June 3, 2014

Musical Notes from the Petta Fiesta Songwriting Camp 2014

The Petta Fiesta Songwriting Camp was set in the beautiful grounds of the annual Petta Fiesta Festival just outside Pettaugh, in the picturesque Suffolk countryside.
I was very fortunate to be part of the Camp facilitated by Claire Courdeaux, Jane Dyball, myself ( Jan Pulsford) and Andy Corrigan.
6 young aspiring songwriters, all with dreams and a life of musical adventures already unfurling, pitched tents for two intensive days of exploring creativity in all aspects of songwriting.
Fern Teather

They came via the Petta Fiesta Songwriting Competition held at the Cult Cafe in Ipswich and will be performing at the Fiesta 4th, 5th 6th July as part of a bill headlined by the wonderful Kathryn Williams and a host of interesting musicians. Lots of fun in store with a wild west theme!

So what did we do?
We prised the songwriters out of their comfort zone.
Got them to write ...
without hiding behind their instruments.
Got them to write ...
in pairs.
Got them to write ... 
lyrics first then melody.
Got them to write ...
with rhythm from a drum loop.
Got them to write ... 
without their instruments until they were ready to accompany the melody not dictate the melody.

It was different and a little uncomfortable at first but it worked and from a bag of stones, pebbles and shells from the Suffolk coast came original and interesting lyrics.

Inspiration locally sourced and turned into three distinct songs with well honed lyrics, melody and rhythm.

We were so lucky to have special guests join us both in person and via phone and Skype for Q and A sessions.

Julian Marshall spent part of the first day giving useful insights into the songwriting process.
We were joined by two top A+R guys on the phone who gave the group a dose of reality along with an overview of how to get noticed as an artist and songwriter. 'Work hard and write lots' seemed to be the overriding message.
'There are no easy ways in, no short cuts. If you're good we'll find you - keep doing it'.
The day ended with an old fashioned campfire singalong and then into the tents.

On day 2 Andy Hill came to visit and help with knocking the three songs intoshape, helping with harmony and a lifetime of experience and success.

Kathryn Williams graced us with her presence on Skype and inspired everyone with her stories of writing and performing.

Top top line writer Miranda Cooper gave a fascinating view of working with Xenomania. Her enthusiasm and love for what she did came across. You could see why Brian Higgins called her "one of the most gifted female songwriters in the world!" How lucky were we?

Jane Dyball from the MCPS spoke about the business side of music - the part that it's often too easy to forget about but can cause problems later. 'Best get it sorted now.' Once the songwriters had decided and noted the percentages on their collaborations they got to record the songs with Andy Corrigan and Paul Nicholas engineering in one of the barns on the Petta Fiesta estate.
We then discussed Social Media and ways of promoting both live shows and songs. 

In the early evening there was a performance for friends and family of the three newly written songs. From their quality it was obvious the 6 had benefited greatly from the camp.

An extremely full on couple of days of inspiration! I look forward to the Petta Fiesta and seeing where the six songwriters are in a year's time. The music business is a roller coaster ride like no other and I wish them well on their journey.

Also look forward to seeing you late on Saturday night at the Petta Fiesta July 6th for some aMBieNT MuSiC WoRLD with projections to relax you under the stars.

Claire will be performing on Sunday with her band Aartwork for a Petta Fiesta Ceilidh! Come and join us!

Lastly a BIG thank you to Jane and Andy for their support of young talent by hosting the camp and festival. What a great opportunity - for everyone!

November 15, 2011

H is for . . .

As an explorer in the illusion of reality
I live and breath music and the creative arts.

"What's in the bag?" is a collection of musical moments in time
It is a hand made work of art
for the Gallery Different Charity exhibition
to benefit
The Hannah Meredith Foundation

The H is stencilled
onto a CD containing 10 tracks of music
in a plastic bag
like many substances that begin with


H is for . .

H is for . .

H is for . .

October 23, 2011

It's been quite a week and i have a lot of people to thank!

It's been quite a week and i have a lot of people to thank!
This is Part 1 - if you are not mentioned here you will be in Part 2!
Firstly to Dpulse Recordings for making aMBieNT ReFLeCTioNS oF JaNa KYoMooN available.
This is a collection of the 'best of' recordings of the last couple of years of performing music in the virtual world of Second Life and simulcast on Radio JaNa.
I purposefully made the album an hour long which is perfect time for most massage sessions, meditation, quiet time - anything that helps you relax!
The GooDBYe WeeKeND show started a few years ago at the sim owned by Magnolia Anthony. It developed into a favourite hour of the week and moved from 7PM to 2PM when my computer relocated to UK time.
I have met such inspiring people at these shows - inspiration is a two way thing. You as the audience inspire me - sadly some of the audience are no longer with us.
One of my expressions is 'I may not know you in person but i know you in spirit' so Nos da Brywnwynn, Doctor Ann and Delinda! We were enriched by your presence. Diolch yn fawr
And today I am inspired by the particles of InterfaceD Dreamscape and Tuna Oddfellow and Medora Chevalier whose magical dances enchant us every Sunday. Inspired by the music of Junivers Stockholm, Torben Asp, Nnoiz Papp, Reis, Miles Eleventhaeur and so many others
This week RJ Sullivan kindly wrote an article about me and my music which is on the Jan Pulsford blog. Another one is ready to be published so I really do appreciate his help in writing some very nice promotional material!
Please invite your friends to the Facebook group or the group in Second Life!
We spend a lovely hour each Sunday in the on line virtual world at 2PM Pacific Time
oh yes and please consider buying the album . .
available from all good on line music retailers from itunes to amazon just search for me
Thank YOU

October 19, 2011

Reflections of a Musical Magician: The adventures of JaN PuLSfoRD, aTHeNa BLue, Madame la Pulse, and JaNa KYoMooN

Reflections of a Musical Magician: 
The adventures of JaN PuLSfoRD, aTHeNa BLue, Madame la Pulse, and JaNa KYoMooN

By Bob Sullivan

Those familiar with JaN PuLSfoRD tend to describe her music in evocative terms. One fan says she provides “the musical notes my weary heart seeks to restore love's light”; another calls her “an explorer in the world of music.” In describing JaN’s live online performances, fans say, “Your music is like therapy. It washes away the hardships of the day as it nurtures the soul.” Still another, “Your musical massage each weekend is the perfect way to let all stress disappear and to feel at one with the universe.” 

As much magician as musician, JaN uses technology the way a wizard uses her wand, bringing  piano, synthesizers, sound loops, and other digital wonders to cast intricate spells. Sometimes her spells take the listener deeper into their mind, transports them to another world of the imagination, or compels them to hit the dance floor.  Reflecting upon her musical journey, JaN said, “I live on the edge of technology, always looking for new ways of getting my music out there.”

Throughout her career, JaN has served others as a cunning musical druid, the silent partner of many notables: the Thompson Twins, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Darlene Love, from the pop of Steps to the jazz of Chico Freeman, and most famously, Cyndi Lauper, all talented vocalists and charismatic front men comfortable in the spotlight. And like King Arthur, they receive the credit and the accolades while their musical Merlin casts the spells behind the scenes. At the same time, her music is heard on TV stations all over the world, from MTV to BBC, Oprah Winfrey to Jerry Springer (!) and in independent movies and on line videos.

Given how the myth and modern fiction have credited the United Kingdom as the source of so many famous sorcerers and wizards, perhaps it’s not surprising that JaN was born and raised in Wales. Her parents supported her love of music at an early age: violin lessons at age 7; piano lessons shortly after. By the time she completed high school, she’d also learned the flute, cello, and clarinet. “Through high school I focused on the grades and exams required to get me into college with the goal of becoming a music teacher.” 

Through perseverance, hard work, and dedication to her craft, JaN embarked on a successful career writing music for film and TV. Her early CDs of electronica are now collector’s items and her music won awards at the New York Film Festival. She also wrote the U.K.’s prestigious Song for Europe and played on countless sessions in the blossoming electronic London studio scene of the 80s. Eventually, JaN hit the road as the keyboard player for the Thompson Twins. 

JaN reflects, “There is no such thing as overnight success. We make and discover our future, and are found by people who are looking for us in the same way we find people we are looking for. I have been jumping over hurdles all my life and when I fall, I dust myself off and start again. That is the trick—to get back up! I enjoy my feast or famine existence in the knowledge that I am true to my art, and still, after all these years, making a living with my music.”

Other established musicians took notice of JaN’s unique keyboard stylizations, and the demand for her talents grew. She moved to the United States and, in 1993, joined the tour band in support of Cyndi Lauper’s Hat Full of Stars. 

During the tour, JaN shared with Cyndi her insight into the Arthurian Legend. They started writing new music, injecting their shared view of feminism and sisterhood as a creative power and exploring the various betrayals of that power in modern society. The result was Sisters of Avalon, Lauper’s sixth studio album. JaN not only provided keyboards and loops, but recorded, engineered, and mixed the final product (and afterward served as musical tour director on the road). A Christmas album followed, and their final co-creations were released as part of Lauper’s 2002’s Shine. Their partnership spawned twenty co-written songs between 1993 and 2001, and is arguably Lauper’s most artistic and critically acclaimed work.

At the same time, the internet sprang into the public domain, and JaN started her own Independent CD record label, Collecting Dust Recordings, to release music recorded by her production company under her alter ego “Madame la Pulse.” At English Valley Music Studio in the woods of Tennessee, JaN recorded, engineered, and released efforts for a host of talented musicians, including the late David Schnaufer, Kat Dyson, Felicia Collins, Sir Jam and Nigel Pulsford, her brother and lead guitarist from the rock band Bush. Most of the original ideas for Sisters of Avalon were recorded in this studio. 

“I was seeing the potential the internet held for independent artist/musicians,” JaN recalled. “Back then, the internet was still an untapped adventure. On the other hand, I was incredibly na├»ve. I really believed the music business was about music and soon found the hard way that it's about business—on every level. I got chased around by CEOs who didn't have a clue about music or technology but knew that what I was doing was part of the future. Negotiations to buy the company got silly and I walked away. Later, Collecting Dust collided with the mp3 revolution and music quickly became devalued. No one wanted to admit that filesharing was stealing a living from many creatives—it really hurt the small indie companies and songwriters.”

In 2006, JaN first encountered the medium where her music has been discovered more recently and heard by a new group of fans—Second Life (SL), the virtual world in which JaN makes regular and highly attended appearances to perform using her avatar alter ego JaNa KYoMooN. “My friend the ambient musician Tony Gerber had discovered SL and, as the avatar/musician Cypress Rosewood, was having the time of his virtual life. I followed him in.”

JaN recalls her first musical adventure in a virtual environment. “I was part of the Peace Park Trio in 2006-7 playing at the Music ALL Music Peace Park, a sanctuary I built as a place of inner and global peace through music and the arts. I remember the exhilaration of really doing something new and special. The mixture of electronica with dulcimer and Native American Flute was extremely successful.”

In the summer of 2008, JaN began performing in SL as a solo artist. “It was quite a daunting prospect for someone whose whole musical life has been spent at the back of the stage or on the other side of the glass. At first I was performing hard-hitting electronica music from my aTHeNa BLue project, but the more down tempo, meditative ambient music was getting the biggest reaction. When I realized the positive aspect of performing this kind of music, I decided to dedicate most of my performances in SL to this end.”

Now back in the U.K., JaN performs online two to four times a week, while a dedicated radio channel (Radio JaNa) streams her music 24/7, growing her followers and a new set of collaborators only possible through the modern technologies of cyberspace. “Each day is like being on the Star Ship Enterprise, hailing all frequencies as I converse and write music with my creative collaborators in Greece, New York, Chicago, Germany, Finland, Sweden, Italy, L.A., London and Nashville.  Where I have my address is of no consequence.”

And her performances in virtual worlds are indeed “live.” JaN explains, “I prepare sequences in Logic and have everything running live. With computer running sequences and me playing over them, there’s a feeling that anything could happen. There is a certain energy from playing music live that you can’t communicate from lip syncing with ready-made mixes.”

JaN PuLSfoRD, aTHeNa BLue, JaNa KYoMooN—the musical magician vanishes, changes, conjures new personas, creates new moods, evokes new aural landscapes. On SL, JaN can finally create the proper otherworldly venue to accompany her musical spells. Where congregating avatars have the floor drop out from under them (no worries; avatars float), where colors swirl and pulse to the beat, where the paintings move across the wall. Not to mention the big purple disco ball. Even magicians have to accessorize!

aMBieNT ReFLeCTioNS oF JaNa KYoMooN is her third collection of Second Life compositions to be released commercially, and JaN’s first release through the D-Pulse Ovrtone label. About D-Pulse, JaN enthused, “I worked with DPulse on a few remixes and live shows with my aTHeNa BLue project. I have always admired their commitment to electronic music and I am so delighted to have them involved!” Ambient Reflection of JaNa KYoMooN is available in CD or download at all major online music sites. 

As the title suggests, JaNa is casting her calming spells, weaving otherworldly tones of blues and jazz to draw you inward and help you escape to happier places. If this is the first time you’ve surrendered yourself to the musical magician’s spell, you’ll be pleased to know she has a huge “spellbook” in her back catalog—from dance electronica to soothing lullabies and everything in between.

Highlight Discography:

Merlyn’s Magical Music
Sketches of the Kyomoon
Reflections of the Kyomoon
aLiVe iN a SeCoND LiFe (As aTHeNa Blue)
ReTuRN 2 ZeRo (As aTHeNa BLue)
Plus over 20 albums of Production music available from Universal Music Group

Highlights of Collaborations:

Sisters of Avalon - Cyndi Lauper
Delcimore - David Schnaufer
Night of Peace - Darlene Love
Merry Christmas, and Have a Nice Life - Cyndi Lauper
The Thompson Twins Live 
True - Jeff Oster
The Leaders - Chico Freeman
Kathy Raimey - Still Moving
Oxygen + Love - Charles Green
Pride Remixes - Julian Marsh
Various Dance Remixes - Junior Vasquez

Bob Sullivan
October 18, 2011
Long biographical JaN PuLSforD Article
1662 words

July 21, 2011

Stage names, avatars, handles and pen names, identity and choice - my life as an avatar

Before the internet went into the public domain in 1993 those of us battling with phone cups, Tandys and Ataris communicated on line using numbers as our 'handle'. Ah the 80s! Life on line seemed so cosy and private.

Moving into the 90s AOL, Compuserve, e-world etc. frowned on using your real name - in fact the only time i ever saw a hint of conformity was in academia. Most of us had a lot of fun making up names and designing or downloading gifs for our avatars and icons - no photos, no reality - what lay on the other side of the screen remained a mystery.

I liked that.

As a composer/producer/songwriter/musician i have always worked 'behind' the scenes, behind the artist, behind the glass, behind the monitor. There were a lot of us who were very happy being faceless before we were dragged into this world of digital instantaneous photo galleries and video.

And many stars, whilst not looking for anonymity, used 'stage names'. Who had heard of Declan MacManus, Reginald Dwight, Gordon Sumner, Adam Copeland or more recently Stefani Germanotta? 

Psychologically I would think it separates them from their on stage persona or sometimes they choose an easier name to remember - I mean Jay-Z is a lot easier than Shawn Corey Carter 

So because i enjoy making a wide variety of music it made a lot of sense for me to have a different image to front the different styles of music i was releasing myself - like having a different band name for different projects. Today it would be called 'branding'

Madame la Pulse was my first in the 90s - a dancing avatar with a top hat and cane - the madame of the house of groove! LOL

in 2003 i embarked on an electronica project called aTHeNa BLue - again an avatar was used - the artist Paul Harmon kindly let me use one of his paintings as the image that defined aTHeNa BLue 
Since 2006 i have been experimenting with music and artistic creative collaboration in virtual worlds using the avatar JaNa KYoMooN playing ambient reflective music and taking full advantage of having a 3D avatar that amazingly walks, talks and performs - we've come a long way baby from that animated gif!

and behind all of these on line identities is JaN PuLSFoRD -  i'm so easy to find, i'm not hiding from anyone - it's just a creative thing i do out of choice!

Facebook suspended the JaNa KYoMooN account with no warning and thousands of others in a weekend known as the virtual rapture -  and last weekend the same thing happened with Google Plus. There are many profiles missing - we had such high hopes after the mess that is Facebook but the corporate mindset that has taken over the web has other ideas. Our accounts are deemed as fake and unless we use our real life name and photograph we are suspended.

Aside from all the other issues it raises ( like identity theft, corporations keeping tabs on you etc.) it is really about choice - our choice as citizens of the internet to be who we want to be.

I would love to know what Tim Berners-Lee thinks about all of this . . 

Footnote: Since writing this G+ have reinstated me with no explanation - along with William Shatner! 

May 30, 2011

tech-speak mumbo jumbo

One more day of tests and then I shall try broadcasting again
I feel we are in a society where the customer has become the problem and so corporations are trying to fix the customer not get to the cause of the real problem.
If they can't deliver the goods as promised, how do they get away with selling them?
Because they can and too few people complain!
They bamboozle the customer with tech-speak mumbo jumbo, confusing the user so much that they feel inadequate and foolish — it's just easier to put up with the poor service.
Meanwhile the monthly direct debit keeps spitting money into the corporation's account.
Tech support is SO time consuming and we the customer do not get paid whilst
we work for free, helping the company detect problems that shouldn't exist.
Too often we walk away because we don't have the time to deal with it …
and isn't that just what they want to happen?

May 22, 2011

the iLLuSioN oF ReaLiTY - JaNa KYoMooN gets expelled from Facebook

I think Facebook have made a huge mistake by kicking us out but we will rise again hopefully using a social network where our virtual art is appreciated . .  whilst I investigate the options please keep in touch here on the blog

You would think a little thing like:-
  • no stable internet access for 14 weeks, as outlined in my previous blogs
  • the temporary loss of my domains www.radiojana.com and www.janakyomoon.com ( still working on getting them back)
  • the deactivication of my JaNa KYoMooN facebook accounts - both the music page and profile page

would deter me
but NO
Wednesday June 1st JaN PuLSFoRD will be back on line playing the MuSiC oF JaNa KYoMooN with a month long festival celebrating the iLLuSioN oF ReaLiTY . . watch this space!
and if you would like to be involved let me know . . .
30 days of Creative Collaboration with musicians and performance artists around the globe.


Thanks everyone for your continued support
who performs using the avatar JaNa KYoMooN which is just like performing behind any other band or brand name!

May 19, 2011

Over the years I have worked BeHiND many artists . . .

Over the years I have worked BeHiND many artists. 
We are the ones at the back of the stage, on the other side of the glass in the recording studios, a foot note on album sleeves. 
Usually by choice, we enjoy this roller coaster life in music being fairly anonymous to most. So when I have done projects of my own I have usually adopted a name - from Madame la Pulse to aTHeNa BLue and more recently JaNa KYoMooN - all different projects in their own right with distinctive styles. 
To me it's no different than working behind "Cyndi Lauper" or "Thompson Twins", "Bush" or any other brand name.
Add the on line possibilities of avatars and virtual worlds into the mix and it becomes a more powerful prospect than years ago. We live in a brave new world.
I post to the JaNa KYoMooN blog more than here - follow my virtual adventures there - just getting back on line after a big move and June is going to be an exciting month!
See you virtually soon!
Jan P