Taking Flight

Morning everyone. Well, we've got here, to the day of releasing this album, our second Nobodaddy album 'Longing for Flight'. It's been a long journey, from original conception to here, so it is immensely pleasing to know that as of today our work has born fruit that can be enjoyed. Here is a bit of a story as to how the album came about.

The last album we recorded was 'My Confession' with Niamh Cavlan which came out in 2010. After working with her to promote that we then took stock of what we wanted to do next and the long gestation of this album started. By mid 2011 the spirits started to move and the thoughts began to take shape of another album, finally brought together to a clear vision inspired by our trek down to worship at the feet of Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings at the Brighton Dome. As The Independent said of them at the time, "No Fuss, No Frills". We knew then that we we wanted to strip our songs back to the bone, let them breathe through the strains of guitar and voice, just the two of us being present with the songs.

So then we needed the right space to let that happen, and it came to us through happenstance; calling in for tea at The Ravenous Cafe near our home in South Norfolk I found a card mentioning the nearby The Old Granary Studio with a contact for Ben Giller. I love the area with its wide field margins, hares and hedgerows so thought we could pay a visit. A few days later we headed to the studio, and found ourselves in rural heaven, in the titular Old Granary, surrounded by several pianos in various states of undress. We had our guitars with us, and on sitting on the stage and playing one of our songs, the space leant its voice to ours, blending a sound of its own. But mostly it just felt right. As it is a concert venue for chamber music it has a fabulous acoustic, and is well-equipped with classic microphones to capture the live sound.  Ben and the rest of the Giller family could not have been nicer and, despite our limited budget, we agreed a few days of recording time.

After an abortive start that winter (it was very cold and we just couldn't quite warm up in all senses enough), we rescheduled for early summer 2012.  We had originally aimed for completely live takes, with no overdubs, which we did achieve on 'Brief Encounter', but with most tracks it was guitars first, maybe with one vocal and then more vocals over the top. This way we were able to strike a balance between capturing the truth and essence of a performance with the awareness of the modern ear attuned to clinical, digital perfection. We had no desire to make something without blemish (in fact I remember discussing the beauty that encompasses imperfections, as in the Japanese sense of Wabi-sabi) but the odd edit does help smooth out the rougher edges! Some of the takes came almost immediately, and others took a while to brew, but Ben gave us the peace, time and tea to allow this to happen.

So we continued to record a couple of days at a time over the summer of 2012, surrounded by a bucolic beauty which seeped into both our selves and our music - sometimes seeping in to the extent that birdsong can periodically be heard on the album. We did not know quite which songs would make the final album, but we knew we wanted 10 that hung together, and finding ourselves by autumn with what felt like a good selection we took them away to see if we had we wanted. Although we had set out with a clear vision of simple arrangements, we decided that at the end of the album we would like to let out the dam with a more expansive sound. Bass and drums? Electric guitar? We weren't sure, but walking through Norwich one day, I came across a trio of young folk musicians busking. After listening for a while to their skilful interpretation of trad tunes I approached them and discovered that they were called Triette, and were from Norwich and Sweden. The way they were weaving lines in and out of each other just seemed to me to be the prefect approach to what we needed for Heel and Toe, so I asked them if they would be prepared to join us in the studio to add their magic - with Ida returning to Sweden almost immediately, Nic Zuppardi (mandolin) and Nick Wiseman-Ellis (accordion and fiddle) agreed to come out to the studio with us. Being such fine musicians, they picked up on what we wanted straight away and came up with just the perfect lines to sprinkle over the song. One final session then to add the small 'choir' at the end of Heel & Toe recruited from family and friends, and we were done...

With the album recorded and mixed by spring 2013, we were moving towards release when I managed to rip my achilles tendon whilst playing football, and suddenly we had an enforced break whilst I healed, hence here we are almost a year later, allowing it to take flight.

We shall blog again soon about the artwork, the title and our take on the themes, but for now, let us thank again Nick, Nic, Bec, Hannah, Emily, Mary, Niamh, Su, Andy, Jill, Steve, Sarah-Jayne, Dani, Row and above all, Ben.

We hope you all like the album as much as we adored creating it.


PS You can get a sense of the studio and our time there from this film