Chapter Four: Recording by the lake
The brilliant musician and producer Robin Christensen-Marriott has a recording studio by a lake, called The Shed Studios. He was happy to work on my material and I was very pleased to have the chance to work with him. The sound of Lovers’ Leap owes a great deal to Robin, a pioneer of the dreamy Oxford sound. Check out his amazing album with Catgod, Feel it Go Round.
As well as producing, Robin played bass superbly and gave valuable input into the songwriting. I am especially grateful to Robin for his listening, his patience and his gently assertive manner that enabled the best creative decisions.
The wonderful Steph Pirrie sang guest vocals on every track on the album, played cool trumpet and gave me some extremely helpful vocal coaching and creative input.
Also key to the sound was Tobias Sturmer, an expert in African music. He played drum kit and a wide variety of percussion instruments. And Thom Paisley (Hurricane Sound) laid down some great additional sounds from his studio in Ely.
I played a Fender Stratocaster that I’ve had since I was 16, a Flying V that I picked up in Oxfam and my trusty Simon & Patrick acoustic. We used a variety of amps and effects, building up layers of atmosphere and texture over the punchy rhythm section. I drank a lot of herbal tea and sang my heart out in the dark.
We recorded mostly after work on random evenings, as and when we were available. Three years – yes, years! – later, we had 10 recordings we were very happy with.
We made three videos during the recording process: Lovers’ Leap and Steven Please Can We Talk? by Patrick Steel of Fat Toad Films, and another video for Carry You by Christopher Werrett (CW Photographics) coming out on 16th April.
Then came the process of deciding on the track listing, which we spent a very long time on, carefully considering the changes in key, tempo and themes to take the listener on a journey. I think it is important to listen to songs in the order they were released in – that’s sort of the point of an album. It’s also a reason why I decided to produce a CD, which comes in a lovely gatefold card case and lyrics booklet, with wonderful artwork put together by Louise Mason (Sawn Off) from paintings by Martin Beek and photography by Jeff Slade, Fran Monks and Ian Wallman.
The CD is out on Bandcamp.
Buy it now. I’ll wash my hands while singing a chorus or two and pop it in the post for you.