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Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Long Distance Journeys


Long Distance Journeys 

Vocals and words: Charlotte Francis 
Bass guitar, keys, loops and piano: Richard Westwood
Produced by: Mark Sturgess and Lost Winter
Art: Crow Versus Crow

Thank you

Monday, 24 August 2015

Vanishing Light



Vanishing Light 
Long Distance Journeys: track 8

Vocals and words: Charlotte Francis 
Bass guitar, keys, loops and piano: Richard Westwood

Vanishing Light started out as an extended jam I recorded in December '14. I really loved this slightly odd piano composition but I couldn't recreate the feel of the original demo on subsequent home recordings. So I began to manipulate the midi file, adding notes and editing the structure of the track. I think the music works pretty well but there are places where the edits are more obvious than others! Thankfully, Charlotte must have liked the results as she sent through a stunning demo and the idea for the instrumental break in the middle of the song.
Vanishing light was always going to open Long Distance Journeys until I heard the studio version of Song of Love. I knew then that Vanishing Light would work better as the final track on our album. The sound of Charlotte's voice fading in to the distance seemed a fitting way to end the record.
RW
16/07/2015 & 24/08/2015

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Is Anything Free?



Is Anything Free?
Long Distance Journeys: track 7

Vocals and words: Charlotte Francis
Piano and string arrangement: Richard Westwood

I usually work on existing tracks when new ideas aren't happening. This is more laborious and less exciting than writing new material but it can be really rewarding. There are times when this doesn't bare fruit (E.g. you discover the idea you had was rubbish after all) so I'll try write a song on a different instrument and hope for the best!

One Saturday morning I was having breakfast with my kids whilst jamming on a cheap bass guitar I'd ordered on the internet with back pay from work. Maybe there was something in my coffee because within minutes I had the basic outline for Is Anything Free?! From there it was a matter of translating the music to piano and recording the demo on my laptop. 

Charlotte sent me her version of Is Anything Free? around April or May 2015 and her lyrics and melody were amazing! As I've hinted at in earlier posts, Charlotte had now hit a grove and her demos were turning to gold. Looking back, this was the most productive and thrilling time in our band's brief history, no doubt.  

It's here that I need to thank my old friend Mark Sturgress for pushing us to make Is Anything Free? as good as it possible could be. With hindsight, I'd originally written a lazy string arrangement that wasn't up to scratch (it did sound good at home though!). After jamming on the song we recorded the midi strings late one Monday evening and I knew from the results that we had our song. We're really proud of Is Anything Free? and the intro still stands as one of my fave moments on Long Distance Journeys. 

RW
16/06/2016 & 15/08/2015

Monday, 10 August 2015

Hold On


Hold on
Long Distance Journeys: track 6
Vocals and words: Charlotte Francis
Piano: Richard Westwood 
String arrangement: Richard Westwood and Mark Sturgess
As well as Nick Cave, I'd spent the previous summer listening to Gruff Rhys' amazing American Interior LP (as well as watching the film, reading the book and downloading the app. In fact, the only thing I missed out on was the T-shirt!!). Rhys' uplifting melodies inspired Lost Winter to write a song that would show a different side of our music. In the past we've written mainly Electronic songs; however, Hold On is pure Indie-Pop. I hope Hold On adds a light hearted voice to the stripped back emotional intensity of Long Distance Journeys.  
Although Hold On was one of the last demos we completed for Long Distance Journeys it was recorded on the first day of the recording sessions with Mark Sturgess at Soundstation in Wakefield. By the late afternoon, Charlotte had already recorded an incredible five vocal tracks (and backing vocals) and this was the last song scheduled for the day. We were all feeling a little tired, especially Charlotte, but she negotiated the song's tricky chord changes and key change to track a flawless vocal. I'm also happy to say that Hold On is my wife's favourite song from Long Distance Journeys. 

RW
19/06/2015 & 28/07/2015

Monday, 27 July 2015

Walking Mind





Walking Mind
Long Distance Journeys: track 5

Vocals & words: Charlotte Francis

Piano and string arrangement: Richard Westwood


Walking Mind was the fifth of fourteen demos we wrote for Long Distance Journeys. It was written after endless hours of listening to the vinyl reissues of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds' back catalogue, particulary The Boatman's Call and No More Shall We Part. Nick Cave is an underrated pianist, I love his economical style of playing and his beautiful melodies (check out Your Funeral My Trial). Throughout the process of writing Long Distance Journeys I've tried to learn all I can from Cave. Musically, I suppose Walking Mind is my attempt to write a 'Boatman's Call' song, I've probably failed in that respect, but Walking Mind is one of our favourite tracks on the album.

Around February or March I sent Charlotte the demo for what became known as Walking Mind (I love the title-nice one, Charlotte!) but the song was structured as an instrumental (which is how I write music.) After almost losing patience with the track, Charlotte suggest a few minor adjustments that gave her melodies and lyrics the space they needed. I remember being stunned when I heard her demo, there was a new depth and confidence to her lyrics- inspiration from her pregnancy, no doubt. I never asked Charlotte about the meaning of Walking Mind, but I'm sure we can all take some comfort from her beautiful words. 


RW

14/06/2015 & 25/07/2015.

P.s. Thank you David and the team at Under The Radar for supporting our record and this track, Walking Mind. We have fond memories of writing this album and hearing the songs on the radio really does make this a special time in our lives. 

Listen to Under The Radar 26/07/2015

Monday, 20 July 2015

You Are The One





You Are The One
Long Distance Journeys: track 4
Vocals & lyrics: Charlotte Francis
Bass, keys, piano and string arrangement: Richard Westwood 


This was the first song we wrote for Long Distance Journeys. At heart, its a very simple four-chord track with slight variations in style between verse and chorus. Charlotte wrote a lovely melody and I was confident the song was ready for the studio. When we started recording You Are The One it was clear that this track was going to be more stubborn than I ever imagined! 


After a couple of takes things weren't really going to plan and I began to get a little anxious about whether the song would work out or not. So we edited the structure of the music and vocals, chopping out the second half of verse two and sections of the chorus. Later we added a simple string track, bass guitar, organ and percussion and the song really came alive. Not only did we have a blast deconstructing and reconstucting You Are The One but we also created a song we are all proud of. 


RW 

15/06/2015 & 16/07/2015

P.s. We'd like to send a huge thank you to David at Under The Radar for playing this track and supporting our band. We are huge fans of his show and it is always an honour to be considered for the playlist. 

Listen to Under The Radar 19/07/2015

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Memories



Memories 
Long Distance Journeys: track 3
Vocals & lyrics: Charlotte Francis
Piano: Richard Westwood


Some songs belong to a specific time or event, emotion or person, while others seem to quietly drift in to a band's life. For myself, Memories was the latter. I can't remember much about writing Memories (the irony!) or hearing Charlotte's demos- probable because the song came together really quickly with little fuss or bother; but I can remember the time we spent recording Memories in the studio.


We'd finished tracking the vocals and Charlotte came up with a haunting melody that sounded like Kate Bush singing with The Unthanks. One of us suggested that this vocal would sound amazing if it echoed over the crashing piano chords of the middle eighth. After a few minutes of studio trickery I knew we had our song.


Charlotte and Mark transformed Memories from a ballad I was really proud of in to a genuinely haunting track I absolutely love- they really are awesome people to work with.


RW


12/07/2015