Making A Children’s Audio Book #1

Children’s Audio Books #1
Having spent a good deal of my life as a singer songwriter and author, I am about to break into the world of Children’s Audio Books.

The problem with music is getting people to listen to it. The problem with e books is getting people to read them. But Audio Books seem like a totally different animal. The quest to find a safe medium in which to placate and safely entertain your child seems like a major issue for some parents. I don’t know – I am not a parent, but my research shows that parents are concerned about their kids in that they want to entertain them and educate them, and audio books fall into both these categories.

Audio Books link here

I began to research what I was getting myself into when it became apparent that my audio version of ‘Barney the Musical’ has the potential of becoming a huge hit with kids. With the help from my producer, Spon, we brought the story alive with some very entertaining sound effects.

As I have mentioned before, I write stories that I think I would have enjoyed reading as a child, and as a kid I loved funny noises. I have an enduring memory from childhood, and that is of myself and my sister sticking a finger in one ear and pretending to be folk singers. We were not immune to the comedy of this lark, and others, that involved silly noises.

Research on the net took me to many sites for parenting. Some were better than others. The best site I found in the limited time I gave myself was mumsnet.com – Sensible parents discussing sensible topics.

I was able to compile a list of recommended audio stories from mumsnet and other sites. Best of all I found conversations which showed how important audio books are for children who are reluctant to read. I also identified the environments that kids like to listen to audio books.

Other research showed me how disappointed customers could be when their CD audio books were poor quality or wrongly packed. I read a lot of criticism; from dislike for the accent of the narrator to the irritation of having to change a CD half way through a story. I also noticed that just about every children’s story ever written had at least one criticism. Not everyone is going to like my story, or my accent.

From this research I am able to get a measure of my own caliber. I am able to see where I may fit into the market and how to manage this product. The research has left me feeling quite confident as I believe that the story is good – it is politically correct (!), it is well paced and entertaining. My English accent is obviously not BBC – I think my slight cockney twang may become my trademark. I think I nailed the voices of the characters and the sound effects have animated the story. In short I think Barney The Musical can stand proudly with other children’s audio book products!

New Interview with Ella Jo

Almost Anglo Saxon CD front cover1Starting 2015 – An Interview with Ella Jo about her New Album Almost Anglo Saxon

This year Ella Jo finished the long awaited album ‘Almost Anglo Saxon’ – this is what she said to Diamond Seeds:

“It was a very enjoyable project and a fantastic challenge to learn history, write songs relating to that history and produce an album that is musically credible as well as educational. History has never been so much fun and the research turned up some interesting facts. Choosing subjects like King Ethelred the Unready and the folk tale of Wayland Smithy, I wanted to tell the stories as the Anglo Saxons may have told them.

Reflecting on the material I realize that I was trying to stand in the shoes of those who witnessed historical moments in Anglo Saxon History, like a woman watching the ships land when the Vikings invaded in the song ‘Dragon Ships’. There was also moments when I allowed A modern point of view such as ‘The Hidden Hoard’. In ‘The Minstrel’s Song’ I wanted to embrace the place of music in culture and show how highly it was valued in the past.”

Who is this album for?

“Everyone. The idea was to create a collection of modern day folk songs, but I am from a pop influenced background so the songs strode off into their own directions. We experimented all the way through this project wanting to create something new, but recognizable. I suppose Pink Floyd worked in a similar way when they experimented with the technology of their time. The challenge was to write good authentic songs. One way of keeping true to the idea was to turn things around. If I travelled back in time would the Anglo Saxons approve of my material? Or if I could bring Anglo Saxon musicians into a modern day recording studio would they have performed songs like mine? These ideas set the standards – and on a spiritual level there was an underlying will to please the ancestors.
So I suppose I wrote this album for the Anglo Saxons and all of their descendents and for anyone curious to know about them. All cultures could gain some insight from this album. As a songwriter I looked at the history and added human elements such as irony or joy.”

How did you write the songs?

“I really don’t know. A silent room will eventually allow words or a tune to develop. Some of this album was easy to write once I tapped into the zone – I had ‘The Anglo Saxon Chronicles’ nearby and looked up stories on the net. I didn’t try too hard to make sophisticated songs – I was concerned with telling the stories – in my view that is what folk is.

Mel on Whistle!

Mel on Whistle!

Fiddlin Flick

Fiddlin Flick on ‘Ethelred The Unready Blues’

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was supported by some wonderful musicians who helped on various songs – it was a joy to record with Mel from Tarantism on Flute, Steve Kerr on Guitar, Ed Branch from UK Decay on Bass and Fiddlin Flick on violin. There was a lot of improvisation which was awesome – I loved giving the musicians freedom to interpret the songs, and as we were recording they could do as many takes as they liked. Working with Spon I knew that he would work this way and we would pick through takes and get the best out of everyone.”

Tell us about Steve Spon

Spon recording01

Steve Spon at the controls

“Well we made three albums already, and by the second one I had grown pretty comfortable with working with him as sound engineer. Almost Anglo Saxon was brand new work for both of us and we jumped on it. Spon is senior producer, so I got to work closely with him on the production. To be honest it was stress free – he has so much experience and understood what I was trying to do. He is also interested in Anglo Saxon history so he brought ideas and creative strengths to the project.”

Almost Anglo Saxon Available NowClick Here to purchase Almost Anglo Saxon, the CD Album by Ella Jo

What is different about Almost Anglo Saxon?
“Well technically it is a concept album. Only a few bars of music survive from those times a thousand years ago, but there is evidence of the instruments that they used. We have come so far with today’s technology that once I began to imagine sounds and atmospheres Spon was able to make up versions of my ideas. We twiddled and tweaked and allowed the feelings of the songs to transpire. So while I was tapping into ideas for mead hall songs, Spon would be out trying to record our local owl. I mean this album really is a testament to the saying that your world is as big as your imagination: for example, we made sounds by throwing cutlery around the kitchen and I clog danced on a wooden staircase in my heels…

I want everybody to relate to the subjects covered in this album, its not all heavy, although I couldn’t escape the fact that there was a lot of war and invasion going on. But there is ample opportunity to dance, and sing along. There is even a love song (‘Through the Eyes of an Eagle’). I tried to keep the lyrics historically correct on this album – I think people are sick of listening to bullshit pop. So it should appeal to anyone with some musical sophistication – and I have no doubt there are many out there who love history and music. So I think the album has a broad appeal.

I enjoyed the challenge of singing what I had created. There were moments when I had to trust to improvisation during the recording process, which is how I came up with the coda of ‘Ethelred The Unready Blues’. I was immersed in a song I had not written an ending for, and just found it – some things I will never understand. So Almost Anglo Saxon is a concept album, but is not contrived like commercial pop.”

Gig-wise?

“I thought I was a bit shaky this year – finding it hot when I performed in the summer, I was very out of practice. I think my best performance was on Xmas Eve – I filled in one song when Garry and Jenny had a break at their gig at the Bedford Arms in Souldrop. I hadn’t prepared anything, so I got the audience to clap along and sung ‘The Raggle-Taggle Gypsies’ which is an old favourite. It was a jam really, but I know all the words so I trusted the flavour of the occasion and went for it! It was a lot of fun entertaining the folks in my local pub!”

Trying to remember how to play on a stage again!

Trying to remember how to play on a stage again!

The Future
“I have a lot of catching up to do on guitar. I felt so much better just singing, perhaps I will find a guitarist who can accompany me to take Almost Anglo Saxon live into the pubs and clubs – I would love to take people on a trip into history!”

Click Here to purchase Almost Anglo Saxon only £10 plus p&p – straight from the manufacturers

Click here to learn more about Anglo Saxon history and it’s music

Spring Equinox Blog 2013

The long winter of 2012 has dug in its heels and is still with us this March 2013.
In the week between Christmas and New Year we produced a one off original Diamond Seeds podcast. Ella Jo as ‘EJ the DJ’ charted the music made in her home town of Luton, a place renowned for terrible architecture but which actually has a pedigree stock of music which flourished in the post punk era. Airspace was provided for an archive of this music and a little history given about the bands and their stories. In years to come we expect this Diamond Seed Podcast No 5 to become a valuable resource regarding the social history and musical legacy of an English town in the early 1980s. Great bands from the present also feature, showing how the music scene has remained an important and innovative aspect of the town, even if the authorities and wider population mostly ignore it!

Since the beginning of Winter, Diamond Seeds has supported Ella Jo’s decision to release some of her writing work in ebook format, due to hefty publishing costs. Thus ‘Journey of A Tarot Reader’ can now be found on Smashwords  as well as a book explaining how a trip to India cast light on an aspect of the origins of Tarot itself.

To create awareness of her work and introduce her books, Ella Jo released a free ebook  about her experiences of reading Tarot. Using autobiographical material and containing suggestions for a Code of Practice in Tarot Reading, she issued the ebook ‘How to Read Tarot with Confidence’ two weeks before Christmas 2012. By the end of March the downloads had reached over one thousand and was being read across the world. All this before the official release by the publishers! (No longer Available)

Staying with the writing bug, Ella Jo began 2013 with a brand new project, branching out into children’s fiction with ideas for a series of friendly bedtime stories about a witch and her adventures (First story due for release in April 2013).

Music-wise, Ella Jo’s new album, Almost Anglo Saxon is progressing slowly as and when time will permit. In March, as the weather took a turn for the worst and the temperature dipped horribly, Fliddling Flick came to stay and laid down some beautiful violin tracks for some songs on this album.

Fiddlin Flick

Laying down the violin tracks for ‘Ethelread The Unready Blues’

Spon has been involved with creating UK Decay’s new website – designed to provide updates for the adventures of the band since it reformed. The old site is still available for memorabilia from the bands early days. The new website is dedicated to providing current information for those supporting this incredible resurrection. UK Decay were in the studio recording new material in 2012 and April 2013 sees the release of their album ‘New Hope For The Dead’ containing brand new UK Decay tracks.
Visit the UK Decay site  for latest feedback and gigs to be announced for UK Decay.
The single Killer and B side, Heavy Metal Jews, is available April 2013 in white vinyl no less!

We have scattered dreams with Diamond Seeds – watch as those seeds live and grow!

Welcome to Diamond Seeds!

Home of Independent artists Ella Jo and Steve Spon. Find FREE Music podcasts and learn about our exciting creative projects. Scatter Dreams with Diamond Seeds!

Pod casts take off at Diamond Seeds

A new blog at last – it has just been over a year since the last one – and what a busy time indeed!

Last summer saw us at Stonehenge and Strawberry Fair, taking in the delights of our festive culture, seeing how folk can gather and make merry, singing and dancing and just getting on with each other. Many old friends appeared again in the last year, and it was a joy to find new faces too!

But what of Diamond Seeds?
Well music projects continue, but go off at a tangent, so while much has been done, little can be said of it! (All will be revealed eventually).

To celebrate the start of the Olympics, the Diamond Seeds fraternity attended a little festival in Luton, put on BY the people FOR the people, and there was a fantastic turn out and many bands gave their time for free over the two days at the Leftfield Stage.

Punk band from Luton

The Adenoids played at the Leftfield Live Stage in Luton the day the Olympic Torch came through.

At the Leftfield Live Stage

Ella Jo At the Leftfield Live Stage. Held on the day the Olympic Torch went through Luton 2012

2012 has been the year that we have launched our pod casts and there are now three available to stream. The idea has come to fruition and it has been a real pleasure to host some of the top new artists that are about this summer. Check out the pod casts if you haven’t already – they run for approx 45 minutes. You will not be disappointed with the quality of the production or the pure talent that we have found. Each edition plays ten superb songs from different genres from the best up and coming artists from around the world.  http://www.diamondseeds.co.uk/podcast.html

We like to be inclusive and continually value all contributions, so keep the music coming in!!!!

ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING…..ELLA JO

 

 

 

 

‘A porthole where beauty is born of trouble.Passing through a cleansing, uplifting experience.’

‘Work well crafted will always channel human experience into sweet depths, for those brave enough to share it.’
Tracks – 10

Track List – Lately, Plans That Slip, She’s Gone, She Waits For Gaps, Blue Dancers, Crossing Over, Spellbound Lady, Break The Sound, God Made Television, Through The Gap
Label – Diamond Seed Productions
Year – 2010
Price – £10.00 plus shipping* Buy CD

LIMITS OF MILKWEED…..ELLA JO

 

Limits Of Milkweed by Ella Jo

Limits of Milkweed by Ella Jo

‘Melodic nutrition for a runway to the stars’.
‘Good enough for the Space Shuttle’

Tracks – 10
Label – Diamond Seed Productions
Year – 2008

Track List:  Amarylis, Subplane Highway, Jacob’s Ladder, Goodbye To The Monsoon, Dancing In The Shade, Perception, Heartbreak Girls, Himalaya, Must Be A Mystery, Diamonds Don’t Go

Price – £10.00 inc shipping* Buy CD
Digital Download – I Tunes,  CD Baby 
Sample sound clips here

Review by Mick Mercer here

 

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Ella Jo At Diamond Seeds

Diamond Seeds are pleased to announce the hosting of Ella Jo’s albums on our site through our on line services.
Ella Jo's three albums signed to Diamond SeedsEJ has written and produced four albums to date, each with ten original songs. Limits Of Milkweed, Alter Ego, Attitude is Everything and Almost Anglo Saxon. These albums span the genres as she embraces neo folk to unapologetic popular music but also incorporates drum and bass grooves, acapella, and classic vibes of bond movie stature. All the songs are woven together with al fresco style singing and strong lyrics. The albums are enhanced by amusing sound-scapes, using interesting concepts and montaging techniques.

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