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CLICK HERE FOR THE 11 TO WATCH IN 2007 FEATURE!
CLICK HERE FOR PART ONE OF THE SIMON CURTIS FEATURE!
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Yesterday, i published the first part of a rather epic Simon Curtis feature, and I'm rather pleased that I did get my highest number of page hits for over 4 weeks :) Part one featured a review of his as yet unreleased album, some additional songs he has recorded and the first interview I did with Simon. So without further "ado", let's get on with part two!!!
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THEZAPPING INTERVIEWS SIMON (AGAIN):
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11. Since I "spoke" to you last, there have been a few new developments in the world of Simon Curtis that impact on the release of Alter Boy. Are you able to elaborate on this any further?
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Yes, I am thrilled to announce that I have finally procured proper management for once and for all! woohoo! haha.
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I truly am very thrilled, as the man crazy enough to take me on is a somewhat legendary figure in the music industry. His name is Robert Fitzpatrick, and although he is rather low-key in comparison to such other industry greats as Clive Davis and such (as far as his public persona is concerned) the man’s list of accomplishments in the industry is unparalleled. He was The Beatles’ entertainment lawyer, the Bee Gees manager (along with Robert Stigwell), and single-handedly assembled/managed Cream (and after their parting of ways, Eric Clapton). The list goes on and on, but to be able to say that the Bee Gees manager even remotely finds my music appealing, much less wants to manage me, is really mind-boggling. He’s such a great guy, already is like family, and completely “gets” my vision of what I want to accomplish, and the kind of artist I want to be. That is paramount in a manager. I am still somewhat reeling that someone of that calibre, with a history such as his, still has the foresight to see where music could, should, and needs to go, just as he did back in the day.
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Unfortunately though, for anyone waiting on the previously impending digital release of Alter Boy, this might be just a bit of unwelcome news, as those plans have now been scrapped. Right now the plan is to begin major label shopping here in the US come January with the primary intention of procuring a direct-distribution deal (where basically a label would buy the rights to distribute my completed album, pay for mastering, promo, etc. As opposed to a normal record deal where a label might sign an artist and oversee the makings of the album, etc). So while this may sting a bit for those of you waiting patiently, I promise that this is good news, and very well could lead to an infinitely bigger release on a much grander scale. We shall see…

LINK: Robert Fitzpatrick's myspace site
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12. In one of your myspace updates, you mention that Put Your Make Up On is in limbo due to those pesky guys at Xenomania owning the credits to thepopjustice theme. Is that correct and where are you up to with that now?PYMO would make a great single...
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Yeah, good ol’ Peter Robinson over there is quite difficult to get a hold of to say the least! I must’ve sent him 30-40 emails regarding that stupid song! As of right now, I have been told that the track that Xenomania created for the contest is not public domain, and therefore renders it off limits to me if say, I would ever like to release PYMO as is. BUT in the great game of legal jargon, loopholes, etc, we are knowledgeable enough to know that while they may own the rights to that particular musical arrangement/track, they do NOT have any legal standing over the song I wrote to it. Now, while I don’t want to burn any bridges over at Popjustice (cause I love that site, and hope they will eventually warm up to me as I progress in my career), I know that I MUST have that song on the album, it’s presence is not only necessary, but an integral part of the album’s appeal as well. Without it I am afraid the album would be rather dark, and much angrier than I intended it to be. That song in particular shows that I can write a song that is fun, effervescent, and a bit whimsical to a degree and not have to dumb it down in order to do so. So just in case the track does end up getting officially rendered off-limits when the time comes to release the album, Jeff went ahead and created his own version of the track that is 100% his original creation and sounds 99.9% identical to the Xenomania one. It is really incredible that he was able to do it, not only without any live guitar to help out, but without any knowledge whatsoever of what programs, sounds, etc, that Xenomania used in theirs. While I must admit I want to do everything I can to use the original, Jeff’s creation surely will suffice if any problems do arise.
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13. Talking of singles, I have my own opinions on which tracks would make knockout releases from Alter Boy. Are there any in particular that you woulddefinitely push for a single release?
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Hmm, that really is a tough one. Answer has my vote for the first single, but I would love to see Sugar Sugar White released, simply for its lyrical content and the much-needed dialogue it would open here in the U.S. That song in particular I really think could help launch things simply due to its highly controversial subject matter. Casual Encounter is another one that I think could make a fantastic single; the video, the remix potential, the controversial nature of its content all give it the trappings of a single in my opinion. I think Broken would be a stellar single, but I wouldn’t want it to be my first, as I think it would somewhat misrepresent me as an artist initially. I want the first single to be one of the provoking songs on the album. Like if Jive released Crazy instead of Baby One More Time as Britney’s first single, I don’t think her career would’ve exploded how it did. Crazy is an utterly fantastic Swedish-pop gem, but Baby One More Time was edgy, controversial, and crafted in a way as to allow a lot of subtext and sexual connotation, which, in conjunction with it’s glossy sound and completely commercial appeal, made it a global smash hit, and a launching pad for her entire career. I want to release a Baby One More Time first, not a Crazy.
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14.In England we have a really popular radio show called Live Lounge where current chart acts cover songs by other acts in the charts e.g. Sugababes did Arctic Monkeys, Girls Aloud did Amy Winehouse, Take That did Kaiser Chiefs, Scissor Sisters did Franz Ferdinand? If you were on that show what song would you cover from British or us charts and why?
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Eep, this is a tough one, as there are countless songs I’d love to cover. I don’t know about any songs that I’d like to cover from the American charts at the moment, and I’m not quite up to date with the British charts either, but I can most certainly fill you in on the covers I’d love to perform during the prerequisite “cover section” of my future, first world tour! lol J I have always been a fan of the female pop greats, and I think it’d be interesting to give some of my favourite Britney and Kylie songs a male perspective, especially in a big pop-concert setting.
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First on my list would probably be Can’t Get You Out of My Head, simply for its arena-friendliness. That song is one of the great pop anthems that can instantly ignite the energy in a multi-thousand person audience. The “lalala” alone sends audiences into a frenzy. If I did another Kylie song, I’d like to do something more obscure, yet still high energy like Burning Up, from Fever. I have a really high voice when in falsetto and can hit all the little chirpy notes she hits in it, and I think a male singing it would be totally unexpected, very Prince-esque. I’d have to perform a Britney or two, simply to pay tribute to her, as she was for a very long time (and hope she can become once again) my favourite popstar of all time. Her performances were nothing short of electric, and her songs, perfection. I’d probably perform BOMT in its original form, as Britney herself hasn’t performed it in years and surely audiences would go mad hearing the first iconic “dun dun dunt” piano hits that open the song. Ahh that’d be so cool. Haha, could whip out (quite literally actually) the scandalous stage-performance material and do some dark, twisted, S&M version of Slave 4 U, but don’t know if that would ever come to fruition! Hahaha, I’d have em’ rolling in the aisles, no doubt. Rather unlike the reaction Madonna or Prince would illicit with a similar stunt!
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I’d have to perform Bye Bye Bye, as it truly signifies the pinnacle of Swede-pop and would drive an audience nuts, and I’d love to also perform Darren Hayes’ Unlovable. That song is my favourite song of his, so emotionally charged, intimate, and scathing, and everyone always says I sound like him, so go figure. I’d love to do a little live medley tribute to my beloved A*Teens as well!
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As far as cover records go, I think I’d like to reach a littler farther back than the 90’s and early 2000s. There are tons of great disco songs that I think would sound stellar with an updated, electronic pop sound; Bee Gees, etc. I’ve always wanted to do an update of Animotion’s Obsession with Britney; truly would be the dream duet right there. There are really tons of songs I’d love to put my spin on at some point, but alas, I love writing too much to ever do a cover album I think. One or two covers at most, and only if I feel I could bring something new and fresh to the song.

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Simon was most generous in his candid answers and also with his time, so thanks VERY much for taking the time out to do this interview. And for the unseen photo he provided above. And looks forward to his twisted S&M version of Slave 4 U ;)
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THE SIX DEGREES OF SIMON!
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As soon as I had discovered Simon, I quickly followed the links through to Jadion then Fayden then Iced Entertainment and finally Bliss. I knew they were all interconnected (or at the very least had worked with each other) but I wasn't sure how! Thanks to the magic of Jadion, I finally have a clear-ish idea of how it all fits together. OK, here goes: Simon is a singer, who obviously also writes songs. Jadion is his producer and has worked really closely on Alter Boy with him. Fayden is a singer-actor-model who has worked with Simon and Jadion on some of his songs (simon wrote Hypnotic and you can hear him singing backing vocals on it too) and who also runs Iced Entertainment Media with Jadion. Simon is not part of IEM, although he has written a song for Bliss who are (and that song may well be genius. Trust me). Get the point? Good. Let's dance.
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LINK: Jadion's myspace site (check out his aces remix of Buttons by PCD)
LINK: Jadion's official homepage
LINK: Fayden's myspace site (stream Hypnotic)
LINK: Fayden's official site (check out his version of The Dance)
LINK: Iced Entertainment media myspace site
LINK: Iced Entertainment media official homepage
LINK: Bliss' myspace site (check out the Jadion produced Take Me Home. Brillo!)
LINK: Bliss' official site
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THEZAPPING READERS WEIGH IN ON ALTER BOY:
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There is nothing more exciting than when other people share your enthusiasm for a new artist, and in preparation for this feature, I alerted several other bloggers and thezapping readers to the tracks on Simon's website and asked for their opinions. Some absolutely love him. Most really like his unique yet familiar take on pop. And a couple - well, they didn't like every track, but they tracks they did like they loved! And all agreed that Simon could be a driving force in bringing pop back to the charts. Here is what they had to say...
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POPPOSTERGIRL (Veronica Mars):
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I think probably an unmissable part of understanding and appreciating Simon Curtis’s music is the lyrics—the commentary they provide swings from personal to political, and they’re meant to be dark in subject, a darkness which the music enhances. What I really like about Alter Boy, though, are the soundscapes Simon and producer Jadion have created. Words are part of that, but in the sense of how they fit in and sound. The album overall is pop, but it’s got an electronic edge, and it doesn’t sound like anything in the Top 40. I’m tempted to start throwing the word “experimental” around. There are moments where that feels especially true—“Halo,” for example, chops Simon’s voice up to turn it into the beat itself. There’s also a sense of greatness, grandeur, or a desire for the epic (listen to that intro and then tell me that’s not what they’re trying for!). It’s a pop/electronica epic, though, so hooks are never in short supply. Over the course of at least sixteen tracks, the album never sounds the same. That’s not to say that it’s schizophrenic; even beyond thematic connections, the album does definitely have musical coherence, but no one song sounds like another.
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Some highlights: the soldier chant-sampling “Left Right Left;” the perfect anger of “Sugar Sugar White,” which has a middle 8 that reminds me of Moulin Rouge’s “Hindi Sad Diamonds” (but given that very little of Moulin Rouge is original, they probably used a sample or cover that I just don’t know); the catchy chorus with its stretched-out words of “Alter Boy;” “Halo,” which originally closed out the album and provided the music for the intro and, to me, sums up what the album is about; and “Put Your Makeup On.” And, of course, the song no review of Alter Boy would be complete without reference to: “Broken.” It may not be dealing with social commentary, but it is easily the most addictive song on the album. That chorus—oh my gosh! And the middle 8! And the bridge! Really, the whole song is just captivating for reasons I haven’t yet worked out. Honestly, if you don’t want to spend the next week being forced to compulsively listen to it, avoid “Broken” at all costs. Deliciously dark and, as I said, addictive. For sheer enjoyment, the only rival to “Broken” comes in the form of parts of “Put Your Makeup On,” with Xenomania (as part of the PopJustice theme contest) providing the music backing and Simon singing a super-accessible pop song over the top. The key moment in this song, and one that Paul has mentioned before, has to be near the end, where we get a near perfect combination of music and lyrics, with Simon singing about getting harassed for his musical tastes, written in the form of a back-and-forth between him and his critics: “As a kid, I got a lot of shit for/liking my music, but what is it for?/You should listen to this because it gives more/Yeah, but it’d sound lousy on the dancefloor!” It’s not meant to be an in-depth defense of the merits of pop music, but it is meant to reflect the instinctive response that many people have—the desire for music that’s fun, not caught up in itself—and, in that respect, works perfectly by being itself what it most desires.
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The introduction to the album asks, “If you could hear the sound, would you listen?” Given my current lack of faith in the public, I fear I may already know the answer to that question, but whenever Alter Boy is released, I can only hope the world responds with a resounding “YES!”
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(thezapping note: PPG and I often have conversations over Broken and Put Your Make Up On and regularly say things like "can simon do no wrong?! ;) Read PPG's previous post on Simon here)
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ELECTROQUEER (Raj)
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(thezapping note - Raj fell in love completely with Simon's music and kindly chose today to do his own post about Simon that you can read here. he felt that would get Simon more exposure. Here, then is just a sample of his brillo review!)
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"At the tender age of twenty, Simon Curtis seems hellbent on bringing a different type of pop to the world which is aching to be heard. His edgy and thought-provoking lyrics have us questioning...Is he old enough to be singing about such saucy subjects? Well the answer is, 'We don't care...it's great music and Simon promises us that the resurrection of pop will soon be upon us. Even if the resurrection doesn't sustain, we are overjoyed to bear witness to a new musical messiah in the making."
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PAY CLOSE ATTENTION (Dan)
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I've listened to the entirety of the Simon Curtis CD several times. I do like it - quite a bit in fact. I think Simon has a great voice and a great sound that's familiar enough but new enough to attract attention. I also think that his songs transcend typical pop songs. One of my favorite stories that I tell about pop music is that one time when I was in college, a good friend of mine was having boyfriend trouble, and she said to me, "A pop song should NOT know how I feel." - I think that she was specifically referring to Michael Bolton, and in that respect, I would have to agree. I mean, Michael Bolton able to express what I can't? Surely not! But as far as general pop songs go, my reply to her lament is "If it doesn't, what's the point?" That having been said, I think Simon has a great potential to speak about great issues under the guise of wonderful pop music.
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Case in point - "Religion Reduced" which is one of the songs I really like on the album. I don't know what it's like in the UK, but here in America, the word Christian has become reduced to "right-wing homophobic intolerant asshole." And that's really unfortunate. And I think this is the message that gets across in the song - along with the "believe in your own spirituality!" line - which to me says "don't let the right-wingers be the ONLY representative of Christianity." Again, this might not be as big of a deal in the UK right now, but rest assured, in the U.S., it's one of the biggest dividing lines in our culture right now..As far as fun pop songs go, there's nothing that's going to beat "Put Your Make-Up On." It has a driving pop beat and Simon really sings well on this one. I think I especially appreciate the bridge of the song - and what good is a song without a good bridge?? - talking about he got shit for the music he listened to as a kid and how he should listen to such and such, only it wasn't worth a damn on the dance floor! *raises hand* Hmmm...well, that could be taken straight from the pages of my life.
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All in all, I hope that when they release the CD, they cull some songs and make it a stronger, shorter album rather than a long, all over the place album. I mean, the songs are all good, but less is more sometimes. This is so true with so many artists - especially established ones. I'll take a tight 10 song album like Madonna's Music over a meandering 17 track CD that doesn't know when to call it quits. And yeah, some of the songs sound a little bit same-ish, but that's not all bad. I just think that a shorter, stronger album will help quite a bit. But what do I know? I'm certainly not a record producer. I'm a mere consumer.
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NATHAN (Zapping reader)
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First of all I totally agree that he has super infectious songs yet a differentiating image enough to be mega successful here and in the U.K. As for my personal preference, my favorite songs were: Put your makeup on, Broken, and Naivite.... I also liked: Return to Sender, Alter Boy, and The Kids In.... The rest of them will def stay on my ipod but prob. will get skipped about half the time I listen to this playlist. They were good though who knows maybe the rest will grow on me. I would also love to see him do more "fun" songs too about less serious stuff, but maybe thats not what he's all about. I can't wait to see what he has in store for performances (maybe cd:usa or trl) and/or music videos, but I'm sure you'll be right on top of that when it happens.
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JEREMY (Zapping reader, actor, poet and all round nice dude)
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simon curtis describes himself as a cross between darren hayes and daniel bedingfield, something which he is very justified to do. on the whole his sound rmeinded me of 90s pop music, however the track Answer, which of the ones I listened to was, for me, the standout track and immediately reminded me of Darren Hayes album Tension & The Spark both vocally and stylistically. This song is beautifully crafted and amazing to listen to as you can just chill to it, but would also be great on a night out. Another strong track is Bones with its great sampling and simplistic vocals. For me, the only let down was ut Your Make up On which felt was weak and unoriginal. On the whole however I think Simon's sound is top class. His infuences are very obvious however he manages to make his mark on a well trodden genre.
(thezapping note: After we got this review, we explained to Jeremy the background to PYMO and that the music wasn't Simon's composition)
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DON'T STOP THE POP (Rob(o)pop)
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(thezapping note - Rob was very generous in his time and effort he put into the review which was indeed very long! I'm going to print an edited version here, but it's fair to say Rob wasn't overly taken with Candy, Left Right Left and Sugar Sugar White, feeling they weren't the best tracks and didn't appeal to him at all. Vicious started to win him over and then he really liked (on a ten out of ten basis) Broken and Casual Encounter. Here are his reviews of those songs)
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Vicious: Now this is more like it! Vicious is a sublime song but again its missing something that pop songs must contain. Perhaps a catchy melody wouldn’t go amiss? This bitchy tirade about some gossiping queen ultimately fails for being overproduced and at times the baseline misses the beats of Simons stunning vocal harmonies. Overall however Vicious is a strong track that recalls Goldfrapp, Darren Hayes, Kylie, Duke and Malou. Lyrics: 7/10 Music: 6/10
Broken: Oh its getting better. Theres even a outline of a poptastic of a catchy tune in Broken. In fact I love this song. Its Swedish by design and would be a song that Britney would kill to record as her comeback single. If you’re a fan of Robyns Be Mine you’ll adore Broken. In fact the 2005 Swedish no.1 sits well with Broken for it delivers a very similar sense of becoming single and having ones heart ripped out. Lyrics: 9/10 Music; 10/10
Casual Encounter: About sex again? Perhaps cruising? Who cares(although it’s getting a bit tiring and if you're making sex sound boring you know something isnt right). This is best track on the album. Thankfully the skippy baseline that marks out all of his work takes a much needed break and is swapped with some sparse ethereal electroblue finishes that bode well with his voice. Casual Encounter is the first sign of originality, sensuality and is the most interesting track hes done. Not only do we have stunning shards of innovative eastern strings and muttered words that chime along to the break-beat but your pulled into a spectrum of classical electronic spheres that crash and collide with the melancholic use of a naked violin section. Simply haunting and totally memorising. Lyrics: 10/10 Music: 10/10
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Thanks to all the bloggers and readers who contributed and gave an objective overview of Simon's music :) Oh! And here is another link we found to someone who wrote about Simon long before i was an alter boy convert!
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Phew, that was long wasn't it. Be sure to check back Sunday for an end of year blow out spectacular (all the things i have had jotted down for the past couple of months but never got around to writing about!) Oh and check out Modern Fabulosity who very kindly named me best music blog of the year. Thanks :) Oh, i promised myself i wouldn't cry ;) You guys rock too :)

10 Comments:

  1. Paul said...
    boo hoo - i am sick again. i have the shivers and the shakes. pity party me people, but also check out simon's music! Add him as a friend on myspace.com/simoncurtis :) Hope you all well!
    Robpop said...
    This flu that is grabbing everyone caught me over christmas.

    As for Simon, I do like his album I just feel its a bit overproduced. I want to remove all the fangdango and allow his voice some space. That would be the best thing to do. As it stands the album is great. But his voice, which is beautiful, deserves something the production behind him arnt doing.

    Britney needs the NERD/Max Martin processed baselines because her vocals are so bland. Simon doesnt. His voice is silk. The production team need to open the sambuca, relax perhaps play about with violins and give Simon some freedom to mess about with his body, soul and spirit.
    Jadion said...
    Thank you for the comments, some of the things you guys have said are truly flattering and an honor to read. I wish Rob liked it more though! As the over producing producer;) I will say that nobody ever made an album that all 6 billion people on our planet liked, so it is a matter of personal taste.I wish I could make everyone happy! I guess I feel like a chef who served a steak the customer didn't like! lol Anyway Rob, I respect your critique and it was very well written. I see your point, and Rob, it's not the last album he will ever do do! So I am certain your desires for more vocals will be fulfilled in the future. You should listen to "Purgatory". It is a completely a capella song.
    I am thrilled that the vast majority of fan's feedback has been asoundingly positive. I knew just by human nature some will hate it and some will love it, I guess there are STILL people who thoroughly hate many of Max Martin's finest work including Baby One More Time, and if a producer that amazing can fall short of 100% popular perfection, I am glad to have gotten the responses we have recieved so far! :)Thank you all for the time and support. As an artist of music production, it makes it both a pleasure and a thrill to work with someone like Simon. His talent is so deep and natural, it is like having to coach Michael Jordan ... you really don't have to, you just give him the ball. He makes my job much easier! Again, THANK YOU ALL.

    Sincerely, Jadion
    Poster Girl said...
    Well, I can't really follow up a comment like that :) I can't believe I haven't linked to this Simon feature yet--that's definitely on my to-do list for tomorrow! I can't even imagine the effort orchestrating all this must have taken--amazing work, Paul! Hope you feel better soon :)
    Paul said...
    still feeling v rough - my throat is ridiculously swollen! Thanks Jadion for your comments... i think the fact that actually everyone found something on the album they loved is a very positive sign. And hey, Broken seems to be an immensely popular tune which i'm thrilled about cos i just love it! You are right about Purgatory - it's one of the most haunting and stunning pieces of music i've heard in a long time...
    PinkieDust said...
    Feelz left out!

    Paul get better! Everyone i know is down in the dumps healthwise. I feelz like fucking shit. Updatin the blog later tonight tho
    J'ason D'luv said...
    Hey Paul... just a quick hello, since I've been visiting the parents all week and not able to do my usual snarky blog comments. But heading back to Cali tomorrow :-)

    Happy New Year to you and Darren!
    Ella Thorvaldsen said...
    Your thoat is swollen darling? Stop sticking big things down it then! I got rid of my gag reflex when i was 17 (it was the a-level school trip to France precisely)
    Dan said...
    Great write-up Paul! And congrats on being voted Mod Fab's best music blog. You certainly deserve it.

    And thank you for introducing me to Simon Curtis' music - I am enjoying it more and more as I listen to it.

    Hope you feel better soon! Anna and I were off to see Charlotte's Web this afternoon which made this 34 year old grown man shed a tear or two. It was that good.

    Happy New Year to you and Darren.

    Dan
    Paul said...
    aw thanks everyone - dan i'm dreading seeing charlottes web. In a good way. Me and my weepy movie buddy Kirsty just know we will need the tissues!
    Ella - i can always count on you to make me smile :)
    Pinksta - i think you were missing in action when i was getting people to write up simon stuff :) Would have LOVED your views on it!
    J'Ason - thanks dude. Missing the snark!

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