2020 was a difficult year for everyone, particularly musicians and creatives. My last live gig before the pandemic hit was on 12th March, and like everyone else I struggled to stay afloat for the rest of the year. Fortunately I was able to continue teaching online via Zoom, and I did more recording than ever, both remotely and in studios when restrictions were briefly eased. Here are a few highlights from the projects I was able to get involved with in 2020.
When lockdown began I was unable to access my usual studio and rehearsal spaces, and eventually resorted to setting up my drums and recording gear at home in my tiny flat. As well as working on a series of Corona Collab videos (https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=PLF-CthqlVBKVVs9VUlByko_mV_4X0T2dX&v=VLkQQRk3hhw), I got called to track for a few different artists. One of these was Lydia Evangeline, whose producer Matt Fury asked me to play on the song ‘Strange’. I was really happy to be involved with this one – Lydia’s songwriting is great, and musically it was right up my alley: the reference was even Phoebe Bridgers, one of my favourites. The song was released in July, receiving international radio play and almost 100K streams – not bad for drums recorded in a living room!
In September I was fortunate enough to play on an album for Samuel Nicholson, another great singer/songwriter whose previous work I love. We recorded it at 123 Studios in Peckham, a lovely spot with some amazing gear, and tracked nine songs live as a band over two days. This was pretty intense, but fun, and I’m really happy with how they all turned out. I used the studio’s 1966 Ludwig Super Classic with my 1954 Leedy & Ludwig snare for the entire record, just tweaking tuning, dampening and changing cymbals on each song. Here are a few clips from the sessions:
I’ve been part of the worship team at Vineyard for several years now, usually playing on Sundays to a congregation of hundreds, but during lockdown we were forced to start recording acoustic sets remotely. I produced several of these at home with my wife, but in the summer we moved to doing socially-distanced full-band sets at The Factory studios in Harpenden. These were all recorded and filmed by Eduardo and Leidy Vieira, both of whom are super talented and generous with their time and gifts. It’s been a pleasure not only to serve our local church but to play regularly with great musicians and friends in the absence of gigs. Below is a recent set with Samuel Lane.
Towards the end of the year I also started working out of The Factory for my remote sessions. It’s a killer room and I think I’m getting my best sounds yet – I’m really grateful to Eduardo and the rest of the team for letting me use the space. My first project there was an EP for Miles Horn, who I originally played with back in 2013. It was great to catch up with Miles and work with him again on some new tunes, and I’m really looking forward to hearing the finished record.
Here’s a quick video showcasing some of the sounds from The Factory, going from completely raw to mixed then adding some overdubs. Get in touch if you need drums or percussion on your music!
I’m so grateful to everyone who hired me or made music with me in 2020; it’s always appreciated but now so more than ever. Hopefully 2021 will bring better and brighter times all round.