London Recordings – April 2011
The Sun is shining and I am sat at home after four amazing days recording some of the West Ends best for my debut album – it was simply incredible.
I always knew that, as the date of recording approached, that we were embarking on an epic journey but I didn’t expect to be that blown away.
Our base camp for the week was The Joint Studios in London, about 5 minutes from Kings Cross/St.Pancras. Resting on the side of an innocuous cobbled street, the studios proved to be ideal; both for location and therefore easy to get to four our singers, but also because the rooms were professionally kitted out for any eventuality. I would recommend them without hesitation : www.thejoint.org.uk.
SUNDAY 17th APRIL
Our first singer on Sunday was Kieran Brown (cover Raoul in Love Never Dies). Kieran has sung with me before at Freedom bar and for Gigging for It and, despite feeling unwell, came in and recorded his song in just a few takes. Kieran’s voice is many, many things: powerful, tentative and so generous to the melodies and subject matter. There was a palpable air of anticipation with everyone in the room – and we had a room full!
Amy and our producer Nathan (unbelievably talented and one of the linch pins of this project) were busying themselves with recording equipment whilst Paul and Amy from Stage Left Podcast sat in the other corner documenting every step for a series of staggered video/podcasts to be released nearer the release date.
We had quite a tight turn around, and, with not everything we wanted recorded, we arranged for Kieran to pop back into the studio for half an hour on Tuesday.
Liam Tamne (Hairspray/Hair/Departure Lounge and soon to be Enjolras in Les Miserables) walked through the door next. I have to state the obvious here, but when someone sings a song you have written and then adds so many dimensions to it, the feelings and emotions are indescribable. I am so lucky that every single singer we had did exactly this. Anyway, with our first recording done, we felt like old pro’s(!) and so approached this song with excitement, fed mainly from Liam who bounced in and threw everything into the song. We spent a lot of the time rehearsing with the piano and trying out different riffs and exploring melodic ideas to get the best out of the music and Liam. And the best of Liam is astonishing – he just opens his mouth and sings with such effortless technique and an eternally youthful sound. I know I’m going to be saying this a lot in this post but – wow. I cannot wait for you to hear what we eventually recorded.
MONDAY 18th APRIL
Monday morning saw a 10am start at the studios and arriving right on time for a rehearsal was Richard Meek (Austentatious/Rocky Horror UK Tour). I have known Richard for about four years after meeting him during my stint as Benjamin on the UK Tour of Joseph and knew what a celebrated performer he was. Since then he has appeared more than once (as well as internationally) as Brad Majors and cover Frank N Furter in Rocky as well as in West End reviews (alongside Simon Lipkin who we recorded in December). Richard has such a beautiful and haunting voice that is so effortless. The song he is singing has a large amount of conversational tone to it before smashing into a huge chorus which Richard took in his stride – it was as though it was his song, completely owning it and adding a few cheeky riffs in when the mood took!
TUESDAY 19th APRIL
Another gloriously sunny day in London saw us get up rather late (we weren’t in the studio ’till 2:30pm!) – although Nathan had been up some time arranging a gospel chorus section for one of the songs after a flash of inspiration the day before.
Stage Left Podcast had been running a competition on Twitter to see who could correctly guess the singers for the weeks recording. After a series of three clues on each, the names were revealed and they won tickets to a show! We couldn’t, however, keep a lid on our next performer due to his legion of lovely and dedicated fans. Mark Evans (Fiyero in Wicked) stunned us all with a recording that we could use in the first take!
Mark’s approach to the song (a rocky duet) was so professional and after a chat about what the song required and where its place was in the concept musical we hit record. Amazing. Mark acted every line and brought such passion to the lines. It’s so hard to record one half of a duet without the other voice but his tone was incredible and really showed off what a pitch-perfect singer he is. The session lasted 45 minutes, if that, and you were just in awe of how easily he hit the higher notes with a smile on his face! We record the mystery other half in May and you will NOT want to miss that … editing their duet will be mind blowing!
Kieran arrived at 4pm and we got straight down to recording and … well, he made someone (shhh) cry. Such a stunning rendition of the song and that was only the rehearsal. Kieran’s voice, when hitting the big notes, is the kind that physically stops you breathing – it is all consuming and completely supports the emotion of the song. And yet when it is needed, Kieran sings with a gentle simplicity that breaks your heart. Needless to say, his voice was much better and we have no need for anything he recorded on Sunday – and that was pretty damn good!
WEDNESDAY 19th APRIL
Our last day in London 😥
After a wee argument with the hotel staff (bloody cleaners took our Debenhams towels to wash – did they not know the difference?!?!) we were at the studios for our last four hour block. I guess we were all feeling a bit down, even if we had not particularly mentioned it. But that all changed when our next singer breezed in! Siobhan Dillon (Grease and now Vivian in Legally Blonde) was so lovely and funny but immediately wanted to get down to work and boy did we! Siobhan is the final piece to our other duet (with Simon) and so this completion of vocals was a long time coming – and we weren’t let down. Her voice was both powerful and delicate as she sang with control and a wonderful belt in the final section. Siobhan instantly became the perfect piece in our duet; fitting in beautifully and adding subtle nuances that will really make it a stand-out track.
Lauren Samuels (Grease, Last Five Years) was our final singer here in London and we spent most of the time laughing. Such a sweet and talented person with so much to offer the song. Co-written especially for Lauren by myself and Midlands composer Chris Smith, the lyrics and melody flowed as though they had been written by someone else. Lauren’s range in this song is staggering (as you’ll soon hear) and this only added to what can be safely described as a power house performance. As with all the other performers, Lauren talked through the song making sure she understood the subtle changes and themes within the song. An amazing singer and one to keep your eye on (she’ll be green one day ;D )
And that was/is that!
Now the great work begins, we still have a couple more people to record (names released sooooon!) and the whole album to produce, orchestrate, record and master … ;D You can keep an eye on twitter with @chrispassey and @stageleftpod who will be pumping out some awesome videos and podcasts soon.
None of this can happen without three things:
You – thank you so much, from the bottom of my heart for following and believing. We’re not there yet but you are all making sure I don’t stop.
Nathan – the most amazing support and ears of a God, we could not have done this without you and still can’t – even through OfSTED and shitty things you are making this dream a reality. Thank you 🙂
And to my Amy – Thank you is not enough for getting me back on the road I started on and making sure I don’t forget the destination. For being the actual reason I’m doing this, for the inspiration behind the music and now, more than ever, a truly gifted lyricist. I love you x
Keep following peeps; it can only get better!