I was suffering from an extraordinary aggravated depression for the best part of 1998 until my girlfriend Katy bought me a PlayStation and gave me a decent hobby. Music Creation for the PlayStation (or just ‘Music’) was, on the surface, merely a new PlayStation game, the idea of which was to throw together musical loops to make your own music. But it turned out to be more than just a game and literally changed my life.
It didn’t take me long to realise that I didn’t have to use the preset loops in Music and could instead create my own “loops”, writing the music note by note and letting the program do the rest. This meant I could finally give birth to the music that happened in my head, a realisation which resulted in me making over an album’s worth of music in one month.
The trouble was that everything I did sounded like it was made in the 1980s. I tried to update my sound by investing in some proper hardware, notably a breathtaking four-track DJ workstation by Roland called the SP-808. Though I was now able to use a wider palette of sounds and create something with a more professional sheen, I was already too accustomed to the 16 tracks of the PlayStation program, which gave me much quicker and more nuanced results.
It quickly became apparent that I’d do much better work if I had a desktop computer instead. So, despite its breathtaking beauty (I still miss it even now), we sold the Roland and used the money to invest in a new PC. But then I realised I’d have to spend even more money to get all the right software. So it would have to wait.
I submitted a few of the PlayStation-created tracks to music mags on a demo tape (yes - an actual cassette), which garnered me a surprisingly nice review in Sound on Sound. Unfortunately, by the time the magazine came out, I’d already decided I’d never make it as a musician and, as the new millennium dawned, returned to comedy as a full-time pursuit.
Things are never that simple though and, in the course of trying to make it as a comedian, music-making slowly became a core component of my act...
One of the earliest pieces I made ‘note by note’ on the Music program. In my head this was a thundering rock epic but on the PlayStation it sounded like Gary Numan. An early indication that everything I wrote sounded like it was made in the 1980s.
Another piece which sounded like it was made in the 1980s, with its Japan-inspired bassline and its Fairlight-imitating vocal pads. One of a handful of tracks I sent to music mags on a demo tape. This track elicited the best reaction from its lone review.
Pigshit Shovel 1998
The first piece I made with Jester Interactive’s Music program, in December 1998. It’s basically a bunch of preset loops thrown together into a vaguely pleasing structure. At the time I thought using pre-recorded loops was ‘cheating’ but I’ve grown up now.
From the dark days of yore
Gary Le Strange
The Byronic Lord of Pop
For TV, radio & stage
Experimental & Personal
For my own pleasure
Music to laugh at
A Musical CV