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Butterfly Wars live in Berlin

We had a full house for our "Butterfly Wars" live show in Berlin, as part of Zeitgeist Irland 24. The audience gave us a sustained and rapturous applause. We couldn't believe it...

 

Thank you to everyone who has supported the project since it began in 2023 and to those who attended our debut live performance. It was daunting but exciting, and we pulled it off successfully.

 

Our goal is to capture the spirit of a video game through abstraction, a live soundtrack, and movement, and we’re continually refining it. Many thanks to all the performers involved in the project.


We are now planning our autumn showcases. I'll be giving the BWars quartet instrumentals a little glow-up and diving back in, while also composing additional songs for the piano. Revisiting some gameplay concepts and the blurbs to make sure we are making sense. One of the joys of this project is that it’s developing as we practice it.


I’ve realised that many of my solo singer-songwriter piano works from the last twenty years actually fit the repertoire—they’re gothic and haunting and can be adapted for this. However, I'm also writing some new ones.


For instance, the lyrics of my song "Sacrifice" work quite well.


“something went in, something went out, like reeling in a year, washing out a mouth”


Or Dying Tree

“I can’t bend the light to hide this, still we’d find a dying tree”


Isn’t it strange how ideas repeat themselves in writing over time without much explanation as to why? From then to now, there’s a consistent theme of bending light and time—“time is falling down the hourglass”—very much alive in my thoughts or that place of creativity. Anyway...


Collaborating with Guilia on the Berlin show was lovely; she has now gone to Greece to explore some choreography projects. Our dancer for the NCH is a professional contemporary dancer, and I can't wait to reveal who it is closer to the time. We will draw upon the spirit of Butoh for a dark and haunting performance. This is a big moment in my career, and I can't wait. I’ve played some nice venues in Dublin, including Vicar Street, The Olympia, and Bewley's Café. It’s fantastic to be heading to the NCH with Butterfly Wars.


And when I think of Butterfly Warz, I realize the butterfly motif is probably overdone—Madame Butterfly, Butterfly Effect. Normally, I’d have avoided that. But it emerged during my mental health decline and evolved through recovery to wellness, so I kept it for that reason. As it develops, I’m envisioning a final product two years from now that’s touring and being commissioned by the royal ballets and operas of the world, likely with a new title. For now, we are enjoying where this organic and beautiful path is taking us, and what the project is growing into. learning together of these wings… and where these wings can bring us. Don’t doubt me.


There’s a beautiful emergence in concept art that simulates gaming themes with music. I’m glad we are not alone. Bear McCreary has a fantastic concept album out called “The Singularity” with a graphic novel, and Bring Me the Horizon has incorporated a character similar to X in their recent release, called Eve. That’s where we’re at. We don’t have the big budgets they have to pull the animations together, but we are doing our best with what we’ve got. I see Bring Me The Horizons “Eve”album intros and stuff and think yup, that’s what we wanted… check it out!


X is cool though. She doesn’t talk yet, but she’s certainly on her way… and our show is not at all a gimmick. It’s gothic contemporary, our next performance is going to be extremely gorgeous.


Animation X


Human X

Giulia's idea of having all the dancers in her group portray the character X was lovely. It aligns well with gaming themes, where different players can customize the avatar with various clothing, hair, and preferences. It worked beautifully, and they enacted the scenes perfectly. The only character on stage that wasn’t an X was the dreaded Waltz character, Nymphalisa, performed gorgeously by the quartet and the dancers… they get her in the end!!! Pow!!!



Our NCH dancer is a bit more abstract. They are not portraying X but rather a different gaming element, which we will reveal closer to the time. I’m responsible for the music, which, as I mentioned, is also evolving for this performance, with me as a composer tbh. This project is a practical education for me.


My own song, "Mysteria," baffles me. I wrote it! I designed it to repeat and serve as an underscore, structured as a theme song for a realm called Mysteria, with a gaming underscore feel. The repetitions are frequent and simple, yet the vocal melody alters, distinguishing verse, chorus, and middle 8 by voice rather than musical underscore. It’s a nightmare to perform live. Believe it or not, it’s just two chords, but it needs to be controlled to be effective, and there are no cues. I don’t rely on sheet music, and the musicians know I can change the arrangement on the spot if I get caught in the moment. They’re great and just go with me, which I love. Basically, that song will never be the same twice live! For everyone’s sake, I’m rearranging some parts. It's also challenging for me to play the piano solo and sing the bridge over it. You’d never think it would be such a difficult song to perform live. It’s two chords. Give it a go! Our guest singer, Silvia, did a wonderful job on the solo soprano voice…



So now, all we are short of is a soprano for the NCH. Happy to hear from you!


We weren’t permitted to hire a piano for the Berlin show because the venue floor is treated for dancers, and I found it a struggle. Because of this, I incorporated two singer-songwriter songs on guitar into the performance. The venue is stunning and the perfect size and space for Butterfly Warz Berlin. Beautiful venue, the lighting and sound were super.


There were plenty of whoopsies. Exploring Berlin itself is always nice, and I got mugged of 50quid on the tram. A little altercation and life goes on…


I added the lyrics of “A Place Above the Clouds” as spoken word, with my buddy Jake Wiest reciting them beautifully, accompanied by an underscore of music. This piece, which has been popular for airplay, was selected for Hudba Sveta on RTVS, remixed by DJ Ritu MBE on A World In London (please bring that remix to Glastonbury), and featured on Blue of the Night on RTE Lyric FM.



A Place Above the Clouds


There's a place above the clouds

A lofty pillow made for dreamers


Up where the cosmos rains a liquid light

The tranquility of night lends to me a tandem of souls

Twirling in to feel his warmth ignite in a cosmic ballet


Twirling to the rhythm of stars

Come take a shot we'll sway and dodge the blast

that embers out into a forest green glow

So

We pick star fruit and lay on blankets made of sky

Above the clouds

Wow


Out of the bluest blue

Light as air

Holding on real tight to his shirt

Like

With care for the words he do be sayin'

Up in a sea of stars

Twirling in the glow and softness

Of pillow talk


Softly

Softly

Softly

Our words fall


Lovely you are

You're lovely you are

Lovely as the stars


And I fell from bed when he said I love you

Eyes opened

I had been glad to see you



The Berlin Drum Experience delivered a compelling portrayal of AI risk, capturing the fear and overwhelm that generative AI can evoke for artists through pounding, rhythmic beats.


If you've been keeping up with my blog, AI Fool, you know I'm fascinated by artificial intelligence and deeply concerned about the ethical implications of generative AI. While we touched on these themes in our Berlin show, they won't feature as prominently in the next phase.



I'm excited to take a break from the guitar and explore playing the piano at the NCH. Additionally, practicing for a potential performance at Glór Irish Music Centre for Culture Night, with its stunning piano, adds another layer of anticipation to the mix. I need to practice, and get this show right.


The Berlin show's photos are courtesy of Federica Villi, while Ishmael Claxton is our photographer for the NCH. Both are exceptional at their craft. Thankful.


There's loads to say, isn't there? Lots happened... Oh well.


I'm putting in a lot of effort for the Dublin show including intense workouts, especially since I have a very small costume. I can't wait for it!



Now I apologize that some of the s’s became z’s in this blog, it’s 1.41am and… I’m sleepy 💤


G’Night

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