of recording a song every day for 23 days
Tuesday 25th October 2011 (San Diego, California, USA): Australian touring group, Band of Frequencies (Shannon Sol Carroll, OJ Newcomb, Al Hicks) have just completed recording 23 songs over 23 days as part of their musical contribution to the TransparentSea environmental campaign; a month-long initiative spearheaded by world-renowned free-surfer David Rastovich (31, Byron Bay, NSW AUS), designed to draw awareness to marine and coastal issues along the Californian coast.
The list of "Song a Day" contributing artists includes the likes of established musicians Angus Stone, Tristan Prettyman, Will Conner, Catherine Clark and Angela Iimura along with a host of surfing legends and special guests like John Peck, Rusty Miller, Denny Aarberg and actress Isabel Lucas, who participated in the journey on various legs, navigating their way south with Rastovich and co. in twin-seat Hobie kayaks some 260-miles (418-kilometers) from the Gaviota Coast north of Santa Barbara to Mission Bay, San Diego.
Each of the 23 tracks is a reflection or interpretation of the events of that day, the lyrics and tempo inspired by countless interactions with dolphins, sea lions, whales, unpredictable weather, pollutants, highways, trailer parks, harbors and other people - especially the military and navy who maintain a serious presence in one of the world's most densely populated zones.
All tracks were recorded using a single microphone, usually around the campfire or in the travelling motorhome that served as a base for the campaigners in between legs at sea. The collaborations included anywhere from three to 20 people and the greatest number of takes for any one song recordings was three.
"The real test was having to write a song a day, having to pull the crew together - whether they were tired, exhilarated, hungry, sunburned or all of the above," explains Newcomb.
"The nature of the journey was very much dictated by the weather and the group was afforded minimal recording time because of the excessive travelling. If we weren't on the sea, we were packing or driving. It was demanding, but with that pressure there is also a degree of satisfaction," adds Newcomb.
Track 1, "These 20 Miles", featuring guests Stone and Lucas is a particularly poignant and moving ode to the unique stretch of the Gaviota Coast where the TransparentSea journey began. It is the only remaining stretch of coastal land in Southern California that remains undeveloped.
"There were more lyrics, but when it came to the recording, Angus isolated those key phrases from what was written. Ultimately the finished song does reflect the Gaviota area - sparse, relatively untouched and dreamy." says Carroll.
"I was stoked to be a part of the amazing voyage," said Stone.
"Painting on walls, making music around the fire ... feeling the love from the big friendly giants of the ocean and from the hearts of the crazy Transparentsea pirates on the land ... then coming together as one, placing the pieces of the puzzle together, creating unity for all here on earth, it was special," said Stone.
"Willing the Fog to Burn" is another special offering, an emotive outpouring recorded after a casual night-crossing turned into a 17-hour ordeal that saw the group separated in fog, unable to see, miles from land with little water and sketchy communication.
Main vocalist, Catherine Clark, was on that leg and actually broke down at one point, exhausted and thirsty she began crying. Newcomb was there too, in another kayak, peddling for hours when there was no wind to assist them to where they were going.
"The tempo we picked when I was writing "Willing the Fog to Burn" mimics the peddle-rate. We had no wind. We were peddling the whole way. And for Catherine it was a heavy experience. She almost got to the point of giving up. That definitely channelled into her performance. The emotion really came through, the pain is right there for the listener," explains Newcomb.
Of the faster paced track "I Heard the Word (The future of our Days)", Track 19, Carroll explains: "We are living in a time that sees humanity torn between economic agendas and environmental realities. This song was written after hearing about the people's movement to publicly protest the economic superpowers agendas. The movement to let corporations and governments know that we do not want to be railroaded into over-consumption of our planet's resources for short-term profits. It is a personal movement to simplify, consume less and maintain a sustainable way of living.
"Every single person alive today is challenged to reconsider the concept of 'enough'. What is essential to our happy, healthy existence? What is simply 'enough'? Our personal and collective decisions have massive repercussions that will echo far into the daily reality of future generations' quality of life. Less is more. Enough is enough. Spread the word," explains Carroll.
Just north of ritzy Malibu, the group were granted a rare meeting with the Chumash Indians, some of the first people to inhabit North America. The local leader, Chief Mati, blessed the group and permitted a group recording of "The Heart Song". At the time of writing, the recorded song is available, but the lyrics are still to be translated to English by one of the tribe's elders.
"To get a blessing from the native people of that area was amazing. It was a huge lesson for our crew to learn - to understand who are the real custodians of the land, especially in an area sprawling with Western influence like L.A.. Our entire journey has been very grounding and the music reflects that," says Newcomb.
All 23 "Song a Day" tracks can be found at: http://transparentseavoyage.bandcamp.com
The first 200 downloads are free as of November, week 1. Donations or song purchases of $1 or more will go to the S4C (Surfers for Cetaceans) organization.
The Band of Frequencies, TransparentSea voyage band members are:
OJ Newcomb (bass): Originally from the Gold Coast, Qld, Australia. Now residing on the Sunshine Coast. Studied at the Conservatorium of Music, Brisbane. Plays for mutiple bands, including Afro Dizzi Act, The View from Madeline's Couch, Oka and Band of Freq's. Executive Director of production house, Low Pressure Productions.
Al Hicks (drums): Originally from Wollongong, NSW, Australia, Al now resides in Los Angeles after a six-year stint in New York where he studied and worked professionally in the music scene. Co-founder of Australian band The Strides, Al is a keen surfer and hits the waves at every opportunity.
Shannon Sol Carroll (guitar, vocals): Byron bay born, residing now on the Sunshine Coast. Second generation musician. Also a member of Afro Dizzi Act and Low Pressure Sound System. Previously in Resin Dogs, Banawurun and Soul Prism. Creative Director of production house, Low Pressure Productions.
TransparentSea is an awareness campaign aimed at highlighting coastal environmental issues, with particular attention given to cetaceans (whales and dolphins) and the waters they inhabit.
The first journey (Byron Bay to Bondi, Australia, 2009) successfully highlighted the plight of humpback whales and the threat faced by Japanese whaling fleets.
The second (California, October, 2011) traces the southern migration of blue and grey whales from Santa Barbara to Baja, Mexico with an emphasis on engaging key coastal community groups and drawing awareness to the causes they support.