Last night was the winter solstice, the longest night of the year in the northern hemisphere. From this point until the summer solstice, the days will get longer! As the earth’s north pole reaches its maximum tilt away from the sun, this is an important time in the year. A time to reflect on the year gone past, and a time to declare to the universe our intentions for the new year. To declare that we have something to offer, and demand that we are heard.
Reflecting on my musical endeavours over the past year, I can see development, some achievements, and some major breakthroughs.
Around this time last year, on Christmas day, my family went to the cosy home of my old buddy, Jozef Birling,* and spent the day with his family. They cooked a roast dinner for us and we all had a lovely time. Jozef and I passed the time jamming with each other, and talking about the songs we were writing and recording independently of each other. It suddenly dawned on us that we are both creating the same kind of music, and that we share an artistic vision. Why not combine our songs into a collaborative album? If we do one album in 2022, then one in 2023, and one every year for the next 15 years then we would have an impressive back catalogue! What a legacy to leave our children. To the world. To the universe.
In July 2022 we released our first collaborative album, entitled Change the Plan, on my own Reynoldo Records label. It was a truly worldwide project! The new album was recorded partly in my home studio, the Bat Cave, in Portsmouth, and partly in Jozef’s studio, Home Made Cookies, and in his old buddy’s studio in the Leuven area of Belgium. We sung the main vocals to our own songs, generally, whilst contributing backing vocals to each other’s. We hired in the wonderful singers Rocio Del Pozo (who recorded remotely in Buenos Aries, Argentina) and Gemma Reynolds, who tracked here at my home. We contributed instrumentation to each other songs and to our own. We invested in some drum tracks laid down by the legendary ‘funky drummer’, Clyde Stubblefield, of James Brown’s band. Clyde recorded these tracks at Butch Vig’s studio in Madison, Wisconsin, before his sad passing away in 2017. Martin Pointon contributed some drum tracks from his home studio in Norfolk England (he is now based in Spain). Jozef and I mixed our own songs. I mastered the album here at home.
The CD has received some airplay locally, here in the Solent area of Hampshire, England, on the Flash on Air and Victory FM. One of the songs, Forest Bathing, featured on the Fresh on the Net playlist on Soundcloud, curated by Signal Committee in tandem with BBC Introducing and Tom Robinson’s Radio 6 show. We released a remix of the album track, One Tribe (Gumbo Mix), as a single, and this was played on Huggs/ WRGG FM in the USA, along with Forest Bathing. We have performed some of the material (along with newer material and songs from my solo album, Purify My Soul, released 2020) live at local venues in Portsmouth and Havant. The album, Change The Plan, is available to buy in CD format from my website, DomReynolds.com. It can also be streamed on any platform.
We made promo videos for a couple of the standout tracks - namely the aforementioned Forest Bathing, and also for Celestial. The video for the latter song was a major step up in quality compared to our previous videos. We hired Jennifer Lions as Director and Alistair Winter as Producer. They took the song idea - of an ostensibly imaginary girlfriend named Celestial that appears in our reality as a visitor from a parallel universe, and then abducts me into hers - and they really ran away with it. They used their expert know-how, found excellent locations, and even used artificial intelligence and CGI to construct a video of astounding vision and quality. We had the lovely and charismatic actress/musician/vocal coach, Kylie Earl, playing the part of Celestial - and with great aplomb! We had bags of fun making the video, and I think it shows! Check out the video here.
Jozef and I have been working some material for a follow-up collaborative album, with the working title of Played With Fire. This album is in the final stages of recording and mixing. Here is a demo track from the album: Set Your Spirit Free. It is inspired by a neighbour of mine, who I shall call Dai, who sadly took his own life after having been evicted by his landlord and being made homeless. It is coming from the heart as symptom of grief which we all experience - regret. I regret not having said certain things to the guy, in the hope of maybe helping him, somehow. The song is already a regular part of my live set.
On the business side of things, my music school has taken off! I have expanded my student base ten-fold over the past year to around 40 music students. I have worked with the London-based theatre group Skizoid Productions to coach three of their cast in singing, in preparation for their show, Last Sales Conference of the Apocalypse. Last solstice was a watershed, as I felt it would be, and by the end of January I was already doing full-time hours teaching, in person (from my home studio) and online. I am almost fully booked again for the new year, so if you want singing, guitar, piano, ukulele, music-theory or music-technology lessons, better get in quick!
Next summer I hope to play some festivals. (I am already booked for the HI Fest on Hayling Island.)
I am living the dream, making music, writing music, performing, collaborating with kindred spirits, sharing my vision, making friends.
May the new year hold much in store for you and yours.
Have a happy and energetic solstice.
* Previously, Jozef Birling had performed guitar on one of my singles, I Can’t Say Goodbye, which we released in the latter part of 2021.