Saturday, 23 January 2010

Runter vom Sofa

Runter vom Sofa
That’s what she said
Runter vom Sofa
I wished I was dead
Runter vom Sofa
A dream, no more than that,
I had a dream that I was her cat
(Runter vom Sofa, Runter vom Sofa)

(it means "get off the sofa")

A short poem by,

Inspired by RuntervomSofa - the actual user name of a Tweeter @runtervomsofa

The Way We Bankers Think

Bankers seem to be making headlines these days. Two of my closest friends are seriously senior bankers _and very wealthy. Lovely people. Other bankers I know are rank and file and all stages in between. They are a mixed lot, like people generally. I've met some real shits, too. One was a bloke who was "supervising" a loan my company had taken in order to buy copyrights - some years ago, before Dramatico records took off. We so much hated his style of supervision that I just went and got a huge advance from my publisher and paid them off. That got him off my back and frankly if I never see him again it will be too soon. The guy used to say I had "over-borrowed" even though he got his interest payments on the button every month. Later when his own bank nearly went under - last year - and was hugely bailed out by, well - us, as taxpayers, I wrote him a note reminding him of our history and telling him I thought his bank had "over-borrowed". It was one of those letters we all write but don't actually send, A Cathartic experience, I think they call it. So I didn't press "send". I did enjoy writing it though.

I remember my first banker was a man called Skinner. I was 20 and Head Of A&R at Liberty/United Artists Records. He was Senior Manager at Midland Bank (Now HSBC) - Old Bond Street branch, near where I worked. He said he's happily lend me 700 quid to buy a van or something "useful" for my business (erm, I wasn't IN the delivery business!) - but wouldn't lend me the identical amount to but a beach buggy (more appropriate I thought, to my job, and incidentally better for "pulling"). I changed banks immediately. You do meet some tossers, don't you?

The song lyrics below were written to be sung by The Banker in my adaptation of Lewis Carroll's "The Hunting Of The Snark". THe Bellman is recruiting crew, and when asked if he'll join up, the Banker responds with this song. It's based on the idea that bankers often like to be the last into any deal, and - to protect their risk - the first to receive payments when and if the project is a success. Last in, first out.


I'd love to come along if I could
But I must behave as a banker should
The last aboard I must surely be
But if we sink in a stormy sea
The first to the lifeboats will be ME
It's the way we bankers think!

(There are also verses for the barrister and the broker)

By the way, we are doing two performances in London - of the costumed concert version of "Snark" - in late November. It's only a small concert Hall so keep your eyes open for the announcement. I'm not allowed to announce it properly yet. In the meantime I'm doing a solo concert at the Cadogan Hall on May 24th . I think this is the link: so maybe see you there? I expect I'll do a few Snark songs.

Good luck to Barrack Obama in his stand against Wall Street excesses, by the way. Let's get real! There's greed and there's Greed.



Thursday, 7 January 2010

Snow Business Like Snow Business

“Well here we are Don’t Be So Ridiculous Valley…” These words ring in my ears today not only because I put the rough demo vocal onto my orchestral track yesterday – for the “Opening Scene” of Ergo – The Chronicles Of Don’t Be So Ridiculous Valley, but also because Batt Battlements DOES look out onto a vast valley and it’s covered in 12” of snow at the moment, honest!

It’s like a beautiful Christmas Card, - but of course impossible for any of my stalwart colleagues to get in to the studio today.

Looks like this is a good day to do my “normal” blog. I usually tend to use the POSTMAN BATT blogsite for random, odd thoughts and little essays on stuff. Seems it’s turning into the place where my regular blogs first appear before being distributed to Myspace and my main site. BTW, you can hear the results of yesterday’s labours at It’s (clearly) the opening song of the movie! Ergo the Slug looks out from his bedroom window, in his house in the Slug Quarter of the little town he lives in, to see the Don’t Be So Ridiculous Valley Marching Band parading down the High Street. This forms a basis for the opening credit sequence. We are now at an exciting stage in the production. We’ve been working on the artwork for two years, and have all the characters designed, and most of the locations drawn and painted ready for CG building. We also have Ergo and his (he wishes) girlfriend, Little Else, - built as proper virtual characters, and have some initial animation tests on them. Now we just need 50 million quid. But we are working on that, and it’s looking good. I’d really like to make this the first real Pixar-quality blockbuster CG feature to come out of Europe and be made IN Europe by European animators, although we are also looking at Canada as a production possibility. Watch this space (and other spaces). We do have a website for it but I’d rather wait a bit longer before unleashing it – only a few more days. The idea is – as things develop, you can check out the characters being built, the scenes, the script being developed from its current fairly advanced draft, stuff like that.. Meanwhile, in that spirit, you can already hear the opening titles with non-final vocals!

Other exciting things are happening. (There are boring things happening too, but I thought you’d prefer to hear about the exciting ones).

Katie Melua’s fourth studio album is nearly finished. She has been working with William Orbit as producer, and I have kept very much in the background, as Executive producer, and of course as her manager. Oh, and I wrote the string and horns arrangements, which we recorded last Saturday at AIR stidios in Hampstead, played by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and conducted by Yours Truly. Lots of fun. Hope you like the album. It represents a big step for Katie, and she’s spent a long time getting into the right head-space for it. She’s written or co-written most of the tracks. I’ve only written half of one song, and even that may not make the album out of the 18 songs they’ve recorded. I won’t give TOO much of the game away, but suffice to say, there are some killer songs on it and it will be out in May. I hope it will appeal to a whole new audience at the same time as being welcomed by her existing fans.

Before the snow snew, - a couple of days ago, we had our first day back in he office at Dramatico, and have been making plans for what will be a hugely busy year for us. We have lots of plans centred around the wonderful Gurrumul – Australia’s phenomenal indigenous singer/songwriter who is currently top of the World Music charts in many countries. We are getting ready to release his album in the States, so lots of liaison with our New York office, and a trip over there quite soon. We have also recently signed Sarah Blasco (from Australia), and are really looking forward to getting her album, “As Day Follows Night” out in Europe (inc UK) on May 5th following the single “We Won’t Run” on April 5th.

Meanwhile, we are bracing ourselves for the physical CD release of Florence Rawlings’ album “A Fool In Love”. Her single “Love Can Be Battlefield” is playlisted on Radio 2, and both it and the album are out in the UK on January 18th. My God, this is becoming like a Chairman’s Report at an Annual General Meeting. Maybe I should write a poem or smething. To lighten it up. Before I do, - I’ll just add that I’m doing a solo concert myself at London’s Cadogan Hall in May (date to be confirmed) and a weekend of “Hunting Of The Snark” Concerts in late November, probably also at Cadogan Hall. Really looking forward to that . The Snark concerts will be costumed concerts of the full musical, and I’ll be auditioning for actor/singers to play the characters.

The Mike Batt Music Cube is “properly” released in February, - containing 16 discs, two of which are Snark . One is the first audio recording we did back in 1983, containing only the first 40 minutes of embryonic Snarkness, and the second disc is the DVD of the TV concert we shot at the Royal Albert Hall in 1987, with all the star cast.

This year – in September, I plan to record the FULL LENGTH Snark, just as it was in the West End production. It’s never been recorded before. Meanwhile, the Snark double disc set and all the other doubles in the archive series will be coming out on DRAMATICO at intervals over the next six months.

So you can see it’s going to be a massive year of activity for us. Oh (Doh!) *slaps forehead with palm of hand * I forgot to mention I’m also going to be the Artistic Director of the Stutttgart Jazz Open festival in July (silly name of course because if it were CLOSED nobody would be able to get in) – and conducting a couple more concerts with the Stuttgart Philharmonic Orchestra.

I think I’ll go and have a little lie down, now. Tired but happy.