Those of you in the know will be aware that I’ve been working super hard on a top secret project for some time now…without giving away too many spoilers, it’s a book…and an album….and it features an apocalyptic blackboard!
Finishing this, my very first album and novel, was one of the main projects I planned to complete during my Paraorchestra residency and wow, did it seem overwhelming over 6 months ago. The book was pretty much written, but the music was yet to be fully conceived. I was definitely at the ‘Whose stupid idea was THIS?’ stage of the project and proceeded shortly to launch into full on panic mode.
Soon after the descent into existential fear, I got selected for the first Experimental Spatial Audio camp at Real World Studios by Watershed. It was there that I got bitten by the 3D music bug and decided to make my life a whole lot more complicated by conceiving and recording the whole album in Dolby Atmos. As you do when you’re already panicking.
From L to R: Dave Smith, Alex Veitch, Liza Bec, Katie May David Ryder Prangley hiding as always behind his camera, Charles Hazlewood. Photo by Surgeons Girl. In the background: a large computer, mixing desk and a cacophony of cables!
I also took a little space and time to really rethink how I create music and above all how I communicate those ideas to other musicians. I have been experimenting with combining a short script together with an outline musical score, alongside designing the setup and movement within a recording session in a quasi theatrical way, to completely immerse everyone in the story while creating each track. I want everyone listening to the record to be transported back in space and time and relive the very first moment the music was born with us.
When you’re choreographing a session in that way, the location becomes even more important. Having fallen in love with the Wood Room and the people at Real World Studios, I was determined to go back there to record this project. I still can’t believe that we actually did it. Thanks are due to Team Paraorchestra for believing in this dream and making it happen in the real world!
It was such a pleasure to be in such a great sounding space with fantastic and dedicated musicians who took a wild leap into the universe I had created and made all of the stories come to life. Not to mention the yummy food from head chef Jerome who is a culinary genius. A whole 4D album recorded LIVE in just two days! Thank you so much to Dave Smith for amazing percussion, Alex Veitch on Hammond organ and David Ryder Prangley on vocals and blackboard.
In addition to making everything happen and providing practical, emotional and financial support, Lloyd, Helen and Dan from Paraorchestra also took their lives in their hands by climbing the studio ladder up onto the balcony to add some sky high overdubs to the very first track! And Katie May, Real World’s incredible Head Engineer, went beyond the call of duty bringing Hans-Martin Buff’s cube mic array back to life for the sessions.
I am obsessed with the cube. The photo is also good, but the sound is amazing. It really places you straight into the space we recorded in when you listen. Katie and the cube together are an unstoppable recording force- she is 100% in your corner when you are in the studio and easily does more than twice what you would expect with grace and calm, positive energy. Basically, I feel everyone should book Katie to record their music, except when I want to book her, obviously. I feel that the cube, Real World Studios and I are not done….there is definitely still more to explore there and I’m dreaming of going back soon, well, as soon as I can!
Since we finished recording only the weekend before last I have been mixing this project in Atmos with the incredible Adrian Hall and am excited to share that the Atmos and binaural mixes are now finished! Hoping to share more news soon on when and where you can experience it. Next stop for me is WOMEX in the sunny South of Spain- hope to see you there!