Last Friday, I played one of the best gigs I’ve ever played.
I was in Paris, I’d gone there with my soundman Rich to play a couple of gigs to launch a 7” single issued by Another Sunny Night and Hands And Arms. It’s the first vinyl I’ve had out in years so I’m unreasonably excited.
After arriving via Eurostar on Thursday, Rich and I settled into our swanky accommodation, Mama Shelter. I’ve never stayed in a designer hotel before, let alone one designed by Philippe Starck. Thursday night we chilled and availed ourselves of the free films on the built-in iMac. Did I mention it was swanky??
Friday night was the first gig at Le Motel, a wonderful little venue in the 11th arrondissement. From the very start of the gig, the audience was amazing. Obviously, most people only know one song I’ve done because I’ve only had one hit record. But the audience at Le Motel were sooo happy and clappy to every song, songs most of them were only hearing for the first time. I played for an hour, twice as long as my normal sets and then did two encores! The second time, I played a very old White Town song called ‘Rainy Day’ which features a pentatonic ostinato riff. I can’t play this and the rhythm guitar part at the same time and it’s a purely acoustic track, no backing. On a whim, and because they’d been so responsive throughout the gig, I asked the audience to sing it. And they did! Perfectly in time and in tune, which *never* happens with audiences normally. Well, ever, to be honest!
Saturday, I played a gig at a library! More precisely, the Médiathèque D’issy Les Moulineaux! It wasn’t as raucous a gig as the night before, probably because it was at 4 in the afternoon and we were all seated in a very posh room. The audience was very lovely, though. I did three songs in the actual library proper before going through to the hall, it was quite weird singing in a quiet space, felt very wrong! Then, for the main gig, everyone sat very politely, apart from a few little kids who rocked out in the aisles which made me grin all through the gig. We sold and signed loads of the new single and the albums we’d bought with us, it was a cool day.
In between the gigs and after, Rich and I spent a lot of time exploring and… eating. We eat and eat and eat. Creme brulees, hot chocolates, pastries, steaks, marrow bones, crepes. And I finally had snails! We did some of this on our greedy lonesomes and some with the lovely Terpsichori, pictured below:
Terps took us to this awesome bar:
The Last Bar Before The End Of The World is a total geek-out. Inside is crammed with Dr. Who, Star Wars, robots and a seated area that looks like the deck of a starship. It was amazing! Later, Terps took us for the most awesome hot chocolate and cakes, after brunching in a wonderful little covered market.
On Monday, I met up with another lovely, Laura:
She was kind enough to take me to the Louvre where I saw, amongst other art, the Mona Lisa. Which was… okay. I liked it but I think I preferred the Delacroix near it more. Then I dragged her to the Pompidou Centre where I totally geeked out on modern art:
It was an awesome day!
On the last night, Rich and I trekked to the Pied du Cochon where we stuffed ourselves for the very last time. I had this glorious meal:
Rich, the n00b, ordered steak tartare without really knowing what it was. He looked slightly surprised when a plate of raw, minced beef turned up. I laughed, I posted it immediately onto Facebook and EyeEm and then the whole world laughed. So my main was steak but my dessert was big dollops of schadenfreude.
We left the restaurant and exited to a snowy, arctic Paris. It was bloody freezing, as you can see at the end of this video:
Yesterday, we said goodbye to Paris and travelled back to Derby. Today, I’ve been on a massive downer as I miss Paris so much. I loved both the gigs but Friday’s was truly one of the best shows I’ve ever played in the thirty-one years I’ve been gigging. It’s such an amazing feeling to sing songs I wrote in my little house to an audience of total strangers and connect, to see their faces understand and feel what I feel.
The EP is called ‘Three Songs About One Girl’ because, simply, that’s what it is. It was magical to be able to be in Paris, the city of love, to bare my heart on stage and see the love I feel mirrored and shared. I have no idea what she was doing when I was singing those songs about her but I hope she felt our love reach out and give her a gentle kiss. <3
Yaay! Here’s a review of ‘Monopole’ by Tim Peacock for whisperinandhollerin. I’m very flattered!
“I tend to blanch at the phrase ‘one hit wonder’, but sadly poor old Jyoti Mishra (aka WHITE TOWN) will probably always be identified with his against-run-of-play hit single ‘Your Woman’ and its’ attendant decent-selling album ‘Women in Technology’ released on Chrysalis/ EMI in 1997.
There again, while Mishra may not have dented the charts since, I doubt his fifteen minutes in the spotlight have actually affected him in too adverse a fashion. The reason the ‘hit’ seemed such a surprise at the time was because he came from a staunchly developed DIY background, so rather than chase his tail desperately trying for the elusive ‘massive’ follow up, he’s simply said “ta-ra” to the majors, retreated to his own space and continued to release relevant new material in his own time. Lest we not forget that while his last two albums (‘Peek and Poke’ and ‘Don’t Mention the War’) may not have been ‘headline’ releases, they both garnered plenty of critical acclaim.
Released on his own Bzangy imprint, his latest, ‘Monopole’ has plenty to recommend it too. Breezy and eminently personal, none of its’ 11 tracks busts the 4-minute mark, while sonically the menu is almost wholly pop-oriented and highly immediate. The fact Mishra is in the process of making a video for every track suggests he’s confident many of these little blighters could do the biz on the single front.
Brisk synth-popper ‘Cut out My Heart’ gets us underway, though the defiantly hurt lyric (“cut out my heart and throw that shit away/ I’m not gonna use it after today”) goes resolutely against the Moroder-like thrum of the music. Like most of what follows, it simply breezes past and while Mishra can sometimes veer a little close to tweeness for my liking (’Missing Her Again’, the Jack Peñate-ish ‘She’s a Lot Like You’), tracks like the pissed-off, almost Mary Chain-ish attack of ‘Have I Gone Too Far?’, acoustic confessional ‘I Don’t Want to Fall in Love Again’ and the wonderfully evocative, OST-style ‘Theme for Turku Central Station’ are all bracing and memorable on their own terms.
While it would be easy to suggest Jyoti Mishra came out of nowhere and went straight back there, ‘Monopole’ again reminds us that he has actually long since cracked the art of longevity and gives not a fig which way the fickle winds of the zeitgeist are blowing. Long may he retain his uncompromising stance.”
On the 24th of July, I was lucky enough to play Indietracks 2010. And I had a whale of a time!
I played in the church which, for me, is the best stage of all. It’s the right size for the intimacy I want in a gig. It was a bit nerve-wracking as I was doing two very new songs, one only around three weeks old. And both of them are still too raw, singing them is perhaps too much catharsis as opposed to performance.
But the gig went well and I met loaaads of lovely people afterwards who said they’d loved it. Bless em! That’s the best thing about gigging: the connections you make that would never have been possible otherwise. It’s one of the times that I, as a nutter, can try to break down the walls between me and other people without getting carted away to a loony bin. So, let’s hear it for socially-sanctioned temporary transgression of normal mores!
And on that note, a big thank you to Martha and Blair!
I just found, via Twitter, a lovely article written about the impact of music that mentions ‘Your Woman.’ Here’s an excerpt:
According to Dillon, a critical moment in music occurs when “you are listening to a piece of music and say, ‘Somehow this changes everything’.” One such critical moment in my life was hearing White Town’s only hit Your Woman from the album “Women in Technology”; I was around thirteen years old. White Town’s vocals were unlike anything I had heard before. The sexual ambiguity and the sonic narrative (that is, the narrative created by the music, lyrics and vocals) pushed the boundaries for me. Somehow it changed everything.
(Source: Excuse My Solecism)
It’s a great read and I’m flattered to be included. Thank you!
Yaay! It’s taken a while but there’s now an official review for ‘Don’t Mention The War’ up on iTunes. Here it is:
White Town’s “Your Woman” was probably the most unlikely one-hit wonder of the 1990s, a rather brilliant mash-up of a 1930s vintage trumpet sample, old-school synth pop rhythms, and playful gender-bending lyrics.
But Jyoti Mishra knew the musical mainstream wasn’t for him and cleverly left EMI to return to the indie underground that had spawned his one-man band. Unfortunately, the resulting album, 2000′s Peek & Poke, was terribly inconsistent, and afterward, Mishra seemed to disappear entirely.
Returning to music with the self-released and completely self-created (down to shooting the cover photos and designing the packaging) Don’t Mention the War, Mishra has unexpectedly created his most consistently entertaining album so far.
The 12 songs on Don’t Mention the War (title courtesy of Fawlty Towers, but also pointedly acknowledging the extent to which a war that has lasted longer than World War II is ignored in the day-to-day life of most Brits and Americans) fuse all sides of White Town’s musical personality, from early guitar-oriented twee pop EPs to the dance beats and electronics of Women in Technology and the sometimes strident political themes of Peek & Poke.
For the purest expression of the last, note “These Are the MPs,” a set of minimalist synth washes over which Mishra recites the names of the members of Parliament who voted to authorize the Iraq war, a track that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on a very early Mute Records single.
Other songs are considerably brighter in tone, even when Mishra’s lyrics tend toward the dark. Highlights include “A New Surprise,” two and a half minutes of acoustic guitars, handclaps, and winsome lyrics (“Where are the Jetsons and flying restaurants?/Where is my golf course on the moon?”) that sound like a vintage Sarah Records single circa 1991, the sweet-natured electro-pop of “I Was Trotsky’s Nun,” and the excellently titled, atmospheric instrumental “Theme for a BBC Natural History Series Starring Richard Dawkins.”
It may have taken over half a decade, but Mishra has finally conclusively proven that he deserves more attention than one fluke hit has given him.
What a lovely review! Thanks, iTunes!
And another corker!
WHITE TOWN, the musical vehicle for Jyoti Mishra, returns with a semi-concept collection, Don’t Mention The War. It’s a confident collection of timeless lightweight pop-rock, where the disco drums of ‘I Was Trotsky’s Nun’ rub shoulders with a wall of indie pop guitars (on ‘Hold It In’). And anyone who names a synth tune ‘Fanfare For Emma Goldman’ deserves some form of recognition.
Wow! What a glowing review! I’m blushing…
From having a hit record a few years ago as an unsigned artist Jyoti Mishra has returned with an album of strong tracks, and protest songs. Rallying against the illegal war in Iraq (These are the MP’s) anger and defiance against the way this country is being run into the ground by the lying fools that pretend to be new labour are all informing this CD of strong tracks, and stronger words. In times of trouble it is the music that is made that defines who we are and this stunning collection of protest songs and mature music mean that White Town are going to be remembered for more than just one hit wonders, and proof that a great songwriter never leaves the stage.
(James Turner, Journal of the Classic Rock Society)
Wahey! Just got a fantastic review from Subba-Cultcha, you can read it by clicking here.
And here it is in plain-text glory:
Don’t Mention The War
Don’t write him off as a one-hit wonder. Guitar-based electro from straight outta the bedsit.
I’ve always had a soft spot for bedsit artists. They owned the myspace revolution before there was one. When Jyoti Mishra hit the number one spot back when most people were worrying about whether it was cooler to like Damon or Liam, I cheered inwardly but, deep down, knew that it was a bit of a fluke.
A decade later, and a whopping 6 years after he last troubled the record-buying public, he’s back – and this time, he’s grown up a bit.
A more mature writing style and a stronger voice stand him in good stead – still recognizable, but with more depth, somehow. But where “Don’t Mention The War” really stands out is in the instrumentation.
This is where the sabbatical has clearly been put to good use. Jyoti has discovered guitars (acoustic guitars and synths are a much maligned and misunderstood combination) and some has some rather fancy new tricks up his sleeve on the mixer too.
An album by a man at ease with his talent, and doing it for love.
By Chris Merriman
This release was published on 19 Feb 2007.
Oooh, now that was a nice thing to find in my inbox this morning!
And here’s another review in for ‘Don’t Mention The War‘ from the Herald Observer. I like the bit about “pointless list of names” .. heh…
Again, a kind of a 3 out of 5 review…
Heh… every review seems to love/hate different tracks. This bloke like’s my ‘MPs’ track whereas Uncut thought it was a bag of wank!
I’m still loving these reviews, by the way, good or bad. I really can’t explain how happy it makes me to even be mentioned with this tiny, tiny release. I mean, it’s on iTunes, obviously, but the entire physical stock is still sitting in my hallway. I can see them from here: 700 albums in brown cardboard boxes.
It makes me soooooo happy!