Fox Amoore, a pianist and composer, approached me last year with an interesting project. He’d crowd-funded the recording of his new album, Come Find Me, exceeding the amount he needed nearly fourfold, so he could afford to fly in vocalists he’d worked with in the past, and even the English Chamber Orchestra. Was I interested in documenting the event?
Why yes, Fox. I’m your huckleberry.
I flew in to London, staying with friends to save a bit of cash and take the opportunity to reconnect. Late flight, overnight nap, and early in the morning I signed in at the legendary Abbey Road Studios. These rooms and wires and people produced the sounds of lonely-hearted Sergeants, of riders in the Shire, of the soaring Falcon. And now we, a plucky band of independents, stood there too.
The world is small and creative people live large, so I’d actually previously met most of the collaborators that Fox had flown in. At conventions and concerts dotted across time and space I’d made their acquaintance, but you don’t really get to know someone until you sweat with them, labouring in the bilge of creation. Fox, supported by his retinue, led the troupe with a light hand – all of them seasoned professionals. Every miscommunication was briskly resolved, everyone stepped in wherever they could to make the album happen.
Case in point: I busted my ankle on the first day and limped for the remainder (did I mention that Abbey Road is made entirely out of stairs?) until Travis tackled me to the couch and, having been a manual therapist in a previous life, subjected me to an agony I can’t describe but which had me light-footed a day after.
We gathered on the Studio 1 balcony when the orchestra filed in and started tuning, Fox giddily grasping at the gently floating strands of his compositions, until the hall fell to silence… and it began.
The music was beautiful, but it was more than that. All of us are independent artists cut from the old cloth – clawing and scrabbling forward, self-taught or self-funded and used to self-reliance, elevating our work and extending our reach and we sat in the rafters of one of the most famous studios in the world listening to the birthsong of something none of us could have dreamed of. The album was Fox’s baby, but we were aunts and uncles, all of us.
But labour is labour, and we earned our keep. Recording and engineering and waiting, scrambling for time to snag a portrait or a space to rehearse, supported by engineers of unbelievable taste and sensitivity. I was to narrate the opening voice-over, and with minutes to spare I think I may have had the shortest session the studio’s ever seen, nailing my part in 90 seconds, so there was still time for the bass player to lay down one more track.
Packing up and heading out, vigilantly guarding the flight case containing the digital recordings, it felt unreal, like leaving home.
Those few days in rainy London… none of us will ever forget them.
Look for Fox Amoore’s new album Come Find Me later this year (his digital catalogue can be found at Bandcamp); with contributions from Amadhia, Lily, Alexander James Adams and Travis Ratledge of Polite Fiction (check out his 2013 EP Portrait).