I’ve recorded the EP! FINALLY!
My seven piece band and I spent the 16th and 17th of April in Satellite Studios, Enfield, securing our months of hard work into a fixed project that we can share with the world. I feel so proud, and so excited.
After going to an Orii Jam in Hackney Wick in September 2021, I performed for the first time in front of a crowd. I’d gone to that jam with my friend Jack and his friend Harry. A few weeks after, us three met up at Satellite Studios for a little jam session. The boys improvised beautifully (as always) and I read through my phone’s notes putting poetry to the music, finding flow and synergy with them both. I voice recorded most of the things we did and, in the days that followed, kept listening to them over. We sounded really good together. My friend Alfie and I had been discussing doing a music project for a few months at that point. Bonds connected and sparks fizzed, as I put one and one together. This was the band I’d wanted to form for years. Jack was on guitar, Harry was on drums, and Alfie was on keys.
I spoke to them all and they were up for it. We had our first rehearsal as a group a few weeks after that and it went great! We focused on the song I performed that very first Orii Jam: Ode To My People. From this we eventually sculpted our five track EP that we’ve just recorded. We now have our two friends Bailey and Fay as backing vocals, and Jack’s sister Megan as our bassist. I couldn’t be happier, or feel more love. In this newsletter I want to explain the songs on the EP and also the recording process. We’re not totally sure of the date it’ll be released just yet, but it’s on its way. So are we.
We wanted to record the project at Satellite as that is where we always rehearse (we tried a Pirate Studio before and it didn’t half have the heart Satellite does. Nor the equipment!). Satellite offer a studio and due to our comfort there, and satisfaction of the EP being written, rehearsed and then recorded all at the same place, we booked our slot without much deliberation. It was a Saturday and Sunday – a weekend so everyone was free.
On the first day we focused on instruments. We recorded as a full band, opposed to soloing each player and putting their audios together after. I was a vocal guide for the boys so I performed along with them but my audio from this portion of the session wasn’t used (thankfully). It was just so they knew all the cues and bits that’s relied on following the vocals, because some of the verses are irregular due to it being poems converted into songs. I never wanted to lose the integrity of what I had written, and neither did the boys.
It was quite freaky. It’s intimidating to perform so ‘all eyes on you’. But after the first couple takes, we all relaxed. Our producer Jake Sanders who works at Satellite really relaxed us all. The vibe was not uptight or heavy. It was free, light and creative. We all slipped into the groove in no time. After doing the main instruments for the tracks, Alfie went back in to overlay different keyboard sounds and flourishes, and Jack, our saviour, put the bass in. We didn’t have a bassist since our creation, but after the recording process Megan came to our rescue!
We started recording at around 10AM, and wrapped up around 7PM-ish. It was a long day, but we got everything done! The boys did a fantastic job on all the tracks and we were all buzzing. Saturday called for an early night and a freshness for Sunday’s vocals (which half happened – it’s hard to not get a bit jolly when all’s so exciting and it’s bluddy Saturdee night!).
Myself, Alfie and our backing vocalist Bailey of course missed our stop on the Overground Sunday morning so we ended up in Hackney Wick (where this all started funnily enough) so we had to get an Uber to Satellite. We met Jake and the boys and our other backing vocalist Fay there. We caught up a bit, had a giggle, set up and prepared, and got started.
We began with the fourth track on the EP – Time For Me. This piece is about having to separate yourself from the hedonistic lifestyle that comes with being in a friendship group that loves to party. It describes the evolution of having to get away from it all, friends included, old-self included, in order to reintroduce yourself to yourself and get away from destruction when things turn sour. It describes behaviours that become regular when you’re living like a raggamuffin and how you start to want to get away but don’t know how, through an eery, dark and melancholic musical journey. Then it pivots there-quarters through, shifting in the musical and vocal tone to a more relaxed and happy sound, as the lyrics describe it all working out due to getting the ‘Time For Me’. It took a good three, four or five takes to nail my vocals as the first one is always the toughest. We had to rerecord some parts due to them not being perfect (ho-ho) but eventually, after perhaps half an hour, we got it all down and were chuffed with the product. Then the backing vocalists did their funky thing. It took a while to sort these out. We didn’t really have anything written for them so we did throw them in the deep end head first. We got the bits we wanted down eventually, but spirits and confidence were a bit low. We all ordered food and had a sit down and a break. An hour and a half passed and I started getting stressed that we were wasting time (very on brand for me). I was getting a bit wound up due to my anxiety.
We planned for me to do a song, then the backing vocalists, then move onto the next. But instead I proposed that I do all of my vocals, then the backing vocalists did theirs. This would ensure we got most of it down in time. The next song we did is the third on the record – Unconditional. This is a piece about someone who broke my bloody heart. After discovering her love as falsified and her words as corrupt, I wrote this poem to pour out the chaos within myself at the time we departed journeys. To turn something that hurt me so much into one of my favourite poems I’ve ever written, and now my favourite tune on the EP, proves to me again how powerful art is when it comes to turning negative emotion and experience into positive and proud work. This piece has a bluesy inspiration with a wicked slow and emotional bridge. After having done Time For Me, I knew my dreams of a ‘one take wonder’ were a bit hopeful. But I got up to the mic with passion and fire to pour.
To be a vocalist is also to be an actress. I can always tell in a tune if someone is just reading the lyrics or just not feeling the emotion they need to convey. I wanted to put all my heart into this EP, so I knew these songs had to be performed with a likkle drama. I really heard the words when I performed it; I really felt all those things little me was writing about when she did this poem. I flowed through the whole performance, changing my voice to reflect different things expressed, moving my body to rinse out all feeling, closing and opening my eyes to block out the world then reintroduce it. I did the thing in one take. At the end, I opened my eyes, looked around the room. Everyone was gassed. I was shaking like a shitting dog. I had no idea it would drain me in such a magical way. We went into the booth Jake sat in as he recorded, and Harry, bless his heart, gave me a hug and a compliment. We sat and listened to the take and knew it was the one. I felt reborn. It was something that transcends words. I finally got how artists and performers felt when they nail it. When they give their all and it pays off. I knew I wasn’t going to be held back ever after that. If someone hurts you, as this female did me, make something out of it. It don’t need to be shared or performed. It can even be burnt after you do it. But get it out of you. One day you’ll not even think about them. You’ll be free, which is what I wish for myself in the final lines of the song. I am.
We then moved onto track two – Pigeons Have Teeth. This was named due to my dear friend Harmonie (who came to the first day of recording!) and I’s love of a photoshopped picture of a pigeon with influencer-veneers. The song is about my move to London at sixteen and all the stuff I got up to, and how it made me. It’s a fun, upbeat, hip-hop tune with a silliness and a happiness that is evident. I knew this one would take me the most time to get right. We managed to get it down in, I’d guess, about an hour. I was really happy with the chosen takes, albeit it needing the most done.
Up next was the title piece and final song – Ode To My People. It is a floaty, joyous piece with no traditional song structure. I perform the poem start to finish throughout and recount happy memories with my people. It really is a beautiful piece. The music hits the vibe and rhythm perfectly, and it’s the one that always makes me tear up! I did around three, four or five takes. After the fourth I said ‘NO. I NEED TO DO IT AGAIN. DON’T LIKE THIS ONE.’, even though the boys thought it was the one. So I went back into the booth and did another take, only to hate it and, after re-listening to the boys’ choice, realised they were bloody right, you know. As it doesn’t really change pace or sound until the end, I knew I had to add some vocal spice to this one. I was actually inspired by something Alfie showed me a few months back. It was an Arctic Monkeys tune and he loved how Alex Turner changed his voice at certain parts to keep it exciting. This is something I thought about a lot when recording the EP. In Ode To My People I really wanted to implement that variation, whilst also bringing personality to the track. I feel we achieved this.
Due to my pride of being a poet first and fore mostly, I wanted to include an A Capella track. I wanted one song to just be me, performing a poem. I want to do this on all the albums we release in the future – to have one track representing the roots. The first song, or poem, on the EP is The Brain’s Strangeness. It’s a piece about forgetting things, which happens to me a lot, then suddenly remembering them and the nostalgia hitting you in the gut on a random day. I didn’t want to forget stuff. But with my past alcohol consumption, low blood sugar attacks and depression, it seemed I blocked a lot out. Then in sobriety stuff started coming back, and in discussion with friends loads of hidden memories got unburied. This poem is about the joy of remembering the good times, and even the bad. This, Ode To My People and Unconditional are the only tracks that, on the record, are performed from start to finish with no stops or redone bits. I love this piece because it shows that poetry doesn’t need to be Victorian. It can be interesting and passionate. Kae Tempest’s ‘Your Sister Thinks I Love You’ was a big inspiration to include this.
Once all my vocals were cemented, the backing vocalists came in to complete their parts. They perform on Pigeons Have Teeth, Time For Me and Ode To My People. They really boost the feeling of community and the soul needed that my rapping can’t contribute. I love their additions because it makes it feel more complete and full. Once they got their stuff down, we packed up and said our goodbyes. I was fucking knackered. I never expected being in the studio to deplete your energy so much! But my heart was full. In the cab home with Bailey and Alfie, Bailey put his hand out and said ‘this feels so right, us three right now. Best friends. There’s no place I’d rather be.’ And we all held hands for a moment. To me it represented the love, comfort and joy your people can give you like no other. That’s what this EP celebrates. Finding yourself because you found them.
The concept for the EP gets a bit lost in his newsletter as I could’t explain the songs in chronological order. The first track represents forgetting things and then remembering them, asking your people to not lose you or their memories either. The second track represents all the things that started your crazy journey together. The third track represents the break-up of those friendships; the falling apart of it all. The fourth tracks represents finding yourself again after time away, then coming back to those same people and seeing they’ve changed too, making you better friends than you were before. The fifth and final track is a joyous reminiscing of it all, wishing your people success and happiness, because you’ve found yours. That is why the EP is titled ODE TO MY PEOPLE. Because that’s exactly what it is.
I’ve played the not-so-ready recordings to a few people now and they’ve all cried (myself included)! It feels amazing to be able to finally share it, and for people to respond by feeling it so much. I can’t wait until it’s officially out and you can all listen to it.
I was in the car with my mum recently. We were discussing the EP. I said that the thirteen year old me, who was writing but hated herself so much she didn’t even see living to twenty one as a possibility, would never guess she would amount to this. That she would do this. That she would do all she’s done, and all she’s going to do. It really is about holding on. About waiting. If I could tell her all I know now, she’d probably tell me to eat shit and shut up, cos I don’t know nuffinnnnnnng. But that’s okay. She needed to go through all she did in order to do what she does and be what she is now. I’m proud.
We’re already working on the next record – a single that we’ve been loosely practicing at rehearsals for the last few months. This one is more personal. We had rehearsal with Megan a few weeks ago (her initiation!) and wrote the music with her. It was lush to start the writing process again, and lusher to do it with her there, being part of it.
Soon you’ll be able to put audio to this writing and see what I’m bluddy on about. Love!
WIAEA (What I Am Excited About):
Song: Sunsets by Neyya – this is my mate’s mate and I had the honour to go to Neyya’s release gig for this single in Notting Hill. She was amazing, with gorgeous stage presence! This song is really lovely. The lyrics are soft, effective and emotional. I really love her cleverness with the chorus ‘I fall for sunsets / but sunsets don’t stay the night / I fall for sunsets / but will you stay with me’ and the grace she sings it with. At the gig she explained how she moved to London to chase this dream and I think she’s catching it.
Book: A Little History of Poetry by John Carey – I found this book in a Waterstones in Portsmouth and got really excited about it. To learn the history of this art form that I adore really appealed. It is full of history but also personality and humour. I love the way Carey has written this. And I love getting educated in a deep, rich yet simple and accessible way. It covers all different ages, times and histories. I really recommend this if you like poetry.