Back in the studio – Junkhearts soundtrack

Harp at Treacle

Back in the studio again

Here’s a handy hint for all you musicians out there – if you’re trying to record an album, make sure that your main member/producer isn’t embroiled in a massive, all-consuming side project at the same time.

Never ones to make life easy for ourselves, the Shadow Orchestra are attempting just that. Right now, Chris is busy creating the soundtrack for director Tinge Krishnan’s first feature-length film, Junkhearts – starring Romola Garai and Tom Sturridge.

But in a cunning bit of nepotism, he’s also slipping in Nick’s Lament – working title for a track from the new Shadow Orchestra album. The only problem with this plan is that we haven’t actually recorded any album tracks yet – because Chris has been so busy with the soundtrack. *sigh*

So on Friday night I was off to Treacle Studios in Shoreditch  to record my part for the track, along with some other bits and bobs for the soundtrack. To be honest, this was the hardest recording session I’ve done for a very long time. I’ve having quite a few musculoskeletal probs with my right hand/wrist/arm, and my part for Nick’s Lament is a relentless run of lethally fast triplets.

I’m used to being able to record parts in just a couple of takes, so finding myself fluffing take after take, in increasing pain, was not only very frustrating but quite frightening. In the end we got there, and I hope Chris manages to glue together something decent out of all my attempts.

I’m currently seeking profesisonal help for my hand/arm problems, from BAPAM – the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine – who have been brilliant. Their physio recommended I try a rather bizarre elbow clasp device when I play and type, which makes it look a little like I have a bionic arm. I’m yet to figure out if it’s helping or making it worse.

Elbow clasp

The bionic arm

Recording for the Shadow Orchestra album starts in earnest next week, so I really hope it helps.

11 responses to “Back in the studio – Junkhearts soundtrack

  1. Kat
    Don’t know if this personal anecdote will help, I’ll keep it as short as poss.

    6 years ago in Jan couldn’t use a knife to chop veg because of pain in wrist and elbow. Thought might be because of xmas goose and duck plucking and splitting logs. Doc not very interested but got physio. Months later physio not working so referred to musculo-skeletal specialist. Xrays – show nothing, nerve conduction tests negative.

    As elbow better, referred to N Wales top wrist surgeon. Eventually get MRI and told poss cyst in lunate bone. Wonder aloud on many consultations why a cyst in small bone causes so much pain. Told need bone graft from hip to fill cyst with 50/50 chance of success. Think these are crap odds so decide to put up with pain for a while longer. Eventually can’t put up any longer and so go back to doc. Same option given and tell doc the odds are rubbish, can’t he think more laterally. Offered an arthroscopy so doc can look at cyst to see if will accept graft.

    Have op and told that cyst not the prob – have torn triangular fibrocartilage complex and other ligaments which are a mess and osteo-arthritis in wrist. They have ‘cleaned-up’ the ligaments and cartilage I’m told and now just have to get on with it. That’s was about 5 years after 1st presentation. Consultant suggested glucosamine and chondritin: I’ve read the research and didi 6 months personal trial and now don’t take it.

    Now have pain 75% of time and use co-codamol when it’s too bad.

    Points to take 1: medical doctors can be dangerous; don’t give up on getting a diagnosis that makes logical sense to you; do your own research and talk to lots of people who are specialists or sufferers.

    In addition, I’ve found that ‘mindfulness meditation’ or, more accurately and mindful approach to daily living sometimes helps. This morning I’ve been doing cleaning. I mentally approach it by doing, ‘just the next bit’ and pay attention to what my body is telling me and (sometimes) stop before I hurt. The approach doesn’t take away the pain but helps how I decide to react to it and how I behave. It’s not ‘woo’, it just gives me a framework when I want to use it.

    The best resource I’ve found is Jon Kabat-Zinn’s stuff see He’s professor of medicine at University of Massachusetts Medical School. Might be worth a look. He has his own website too.

    I empathise with your frustration and pain and so hope you get a positive diagnosis and treatment comes quickly.

    Best wishes

    • Thanks for your thoughts. Scary stuff! At the moment, I think it’s a combination of over-use and RSI from playing and typing, and a sprain in my forearm. BAPAM have been very helpful, although I don’t think the elbow cuff is actually helping.
      Having a proper break instead of spending 18 hours a day either using a computer or playing the harp would help, but it’s a very busy time for me and I have some massive deadlines. Grrr

      • Aha. I hope you’re right – then you have the answer in your own hands, so to speak. Perhaps your body is giving you a hint…

        If you can make time, I think you’ll find the book interesting. JKZ works with many with terminal and chronic illnesses and his work and their life stories are fascinating.

        Good luck

      • Thanks – I will look into it. I suspect I do need to make some major changes to my lifestyle (not to mention posture). I’m starting with Pilates…

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  4. Are you responsible for/involved in the production of soundtrack on the newly released Junkhearts trailer?

    If so… It’s truly gorgeous!

    I’d love a copy.

    • Hi Nick,
      Glad you like it! The soundtrack for Junkhearts was done by Chris Bangs of the Shadow Orchestra, along with people from the band, and the main track you can hear in the trailer is an instrumental version of our new single Nightshifts. You can listen to the full vocal version of the whole track in our podcast ( and it’ll be released properly in the next week or so. Just to be warned, we’re going to be changing the name of the band very soon, so watch this space – sign up to our mailing list or facebook page to get the latest news about our upcoming new album and all that kind of thing: or

      • Lovely Stuff!

        I had a chance to slide by and check out some shadow orchestra material and the podcast you linked to. Hugely impressed! Nightshifts is extremely slick, that Chris dude’s a damn good producer.

        I’ll sign up to stuff and keep an eye on what you’ve got going on!

        Thanks very much for the info, it’s really helpful.

        Also, good luck with the arm. I had a pretty severe RSI several years ago actually from classical guitar. Had a cocktail of pills and weird gel treatments and stuff, in the end it just needed a massive rest. Cleared up after a while, never to return!!!

        Take it easy if you can….

        Thanks again!


      • Cheers 🙂 I’m trying to rest as much as I can before I head off on tour in November. Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you like the new album when it comes out.

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