Interview With Composer Rob Shedwick/ Digital Front

Digital Front 300Well, we’re all thrilled here at Anarchy Films to be working with an amazing composer with the dual identity of Rob Shedwick/ Digital Front. We thought it was about time we caught up with Rob and forced him to answer some questions 🙂

[You can also check out Rob’s music (and indeed, some samples of music for our next film The Mask Within) at http://digital-front.com/]

Anarchy Films: Please tell us about how you started off with music, childhood instrument fixations, what you learned to play – and why – and any amusing stories of early embarrassing bands (I myself had “a teddy bear band called Adam and the Ants 2”).

Rob Shedwick: My mum played clarinet in a Polish jazz band, and was absolutely determined one of her children would be musical… I guess I just took up the mantle. She had her father’s banjo tucked away in her wardrobe and when I was really young it completely fascinated me. Only one of the strings was still intact, but I’d open up the case and pluck away at it and just watch that string vibrate. Entertainment was thin on the ground back then!

In primary school everyone wound up playing the recorder and I was no different. Even by typical child standards I was really terrible at it, but that didn’t stop me applying to try and get to play one of the schools two(!) clarinets – but that was not to be, no doubt due to my inept demonstrations with a recorder. The same went for trumpet and flute. Clearly I’m not cut out for wind instruments unless it’s a kazoo, and I’m pretty bad at that too. I imagine at that point my mum was devastated!

After the revelation that anything requiring my lungs to operate it was out of the question I turned my attention to the guitar because a piano (which is what I really wanted) was totally out of the question. My parents got me an “Axe” (a very cheap brand of electric guitar at the time) for my 14th birthday. The action was ridiculously high so playing for any length of time was fairly painful! But I couldn’t leave it alone. Pretty soon I was playing Judas Priest and Metallica riffs, had lessons, and it became apparent the gods had decided this was my intended musical outlet all along.

The first “bands” I formed with friends were fantastically awful. Stampeding Horses Of Thrash was myself and two friends armed with my guitar, an upturned bucket for percussion, and a tape recorder. After writing around fifty songs we realized we’d got the acronym completely wrong and rectified it to Stampeding Horses In Thrash.

I progressed onto a ‘proper’ electric guitar when I was 18 – a Washburn G5V. A beautiful guitar. Black, with shark fin inlays, locking nuts, amazing action. I called her Melinda, after actress Melinda Clarke who I had a teenage crush on. I don’t know if it’s normal or not to give your guitar a name.

 

Anyway, by this point I’d formed a more serious band, which dissolved at the same time as two other bands people I knew at college were in, so between us we formed a new band (called Peanut). We rehearsed a lot, played gigs, recorded some demos at a professional studio, and got signed by Too Damn Loud! Records. But, there were arguments. A lot of arguments. Cutting a long and frankly forgettable story short we imploded and just couldn’t work together anymore.

Three of us formed a band from the ashes called Louis Wu but it didn’t last long; I didn’t get on brilliantly with one of the other members, so I called it a day and left.

AF: I recall you being a wizard on the guitar – but then you transferred to digital music. Can you explain why this transition occurred, and what impact it had on your compositions?

RS: A wizard? Why thank you very much! Well, the transition happened fairly organically to be honest. I was fed up with band politics and pretty much abandoned music altogether for a short time because the thought of writing and subsequently arguing with a group of people completely depressed me.

Then at some point, someone mentioned Reason to me – which is a digital workstation for writing music. I played with a demo version on my pc and was so blown away I bought the full version the next day. It was just amazing – my own virtual recording studio where I could write complete songs without a five-way four hour argument in a rehearsal room! Hallelujah! Plus, unlike other music software it’s set up like a traditional analogue studio rack system which was what I’d become used to in the real world, so I got to grips with it pretty quickly.

In terms of how it affected the way I write, I guess the most obvious thing is I was no longer using a guitar so it was more adapting to the wealth of other things that I suddenly had at my disposal – drums, piano, synths, strings, these were the instruments that sounded most polished in that artificial environment so they became the dominant sounds.

That also led to th3 m1ss1ng several years later, which was myself and the only other person from Peanut and Louis Wu on the same wavelength as me. That was fun. I’d moved away from Manchester so we did everything over the internet; I would sketch out riffs and email them to Paul, then he’d put vocal ideas down and send them back, then we’d work out structures and glue it all together. It was a completely different way of writing for us and led to some really cool stuff.

AF: How would you define “Rob Shedwick” and “Digital Front”?

RS: Ummm… I have no idea! I think originally I was kind of hiding behind having Digital Front as a pseudonym, but more recently I’ve fallen into Rob Shedwick being the guy who writes soundtrack music and Digital Front being pretty much anything else I write. I’ve never really had a plan for how the two should coexist!

AF: What are your musical influences?

RS: They’re a bit messy. I grew up with a mixture of heavy metal, punk, classical, jazz, and country and western… the latter I hated though lol. Metal was the biggest influence of all – particularly Judas Priest. Glenn Tipton is an amazing guitarist, and the whole reason I got into guitar was because I wanted to play as eloquently as he does. His solo from Beyond The Realms of Death remains my all time favourite lead (http://youtu.be/y60Mo_Nmydg?t=3m5s). I wish I was even half as talented as him, he phrases leads like they’re vocal lines. Truly beautiful playing.

Other key influences are Pixies, The Crystal Method, Nine Inch Nails, Charlie Clouser, and John Murphy. I listen to a lot of different stuff really, but I avoid trying to emulate other people. There seems little point in doing something already out there.

AF: I recall saying at some point that I believed you were a musical “genius”. How does it feel to be a genius? (whether you believe it or not).

RS: Ha ha ha! I don’t believe I’m a genius, but I do (I really do!) appreciate the compliment 🙂 Then again anyone who believes they’re a genius is likely delusional! Personally I’m prone to massive bouts of self-doubt and Kafka-esque periods of wanting to destroy everything I’ve ever written. My wife usually manages to stop me before I hit the delete button.

AF: You have been part of the band th3 m1ssing, composed music for Remic’s films Impurity and The Mask Within – what exciting new projects have you got lined up next?

 

RS: I’m working on an album. Outside of that I’m just taking things as they happen. I like doing the soundtrack stuff so hopefully more of that will come my way, and I’d really like to work with a singer again. That’s a lot of fun with the right person.

AF: Describe your perfect day.

RS: Wake up. Eat Frosties. Shower. Write a track where every single note and synth and drum hit and sample I choose is perfect. Celebrate with a bottle of wine and a film about sharks. Then successfully avoid going back to the track and deleting it.

http://digital-front.com/

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SPECTRUM ADDICT FILM – UPDATE #1

SPECTRUM ADDICT FILM – UPDATE #1

Anarchy Films is heading over to the promising REVIVAL RETRO EVENT 2014 at Wolverhampton Racecourse, UK, on Saturday 9th August. We’ll be getting lots of event footage, and hopefully interviewing many Spectrum legends, such as Andrew Oliver (Dizzy games), Mark R Jones (Ocean), Clive Townsend (Durell’s Saboteur games), Roger Kean and Oliver Frey (Newsfield – and yes, I STILL own all my original issues of CRASH magazine) and event organiser Chris Wilkins himself.

If you’re a Spectrum fan and would like a chat, pop along! It promises to be an amazing event.

Check out our Spectrum Addict Kickstarter Campaign, at: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/andyremic/memoirs-of-a-spectrum-addict

And check out Revival at http://www.revivalretroevents.com/

Memoirs of a Spectrum Addict – http://www.spectrumaddict.co.uk/

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Welcoming Bryony Roberts and Col Howarth to The Mask Within!

Welcoming two fabulous actors to our movie, The Mask Within!

Col Howarth and Bryony Roberts!! … Welcome.

Col is playing “Smith”, whereas Bryony takes the haunted role of “Alice”.

Bryony Roberts

Bryony Roberts is a young actress based in London and Lincoln. After studying a BTEC (Level3) in Performing Arts, she progressed to gaining experience in both film and on the stage, playing Queen Catherine Howard in Echoes of the Past, Alice in a Doctor Who spoof, with stage roles including Pratchett’s Wyrd Sisters and Dick Whittington. She has seven years acting experience, and is relishing the haunted role of Alice in The Mask Within.

Bryony. Not Col.

Bryony. Not Col.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Col Howarth

Col Howarth is an actor, writer and stand-up comedian from Manchester, based in Cardiff. Film-wise, Col has written and directed a number of shorts, music videos and sketches, working with the likes of Grunge Films, th3 m1ss1ng, Box Full of Comedy and dotcomfilms. As an actor, he has appeared in a number of short film and stage productions, and is also a qualified film lecturer.

As a stand-up comedian, Col has talked at people all over the place, from Llanelli to Leicester Square. He has also appeared on local radio talking all things stand-up, and runs www.standupforcomedy.co.uk. His comedy style is 20% observation, 90% blind panic, and 10% maths.

Col. On a good day.

Col. On a good day.

Announcing: Memoirs of a Spectrum Addict

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MEMOIRS OF A SPECTRUM ADDICT – THE MOVIE

Check out our INDIEGOGO campaign:

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/memoirs-of-a-spectrum-addict/x/7591984

Based on Andy Remic’s PhD thesis, memoirs of a childhood growing up with the ZX Spectrum – and how it created a writer with 16 internationally published novels (translated into 6 languages) – Memoirs of a Spectrum Addict will be a full length documentary feature film (110+ minutes) which is part cinema-style drama (think 1983 re-enactments, Hitchcock-style), part interview with major industry figures, and part nostalgic journey for the people who experienced this life-changing period of Sinclair’s Wonder Machine.

At the age of 13, Andy Remic became obsessed with the ZX Spectrum. He wrote games, he played games, and became World Champion (in his head) at Stephen Crow’s Starquake. His whole world revolved around the Speccy. At home. In the playground. In his programming bedroom. He chatted to Richard Eddy at Crash Magazine. He chatted to Richard Darling at Codemasters. Eventually, his games were reviewed in Crash Magazine, and appeared on the cover cassettes of Crash, Your Sinclair and Sinclair User.

Then came a career in novels – where Rem did a little better, achieving best-selling status in 2003 with his debut thriller novel, SPIRAL, published by Orbit Books. With the publication of his fifth novel, BIOHELL, Rem decided to revisit his roots – and wrote the Spectrum version of his novel (which can now be found on www.worldofspectrum.org [under the adult section, unfortunately, due to a few wee bad words]). More novels followed…. and then Rem got together with Jonathan Smith, Jonathan Smifff, Joffa Smifff, writer of Spectrum classics like Mikie, Hysteria, Cobra, Firefly and Batman: The Caped Crusader. They collaborated on ideas for a movie! Rem would do the writing and filming; Joffa would do animatronics, special effects and gore. It was going to be an awesome project and Rem was privileged to see some of Jof’s short films!!

Their project became a feature film, IMPURITY. Unfortunately, unbelievably, Jonathan Smith passed away in 2010, before filming began.

Now, the plan is to make a feature film documentary/ docudrama celebrating the ZX Spectrum. Memoirs of a Spectrum Addict will have dramatic re-enactments! It will have interviews like you’ve never seen before! It will have prominent industry figures! And it will have real people who grew up influenced by the Sinclair ZX Spectrum.

Please chip in and help out with this Indiegogo campaign. The more money we raise, the higher the production values! This film WILL BE the ULTIMATE ZX SPECTRUM MOVIE of the century!

Memoirs of a Spectrum Addict — A film dedicated to Jonathan Smith.

INDIEGOGO CAMPAIGN

We need your help with funding. In return, you get perks such as DVDs, unique signed production stills, the chance to be in the movie itself, in-movie promotion of Speccy-related games and products, invites to the premiere of the movie – as well as INVESTOR STATUS for contributions of £500 and over, where you have a chance to make back your investment AND a percentage of profits. The more contributions we get, the higher the quality of movie!! The funding limit specified on Indiegogo is the absolute minimum necessary to get this project going… so please get involved.

We also need help spreading the word. So PLEASE blog, twitter, facebook, tell your friends and family and Spectrum obsessives. There are a lot out there!

Check out our campaign HERE:

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/memoirs-of-a-spectrum-addict/x/7591984

THE FILMMAKERS

Andy Remic is a novelist and filmmaker. He is part of the collaborative independent film production company, Anarchy Films. We have made one previous feature film, IMPURITY, and are in pre-production for our second supernatural thriller, THE MASK WITHIN.

MEMOIRS OF A SPECTRUM ADDICT is a project of passion and nostalgia by director and author, Andy Remic.

This truly is a film that we believe in.

We believe this is a film that needs to be made. Not just to fulfil nostalgic reminisces, but to help preserve the precious memories of the Spectrum… and immortalise the Spectrum addict; and all those moments in time we had….

You can check out our credentials at:

Anarchy Films: www.anarchyfilms.co.uk

Impurity the movie website: www.impuritythemovie.com

Andy Remic, author: www.andyremic.com

Andy Remic on IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm6146368/

Impurity on IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3401658/