trying to do currently is stick with the exact same style of videos that I feel I’ve always made, while also doing my best to use those videos as a training ground for new ideas and techniques. My latest video, My Crib 2, is an example of that. I basically wanted to use the challenge as an excuse to play around with camera lenses, to practice composition, writing a shot list, cool transitions, directing a cameraman (Michael did almost all of the filming for this video) and to have a go at some more advanced rotoscoping (the effect at the start of the video where I come up in front of the titles). It was really fun for me to do, and I feel like I’ve come out with a much better piece of content as a result.

Just to be clear: I don’t mean to imply by any of this that I’m going to be changing my schedule to one video a fortnight or anything like that. I am still going to keep the once-a-week plan at the front of my mind, but I’m also going to allow myself more free time to work harder on a video if I feel like it’s going to benefit it in the long run. I’ll try to provide both quality and quantity when I can, but I’m going to prioritise the former over the latter. I have received a lot of emails from people, especially recently, saying that they’d like me to make videos more often than I do, and all I can really say to that is sorry, really, but that’s just not the kind of YouTuber that I am. I’ve never been like that. In theory, any videos that I do post from now on should be of a better quality, and more worth your time, so I hope that makes up for any noticeable drop in frequency. And as always, thanks for watching :)

{ 502 comments }

The Alex and Charlie Pilot

January 14, 2011

This video seems to have sparked a fair few comments which need responding to, but I’ll address the most important one first: Alex’s Mustache. Is it real? Well, it’s kind of real, but not really real. When I told him about a week ago that I wanted to shoot another episode of The Alex and Charlie Format, but set in the past, I pretty quickly came up with the idea for a mustache, which I then asked him to start growing. There wasn’t any resistance on his end when I asked him to do this by the way, he’s a pretty good friend, eh? On the day of the shoot however, it wasn’t quite as hairy as I would have hoped, so the solution we came up with was to extenuate it with some mascara, lent to us kindly by Beckydoll. Thus, Alex’s slightly pedophilic tashe was born. Don’t worry, you won’t be seeing it again any time soon.

Next up, the old style VHS effect. Simply put, what you’re looking at isn’t actually an effect at all, but real footage from a VHS-C camera that I inherited from my Gran a year or so ago. As soon the camera came into my possession I knew that I just had to make a YouTube video with it, how could I not? But it was a long time before I came up with the idea of shooting an Alex and Charlie Prequel, and even longer before I actually got everything I needed in place to be able to make the video. I bought some software so that I could digitise the composite signal from the camera, then some new VHS-C tapes to record onto, and managed to borrow a 1995 CRT computer from a lovely guy called Martyn who I met on twitter. It wasn’t a 1991 computer, sure, but seeing as I didn’t have to spend a penny on it, and that it was in perfect working condition, it worked brilliantly for what I needed.

There also seems to be a scary number of people commenting on the video who are confused by the fact that it’s set in 1991, but that Alex and I seem to be exactly the same age as we are now. My hope is that, at the very least, most of the people leaving these comments are posting them self-aware of how silly they are. But for those who really aren’t sure, there are two solutions to your problem. Either Alex and myself have somehow acquired the fountain of youth, (or some similar method to reverse the aging process) or, we were just joking and we filmed the video yesterday. In fact, a pretty important rule that you should follow about watching me in general, is that you shouldn’t always take everything I say seriously. Teasing you is fun for me :)

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A Very Confidential Christmas

December 28, 2010

httpvp://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=B7C0C7636F1C8A5B

Watching Doctor Who is never going to be the same for me. I know a few people, and I expect that there are many more out there, who love the show to bits but just can’t bring themselves to watch the behind the scenes companion show Doctor Who Confidential, and with good reason. There’s a certain kind of TV magic that comes with Doctor Who, one that only really exists in science fiction shows, and one that seems to disappear once you see a Dalek with his head off, or The Doctor wondering around a car-park listening to his iPod. I have the utmost respect for people who want their magic to stay magical, though I’m not one of those people myself.

While a bit of the magic might disappear after watching an episode of Confidential, nothing can prepare you for the severe magic removal operation that takes place after actually being there on set, a shock that I’ve experienced over the last couple of months. Even though you’re wise enough to know that there isn’t really a man traveling through time in a blue box, when you watch the show, or experience any good story for that matter, it starts to feel real. But for me, it just doesn’t feel real anymore. The magic is all gone. Boo-hoo.

I should point out though that I’ve never really been one for magic, I’m much more interested in finding out how the trick works than being duped by it, so for me, this is a welcome change. A very welcome change. If you saw the Doctor Who Confidential videos that I made for the BBC recently (you can find them at the top of this post) then you may have noticed that, at points, I seemed a little bit underwhelmed by the whole thing. And I’m not going to lie, it’s because at points, I was. The first time that I stepped onto the TARDIS set – a moment that happened off camera – honestly felt a bit like falling in love. But the moments afterwards where I had to try and make it interesting, while nothing was going on, were more like finding out that the thing you’d just fallen in love with was, on closer inspection, not actually going to be able to take you to Space Florida and back.

In my personal opinion, the last two videos, the ones where I’m actually doing stuff on set rather than just pottering about and telling the camera how lost I feel, are much more interesting, and if I made any more of these things, that’s the kind of route that I’m going to be going down. Much less “look, a christmas tree!” and much more chatting with the cast and probably having a go at all of the various jobs that people do on set. That’s the kind of stuff that’s more fun for me, and judging by the comments that I’ve already seen, that’s the kind of stuff that you’re much more interested in too. As always though, if you have any thoughts on the videos that I’ve made, do post them in the comments of this blog post so that I can do my best to make any future videos as good as possible!

Although the magic is all gone for me, after watching the most recent episode of the show that aired on Christmas day, it’s been replaced by something new. Seeing everything come together on the other side has filled me with an appreciation for the work that goes into the show, an appreciation that I don’t think I’d be able to have if it hadn’t been for this new job of mine, and as someone who hopes to be able to direct his own stuff in the future, I can’t even begin to tell you how grateful I am for having that opportunity. My friend Michael reminds me often of this Chuck Jones quote: “Making art takes a lot of work and a lot of love. But when you’re good at it, all we ever see is the love” which makes me think that I was just used to seeing the love behind Doctor Who. It’s only now that I really feel privileged to be able to see the work too.

After I watched Doctor Who on Saturday, naturally my next port of call was to watch the episode of Doctor Who Confidential that aired straight after it. I’ve honestly been watching Confidential ever since I realised that it existed, but I practically have an obligation to watch it now that I’ve become friends with the people who make it, and am involved in the show myself. And then, by golly, after Confidential was over, the continuity announcer for BBC 3 said my name. On the TV. On Christmas day. That’s a kind of magic that still hasn’t disappeared for me just yet at least :)

{ 281 comments }

“Biggest Release Ever”

December 1, 2010

In my latest video titled “Magic Mars Bars” I did my best to make a case for why I don’t think illegal file sharing is really all that bad. Or at least, as a musician who’s just released an album, why I don’t think it’s a good idea to try and fight against it. The entertainment industry has done it’s best to criminalise people who do file share for a while now, and although I am still on the fence about whether file sharing should be made legal, I think the worst possible thing to do is try and stamp it out. All that does, in my view, is alienate the people that really matter. I feel pretty confident in my viewpoint on this, but I think that the best thing you can do when you have a confident viewpoint is to leave it open to be challenged so that you can expand your scope. And so, if any of you agree or disagree with me then I’d love to hear what you have to say!

As I also said in the video, my album is now officially out, and you can listen to the whole thing for free by going to the Music page here on my website. In regards to the album, I received an email from Hank Green this morning, one of the co-owners of http://dftba.com, who informed me that this has been their biggest release ever. Like, ever guys. So much so that, like the Nintendo Wii or the original Buzz Lightyear toy, we honestly didn’t expect that so many of you would want to get one. It’s the first day, and we’ve already had to contact the CD manufactures to make a ton more so that we can meet demand. You guys are the absolute best, and I’m seriously not exaggerating when I say that this is probably one of the coolest moments of my entire live. That either means that my life is pretty lame, or that you are the coolest audience that someone like me could ever hope for, and I’m sure you’d prefer the latter.

However, this has also been one of the most nerve-racking experiences of my entire life, and so hearing and seeing all of the messages I’ve received so far from you all has very much put me at ease. I’m really glad you all like it so much. If you are still hoping to get a copy then I do want to quickly address one query I’ve noticed: will the album be available in, like, real music stores? Unfortunately, DFTBA Records is an indie label, so if you want a physical copy of the CD then you’ll have to order it through them. They are completely trustworthy though, they are my friends, and no matter where you are in the world, if you want a CD, they will send you one. Another worry I’ve seen commented on the fact that all of the prices are in US Dollars, but I can also promise that, no matter where you buy the CD from, the currency will be converted automatically. I hope that makes things clear, and as if I haven’t told you enough already, you can get the Physical CD here and you can get it on iTunes here. And I think that’s enough about my album :)

{ 429 comments }

I Made You An Album

November 7, 2010

When you’ve been continuously plugging away at something like an album (my best guess is that I’ve been working on this for about six months) having everything finished feels incredibly strange. On one hand, this is probably the longest amount of time that I’ve ever spent on one individual project, and it’s an absolute relief and a joy to have it all come together. But on the other hand, I feel like I probably could have worked on this album forever. I’m worrying about little blemishes that I might have missed, about if I made the right artistic choices, and importantly, about what you’re going to think of it. After all, I didn’t make this album to try and storm my way into the charts and become a mainstream musician, I made it because you asked me to. So your opinion, really, is the thing that matters the most.

However, obviously I couldn’t slave away forever trying to make it as perfect as possible, or else the damn thing would never be released. It’s all done now, the songs and the artwork have been sent to my friend Alan at DFTBA Records to be printed, packaged, and plopped onto the servers of all of the digital download services. Essentially, this album no longer belongs to me – whatever happens now is completely out of my control, and I’m fine with that. It’s still yet to be released, it’s only available for pre-order for the moment, so while you’re waiting for December 1st (release date!) to roll around, I thought I’d chat a bit about the album artwork.

This is the thing that’s most fresh in my mind at the moment, as I actually only finished it over the last couple of days. I basically wanted to design the whole CD like I’d completed a “My First Album!” kit, a pack that you could buy in a shop and fill in yourself. Given that this is my first album, and that it many ways I still don’t really feel like a ‘proper’ musician, I wanted to make something that captured that naïve feeling. I designed the kit myself, printed it out, filled it in, and then scanned the whole thing back into my computer. I also did the same thing with the 8-page booklet which comes with the physical CD, in which instead of just writing down the song lyrics, I talked a little about all of the individual tracks on the album. I’ll leave that booklet as a surprise to those who get the CD, but the front and back of the album look like this:

"This Is Me" - Album Artwork. Click to enlarge.

I spent quite a while trying to figure out what I was going to put on the front in the “insert album artwork here” section. To start with I was going to flick through some old baby pictures and use one of those, to try again to capture that naïve feeling, but the more I thought about it, the more that just seemed a bit too obvious. I even played with the idea of doing a young me/now me style picture (inspired by Ze Frank), but that didn’t really work either. Then I finally realised that, if I had just bought a ‘first album’ style kit, I’d probably just have to take a picture on my phone, of myself, by myself. The picture that I chose was my second attempt. My some miraculous intervention by the gods of photo-framing, the picture came out just right, with a neat reflection of me taking the photo in the background to make it obvious that I was doing it myself, and an expression that summed up my nervousness about releasing the album. I’m really happy with it.

The album comes out on December 1st, and is available on it’s own as well as part of two bundles: The World Is Mine bundle, because I’ve “twinned” my album with my friend Alex Day, and the Cloning Charlie T-shirt bundle, because as well as lots of requests to make an album, I also got quite a few messages from people asking me to make a Cloning Charlie T-Shirt. Hopefully your needs have been fulfilled! Also, I should mention that if you pre-order then you’ll definitely get everything in time for Christmas, that DFTBA will ship to anywhere in the world, and that both of the bundles will vanish once the CD is out. If you do decide to buy any of this stuff then I really hope you’ll like it, and I look forward to hearing what you all think on December 1st :)

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