Strawberry Blonde EP was my first release… and with the run up to putting out the debut album, I’ve decided to make it available for free! Share it with anyone you want (email it round if you like, or you can use the twitter / facebook / myspace share links at the bottom of this post to point people here).
I recorded this 4 track EP in 2007 at the previous house in South London that I lived. My house mate Olle and I combined our accumulated recording equipment. I sold some of my stuff to buy microphones and other bits (but mostly used my credit card to make it happen), and he provided the computer with Pro Tools, and the drum kit. We had one neighbour who complained a couple of times about the ‘noise’ being made, and eventually got a couple of letters from the council, soz. That didn’t halt the recording though, I mean, how else is a musician supposed to afford to record these days, if not at home right?!
I wanted to limit myself to using just drums, bass and guitar. I remember specifically trying to write and produce these songs in such a way that I could represent them at gigs as close to the recordings as possible, performed as a three piece. It was a kind of creative challenge that forced me to make the songs work without much instrumentation. I ended up breaking the rules slightly, particularly on Strawberry Blonde of course, when I chose to use piano as the principle instrument. A bit of an experiment for me musically, having never really written songs on piano before. It was an exception to the rule also because it was the only thing I didn’t record at home. I took my laptop and a few microphones up to a piano which was in a beautiful sounding chapel at my Dad’s work because… well that’s where I wrote the song a year earlier, and there was something oddly nice about recording it on that same piano, like I’ve documented that experience a little better or something?
I had lots of time to get the songs just how I wanted them and also, to learn how to record/mix in the process (the mastering engineer at Abbey Road gave his seal of approval which was very reassuring!). Not having anyone else involved in the recording process however, did mean that I went over my deadlines all the time, so I just ignored them in the end, but does that really matter? If anything, it made me more proud of the finished product because of the time and energy that went into it (at one point I accidentally deleted all the finished drum takes and had to do them all again… whoops!). Forget deadlines though, what recording at home meant, was that I was able to track the drums to Strawberry Blonde in the nude. I would set up the track to ‘loop record’ (so I could do several takes back to back, no pun intended) with a 16 bar count in, and I’d run into the ‘live’ room, lock the door behind me, strip down, pick up my sticks and put my headphones on, all in time for the first bar!
Huge thanks to Matt Ellis, who designed the EP artwork, to Andrew Whitton, who took such great photos on Primrose Hill, and to Olle for lending me his gear, without which this EP could not have happened!