Monday, 9 October 2017


Wow, this morning was tough! I woke up after far too little sleep with my right eyelid glued shut with blepharitis gunk. It was desperately painful. The pain has eased considerably during the day and I'm not sure it looks anything like as bad this evening which is a relief because yesterday it was noticeable enough for the entire Em cast to ask what the heck was wrong!

I travelled down to Clapham today to record in one of my favourite studios, Sonica. It's always good to be back. Over the years I've recorded a fair amount of material there including sessions for The Busker Symphony, Four Colours, Songs From Hattersley and all of the Pepys Motet. I think Mat and Paul who run the studios think I'm insane. The sessions I've done with them have always tended to be on manic and somewhat ambitious side... particularly when it came to Pepys. There has been a fair amount of ranting, raving and gnashing of teeth within those four walls!

Sonica was the place where I recorded Tanita Tikaram singing on the London Requiem which ranks as one of my all-time favourite sessions. She had always been a hero of mine, right from my childhood years, and she turned out to be so sweet and funny and generous. It's lovely when life turns out like that.

Sonica's only problem is its location. If Highgate is twelve o'clock on a map of London (which it pretty much is) then Sonica is at 6 o'clock. It could be worse: The two locations are, at least, on the same tube line... but at the two opposite ends, with an hour's journey in between.

I stood up for most of the trip down there, boxed into a corner by angry commuters. Fortunately I was by an open window, which meant I could stare into the faces pressed against the window in the next door carriage, and then out into the alluring gloom of the dusty tunnels where, I've heard, an entire sub-species of mosquito has evolved. Someone also once told me that there were scorpions down there. Surely a rumour?

The session went well. The studio engineer was a lovely chap called Sam, and Ben Holder played brilliantly. We rocketed through songs, particularly in the second half of the day when the pressure was on. We realised after lunch that we had just thirty minutes allotted time on each track, which is nothing when you realise that the instrument you're recording almost never stops playing!

Clare Chandler from Edge Hill University popped into the studio, and brought with her, as usual, an enormous blast of sunshine. I shall be working with students at the university at the start of November on an Em album-related project which I'm very excited about. Loads of them are genuine Scousers, so I can think of no better group of students to be involved.

I am thrilled to report that I get a lie-in tomorrow. Not a massive one - I have huge amounts of admin to do - but the idea of not having to set an alarm when I fall asleep tomorrow is almost too wonderful to comprehend. I'm going to eat takeaway in front of the telly tonight by means of celebration.

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