Today found us back in the recording studio for the second and final day working on The Blue Book.
I was up with the lark again, and met Michael at Elephant and Castle tube, some time after 9am.
I hate everything about Elephant and Castle. It’s basically impossible to get our of the tube. Follow any exit sign, and, after much to-ing and fro-ing underground, you invariably end up on another platform for a different tube line, following another exit sign which takes you back to where you started!
When you emerge from the station, you end up on a giant roundabout surrounded by ghastly blocks of concrete. I’d heard the whole area around the station had been gentrified, but saw no sign of this today - not that I have any interest in gentrification. Frankly, if you want to buy a wildly expensive hovel in a shit hole because some wide-boy estate agent has told you the area you’re moving into is on the up, then you only have yourself to blame. The rents in Elephant are probably more expensive than they are in Highgate. I jest not. Friends of mine in Hackney pay much more than I do. And we don’t tend to get drive-by shootings in Highgate!
The recording session went well: much better, in fact, than Monday’s session. It’s to be expected. We found our feet. We started blending as a choir. We started to realise what was required of us in terms of concentration and commitment to tuning. We worked incredibly hard.
It was a three-session day, the first two of which were spent physically recording, the last of which was spent in the control room, choosing takes, comping them and then finally adding the all important reverb which makes you suddenly relax and think “oh, we’re good!”
I would have loved to have the choir in the space for all three sessions. Recording is, of course, exhausting, but something very magical can happen during an evening session. I always used to make my favourite singer, Ian Knauer, record his vocals at the end of a heavy day. When his voice was trashed, he started to pour emotion into his performances. The solo for Pie Jesu in the London Requiem was recorded as a demo at the end of one such session. We were going to take the demo to Alfie Boe but when I played it to our producer, PK, he said “no one else should be allowed to sing this solo, and no other recording of Ian singing should he made.” And that was that. Ian became a featured soloist on the album.
We finished the actual recording session bang on time today, so I was a little surprised at the speed with which one of the singers skedaddled out of the studio. We were trying to take a congratulatory selfie of the choir, but he was so desperate to leave that he physically pushed us all out of the way to get to the door. Some people have no grace... and no sense! Play the game: thank the person who booked you and paid you to be in the studio and they will want to book you and pay you for future gigs. Make them feel like you’ve done them a favour and you’ll leave a very sour taste in their mouth. We no longer live in an era where diva-like behaviour is rewarded.