Some might say that the Andrews Sisters were the sound of a vintage generation. The first all-female pop group and the originators of the girl power movement, and pioneers of Vintage Vocal Swing. This 1940’s signature sound inspired our recent collaboration with Joanna Forbes L’Estrange. ,
An eight-track album of 1940’s silky-smooth close harmony pieces with lyrical subject matter ranging from the USO (United Services Organisation), and Choo Choo’s, to a little Christmas ditty called Hurry Santa.
Our first collaboration with Joanna couldn’t have been easier. A mainstay on the London vocal scene, Joanna is equally at home in practically every genre of music, but it’s her time spent with the Swingle Singers that made this project, in particular, the right one for Joanna.
With the songs written and the recording date set, we found ourselves once again in the familiar setting of Abbey Road Studios – but this time in the iconic Studio 3, where Pink Floyd famously recorded “Dark Side of the Moon.”
We were lucky enough to put together a stellar line up of players who specialize in 30’s and 40’s music to set the stage for an incredible collaborative effort:
After a stunning day of rhythm and horn sessions, the stage was set for the evening vocals. What better way to get into the spirit of the music than to wear vintage 1940’s clothing, so that’s exactly what we did. David in an R.A.F. uniform, Jeff in 40’s-style trousers with suspenders and hat and the girls in classic matching Andrews Sisters’ outfits. Joanna joined by Sara Brimer-Davey and Joanna Goldsmith-Eteson expertly weaved their way through the vocal arrangements for three hours of pure joy. We were all instantly transported back almost 80 years.
Each of us in the studio that day commented on how we couldn’t remember a recording session that was more fun – and since we are collectively talking about thousands of hours of studio time that is really saying something!
Look for our Vintage Vocal Swing album to be released by Audio Network in summer 2018!
One of the things we love most about the type of Media music writing we do is the huge breadth of styles that we get to work on, and this has been particularly apparent in our current project “Action Cartoon” – A collaboration with composing legend and Emmy winner John Altman.
So what do we mean by Action Cartoon?
Think, Simpsons with a touch of The Jetsons meet Spiderman, or Dangermouse with a pinch of Dick Barton….
Part of the creative challenge of this type of project is getting into the mindset of how this stuff was originally conceived, written and recorded back-in-the-day, in order to faithfully recreate music that stands up against the originals.
“This is where our collaborator John Altman came into his own,” said David.
To give you a bit of background, John is a musical director, arranger, composer, conductor and saxophonist. Beginning his career in the late 60’s as an in-demand saxophonist, through the years John has performed with the likes of Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, Bob Marley, Muddy Waters and Prince, as well as being Van Morrison’s musical director.
John’s arranging and conducting talents garnered many hit records such as George Michael’s “Kissing a Fool”, Rod Stewart’s “Downtown Train” and Alison Moyet’s “That Ole Devil Called Love” which John also produced. He also arranged Monty Python’s “Always Look On The Bright Side of Life”, a song which has gained worldwide cult status. As well as having an A-List career working on commercial hits, John has an equally successful career as a busy film and TV composer and has worked on countless movies and TV shows. Big screen success has included Titanic, Shall We Dance and The Lost Empire to name a few of the long list.
“Working with John has been a wonderful learning experience,” said David “When we first discussed the project, John’s knowledge of the genre and of the process of the composers was remarkable.” We discussed in depth the original creative and recording processes, and John’s insight has added an authenticity we would never have achieved without his input.”
“For me, what’s been wonderful is the way ideas have flowed,” said Jeff Meegan. “A creative melting-pot, with everyone having input, for me, is the key to a successful collaboration.”
As always everything has to be carefully conceived. Every splodge of every note, from the conception of the scores through to the recording process. Once again at Abbey Road studio 2, with 11 hours of sessions where John will conduct and David and Jeff will jointly produce.
One of the extra things that set this project apart will be the use of comedy percussion. This will be a signature sound of the collection. We hope to create a virtual mini library of bangs, hits, squeaks and pops during a percussion session in Abbey Road studio 3 with percussionist Paul Clarvis.
“We chose not to write any of these parts in advance,” said David. “We decided it would be more fun to work on these in real time with Paul. We asked him to bring everything but the kitchen sink… and then joked that he might want to throw that in his bag too!”
“Working with Jeff and David has been a real learning curve for me,” said John Altman. “ I’m used to collaborating on movies with directors and editors, or on records with artists and producers but this is my first experience of collaboration with fellow composers and I must confess I am enjoying being able to discuss what I’m doing along the way with people who share the same experiences. The first of many albums with Jeff and David I hope!”
Once the recordings are complete, we begin the meticulous process of mixing, creating all the necessary versions and putting all final finishing touches to everything.Look out early next year for the Action Cartoon Comedy album to be released on www.audionetwork.com and we’ll be posting some snippets here very soon!