Almost Anglo Saxon Gets Radio Play!

Mick Mercer plays a track from Almost Anglo Saxon -  The Song of Wayland Smithy!

Mick Mercer plays a track from Almost Anglo Saxon – The Song of Wayland Smithy!

Mick Mercer played a track from Almost Anglo Saxon!
Isn’t radio play a great thing!
At the beginning of March Mick Mercer played a track from Almost Anglo-Saxon much to my delight!

Click here for Mick Mercer’s Radio Show for 8th March 2015

It is so gratifying to be recognized as a contributor to the music scene, as diluted as it is now that huge corporations have just about killed it. Mick Mercer truly enjoys discovering new music and plays a real mix of material. It was a pleasure to be included and be part of something so special.

The track was Wayland Smithy – although he was trying to play Eyes of An Eagle – it didn’t matter to me as I thought Wayland Smithy really stands out as different. My only regret was that the listening audience were not told the title of the song, so the lyrics were not put into any context. However, I believe that the sign of a good song is that it means many things to different people. The subject of Wayland Smithy is about loss and imprisonment (as Wayland the Smith was separated from his wife and kept prisoner by a king – to make fine jewellery. Wayland sought revenge by murdering the kings sons and making their skulls into fine cups for the king). I hope the song still entertains without the listener having to know exactly what the song is about!

Mick Mercer is also an author – usually about the Gothic genre!

Just one of Mick Mercer's publications

Just one of Mick Mercer’s publications

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

Almost Anglo Saxon by Ella Jo

 This is a concept album as I wanted to start a brand new project with completely new ideas. It is very satisfying to research a subject, write about it as poetry and then find a tune and craft a song. This is what ‘Almost Anglo Saxon’ has mainly been about.

I wanted to write some songs about Anglo Saxon life as I am interested in the history. Also I wanted to explore a more historical approach to making the music. Nothing remains of Anglo Saxon music. They had certain instruments that we can be sure of, but no one knows what type of music they were playing, and so this gave me the freedom to just write songs as I like to and not look to any particular influence. If a tune moved me and sat with me, I would use it if I was sure it was ‘original’ enough. I don’t listen to any folk music really so just followed what I thought sounded authentic and pretty simple. 

I like to think each song tells a story and gives some insight into the human condition all those years ago. Included on the album are tracks called: The Song of Wayland Smithy, The Hidden Hoard, Dragon Ships, Wassail The Night, Feel Love, Ethelred – The Unready Blues, The Ballard Of St Margaret, The Minstrel’s Song and Vortigern’s Surprise.

In an attempt to deconstruct what we understand as ‘music’ we have used our imagination to visualize what Anglo Saxon musicians may have been inspired by, with modern day recording techniques. Thus we have sampled wolves, owls and other birds. The wind, the sea, bells, anything that we feel is appropriate to the song. Yet I have also included things that please me – we are not Anglo Saxons – the ‘Almost’ in the title gave me permission to sense the songs from a modern perspective.

The aim of this project is to entertain and educate. This project is also a testament to the skill of the sound engineer, Steve Spon, and proof that a simple concept can be such a lot of fun and be well received by music lovers of all types.

Find out more about the Anglo Saxons, their music and instruments in the following link:

Click here to learn more about the subjects tackled in the songs:

This album is available straight from the suppliers – TEN Awe-inspiring  tracks price £10 plus postage and packing!

Click HERE to BUY ALMOST ANGLO SAXON

 Track List:

Swirling and Whirling – A song about women’s magic!

The Hidden Hoard – The story behind buried treasure

Ethelred The Unready Blues – The ruler who consistently got things wrong!

Minstrel’s Song – reflecting on the life of the entertainers in Anglo Saxon Times and their value to society

Wassail The Night With Mead – A joyous adventure into the folk life of long ago

Ballard Of St Margaret – the story of a real Anglo Saxon Princess

Vortigern’s Surprise – A song about the invasions of the Anglo Saxons

Through the Eyes of An Eagle – A simple love song, based on characters from far off days.

The Song of Wayland Smithy – About the ancient folk story of an imprisoned smith

Dragon Ships – A woman sings a song about the Viking invasion of the Anglo Saxons

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!