"There was a burnt out police car just outside the studio entrance, a lot of the buildings we all knew well in the area had been burned to the ground. It was a very depressing scene."
"Damien Hirst who at the time lived in the hotel invited me and a bunch of my mates up to his room. He doesn't drink, we very much did. I asked him to smash my record - he did just that."
Let me share stories with you in bite size.....
A few months ago the Mail Online featured a story about me as a busking troubadour and the worlds richest artist 'Damien Hirst'(November 2022). This story harks back to when I was promoting my single 'Everything' with my band 'The Broken Record Project'. The plan was simple yet audacious - get celebrities and radio dj's to smash the record, film it and stick it online - long before the likes of TikTok and NFT's became a thing. An NFT being the headline of the Mail Online story. If curious to find out more click here
DAMIEN HIRST AND THE BROKEN RECORD PROJECT
Armed with a dreadful early digital camera I entered Claridges - one of London's poshest hotels on a bleak mid week day, only this place was anything but bleak. Within a few short steps the scent of perfume and alcohol hit me harder than Hirst was about to wack the shit out of my record. Damien Hirst who at the time lived in the hotel invited me and a bunch of my mates up to his room. He doesn't drink, we very much did. I asked him to smash my record - he did just that.
Early 2022. My busking friend Suzanna Silva loves Imelda May and she asked me if we could duet a cover of a song that Imelda wrote and performed with Niall McNamee called 'Don't Let Me Stand On My own' - beautiful song - sure let's do it. I figured I'd post it on twitter and tag them both in and they both loved it. Listen.
ED SHEERAN, MY MATE TIM AND HIS PUPILS
During the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown which for many in the world was a very dark time I decided to put this new found downtime to as best use as I could see fit (once I'd worked out how not to become a homeless musician). I decided to produce a pandemic podcast with 2 national newspaper journalists interviewing teachers, pupils, MPs, Scientists, celebrities and anyone who said yes! One such teacher - Tim Sporer featured on the podcast with myself documenting his struggle to educate the children under very difficult circumstances. He also happens to be old time pals with Ed Sheeran who agreed to record an exclusive 'lockdown' version of his hit song 'Perfect' with his pupils, teachers and guest 'Jam Stars' of which I was one. You can hear the record here and read the story in The Sunday Express here
In 2018 I got wind that Chief Keef the so called 'Father of Drill music' and much lauded controversial rapper from Chicago the United States wanted to cut one of my records. well a version of it - think Dido/Eminem. The version is called 'Chiraq' detailing the tragic consequences of gun violence in the city of Chicago. This was a big deal at the time - In the charts legendary hiphop artist Jay Z had just quoted Chief in his latest record. The single was released and immediately started racking up millions of plays on Spotify. Sadly due to copyright issues (we - the writers were never credited or paid) the track was pulled and it all became something of a mess. The video still exists.
SKY 1 - SING
The choice to participate in this tv singing competition is probably one of the most stupid things I've ever done. It's like having a credit score for coolness and this month you've just been rated zero and it feels like you will never get social credit ever again. There isn't even the option to become socially bankrupt and start again. Alas it's done now and what an experience to be behind the scenes of the tv talent show machine! One cool thing though - Imelda May did a stunning rendition of the U2 song 'I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For' circles do get squared!
COUNTRY TO COUNTRY AT THE O2 ARENA
2018. Here I am in another band again! This time called 'Fayre' fronted by Ciara Rafferty and myself. Around the time Country and Americana was shaping a niche part of the UK music scene my band was offered the opportunity to play C2C at the O2. This was a great opportunity not only to perform but also to meet some very interesting songwriters. In fact the experience led me to Nashville, to become friends with Jude Johnston who wrote for Johnny Cash and Bonnie Raitt. She has been a great mentor and even let me and my crew film in her magical house for 2 of the music videos for my songs 'Union Town' and 'Wild'.
I was saddened to hear of the recent passing of the legendary UK DJ Janice Long. She even called me just before the pandemic started to say she loved my latest record 'Wild' and wanted to play it on her show on BBC Radio Wales. Somewhere along the tracks that moment was lost and the broadcast never happened. However a few years before Janice did play a record I cut with my duo 'Belle and the Busker' called 'Takes Two' written by Charlie Winston and Justin Stoneman. Charlie is a super star in France having sold a million physical copies of his debut album. The song went on to become a chart hit for French artist Nolwenn Leroy - that version is called 'Pourtant'
JANICE LONG BBC RADIO 2
THE BROKEN RECORD PROJECT
Silly name for a band really but that's what we called ourselves. We completed our first album at my studio in Tottenham just before the riots broke out. I remember heading to the studio the next day. There was a burnt out police car just outside the studio entrance, a lot of the buildings we all knew well in the area had been burned to the ground. It was a very depressing scene. I went into the bar I was renting the studio from, ordered myself a whiskey and joined the very few patrons supping their drawn out pints staring through the windows at the new abyss. My time at 'Tottenham Chances' was the best and worst of times. We had a community, we had the studio, the band had a bar to perform in and before long it all fell apart - the band, then the studio, then the venue itself. I could in the end, by rights called it 'The Broken Record Project'. But just before then the promo idea saw the likes of Paul Weller, Jarvis Cocker, Damien Hirst and even the soon to be Prime Minister Boris Johnson smash my bands record. All were game and the song 'Everything' got played to millions of people on BBC Radio 2. Soon after that I headed off to Europe, left everything behind and busked my way round thecontinent.