Jukebox journals #1: Little Ripples

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Ian Kudzinowski, a solo artist from Reading, has just released his debut album. It’s called Little Ripples and it’s really rather good.

A dozen pop nuggets covering an ambitious range of styles, the record is finally out there for all the world to experience and Ian is justifiably proud of it. Amazingly few discotheques provide jukeboxes  had a chat with him about music, listening back to your own voice and kitchen dancing….

AFDPJ: Hello Ian! You’re obviously a fan (and student) of great pop; what was it that first made you think, “I want to do more than just listen to this, I want to create my own music”?

IK: Well, although I’ve always enjoyed music, my first real love was for screenplay writing. Through my love of film, I developed a real interest in words – dialogue especially. After many failed attempts at writing anything worth reading(!) I thought maybe I could take my love of music and my love of writing and become a lyricist instead. Songs ended up being the shorter versions of the stories I was wanting to tell in my screenplay writing anyway!

AFDPJ: Ah, the screenplay element certainly explains the often cinematic feel of the songs and the scenarios you create in the lyrics….

IK: Yeah, the lyrics really came first, and usually still do. After a time of just doing that I decided I wanted to do more than just write and so began working on creating music for the words and then learning over the years how to craft melodies and working out how to produce my vocals.

AFDPJ: Probably the most arresting moment on the album for me is the spoken monologue on one of the tracks; you have a voice that’s suited to that whereas some singers can come across a bit self-conscious or awkward if they try to do the talking thing….

IK: I’m still not sure I pulled it off! But then not many people like hearing back their talking voice do they?

AFDPJ: Haha, no…I would spend hours as a teenager creating radio show mixtapes, and always found listening back to them a slightly weird experience. But anyway…..

IK: I mean, I’ve been recording songs for a long time now.

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AFDPJ: How long was it between that original “I want to make my own music” lightbulb going off in your head, and actually creating your own recordings?

IK: Early demos would be recorded outside my family home, in a freezing cold garage, some 10 to 15 years ago but it’s only really been in the last several years where I’ve been happy enough with my music to host it online, via my BandCamp site.

It’s only really with this new record where I felt confident enough with my production to actually put it out there on other platforms, like Spotify and Apple Music. It’s scary because it’s allowing a bigger audience to access your music and, at the same time, allowing in more critique. But that’s all part of it I suppose and it’s a great way to learn and receive feedback.

AFDPJ: With a collection of such varied songs as this, both in terms of their sound and often their style, do you find people have quite different personal favourites?

IK: String Quartet (the album’s opening track) seems to be a favourite from those who have listened to the album and certainly it’s one of mine too. I actually wrote that one during a songwriting course I was taking in London towards the end of 2017. I had to play the demo to the whole class, which was pretty terrifying, but the response was really positive.

AFDPJ: Yes, String Quartet really stands out as a great amalgam of ideas…the guitars, the exotic beats…and Soulmate really resonates with me personally.

IK: I think people come at it from difference angles – the record is pretty much divided into three sections; songs about relationships (String Quartet, Fightin’ For, Back To You, Little Ripples), songs about the love of family/friendships (Everything You Do, Soulmate, Glimmer & Shine) and songs about empowering and trying to better yourself (Time, Free).

Hopefully there’s something for everyone and depending on your own situation you might be more into some of those songs than others. I know my own favourites changed regularly when putting the album together.

AFDPJ: Then you have a pure pop moment like Back To You (One Of These Days), which recalls the best of 80s electronica; I can hear The Human League doing it during their imperial phase, or on their 90s comeback album Octopus. Yet they are all very different kinds of songs.

IK: Variety is something I’m all for! I have so many musical influences and I pretty much enjoy all music genres so it’s kind of hard for me to focus on just one when I make my music. The problem is trying to put something together that then sounds like a cohesive body of work and not just a random mish-mash of sounds.

AFDPJ: I often hear something of Brian Molko in your vocals (albeit a softer, more melodic version), and a tiny bit of the Pet Shop Boys in the phrasing on a few other occasions….

IK: Funnily enough, when I used to submit my demos to people in the music industry (I don’t tend to bother anymore!), I had a few comparisons to PSB. Not that I think I’m anywhere near as talented but it certainly was a compliment. I assume it’s because I have more of an androgynous tone to my vocal, something which I’ve learned to embrace, and also because I tend to layer up my vocals, especially on the chorus sections.

AFDPJ: Your album evokes a lot of different eras of pop music; I’m actually very surprised and impressed at the variety of it all. The production and arrangement sounds really good on headphones, too.

IK: Thank you! As for production – I struggle a lot with this as I have no actual training or much skill in it. I’d rather leave that to someone else but when you have to do it solo it’s nice to hear that kind of feedback. It wasn’t easy trying to bring everything together, to a certain level, so although I still hear things I wish I’d changed or done differently, overall I’m really happy with what I accomplished there.

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AFDPJ: One final question. Amazingly few discotheques provide jukeboxes, but if you were in charge, what would be on YOUR personal jukebox?

IK: Oh Lord. How long have you got? I could spend all day thinking (and most likely stressing) about it so I’ll just go with what comes to mind first!

Always some Blondie. And Brandy – maybe What About Us? or Turn It Up. Uptempo Brandy never fails to get me dancing (usually in my kitchen)! Actually, one of my favourite ever songs is Brimful of Asha by Cornershop. I have such a vivid memory of that song being on the radio constantly during the summer of 1998, and hearing it all the time when my Dad and I were painting and decorating one of the family bedrooms. It was summer holidays, so no school, the weather was amazing and I just have such a fond memory of that time.

Some Kylie, for sure, I grew up in the eighties during the PWL/Hit Factory peak so there was always Bananarama, Kylie, Jason etc. playing on the radio. A lot of those songs still stand up pretty well even today – you can’t knock the great songwriting talents of Stock, Aitken and Waterman!

I’m kind of obsessed with Ariana Grande’s No Tears Left to Cry at the minute, though I’m not sure how well that song resonates on a dance floor – I’ve yet to test it out in the kitchen!

 

  • Little Ripples, the debut album from Ian Kudzinowski, is out now and you can hear it, stream it and download it on Apple Music, iTunes, Spotify, 7Digital and Amazon. Go on, unplug the jukebox and do yourself a favour…..
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