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Yew Choob 2

The Yew Choob trio take a mosey down memory-lane and reveal some secrets.

Sunday, November 12, 2023
10 mins

Yew Choob 2

One of our most popular posts so far featured the legendary Yew Choob treatment of ‘We Didn’t Start The Union’Editor: Off-Topic Scotland (offtopicscotland.com)

The post also published, in full, the ‘notes’ accompanying the video. At just shy of 15,000 words that forced us to omit some material provided by the trio which we promised to publish at a later date.

This *is* the later date!

Jock, Nod and Janet sent us loads of snippets/reminiscences and technical stuff which goes way ower oor heids but will be of interest to those who know about such things or perhaps even fancy emulating what the Yew Choob team has achieved. 

But before they reveal some of their secrets, here’s another of the most popular Yew Choob videos.

‘Nicola Sturgeon - liar, bully, devolutionist chair-warmer, embarrassment to the grass-roots independence campaign - THIS IS YOUR CHOOBING. Don't let the door hit your arse on the way out!’

(7) YEW CHOOB presents - Lyin' Eyes - YouTube

JOCK: "I suppose Yew Choob 24 was the first ‘choobing’ video. It was around the time that James Ratcliffe from Ineos was trying to hold the government to ransom over Grangemouth and Joanne Lamont was conspicuous by her absence. Stu Campbell had asked for suggestions for an appropriate song on his Wings over Scotland page. I didn’t pick up on the fact that he was asking for ‘originals’. My transporter had done Karaoke for a couple of years and had gotten into the habit of changing lyrics as he sang so this habit kicked in when I thought of the Harry Nilsson song ‘Everybody’s talking’. I found images online and put them together in a way that tried to highlight the words and sentiment.

I remember telling friends I had come up with this video but wasn’t sure if it would land me in trouble. Someone suggested that I maybe hold fire but I was looking to develop my channel and had already decided to align it with the Scottish independence movement as the aim of the channel was to promote good mental health and the movement was full of optimism and hope and I could see it was improving my own and others health. I decided to take the plunge and have never regretted that decision.

My friend Liz offered me a set of lyrics which became the first ‘Yew Choob Presents…’ video, ‘We Are A Nation’, which was intended as a song we could all sing on the marches we had pre 2014.

Soon after that I was ‘Ninja’d’ and found a set of lyrics for ‘choobing’ Margaret Curran and an invitation/permission to use them. I was blown away. By this time I was following and engaging with grassroots groups who were forming and posting images/memes/relevant information/debunking Better Together claims etc and I put the video together using said images/info. It was a great way to connect and everyone liked the idea and started sharing.

I don’t think there was/is a better lyricist out there so it was/is a no brainer when it comes to who scripts what we are all maybe thinking. Over time, Janet and myself have produced some lyrics for the videos. I think Janet is vying with Ninja when it comes to our ‘non-choobing’ videos, of which there are many, as we tried to help motivate and encourage people when it came to participating in marches and elections. (I have my supplemental channel for my own musings hence keeping the original channel’s mission statement intact.)

Lately it is mostly a case of NinjaPenguin comes up with the lyrics and I work on trying to come up with the backing track while Janet works on the images. I get the images and edit them together. I send it back to Janet who does the spell checking etc (any errors in earlier videos are completely my fault and some have appeared without the spell checking hence why it has become part of the process).

If we are unable to find a suitable backing track then Nod helps us out and makes us one and he also has mixed the final audio for some of the videos. He has also been very helpful when it comes to ‘finding’ technical upgrades to help with the video productions. When I made the Yew Choob 24 video, I was using a Karaoke player that allowed you to record onto a USB stick but I had no control over volume mixing and the video editor, as it was, was rather rubbish but it did the job and got us started. 

I always intended that we only spent a minimum amount of money and show that anyone could produce something if they wanted. I’m happy to say that we were further gifted with tech, a £50 donation from the Wingers which bought a new microphone so when it comes to production costs, I pay £2 to download a backing track and set every video to ‘non-profit/activism’ when loaded to the channel. It ain’t about money for any of us so in answer to your general question on how much time we each spend, I couldn’t begin to try and estimate it as it’s more of a vocational enterprise and if I am having fun singing the lyrics, I can do 100 takes easy, even though I may use the very first attempt if I am very familiar with the song.

I believe a lot of the videos did better due to the timing of their release and us being able to turn out a video quickly has always helped but as we have progressed, I think we all enjoy taking a bit longer to produce the best that we can. Scotland deserves no less, no matter the ‘working time’ costs.

So far as picking a favourite Choob goes,  the most satisfying would be a relative thing as ‘Hotel Rule Britannia’ was emotionally shit to make (because of the subject matter) but the finished production is a measure of how far we have come.

Ruthie D. got to compete with Jim Murphy as our most-choobed. It was very satisfying when she retweeted my response to her on something, which contained a link to ‘Tory Girl’. She obviously just saw the Lara Croft photoshopped Thumbnail and her ego being so full, as she was the Union’s dahling of the moment, she retweeted it to six Tories inc, Turdo F. When I pointed out that she had just ‘choobed’ her self she responded with, ‘That’s disgusting’. Oh how we laughed.

Working with Big Ronnie Anderson’s lyrics and seeing how he was so chuffed with our finished efforts gave me a great deal of pride.

I could go on BUT…..I was personally proud of ‘Long Live UK’. At the time we all joked about if you weren’t on a list you weren’t trying hard enough but after we put that out, I realised that I was moving beyond fear and reprisals and that felt awesome. 

NINJA: I suppose I should be most proud of ‘Lyin' Eyes’ because it's been the most successful but in terms of the lyrics there are two that I'm especially proud of.

One is ‘We Didn't Start the Union’. The idea and the lyrics for the chorus came from a guy who called himself Golden Granite on Facebook, but I wrote the verses and it's probably the most  difficult thing I've written. It took weeks of research and planning out the structure of the song to fit everything in (and it was quite successful too).

The other is ‘London Calling’. I'm pretty proud of that one because I managed to fit the word "proletariat" into it for a start. We made the original video for the 2014 referendum  campaign but we did a  revised version for the 2015 election campaign. Jock was asked to sing at a Hope over Fear rally shortly before the 2015 election and I went along with him. Jock sang 'London Calling' and I was squeezing my way through the crowd trying to get decent photos of him on stage when I realised that the punters were singing along with my lyrics. It was a real buzz hearing random strangers singing words that I had written so I'll always be proud of that song.

JANET: I'm most satisfied with the more recent videos because I've got better software and skills than I had when I first started working with Yew Choob.’ Hotel Rule Britannia’ is probably the one I'm most proud of because there was definitely a story in the lyrics that had to be illustrated but it was a bit grim and depressing. I tried to inject a bit of humour with the images for the chorus by using the Fawlty Towers style signs (the "hotel" in the images is actually the parochial house from Father Ted - don't know if anyone noticed that). It was really fun doing the anagrams for the signs - I had no idea you could say so many rude things using the letters from the words "Hotel Rule Britannia".

One that I'm personally proud of is The Indy Ark because I wrote the lyrics for that as well as sourcing/creating the images (I borrowed at least one from the talented Defiaye), but that video was about as popular as a fart in a submarine, so I've just stuck to images since then.

The Nuts and Bolts


NOD: This is my basic editing tool, Cakewalk Sonar X3 Producer x64 to give it its full title. 

The top bar is tool selection, editor controls, global settings like 'mute all' and disk / memory monitors and warnings. A music track is made or inserted into the pretty, graphical main panel. Here different instrument tracks, some made with the synthesisers in the right-hand panel (they each have their own control windows), are combined with vocal recording tracks and manipulated with plugins like VX-64 and Melodyne. 

I mostly use 'Amplitube' for guitar amp and distortion effects, but it's 'not properly installed' at the moment so I can't (be arsed to) show it. (Actually, I suspect I 'liberated' a newer model after this track was finished, so it's not where it used to be) To the extreme left of the main window is the input strip - there's a different one for each track - and along the bottom are the individual track controls, like a mixing desk. There are 40 tracks in 'Heroes', probably about average. I'm lazy that way! Track 39 is the final mixdown and will be exported to a stereo music file, probably a .flac and an.mp3 And track 40 is an extra 'karaoke' mixdown, without the vocals, so the singer can go around sounding competent at parties. It'll end up as an .mp3. But don't ask the singer to do a retake - he'll take the pet.




Top left: The basic vocal processing for John's voice - taken from 'Heroes 2014' but representative of most tracks. 

First, his voice is parametrically equalised to cut the over-loud tones (the visible display in the 'Routing' panel), making it sound rounder and boosting the high end to improve consonants (and because it's my style) Then his voice is doubled (repeated with a short delay in a different stereo position) and compressed/expanded to fill out the sound and cut low-level background noise. I add some delay with a lot of feedback, for that 'ringy' sound. Bottom left: The real magic begins with Celemony Melodyne, basically a very fancy (in its day) autotuner. The vocal track is scanned and represented as envelopes (detected notes) and lines (real-time actual pitch of sound). I can tune it all to the detected key (Dmaj, shown on the left) with a single click before zooming in and correcting the things mere computers can't hear, like 'broken' notes, wobbly starts and Jock's favourite 'club singer' sweeping I'll-get-to-the-right-pitch-soon style, and over-long note endings (because our singer never knows when to stop). Along the way I take out clicks, buzzes and the fucking fridge. Ultimately, the display should be like a row of bottles on their sides with no trailing lines and only slightly wobbly lines inside the bottles. Am I talking down to you enough? Then I'll finish... Top right: By applying some simple reverb (compulsory for singers, I fear) Then it's ready to mix with the music in the editor you can just see buried under the three effects windows.

Some credits for my Yew Choob stuff: All 'my' drums are XLN Audio's 'Addictive Drums', guitars are Music Lab's 'Real Strat' and 'Real Les Paul Custom'. Audio was tuned and edited with Celemony's 'Melodyne'. All 'borrowed', of course!"

Yew Choob's own YouTube channel contains 121 videos. Fill yer boots, here:

(7) Yew Choob - Jock Scot - YouTube

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