Thursday, 9 August 2012

Front room recording project

It was a whirlwind 5 days spent at home in Bristol, rarely stepping foot beyond the house and back yard. I was in the company of some very brilliant and inspiring people who came to stay here to record 13 new songs with me - some pretty pared down and some with pretty complex arrangements exploring some new musical roads. I had demos that I`d worked on with clarinet arrangements and all sorts to be translated into the final recordings. But this is my year for collaboration, so I`ve allowed myself to be very much open to the ideas of others. I feel very lucky to have shared this musical adventure with people who are both a joy to hang out with for such a heads-down, focussed time, and a total reassurance to have around - totally lovely dependable and talented individuals. Many heartfelt thank yous everyone!

front room transformed

with Ben in the storage room/control room

Ben Hampson brought all his giant black boxes of technological tools, a spaghetti of leads, microphones from post world war 2 Germany etc. and we set up for recording in the front room, with a sort of control room next to it. 

Wilkommen Collective main man Marcus Hamblet, multi-instrumentalist and Ben`s recording collaborator, came with bass, guitar, tenor horn and lots of interesting ideas along the way (for example sticking a headphone sponge under the banjo strings to double with my prepared piano - a satisfying marriage). 

Marcus finding the hidden notes

Emma`s lowest note on bass clarinet made the whole house 
resonate and found a very welcome home on 
a prepared piano song 

Emma Gatrill came loaded with her clarinet, bass clarinet, harp and tap shoes (which are still to make it onto the recording - I wait in anticipation), and she added some inspired vocal harmonies. 

ICHI was ready to add his trademark touch with steel pan, typewriter and his handmade xylophone from wood that he salvaged from a skip. He also provided many delicious Japanese meals for everyone. 

ICHI adding steel pan

typewriter and handmade xylophone

Prior to the musical happenings of these 5 days I had spent two focused days at Brighton Acoustic studio recording live takes of about half of the songs with Marcus on double bass and Thomas Heather of Broken Sound`s Eyes and No Eyes adding his characterful drumming. 

Eyes and No Eye`s  drummer Thomas Heather

Chris of Broken Sound

Chris of Broken Sound captured the 5 days of of our musical adventure in the front room on his new super dooper HD camera. The black and white photos were taken by him and here`s a snippet of film he made while I was preparing the piano.

There is still a lot of work to be done to this recording project. I can just about see an album on the horizon, and more collaborative glowing will take place on the road to there. I plan to invite others to join in on some songs, and I have been speaking to sister Betsy about doing the artwork. This is something I have never handed the reigns over on before - but Betsy is the lady for the job no doubt about it. 

In the meantime ICHI and I will be preoccupied with our greatest ever collaboration - our baby will come in to the world next month! Making an album whilst being heavily pregnant has had the advantage that pregnancy has been a very calm, happy and creative time for me (plus a swollen belly creates a rather good ukulele rest). Luckily there have only been a few factors causing disadvantages, mainly an inhibited diaphragm and at times the need for more oxygen, meaning I will have to redo some of the vocal takes at a later stage. It`s been lovely having such close company all the while. I wonder if the baby has enjoyed the songs?  The banjo has never failed to get those little legs kicking - dancing joyfully along?...Or little arms pushing - "leave me in peace!"? I guess time will tell whether or not our baby is a fan of our music!

ticking things off the mammoth list

break time in the sun