Monday, 19 July 2010

UKMIXed


Well Saturday was an interesting occasion. It was time for my second interview for the project, and time to meet a long time friend for the very first time.

I joined a (then small) music forum called UKMIX back in 2001, when I was 15 and had the world ahead of me. The forum wasn't massive and consisted mainly of chatting loads to strangers over the net about charts and music, I loved it. I posted there for a few years, but stopped around 2004, the same sort of time I stopped listening to the charts in the way I used to. However, during my time I had befriended a few people that I still chat to online to this day, including a Mr Matthew Dixon.

Back in the day, me and Matthew used to chat nearly everyday, mostly about music. We've not chatted as much in recent times, but as soon as I had decided to take this project on, I thought this would be a great opportunity to finally meet him. He and his fellow UKMIXers have met up loads of times, and are really good mates, but I hadn't met any of them, so it was slightly daunting.

He was in London to watch the Divine Comedy perform that evening, and was meeting up with a number of London based UKMIXers, some of which I remember from my posting days. Surprisingly they generally all remembered me, and I instantly hit it off with Matthew and the others as if I had met up with them loads of times. It was rather surreal, but a lovely experience, and I hope to meet up with them again in the future.

I interviewed Matthew in another UKMIXer, Marius's house. However the interview didn't go to plan. The actual interview, and the answers I got from Matthew were brilliant, but here is where I learnt the value of preparation with equipment. Somehow, the Marantz recorder had managed to turn itself on in my bag, meaning it had run out of battery, to my horror. Thankfully, I somehow managed to find an adapter to Marius's CD player which was the exact voltage, and it worked to charge the Marantz.

When I eventually got home, I listened back to the interview, to discover that it hadn't recorded in the correct bitrate or filetype. I'm guessing that when I managed the settings beforehand, I hadn't actually pressed the correct confirmation button, meaning the sound quality isn't all that great. However, I think i've managed to salvage what I can.

So, all in all, the experience was half awesome but half disappointing due to the end product. Thankfully the interview itself was great so fingers crossed it sounds OK. This next week will all be about booking further interviews, transcribing recorded ones, and finally scripting the entire show.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Interview with a Chartologist


Well Tuesday was the big one - possibly the biggest and most important of all the interviews I'll be conducting for the project, and it's the very first one!

I travelled up to London, rather excited but also a bit nervous, as I was about to meet the guru of all things chart related, and one of my personal heroes, Paul Gambaccini.

After he had confirmed our meeting on Facebook last week, it still seemed somewhat crazy that I was just going to pop round his place for a quick interview, and I was even wondering whether it was actually going to happen! I got there stupidly early so I wondered around the Thames for a while, before finally popping in to the smart apartments.

I was slightly concerned at first because the concierge didn't send me up straight away so I was slightly late (even though I was actually early), but thankfully it wasn't a problem.

Paul was very pleasant, and to think how much a busy man he must be, it was awesome that he allowed a good half hour of his time to do an interview for a student. The interview itself was very good, I have got some great material from him, and it will give the project a certain 'officialness' with his iconic voice involved. The only annoying thing was the amount of police sirens going off outside the window!

Next week will be hopefully a whole lot of interviews with people. I'm still waiting to hear back from Wes Butters, so fingers crossed that comes through. I'm off to London again tomorrow to interview an old online forum friend, Matthew Dixon, who is an ultra chart fan. There may be some other chart followers there too so should be an interesting day. Just wish I didn't have to keep train-ing it to London!

Sunday, 11 July 2010

"And so it is ..."

Sunday 11th July

After a long period of time devoted to other projects, this last week I have finally been able to settle down and begin work on my MA project. After months of ‘umming’ and ‘aahing’ I have decided to make a documentary, based on nostalgia with listening to and follow the singles charts. From the age of 8 I was hooked on the charts for many years, until a couple of years ago when I realised I no longer cared about them as much. Although I still follow them online, I hardly ever listen to it or devote time towards it, where it used to be a main staple of my weekly life.

I decided to do this documentary as a kind of journey into my past and seek out to discover people like me, either those who still follow it, or those who once did and no longer do. It seeks to look at the trends over the years and what has changed, and whether the charts are still relevant to people today. I felt it best to choose a subject close to my heart, and something I’m both knowledgeable and passionate about. Plus, as an added bonus, it should prove to be fun, but also rewarding by the end.

So this week was all about the teething process of the project. Once I knew what the project was based on, I felt it best to try and contact various people who would be contributors and interviews. I firstly contacted some old friends of mine that I’ve known for years, but only on the Internet. We’re friends because of a music/chart online forum that I was once a member of. The site is still going strong, though I’m not on it anymore. However, I’ve remained friends with some of the guys for a number of years, despite never meeting. I thought they would be perfect to speak to for the programme. As a stroke of luck, a number of them are having a get together already next Saturday in London, and so they’ve kindly let me join them, in order for me to grab some interviews. It will be an interesting experience anyway, as I haven’t met them before yet know them really well, and so to get some decent material will be awesome.

I have also contacted a number of experts in the field, and amazingly I have managed to get some success! I emailed Paul Gambaccini, who was always been a hero of mine, as he’s the guru of all things music and chart related. I didn’t expect to hear anything back, but he has very kindly let me visit him in London on Tuesday to interview him. It’s going to be rather surreal and a little bit scary (as it’s my first proper interview!), but if all goes well it will be really exciting too. I’ve also been in contact with Wes Butters, former chart presenter and a brilliant producer and author, and he too has been brilliant and I should be doing an ISDN phone call with him in the studio sometime next week. So the hope is, by this time next week, I’ll have at least 3, maybe 4 or 5 really decent interviews in the can. I will then have another couple of weeks to get some more completed, before I intend to start fully editing by the end of July, if not before.

I saw my lecturer Jo on Wednesday, and she made me feel a whole lot better about the project, as at that time I hadn’t heard back from anyone and wasn’t sure where it was going. Thankfully she gave me plenty of ideas to work with, as well as some other contacts, so I shall be hoping to utilise them all in the next couple of weeks.

It’s all a bit of a daunting prospect to try and get all this done, plus a 6,000 word essay, in a month’s time. But as I say, by the end of this week, I’ll have most of my important interviews done. The next task is to fully script the show, and plan it fully about how it will sound. However, I feel I can’t do that yet as I need a few interviews done first, as the show may change after having some completed.

Fingers crossed!