new album

Search for the Unicorn

Part 1 – Finding the photo

One day I came across a photo being used by a friend as her Facebook profile pic and I knew I had to use it as an album cover. There was something about this cute little fella that I just couldn’t put my finger on, something about the snow and the colour, and I knew that no other unicorn would do. When I find what I like I can’t let it go.

I set about trying to find the owner of the picture so that I could ask permission to use it. I asked my friend where she got the photo but all she could remember was that it was from some site with ‘fuckyeahunicorn’ in the url. I lost many hours searching this and so many other variations of the unicorn and expletives. But nothing…. not even close.

I was starting to get obsessed and knew it was time for a different strategy. Someone must have made that unicorn so I started searching for knitted unicorns (oh how I LOVE the internet). I searched Etsy and bay and a whole load of home-made sites. But nothing. I started searching random unicorn images and scrolled through thousands of pictures of, mostly, unicorns… although there are some very suspect images under the heading ‘unicorn’… hmmm. Weird.

Finally I found a tiny image of a green unicorn that had very similar flowers which HAD to be made by the same person. The title under it was cozycoleman.com. I had found it it… woohooo. Feeling very excited (I lead a sheltered life) I clicked on the link and in the flash of a screen I got this

But Cozy Coleman HAD to exist. I had to find them. I revisited Etsy… the home of the knitted items and other home-made treasures. I typed the name into the search bar and… it gave me TWO Cozy Colemans. None sold knitted unicorns so I messaged the first and got a lovely message back telling me ‘sorry… I have never knitted unicorns… good luck’.

The second Cozy Coleman had to be the one or I knew that this was going to be the end of the line. So I emailed and crossed my fingers.

Part 2 – Finding the unicorn

Within minutes I got an email telling me that ‘YES’ she was indeed the Cozy Coleman that knitted the unicorns and we started a dialogue where I asked her if she knew who took the photo that I had found. She was great and asked all the people that she had sold the unicorns to. After a few days of possible leads the trail went cold.

Cozy Coleman turned out to be Sharon Coleman and I asked her if she still had any of the unicorns that she could sell me so I could try to re-create the photo (did I mention that I am obsessive?). She did but only in green and pink. Something was telling me that it had to be the blue.

Then she suggested that if I found a 100% pure wool sweater in the colour I wanted and sent it to her, she could felt the sweater and make one for me. Yay!!!

So I hit the thrift stores and found 2 sweaters that I thought would work and sent them to her. Did I mention that Sharon Coleman is the greatest? 🙂

A few weeks later I had 2 beautiful unicorns and just before all the snow on our local mountain had melted.

Part 3 – Shooting the unicorn

Karen McKinnon is a wonderful local photographer who is responsible for most of the photos you see of me so, over a social breakfast one morning, I asked if she would come up to the mountain and photograph my unicorn in the snow. Not her usual sort of job, but she is always up for some fun so we headed up one afternoon to shoot the unicorn…. which was the source of many many jokes… a little sad, I know.

We found a spot on the bunny slopes at Mount Washington where the snow was still good and the trees were far enough in the distance to blur out (or some other photographic technical term). I put the unicorn into position while Karen got comfortable lying in the snow and the shooting (tee hee) began. The unicorn was a little temperamental but we got the shot and headed back down to spruce him (or her, we’re not sure) up a bit.

Part 4 – The cover

Originally this was going to be for my LA album but that all changed when the album was finished and the image didn’t match the sound. But when I decided to release a kid’s album, the unicorn was the perfect photo for the cover.

Stacy from Psoma Design Group was the designer for my LA album (out next year) and she did such an amazing job that I asked her to turn my unicorn into a CD cover for this kid’s album. We had so much fun with all the iterations and I really like the finished product… especially all the extra sparkles 🙂

When it came down to naming the album I realized that I wanted a title with unicorn in it. It would seem odd not to. But I had no song with that in the title. So a week before sending the songs to be mastered I wrote and recorded a new song called ‘Always Be A Unicorn’, using the sentiment in those Facebook posts going around that say “Always be yourself, but if you can be a unicorn (substitute batmen etc), then always be a unicorn.” It seemed to really suit the cover and the feel of the album in general.

“Always Be A Unicorn” is out on October 24th, when I will a guest on CBC All Points West with Jo-Ann Roberts.

Click here for pre-order special.

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LA Take 2 – Day 15 – Red Carpet

This was my last day in LA and although I am little sad to leave I am so excited about getting home to my family.

I spent the morning having brunch with my publisher’s wife and cute little boy, which was lovely. And then back to the hotel to pack. I am not a tidy person so it took some time to gather everything up and cram it into a suitcase that seemed more than big enough when I left 2 weeks ago.

Packing was courtesy of the following chocolate…

So it seem that choosing a dress for an awards show with a red carpet is not as easy and carefree as it sounds… no really. I hd a choice of three and went with the white dress but, as were going out for mexican beforehand… I was smart enough to take one of the black ones with me… just in case there was a salsa disaster.

The evening was a great success… mexican food and many margaritas followed by a quick red carpet followed by en early win of Best Alternative Female. So Cool!

Then we headed back to a mexican favourite, El Carmen, for more tequilas and food. I had the best time and will really miss these guys.

LA Take 2 – Day 14 – Last music day

I took another walk in the sunshine this morning and found myself at The Grove once more. It really is a lovely area to browse.

But I made the mistake of passing the Ugg store again. My legs kind of just made me go inside… and then I caved. I have been looking at these boots online for ages and they just happened to have my size… oops.

Back to Bleu’s place one last time to go through the vocals I did yesterday… apparently the spittiest ones so far. I record vocals quietly very close to the mic and my mouth makes a lot of spitty sounds which need to be erased. Fun for Bleu… yeh.

So I thought this would be an appropriate final bar of chocolate… chilli!… that will make your mouth water…

The chocolate powered us through the last set of my publisher’s notes and there quite a few back and forths on things, but we went through each item and eventually came up with stuff that everyone was happy with.

After the final edit Bleu broke out the Gin & Tonic to celebrate and we listened to the album from start to finish… and we both agree that we think we have a pretty damn fine album 🙂

This evening I finally managed to get together with Hans Dekline, the guy who has mastered all my past albums and we went out for Greek food and then onto a gig that a friend of his was doing. We also met up with Bryan Cook, another producer/engineer and his wife.

Their friend’s band, The Please Please Me were great. Cool combination of guitar vocals, cello, drums and glockenspiel. Great songs too. And it turns out that Jessie Torrisi, the lead singer knows my musical friends Doug Cox and Betty Soo. It’s a small musical world.

We left the venue and ended up at a very old diner where there were cops eating at the next table. I felt like I was in an old sitcom… just needed one of them to start eating donuts.

LA Take 2 – Day 13 – duhn duhn duhn.

I started today with a nice walk down to the Grove to take advantage of the return of the sunshine. Not sure what the weather is doing on the island but thought I’d better get my Vit D fix while I can. I picked up T-shirts for the kids. We always get the kid’s T shirts with the name of the the place we are visiting… eventually they will be turned into a quilt when they leave home. They have a LOT of LA t shirts now.

Back to Bleu’s place and we were checking out the final rough mixes. Listening to the songs next to each other I really noticed that it is such a diverse album but with a lot of stuff that ties it all together. There is everything from electronic 80’s style to quiet songs with string quartet to milder Bjork style stuff… and everything in between. But it does feel cohesive.

Bleu has managed to do exactly what I wanted and that was to put his stamp on my songs whilst retaining the integrity of my vocal style.

Chocolate today was courtesy of Bleu. Another Vosges bar… not as weird as the curry one… and really nice.

Editing continued. For this recording I have pretty much let Bleu do his thing unless something really stood out that I didn’t like. I understand that production is a process and I understand that he gets to his end goal much faster without my input. I figure why get a producer and then interfere too much.

However, I got a bit bored this afternoon and started pointing out stuff in the vocals while he was checking stuff… Bleu gave me a look and promptly put on his headphones. You have to understand that we have all spent SO much time together these 2 weeks that it gets very sarcastic bordering on rude… in a fun way, if that makes sense.

We had to re do the vocals for Anytime Soon so we did that today… it was nice to do some singing… I miss singing every day.

Joe invited us over for dinner at his place so we headed over and were greeted with margaritas and he cooked a lovely meal including my new favourite thing… grilled romaine… yum!

LA Take 2 – Day 12

Rain? What the heck? I did not anticipate that in my choice of clothes. Luckily in LA we drive everywhere.

Today was a quietish day. Lots of editing needed done so we were just at Bleu’s place all doing our own thing. It was nice to have Stacey, Bleu’s manager, around too. I kind of like having another girl energy in the room.

Stacey and I eventually decided to go shopping and while Bleu and Joe did their editing thing and we headed to the Grove, where we stumbled upon screaming girls. On further investigation we spotted TV show Extra’s Mario Lopez interviewing British band The Wanted. After a little shopping, where I bought a cute skirt, we found the girls were still screaming and the band was singing so I took this pic.

On returning it was time to break open today’s chocolate, the most unusual by far… Sweet Indian Curry coconut. Very definitely a curry chocolate… interesting.

Bleu had a lot more more editing to do so I came back to the hotel and enjoyed fajitas and a glass of wine and some TV time.

We’re on the home stretch 🙂

LA Take 2 – Day 11 – last song and Room 5 gig

Woke up feeling a little homesick this morning. This is the longest I’ve been away from my family in a long time and I really miss them.

Anyway… enough sharing… back in the studio we started the final song for this album, Don’t Come Around Here… my angry song. This is going to be totally different version to the one I did on an album in 2009. It has the ‘Bleu’ stamp on it. Bleu put down some piano while Joe got to engineer again. I think he was happy…

When Bleu suggest that Joe whip out his accordion I was worried and a little excited. Excitement prevailed and he recorded some really cool sounds.

I almost forgot… today’s chocolate was pear almond… which was very nice and kept me going for my gig.

We got to Room 5 way too early so it was Manhattan time for Bleu and water for me. The gig was so much fun… what a great room Room 5 is. And the sound by Kevin was a joy. All the pigFactory guys came along as did Stacey Peck, Bleu’s manager and all round lovely person. As soon as Bleu got up to play with me my energy level really went up and I think it sounded awesome.

Jess Furman played after me and had am amazing voice and songs, as did Casey Hurt. Evening was rounded off nicely with a glass of pino grigio and bangers and mash. 🙂

LA Take 2 – Day 9

This morning I got Bleu put on the car rental agreement so he can relax and drive. My driving has lost it’s London edge so I’m a bit sloooow.

Back at the studio it was fluting time… check out what I had to play… not easy, but I had SO much fun doing it. And Bleu was VERY complimentary about my playing and I know if I had sucked he would not have hidden it.

And here’s me doing my thing…

Once that was done it was chocolate time and I took a bit of a risk today and bought … wait for it… 100% Cocoa. Joe was REALLY excited and it did not disappoint… pretty good.

Some of Joe’s friend popped in for a visit. I have met so many nice people while I have been here… all them so relaxed and fun. And these folks were no exception.

Talking of Joe… after we devoured the best ever fish and potato tacos, Joe recorded some drums and piano on Floating Away… and did a very tasty job…

We spent a while watching the back of Bleu’s head while he did his thing with with all his bells and whistles. When he suggested adding banjolele I took no time in whipping it out… 🙂

The photo I really wish I had gotten was when all three of us recorded some clapping… just to capture the pure joy/insanity on the guys’ faces. It was a kodak moment.

It got to 8:30 and we were starving so headed over to the Monday night food truck night and got there just in time. It was such a cool place. In the grounds of a church a whole bunch of gourmet food trucks turn up. I had the best burger followed by a red velvet truffle…. yum.

Then back to the studio to work some more on Anytime Soon. When we started this song a few days ago and Bleu was adding some really weird stuff I wasn’t sure, but listening fresh I LOVE it. He comes up with such interesting ideas that I could never think of. I’ve jumped down a musical rabbit hole and am loving it!