The Fellows record Mark Armstrong's 'Food of Love' at Livingston Studios in London.


If 'Food of Love' be the music...take one!

THOMAS BROOKE

Following our performing debut as an octet in Nottingham, it was time to face the recording studio. We met at the Livingston Studios in North London. I have done some extensive research (otherwise known as scrolling Wikipedia) and discovered that we are in fact following in the footsteps of many famous stars, from the likes of Jamie Cullum, Shakira and Ronan Keating to R.E.M and Placebo! Armed with the expertise of the great Ben Parry, some supremely baked chocolate biscuits courtesy of Sarah Lucy and the prospect of mulled wine when it was all over, we dug into our first recording project.

The piece to record was the lively ‘Food of Love’ by Mark Armstrong, a setting of Shakespeare texts for voices and big band, originally created for a Shakespeare 400 collaboration between NYCGB and the National Youth Jazz Orchestra. NYJO had already recorded their parts earlier in the year and for our session we had just a metronome track or ‘click track’ to keep us in the right tempo. Having worked on our individual vocal lines, it was a joy to bring them together as a vocal ensemble in the studio, but at the time of writing we still haven’t heard our parts and the band’s together – it will be so exciting to hear the final product.

This was my first time recording in a real studio – a very different experience to the many recordings I have done in cold, damp churches! We needed to get used to singing with earphones on and learnt how to sing into close microphones. Hearing your own voice through earphones which block out all other sound was unfamiliar territory and made for new challenges when singing – I was particularly conscious of my vocal production as it was easy to get complacent and not sing with proper technique at times. We also had to be more aware of each other as a group, as this change in sound world meant it was, at times, harder to hear other singers. Fortunately, we were under the watchful eyes (and ears) of Ben Parry and our excellent sound engineer Ron Kelly, whose expertise made the whole experience enlightening and enjoyable. It can be draining to record sections of music over, and over again but their positivity and experience made the session productive and fun throughout.

We made good progress with the recording, leaving some extra time for a rehearsal for our upcoming performance on 25 January at the London A Cappella Festival. Most importantly we had time to indulge in some festive celebrations: mulled wine, mince pies and our NYCGB Fellowship Secret Santa…