July 21, 2016
“Fado” came from somewhere else. I was just a vehicle for it. The chords and melody came out of me in one instance as I toyed on a keyboard that had laid mostly untouched in the studio for the last year. I quickly hit record so I wouldn’t forget the chord structure I had stumbled upon and sang a wordless melody letting my voice float around without any restraints.
Then the lyrics came pouring out in a very intense next instant. I sat in a deeply emotional state in the chair in the control room a metre away from a haphazard microphone that happened to be hung there and sang the words I had just written as I listened to the piano on the headphones.
The voice and vocal style sounded like I was listening to a singer I had never known.
Within minutes it was all over. The song was complete and recorded, the experience immensely moving.
Over the next couple of weeks I listened to this “demo” over and over trying to get my head around this song I didn’t mean to write.
I played it for a few friends and sent it to a few family members including my mother who I had never sent an unfinished version of my songs to. People had strong reactions. They either loved it or they didn’t at all. I knew I was on to something then :)
I loved this piano and vocal demo but I knew I wanted more in there and felt a pull towards electronica and noise that I have never properly explored in my recordings.
I approach Fabien Leseure, a French composer and producer who I had worked with years before. I nervously bit my nails as I sat in his sitting room while he listened to the song for the first time immersed in his headphone. I had prepared myself that he would hate it but I would keep my love for it in tact no matter what, I had told myself.
Fabien is a real straight shooter and when the song finished he smiled and said he loved it and wanted to produce it. He suggested taking the song in the direction I had secretly hoped for.
One week later we were in an abandoned building in Friedrichshain that miraculously housed a small studio owned by a French label fully kitted out with row after row of vintage analogue synthesizers and drum machines.
Fabien had spent the previous day mapping, recording and programming additional tracks on top of my demo vocal, piano and a bass part he had asked me to add.
It was time to do the mix. These days mixing is all done on computer but Fabien wanted to do a “live” mix where we bring instruments and effects in and out manually as the mix is being printed. The last time I had done this was 30 years ago. I really missed this type of mixing. It’s like playing a gig and really pumps up the excitement of the track. It also means no two mixes are the same. We did a number of passes to make sure we had what we wanted in the end.
The final step was sending the track to Abbey Road Studios to be mastered by Geoff Pesche who had worked with MIA, Gorillaz, Basement Jaxx, Coldplay and Dizzee Rascal to name a few.
I thought I had finished writing my new album when “Fado” arrived. I had even begun to do the first of the final edits to the tracks for the album.
Now everything has changed.