23 March 2008
US Top 20!
Departure has cracked the top 20 electronica charts in the US. CMJ issue #1049 reports Fidgital at #18 on their RPM charts. Thank you to everyone who has helped us in achieving this major milestone!
We have been in the US and Canadian charts for 5 weeks now. #1 in Canada still eludes us, but we enjoyed two weeks at #2 before slipping to #3. We`ll see if that #1 can still be achieved. If so, Departure will have beaten even Spyglass for chart performance - by far our best radio performance to date.
16 March 2008
We finally hit the CMJ (College Music Journal) charts! Departure has gone to #21 on the US electronica charts. Hopefully we can improve on that and crack the top 20, as those are the charts widely re-publicized.
Take a look at the chart. You will note we are the only self-released artist on it. Some great company there, artists on Ninja Tune, ESL, Warp, Mute, Virgin. And of course, the same artist keeping us out of the #1 spot in Canada, Hot Chip.
Meanwhile, Departure has gone to #2 on Chart`s Canadian electronica charts, beating the performance of every Fidgital release except Spyglass, our only #1 (so far!). It's also gone to #33 on Chart`s Top 40, beating all our releases on those charts. On Earshot, we hung in for two weeks at #2 and are now #3 on RPM. So far we have peaked at #30 on Earshot`s Top 40.
We`re extremely happy with this great chart performance! Keep playing Departure and let`s try to reach a little higher!
26 February 2008
Still moving up the RPM charts, Departure is now #2 on Earshot's national electronica charts! Please, more play, please! It would lovely to match that #1 we achieved in 2002 for Spyglass. Meanwhile, we remain for the second week in a row at #33 on the college top 40.
21 February 2008
Departue arrives on the charts!
Keith here - Departure has hit the Canadian charts, as tracked by Earshot. #33 on the college top 40, and #4 on the RPM charts (which is cool college radio speak for "electronic music"). Meanwhile, we're #269 on the American charts, but this is still a first for us! So long as this isn't the peak, I'm happy.
13 February 2008
Sook Yin Lee Interviews FIDGITAL
Ryan here. We were contacted recently by the producers of CBC's "Definitely Not The Opera", hosted by the multi-talented and somewhat infamous Canadian Sook Yin Lee. (See the movie "Shortbus".) They were doing an episode on the theme of 'Condo Living' and sensed that Fidgital might have something to say about it. It couldn't have happened at a better time, with promotion for our album "Departure" in full swing.
Sadly, Keith, Craig and Brian couldn't make it to the interview, so our part-time guitarist, Chris Dufault, and I were forced to do it on our own. Have a listen on Saturday, February 16th for an acoustic performance of Fidgital's classic song "Condo Life" (that's right, it's a classic! ha!) and a brief interview with Chris and me.
21 April 2007
Sorry for the radio silence
Keith here. Sorry for a year without blog updates. The truth is, I've been uprooted and have been living in California since the last update. Don't worry, Fidgital is still alive. Ryan and I have been writing new material - LOTS of it. Enough that we've planned two albums.
The next album is going to be all ambient and downtempo. It matches my mood these days, cut off from all my friends and family, living alone as a stranger in a strange land. But without all that sex stuff Heinlein promised. So expect something sad, something hopeful, something lonely, something slow, something promising of release.
If that doesn't shock people after "Vintage Red", it should at least set them up to be shocked by the planned follow-up record. The songs written for it so far are straight-up rock-influenced indie dance pop.
But for now, ambient and downtempo. Hope you'll dig it!
3 March 2006
Show and tell
Keith here... Today I was the star of show-and-tell at Montroyal Elementary School in North Vancouver. My niece decided that her big music star uncle should come in and teach her class about music. So I brought in a wide variety of replaceable or unbreakable instruments to let the kids (aged 6-8) try them out. Fun!
But for now, it's off to Germany on Sunday, and I'll try to keep you updated with photos and stories as I travel. Cheers!
30 January 2006
Burdman\'s new chick!
Baby Burdman has arrived! We welcome the 9 pound, 4 ounce baby girl of as-yet-undisclosed name to our musical family! Congratulations Craig and Jenni!
25 January 2006
Out to Big Site today, looking like "Blade Runner"'s Tyrell Corporate headquarters in the middle of a surreal Disney-esque landscape of bizarre and beautiful architecture. The Yurikamome train line out to the Site is expensive but worth it - the train is mostly glass and the scenery is incredible. If you take it, start from Shimbashi station (the end of the line) and wait until you be the first person on the train, up the front, to enjoy the maximum view. 370 Yen is worth it!
24 January 2006
Release day in Japan
Vintage Red is out today! Excitement! Here in Tokyo, I'm continuing with dozens of meetings, promoting the record, getting it into the hands of key people. I'm also pushing a new live DVD of our 2005 Commodore Jazzfest show, which is going over really well here. We're working to add video to the website so you'll get to see that footage soon!
I'm staying in the fabulous Imperial Hotel, in Marunouchi, adjacent to the Emporer's Palace. This is perhaps the most expensive hotel I've ever stayed in, but thankfully I didn't have to arrange it or pay for it. Tomorrow I move to a hotel which is a little more in my budget range, but for now, I'm enjoying the hospitality!
23 January 2006
In the heart of Tokyo, near Shinagawa station, lies a secret! It is Kaiko-Kaku, the impressive guest house of Mitsubishi Shoji, now restored to something resembling its pre-war glory. Surrounded by acres of rose gardens and lush green foliage (well, if it wasn't all snowy), Kaiko-Kaku is invisible from the road and is only reachable via a private guarded driveway.
I was lucky enough to have dinner there as the guest of Mitsubishi Shoji. They were consummate hosts, serving up 8 courses of spectacularly presented food (see the sushi igloo), and regaling us with stories. It was an incredible evening, surrounded by this secret place which few people ever get to see.
22 January 2006
Keith here - just arrived in Japan, FIVE HOURS late due to snow at Narita airport. Brutal. Then, with fire trucks and ambulances seemingly escorting the limousine bus as we raced towards town, we watched in horror as the car immediately in front of us spun more than 360 degrees, completely out of control. Now THAT is quick emergency response - they were on their way before the accident even happened (shades of Minority Report!).
Anyway, finally arrived at my hotel late to find a nice welcome package from the Canadian Embassy waiting for me. This town sure knows how to make you feel welcome! Sorry no pictures for now but that will be corrected shortly - Tokyo with snow is beautiful, something I've never seen before. For now, sleep!
Pictures! Thanks to Ryan for being my Photoshoperator across the sea.
5 January 2006
New Year, New Look!
Surprise! Happy New Year! Please let us know if you encounter any problems as we transition to the new website format and look.
As ever, a million billion thanks to Mark Slemko for his hard work on the site. We love you Mark!
1 December 2005
Vintage Red complete!
Keith here... It's done, it's done well, and it's done on schedule! Everybody really pulled together as a team to make Vintage Red the best Fidgital album yet. Brian Hazard at 11th Records Mastering went above and beyond the call of duty, producing (at our insistence) 2 extra complete masterings of the album with subtle variations. In the end, we decided to go with the first one he submitted anyway!
Release date is scheduled for 24 January 2006, but you can already pre-order it at Amazon.com. Just wait'll you hear it!
Here's a final look at those graphs so you can see how we finished up.
1 November 2005
Ryan here. Happy Halloween! I took a break from recording and carved some pumpkins this weekend.
I scraped away the pumpkin skin to get the whites (well, yellows) of the eyes and teeth. Following the existing wrinkles, I used acrylic paint to add shadows, highlights and colour. The shiny eyes are glass beads. I put a black dot behind the glass and the effect is quite creepy.
30 October 2005
Keith here. I'm very sad to report that Tom McKenzie, voice of "The Doctor" on "Social disease", prematurely passed away today of a heart attack. He was a friend and mentor. He will be missed.
28 October 2005
Keith here. Time for another update on "Vintage Red", our 2006 album. We are on track, having just passed 80% completion. Last night's gig and the rehearsals to prepare for it have put us slightly behind schedule this week, but not too badly. You can look at the progress graph and judge for yourself if you think we're going to make it.
Next week will see some big progress - we have Jerry Greene coming in to do some trombone on Sunday, Cherry Ng recording sax and flute on Tuesday, Kent Wallace tracking trumpet on Thursday, and Mehlinda Heartt recording harp on Saturday.
27 October 2005
Ginger 62 - Featuring Doctor Jerry Green
Fun gig tonight. Rex was away, so Keith played a lot of low notes on the piano to compensate, and Dr. Jerry Green joined us on trombone. You'll be hearing the Doc on Vintage Red when it's released in January!
2 October 2005
Vintage Red update
Keith here... We've passed another big milestone in the production of our new album - we've passed the 2/3rds marker! We've been keeping pretty close track of what we're doing and when we're going it, too, so we've graphed this information. Well, since the middle of August anyway.
It's suprising how steady our progress has been. We had a slight dip when we decided some stuff needed re-doing (back about September 1st), but even with that, progress has been very linear, about 5% per week. At this rate, the graph predicts completion on the first of December. We'll see! That would put us on track for a January release.
Anyway, for you keeners who keep asking how it's going, see what you can glean from the charts below! This spreadsheet is ruling our lives right now!
19 September 2005
Ryan`s Atlantic Provinces Retreat - The end.
Well, I'm back in the West. I had a splendid time and met lots of super sweet people, but I was getting seriously sick of the turbulence on those small planes. Perhaps Hurricane Ophelia sweeping majestically by in the distance had something to do with that.
18 September 2005
Ryan`s Atlantic Provinces Retreat - Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
At a population of approximately 30,000 people, being a provincial capital has saved Charlottetown from a dull fate. It actually feels like a small city, at least in the downtown core. Hipsters and Farmer-Joes live in harmony in this Mr. Rogers land.
I asked a government official why there are so many Japanese tourists in PEI and why they take such an interest in Anne of Green Gables (you can't get away from her here), and he said that after World War II, the Japanese wanted to expand their understanding of the western world, and that the Anne of Green Gables series was one of the more popular western series of novels to be introduced into their curriculum, and is still used to this day. On yet another side note, apparently there's at least two businesses in Charlottetown that cater exclusively to Japanese couples that want to get married here!
16 September 2005
Ryan`s Atlantic Provinces Retreat - Fredericton, New Brunswick
There was a fantastic Blues festival going on in Fredericton. I caught 3 great acts just wandering around looking for a place to eat. As with every other Atlantic province, the people here are painfully friendly and helpful.
I unfortunately forgot my camera on my stroll, however, on my way to the bridge to get to Prince Edward Island, I noticed this water tower, which is quite possibly the second most unusual water tower I've ever seen. The strangest water-tower resides behind my parents' house in Lethbridge, Alberta, which is where I was born and raised (Alberta being yet another province in Canada for those of you not in the know). The water-tower there was salvaged from being torn down when some mega-genius had the exquisite idea of turning it into a Jetsons style sky restaurant and plastering the sides with enormous ads. Check it out!
15 September 2005
Ryan`s Atlantic Provinces Retreat - Halifax, Nova Scotia Part Deux
14 September 2005
Ryan`s Atlantic Provinces Retreat - Halifax, Nova Scotia
I used to hate lobster, but this one was particularly easy.
13 September 2005
Ryan`s Marit-um... `Atlantic Provinces` Escape
Ryan here again. Today, I learned some tidbits about Newfoundland, somewhat to my embarrassment.
1 - Newfoundlanders do not necessarily find the term 'Newfie' amusing or endearing.
2 - Newfoundland does not actually belong to the Maritimes.
3 - There is a strong separatist sentiment in Newfoundland, rivalling and possibly exceeding the one that exists in Quebec. Many locals feel that in joining the Confederation in 1949, they gained nothing while having their resources plundered by Canada's federal government.
12 September 2005
Ryan`s Maritime Escape - St. John`s Newfoundland
Ryan here. I'm on a whirlwind tour of the Maritimes (that's the eastern Canadian coastal provinces for those of you unfamiliar with our vast and wondrous country.) After a heavy bout of non-stop vocal recording (and thematically heavy lyric writing heh heh) it's a welcome break. We're not finished the vocals of course (as you'll notice from our previous entry) but Keith has more than enough to keep him arranging for quite some time.
At the moment, I'm in St. John's, Newfoundland. It's very pretty with it's colourfully painted row-houses. It's a lot smaller than I was expecting for a province's capitol city, and there's next to no one out on the streets, although I suppose it is a quiet grey monday. The terrain is slightly alien, with angled rocks jutting dramatically up out of the ocean and at various points across the landscape. The waves crash violently against the coast which is quite different than our typically calm ocean back home.
Of the few people I have encountered, I've noticed an exciting array of regional accents. I thought there was only supposed to be the one but apparently there's a number of variations. I'm especially excited when people call me 'luv'.
11 September 2005
Vintage Red update
Keith here... I thought it was about time to write about our progress on recording and producing our next album, "Vintage Red". Things are really coming together now, having passed the halfway mark with current progress at 52%.
We keep ourselves on track using a very detailed spreadsheet which shows the status of every aspect of every song. Elements are given different weightings to determine the overall position in the album production. We purposefully back-load this (ie: early steps, even if really big ones, are given less weight than later steps) so delays and last-minute changes are taken into account. Here are the steps in the process:
- Music writing (10%) – Sometimes this takes months, and sometimes it takes only an hour. It's hard to predict at what rate inspiration will flow.
Lyric writing (10%) – These first two steps probably average to be 50% of the time to produce an album, except for songs like, "The lobby", which was 90% improvised.
Arrangement (10%) – Usually in flux until late in the process, unless we've nailed a song by playing it live a dozen times or so.
Demo (10%) – Can't get around it! The demo is an important step and really helps to work out some of the bugs in the song writing.
Lead vocal (10%) – One of the most time-consuming later steps. Between Ryan and I, we demand an ever-raising standard, and we usually try out a lot of different approaches before we settle on the "character" or style of singing for any given song.
Backing vocal (10%) – Some songs are simple, but most of our songs involve dozens and dozens of layered harmonies and vocal effects.
Acoustic drums (10%) – I break this into 5% for the recording, and another 5% for the editing to make the drums fit the final arrangement, which usually hasn't taken shape at the time the drums were recorded.
Bass (5%) – Yes, bass is vital to our sound, but it just doesn't take as long to do, so it's worth 5%.
Other instruments (10%) – This includes piano, horns, strings, percussion, synths, sitar, guitar, whatever each song needs!
Mix (5%) – By the time I get to this stage, most of my mixing work is done. But sometimes it's tricky to seamlessly blend the electronic and acoustic textures.
Mastering (5%) – This is handled by Brian Hazard at 11th Records. Usually there's one or two pieces which have some challenge when I send them to him (too much bass, a very different sound, whatever), so we count on this taking a bit of time to get right.
Final approval (5%) – Even when you think you're done, things can still change! Maybe Ravi Shankar wants to come and play sitar on the album! Maybe the Chronos Quartet want to play on one song! So, we reserve final approval until we're sure that each song is done.
And there you have it. We'll keep you updated as we move along!
23 August 2005
Send Sophia to Ghana Fundraiser @ Mesa Luna
Ryan was blitzed, but that made it even better. Wicked crowd. Thumbs up to all the other bands that played tonight too - you guys kicked ass!
Our picture of Sophia was clinically overexposed so here's a picture of an equally glamorous fan with Keith instead!
05 August 2005
Our next tourist trap - the aquarium! Though they can't touch the Vancouver whale shows, their underwater shark habitat tunnels are quite incredible. Glow-in-the-dark jellyfish, man-eating crocodiles, giant sea turtles, and a recreation of the Great Barrier Reef habitat round out the attractions.
5 August 2005
Hit & run: Roo (you saved a life today)
Keith here, exploring Australia's beautiful Outback. While driving today, we saw some thrashing on the side of the road and so decided to stop and investigate. What we found was a momma kangaroo with a broken leg, and her joey climbing all over her trying to find a way back into her pouch.
Very little could be done for momma, sadly, but before she died, she sent joey away to hide behind a tree. He accomplished this with some difficulty, since he didn't yet know how to walk or hop. Poor little guy looked like Bambi's first walking attempt - very knock-kneed, constantly falling over, cute as can be.
By some fluke of wireless communication, we actually had cell reception (amazing - we were a long ways from any town). We called up WIRES (Wildlife Injury REScue) and they were by as soon as they had a permit to bring a rifle for momma. Sadly, she couldn't wait for them, so the rifle was unneccessary.
Catching joey was a simple thing. While we stood in front of him to distract him, the man from WIRES snuck up behind him and grabbed him by the tail. After a quick cuddle session with the poor little guy, it was into an artificial kangaroo pouch, where he was kept warm and comfortable.
At last report, joey was doing fine and is expected to live out a full and hoppy life in a game park!
04 August 2005
Sydney's most famous amusement park is Luna Park, located directly across the harbour from downtown. But there is something distinctly creepy about this park. Disneyland it ain't.
3 August 2005
Sydney Harbour Bridge
Today we decided to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge! Terrific experience, easy to do, beautiful views, no appointment necessary.
2 August 2005
Today we went out to Parramatta to spend a few days with friends Kamil & Harpreet, who've been living down here for a year. Parramatta is an interesting major suburb of Sydney. Whereas most of Sydney is quite homogenous (thanks to the "White Australia" policy which was in place until the late 1970s), Parramatta is an explosion of multicultural diversity. Plus, it's a physically beautiful place. A lot like Vancouver I suppose!
1 August 2005
G'day! Keith here, down undah! Truth be told, I'm here on vacation, visiting family. But there's some good Fidgital work to be done while I'm here! Stay tuned for 2 weeks of Australian adventures...
29 July 2005
Ryan here. The folks at the Buffalo Club accidentally double booked us with a fundraiser, so we agreed to play across the street at Crush Champagne Lounge instead. Unfortunately, they neglected to tell us we’d have to start an hour earlier than our advertised time, and even worse, they neglected to inform their door-staff to direct people across to us anyway.
Oh well. Miraculously, a few groups managed to find us in time to see us perform our two set show. (New song introduced to our set! “My Life as a Million Billionaire”)
This morning, a number of people have already asked me what the hell happened, so- my apologies to all of you who came down but missed the show- it wasn’t our fault!
23 July 2005
Keith here. This morning, I had the privelege of recording all the piano parts for "Vintage Red" on a $38,999 Petrof grand piano, in the world class Bruce Fairburn Room at the Art Institute. Thanks to the lovely Ms. Sumi Nam (sitting at the keyboard below), I had 4 hours of uninterrupted time to record 11 songs. Assisting me were terrific engineers Larry Anderson and Nels Breutigam (refelected in the piano below), who really knew how to capture the full range of this beautiful instrument.
It may interest you to know that after playing for 4 hours straight, and playing HARD (this is an upbeat and aggressive album!), my fingernails were all chipped and bent back, and the tips of my fingers were actually bruised. I kid you not. I'll spare you the photograph.
17 July 2005
We've been back from Japan for a week. Though endlessly exciting and fascinating, I cannot consider our trip to have been a relaxing experience - except perhaps our excursion to see the Buddhist monuments in Kamakura. Tokyo is most definitely not the sort of place you go to wind down. I count this as odd since I consistently found comparisons between this formidable city and Las Vegas, which is exactly the sort of place you might find me evacuating my mind.
I would very much like a holiday.
10 July 2005
The Longest Birthday
Keith here. Due to the magic combination of the International Date Line and our return flight from Tokyo to Vancouver today, I experienced a 41 hour long birthday. I usually expect 24 hours out of my birthdays, but stretching it with the 17 hour time difference really made it extra special!
Upon arriving at home, I discovered that Ryan had collaborated with my wife to have a surprise birthday barbeque party waiting as soon as we got back. I thought it somewhat suspicious that Ryan was coming over after spending 9 days with me, but I hadn't expected to find Rex, Burdman, Chris, Adri, Keith Loh, David Langtry, and many others (unrelated to Fidgital) lurking about, waiting to jump out at my tired and jetlagged (not to mention one year older) self!
Our mission to Japan was a great success. I leave you with some pictures of very strange signs we saw over the past week.
A few more signs
9 July 2005
Keith here! Our one free day for sightseeing turned out to be the only day that was neither scorching hot nor pouring rain. We decided to head out of the city to explore the beautiful town of Kamakura, with its famous Buddha, many temples and scenic seashore. What a splendid day!
I think we’ve all seen pictures of Daibutsu, the Great Buddha of Kamakura (and obviously we’ve included one below), but somehow none of these pictures really convey the enormous size nor the peaceful beauty of this famous statue. Ryan and I just sat there at length, staring at the Buddha, the crowds of people and the surround grounds, talking of our contrasting views on spirituality and the nature of the universe.
For an extra 20 Yen (about 25 cents), we got to go inside the Buddha!
This incredible temple was recommended to us to follow up our visit to Daibutsu, and what a great recommendation! The grounds are stunning, landscaped over centuries to express both the rawness of nature and the artistic capabilities of man. You can’t help but be impressed by the care which has been taken to get the balance right.
Hasedera is filled with thousands and thousands of identical statues, some of which have been dressed up by visitors. The style of dress varies from a simple hat put on the head, to fully dressed pairs with clothes custom made for the statues’ small sizes, to others haphazardly dressed in patchwork colours and decorated with Whinny-The-Pooh and Hello Kitty accessories.
Last Night In Tokyo
Before heading home tomorrow, we braved the torrential rains for one last evening exploring this incredible city!
8 July 2005
The Expo Concert
Ryan here. Upon arrival back in Aichi, Keith and I got the royal
treatment. While our gear was whisked off ahead by porters, we were
escorted to the Expo site by the glamorous Akiko Okabe of OYE Canada.
The official flavour of the experience made us both quite
Initially, people didn't know what to make of our faggy costumes, but
were smiling and clapping once we got going. (Clapping along is the
accepted way to participate at a concert in Japan- very cute.)
Unfortunately, because of the unbearable humidity and the sun roasting
me directly for the entire show, I got badly overheated and had to
chop a couple songs from the set. I was more than ready to run away
and barf when people swarmed in wanting photos taken with us. Ha-ha!
(In retrospect, I should have gracefully declined, as I'm quite
certain my face looked like a raw steak.)
Expo, Day 2: China Pavilion
Keith here. The China Pavilion really deserves its own write-up, as it’s really an incredible piece of propaganda. The bright red building is enormous, containing an incredible stalactite-mushroom motif performance area, as well as galleries and theatres.
We watched a performance by six lovely young female musicians, each extremely proficient on her assigned instrument. They played traditional Chinese folk music with a techno beat, and as soon as their performance was complete they were swamped by testosterone-fuelled teenaged boys. Quite amusing, actually. In any language, it’s easy to understand, “Man, those chicks are hot!”
Expo Day 2: Other Pavilions
Keith again. In the Nepalese pavilion, while eating lunch, Ryan and I were interviewed for Expo TV. They asked us twice each how we liked the Nepalese food (which was delicious), and then they asked us, “Please eat.” They then commenced to film 5 minutes of Ryan and I silently eating, giving big smiles and nods to express our satisfaction with the food. I wonder where that footage will end up!
7 July 2005
Pop Star Day, Part 1
Ryan here. Having forgotten all our phone numbers back at the hotel, we spent the morning frantically searching for Internet hotspots. This was a particularly unpleasant experience as it is very hot and humid here. Otherwise, the following is our exciting schedule for today:
(continued in Part 2, below)
- 12:00 noon – Over lunch, sign publishing deal with Keith Cahoon of Hotwire Japan, finalizing our agreement.
- 1:45 pm – Brief interview with Eye Scream Magazine.
- 2:00 pm - Radio Interview with Guy Perryman at Inter FM, Tokyo’s popular bilingual radio station. Guy plays 5 songs and asks a lot of personal questions. My private life is maliciously exposed to the public.
- 2:30 pm - Visit with Hoppy Kamiyama, a famous eccentric and avant-garde musician and pop producer whom Keith had the fortune of meeting last year. Exchange CDs. Giggle a lot.
Pop Star Day, Part 2
(continued from above)
- 4:30 pm – Receive e-mail from CMEAS notifying us we will not be embarking on a fully sponsored tour of the UK in October. Too bad. We’d been short-listed into the ten finalists out of over one thousand bands considered. Hopefully we’ll be doing something with CMEAS in the near future anyway.
- 7:30 pm - Attend Kyle Riabko’s CD release party at the Canadian embassy where Kyle gives a flawless and intense performance. Simultaneously meet up with Kevin Canning, Cultural Officer for Canadian music at the embassy.
- 10:00 pm - Drinks with June Shinagawa from the embassy and Onta from Creative Man.
6 July 2005
Ryan here... My internal clock is irritatingly resilient, as I am still suffering gravely from an acute case of the jet-lags.
Keith took me to Shibuya, and we plotted a random course through this rather populous and lively area. Sightseeing filled the morning but we later arranged some more serious activities with Keith Cahoon from HotWire Japan and Onta from Creative Man Productions, Japan's biggest concert promoter. HotWire is our publisher here, and Onta is a Japanese angel who supports our efforts greatly in various ways, including hooking us up with some extremely useful contacts.
Because there are no real street addresses, meeting details are a bit nutty to work out. We were told 'See you in 5 minutes by the Children’s Castle,' and 'See you at three by Hachiko, the statue of the dog.' Directions are given relative to landmarks – great when you know the place but not very practical for newcomers.
Shibuya is incredible – it's like a less-tall version of New York’s Times Square, but with cozy little alleys (alleys here are really more like mini streets, full of shops and vending machines) and a crazy mishmash of styles and architecture. Suddenly in the middle of this busy city, we found ourselves in a gorgeous and serene Buddhist temple. In the same way, you can be looking for a particular skyscraper and not see at all until you are across the street from it.
5 July 2005
Back to Tokyo
Keith here... We woke up bright and early (not so hard to do when you’re used to Vancouver time) to catch the bullet train back to Tokyo. This was a much better connection than we used in getting to Nagoya on Sunday – less than 2 hours total trip.
I had lunch at the Canadian Embassy with the Honourable Stephen Owen, Minister of Western Economic Diversification. Strange that I seem to meet more famous Vancouverites overseas than I ever do at home. I guess that says something about where they spend their time.
Meanwhile, poor jetlagged Ryan napped.
Later, we went exploring the awesome undergound culture district, Shimokitazawa.
Keith here - we were featured on two radio stations as a result of our Expo trade mission activities yesterday! The lovely and charming DJ Fumiko Suzuki of Nagoya's ZIP-FM 77.8 is seen with us below, and the screen cap picture comes from the website of Funky FM802, Osaka. Their famous and popular DJ Kiyomi featured us on her "Prime Hits 802" programme. Thanks so much Kiyomi and Fumiko!
4 July 2005
Keith here... It took two hours to get from our hotel to the Expo site at Aichi this morning. Not much fun. But the Expo is enormous, sprawling over many kilometres, set in the beautiful wooded hills of central Japan. It’s understandable why they couldn’t set it very close to any city.
Because so much happened today, and we took so many great pictures, and we both want to say things about it, we’re breaking this entry into several components.
Expo 1. Trade Mission
The day began with breakfast at the Canadian Pavilion, where we were given the VIP treatment in private meeting and presentation rooms above the public areas. We then went to watch Gerald Belanger of Nice & Smooth perform a one-hour DJ set of all-Canadian broken beat, house and drum & bass, on the same outdoor stage which we’ll be using for our concert here on Friday.
We then had an incredible meal of Canadian delicacies while each of the trade mission participants made a presentation, Fidgital going last.
Although this wasn’t as well attended as the 2004 mission, last year’s event had the advantage of being right in Tokyo. It’s hard to get people to travel for 3-4 hours just to attend a meeting. Nevertheless, there was still a good audience of very important people from the Japanese music industry. Our presentation went really well and we were very pleased with the new interest!
Expo 2. Canadian Pavilion
Keith again! Apparently we rank as V.I.P.'s in Canada, the U.K., Japan, Spain, and the non-nation of Mitsubishi. We bypassed the lines and got the star treatment at all of those pavilions - very nice.
I loved the Canadian pavilion's exhibit. It begins in a room with the projected illusion of snow falling all around you. You then move into another room with a surrounding audio video presentation, projected on and through an irregular translucent cloth wall approximately 10 metres by 30 metres (30 by 100 feet for you Yanks). It focused on the literally awesome natural beauty of Canada. You then move into another room behind the last, where you watch the same presentation again, but now, in addition to the silhouettes of the people now in the last room, we have additional layers projected onto translucent fabric, this time showing the human and cultural side of Canada, layered on top of the natural world. It was a moving and appropriate presentation of what makes Canada unique.
Expo 3. Spanish Pavilion
Expo 4. More Pavilions
Ryan here. Thank GOD it wasn’t hot. We did SO much walking. It was pouring rain but Keith and I were convinced that, as Vancouverites, we were IMMUNE. We were wrong. But at least we weren’t hot.
Expo 5. The Austrian Pavilion
Ryan here. I feel I must share with you the tragedy that is the Austrian pavilion. It was by far the highlight of our World Expo experience. Please keep in mind that the theme of this Expo is ‘nature and diversity’.
- Room 1 – Empty room with chandelier and mirrored wall - Lederhosen clad but unmistakably Japanese people ask the entrant to waltz, but for some reason only on Mondays.
- Room 2 – Slightly Green Hallway - Something Stanley Kubrick-esque is almost evoked here in this green hallway with a running water gutter.
- Room 3 – Extremely Green Hallway - The visitor is surprised by yet another green hallway, but this time with a damp cushiony rug.
- Room 4 – Gift shop with lit up ice wall - The visitor may feel compelled to touch the wall out of sheer boredom.
- Final Room – Plywood slope with two toboggans - Children and adults alike take turns gently nudging themselves down the slope with their legs. Apparently helmets are necessary on this ‘ride’.
3 July 2005
Tokyo to Nagoya
Keith here... Our first full day in Japan was spent doing almost as much travel as getting here. Which ain’t easy, navigating the busiest train stations in the world, carrying a large synthesiser and boxes of gear and merchandise. But we did manage to get in some nice sightseeing up at Roppongi before heading out.
We caught both art exhibits at the Mori Museum - just opened is “CHINA: Crossroads of Culture” which fast-forwards us through Chinese art history from 25 to 2005 AD – I recommend it highly! The other half of the museum is still showing “The Phillips Collection”, a remarkable collection of modern art featuring works from the masters Picasso, Renoir, Van Gogh, Cezanne, Kandinky, Klee, and more.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t take pictures of any of it!
Typical Japanese Breakfast
- Hot Tea
- Miso Soup
- Assorted Exotic Pickles
- Fish (in this case flattened salty fish)
- Rice with Seaweed Strips (‘Nori’)
2 July 2005
Japan, Day One
Ryan here... I feel like a bit of an archaeologist here, wandering through a city of ghosts that I can’t really interact with, as I can’t speak the language. Here are few fairly random first impressions...
- It’s interesting to be an obvious minority for a change. When I see another white person, I feel I should acknowledge them, but that also seems awkward.
- I watched a car commercial starring Bruce Willis. He just says, “Congratulations” after staring at the camera for a little bit. Ha ha!
- “Doumo” (“Thank you”) and “Sumimasen” (“Excuse me” / “Sorry”) are the most important words here. Pretty much everything else can be dealt with using hand signals and English.
- You’re so saturated by advertising here that it just becomes texture. The adverts themselves are so cluttered with words, information and little cartoons that I can’t believe they have any effect anyway.
- Japan is a lot more green than I was expecting. I don’t know why, but I was just expecting it to be one giant city from coast to coast.
- I’m still not comfortable just leaving my bags unattended in a public area, even though Keith assures me that nobody in Japan wants to steal my bags.
- The number of vending machines is unbelievable. You’re never more than a few feet from one. They’re even in alleys.
- It’s very easy to find unsweetened iced green tea.
The Japanese Electro-Toilet Experience
Ryan here again! I have to tell you about the Japanese electro-toilet, which I used for the first time today – it fills with water only when you sit upon it, and sprays gently heated water on the orifice of your selection, at varying degrees of pressure. I was marvelling somewhat at the proficiency with which the water spray seemed to aim itself. Despite my imperfect alignment with the toilet seat, the water still managed to score a perfect bulls-eye. Could it really be automated?
1 July 2005
Canada Day, Leaving Canada
Keith here... This was the shortest Canada Day either Ryan or I are ever likely to experience, given that we crossed the International Date Line some time in the early afternoon. The day began in Canada, playing our third set at Ginger 62, followed by packing and double-checking until watching a sunrise that was so beautiful it made us laugh, followed by a delirious drive to the airport and hours negotiating American Customs. Yes, American Customs. We had a connecting flight in Seattle, where we finally caught a little sleep while waiting for that to board.
30 June 2005
Keith here... Our finale for this year’s Jazz Festival was a marathon three set concert at Ginger 62. The room was really interesting, with us staged in the middle of the room, almost like a concert “in the round”. Rex and Burdman were up on a riser with Ryan and I below them, all set up to look at each other like we do in rehearsal.
With the Commodore show over and done with, all the stress of Jazzfest melted away, and we had a blast. We played some material we haven’t performed in front of an audience in over a year (“Mosaic”, “This situation”, “The Starlight”, etc.) and the crowd loved it. There was a great turnout of brand new fans who’d either seen us on TV or at the Commodore the previous night.
Coincidenally, tonight’s sound man, Tim, also handled our sound for yesterday’s TV performance on Urban Rush.
29 June 2005
Live at the Commodore with The Herbaliser
Keith here... Tonight, Fidgital played the Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver’s undisputedly best venue, for the first time. Almost all our individual players have been on this stage before in previous band lives, but this is a new high point for Fidgital.
The show was SOLD OUT. Crammed to capacity.
To make things even better, we were playing with one of my personal favourite bands, The Herbaliser, from London and signed to one of my personal favourite labels, Ninja Tune. The Herbaliser was fantastic, laying down the heavy hip hop grooves with their 8-man team.
We rose to their challenge, adding our brass section (Cherry Ng on tenor sax and flute, Gareth Seys on trombone, and Kent Wallace on trumpet) and percussionist (Fidgital alumnus Glenn Kruger). It was really an amazing show, fortunately captured on video for future editing and release.
Here are a few of the early screen captures from the video; obviously we haven’t had much time to look at it yet, but we’ll post more as we get the chance.
One more shot
Don't know how this got left out...
Keith here... This morning, we did a live appearance and interview on Urban Rush, Vancouver’s coolest talk show. Ryan got over his fear of Fiona’s resemblance to his sister and sang his little pink lungs out on “Whatever, whoever, whenever”. Rex’s ridiculous winged costume suffered a wardrobe malfunction which could be clearly heard and seen in the performance as a massive “KLUNNNG” on the bass in verse three.
As is typical in television land, we spent the day playing the “hurry up and wait” game. But it was nicely catered, and Mike and Fiona keep up their outrageous banter constantly, both on and off camera. Our fellow guests were also entertaining, including fashion models, a dog, a cat and a bunny.
I found it really interesting and impressive that they shoot and cut the talk show in real time. The individual inserts, like our performance, or the oyster shucking contest segment, are filmed ahead of time, but everything else happened in an hour with the cameras rolling on Mike and Fiona the whole time. No reshoots, no laborious editing. They’ve really got a great team to be able to do that in real time, every day.
Oh, and they’d read our blog! They even said they liked Ryan’s bits, but I think they were just being polite.
Still More Commodore Pics
These are too awesome.
26 June 2005
Tom Lee Workshop
Keith here... Today, I kicked off Jazzfest by delivering a workshop at Tom Lee Music in downtown Vancouver. My mission was show off some of my super-secret production techniques by producing a remix of “Don’t you fall in love” LIVE, in 90 minutes real time, explaining what I was doing every step of the way. Oh, and in collaboration with the audience. Who didn’t turn out to be all that collaborative, unfortunately. Ryan’s “MAKE IT MEANER” comment yielded some results, though my mean comments about him probably weren’t what he had in mind.
So I just took suggestions from the audience about what they wanted to hear, and then I tried to figure out a way to play that and process it so that it would sound wicked. Pretty challenging.
The end product: Actually pretty cool. This may grow into the proper “album” version of the song. Who knows? Maybe we’ll do another one of these next time I need some new out-of-left-field ideas.
PS: Remixes typically take 20-50 hours of work each, not 90 minutes.
22 June 2005
FIDGITAL on TV
We've been invited to appear on Urban Rush with local celebrities Fiona Forbes and Michael Eckford. Keep your eyes peeled for our performance and interview!
Ryan says: I don't want to be on TV! Fiona looks like my sister!
Keith says: You have to! We're big stars now and you have a responsibility to our public!
Ryan says: Oh! Ohhh!
Our appearance will be broadcast on Shaw TV at these times:
June 29th at 5 pm, 7 pm, 11 pm and the following day at 1 am, 7 am, and Noon
19 June 2005
New FIDGITAL T Shirts Available Soon!
Ryan here. Our new T shirt design should be available in time for your July 1st Canada Day celebrations!
Men's and women's T's will now be available.
Feast your eyes:
16 June 2005
The UDAUDA examines the desired CD the Bu log
A Google translation of one Japanese blogger's opinion of "Condo Life":
So, if you said, we wanted this, it is is
FIDGITAL - Condo Life
As for this album according to the introduction of the sight, 'jazz and electronica and pop with A mid to late 80s sensibility' The feeling which is mixed it seems. Such careless food? The kana which the TSUPA will be and it probably will keep hearing.
FIDGITAL TSUTE seems in the Canadian group, with the home country famous enormously, is. Which extent famous when you say, being introduced with the sight of the Canadian embassy, about the RU.
14 June 2005
Unsheathing One`s Sword Made Easy
Ryan here. Keith and I went in for stage costume fitting today. Because inspiration struck so late, I've had to conscript a second tailor to bring my vision to fruition in time for Japan, and hopefully the Commodore gig.
On a side note, I was reminded of why men's shirts are buttoned from right to left. In days gone by, it was easiest for a man to undo his coat with his left hand while drawing his sword with the right (as all respectable men were only ever right handed). Women's clothes were buttoned inversely simply to maintain a symmetry as they walked alongside. That we sustain this antiquated tradition so steadfastly is at once charming and unnerving.
If anyone is interested in custom alterations/tailoring, I highly recommend the following two women; pleasant, skilled and more than reasonably priced. Write them down!
Tammi Barker at Ivy Alterations & Custom Sewing
11 June 2005
Devout Fan Taps into the Profound Lyrical Wisdom of FIDGITAL
Ryan here. We received the following e-mail this morning. I thought it was pretty amusing:
I thought you guys should know I used the quote "Hey boy, you can be anything, just keep your voice down and don't you stray from the white lines" from your song "Brand New Wave" in my Child Behaviour and Development Psychology class this week. We were discussing how creative play was being curtailed by mass-produced, pre-formed toys. It used to be that kids would play with plain old wooden square building blocks and use their creativity and imagination to have the blocks represent anything (spaceship, fire engine, house, etc.) but now-a-days they come pre-fabricated as "Star Wars Lego set" or as a bunch of pieces that can only make one thing.
Please don't sue me.
Your fan, Chris
10 June 2005
The end of Home Bass
Keith here. DJ Noah's Home Bass radio show is coming to an end. After 15 years on CiTR, Noah's mix of techno, acid, tech-house and ambient electronica will be sorely missed. Every Friday night, no matter what you were doing, chilling at home, or on your way to a club or party, you always knew you could tune in for Noah's impeccable taste and style.
This reminds me of another passing of an era, when Noah's 5-year residency at Graceland ended in 1995. Graceland was closed, reopening as The Palladium, and now even that's gone, a victim of the Yaletown club closedown (as lamented on our Condo Life album). Sure, Noah was still on the radio, and playing around town, but the Vancouver club scene was never quite the same.
Although Fidgital never really fit Noah's focus (both too poppy and too jazzy), he was always a big supporter of what we were doing. He had Ryan and I guest-host his show, he attended gigs, he talked up our music. He had his finger on the pulse and he was interested. He helped others from the "Fidgital Family" too - Adri, Anomalous Disturbances, Drop Modulation, Landscape Body Machine, Math Genius, sporophyte... All of us have appreciated what Noah did for the scene.
Home Bass - 1990-2005. Rest in peace. You will be missed.
9 June 2005
Practice Makes Permanent
Ryan here. By far, the most memorable thing my violin teacher ever said to me was, “Practice makes permanent”. Having dropped my violin like a vacuumed drink-box after ten rigorous years of study is of course glaring evidence to the contrary.
I have since avoided the instrument except to occasionally prove to my friends that, indeed, I've spent an unholy number of hours sawing away at its soul-sucking strings. I must have enjoyed it at some point, but I can't recall any specific instances- except perhaps the rare and empty thrill of generating envy in other people's mothers. I ask myself why I bothered doing it for so long, and shamefully, I must conclude that I was:
A - afraid of my own mother.
B - afraid to give up on something after having invested so much time in it.
C - afraid to give up on something I was good at.
This logic is of course the product an underdeveloped child-mind.
My only respite is to consider such youthful activities as having been character building. I invite you to remember and draw comparisons to the first glorious minutes of the epic Conan the Barbarian, in which our child-format hero is shackled to the spoke of a giant mill wheel and forced to push it until his stick-bug frame is forged (albeit partly through the magic of film splicing) into a tower of rock-hard Arnold Schwarzenegger.
7 June 2005
Why Leonard Cohen is a Treasured National Icon:
I did not know
until you walked away
you had the perfect ass
for not falling in love
with your face or your conversation
The Energy of Slaves - 1972
4 June 2005
I Like To Score
Keith here... Working hard on generating sheet music for our new live horn section. Yes, it's true, we're getting an expanded line-up for big shows like our upcoming Commodore show with The Herbaliser. Here they are:
- Glenn Kruger - percussion
- Cherry Ng - saxophone and flute
- Gareth Seys - trombon
- Kent Wallace - trombone
Plus, of course, me and Ryan, Rex & Burdman.
1 June 2005
Keith\'s New Toy
Keith here... Just arrived, my ebay steal of the year, my new Korg Triton Studio 88. I'm pretty thrilled with this new synth, replacing my sadly passed-on Kurzweil K2000. Not just replacing, I should say, but providing the same synth and sampler functions, as well as 88 fully weighted piano-style hammer action keys. Yeehaw!
31 May 2005
Nature, Poetry, Porridge and Dark Green Vegetables
Ryan here. In my younger days, I experienced an intense antipathy for (in alphabetical order so as not to offend) nature, poetry, porridge, and dark green vegetables. Now deep into my twilight years, my feelings for these things have undergone a dramatic reversal (I speak only of the fresh and well presented of course) and I find it hard to believe that I might have dreamt up this irrational repugnance without the intervention of some sinister outside force. I lay blame squarely on the shoulders of the media. Instead of considering our national interests, what fool thought it cute to disseminate that sort of vulgar mental illness? Surely any willful participant should be thrashed within an inch of his/her life!
That said, I wonder if the esteemed Leonard Cohen is a picky eater. I also wonder if he'd be interested in doing a duet with us. Last we tried to contact him, we learned with great disappointment of his journey to the Alps to willingly shack up with some balding savages. I'll never understand why people think they'll stumble across enlightenment in a filthy hovel at nose bleed altitudes- certainly not one of our most precious national icons! I am forced to conclude that he has an ulterior, far more practical motive. In any case, had he been available, I suspect my plan to seduce him would have been met with indifference. Upon a more recent and thorough study of his most sacred writ, I detected a subtle but obvious penchant for the 'fairer' sex. Still, I'd diddle him, I don't care if he just turned seventy. After all, it's Leonard Cohen.
30 May 2005
The Commodore? Oh yes, of course!
Ryan here. The Commodore is immense, glamorous, and next to the stadium, is probably the most thrilling venue one can perform at in Vancouver. Although the thought remains slightly surreal to me, I'll be shrieking off the edge of that majestic stage, as have so many of my favourite mega-bands. I've been feeling almost guilty for not being more nervous - maybe even a bit cheated - like if I was truly excited, I should be turning blue with panic. I've considered that I'm in a temporary state of shock, but I prefer to think I've simply performed enough now that I'm not easily overwhelmed. Overall, I may actually consider that to be a more important milestone than playing the Commodore.
Hopefully I'm right and am not reduced to a vomiting epileptic five minutes before the show.
29 May 2005
Ryan here. As I am without a proper camera, I have decided to take this opportunity to write a good old fashioned blog entry, without the crushing pressures of pandering to the child-minded and the illiterate. You heard me! We don't want you listening to our music! Go back to school and check out a pop-up book, you ungrateful abortions!
Anyway, if you're wondering why we haven't been updating for some time, it's because we've been distracted by our work. On top of gigging and preparing for our numerous gigs, Keith has been all but bleeding at the fingers, composing and scoring, crafting what can only be described as heavenly, while I have been ruining the core of my eyeballs staring into my monitor, frenziedly sculpting my lyrical poetry to a state of unprecedented refinement. I'm almost afraid I may have put myself out of a job, so melodic are my lyrics, even when spoken. When our new album comes out in January, it will rocket to number one, instantly in every corner of the globe. So haunting the melodies, so universally catchy in form alone, I believe that our half-finished work has already transcended any potential age and/or language barriers. That said, those blessed listeners who can understand and come to terms fully with what it is that is happening to their ears, will defecate in their pants.
5 May 2005
Cinco De Mayo!
We played a Latin fiesta for Cinco De Mayo at the Buffalo Club, together with the hot funk of Santa De Lucia. Glenn Kruger, Santa De Lucia's drummer, joined Fidgital for some great live percussion. "Condo life" got the proper live treatment for the first time, and we debuted a new cover version of Simple Minds' "Don't You (Forget About Me)".
All material on this site Copyright 1999-2014 FIDGITAL Digital Co.