This Is Our Future
“We must warn you before listening to this song…” a rather apt introduction to my playlist of original lyric recordings. They might not sound polished as they were all performed, written, and recorded on cassette by myself – in my bedroom, between 1996 and 1999. I began writing lyrics when I was about 8-years-old, but didn’t really focus on my talent until I turned 10! That year I started writing down verse after verse of anything and everything that was on mind. From harmless childhood games, to first loves, and breaking free and being rebellious, I documented it all, and still keep most of the original handwritten lyrics in a folder in my bedroom. These aren’t necessarily the best of the bunch, in fact, I only just managed to scrape together the required 8 by including a few alternate recordings. So, press play, and read more about each song below…
The year was 1999. After an adventurous few months I found my lyrics had begun tapping into deeper emotions – I needed to reinvent myself. So along with my oldest and best friend, Aaron Harris, the reinvention came in the form of Hollowood. It was a band born during a strange time. The future seemed optimistic yet unknown. There was a Y2K fear hanging over everyone, and this was really the backbone of our writing. Lyrics like Make Way and 2000 + Crap served as demos for this, our debut record, Millennium. It has a very government control, almost beatnik type feel to it. It’s unfortunate Y2K didn’t really live up to the hype of a digital meltdown, as now this song just seems outdated and hilariously kinda pretentious – I mean, two tweenage boys trying to start a revolution… “Stop the year two-thousand!”
Aaron and I had been performing as Hollowood for a few months – and when I say performing, I mean meeting in our bedrooms every week to (try) write songs! This was one of those rare, perfect times when our work came together to produce something rather unique. Written by Aaron in one night, he brought it round to my house the following day, and together we rewrote and recorded it the very same day. Aaron was an amazing piano player, he’d been doing it since a ridiculously young age and, despite being younger than me, his voice was so much more developed than mine (in fact, you can hear me struggle to reach the song’s low key). It’s no wonder he went on to write and record professionally, whilst my talent still remains untapped!
Is It All Over
This is the last recording I have that was intended for the Hollowood album. Written and recorded by myself at the end of 1999, it was, at the time, the most explicit and upfront song I’d written about my feelings; my ten weeks in isolation, all for a Bone Marrow Transplant that failed, my return to high school after a six month absence, and my subsequent bullying at that high school. I felt like I’d fallen out of place, and I cant think what life would’ve been like if I hadn’t had this as an outlet to express myself. Thankfully, around that time I had recently become part of a performing arts group, and the year 2000 would see things start to get better for me, and also my first time singing and performing on a proper stage in front of a crowd (at the Millennium Dome, no less)!
Fly to the Sky
From thinking it’s the end, to where it all started. This is one of twelve songs I wrote and recorded by myself between 1996 and 1997 as part of my first album, Everyday. I’ll be releasing snippets of the other eleven tracks in a future playlist. Considering it was something like the tenth song I’d ever written, I think it manages to stand the test of time and was my first coherent piece of lyric writing!
Jump ahead a year, me and Aaron were cementing our friendship, but not yet writing songs together. This was an original song of mine from 1997, which I rewrote when an opportunity to record it with Aaron came along. Using a method known as chopped and screwed, I created an instrumental track from the song Morphine, by Michael Jackson. The lyrics also borrow an iconic line from Connected, by Stereo MC’s. I think, had it not been for my time spent in hospital the following year, this style of music could’ve been the type Aaron and I wrote and performed together. Shortly after this, I wrote a song called Rap Trap with the intention of recording it with Aaron.
Free Your Mind
It’s time to introduce you to DJ TJ, a pseudonym I created in 1996 when I began practicing the method I now know to be chopping and screwing (though very rarely did I screw, as my only tools were a dual cassette tape deck and CD player). You take parts of an original track and chop them up then, using the pause button on the tape player, you stitch the parts together to create a new mix. By 1999 I had honed my technique, and had begun creating instrumental mixes to accompany my own lyrics (see above); this is the best example. Utilising a remix of Up and Down, by Vengaboys, Free Your Mind is probably the closest thing I have to an homage for my love of 2 Unlimited! Lucky for you, I perform both the girly singing parts and manly rapping! There’s a second version at the end of this playlist, which is about 30 seconds longer yet rather void of lyrics. I seem to remember being interrupted whilst recording it in my bedroom! It borrows its introduction not from the Vengaboys track, but from the Antiloop remix of Doctor Jones, by Aqua (a track that I also chopped and screwed to create an instrumental which only had three words of accompanying lyrics written by me).
I Got The Beat
Following on from (what I thought was) the success of Free Your Mind, I acquired another German techno/house remix of a Vengaboys song (those blessed HMV Imports) and attempted another chopped and screwed instrumental. To accompany the instrumental, I wrote a rap about a deejay called TJ who wants people to put their feet into the right – of what, I don’t know! Recorded and performed live in front of an audience of one (my cousin, Gareth) during the Summer of 2000.
And there you have it, another part of my history documented and published on the world wide web. As for the rather ironic blog title; This Is Our Future was actually going to be the name of the first Hollowood album.