Summer Update and a New Song

Hey everyone, hope you are all doing great.

This Summer has been a busy one for me, with most of my time spent locked in my studio in Brooklyn working on new songs. The Building Pictures sound has always been shaped and influenced by my travels, and these new songs are no different. In March of this year I spent almost a month in South East Asia, and on my return to the states I made my first visit to Nashville. Since then I have clocked up three more trips to Nashville and I really feel a connection with the people in that town… I don’t know why I didn’t visit sooner. I have been thinking a lot about album number two, and I feel that most of my new material is the strongest I have ever written.
Collaborations
When summer kicked off I made a point of teaming up with other artists on some collaborations. I now have two very different projects underway with Electronic Producers, one from the UK and the other from Australia. These sounds are a million miles from my usual style and vary from slow-paced and ambient beats, right through to quirky pop tunes. I have never had so much fun working on music as I have in the past few months, and I look forward to sharing some of the new tracks with you when I can.
New Song
A lot of you have been asking for a sneak preview of some of the new material, and I finally gave in. Check out my solo live performance of ‘Dirt’ recorded yesterday in my apartment. This track was started in Vietnam on the corner of a napkin, and finished back in Brooklyn. I would love to hear your thoughts.

August 27th Show
On the gigging front I am delighted to announce a new show at Rockwood Music Hall (stage 1) on August 27th at 8pm. If you want to hear myself and the band performing loads of new songs then come along! Poster design by my dear friend and fellow Irishman Darol O’kane. Check out his other work here
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Rock on
John xo

Travels and gigs.

I’ve been moving around lately. From Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, to a week spent in Nashville and LA. Sitting down in my home studio for the first time in what seems like months, I think my body clock has just about given up on me. My phone isn’t my friend anymore either as it struggles to hold all the song ideas that are crammed into its hard drive.

South East Asia was strictly vacation. I needed time away from the city, and when I heard that my Mum, Dad and big sis were stopping in the area on their way back from Australia, I couldn’t miss the chance. It was a real joy to immerse myself in some ranging culture for the guts of three weeks. From late night high speed tuktuk rides through Bangkok, to trekking around the ancient temples of Cambodia, to learning how to make spring rolls during a home-stay with a family in the Mekong Delta, I think its fair to say I was moved. Sunrise at Angkor Wat was a particular highlight.

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Follow me on Instagram to see the full set – @buildingpictures

We could all learn a lot from the people of this region of the world. Their kindness and willingness to help us travelers was really something. I ended the trip with a few quiet days in Koh Samui with my girlfriend. It was a welcome break, but we missed the madness of Saigon… typical New Yorkers I suppose.

Nashville

I’ve always been a sucker for Thai Food, but I think that southern cooking is a close second. If you make it down there go to Arnold’s. This was only my second trip to the mecca for singer-songwriters, but it really came together and turned into a hectic week of writing and networking. I made so many friends within the industry on my first visit, and this time around it was nice to get stuck into doing what these ‘cats’ do best – cowriting tunes. I hope to squeeze in some recording next time Im down that way.

LA

Hotel Cafe is one of those venues in the United States that is famed for launching the careers of so many talented performers. I made a point of not checking out a show at the venue last time I was in LA… I remember saying to myself that I would wait until I played it myself. That plan came together on Tuesday evening when I took to the stage to perform a solo set. It was the perfect day. Weather was nice, breakfast meeting in Santa Monica went smooth, and then I made my way over to Los Feliz to try some writing with Cary Brothers. This turned out to be one of the most rewarding writing sessions I have ever done. Cary is the man. He couldn’t have made me feel more welcome in his home, and he came along to my show right after our jam and introduced to me all the staff.

Hotel Cafe

The gig started slow, but really picked up. Being blessed with some pretty amazing band mates, I can often feel a bit naked on stage without them. But after a few tunes I settled in; it made it a lot easier that the sound on stage and in the room was fantastic. Cheers to Stacy, the in-house sound engineer for all his work, and for recording the show for me. It provided the perfect sound track for all of us as we cruised through the night back to East LA, making stops for tacos along the way.

The entire line up was strong. I felt very humbled to be among such great company, but one artist in particular really caught my attention – Aaron Emry. A really tasteful guitar player, with thoughtful and insightful lyrics attached, I was blown away. To top it all off he was literally the nicest guy in the world. I promised him we would get together for a jam when he makes it to the east coast, so I can’t wait for that. His debut album ‘Tiny Prayer’ is making its way to me right now on vinyl. Im gonna play it loud. Have a listen to it here – http://aaronembry.bandcamp.com

I’ll see you soon LA.

Hometown Show

Enough of that running around. Im back at Rockwood Music Hall (stage 3) on May 7th. The last two shows sold out. Lets make it three. Get your ticket HERE

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Rock on
John xo

a very special show

I have been collaborating with the very talented people at Buffalo Picture House Productions for a number of years now. With three music videos under our belts, I am delighted to announce that we are in the process of finishing a fourth. I sat down with Brandon Roots (Directory of Photography) some time ago to thrash out some plans.

West Orchard is a record that varies quite a bit from song to song. Yes, the core of the album is the same four musicians in a room playing live, but there is a range of tempos and moods throughout. I’ve always wanted my videos to showcase each side of the Building Pictures sound, and the latest does just that.

I spoke to my good friends at Rockwood Music Hall and I proposed the idea of an evening of live music followed by a premiere of the new video. So, on March 3rd at 8pm we will take to the stage at Rockwood (stage 3) for an intimate set followed by the first showing. I have also convinced Brandon to say a few words on the making of the video, and I look forward to hearing what the song means to him. I’ve met a lot of very talented people in this country, but very few that have the same gifts as Brandon. It really is a joy and an honor to work with him and his team.

March 3rd is going to be a really special night, and I urge anyone that wants to be a part of it to pick up your tickets sooner rather than later. My last show in this beautiful space sold out.

Reserve your seat here – http://www.ticketfly.com/event/467657

Rockwood March 3rd

In other news, I just got back from Nashville and I think I’m in love.

I only spent three days in Tennessee, but it really has made a huge impact on me. Not only did I make many friends in such a short space of time, I came home with a head full of melodies and ideas for songs. From the people to the music to the food, I was overwhelmed by the place. Nashville, I am going to be back as soon as I possibly can.

See you on the 3rd.

xo

Christmas at home

I’ve never spent a single Christmas away from home. I’m not sure I could. Ireland is only a 6 hour flight away for me, so it is so much easier to come home than it is for my friends and family living in Australia.

This Christmas past was a very special one. It rounded off an amazing year for me. My debut album West Orchard was released in November, and I have been overwhelmed by the response. More and more people each day are getting in touch to say that they picked up the album, and they are enjoying it with their loved ones. People on their way to work in their cars are blasting it, or putting it on when sitting down with a glass of wine in the evenings. I love those emails, it really does make your day.  I made a record for me and no one else, and I am just so happy that people are embracing it.

I lost my favorite venue in the world earlier this year when Ryan Lagan decided to close the doors on the Cellar Bar. Ryan Lagan and Paddy Glasgow (Mr Glasgowbury) have both given me endless support and wisdom right from start of my career, and without people like them I have no doubt that I would not be making music today. A few weeks before Christmas Ryan asked me to play a house concert for him and I said I would be honored.

I got in touch with my old partner in crime Zarah Fleming, and with a quick rehearsal at my Mum and Dads we played a very special set in Ryans front room. I refused to play until Paddy G did an introduction for us, just like he did at my very first gig in the Cellar.

To Ryan, Paddy and all my friends and family in the greater Mid-Ulster area, I hope you all had a very nice Christmas, and i’ll see you all soon. Thanks so much for your continued support from across the atlantic.

John xo

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Sold Out

I didn’t sleep much last night. When I get home from a gig I am wide awake and restless. It usually takes me a couple of hours to come down. It all depends on how the show went. Last night I had a buzz running in my veins that I’ve never felt before. I was pacing the floors and reliving my night in my head for hours. God knows how many cups of tea I drank. I thought about the album. The songs. The show. The people I spoke with. The people I knew, the strangers I didn’t. The reception. The cheers. The hugs. The complete joy.

I had a good feeling about this show. Rehearsals went great, but I was still a little nervous. The room was new for a start. I had never even been to Stage 3 for a show before. I took the train alone to the gig (I’m a terrible conversationalist right before I play). I closed my eyes the whole way there and smiled at the thought of our last rehearsal a few hours earlier. My band are amazing. Often when we jam I close my eyes and I imagine where I was when I wrote the songs. Some times its Castledawson. Some times its Brooklyn. I always get lost in a daydream. But I always come back, and I look around the room, and I feel blessed to be surrounded by such talent. Great people with great talent are so hard to find.

I wasn’t ready to make an album until the start of this year. The writing process that began was intense. Melodies would come to me on the street. Or In a coffee shop. Or In the subway. Some songs took half an hour to write, others took weeks. But when the time came to go into the studio with my best ten songs I was so hungry to record. To stand in a sold out venue and perform West Orchard from start to finish was something that I will never forget. I am well aware that a lot of people got turned away last night, and I want to thank every single person that made the effort to come out. I wish we could have got everyone squeezed in. These are the nights that every musician dreams of. We all want our songs to be heard. We all want people to enjoy listening. Last night was like a dream, and I am going to relish it for a long time.

New York is a crazy place. When I moved here I quickly realized how intense the highs and lows can be in this place. One day you’re up, the next you’re down. But for me the highs always crush the lows. I instantly forget them, and I feel inspired.

John xo

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West Orchard Out Now

There are so many people to thank for the creation of West Orchard. I can’t tell you how lucky it feels to have recorded my debut album in a world class studio in Brooklyn with world class musicians. Having Michael Keeney oversee the production was just the icing on the cake. This album was an absolute joy to make, and I hope you all enjoy the results.

West Orchard is now available to buy on iTunes. Use the link to pick up your copy – 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/west-orchard/id725826281

FRONT COVER FINAL

John xo

Pre-order West Orchard

FRONT COVER FINAL

 

My debut album West Orchard is now available to pre-order from iTunes using the following link

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/west-orchard/id725826281

Thanks for supporting independent music.

Album Launch

 

Rehearsals are well under way for the November 19th launch show. There will be some special guests joining me at stage 3, and to avoid disappointment I advise everyone to pick up their tickets asap – www.rockwoodmusichall.com

John xo

BBC to LA to CMJ

A few weeks ago the good people at BBC Arts Extra approached me about being involved in a NYC special for BBC 2. The aim of the show was to investigate how Northern Ireland is being marketed through the arts in New York. I told them I’d be honored.

We needed a setting to shoot a live performance, so I teamed up with my friends over at Rockwood Music Hall. I performed my new single ‘In Her Veins’ with Jacob (keys) and Rob (bass) accompanying me. I then moved around the corner to Tompkins Square Park with host Marie-Louise Muir for an interview. I’ve had the time of my life since moving to New York at the start of 2011, and it was a real joy to talk about my experiences and my debut album with Marie-Louise.

It was also just great to hang out with some people from home for a couple of hours!

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image[455]Im going to have some footage for you all very soon, watch this space.

I am delighted to announce that I will be performing at a CMJ showcase on October 16th, and with ‘West Orchard’ due for release on November 12th, this is a really great chance to hear the new material. The details:

- CMJ SHOWCASE
– Wednesday October 16th

- Fontanas (105 Eldridge Street)
- 11.45pm Stage Time.

I made my second trip to LA last week. My big brother Ciaran (lives in Sydney) was on the West Coast for a few days so I decided to jump over and stay with him. It was an amazing week. California definitely has something special, I feel like I could get used to that lifestyle for a while anyway. I met some great people, made a start on some new songs, and I ate a LOT of of good food. Had my best donut ever, and I also had my fortune told by Zoltar. Great fella Zoltar.
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Im getting really excited for the release of West Orchard and all the feedback I have been getting is really great. You can jump over HERE to read an interview I did with the good people at Violent Success.

xo

West Orchard’s first play

Tuesday evening was very special. I performed my debut album ‘West Orchard’ (Nov 12th Release) live for the very first time. I’ll never forget this night.

I can honestly say that I have never been more happy with my writing than on this record, and I have been dying to let everyone have a listen since April of this year. Having my family in town all the way from Castledawson was really just the icing on the cake. As I sat in the green room before we went on stage I felt so calm. I just felt really at ease. I peeked out and looked around the room. I saw smiling faces, and I saw every single person that I wanted to come to this show standing right there at the front.

This was my biggest room yet in New York, and it was packed to capacity, and everyone had turned up to hear a record live for the very first time. It all just dawned on me right before I played how perfect this all was, and I couldn’t stop smiling. There are plenty of people that I wish could have been there, especially those back home who have supported me for so long. When I closed by eyes during ‘Closing Doors’ I thought of The Cellar Bar in Draperstown, and Glasgowbury Music Festival, and all the great people that nurtured my songwriting over the past few years. I felt blessed. And I felt excited for the future. More shows, more songs, more albums. This is only the beginning.

John xo

Pictures by Davy Curran.

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Next ShowSept 20thArlenes GroceryGET TICKETS