Monday, 29 June 2009

I Can't Swallow

'House Guest' picked up an animation prize at the Formula Mundi festival over the weekend. Good news, and I'd be celebrating if I weren't ridden with swollen throat glands and a spasmodic trachea that's sullying my mood some. Sometimes I admire life's sense of humour when it comes to timing. Will post a more enthusiastic entry if I've convalesced by its arrival.

Friday, 26 June 2009

The Day The Music (Mercifully) Died

Sick yet strangely heartwarming illustration by Seb Burnett.

Well, I'm undeniably gutted about ol' Wacko Jacko, even though Michael Jackson the performer died a long time ago. I would honestly say that 'Thriller' was one of the LPs that inspired me to get into music. In fact, next to Faith No More's 'Angel Dust' I've always considered it to be the best album of all time. I suppose that in terms of sales the music industry saw it the same way, but being at the top of the charts rarely means the music itself is any good. 'Thriller' was the true exception of its day.
My musical 'career' is, being brutally honest, a glorified hobby. I, like gajillions of others these days, produce and release my own music online, relying primarily on word-of-mouth for promotion. Sales are extremely modest (my biggest selling album to date, 'Agnosticaust', has shifted just under 2000 copies, which would be a catastrophic failure if I was signed) but with no middleman and a whole heap of associated merchandise, the supplemental income has helped me out frequently. If I pursue music as a legitimate career in the long run, realistically it'd be as a film composer, having developed a fondness for the process over the last year. In the meantime my little indie records will continue to be pretty much for me, my friends and the small handful of lovely, lovely folks who seem to dig them.
After some introspection since last night's news, however, I've decided to retire a sizable chunk of my back catalog. While I will always love these CDs, it's the love a parent has for their screwup, ugly children - one that isn't shared by the general public. When they were released they were received well, but that was largely due to the appeal of the digital music era, then in its infancy. This was before MySpace and iTunes, when selling and distributing your music online was a novelty, and audiences were far more forgiving if the production values were shaky. Nowadays I feel that, save for a few tracks on each, the albums I worked on from 1999 to 2003 don't stand up to the state of the digital music scene today, and that sales for each have slowed to a trickle confirms this in my mind.
So, with no particular heaviness in my heart, I bid farewell to the online availability of:
'The Hot Beef Injection' - released November 2000, copies sold: 82

'Easier To Swallow' - released March 2001, copies sold: 107

'The Adventures Of Johnny Star' - released December 2001, copies sold: 621

'Somebody Stop Me' - released December 2002, copies sold: 394

I also worked on a romance (well, sex) themed trilogy of jazz albums, which never really caused much of a ripple. So to these I also bid adieu:'Heartcore: Carnal Glutton' - released July 2002, copies sold: 79

'Heartcore: Post Coitus' - released October 2003, copies sold: 40 (oof)

'Heartcore: Sunrise Regrets' - released November 2004, copies sold: 122

Both sets of albums had respective anthology releases, and these I won't rescind just yet. They always sold better and still continue to show up on royalty invoices, plus by filtering out the vast quantities of filler material they make for far better listening experiences:

I'm also happy to keep everything I've put out since adopting the moniker Struwwelpeter as these always stood apart from prior releases in terms of production, quality of songwriting and sales. Maybe when my next musical idol (yes, Michael Jackson was an idol - remember, he was acquitted) pops his or her clogs I'll retire these as well, but hopefully that won't be for a long time.
So, Mike Patton, Tori Amos, Les Claypool, Brad Roberts, Alanis Morissette, John Zorn and Tom Waits - be careful. I need you all alive and in one piece.

Friday, 19 June 2009


More good festival news, 'House Guest' will be screened as part of Formula Mundi, at the Fachhochschule Schwaebisch Hall in Germany. Looking at the festival program (which can be downloaded here) it looks like it'll screen at around 4pm on Saturday 27th. So flock to the festival en masse, my German pals! Entry is free! Well, assuming 'frei' is German for 'free'.
From the program...interesting choice for a still...

Monday, 15 June 2009

Now I'm Hungry for Monterey Jack Cheese...

Came home from Download (all in all a smashing, sunny time) to some good news. The 5th Monterrey International Film Festival will include 'House Guest' in its line-up. Nice warm fuzzy feeling, so thanks to all involved with the selection.
I don't have any specific info about when it will screen, other than the festival runs from August 21st-29th. Oh, and it's in Mexico :P
Will post more when I know. In the meantime I'm gonna run my unwashed self a bath. This is what happens when you go five days without the amenities of civilised society:

Saturday, 13 June 2009

"I never felt this much alive..."

I'm at the Download Festival, scrawling this entry on the back of my coach ticket 'terms of use' printout with a 20p biro I just purchased. It's the only item that's reasonably priced here - for £3 a burger, you'd think they'd be the best in the world, right? Wrong.
Aside from complaining about being ripped-off for sub-par patties, I'm feeling old and curmudgeonly for several other reasons. After spending twelve hours straight at the front of the main stage yesterday, my body is presently complaining when I attempt to move it in any way (like walking, blinking, or breathing in and out). Also, my face involuntarily scowls whenever a waft of second-hand weed smoke hits me. Damn kids.
I'm 25! How the fuck did this happen to me already? Why can't I be old beyond my years in a good way, like, intelligent and worldly and cultured and such?
Ah, the sun just came out. I'm chirpier now for its soothing warmth.
So determined was I to be at the front for Faith No More's reunion show yesterday, I was one of the first to get to the main stage at 11am. I then stood against the barrier for ten hours, watched seven separate concerts and nearly had my fucking ribcage crushed to powder against the metal barrier. See, in my grand master plan I failed to factor in the fact that there would be about seventy-billion angry, heaving, youthful fans of every band playing, and that they'd all want to push forward to get as close as possible, thus squishing the spinal fluid out of me. I'd never been so glad to be overweight, my bones shielded somewhat by a layer of flabby insulation as I watch about a hundred skinny casualties carried off to the emergency tent over the course of the day.
(I actually just made a face at the girl with the spliff. I SUCK. But I digress...)The discomfort I felt then - and may feel for the next few days - was completely worth it. Faith No More were phenomenal, grey/balding hair, newly-developed paunches and all.
Fortunately the main audience camera was based at stage right, while I was on the other side. I say 'fortunately' because I was so overcome that I probably looked like a twelve-year-old girl at a Jonas Bros concert, and I don't need that visual on film.

(NOTE - the rest of this entry will be transcribed once I locate the other piece of paper I originally wrote it on)

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

The Final Push

Well, I did it. I leave for the Download Festival tomorrow and I weigh in at 95kg, bang on target. Given that I shamelessly wolfed down giant portions of roti canai and crispy chilli beef at the HK Diner (best fuckin' restaurant in the city) last night, once that's out of my system it's possible that I may even have beat my target a little bit. But taking presumption out of the equation, it still means that in the last three and a half months I've lost a little over 9kg, which comes to about 20lbs. I'd be proud if I weren't so damn hungry.
So, to see if this adventure had any visible consequences, I put on the old t-shirt that clung to me so tightly back in march. Y'know, the 'symbolic' Faith No More/Ben of 1997 t-shirt. Well, I think the difference shows...Not only does it fit, there's even some slack from where the shirt hangs off my moobs (still there, the perky little fuckers). There's just one problem, one which I somehow hadn't acknowledged until now.
This shirt sucks.The layout's clunky, the colour scheme is off and the typeface is all wrong. Methinks it may have been a bootleg job. What luck, then, that the band have brought out new reunion tour shirts! Sneaky fuckers.
Apparel issues aside, I'm giddy at the prospect of seeing Faith No More live in two days. In truth I won't fully believe it's really happening until I see them onstage with my own eyes. This really is one of life's big deals. It may even knock losing my virginity off the top spot (no offense Anna, wherever you are - let's face facts, it wasn't a shining moment for either of us).
I will come back a changed man. Maybe I'll even be motivated to lose another 20lbs over the next three months...

Tuesday, 9 June 2009


I recently worked on the sound design for a really interesting website a friend of mine is developing. To me it's somewhat reminiscent of online social experiments and interactive projects such as 'PostSecret' and 'Found' Magazine.
'What Have You Left Behind?' is an online collection of musings and reminiscences by a number of contributors, compiled and grouped together by interactive media designer Mariana Mota. It is presently being showcased at the Bristol Design Festival and can be viewed online here.For the sound we wanted to put together a simple backdrop that suited the aesthetic. What we ended up with were several rhythmic pieces constructed entirely of foley sounds, isolated and arranged using Reason's redrum computer. This was a great opportunity to get involved with a creative medium I ordinarily don't get a chance to, and I think both the project and the site will prove to have legs. It's also worth having a look at the project blog, which goes into detail regarding its history and continuing development.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Something for the ol' CV...

I was very stoked to find that 'House Guest' has managed to pick up a 'Best Animation' award at one of the recent festivals, ScreenTest.
Bizarrely, though, said festival took place in March and they only just recently got in touch to tell me.
Even more bizarrely, I wasn't even told that the film got in at all, so I wasn't there for the screening or the ceremony. Ordinarily, time and money mean I can't go to each festival with 'House Guest' on its official selection list, but in this case it's a real shame as it was a Bristol-based festival and, as such, within walking distance of my apartment.
Anyway, it's probably for the best as, had I been in attendance at the award ceremony and gone up to receive it, I would have given the most inappropriate, protracted, Gwyneth Paltrow-esque acceptance speech and made everybody want to commit seppuku.
Irregardless (which, apparently, is a real word), I'm very proud and happy that it went down well. Now I have several choices in front of me - do I change my first name to 'Award-Winning Animator Ben', or my last name to 'Mitchell, Award-Winning Animator'?
Or I could change my first name to 'Smug' and my last to 'Douchebag'. That was my mother's personal favourite.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

The Not-So-Shortlist

Rutger Hauer's Italian festival "I've Seen Films" is incorporating an online competition, and 'House Guest' is amongst the competing films. As it's among over 300 international entries I can't honestly say it's a shoe-in (much as I love that mangy l'il anatidae) but for the next little while the film will be viewable online in its entirety. So if you can bear the youtube compression, watch it, spread the word and tell your friends. There are a fair few decent shorts amongst the others included, so have a good ol' browse of the site while you're there for some free entertainment.
Watch 'House Guest' online here. In fact, what the hell, let's just hotlink the mo'fo: