the humble beginnings of a superstar

Michael Lowman. I sing, play guitar and write songs. But mostly, after a hard days work as the head bender at my local banana factory, i enjoy a little sippy.

I want to bring back the forgotten practise, in my case at least, of posting up a youtube video a week. These will mostly be covers recorded solely into my mac - nothing fancy, just me, a song and a guitar. Something real.

Let’s kick it off today with a song i previously recorded in such way, though you won’t see me in this one ;) 

To my incredible record label

Today marks the end of an era, though i refuse to believe it’s the end of your ideal. I’ll always remember fondly, your three blizzard white letters against that fiery red backdrop. You were the first of the elite to believe in me, and for that i’ll always love you. It’s a new dawn, a new day, and a brand spanking new life for us all! EMI Music South Africa … your passion will forever live on. Head held high.

love,

Michael

Last night i got to jam “Personal Jesus” at Sony’s Depeche Mode album launch. I was the poor mans Jack White.
I’m playing a festival with Xavier Rudd this thursday! It’s a magical feeling seeing your dreams slowly unfold right before your eyes…
Keep on keeping on, it really does work.
… and then there’s the Brazilian Rosewood D45. I have yet to play a finer guitar. R300,000.
Currently, the woman of my dreams. The beautiful Martin GPCPA1 - gorgeous warmth with an incredible “active” sound. #Dianna
The other day I got to play a whole bunch of Martin Guitars, ranging from R18,000 all the way up to R300,000!

Michael Lowman - The Wolves (Ben Howard)

I filmed my very first EPK vibe last night. Chatting to a camera takes a little getting used to, but then i also got to sing…

The view from my Jozi apartment. We have the finest sunsets!
- Johannesburg, South Africa

Airwaves & Earbuds

Hi boys and girls,

Some of you may, others may not, know that i finished up vocals on the record a week or so ago. We decided to go for that up-front, brutally honest, singer songwriter style vocal track. No backing vocals. A decision some might not agree with, though i think it works incredibly well to create that vulnerable, debut album feel. A sort of, starting out emotion. It should all make perfect sense once you’ve had your first listen through.

Speaking of which, last week i spent a little over three hours with the team at EMI listening to all of the final pre-mix edits, a more than nerve-racking task, i might add. I sat down and played them everything i had, explaining, for the first time, where my inspiration came from, what each song means to me and how i feel now, having recorded them. This is something i don’t usually delve into… well, not in any incredible depth. It was liberating, and the fact that they loved what they heard was cause for a much needed sigh of relief. Having them love the songs was one of the greatest validations i’ve received since heading over to Vegas to record my EP back in 2010. Turns out I may not be so bad at this music thing after all, go figure. 

On a side note: for those who don’t know, a pre-mix edit is a version of a song prior to it being mixed. If you were to hear a song at this stage, you would easily understand the artist’s emotional intention. Song structure, melody, lyrics, etc… they’re all present, however the song is still a LONG way off its final sound. The idea is to have a great sounding pre-mix because, in theory, it can only get better.

Another main goal for the listening session with the EMI gang was to select the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc… singles for priority mixing. If i told you this was an easy task, i would be lying and not for the reasons you might think. In many instances an album has an obvious 1st single choice, usually the one track that has an apparent “radio-friendly” aspect, coupled with an album leading quality. That’s not to say my album has none of these, in fact it’s quite the opposite. At the risk of sounding like an overly confident douche, we found it tough to choose a 1st single because, apparently, my album is littered with possibilities. The difference between these possibilities lie within their power to steer my budding career in different musical directions. The problem we had was not one of sonic strength, but one of sonic mood. It’s the hardest thing to try and anticipate public response. Do we open with an up-tempo Motown tune or a ballad? Do we go for the song with a no-brainer radio chorus, or the song with a killer groove? At the end of the day, all of my songs will have their very own spotlight moment, whether it’s on the airwaves or through your earbuds. I’m not too phased.

However, after much thought, and multiple listens, the marketing crew at EMI decided to go with Crayon Boxes as the 1st single! I kinda like this idea, after all it is the title of the album (two bombshells in one update, damn). Also, it has a certain safe-uniqueness to it. I think you’re gonna love it! And if you don’t, there’s always the rest of the album ;)

Which leads us to the here and now. Currently we’re waiting, with baited breath, for Crayon Boxes (the tune) to return from its time in Los Angeles. It is, at this very moment, undergoing its mixing makeover. I can’t wait to hear which direction Mark and Will decide to take with this song!

Stay with me, things are heating up.

love 

Michael

Edit: It turns out i may have jumped the gun regarding the choice of my 1st single. To my delight, the EMI crew decided to go with my original song choice - Your Lovin’ Ain’t Right. I can only hope to prove my intuition right on this one. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Michael Lowman - Sexy Devil Woman Child (Studio Mess Around)

A buddy of mine decided to mess around with his new camera last week, me being the subject. He shot this during my final day in studio, for shits and giggles. I thought it might be cool for you guys to get a brief glimpse of how recording this tune was for me. 

The audio you’re hearing was captured through his camera, not the badass looking mic. I kinda like videos having a certain rawness. Perfection is overrated. This is me.

love 

Michael

I had to get three songs down the other day, one of which was “Lucy” - i thought i’d give you an idea of where my heads at with regard to the first chorus.

Career Satchel

Ladies, Gentlemen…

I trust you’ve all had an eventful calendar year transition. Me? Oh, i got up to the usual shenanigans that encompass the passing of the old year into the new. However, i am rather pissed that i didn’t get to show off my impressive zombie killing skills. The 21st came and went with little of anything occurring. Not one person attempted to rip the flesh from my face for their own selfish gain. I don’t have to tell you how much of a letdown this was for me. Stupid Mayans. Now, all i have to show for their inaccuracy is a semi-automatic, 8 round shotgun and a couple of homemade flash-bangs. Somebody gonna gedda hurd!

Anyway, i’m relieved to tell you that as of today, i’m back in studio for the final vocal sessions. If everything goes smoothly, i should have this album wrapped by the end of the month. At which point it will enter the mixing stage of events, something i’m awaiting with bated breath. We are lucky enough to be taking advantage of some of the connections i made during my time spent in L.A. This means that Mark Needham, and more so his right hand man, Will Brierre, will be attending to the mix. I can’t stress enough how lucky we are to have them lend their unbelievably talented ears to the cause. With Will at the mixing helm, the album we get back is sure to be a new kind of Phoenix all together. You know, akin to that bright new, exquisite, seconds-old bird rising up from the interesting, yet dull in comparison, pile of ashes? Yeah… that’s what i’m hoping for.

After mixing, there’ll most likely be an awkwardly played out photo shoot, for an album cover i am yet to decide on. Though i do have a few firm ideas involving a suit and a rather colourful tie. Think high contrast B&W with a burst of colour (crayon boxes), but we’ll see how this plays out when the time comes. Then, a little further down the line, once the singles are selected and the track listing has been finalised, I should finally have a debut album worthy of the descent into my newly crafted career satchel. A safe place for those pieces of my soul i choose to craft into melody. And if i have anything to say about it, said satchel will eventually hold a smorgasbord of… well, me.

A time capsule of my life, when looking back one day.

I’ll say it again; this album won’t be the best i’ll ever write, and it certainly won’t be my favourite. But it has a hugely important purpose to serve, and i think i may have just done enough to show you how much i believe. It’s the start of everything.

Stay classy, i’m coming at ya!

love

Michael

Crayon Boxes
A week off. I’m not sure if i like this, and i usually do. It must be one of the signs i’m doing something i love, right? It’s more of a love/hate relationship, with the love part being that much bigger than the hate. That’s the trick, no matter what you do in life it’s always going to be a battle between how much you love or hate it. The trick is to focus on things where the love is greater. And it doesn’t have to win by a gargantuan margin, on the contrary, it’s usually the tiniest of victories, but it makes all the difference.
But enough of this unseemly mishmash chitchat. I have a little update for you:
I am almost finished recording the album! Last week we finished up all the drums and nearly all of the guitars. I’m booked in for another three days next week to make sure all the instrumentation is down, this includes a beautiful (i’m hoping) lap-steel part on one of the tunes. After this, all that will be needed from my side are the vocals. I’ll keep you posted as to when we’re planning on doing this. It may still be sometime this year, if not, early next at the latest. When we’re done with that, the album will be left in the more-than-capable-hands of Darryl Torr (producer) and the genius who will eventually be mixing this record. 
To be honest i’m a little nervous for this. Part nervous, part excited… though it’s too early to tell which will outweigh the other. I guess it’s the inevitable way of things in this business, especially since this is only my first album (with the exception of my EP). I’ve always known that, with me being new to the game and on a major, it might be a while before i can completely call the shots. Though i must say, i trust Darryl and EMI wholeheartedly. 
You stay classy now,
love 
Michael
PS. “Crayon Boxes” is an album track. It’s also a strong contender for the album title.

Crayon Boxes

A week off. I’m not sure if i like this, and i usually do. It must be one of the signs i’m doing something i love, right? It’s more of a love/hate relationship, with the love part being that much bigger than the hate. That’s the trick, no matter what you do in life it’s always going to be a battle between how much you love or hate it. The trick is to focus on things where the love is greater. And it doesn’t have to win by a gargantuan margin, on the contrary, it’s usually the tiniest of victories, but it makes all the difference.

But enough of this unseemly mishmash chitchat. I have a little update for you:

I am almost finished recording the album! Last week we finished up all the drums and nearly all of the guitars. I’m booked in for another three days next week to make sure all the instrumentation is down, this includes a beautiful (i’m hoping) lap-steel part on one of the tunes. After this, all that will be needed from my side are the vocals. I’ll keep you posted as to when we’re planning on doing this. It may still be sometime this year, if not, early next at the latest. When we’re done with that, the album will be left in the more-than-capable-hands of Darryl Torr (producer) and the genius who will eventually be mixing this record. 

To be honest i’m a little nervous for this. Part nervous, part excited… though it’s too early to tell which will outweigh the other. I guess it’s the inevitable way of things in this business, especially since this is only my first album (with the exception of my EP). I’ve always known that, with me being new to the game and on a major, it might be a while before i can completely call the shots. Though i must say, i trust Darryl and EMI wholeheartedly. 

You stay classy now,

love 

Michael

PS. “Crayon Boxes” is an album track. It’s also a strong contender for the album title.

Michael Lowman - Crayon Boxes  (Early Demo) 

I found this early recording of “Crayon Boxes” tonight, on my phone. I must have recorded it just after i had written it. It’s filled with little mistakes and questionable melody choices. I’m also trying hard to keep my voice down… i remember it was pretty late at night and my neighbours are hard to please ;)

I like the idea of you hearing this version. Sure, i could’ve recorded a more nailed down version (i’ll probably do this as a youtube vid) but i figured you’ll be hearing it on the album as a band tune anyway.

This is me baring my soul at it’s most vulnerable, having just written a song.

love 

Michael