Paul Miro is a British musician who came to prominence with the band Apes Pigs & Spacemen in the nineties. After watching the band struggle against their record label, Paul focused on solo work, releasing several solo albums and producing music for TV and films.
He’s recently announced a new album through PledgeMusic, the intriguing titled ‘Sinombré Vol 1: All Hope Is Gone’. One of the options is to have him write a song for you. A short while ago, Paul said that he’d been given the okay to share a song written for a pledger. ‘Dandelion’ is about depression and anxiety, but is quite upbeat despite the subject matter. Then Alex, who the song was written for, created a lyric video for the song. Paul has shared my blog on several occasions and we’ve swapped messages a few times so I asked if he and Alex would be open to an online chat about the song, mental illness and the Sinombré album. After getting the thumbs up from the pair of them we arranged a Facebook messenger conversation. I’ve not done much editing to it, just leaving the flow pretty much as it was. It was really relaxed, like three blokes sitting and talking in a pub. So, here it is.
Scott – Would you both like to start by telling us a little about yourselves please?
Alex – Well, I’m currently between jobs. Separated and have four kids. Well I say between jobs I start a new one pretty soon. I’ve been aware of Paul’s music since a friend introduced me to ‘Transfusion’ by Apes Pigs & Spacemen in the mid nineties. I’m one of those people that has always worked hard but never really found their calling or career.
Paul – I’m a guy who writes and produces music and sings songs.
Scott – So, Alex, you asked Paul to write a track as part of his pledge project. Why did you choose depression as the subject matter?
Alex – It’s something I’ve struggled with for some years. Never to extremes some do but it’s been there. In the past I’d always managed it usually through keeping busy and art, or some creative outlet. But a couple of years back my marriage came to an end which led to a series of events which left my ex and kids homeless and I was working a stressful job and couldn’t do anything to help them. I ended up having a breakdown and suffered severe anxiety and depression. It’s been quite a battle to pull myself out of it.
Scott – Might pick up with you a bit on this later Alex if that’s cool. So Paul, what was your brief from Alex and how did you approach it?
Paul – I can’t recall the exact brief, but Alex and I had a few exchanges about depression, after him first asking if it was a subject I felt comfortable writing a song about. I’ve written songs about depression before, but wanted to get across a lot of the subject matter that related to Alex and with which I, and I felt many others, would identify. Style-wise, because of the studio time involved, I’ve tried to keep the pledge exclusive songs to more acoustic arrangements. Alex said he wanted something that felt like the opening track from an Apes album, so I followed that vibe and it just had to be a full band track
Scott – Cool. Alex, how do you feel about the song? I must admit to be totally in love with it myself.
Alex – I really like it, there are plenty of songs about depression but most are slower and more deliberate. I hoped Paul would get across the…I guess defiance would be the word, against depression. I think he captured it excellently. I say that as I had to capture that feeling to pull myself out of a hole.
Scott – That’s what I like about it, the kind of upbeat nature of the track. It’s almost quite poppy in places. Was this deliberate Paul? A reaction against the usual downbeat song that most people would have done?
Paul – Absolutely. For me, there’s a constant battle going on, most of which have identifiable triggers and I have learned to half-deal with the inevitable nature of things by obduracy and defiance. The dandelion analogy is one I’ve used in conversation a few times. That feeling of being utterly overwhelmed by the concrete of events, yet retaining the energy and determination to climb through it and grow.
Alex – I was really impressed with that analogy. Really hit the mark for me.
Scott – I don’t know about you Alex but the dandelion idea describes how I feel perfectly with depression. The way how it’s a struggle sometimes to get through just the day to day things. Bugger! Beat me to it lol.
Paul – Haha! FIGHT!
Scott – Ha ha ha!
Alex – Lol. Yeah. Paul writes some great lyrics.
Scott – Want to say as well Alex the lyric video was a great idea. Were you aware that he was doing one for the track Paul?
Paul – Not until a couple of days ago! Alex mentioned hat he might shortly after the track was finished, but the video was a great surprise, as was Alex sharing the track.
Scott – Yeah, thank you for sharing the song Alex. It’s become a firm favourite of mine over the past few days. How important was it for you to do the lyric video? Was it a way of saying thanks?
Paul – Have to disappear for a while. Back in a bit.
Scott – No problem Paul.
Alex – I had wanted to do a video for it but wasn’t sure I could pull anything off. I often have ideas beyond my ability. But a lyric video was simple enough. As for sharing it, well it would seem a waste not to. The video was a way to share it some more and to give paul another tool to help raise awareness of the Sinombré pledge campaign.
Scott – Do you have a tech background or was doing the video something you thought you’d do as a challenge?
Alex – No professional background. I dabble with a manner of things as a hobby. I make webcomics and made a video for Paul a few years back but that was made with a cheap digital camera and barely a clue. This video wasn’t very technical, but it’s my first attempt at a lyric video. I looked at a few different programs buy in the end stuck to Windows live movie maker as I already knew how to use it. I may try something more ambitious in future but for this I wanted to deliver something sooner rather than later.
Scott – I’m pretty impressed by it, especially seeing as though you’ve said as though it’s been your first attempt at it.
Alex – Well I’ve dabbled with a little movie making and animation before so I had a little bit of a start there. It’s the creative pursuits that really help me manage my depression. Here’s one I did for Paul some years ago. It’s a little cobbled together but I think worked okay Paul Miro – Days Don’t Matter (Without You).
Scott – Going back to that for a few questions how are you doing at the moment?
Alex – Pretty well. I’m nearly back where I was before the breakdown. I was let go from my job last year because of the depression and anxiety kept me off for about a year. It’s only recently I’ve felt able to get back to work, although that’s a daunting prospect. But I’ve managed to get a new job despite the time off sick. The hard part is stopping the anxiety getting on top of me before I start it.
Scott – You’ve said that being creative helps you. I know for me playing guitar and being in a band helps. What is it you do to help fight it? Awesome news on the job by the way 😀
Alex – I wish I could play an instrument but I never really took to music. Always seemed too steep a learning curve. I mostly make comics. Both writing and drawing, although I’m not much of a writer. It’s something I do to express myself and get out and process some thoughts and ideas.
Scott – Cool. That’s pretty different to what most people do. Do you have a link where people can go check out your work?
Alex – Yeah, here’s a link to an ongoing one I do called Lore. It’s a vaguely Lord of the rings kind of action comic. This one is to an anthology I ran which features all kinds of things by various comic creators such as myself. The link takes you to is a short horror I wrote but someone else illustrated called Black Shuck. Based on the black dog stories. Online communities have been helpful when I’ve been at my lowest as I can talk and get support without leaving the house, which can be an issue as I developed agoraphobia last year. Even though they weren’t support groups it easy to find like minded people through creative sites.
Scott – Nice. I’ll look at them later and I’ll also share them in the blog too.
Alex – Cool thanks.
Scott – Is there anything else you’ve done to fight the depression and anxiety? Were there any therapies you tried that work? Do you take any medication? I found EFT/tapping exercises worked really well with the anxiety and taking venlafaxine has helped with my depression.
Alex – Yes, medication wise is a mixed bag. I’ve taken a number of things over the years, but they’ve only been of limited help. Most recently citalopram which left me too much like a zombie. I went through CBT recently. That was excellent. But definitely requires a lot of work and honest introspection. I’ve heard a number of people who found it useless but it seemed to me they didn’t really grasp it properly. TBH I’ve never heard of EFT tapping before.
Scott – It’s kind of where you reprogram your thought processes and how you deal with situations, a bit like positive reinforcement. It’s bizarre but I found it quite helpful. There’s quite a few YouTube videos on it. Search for EFT anxiety.
Alex – Okay thanks. I’ll give it a bit of research as you can never have many tools for dealing with it. The biggest mistake I made in the past was not acknowledging the anxiety. I honestly didn’t know I suffered with it but in hindsight it’s been there all my life. I just told myself to man up and forced it down. I also did the same with depression. Forced it under the carpet and moved on. So when I had the breakdown I broke hard.
Scott – Looking back do you think it’s alwas been present in one way or another?
Alex – Yes. Very present, I just didn’t see it. Occasionally others would see it but mostly I kept up a tough exterior. Mostly it’s social anxiety for me. I’ve always felt pretty capable in most respects but socially…nah.
Scott – I’m the same. I feel very awkward in social situations, sometimes even with people I’m friends with.
Alex – Yeah that’s me all over. Relationships are a nightmare.
Scott – I’ve been lucky. My partner is very understanding. It took her a while to get used to things and try to get an understanding but she’s been wonderful. Do you have a support network of people at all?
Alex – A while before my breakdown I dated a bipolar nymhpo-maniac. Safe to say that relationship had its ups and downs. Boom boom. I do have a support network.
Scott – Ha ha ha ha. And who says mental illnesses are depressing?
Alex – It took a while to find as I had to open up to people and let them help me. That was a big step for me.
Scott – Okay then, returning back to the music. Can you give us a idea of what Sinombré is like Paul?
Paul – Sinombré…in a nutshell, it’s a two-album concept. The pledge campaign that’s currently running is for the first part. It’s a dark, dystopian journey into swamp Americana. It started when I was working on an album for a TV project, which was all about the kind of themes that a lot of big TV shows follow – Vampires. demons, ghosts and things that will come and get you while you sleep. I loved the soundscape that I was building for it, and it set me to thinking that, rather than write about mythical demons, it would be great to write an album about the thre real demons in our midst. There’s this dark western/ Americana musical soundscape throughout, but the lyrics are really political. Personally, I’m prouder of it than anything I’ve completed to date. Pledgers will get the first idea of the full production tomorrow when they’ll be receiving the full video version of the first single, which is a radio edit of the title track, All Hope is Gone.
Scott – I’ll fire through a few more questions as I’ve got a busy day at work ahead of me then straight out tonight to see the Urban Voodoo Machine. And let’s face it we know Paul is always busy 🙂
Paul – URBAN VOODOO MACHINE!
Scott – Will there be a marked difference between volume one and two of Sinombré or are they intended to flow together as one larger piece?
Paul – The ‘overall’ two album vibe is a start-to-somewhere story cycle. The way I look at it is, if you are of the disposition to get into the whole journey, concept, then it’s a film in two parts, so it builds and shifts with a dramatic arc. There is a definite sonic vibe throughout, but album two is a little more intense in places. But, the main thing is, that the strength of the songs as stand-alones means you don’t have to get wrapped up in anything pretentious!
Scott – You value the interaction and trust you have with your fans Paul. Is this really valuable to you? And I take it’s important to you too Alex?
Paul – Interaction and community are everything to me and what has enabled me to continue. Pledge has proved to be an absolute lifeline for someone like myself, who is so underground you have to dig deep to find me.
Scott – I’m really looking forward to hear what you’ve done with this Paul, and I’m sure Alex will second that.
Paul – Pledgers will be getting the first full production preview any minute now, together with video 😀
Scott – So, wrapping things up. Is anything either of you would like to say? The floor is yours gentlemen…….(Just want to throw in a quick thank you to you both. I really appreciate the time you’ve both taken to take part in this and it means a lot to me. I’ve really enjoyed this virtual chat :-))
Paul – Think positive thoughts, share your troubles with friends and discover they aren’t going to kill you…and, of course, pledge for my album 😀 Yes…likewise. Virtual is the way forward. Though there’s not enough food or beer.
Scott – You’ve not been in my kitchen then. Lots of food lol.
Paul – My kitchen is likewise a food shrine. But not the virtual kitchen. Got to run….have fun guys… Have a great gig. Talk to you both later.
Scott – Thanks again Paul, much appreciated again. Have a good one.
Alex – Picking up on a few bits. The virtual interaction artists like Paul have is great for fans. Liking the music aside I genuinely hope the pledge does well as Paul always comes across as a great bloke. I too am definitely keen to hear Sinombré. I like the sales pitch on it as it sounds like it will be a proper album not just a collection of singles. I miss the days you would listen to an album through rather than pick a couple of songs and put them in a blender and shuffle them.
Scott – Definitely. I think some artists don’t put as much thought into the concept of an album. I love it when what would have been considered an album track (back in the day) becomes a solid favourite.
Alex – There are many of those for me. They may not work as a typical single for radio play but some are fantastic tracks in their own right.
Scott – I know. I love it when you sit and actively listen to it rather than just casually have it on in the background. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, sometimes disposable music can be cool.
Alex – Anyway I better get on as well so some parting words. Well I’ve enjoyed that chat as well and in regards to the song ‘Dandelion’. It’s a definite success for me as not only is it a cracking track but at the very least one person has been able to relate to it and I hope others can too. Regarding disposable music… Well music can be all manner of things and it’s very much what fits at the time and place.
Scott – Thanks Alex. Have a great day gents.
Alex – You too, enjoy.
I’d really like to thank both Paul and Alex for taking the time to talk in such an open and friendly way. Paul has been really supportive of my blog by helping share it and also by sending encouraging messages to me. So please, pop over to his PledgeMusic page and take part of it. Also, go and check out Alex’s work too. Finally, I’d also like to thank Ila Desai of iwastherephotography for the photo of Paul.
The title of this volume of my blog is from the song ‘Dandelion’ by Paul Miro. You can see a YouTube video for it here Paul Miro – ‘Dandelion ( Lyric Video)’.
As usual, if you’d like to chat to me drop me an email at email@example.com and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. I’ve also created a closed support group on Facebook also called The Order Of The Dog. It’s there for people who suffer from mental health issues as well as people who want to support others. It’s closed so only other members can see and comment on posts there. Finally, please feel free to share this blog with anyone and anywhere you think it might help.
The Order Of The Dog