Making ‘The Year, She Turns’ – December
December 20, 2017. No comments.
Slow Down December…. how I wanted it to slow down last year!
I was in the final stages of completing ‘The Year, She Turns’, with one more song to finish, arrange and record… AND a band and a studio to book, a video to make, final album mixes and mastering to organise, artwork to sign off, calendars and cards to design and order, a new website to finish… and countless other tasks that come with putting out an independent release. All in time to send my supporters their CDs by Christmas!!!
In November, I caught up with myself for the first time all year and and released the song on the 1st of the month. The next day I bumped into Phil Andrews at my gig at Winchester Folk Club. We caught up over a whisky and he offered to record the song for December. When, a few days later, ’Beth Porter & The Availables’ became involved, everything seemed to fall into place.
Now, if you have ever tried to organise musicians at this time of year you will know how challenging it can be! At one point it looked almost impossible to fix a date – despite all the good will and enthusiasm. But I was determined to make it work, and practically begged the CD pressing house to wait! I was cutting it fine to say the least – but if everything else was ready to go, they said, it could still be done. So I found myself in a cafe at the beginning of December trying to confirm the studio and 5 musicians… on the same day I had to finalise the CD booklet for print! Oh, and there was still the mastering and the filming to sort out.
I booked Riverside Studios near Bath – on the proviso that I had some fabulous musicians who were more than capable of recording live in a few hours with very little rehearsal. Two days later I arrived at the studio with sandwiches and a chocolate advent calendar for the band… and didn’t stop to draw breath until I crashed into bed that night. With Eddie John on drums and Duncan Kingston on double bass, Jools Scott on piano (after his lunchtime stint at the Pump Rooms in Bath), Emma Hooper and Sue Lord on Viola and Violin (before teaching commitments later that afternoon)… somehow we did it. Live. Whilst John Breese tiptoed around the studio with his camera.
They were all brilliant and it was mixed by the end of the evening. It was the first time I had produced a band session by myself, and there was a moment in the recording process when a tricky decision had to be made, with very little time to make it. I just had to trust myself. I was glad I did. And it was SO much fun.
There is some irony in the fact that despite arranging the session around Phil’s tour dates, it ended up being Seb Pecchia who recorded the track, and Beth herself was one of the ‘unavailables’ that day! Yet, if it hadn’t been for Beth and Phil, it may never have come together at all.
The next morning I rushed over to Real World Studios where Stephen W Tayler completed the sequencing and adjusted the levels. If it hadn’t been postponed Stephen may not have been back to complete the album and add his wonderful soundscapes in between the tracks… whilst his latest record with Kate Bush roared up the charts! When my friend Paul came over to say hello he encountered a rather hysterical woman exclaiming, “I’ve just finished my album!!” Luckily he understands exactly what that means, and how life sometimes works in mysterious ways… given the right combination of grit and serendipity.
After lunch I dashed off to check John’s video edits, the codes were completed later that night and the master sent off to the pressing house. On Monday morning, only a week after booking the studio, the CD’s arrived on my doorstep. Just in time for the Christmas post. Phew!!
I had set out to produce an album by the end of the year and by some miracle I managed it! I learned so much in the process and I am so thankful for all the support I received and the generosity of spirit shown by the creative community around me.
We performed ‘Slow Down December’ at our annual Christmas gig in Bath, just like we did last Sunday. This marks the start of Christmas for me and I can think of no better way to embrace the spirit of the season.
It might feel chaotic at times – almost impossible to keep up – and no doubt some plans will change, but wherever you end up at this time of year, I hope you get a chance to slow down and make some moments to remember.
Listen and Lyrics to ‘Slow Down December’