Category Archives: Recording

In the studio with Talk In Colour

I still find it a bit weird referring to the Shadow Orchestra as Talk In Colour, but I’m sure I’ll get used to it.

We’re oh-so-close to finishing off our new album, but it’s still missing that certain something. So we headed to our old haunt – Treacle Studios in Shoreditch – to muck about with a load of percussion and make some noise.

Treacle recording studios

Chris in the control room:

Chris in the controol room

In order to create a suitably uninhibited vibe, we utilised a few bottles of this amazing stuff – Marks & Spencers’ alcoholic ginger ale. Very tasty and perfect for a chilly winter evening:

This is no ordinary ginger beer...

(If M&S would like to sponsor our new album, we’d be very grateful…)

Mary gets her cowbell action on. Standing on a dolly is optional but adds a certain edge of excitement:

Mary goes wild wth the percussion

It turns out a metal bin is a remarkably effective drum – Bangin’!

Metal bin as a drum

More cowbell!

More cowbell!

With a bit of luck, we should have the whole album finished by Christmas. It’s sounding great already, and I can’t wait to unleash it on the world.

Filming on the Warboat with She Makes War

No sooner had I got home from touring with Revere and Toumani Diabate then I was back out again to spend an afternoon filming and recording a live track with one of my favourite DIY musicians – Laura Kidd, aka She Makes War.

Although my first challenge of the day was simply getting out of bed (So. Very. Tired…) the second challenge was getting the harp onto a boat – the stunning Miloco Lightship95 – via a steep drawbridge and some even steeper stairs:

The evil stairs

Inside the studio:

Ready for a take

Laura with violinist Milly McGregor:

Milly and Laura

Engineer Jarred (yes, the same one who engineered the Revere/Toumani Diabate session on Saturday!) gets to work:

Engineer Jarred at work

Laura, Milly and I recorded a live version of the track Butterflies, from the upcoming She Makes War album, and were filmed from every angle. I can’t wait to see what it looks like!

Revere and Toumani Diabate tour diary – in the studio

Saturday was meant to be our day off but because sleep is for wusses, we headed to Miloco studios in Hoxton Square to record some of the tracks we’ve been performing live during the tour.

The harp had a bit of a diva moment after being thrown around the country in the back of a van. It took a lot of gaffer tape slapped up her insides to fix it up:

The harp awaits her big day

Huge thanks to sound engineer Jarred for putting up with us and keeping the mics clear of the “twatting zone” (the area around the harp where I’m most likely to smack them with my hands).

Sound engineer Jared

Kath has a quick pre-take panic:

Kath, panicking

Manager Chris keeps us in check:

Hanging around at the studio

Ellie’s either tuning or up to mischief:

Ellie tunes up

We were absolutely thrilled to be joined by Toumani Diabate for a couple of hours to record a few tracks with us, including the acoustic version of Love Will Tear Us Apart that we’ve been playing with him on stage. Stephen was quite overawed:

Stephen and Toumani - BFFs

Then we played him the original Joy Division version, which he’d never heard before. He found it hilarious:

Toumani listening

We were totally blown away by the whole thing. Just… wow…

Just wow...

Music on Mondays: Making music with She Makes War

Not a proper post today but a quick plug for this little video from She Makes War, featuring me, Anna Madeleine and Chris T-T recording some shiny noises for her new album.

Check it out here  – and look out for the multiple appearances by the supercute Mr Benj. I have serious puppy-hunger now.

She Makes Album – recording with Warriorgrrl/She Makes War

On Friday night I headed over to a little studio near London Fields to record some harp parts for the second album from the very wonderful and super-talented Laura Kidd (aka She Makes War).

I played a bit of harp on her first album, Disarm, a year or so ago, so it was a pleasure to be invited back – and I got to play with her dog, the incredibly cute Mr Benj:

She Makes War - Laura and Mr Benj

Laura and Mr Benj

Also at the studio was the lovely Anna Madeleine, who was just finishing off making a whole bunch of weird noises when I arrived. She got quite carried away!

Anna Madeleine

Anna has a "moment"

I did four tracks in total, including a gorgeous new song that really showcases the harp. It was great fun, even though we had to stop a bit when the rain got too loud!


I can’t wait to hear the finished product, because what I’ve heard so far sounds great. Watch this space, or head on over to the She Makes War blog for updates.

My recording career goes down the toilet

I had a busy weekend recording demo tracks for the upcoming Sunday Driver album, mostly eating biscuits and getting on each others’ nerves.

You can see pics from the recording session at the lovely Rainbow Joe’s house over on the band’s new blog, but here’s a quick insight into the glamorous life of a musician.

Harp in bathroom
I ended up recording harp tracks in the bathroom…
Toilet recording studio
But here’s where the magic really happens. I spent a whole afternoon in this luxury recording booth doing clarinet tracks. Good acoustics, apparently. Or the rest of the band just hates me.

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.