Wednesday, 27 July 2011

No Worries

Here is track 2 off of 'in the right place'. Track 1 was posted earlier :)

No Worries by ProductsofMonkeyLove

Hear it on soundcloud, or watch it on youtube

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

In the Right Place (Coming Soon!)

Hello friends,

This adventuring creative has been busy beavering away on his new creation for the last month now. That is why there hasn't been many blogs for the last month, that's why there hasn't been much video activity on the improv side, that's why there hasn't been any much of anything else really. I am sure beauty is getting bored of my new songs already!

The Shed, where the first record was recorded.
Before I left England and came to the Netherlands I wrote and recorded a bunch of songs. Now I no longer work for EDF energy I feel I can be a bit more honest about what I did now. I sat at work, being paid rather nicely, and sent emails home to myself with lyrics in them. I would spend a large part of my day constructing these poem/lyric sets and lovingly emailing them home to Beauty to read. I could have my emails open on my screen you see, it was my new way to get back at the internet nazi's. A few months earlier my team at work had been told we were all using the internet to much during work. There was a good reason for this, none of us actually had any work and we all spent all day pretending that we worked. This is true in most offices in my experience, there are just different levels of pretending.

I have decided to go with the title 'in the right place' for my new record. There are 12 songs in total, all the ones I have crafted over June and July. This has been the most exciting writing session of my whole musical career and the reason for this is simple, I had the time to do it. Without draining my soul out in a sweaty office cabin, staring at the clock trying to use mind powers to make time speed up while desperately finding any excuse to get up and walk around just to save my arse cheeks from becoming fussed to my cheap black trousers. Since my adventure began the main thing I have had is the time and space to allow ideas to grow and form properly, rather then trying to sneak a little creativity in-between hours of tedium.

I haven't written much about what I have been up to in the last month, I have been going through a spiritual change with Beauty (I will write about it when I feel comfortable to put it into words) , and the songs I have written in that time reflect my thoughts and feelings regarding a handful of subjects, but not much of it is focused on the change I have been going through. The next set of songs will be I'm sure, that's generally the way it works creatively with me, dust has to settle a little before subjects can be properly written about in song form, otherwise they tend to come out very 'teenage angst'. Age brings with it patience and reflection which allow for creativity to be more focused, the raw materials of creativity are like diamonds in stone, the chipping away of the stone to find the rare diamond in the middle takes time, if rushed then there will always be dirt all over the possible jewel in the centre. I think that metaphor makes sense, but in all fairness I know nothing about diamonds, they probably don't come in rocks for one thing, and I am just to lazy to even check wikipedia on the very computer I am writing this blog. So in my metaphor, this blog is like an unpolished rock, my new songs are the closest I've come to cleaning up sweet diamonds.
The cover for 'In the Right Place'

So the 12 songs will hit the internet soon, track 1 already has (and I imagine probably all of them are out when you are reading this), here is the full track listing.

1.   The Facebook Stalker Guide to Love
2.   No Worries
3.   Circles in the Crops
4.   Another Email
5.   Prime
6.   The Buskers Song (la,la,la)
7.   Cat Found a Home
8.   Sexual Definition in the Age of the Swap
9.   Quiz Master
10. Count Your Blessings
11. Salt
12. Seriously

Each song is about something, I don't tend to just write fluff for fluffs sakes. Some of the subjects are obvious just based on the track name, but some are a little more intricate. I doubt anyone will notice though, no one seems to actually pay attention. Oh well, it wont stop me pumping out loads more stuff for people not to watch or listen to.

Peace and infinite love
Andy x

Thursday, 14 July 2011

The story of Jethro and Jeffrey, chatroulette and the forrest of pink bananas

Hello friends,

It has been bought to my attention that the story of Jethro and Jeffrey remains untold outside of the youtube videos. If you have no idea who Jethro and Jeffrey are, then you are in the majority with almost the whole rest of the world, and this blog will not only introduce you to them, but hopefully will show you how lovely they really are. So without further ado, let me introduce to you Jethro and Jeffrey.
Ladies and Gentlemen, please give a warm welcome to Jeffrey the lanky monkey and Jethro the fat monkey.
Jeffrey (Chris Mace) and Jethro (Andy Jackson)
So here they are, the two monkey puppets that spawned a whole years worth of crazy youtube videos, and even almost got me banned from youtube twice! They are offensive and cheeky, but very loveable with it, truly they are :)

In the beginning, there was chatroulette. I was doing lots of improv comedy training at the time under the  guidance of the amazing Maydays (check them out, they are a Brighton based improv comedy troop, very, very funny). I wanted to take these improv skills to the internet in some way, it seemed like the logical use of a webcam, to make up silly shit in front of other random people. It was South Park that first introduced me to chatroulette, if you haven't seen it, there is a very funny episode of South Park in which everyone becomes addicted to facebook. In a bid to make more friends in the episode, Kyle lets Cartman introduce him to chatroulette, a website that links random webcams together from across the world. In the episode, the gag is that chatroulette is just full of blokes showing their penises. I can vouch personally that this is not far from the truth.

Collecting together all the stuffed toys I had around (which was an alarming amount for a late 20's man, but most of them were monkeys that had been bought for me because I called my podcast 'Products of Monkey Love') I sat on the sofa with a friend and started playing about, singing dubstep at random people. From that first toy session was born the Dubstep Sheep and the Dubstep Badger (both very silly, and if you click them you can watch them). These characters would not stand up to more then one video though, they grew tiresome to watch before the video was over. Something less music based was required if it was to have any steam.

Jethro and Jeffrey (behind the puppets)
So, a few days later, while my good friend Macey was round, we tried our hand at it again. Firstly I tried using the Jeffrey puppet (not named yet, obviously) and tried to talk to people. I couldn't get the hang of it, the character wasn't working for me, the monkey was too lanky and I couldn't get the right voice for it. I gave up after ten minutes, threw the monkey down and stood up in a huff. Macey asked if he could try, so he took my place on the sofa and picked up Jeffrey. The recording was running, all the fun was being captured as Macey said hello to random willies and a few real people (who probably had willies, but they were not displaying them). I sat to the side and watched as Macey gracefully mastered the lanky monkey puppet. After clicking 'next' to generate the next random webcam, there is a brief moments pause while the connection is made. Every time someone came up, they may only be there for a few seconds, and in these crucial seconds a monkey puppet can get in a little jibe. People appeared, Macey said 'Hello!' and then they disappeared. Until, after the moments 'next' pause, a party appeared. People were having a party! "Oh look, a party, can I join your party?" Macey asked through his monkey puppet. "I'm having a party too, here, a monkey party" he proclaimed. Sat on the sofa next to him, I frantically scrambled around to find a monkey puppet to make up this little party. I picked up Jethro and thrust him into shot (although initially I think he might have been a girl!) and the monkey party began. We danced and started talking to each other. Jeffrey already had his posh voice, and Jethro's came out initially like a very drunk version of the Queen, and as the party continued, the names were invented. I turned to lanky monkey puppet and named him Kenneth, and he turned back and named me Jethro. We had the dubzone podcast playing away in the background, so we had music to wiggle our monkeys to. The party died out and the 'next' button was pressed.  The two monkeys sparked off each other well, with Kenneth being quickly forgotten and Jeffrey talking the names place. After 15 minutes of recording we stopped for a breather. We looked back at the footage and were pleased, something had been born.

Jethro and Jeffrey episode 1: Monkeychat
Series 1 playlist link
For the next few weeks we filmed many hours of us talking rubbish on chatroulette to random people all over the world. A story started to build, Jethro and Jeffrey were in search of bananas (obviously) and friends, and they would do what ever it took to get them.

56 episodes were made in total for series 1. Each episode is between 6 to 10 minutes long (mainly 9 or 10 mins) and each contains lots of crazy weirdness. Not many individuals have sat through all 56 episodes, only the die hard J and J fans. Some of the highlights of the journey include 'The Nazi' kids from episode 2, The stoner Belgiums from episode 18, 'Peru' from eps 21 and 22, Dr Banana from ep 44, Celebs in ep 51 and the Blocking finale ep 56. The overarching storyline (for anyone interested but not bothered to watch all the maguffin) involves Jethro and Jeffrey sourcing finest quality bananas from around the world, once they have a supplier (Peru from eps 21 and 22) they set up a banana company and sort out distributers. This is only a loose storyline, and there are several other on going gags throughout. Jethro is writing an album called 'Jethro sings the Blues' which is all over dub music, and any opportunity to improvise a song on the spot, the dub gets turned up and the singing begins. The two monkeys fight about their different shapes often, and they are not afraid to comment on what they see.

The other long running gag that would follow through to subsequent J and J efforts was the curse of the Pink Bananas. Every time a willy appeared, Jethro and Jeffrey would comment on it, usually say how small and insignificant it was. They didn't call them willies though, they called them Pink Bananas. It is customary for gags to be recurring in improv comedy, but we took it to a new level with referencing back so far sometimes that even we didn't know what we were trying to say.

J and J had some success (sort of) with a loyal following of children developing over the release of the first forty videos. This was stopped in it's tracks by the gods of youtube, something to do with episode 30 : Holy Shit! Fancy Scat! being far too graphic in the content and not offering any educational value (whatever that means!). While we had been filming, a very lovely German fella had decided to stream us some very disturbing videos of people doing poops. They were long videos as well, and after about seven minutes of showing us these and laughing his head off, he showed himself and we finished the episode up by talking to the provider of the scat videos. When the weirdness started, Macey had wanted to skip on and not watch all the horrible poo porn...but I stayed strong (!!) and said we should push on. Jethro and Jeffrey loved the poo porn, because they love throwing poo, because they are monkeys. So we treated the experience like one long pooing contest. Youtube didn't like that, the video was removed and I got my youtube account suspended for two weeks, in which time all the momentum fell out of Jethro and Jeffrey and people stopped watching :(

Jethro and Jeffrey episode 201 - Death of the Dub
Series 2, no more dub, but there is a dancing banana!
Series 2 playlist link
After a break of a few weeks, we decided to try a different approach. We had been using the dubzone podcast as our soundbed, but we were informed not to do this anymore by Mr king dubzone podcast man. We needed a new soundbed, one we could rely on. But dub had been a staple gag of the first series.

The dub was dead. We started to use the instrumental music we had compiled from the Products of Monkey Love podcast instead, which meant the improv songs we did would be longer and more structured. So hit it up we did, for a further 29 episodes and a second series of wibble.

Series 2 was more punchy, shorter episodes, a lot more of the fat cut out of them. The highlights include episode 4 'Gimp Ninja' (a personal fave of mine), episode 9 'Beautiful Student', episode 11 'Man/Dog Love' and episode 27 'Banana-nana-nana-nana' (which featured the banana character!). The ongoing thread of series 2 focused around the culling of the pink bananas and the hardworking ladies of chatroulette (Hard working Bella's). Almost every episode had a song in it, all made up on the spot.

Our love affair with chatroulette ended there. The website had changed too much and was not very user friendly anymore. We had several botched attempts to record on it but had to give up. We needed to find an alternative if Jethro and Jeffrey were to remain alive.

Look at my SHINEY eyes!
Jethro and Jeffrey on Wocchat
We decided we would attempt a third series somewhere different from chatroulette. We found Wocchat and started recording there. We tried our hand at some chatroom stuff there too, but the quality of the video and sound was not up to scratch, so none of it was put out. There would have been a series 3 done on Wocchat, but other life issues got in the way, and time pressures meant that the majority of that material for series 3 remains unedited and unseen.

So Jethro and Jeffrey had to move to something different if they were to remain around in any sense. So The J Collective was formed.

The J Collective
The J Collective playlist link
What would become Jethro and Jeffreys swan song (unless there is some miraculous return for them) started out as a review show idea. J and J commented on whatever they saw, often very literally, so it seemed logical that they would be good at reviewing films, music, culture etc. Since youtube had been their home it was a good starting point. The idea was that Jethro and Jeffrey wanted to get all of the best 'J' named people (like themselves) together to take over the world.

I found it rather hard to do, mainly because it meant listening to music by such commercial plops as Justin Beiber, the Jonus Brothers and Jessie J! My god, what has happened to music? Did someone take it out the back and tar bath it in caramel? It is so sugar and gloopy I half expected my teeth to rot out of my face just from listening to it. I couldn't take much of, I was leaving very soon for the Netherlands...

Macey, Jeffrey, Andy and Jethro
Jethro's gone - a short film

We made a short film to say goodbye, and leave it open for possible continuation...

Jethro and Jeffrey had a lot of crazy times sat on the sofa looking at pink bananas, and then later looking at people who acted like pink bananas. For a silly little improv skit on chatroulette to be dragged on for a year is pretty impressive, even by my 'drag jokes until they have scrapped completely away' standards. Macey and I had a lot of fun doing it, and hopefully people enjoyed it. I still get comments every now and then asking when Jethro and Jeffrey are going to be on chatroulette...even though they haven't been on it for over 9 months.

Now, where is that banana?

Peace and infinite love


Saturday, 2 July 2011

The Procrastinating effects of Youtube, Facebook and Peggle

Oh internet, how you mock me sometimes!!!

Hello friends,

Thanks for dropping by to read my wibble. I have managed to tear myself away from my three main procrastination vices in order to put a blog together about the very vices that keep me from writing blogs and doing important things. I shall deal with them in order, so as to service each one of these cheeky chappies properly. So, onto the first mega procrastination tool :

Oh You Tube, I love and hate you in equal measures.
1. You Tube   

You all know about this site, it's one of the biggest in the whole world. It has birthed such lumbering bloated stars and starlets as Justin Beiber and Jessie J. Millions of people have watched Lady Gaga shaking her 'non' arse around while miming her shitty lyrics through her horse face as an advert selected just for you by google appears at the bottom. Oh what a site! It really did use to be something great, before it got bought out by Google of course. Now it is mainly a place for big media companies to share their latest promotional bull-dribble ( X Factor anyone?!) while independent artist like myself struggle to get a hundred views on our latest work because it doesn't get displayed anywhere.

Before googles takeover of youtube, it used to feature new talent on it's front page. This helped people like J Bibbles and Bo Burnham become stars. Their video's were put in prominent places and seen by many people, turning their bedroom songs into world wide hits. I joined you tube too late, by the time I made my own profile and started uploading sweet original video's, Google had crossed the t's and dotted the advertising dollar i's and new user content was assigned to the depths of the internet.

I spend hours on this flipping website everyday. Since I set up the Products of Monkey Love profile and started uploading video's I have been hooked. There are just so many amazing video's to see, not the ones on the front page (which doesn't even really exist anymore thanks to "profiles"), but within the millions of uploads from all around the world. I have made friends through youtube, more so then facebook, because of the comments system. The comments are what make you tube better then TV in all ways. TV keeps trying to catch up with this ability to comment and interact with what you have just seen, but it's well behind and is unlikely to catch up to the internet. I love watching a video, good or bad, and then seeing what comments have been posted about it. Time wasting to the max.

2. Facebook

This bloody website, now just a people made spying network, sucks my time out of me with pointless checking on people I don't even really like to find out what shitty stuff they are up to in the hope it will make me feel like I'm doing something of more worth by checking on them. I don't do this anywhere near as badly as some people I know, some of my friends are proper facebook addicts, borderline obsessive compulsive. I mean, do you really need a facebook farm? Really?

I haven't fallen for any of facebooks many 'super' procrastination tools like the farm, or online poker parties, or tetris marathons etc. I can even most of the time avoid the need to click through peoples photo's and change the tags to be their pets instead of them. It's the news feeds that get me, reading what other people who I know consider to be in some way 'new' information. I do the same though, I post a load of old maguffin on there about what i just did and how special it was, or some amusing programme i just saw has made me want to post a clip of it onto my page like a little badge of "I've seen this"-iness.

Facebook just makes idiots out of us all, the people on there, and the people that think they aren't on there (you are on there, either way my friends). If you have a profile, every other part of the internet now wants to connect with it and merge. Facebook is now an add on to your other internet activities. Are you watching a nice video about kittens on Youtube? Well, why not connect your account up with facebook so you can instantly tell the world what you are watching, as you watch it. Soon everyone will constantly film themselves reacting to things and then post it direct to their facebook page with interesting quips about 'what happens at 3 hours in' and 'I bet you can't guess what film I was watching' type games that make everybody their own mini celebrity in their internet bubbles.

I am a celebrity in my internet bubble, so I have no right to piss on anyone else's chips, I will just piss on my own and be happy with it.

3. Peggle 

The greatest Procrastinating tool ever invented.
Damn you Peggle! Damn you to computer game hell! Why are you so addictive? Why?!

If you have never encountered this game then I suggest you avoid at all costs, not because it is rubbish, but because it has an addictive quality that has been scientifically proven to be more soul consuming then heroin, crack or trip inducing cough syrup. Unfortunately there is no alternative, no way to ween yourself off the hard pure peggle hit. Even worse, there is a sequel, Peggle Nights, which is just as addictive and just as potent. Combine these two modern drugs and you are left with a dribbling human being who is only capable of communicating in beeps and bongs with the occasional 'aww' thrown in and grins of pride whenever 'Ode to Joy' starts up.

I have been working on a new album, writing a bunch of songs that I will use to net myself a band of some kind (I figure that worms are bait for fish, so songs are bait for musicians, right?!), and I am now nearing the end of that task, with only one song left to write to finnish the 12 i had set myself. I would have finished this task several weeks ago if it wasn't for Peggle. Shooting the pixilated ball bearing at the blue and orange pegs is so satisfying and easy, it becomes like a juicy birthday cake, you know that one slice is enough, but you could always have another, and another, and another, until the whole cake has gone, it's 4am and your fingers and eyes are hurting. I think I might be getting my metaphors all mixed up here.

Anyway, Peggle (by PopCap) seems like it's a game of luck, but this couldn't be further from the truth. There is great skill involved in becoming a Peggle Master, and many hours must be dedicated to this important training if one if to get the massive gold trophy at the end of the Peggle rainbow. There are several characters to master, some with special powers that seem so lame you wonder why they are sitting at the big table with such masters as 'Magic Hat' Bunny, and the 'Johnny shot' Owl. It's not all animals you have to master either, oh no, one of the characters is a flippin' Pumpkin for jimmies sake. I would have thought the bunny and the owl would have eaten up the pumpkins sorry ass a long time ago, but then there is a Unicorn overseeing the whole thing, and a Dragon which probably helps keep the others in check.

Just writing about Peggle makes me want to play it, I have it open right now behind this blog, waiting to be played at any moment. It claims first prize as 'Ultimate Procrastination Toll' of the year for the second year running. And now I just have to go and play or else...

Till next time ;)