Audio Saturdays! Songwriting Prompt Contest #3. Win 50 bucks!!

If you’re a follower of the Audio Saturdays column here, you know that for the past couple week’s we’ve been reviewing some of the best ambient music we’ve heard this year. We’ve talked about Alaskan Tapes, we’ve talked about Celer, we’ve talked about Hotel Neon and Chorchill. But before we get back to the reviews (and we’ve got a few coming down the pike) we wanted to drop our latest songwriting prompt contest!

This time, we’ve got another unearthed phone demo for you to consider. The audio clip is from some time last summer, and is ominously titled “the last song”.

“THE LAST SONG”

There are no real rules to the contest, except that it must incorporate some facet of the music in the recording or the recording itself in some way. Everything else is up to you. Past winners are ineligible. The winner gets $50 and a feature in a future Audio Saturdays column. To enter, just submit your songs as an mp3 file to info@sunshineandwind.com and put SONGWRITING CONTEST in the subject.

Astoria, Queens, August 2021

Audio Saturdays: Songwriting Contest Winner: John Pavlou

Today on Audio Saturdays we proudly present “Undo” by John Pavlou, the winner of our most recent songwriting prompt contest! Be sure to visit John at his website to find out more about this compelling, multi-disciplinary artist.

JOHN PAVLOU: UNDO

I met John Pavlou many years ago in the wilds of the NYC downtown open mic scene, and have always been impressed with his ability to balance the thoughtfulness with which he pursues his projects and the prolific nature of his output. Whether that particular week’s performance was poetry, song, monologue, or some combination of all three, I could always count on his performances to have a sense of purpose. I caught up with John this past week and he shared some thoughts on the song he submitted for the contest and what he’s up to.

Q: John, thanks for submitting this track and letting us feature it. This was based on a wordless acoustic demo I posted a few weeks ago. I feel like you tapped into a bluesy side of the music I didn’t realize was there when I was writing it; I always imagined it as a folk thing. Anything you want to tell us about how the song came together?

JOHN: Well the first thing to notice really is that I don’t sing all the lyrics in this first and only take of the demo. I think every songwriter does the same thing. You write a bunch of lyrics but then you have to make it work in the context of the music. The music is really terrific here melodic, insistent, slightly unsettling.

The track already came with a name or partial name, “Undo.” The song is basically a guy trying to explain to his girlfriend or lover that he had a little inconsequential affair in order to get back at his girlfriend for some slight or some thing that she did. Do you know the funny thing is that I haven’t really been in a relationship for a long time that hasn’t stopped me from writing love songs or songs about relationships. I just have to put myself in the mindset and create a character in a certain set of circumstances. I don’t know how well it works. The music gave me a lot to work with here.

Hominid, Terra Cotta, 2000

Q: When we would see each other at shows in the city, I always knew you as a guitar player and painter, but I found out recently that you’ve got an impressive body of work in design, conceptual physical art and sculpture. How do you feel your different modes of expression inform each other? What was your first artistic love?

JOHN: I always find that a hard question to answer. I’m not really certain what the overlap in my different forms of expression is. Except I would say in the way that I make them. Because when I draw or design or write I start with a line, and then I add another line and I’m always reacting and improvising and playing off of the previous thing. And I trust that process. It’s not like I receive something fully formed that I am transcribing. I will have a feeling in my gut that leads me to want to create in the moment and I follow that by putting pen or pencil to paper.

Now that I’m writing a lot of poetry I tend to look out into my environment for a line or phrase that I might hear on the radio or read somewhere. Then I grab that and say I can play with that or play off that. For instance this morning I was half awake and half asleep in the term ‘ivory black’ came to me. And I know ivory black is a kind of black paint that has certain qualities to it. And I thought that ivory black is very evocative and then I could do something with it. So I decided to use that as a name of a poem.

There’s no doubt that my first artistic love was drawing. But drawing abstractly. I was born as an abstract artist. And that’s mostly what I’ve done. Even though I drew monster cars in school and all sorts of stuff like that. My first love is what I call my “designs.” It may not be a coincidence that I went off to school to study design.

You know, I studied architecture… And I always wanted to create spaces and places for people. I was able to explore that in graduate school and beyond. And I think there’s a way in which a song or a poem can create a space that you can walk into an experience. I find the notion of slowing down time and creating an invitation for people to enter a slightly different world is really delightfully compelling to me.

“The Bridge,” Oil on Canvas, Four 24″x24″ Panels

Q: We’re both from Yonkers! I’ve been hearing for years that there’s great art happening up there, but I have never made the trip to check it out. Care to shout out any Yonkers related art happenings?

JOHN: You know the whole Yonkers art scene is really coming alive. Slowly, but surely. I was involved, for a while, with the Blue Door Art Center. They are celebrating their 20th anniversary this year. They have new exhibitions every month and they occasionally have readings and events. There’s also an organization called Yonkers Arts. And there are a few new galleries downtown as well . There’s also a great hive of studios in the old Alexander Smith Carpet Mills, it’s called YOHO Studios and they are dozens and dozens of artists who are working in there and all different media.

I also have to give a shout out to the delightful Hudson River Museum. They’ve got an installation there by red grooms. Have a bookstore. That sort of mashes together the New York Public Library and the Morgan Museum and Library. What was so amazing to me when I was growing up is that’s just full-size model of a bookstore was actually the bookstore and gift shop for the museum, so you would walk into this crazy three-dimensional sculpture and buy a little postcard or some astronaut ice cream. The bookstore is still there but it’s set up as a separate exhibition that you could walk through.

Pegasus Mural Project

Q: Is there anything you’ve been working on (artistically or otherwise) that you want to talk about?

JOHN: Well, the next thing I want to do is put together a book of poetry. But I just feel like I’m so busy writing right now that I just can’t stop. I have this ongoing project on my YouTube channel, JohnnyX Music, where I have been uploading a song snippet or an instrumental or a spoken word piece every day for the past few months. I must have 170 videos or more by now. I love the fact that I’m doing it primarily for me. Even if my viewership is quite low I feel like I’m building up a body of work in which I am honing my craft and working through my obsessions

Thanks Johnny for sharing your songs and answering some questions. Johnny is doing his thing every day on his youtube channel so be sure to check it out, subscribe! Next week we’ll be back with some ambient reviews and a NEW SONGWRITING PROMPT CONTEST! You too can win $50 and have your music featured on Sunshine and Wind.

Audio Saturdays! CHORCHILL

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re fully aware that the new La Sudar album, The Debussy Loops, is available to stream and download now. Some call it post-drone. Some call it space elevator music. We don’t know. We’re glad it’s finished. So for the next couple of weeks, while we bask in the post-release glow, we’re going to shift the spotlight over to some of the artists we’ve discovered on Bandcamp this year.

This week: CHORCHILL

One of our favorite pastimes as we were putting together The Debussy Loops was our Tuesday and Thursday ambient walks. Mondays and Wednesdays after work we’d go out for a jog, but Tuesdays and Thursdays we’d take the vape and go down to the beautiful Astoria Park waterfront and walk around, browsing the “ambient” tag on Bandcamp to find artists currently working in the genre in order to find contemporary sounds for inspiration. We found a lot of incredible music this way.

Our most recent find is Chorchill, an artist (or artists?) working out of Germany. We haven’t dug fully into their catalog yet, but the record featured above (“Shakmat“) is a truly remarkable record of soundscapes, minimal piano work, evocative, atmospheric Rhodes-style piano sounds and remarkable chill out vibes throughout. Check out the standout tracks “Portes” and “Dimi” for a good representation of this minimalist style. A couple of other fantastic tracks like “The Hamlet Escape” and “Tea Bags” also feature synthwave-inspired blippy percussion, giving the tracks a sense of gentle propulsion that never overwhelm the tasteful melodies happening throughout. We look forward to exploring this artists work in the weeks to come. We hope you enjoy it too.

Until then don’t forget about our Songwriting Prompt Contest!! Entries are closing soon so get them in!!

Finally- here’s another picture of Astoria’s most beautiful cat, Maple. She’s sitting on the coffee table! Who would have ever thought of such a thing!

the Maple 🍁

Audio Saturdays! New La Sudar single from THE DEBUSSY LOOPS

If you’re a follower of the Audio Saturdays column here, you know that for the past couple week’s we’ve been exploring the music of early 00s indie band Trousers. It was a lot of fun revisiting that old material, but now that the album is finished we’re kind of at a loss for what to do next. While we mull over some ideas, we’re going to go back to what got us here, at least for the time being.

“The Debussy Loops 6”

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re fully aware that the new La Sudar album, The Debussy Loops, is dropping on Tuesday (6-22-21). And right here is the single. It’s called The Debussy Loops 6. Some call it space elevator music. We don’t know. We’re glad it’s finished.

And don’t forget about our Songwriting Prompt Contest!! Entries are closing soon so get them in!!

Finally- here’s another picture of Astoria’s most beautiful cat, Maple. Yes, as a matter of fact, she does enjoy lying on the floor! She also loves eating, and sitting on the couch!

the Maple 🍁

Audio Saturdays! New La Sudar single from THE DEBUSSY LOOPS

If you’re a follower of the Audio Saturdays column here, you know that for the past couple week’s we’ve been exploring the music of early 00s indie band Trousers. It was a lot of fun revisiting that old material, but now that the album is finished we’re kind of at a loss for what to do next. While we mull over some ideas, we’re going to go back to what got us here, at least for the time being.

“The Debussy Loops 6”

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re fully aware that the new La Sudar album, The Debussy Loops, is dropping on Tuesday (6-22-21). And right here is the single. It’s called The Debussy Loops 6. Some call it space elevator music. We don’t know. We’re glad it’s finished.

And don’t forget about our Songwriting Prompt Contest!! Entries are closing soon so get them in!!

Finally- here’s another picture of Astoria’s most beautiful cat, Maple. Yes, as a matter of fact, she does enjoy lying on the floor! She also loves eating, and sitting on the couch!

the Maple 🍁

Audio Saturdays! Random Synth music!

If you’re a follower of the Audio Saturdays column here, you know that for the past couple week’s we’ve been exploring the music of early 00s indie band Trousers. It was a lot of fun revisiting that old material, but now that the album is finished we’re kind of at a loss for what to do next. While we mull over some ideas, we’re going to go back to what got us here, at least for the time being.

“squeeze”

We’re not quite ready to make the full announcement about the new la sudar music coming in June so here’s another random piece of music we found in our archives. It’s labeled “kraftwerk” but it’s obviously us just fucking around on our synth. It’s doesn’t sound anything like Kraftwerk either. Maybe from last year?

We have no idea if it’s worth listening to. Maybe you’ll let us know?

Also, here is another picture of our cat since everyone liked the one we posted last week.

the Maple 🍁

Audio Saturdays! Songwriting Prompt Contest. Win 50 bucks!!

If you’re a follower of the Audio Saturdays column here, you know that for the past couple week’s we’ve been exploring the music of early 00s indie band Trousers. It was a lot of fun revisiting that old material, but now that the album is finished we’re kind of at a loss for what to do next. While we mull over some ideas, we’re going to go back to what got us here, at least for the time being.

“undo”

Here’s something random I found on my phone. It’s pretty and minimalist and embryonic. From summer 2018ish. Never did anything with it, but maybe you can? Let’s make this another Audio Saturdays Songwriting Prompt contest.

I’m officially putting this acoustic snippet into the public domain. Best song using this music (either the music or the recording itself) gets $50 bucks.

the Maple 🍁

Audio Saturdays! New La Sudar coming!

If you’re a follower of the Audio Saturdays column here, you know that for the past couple week’s we’ve been exploring the music of early 00s indie band Trousers. It was a lot of fun revisiting that old material, but now that the album is finished we’re kind of at a loss for what to do next. While we mull over some ideas, we’re going to go back to what got us here, at least for the time being.

DL SAMPLE

Going to drop some new la sudar music June 5, maybe drop the first single next week – who can say? But there’s been a whole lot going on in the la sudar world and it’s long past time to give you a taste. Here’s a sample of an outtake – not anything I used, but part of something I used, looped, slapped around and dressed up.

As far as the actual music that’s coming, see the picture below for a hint about the main source of inspiration…

Audio Saturdays! Back to Basics

If you’re a follower of the Audio Saturdays column here, you know that for the past couple week’s we’ve been exploring the music of early 00s indie band Trousers. It was a lot of fun revisiting that old material, but now that the album is finished we’re kind of at a loss for what to do next. While we mull over some ideas, we’re going to go back to what got us here, at least for the time being.

“undo”

Feeling pretty unfocused in a lot of my work lately. I’ve got three or four different projects I’m trying to run with at once and not really getting anywhere with either of them. I’m loathe to shelve any of them, but I’m tired of being pulled in several different directions.

This particular audio track is an excerpt of a larger thing, which I plucked out and toyed with a bit. Given my failure to see the larger picture with some of these sound collages, I’m hoping that by zooming in I can discover just what about them is not working, or figure out a better way to present them. I leave you to judge just how successful I am at this.

There’s a separate music project I’m working on, unrelated to this except that I’m using this to avoid it (the other project). It’s been a frustrating week, hoping to rally this weekend, or at least catch up on sleep.

Audio Saturdays! Back to Basics

If you’re a follower of the Audio Saturdays column here, you know that for the past couple week’s we’ve been exploring the music of early 00s indie band Trousers. It was a lot of fun revisiting that old material, but now that the album is finished we’re kind of at a loss for what to do next. While we mull over some ideas, we’re going to go back to what got us here, at least for the time being.

“Astoria Sound Collage #2”

For the last couple of weeks we’ve been doing some entry level explorations into field recording, and while the results are mixed, there does seem to be some promise in the idea of taking field recordings and composing some ambient music around them. That’s not what we’re doing in today’s selection, “Astoria Sound College #2” though- here we broke out some samples from a recent twitch stream and combined them with some bird chirps we got from our last field recording expedition.

We’d love to hear from some of you field recorders out there, especially the musicians among you, to discuss how you’ve integrated the two into your art, to see how one has informed the other.

photo of China, photographer unknown, ripped from the internet at some point