Another full on year at Offbeat
Since starting Offbeat we’ve been involved in some great projects and last year was one of our busiest and most interesting yet.
70’s Reggae band Jab Jab recorded a lot of songs back in the day and through their keyboard player and family friend Rob Whittington (we share the same niece, Jess McKinna). I had the priveleged job of transferring their old 1/4” tapes, cassettes and assorted studio and live recordings into digital and re-mastering a double album amazing tracks. Some of the tracks hadn’t been heard for over 30 years! I went into Pierhouse Studios in Edinburgh where boffin and studio genius Pete Haigh baked the tapes. This was because a few of them were very old and were shedding. Playing them like the risks permanent damage- the baking process melds the tape back together so that they can be safely played. Pete then transferred them onto digital for me. They all played at different speeds so we rescued the material through a selection of Pete’s Tape Recorders.
There was about 3 hours of material to master. Here’s an excerpt from a personal favourite.
Last past year I produced and provided the backing track for a single for LA and Kuala Lumpar based singer Khylune. His video of the song Shut Up & Dance has had over 150.000 Youtube hits since it’s release in February. He was in Malaysia at the time of putting the track together and I worked on the production after hearing a demo of the song which was co-written with Award Winning US Nashville based songwriter CJ Watson, author of “The Everything Songwriting Book” and “Essential Songwriting”. Khy went into the studio in Kuala Lumpar to lay down his vocals and the sent them back go Scotland for me to mix.When asked for material for my blog last year Khy informed me that his foster Dad was the late Artie Mogul, the man who discovered Bob Dylan and owner of United Artists Records. Read my blog on Khylune for more information on this.
Closer to home Americana vocalist Jim Connor has been exporting his songs to the States from Scotland. I provide all the musical backing and production for Jim who I’ve been working with now for several years – Jim has a strong and distinctive vocal style which has a very broad appeal.
Jim works on demos of his songs at his home in Cumbernauld and sends them through on Dropbox for me to work on here at the Offbeat studio. Once the tracks are ready he visits the studio to lay down his vocals.
In 2013 we had a no1 on Celtic Music Radio and Broadjam with his compositions Mysterious Lady and Drift Away. Here’s a clip from our latest unreleased recording of his uplifting song Open Your Mind
Singer, Drummer and Songwriter Brian Rice and I have also worked on a couple of his songs this year. Brian, who originally comes from Northern Ireland and now lives in Aberfoyle, has an amazing voice and is a talented composer and musician who collaborates with songwriters Worldwide.
I first met Brian about 8 years ago when he visited the studio with his songwriting partner Clive at the time to mix and master a single they had wrote together.
I love the song we produced together entitled Waiting For Me To Fall and hope to work on more tracks with him in 2014. To read more about my collaboration with Brian and to hear the full version of the song Click HERE
Stewart Morrison has been coming to the studio now for 18 months, recording a selection of his own compositions in which Kirsty Anderson and I contribute musical parts and vocals for his varied songwriting styles. Here’s a clip of his great song You Were The One.
Stewart comes into the studio with his songs in his head and we interpret them into full productions and definitive versions of his ideas.
A few years back we held a 50th birthday party experience at which we met Film Producer Mark Cousins. We then went on to record commentary for four of his films, the most successful being The Story Of Film An Odyssey which continues to gather International acclaim and success.
IN 2013 Mark was back to record his voice for The Story Of Children & Film . As well as this we recorded Neil Oliver for Coast Australia and Hollywood actor Brian Cox who was the voice of Duggy The Dug who’s animated films have done a great job of promoting the Yes vote for the forthcoming Independence campaign. The project was for Newsnet Scotland and was produced by Independent Film Director Alan Knight.
Here’s one of a series of videos in which Duggy The Dug espouses convincing arguments for the case for voting Yes to Independence
We also recorded a sign language to audio version of Skint for AC2.com as well as several audio projects for Gavin Brogan from Scottish Life.
David Hyslop has been writing song and having them produced at other studios until he decided to give Offbeat a go with his excellent song Hollow Rain. Not wanting to influence my production of the track, David decided not to attend any of the sessions and gave me a wide remit for re-arranging the song.
Initially he provided a rough demo and I worked from that. David says of his Offbeat experience “Working with Iain on my song was a great experience – there is a relaxed and friendly vibe at the Offbeat studio, and I always welcomed Iain’s constructive and valuable input into the song which really helped to bring out the best in the material. Highly recommended!”
David came in to the studio at the very end to work with Kirsty on the verses to make sure his vocal ideas were incorporated into the final mix. The result is an evocative and uplifting song which has evolved into this recording that everyone involved in the team is proud of. Here’s a short section of the song.
2013 ended with more recordings for the Kings Theatre panto Peter Pan. I’ve been working with the team now for 7 years through Rich Anderson MD. Allan Stewart (pictured with me -left) who famously plays Widow Twanky, has also been in the studio recording tracks for his own projects.
Ongoing projects for 2014 are Imaginary Creatures –70’s Classic Rock album of original compositions by Lyricist & Songwriter David Scott entitled The Butterfly’s Dream which is due for release in Spring.
Also talented vocalist & Songwriter Mark Greenock comes to the studio all the way from Brighton to record his second album Lighting The Way Home.
Singer Songwriter & Multi Instrumentalist David Ell is in the process of recording his third album at his home studio in Linlithgow. I am helping David mix and master the album as well as creating backing tracks for his live set.
Renaud Cmela is currently recording at the studio on a song we started a while back entitled Starting Over
Also embarking on an album of songs is super talented Vocalist & Songwriter Gavin Blackie. More about this, Imaginary Creatures, David Ell and Mark Greenock and Renaud Cmela in future articles… watch this space 🙂
New Film Project – Here Be Dragons by Mark Cousins
Mark Cousins is back in the studio this week recording commentary for his new film project Here Be Dragons in which Mark explores his thoughts on his fascination with Albania following his recent visit there. The film is being produced by Don Boyd of HiBrow T . Having just heard the commentary of the film and not the footage, I still found it a great introduction to a country I knew nothing about, both pre and post the dictator Enver Hoxha. Watch This Trailer about how Mark both conceived of and made the film.
I’ve now worked with Mark on several of his movie projects. Most recently recording his voice for The Story Of Children & Film which is about to have its UK premiere at The Edinburgh International Film Festival. Having been the only British film screened at this years Cannes Film Festival, it was very well received and has attracted great reviews.
After initially recording Mark with some of his friends at a recording studio birthday party a few years ago, I recorded and edited his commentary on 15 x 1 hour films for the acclaimed More 4 and Film 4 series The Story Of Film. Following its original TV screening. it has toured The Film Festival circuit and been screened on TV and Cinemas all over the World. It’s about to go mainstream on TV in the USA through Turner Classic Movies. Mark will personally introduce each of the 15 episodes. The series is widely acclaimed as the only real history of film on the planet! The film was a labour of love which took Mark and his producer John Archer from Hopscotch Films many years to make.
Following The Story Of Film we also worked on What Is This Film Called Love. Mark’s homage to the film maker Sergei Eisenstein which was filmed in Mexico in 2011 and released in 2012. Mark gets his kit off and roams the Mexican desrt in his quest to follow in the footsteps of his hero.
Normally Mark comes into the studio and reads the script in just one run through the script with very short breaks to save the files. The challenge is to capture his performance as naturally as possible. Knowing how his voice works by now I have the studio setup in advance so we are recording within 5 minutes. The Offbeat studio has now been involved in quite a few film projects.
What Is This Film Called Love
Went to the premiere of What Is This Film Called Love by Mark Cousins last week and really enjoyed it. As with The Story Of Film it’s interesting to be involved in the recording of the commentary of the movie without actually seeing any footage. It makes the experience of seeing the end result all the more interesting and surprising.
Having recorded the voices of artist Alison Watt and actor Ewan Bremner for the film, Mark decided in the end not to use Ewan’s voice as the voice inside Mark’s head, and used his own commentary instead. The film has some really fun and also some sad moments as he walks across Mexico City with a cheap handheld camera conversing with his hero, film director Sergei Eisenstein. The review at the bottom of this blog explains the theme of the movie so I don’t have to, but I was inspired to try and get out there with my own camera and film stuff more instead of waiting for the right kind of equipment one thinks is necessary to make a film. However Mark manages to make a evocative, amusing and thought provoking film out a budget of £5.80 and not everyone can do that!
Read this review from The List magazine