Reasons To Be Cheerful

I am going to start a new Tag for my WordPress posts – I am going to call in ‘Reasons To Be Cheerful.

I will not go through my old blog and update the post to inform the reader “I am cheerful – Look at me be cheerful” I am going to let it sit there like the smug bitch it is, brooding in a procrastinated fashion.

But, why am I cheerful at 3am on a Saturday morning – after no sleep for 40+ hours? Well, I could go in to details about Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs – no, in fact let’s explore that:

So, the base level of the Hierarchy of needs is Physiological – yes, I am woozy with sleep deprivation. However, that will soon be remedied when I lie down next to my wife and sleep the sleep of the righteous.

Next level up is the Need For Safety. Barring a slight altercation in a club tonight (one of the clients was a bit too merry) there is nothing to worry about. I am sat in my flat with the morning chorus going full tilt outside my window and it is quite a tranquil scene out on the street. Tick.

“Love & Belonging Needs” is the third tier. Kathryn*, family & a great circle of mates who have stuck with me through all of my mind farts.

“Esteem Needs” – Tricky one: I was No. 1 in the Beatport Reggae Chart for a bit and that kind of went away all too soon. It is respect more than self-congratulation’s that have been occurring. I am the last person to say “Well done Backhouse – here is a biscuit!” but my peers have been handing over their biscuit money in exchange for music.

The very pinnacle of the Hierarchy Of Needs is “Self Actualisation.” What the hell does this mean? The term “self actualisation” conjures images of people climbing mountains and over coming obstacles on the way to achieving their aim. If this is the case (and fill in the comments section in the footer of this post to correct me) then it was achieved tonight.

The “Self Actualisation” element of the Hierarchy was achieved in a little microcosm. We have the macrocosm explained. However, tonight saw me and Allan put the demons of Monday to bed. We had practiced and practiced our set to perform tonight at Henshaw’s. Right up until last night (Thursday night) we were sat in Allan’s kitchen getting our timing sorted. We nailed the gig on Friday (tonight)!

reasons to be cheerful
Reasons To Be Cheerful.

Here is the macrocosm: we performed the gig well. We had the admiration of our peers right there. We owned the stage and we belonged together (me and Allan) as a band – we had a right to be there and call ourselves Guerrilla Dub System. We were safe at the gig as it was for charity and Allan is good with PAs. The hole in our stomach was soon filled with Baked Potato so our physiological needs were sorted too.

Am I saying that being in a band and performing a gig fulfills Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs? I am uneducated oaf, but I do hold that I have achieved something by stepping out tonight in front of the crowd and succeeding.

I do not know if there are greater reasons to be cheerful.

*all that I hold dear.

W/E & A Session

What happened over the weekend? Nowt much – Friday I had my residency at RETRO Bar, DJing to nobody. It was dead. So we closed early and I joined Allan in town and had a few beers.

Saturday was an early night so that I would make the farm on Sunday – Alison was visiting the ‘rental’s and it was good to see everyone again. We ate a meal of ‘certainly-cooked’ lamb and all the trimmings.

It really was fun to see Alison again – she seems to be thriving in her new job.

Sunday was spent as a practice session for Monday. This is because on Monday we had a BBC Session in York. A ‘Session’ on the local Introducing show is not something to be sniffed at – it is regarded as having made it locally.

I was all trembles and butterflies by the time we arrived in York – we found the local BBC down a side street and went for a power pint. The Power Pints went down very quickly and very well. They made me over confident and cocky. I was drinking on an empty stomach.

L-R: Sign, Me, Allan

The resulting session was a complete blur and over in a heart beat – the nerves had really got me and all I remember of the BBC Session is the dead air, mistakes in the interview and the mumbled garbage me and Allan spewed.

However, I am pleased to say that we nailed the music side of it – Jericho Keys (the BBC Introducing York & North Yorkshire host) punched the air after our cover of ‘Single Ladies’ (originally by Beyoncé). He claimed that it was one of his top ten covers of the year! Amazing.

However, how much of the session sees the light of broadcast or ends up on the cutting room floor remains to be seen – we are going to be broadcast on the third of June at quarter past eight in the evening. This is something that si a bit of a sticking point for me: I am unsure what was said during the interview due to nerves: we walked out of the studio with our heads held high and at a brisk pace. Whether we will be asked back to BBC York remains to be seen … but we enjoyed the day and hopefully provided a bit of entertainment.

Me, Dubbing

 

Then on Monday night we both met up in Tom’s for a few drinks – I got a bit merry and lost my electronic cigarette. Had to buy a newer version today: there was a law passed a while ago that limits the size of the oil tank on eCigs. I have gone from having a 5ml tank to having a 2ml tank – the result is that I have to top up more often, but it could make me less dependent on it.

Tuesday was spent sleeping and practicing for Fridays gig. This Friday sees me and Allan playing Henshaw’s Arts & Craft Centre as part of their Friday Night Mix. It is an honour to have been invited along to the thing – we are partially playing our own tracks live and combining it with a DJ set. It should be good …

We Are Currently Number #1

Guerrilla Dub System’s latest release (Pound Of Dub) is currently number one in the Beatport reggae chart. Not bad work if I say so myself. Quite proud of this achievement.

Allan and myself (Guerrilla Dub System) were a bit worried as the release had only been out there for twenty four hours – there was a horrendous delay in getting the release up on the site. It seems there was a mix up on account of the aggregator. Still that has been remedied and the release was up on Beatport yesterday afternoon.

I logged on to Beatport to see if we had made the charts at all and was very shocked to see that we were number one in the Reggae/Dub Chart on that site. Here is a graphic to prove it –

If you are interested in hearing a bit of the release before you buy it, Beatport have the functionality of playing some of the track before you buy it – it is a good, honest set up – and the fidelity is awesome. You can do all of that at this link – https://www.beatport.com/release/pound-of-dub/2025945

…. Goal achieved, really.

Will I Ever Get A Worse Hangover?

Writing this at quarter past midnight on a Monday morning – I am still feeling the effects of Saturday night. It is my own fault and I am the only person to blame – but it doesn’t half hurt. I have croaked out a few links on my radio show and it is up in the æther. Here it is –

Still, what else have I been up to this weekend?

Friday saw me stay in with Kathryn – I thought I would be DJing at RETRO Bar but it turned out to be Punk night – I found out 12 hours before hand and felt a bit … well, used. Still – it is a good source of income and I enjoy working there. Friday also saw the release of Pound Of Dub on the big stores – all except Beatport. Beatport seem to be really difficult to get to work with; we sent it off but as with the last time (for Dub Force) we are delayed in our release.

However, the guy we use for PR (Silk PR) has set himself the challenge of getting us to number one – not improbable as we got to number 2 with our debut.

Saturday was a long lie in – past midday. It was great; nothing to get up for and nothing to worry about. However, we had been tipped of about a local dance in York featuring an artist we hope to be working with in the months, Ras Tinny.

However, right up to the last minute, we were all in a confusion – we even set off to get picked up but ultimately our lift fell through. There is no public transport between York & Harrogate after 10pm (even earlier I believe) so we were reliant on the good nature of friends who drive. However, that ambition was smashed.

So, me and Allan headed out to Major Tom’s and I proceeded to make a bit of a car crash of myself. There was dancing involved and I believe I invited the bar staff to touch my nipples – they politely declined but it was nice of me to offer. After Tom’s closed we moved on to Blues then Montey’s and I got home at three thirty in the morning.

I woke at ten Sunday with the room spinning – turns out I was still drunk. I made my way to Major Tom’s to see Stewart play his records. I really was not in the mood but I had my Harinezumi with me and managed to take a few shots –

Big Band Sunday With Harinezumi

All that was left to do on a Sunday was to try and get home – I nearly fainted my hangover was that bad – however, I made it home and went for a six hour power snooze.

Second EP Released

It is with a great sigh of relief that I can say the POUND OF DUB, Guerrilla Dub System’s second EP has hit the virtual shelves.

Currently it is available on iTunes and Google Play (unsure about Amazon) but, as with Dub Force (our first ep) there has been a bit of a problem with Beatport.

When Beatport gets sorted I will post a link in the comments section of this post and then you will be able to click on it.

What can I say about the EP? Well, it carries on where out last release elft off – we have had our music described as quite authentic – something I hold dear to me. It is nice to hear that. My favourite track on the EP is the title track, Pound Of Dub.

We used Silk PR to promote the thing as we did with the last one – we have high hopes for this release so that we are not one-hit wonders.

First W/E In May 2017

Despite my attempt to start blogging “I am feeling X” I am still blogging “This is a post about.” Why is this? It seems a difficult trend to shift – changing the way that I blog is problematic: is it a desire to report? Is it how I see my blog? Is it the very backbone of current trends in Blogging? Either way, this is a blog post about my weekend. The first w/e in May 2017.

A lot of fun-time people have started to consider Thursday to be the first day of the w/e – so let’s start there. Me and my good mate Stewart met up at 10 Devonshire for a libation. DJ Trev was holding his annual ‘May the Fourth’ Star Wars Quiz and things were getting a bit shouty. It would have been great to spend time in there pitting our whits against some serious Star War folk but we had other plans – we were going to record a radio show.

So, we hotfooted it over to Allan’s studio, CREAO Studio, and set up for a night of bad links but excellent music. Stewart really tripped himself up with some of the links but I have watched the man blossom. When he started to do his show he could hardly speak the man was so nervous – now, he has volunteered to speak after every track. He is a credit to himself and it seems to have really helped him come out of his shell. Below is his show …

On Friday afternoon I met up with my mum – she made one of her rare trips in to town and we went to Bean & Bud on Commercial street – it really is the best cup of tea (and coffee!) in town. I had a double espresso and mum went for a pot of house blend – we talked small talk and caught up – it was an innocent meeting of family and reassuring. Mum is retired now and they have plans to move out of the area to a more quieter place – It means that meeting up with mum will become a rarer and rarer thing …

Friday night was part of a new wheeze. I was DJing at RETRO Bar under the name “Andy from Guerrilla Dub System.” Things got quite busy and it was a good atmosphere. Thanks to the bar staff for looking after me and keeping the night flowing. I played a good enough set – mixed tempo and mixed in key – but it seemed to go down okay and there were a few people dancing.

Staturday saw Chico’s Revenge – I ordered a Pizza from the Take-away Chico’s, across the road from RETRO Bar, and then fell asleep immediately after scoffing the cheesy bologna delight. It did not site well the next morning so activity was limited to pacing around the flat with stomach cramp.

Saturday afternoon I met Meagn. Megan is the person who started the Recovery Shoebox Project – a mental health tolkit – that she runs by herself. I had an input in to the building of her website. I helped get www.recoveryshoeboxproject.org up on to my server and showed a good friend, Michelle, how to design the thing. It seems Michelle has caught the design bug and could not stop tinkering with the site all the way until it went live. Me and Michelle’s fiancé popped out for a swift half in Major Tom’s then I set about redesigning my web portfolio – www.treebarkdesign.com.

Sunday was a very lazy day: I did not get out of my Pyjamas, hahaha.

Instead I recorded my radio show – I think I have found a good formula for the show – I was worried that people would tire of hearing my voice. So, I went and stopped speaking. However, I felt I was not making enough of a statement with that format for a show – so the below is a compromise. Part DJ set/ Part Speaky speak.

The Future Of Anti-Depressants?

I have just returned from a family funeral – it was a great turn out and all the good and great were there along with me to pay our respects to my Granny. Whilst I was catching up with my family – I had the terrible news that my cousin (who will remain un-named so he has a veneer of privacy) has had a bad run with his mental health. Also, as readers of my blog are aware, I am currently getting help for all manner of brain maladies. Shake me and I rattle – one of the medications I am on is an anti depressant. With a new found enthusiasm to try and help my cousin, I looked in to ways of helping him.

I admit – when you are exhibiting the symptoms that are necessary to be prescribed the medication of anti-depressants – the last person you look out for is yourself. So, this is not me leaping to the aid of a relative in a foolhardy manner – no. I appreciate the torment he is going through and I am merely trying to find a way of helping him through his Dark Night of The Soul.

The thing that really shook me out of my crying-suicide-disease was a massive dose of Magic Mushrooms.

By the way, I should probably say this is a NSFW post. But, before the Home Secretary, Jack Straw, put a downer on shrooms by moving them from a something you could by in a high-street shop to a ‘A’-Class drug it really shot it in the foot for funtime-foragers. However, the real problem was in the start – Tim Leary went and completely mismanaged the early American acid trials in the 1960’s for the sake of trying to start a revolution – a lot of bad science went on and it set the movement back decades; the cool-aid acid test became a freak show to the detriment of a sustainable counterculture.

However, I found an article about the very topic of this blog post – The Future Of Anti-Depressants – on the website, VICE. in it, the article says: the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, psilocybin, has been used in a clinical trial as an antidepressant. The science of antidepressants, is not, as it goes, an exact science. Two patients can react differently to the same drug. For some people, many of the existing drugs won’t have any effect at all.

Science is still struggling to work out why certain drugs only work for certain people. According to one study from Chicago’s Northwestern University, doctors treat the causes in a crude way, with drugs “aimed at the wrong target,” often focusing on reducing stress rather than depression itself. Others have suggested that commercial interests are skewing results when antidepressants are being tested. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that some drug companies were selectively publishing studies on antidepressants that showed the drugs had a benefit and shelving others that showed there was no overall effect.

“There are a distinct proportion of patients who don’t get better despite taking lots of different antidepressants,” says Dr. Mark Bolstridge, an honorary research associate at UCL and a clinical psychiatrist. “That’s frustrating as a clinician, that even though we do have a lot of drugs at our disposal, for some people, none of them work.”

Bolstridge is already in the process of searching for alternative and unusual treatments. In particular, he’s been looking into the hallucinogenic compound found within magic mushrooms: psilocybin.

Bolstridge, alongside David Nutt, president of the British Neuroscience Association and former government drugs advisor, initially applied to run a psilocybin trial in 2013. Nutt had previously conducted small experiments before more stringent regulations around psychoactive substances were put into place. He felt that psilocybin had the potential to alleviate symptoms of depression and wanted to carry out further experiments.

Despite getting approval and funding from the UK Medical Research Council, there remained a number of roadblocks in doing the trial, because magic mushrooms were a class A drug. “We had a lot of problems getting the drug itself, because you need a special license to be able to use it… and it had to be imported from Europe,” Bolstridge told us. “Ethics committees tend to wave things through the first time you present your case to them. We had to meet with them three of four times before they were prepared to approve our study.”

He says he can see why they were met with resistance. “Your average person on the street is very skeptical of these drugs because they’re classified in the A category, which means, as far as the general person on the street is concerned, they’re dangerous, as they’re the same category as heroin and cocaine.”

But the red tape comes from more than just moral panic around class A drugs. Researchers in psychiatric hospitals in the 1950s and 1960s ran many studies linking psychedelic drugs with various therapeutic effects, including the treatment of alcoholism, depression, and even autism. But many of the studies were poorly controlled and controversial, particularly when LSD was given to the children of vulnerable people. “Studies were not performed to the contemporary standard of rigor,” says Bolstridge. “The methodology was a bit suspect.”

Since the 1970s, it has been very hard to get approval for LSD-based studies, but Bolstridge and colleagues were able, for the first time in decades, to run a clinical trial testing the effects of psilocybin on depression. They recruited 12 patients with a moderate to severe form of depression, and treated them in a controlled environment.

Unlike many clinical trials, there was no financial incentive for partaking in the trial. Bolstridge described how people were motivated to participate by a “sheer desperation,” saying, “Some patients had been on a whole load of different antidepressants, and nothing had worked. And they were still just feeling really shitty and really low, and they weren’t functioning in life. They were severely incapacitated. They weren’t working. Their lives just hadn’t planned out as hoped, as expected.”

Kirk Rutter, one of the participants in the trial, agreed to speak with us about his experiences. He told us he participated in the trial because he “thought it might help me clear the grief and get out the emotion.”

“The only way I can describe it is like when you drop a heavy object into a body of water where it kind of goes under and leaps back out, and it eventually steadies and finds its level.”

After his mother’s death, Rutter suffered with ongoing depression that resisted the treatment of antidepressants and psychotherapy. He believes the drugs prescribed to him were designed to “deal with the symptoms, not the problem” and was keen to get his hands on a more effective treatment. He volunteered.

After the treatment, Rutter says he felt “very, very positive. In the first week, I felt great. And then I felt like I was moving backward. It was like, Oh crap, you know, that didn’t last long. And then I felt OK again. The only way I can describe it is like when you drop a heavy object into a body of water where it kind of goes under and leaps back out, and it eventually steadies and finds its level. It’s kind of like that.”

Rutter says he now “doesn’t feel depressed” and is “certainly not stuck in the grief that I was,” although nine months after the trial, he is now experiencing “a slight decline” in his mood.

Rutter’s experiences seem to match the tentatively positive results from the trial. “The vast majority responded well,” says Bolstridge. “For the vast majority of people, the pressure ‘lifted.’ And there were some persisting changes as well, because this is very different to administering [traditional] antidepressant drugs, which you take on a daily basis. With the psilocybin, there were two doses, separated a week apart, and people responded even six months afterward. They were still better than when they first participated in the study.”

Publicity around these studies comes with its own dangers. Once people hear that magic mushrooms may treat depression, it won’t be long before all kinds of spurious headlines are seen to encourage people to self-medicate. Bolstridge says that will always be a possibility. “But I suppose we have to get out the message and disseminate it widely that people shouldn’t be messing around with these drugs, and not trying to self-medicate, because we know exactly what dosage we were giving. Someone foraging, trying to find which mushrooms to take—it’s really difficult to identify exactly how much they need.”

The psilocybin study could one day be remembered as a radical breakthrough in treating depression, but for now, there remains a lot of research to do. “This is such a preliminary project. This hasn’t been done for donkeys years, because it’s been so difficult getting hold of the drug,” explains Bolstridge. “We’re still trying to identify the best course of treatment.”

Going Steady

What is this Blog post about – well, it is about charts. Not the sexy visual charts – but a table of how well something is selling / performing compared to it’s peers at that given time.

The first thing I am going to prattle on about is the radio show I do – this week’s edition is currently No.#16 in the Noise Charts – not bad work for me. Here is an embedding of it –

As you can tell from previous incarnations of the show – I have had to drop the spoken links – I was getting a bit too hesitant when it came to pronouncing the artists with relatively exotic names. And, by exotic, I mean Icelandic artists – Like my good friend, Stewart, I have difficulty when it comes to pronouncing foreign languages; English is hard enough for me as it is. So, probably best I leave out the links.

Another thing about charts is that you only have a short shelf life for what you do – it is all or nothing really. Like how I am finding with the release I put on Beatport, Dub Force by my band Guerrilla Dub System – it peaked at No.#2 in the releases chart and did quite well for around two or three weeks. I has since dropped to obscurity in the releases chart. However, when I looked yesterday, one of the tracks from it was No.#31 in the singles chart.

The singles (although no track has been specified as a single) have all been charting at different times – quite impressive to see but it is not until July that we will have the statistics for April. Me and Allan wait with baited breath to see if we sold 4, 14 or 40 albums to get so high in the chart.

Meanwhile – my second EP (with Allan) is due out two weeks tomorrow. Pound Of Dub will see the light of day on CREAO Studio on the twelfth of May 2017. Here is an extract –

I will put a show piece for the artwork I created for the release at the bottom of this post. I am quite chuffed with the artwork for this release – I took a stock image of a mannequin’s head and crystalised the left hand half of the image. The font used in the writing is called DRUGS and is available from most font download sites.

I am writing this on Thursday afternoon – getting ready for my DJ set on Friday and trying my hardest not to sit here too smugly; see, our Landlady has just paid for us to have double glazing and it is already proving a hit. The rooms it is in (it is now in all of them) were noticeably warmer than the room without when the job was half done last night.

Anyway, I digress – here is the artwork:

 

Pound Of Dub – Guerrilla Dub System’s second EP.

One Day Since The Industrial Revolution

The UK ran for a full day without coal, in a first since the industrial revolution.

The country fulfilled all of its energy needs from other sources, according to the National Grid.

It would be the first working day that the UK hasn’t relied on coal power since the industrial revolution.

Britain has in the past run using zero coal for some periods. But that has never happened for a full day since Britain started relying on coal power stations.

The National Grid’s energy control room said that it ran without coal for a full 19 hours on 20 April. They expected it to be a full day today, they reported on Twitter.

“The first day without coal in Britain since the Industrial Revolution marks a watershed in the energy transition,” said Hannah Martin, head of energy at Greenpeace. “A decade ago, a day without coal would have been unimaginable, and in ten years’ time our energy system will have radically transformed again.

“The direction of travel is that both in the UK and globally we are already moving towards a low carbon economy. It is a clear message to any new government that they should prioritise making the UK a world leader in clean, green, technology. They will need to get on with the coal phase-out plan and recognise the economic potential of renewable energy and energy efficiency. We can meet the UK’s needs for skilled jobs and fair bills, whilst also meeting our climate targets.”

This has left me buoyant and optimistic – the fact that the carbon levels will fall due to this small measure is exaggerated – but it is a step in the right direction. However, the National Grid did not comment on the source of the power used. I have a nagging suspicion that it could prove to be Biomass – which I have mis-givings about.

I really cannot see successive governments for years capitalising on the fact that we are an island and using the tidal swell to power the Nation …. seems but a pipe dream but a dream worth fighting for.

CREAO Studio 4/20

No, not the 4/20 that has so much meaning to my friends – I am merely referring to the date. On the 20th April I set off to CREAO Studio to do the mastering of our second EP – it is a right corker! Due out on the 12th May, it carries on from where we left off with the first EP. Expect plenty of bass and a nod to the founding fathers of dub reggae. Here is the artwork to the EP that I did a while ago –

Pound Of Dub – Guerrilla Dub System’s second EP.

 

Whilst up at the studio I helped record Stewart’s radio show for him: it was a right laugh as Stew’s tongue frequently trips over the more exotic band’s names – he is bloody useless at pronouncing Icelandic singers – but, then so am I; Stewart does not make it easy for himself my playing a Mongolian Nose Flute ensemble quickly followed by a hip-hop act from Soweto. But he gives it his all and it is a pleasure to help out.

Whilst up at the studio I fired off a few shots of my Harinzumi camera – the results are ace! Stewart now wants one of these for Xmas and Daren H. was enamored with the thing too – it really is a winner.

 

CREAO Studio 4/20

First Attempt With My New Harinezumi Guru

Harinezumi is Japanese for ‘Hedgehog’ – it is also awesome as a camera.

To be honest, the cost of film purchase and development had taken the fun out of Lomography. I was worried too much about the cost of the prints that I did not snap away as you should. However, after finding a Japanese site that claimed these cameras were “King of Artistic Digital” I was intrigued.

I found a brand new Harinezumi Guru from 2011 in France and I have been pacing about waiting on Colissimo delivering the thing.

My Harinezumi Guru camera arrived today around 14:50 and I was showered and away from my computer at 15:20. A quick stop at Bass & Bligh later and I had acquired a battery and Micro SD card – unfortunately these are not supplied with the camera – and I headed off to Major Tom’s to read the manual.

Over a friendly, delicious pint of Atom Pale Ale I familiarised myself with the rudimentary controls of the camera – six buttons and that is all you have. I fired off a few in the pub and headed out. Here are the results –

 

First Attempt with My Harinezumi Guru