Henry von Stifle: Music and Me

I’ve always been very musical and music has played a big part of my life ever since my father threw an oboe at me when I was 6 years old. Up until 2006 I had never thought of performing music but after being so cruelly overlooked as a backing singer for Martine McCutcheon’s UK tour I decided to prove her and all my doubters wrong.

I started by forming a band and placed an ad in Melody Maker looking for like-minded people. Within two weeks I had my band. I was on vocals, Nigel was on cello, Tucker was on the glockenspiel, ‘Mad’ Dave was the kazoo player and we had Sophie on another cello. After much debate I decided to call ourselves Bon Jovi but two days later I found out that another band from New Jersey in America already had that name – where are they now?! After another lengthy brain storming session we agreed on the name Dexy’s Midnight Runners but that too had already been taken. Eventually we got it right and we were known as Abandoned Sandals.

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Abandoned Sandals

 

We started rehearsing with gusto and I managed to get us a tour of the pubs and bars of Torquay (the English Riviera). At first everything was as I had imagined being in a band to be, adoring fans packing out pubs such as The Bull and Bush and Ryan’s Bar, free bottled water, sandwiches and sex! Not that I was having sex but some people who came to the gigs or just lived in Torquay were having sex and I rode the wave. But slowly musical differences and tensions within the band began to emerge. Nigel and Sophie began to argue who was lead cello player. Then ‘Mad’ Dave accidentally dropped his kazoo into a toilet. The loss of the kazoo was too much for me to take and we disbanded later that day – no more Abandoned Sandals.

But I wasn’t ready to give up on my dream of being a successful musician just yet so decided to strike out on my own. Working on my own meant playing all of the instruments myself so I gathered anything I could play and set about recording. After a few hours I noticed how brilliant it sounded! Who would’ve thought that finger cymbals, a tambourine, a maraca and some spoons would have sounded so modern and  so full of vitality!

I called the piece ‘Talkin’ ‘Bout Them Blues (Sad Face)’ and the critics hated it. But the public, well they absolutely despised it. I’d never experienced venom like it.

With my confidence shot, I was about to give up the musical dream but fate was about to take a twist like the way The Sixth Sense ends with Bruce Willis turning out to be a decent actor. ‘Talkin’ ‘Bout Them Blues (Sad Face)’ was used for an advert on Romanian TV for a herbal nipple cream and BOOM! the song was suddenly being played everywhere! Bucharest bounced to the bass line, Vaslui vibed to the tambourine and Cluj cried to the sheer beauty of the finger cymbals. The song began to climb the singles chart eventually selling over 800 copies!! I toured Romania extensively and it became hard to walk down any street without being recognised, people would see me and say ‘Nipple Cream’ – I felt so alive!

I quickly recorded a follow-up single, ‘Hey, Hey, No, Put It Down and Smash the Melon (Rub It On)’ which was also used in an advert for Romanian TV but this time for a rival herbal nipple cream company. The country again went wild for this new cut and my place in Romanian pop culture was sealed. The Romanian people took me to their hearts and in return I took them to mine and I stayed in Bucharest for 8 months and became fluent in roughly 25 Romanian words.

But like all good things in my life, it came to a grinding halt one day. The repetetive use of the finger cymblas was starting to make my fingers a bit sore and sensitive. Eventually the constant friction caused my fingers to start bleeding and become infected. I was told I had a choice to make – stop playing them or risk losing my fingers. I empolyed other musicians to play them for me but none could ever match my intensity with them and I sadly lost my ‘sound’.

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Finger Cymbals. Cymbals for fingers
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Animals of Earth

As many of you may know I absolutely adore animals! I love animals more than anyone, so lets not argue about it. I’ve spent many a days out in the fields, the forests and other places that animals live in. Here are three pictures of my favourite animals ever!

Giraffe

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Despite having the longest on the planet, a giraffe only has three bones in its neck! #wow

Leopards

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Leopards are the fastest animals on Earth! #wow

Monkeys

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Monkeys are our nearest living relative! (Do we still need them now that we have evolved?) #wow