Mental Health and Creativity – Episode 2

Well it's taken a while but we've finally uploaded another episode of our series on mental health and creativity. This is following up on our first episode which looked at the gory details of my mental health breakdown and the aftermath. In this episode we look at the various treatments I've gone through to help improve things and how they've impacted my singing, songwriting and live performance. You can find the first episode on my Youtube channel.

One for the music nerds…

image of a Kemble upright piano with the top open, 3 microphones used, 2 Rhode NT5s and one U87 I'm continuing to work on my latest track Bees In My Head. I've recorded some finger-picked acoustic guitar and am now working on piano and bass. For those interested this is my setup for recording the piano. I have a matched pair of Rhode NT5 mics, I have them panned left and right an pointing close to the strings being played almost inside the body of the piano. I then position a Neumann U87 slightly above the piano to capture some ambience. All 3 are going directly into my SSL Big 6 USB audio interface and mixer.
image showing channel strips on an SSL Big 6 audio interface, shows pre-amp, EQ and compression settings

I add some very light EQ and compression as they go in but otherwise leave the tone relatively untouched. I'll usually do some more very slight EQing and compression when it comes to mixing and there's likely to be some delay and reverb in the final mix too but generally speaking I try and keep things fairly clean as the piano itself has a really nice sound.

I've also recorded some bass so the track is starting to fill out, I have most of the lyrics written but not necessarily in the final order yet. An old friend, who happens to be an unbelievable musical talent, recently reached out to me after finding my TikTok account and has suggested we collaborate on a track. I'm very excited about this because he's brilliant, I'm going to export some of these initial recordings and send them to him to see what he can bring. Watch this space for more info as it emerges!

Happy New Year!

EMG pickups in a Jazz style bass

Happy New Year! I've celebrated this festive season with the age-old tradition of upgrading the pickups in my bass! I've had a "Westfield" bass for as long as I can remember now, it cost roughly £80 several decades ago and has never provided the best tone a bass could give. I've bought an EMG solder-less pick-up and control plate upgrade and it's now sounding fairly decent. My recent releases of One Night Stand and Get Into My Jeans were recorded using my friend Rick's very nice Fender Jaguar bass and his Ashdown bass amp which made a huge difference to the bass tone, while I'm not quite there with my upgrade it should make some difference on my next recording.

Speaking of next recordings, I'm working on a new song at the moment. It's called Bees In My Head and it's a cheery little number exploring my struggles with anxiety and depression. Seriously, it is quite upbeat, it's a waltz, although lyrically it's a bit grim. I've got some acoustic guitar recorded already and am hoping to work on some piano today. I would like to get it released in January but it can take some time for tracks to get into all the streaming services, so this may be one that appears on my website and Bandcamp sooner than on streaming services. I'll keep you updated!

Don't forget that Better Than Thiswhich was released just before Christmas, is on all streaming services now.

Better Than This – listen now!

cover art for Bransby - Better Than This. It shows a montage of old photos of a young couple and hand-written song lyrics. The young couple may or may not be Bransby and Dawn

My new single Better Than This is available to listen to now, right here on this website!

I like to think this song sounds like falling in love in your mid 20s, that's certainly what it's about.

This will be streaming on all major outlets from Friday December 29th, but it's an early Christmas present here.

Merry Christmas everyone xx

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Battitude 2023!

Bransby and Rosa Lennox on stage at The Windmill in Brixton

Last Saturday I popped down to that there London to play Battitude 2023. Battitude is an annual event which has run for most of the last 15 years to celebrate the momentous occasion of Les "Fruitbat" Carter's birthday. Les very kindly asked me to play when I supported him at The Saddle in Chester earlier this year. I've played The Windmill a few times but not for about 20 years or so. It was great to be back and lovely to catch up with some old friends. Although I was on first and quite early in the evening there were still loads of people there and it was a fantastic evening. Rosa Lennox, the immensely talented singer and actor who provides the additional vocals on Get Into My Jeans was able to join me on stage for that song too which was a real treat.

Blinded By The LEDs

My SSL Big 6 mixer/interface with lots of LEDs lit up

Whilst my latest track All You Leave Behind was released just last week it is now officially ancient history man! I am already working on a new song, indeed it's nearly finished. The shot above shows the settings I used for summing the mix back into the box. I've done a few videos on my Youtube channel about how I record, mix and master my tracks but it's a funny one, I feel a bit of imposter syndrome talking about the technicalities of music production. I have an undergraduate degree in Music Technology and have been self-producing for years but when I look at all the experts and professionals on Youtube it feels silly to throw my hat into the ring alongside them. Then I remember that in this life we are all just making it up as we go along and the production of my songs improves every time so why not show people how I work?

My new song is called Better Than This, it's an old song that I'm recording for the first time. It's a very up-tempo, feel-good, love song, so a bit of a change-up from the existential questioning of All You Leave Behind. I realise that most people have never heard these tracks so it's irrelevant in many ways to talk about this being an "old song", but for me it's nice to be able to mine the back catalogue of my songs and it's interesting to mix up what I'm releasing between songs I've just written and songs that were written 20-25 years ago.

All You Leave Behind – out now!

You can listen to, and even pay for, my new song, All You Leave Behind on Bandcamp right now.

All You Leave Behind

cover art for Bransby - All You Leave Behind - it shows a beautiful sunset on a calm Welsh beach

I've decided to start saying more about the songs I write because, well, why not? My next release is called All You Leave Behind, it'll be available on this site and on Bandcamp very soon, then on general release on all streaming services from 24th Nov, but what's it all about eh? Well I'll tell you.

This song came out of an event at Chester's arts venue, Storyhouse. The event was Childless, which looks at people's experiences of not having children. My partner, Dawn, and I are childless by choice, we're regulars at Storyhouse so became involved with this too. Dawn does an awful lot, I just turn up and try to be useful.

I was asked to appear on the men's panel. I'd done this the previous year, and it's a strange experience. Many people at the event are childless not by choice and there are a lot of very raw and painful emotions experienced around the subject and at the event. My experience of childlessness is very different, I chose to not have kids and it's a decision I'm very happy with, my experience of childlessness is an unequivocally positive one. It can be difficult to negotiate telling my story and describing my experience amidst people whose experience is very different and whose sense of pain and loss is very real. I try to be as sensitive and understanding as I can whilst also recognising that my experience and perspective are legitimate.

This year the men's panel discussed creativity and legacy. All three members of the panel have creative outlets that are important to them. Robert Nurden is an author, Andy Harrod is an academic and poet, and I write songs. During our discussions we touched on the idea that the act of creation leaves a legacy. Where some people leave children behind when they die, others leave creative works. It's one way of looking at it and one that I hold quite dear.

The act of creation is extremely important to me. I write songs because I feel that creating something beautiful makes the world a better place. If that sounds grandiose or arrogant, please bear with me. I am well aware that I don't have a big audience and that my songs don't change the world. That's not what I mean. The act of creation on its purist level means to make something that wasn't there before. That happens every time someone writes a poem, or paints a picture, or writes a song, any creative act - something exists where previously it didn't. I write songs that move me, that make me feel something, that I find beautiful. It doesn't matter if anyone else feels that about them, or has the same experience listening to them. I'd like it if they did, but fundamentally, if I find beauty in what I create then I have created something beautiful, and the universe is a slightly better place because of that.

That's why I write songs, and that's what I leave behind, that's my legacy.

I thought about that whilst writing this song, but you'll probably tell that the lyrics went somewhere slightly different. The lyrics of this song, the meaning of this song, is not about how great it is to be creative and leave creative works behind. It's about more than that, but you can decide what it means for you. I'm just really pleased to get "the heat death of the universe" into a song. The lyrics are below. The song will follow shortly.

All You Leave Behind

Your wallet, watch and mobile phone
All things you left behind at home
This morning Your umbrella and house keys,
A scent, a sense, some memories
Your calling Some words, some notes, some DNA
Are gone tomorrow but you are here today And all you have is all you need
And all you leave behind are memories Some sketching of forgotten verse,
The heat death of the universe
Behind you The thoughts and prayers of one who cares
The voice that comes from up the stairs
Will find you And all you have is all you need
And all you leave behind are memories You cannot take it with you
And like all who've gone before you
You will make of it what you will
And your legacy is still forgotten dreams The things we make are not to be
This life is temporary
And your legacy is all just memories

All you leave behind are memories