Mixing starts tomorrow! PLUS a backers perspective of the Prague recordings!
The past few months of intense hard work all start to come together tomorrow as we start mixing the album at the famed Skywalker Ranch! We will make sure to take lots of pictures and video so we can share them with you.
As part of our biggest Reward Level, one of our major backers Scott Cameron joined us (from the UK) in Prague in December when we were recording the album. What follows is his reflection on the days he spent with the team. We asked Scott if we could share this with the rest of the backers and he loved the idea.
Dear BT, Tommy & team,
I hope I can do this justice and help this amazing community of backers feel even more closely aligned with this incredible thing that is unfolding. I guess I’ll just tell it like it was and hopefully everybody will feel like they were there as one big happy creative family!
So where should I start?……..
Well, perhaps it’s best I start at the end by simply recalling what I was thinking at Prague Airport as I waited for my flight back home to London. I was thinking “Wow!” (or as you guys would say, “Awesome”!!). I was aware of feeling quite a few things too,……exhilarated, excited, humbled, privileged, respectful, motivated,…..oh, and absolutely bloody exhausted! (but that might just have been the evening drinking sessions catching up on me!). Anyway, here’s the journey that led to those thoughts and feelings being realised,………
It’s a clear, unseasonably mild morning in Prague. Monday 15th December. The first day of recording for BT’s latest album ‘Electronic Opus’. How did we end up here? It was only a couple of weeks ago I backed my first ever project on Kickstarter and I’m already in an unfamiliar Country and trying to find my way to the acclaimed Smecky Music Studios (they’re home to The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra don’t you know?!). I’m with an old friend. Michael. We were out late last night. No. Make that VERY late last night (hey, we were just familiarising ourselves with our new environment!) So that means we are running late (and that we’re horribly hungover). It’s a 9am start and we most definitely do not want to make a bad first impression. So we’re in a cab, trying to make up time and getting frustrated that the rush hour here is just as awful as anywhere else. I don’t know what we expected to be honest. Michael attempts to divert my attention away from the heavy traffic and reminds me of a day out many years ago which pretty much consisted of us racing a Mini Cooper around the Welsh countryside accompanied by a BT soundtrack blasting its way through the car’s Harman Kardon sound system. I do remember Hip Hop Phenomenon sounding particularly good that day :-)
Michael’s diversionary tactics seem to have worked however, as before we know it, the driver announces ‘Smecky Studios’!
“Where?" we think to ourselves as we roll out of the car. Michael spots it first. An unassuming brass plate on a historic, but unremarkable building facade. We’re both a little nervous I guess. Lots of anticipation, but a huge step into the unknown. Fortunately, my wife and I met a few of the team (including the man himself) at BT’s gig at London’s Ministry of Sound the Friday before. So surely everyone will remember me?!
We’re at the main studio entrance doors. Judging by the cacophony of sound from behind, there’s clearly a fairly substantial orchestra warming up in there. Or has the session already started and are we late? The recording light might be in Czech (“TICHO” it reads) but it’s off. So we make a break for it, open the doors and let out a gentle sigh of relief that we haven’t just interrupted the first ever orchestral recording of ‘Suddenly'!
As you’ve probably already seen from the photos and videos in previous Kickstarter updates and Facebook posts, this studio isn’t shiny and new, but it’s hugely impressive, has a lot of pedigree and has more character than you can shake a stick at. There are 60+ professional musicians in here already I think to myself. And I confidently conclude that this is going to be epic before anything has even happened!
We’re ushered into the control room and are welcomed by Tommy and BT who kindly introduce us to the entire team including BT’s Manager, Alex and the creative guys and girls at TanZ. We’re made to feel very welcome. BT, Tommy and Craig (Composer) are lined up behind a desk, with tomes of paper scores containing the draft orchestration at the ready. The clock is now running, and time is money. The schedule’s tight. And there’s a huge amount to get through. I can sense it’s not just me that’s excited. There’s a palpable sense of anticipation in the air. And then it suddenly hits me. This really is a unique and unknown journey for everybody in the room. Not just me. Clearly, months, if not years of careful thought and planning have gone into getting things this far. But now, I’m actually here to witness first hand how this is all going to work live, and just like BT, for the very first time.
The people in here are seasoned professionals. I dabble in music, and sure, I’ve been in a studio before, but the scale and set up here is off the scale. Craig’s wife, Eímear who's conducting the orchestra, pops into the control room to introduce herself and set the scene for how things are going to pan out. It sounds like we’re possibly in for a slow start as everyone familiarises themselves with the project and each other, after which things will pick up pace (which turns out to be right on the money and leads to there being time to record an additional 2 tracks for the album) \0/ Yay!
Once I’ve got my bearings and have relaxed a little more to be able to take everything in, I establish that there’s a remarkable sixth sense amongst BT, Craig and Eímear. Despite Eímear being in the studio with the orchestra whilst we are in the control room, her comments and thoughts around possible improvements following each orchestral ‘pass’ (which are being relayed to us from her microphone/headset) are repeatedly mirroring what BT and Craig have just said. It’s a little unsettling to be honest!
There’s a real camaraderie and feeling of trust in here. It’s a lovely thing. Like minded, creative spirits, all focused on working with each other to achieve the same goal. And there’s so much talent in here, it is awe-inspiring. The energy is great too. It’s kind of hard to explain, but you can actually feel it. This whole experience is way more fun than I thought it would be. There’s a lot of ad-hoc stuff happening too like Eímear being hooked up to a 4k GoPro so that we can see what the orchestra looks like from her perspective. BT even gets up and gives conducting a quick go! There’s plenty of chat and a lot of good natured humour flowing around the room and I feel relaxed enough to join in. Ján at the mixing desk gets a little frustrated at the noise levels at times and puts us all back in our place, but that’s absolutely fine. He’s quite right to do so! I’m surprised at just how many people are back here in the control room too. At some points, I reckon there are at least 20 of us. Despite it being December, we certainly don’t need the heating on in here! Thankfully, the last traces of my hangover have all but gone now.
We’re a couple of songs in now and have just taken a break for lunch. Me and Michael bump into BT, Tommy and some of the team at a bakery not far from the studio and are invited to join them. So here I am munching away on a baguette in Prague having a chat with BT about the first two recordings just made for his next album. If you had told me I’d be doing this a few weeks ago, I would have said you were mad!
As day one of recording draws to a close, I am chatting with Tommy about the order of play for tomorrow. We agree that ‘Skylarking’ should be first, just to ensure that everyone gets to bed at a sensible time and makes it in for 9am!
It’s day two of recording (and I’ve made it in for 9am!). I decide to go and grab a seat in the studio itself to hear 'Skylarking’. This is a good move. A very good move. The experience is quite different. It’s live. It’s powerful. And it’s moving. It’s the essence of what Electronic Opus will actually be. There’s no trace of any underlying BT track in here as can be heard for reference purposes in the control room. It’s just the orchestral score being played live. I’m recording everything on my iPad and towards the end of the take, BT comes and sits next to me. I pan over to him and capture just how excited he is about this whole experience. I genuinely believe this is a dream coming true for him too.
Thanks Scott! It was GREAT having you there. Thank-you so much for sharing your experience!
Our hope is that everyone feels like they are a part of this.
BT & Tommy