This EP is something that I have been meaning to write for many years now. For whatever reason, it never felt like the right time and this was not something that I wanted to force into creation or rush in the slightest. Due to a series of major life changes in early 2015 I found myself with a fresh outlook on, well…pretty much everything, and found the motivation to finally get this project started. The aim was to collaborate with a number of artists, with which I had previously recorded, and write a number of interconnected showcase tracks spanning a number of genres.
When I first started writing music as a child I had no preconceived ideas as to how a song should be and some of my most creative work was also some of the earliest. However, the more I learned and the more experience I gained, the further away I felt I was getting from that initial feeling of being creatively free. For a long time of my life, I felt the need to mould my music into a particular genre or style, or to fit a certain set of rules, so that it would ‘fit better’ and was more commercially appealing. It is only recently that I have realised that this approach was toxic to the overall freedom of writing music and, ultimately, wasn’t really what I wanted to be doing.
What started out as unintelligible scrawl on a sheet of paper quickly turned into random ideas in a Logic project, with drumloops and ten second synth parts all over the place. I knew that the vocals would come into the mix last, so focused on getting just the music down to begin with but I was surprised at how fast things escalated. Each song would begin with one of these random ideas and generally take on the shape and structure of the final song within a couple of hours. Of course, the finer details of the mix would need a lot more attention, but within pretty much a week of starting I knew exactly how it was going to sound.
However, what I didn’t expect was to be writing the lyrics and melodies as well. I had planned to get a singer in for each track for a day and see what we could come up with but when the music started coming together I had ideas come into my head for the ‘words and the tunes’ as well. Most of these got recorded down as guide tracks (which will thankfully never see the light of day) and were sent over to whoever was lined up to do the track, apart from Keep Running which Stizz insisted on me keeping the chorus parts. Having never taken a lead vocal part before (and to be honest, not doing backing vocals either since I was 16, but that’s another story…) I was apprehensive. But after an intense brainstorming session where she absolutely nailed her rap tracks and harmonies, I’d been convinced to keep my part in the mix.
My life long friend and writing partner, Kieran Joyce, once again joined me with his trusty axe skills and recorded the awesome guitar part in A Way To Work It Out as well as doing bass and vocals for El Paso. Unlike the other songs, El Paso was originally meant to be an instrumental but once we had tracked the bass part, Kieran asked me to set up the mic to try something. What followed next was mostly improvised, lyrics included, but took no more than half an hour to get down and suited the song perfectly. Listening back now I can’t even imagine an instrumental version.
Joe Jackson (formerly of Cities To Satellites) and Dan Pye (of Paraffin Oil Shop and Yarbo fame) were also people I’d wanted to get on some tracks for many years and both agreed to lend their voices. When Dan came down to record for A Way To Work It Out, I remember him having a gig at Dulcimer in Chorlton with his band Yarbo later in the evening. We had only planned for a few hours of recording in the afternoon but spent the first hour and a half talking in great detail about the Illuminati. Realising the time, and true to form for this project, we tracked the vocals in no time and spent the rest of the session driving round America on The Crew. After a quick bite to eat and a quick mixdown while Dan soundchecked with Yarbo, I took the track fresh out of Logic and sat on the stairs in the beer garden sharing an earphone with him, making notes. With the majority of work behind me, I was beginning to get ridiculously excited at the prospect of getting everything done in no time at all.
All that was left to do now was get Joe round from Liverpool for Clouds Beneath and do some tidying up on the mixes. Joe has a distinctive baritone, almost 80’s sounding voice, which went smoothly over Clouds Beneath and harmonised effortlessly. Once again, it was such a straightforward session and was an absolute pleasure to work with him.
Although the final mixes took a little longer to settle and get comfortable with, I decided that enough was enough and uploaded the tracks. It would have been possible to keep on tweaking and changing things but I realised that I was fiddling with the EP just for the sake of fiddling with it and losing focus on what I’d set out to do in the first place. Overall I’m absolutely chuffed with how it turned out, especially considering it’s my first official solo release, and can’t heap enough praise on everybody who helped me through from start to finish!