The making of …a small unknowable thing

I want to talk briefly and gushingly about some of the men behind a small unknowable thing first, it’s a very female album and it promoted that heavily BUT here are the men (& women) who helped me make that possible

Dave Hamblett – Drums

The drumming on this record is standout. I’ve worked with Dave Hamblett for a good few years now and his playing just gets better and better. I was clear in my mind beforehand that I wanted pulse, too many years i have wasted in a previous guise watching my fast thumbed right hand guitaring get replaced by beatless languid over complicated string meandering. So i set Dave with the task of bold, strident nippiness, he’s extremely good at blending into the meld of soft acoustic music so i had to encourage him to play out on tracks like ‘Super Recogniser’ and ‘Sit Out’, but when he gets going it’s really something to see & hear! He’s a real technical master and a perfectionist at his craft, he doesn’t quit till it’s exactly right, every hit of every beat on every drum in his kit. Luckily he’s so good it doesn’t even take long to get it so! He’s also a real collaborative person so he’s equally happy to lay down an electronic drum part and let us pass it through beat repeat and granulator.

Matt Robinson – Keyboards

Keyboards and Synths were central to this record sounding like it does, I began using them on ‘In All Weather’ and i wanted to continue and develop their part in my sound. Matt Robinson is one of the most laid back musicians I’ve worked with he just plays about until the sound is exactly how you want it, just wobbly enough with just the right amount of grit and fuzz, he’s never phased by anything you ask him and so quick to work out from my inexpert explanation what it is I’m trying to ask for

Mike Hiller – Recording, Mixing, Mastering

As someone who has worked in many studio situations with many characters, predominantly male, I was looking for something VERY specific and I had some really firm thoughts about what I didn’t want. The majority of the recording and all the mixing and mastering were done by Mike Hillier. He’s been a reknowned engineer for years and has specialised predominantly in mastering. I’ve had him master many things for me in the past and his work is always superb. I first contacted him because I had a question about mastering, I knew what i wanted but I wasn’t sure how to get it. (this is his absolute sweet spot, he always knows how to make a thing do the thing you want even if the thing you say you want isn’t exactly the thing you want! He always knows!) I was asking about how i need to record and mix the record in order to achieve my intended master. He was able to articulate this perfectly. I then realised if he was a) going to master it in the end anyway and b) knew how it should be recorded and mixed in order for that he would surely be the best person to chaperone & shape it through that process. So i took a deep breath and asked if he would, he said yes and he did. I could not be more pleased with his expertise and effort. He listened so carefully to everything I said and never forgot a note or request I made however small it was. He made great suggestions but never tried to imprint the record with a signature sound. He pushed at the boundaries of my comfort and understanding in certain mixes & subsequently this record is the pinnacle of what i have achieved to date, I learned many things and i grew as an artist in the way that is the hallmark of great collaborative work.

Alec Bowman_Clarke – Bass

Alec Bowman_Clarke played the bass and equally didn’t play bass when it wasn’t needed, he was all about adding only the notes it required. Focussed entirely on the goals I had and helping me achieve them. Obviously he took the cover images, promo photos and directed the videos (there’s still a couple to come!) He’s been in his own quiet way the MOST important person to this process, his skills are superb and mighty useful but more vital is that his support is unwavering, unselfish & the reason I am here today.

Nick Turner – Engineer Extraordinaire

Nick Turner helped with some last minute additional recording at his beautiful Watercolour Studio in Fort William, (which is essentially the local for me now I’m based in Scotland) No-one else knows better than he does how to place a TLM170 in front of my face & recording the guitars with him was fast, furious and an awful lot of fun!

Mary Ann Kennedy is a famous woman of course and she played the harp for me and it absolutely made the track, I love working with her so much and I hope to work more closely with her in the future if she’ll let me!

Learning what I can from the Master!

Other mentions include Aaron Miller who made sure every line of artwork was seamless & straight! Alison Clarke who made all those butterflies, Pias for placing just enough copies in record shops across the globe. Elizabeth Aubrey for writing a stunning bio that framed the record clearly & perfectly. Ellie Ball at SomeoneGreatPR for promoting it sensitively, supportively & superbly. Everyone who’s reviewed, played it on the radio & mentioned it, in print or online.

So it’s done and out there and I hope you like it, cos I do, I thoroughly enjoyed this process with these people, which isn’t a thing i’ve always been able to say. Thank you x

a small unknowable (happy) thing

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