Twitter Searching / by Mark Daman Thomas

A week or so ago a live recording I did as Farm Hand for BBC Radio 3 was broadcast. I wrote this blog about it. 

It was my first ever solo radio session and I sat and listened to it on my own in the living room. The programme I was on started at 23:00, way over 1 hour past my current bedtime. My heart was POUNDING. It started, I could hear my voice way too much and the beats, bass and keyboard felt way too quiet, is it me or does it always sound too quiet when it is your thing?! I was thinking, 'oh gosh, it sounds awful!'.  

Anyway, I kind of sat uncomfortably and awkwardly listening to the 3 songs and interview. Then I did what any artist would do in that situation, I Twitter searched 'farm hand'. Why not get some real time feedback! Here was the one and only thing that came up: 

Now, bear in mind I at this point I had received 0 texts / emails / tweets regarding the session (crying emoji) so this was the ONLY feedback I had to go off. I wasn't a fan of the winky, tongue out emoji at the end so I started to take offence and was feeling vulnerable. Firstly, I googled 'Portsmouth Sinfonia'. To save you the bother if you don't know what it is: 'The world’s worst orchestra' is one of the top links on google.

BURN ! 

The Portsmouth Sinfonia was an orchestra founded by a group of students at the Portsmouth School of Art in England, in 1970. The Sinfonia was generally open to anyone and ended up drawing players that were either persons without musical training or, if they were musicians, ones that chose to play an instrument that was entirely new to them.

Ouch!

I felt like my heart had stopped. 

I then googled 'a la' as I wanted to know exactly what he meant. I kind of knew what it meant anyways, but I like googlin' and better be safe than sorry. It means: 'In the style of'.

So, we have 'Farm Hand sound like Joy Division in the style of the world's worst orchestra *winking, tongue out emoji*'.

No one was here to help me determine how bad the criticism was. I could wake up the 2 year old but I had a feeling that wound't help. So, I started replying to the Tweet... Fortunately, based on prior experience I will elaborate on shortly, I then remembered that no one should ever reveal that they Twitter Search their own name! Everyone pretends they don't do that, even though we all know that everyone does really. Mark, act like a cool artist! 

Because I was on my own and a bit tired, I felt like it was probably the worst tweet that had ever been sent. I obviously profile clicked him to find out who I was dealing with. He is a 'Baritone voice coach', or something. @CheyneyK became my troll and my arch nemesis for approximately 1 hour. I thought that my voice had probably offended him... it does have a habit of doing that to people but I'm not going to stop 'singing' anytime soon. Sorry! 

On reflection, now I'm revisiting it, I'm almost happy about it and I don't think he meant much harm. Or for me to think about it for the next week, non-stop. Joy Division are a decent reference point and I found out people like Brian Eno were in the Portsmouth Sinfonia so I'm taking it that he means I'm somekind of visionary genius. Also 'epic' must mean good, right? 

The recording is still online btw, here (around 20 mins in) so decide for yourselves!

In other related news, I've just confirmed 3 days of Farm Hand album recording with someone exciting that I've never worked with before. In emails back and forth we've been saying things to each other like "I'm really excited about this!" and "this is going to be great!".

I have a history of this type of bad Twitter searching activity. After Islet supported Battles in Cardiff Uni in 2011, I Twitter searched our band name and it was a mistake. There was a fair bit of negativity flying about! We must of upset the hardcore #rock #mathrock section of the crowd with our strange music and stage presence. Anyway, one person was quite angry about our existence and he tweeted something like "Islet are shit, I hate them I wish they would fuck off and stop #fuckoff"... Or words to that effect - I remember for sure that he definitely hash tagged 'fuck off'! 

Anyways,I clicked on his profile, found out he was in a band, found his contact details and, yes, you've guessed it, sent him an emotional email. What a fantastic idea, 2011 me! I was very polite but explained my position that it hurt and maybe he'd reconsider posting things like that in the future. Well, he strongly disagreed and felt it was his right to say that about us, considering we put ourselves up on stage. He wrote some more abuse and told me where to go. 

2-0 to him.

A week or two went by and then, suddenly, I had a great idea! I'd email him to tell him that I know everyone in the Cardiff music scene and owing to his meanness I'd see to it that his band would never get a gig in this town again! (he was from Swansea).

He told me to piss off and I wasn't important enough to make that happen. 

He was, of course, totally right and I was never going to do it anyway. 

3-0 & knockout! 

Another tragic example of my Twitter Search failure is when a member of a VERY GOOD American band tweeted 'Listening to Illuminated People, Islet are The Shit' just before we released that album. This time I didn't click on the profile so didn't know who it was and I tweeted back from Shape 'What exactly is that supposed to mean? And also, how have you even got it, it's not out yet' ... I assumed I had found him out as some kind of filesharing digital pirate so was doing my bit of internet vigilantism. 

He tweeted back 'I think Islet are great and your manager sent it to me'. I then googled 'The Shit'.... and worked out who he was. Urban Dictionary confirmed it meant the opposite of what I thought it did. I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed sometimes. Grovelling apology tweet sent. Insert *monkey with hands over eyes emoji*. #cringe! 

Moral of the story: don't Twitter search! Or do, but just pretend you don't.