interviews

The Aftershow: BBC 6 Music & Music Week Awards presenter Lauren Laverne

Being a radio DJ is so rewarding because...

“In a strange way it’s a contrast: you have the music side of it, which is really exciting and wonderful, then you have this incredibly personal and intimate connection with people. I ...

Hitmakers: Dave Stewart reveals the secrets behind Eurythmics' There Must Be An Angel

This was No.1 in Britain and it’s a pretty bonkers story. Annie [Lennox] said, ‘Oh, I’ve written this thing on piano and it would be great for Stevie Wonder’. She played it and we both went, ‘Blimey, yeah it would!’ I said, ‘How about we make our own version?’ At that point, it was just a piano part and Annie’s voice, but it was immediately really memorable. We used the eight-track tape recorder that we made Sweet Dreams on. We took the gear to Paris and hired a tiny room the size of a small kitchen inside what can only be described as a youth club, where kids went to drink coffee and hang out. It was £10 a week. I called [engineer] Adam Williams who had helped us on Sweet Dreams and said, ‘Why don’t you come to Paris?’ and he did. The place was in the suburbs near the Russian quarter, which we liked because you could drink really rough vodka. The kids there didn’t actually believe we were making a record. They thought we were these weird people until The Old Grey Whistle Test arrived with their film crew and Elvis Costello turned up to visit us. It was a very difficult song to put into a pop context. It’s about finding the beat and making it make sense. So we set about programming it with little sequencers and synthesiser drums. It was tricky, but once we got the drum pattern it sparked alive. We got a singer from the Paris Opera to sing this cascading note and hired a harp player too. Then we had this weird skeleton of the song, but we needed the gospel-ly build-up and backing vocals. We were trying to cram it all onto an eight-track. Annie is fantastic at tracking harmonies and making herself sound like a gospel choir, so we spent a while doing that and we ended up with the whole thing sounding great. Then I said, ‘Why don’t we get Stevie Wonder to play harmonica on it?’ I managed to get a cassette to him via various people and we got a message saying, ‘Stevie loves it and he wants to play on it.’ Fucking hell! We went to a studio in Santa Monica and we were dead excited. We waited all afternoon, until about 1 o’clock in the morning, and he never showed up. Another dream shattered! We went back to the Sunset Marquis Hotel and, as soon as we walked in, the receptionist said they’d just had a phone call from the studio saying Stevie Wonder had turned up. So we quickly got a cab back. Stevie had his braids tied into a bag so they wouldn’t rattle. I pressed record and he played the exact solo you hear on the record, first take. We were gobsmacked, we were cheering. I was worried whether it was definitely there so, stupidly, I asked him to do one more take for luck. He said yes, but when it got to his part, he played an Irish jig, because he knew the first one was absolutely it! We fell about laughing. We sat there talking until three or four in the morning. He was telling us all sorts. At one point, he said to me that he could actually drive, even though he was blind. So we went into the car park and he drove me around. I was thinking, ‘This is strange,’ while looking for lamp posts and things. It was one of those great evenings. The whole experience of making the song was a mindblowing trip from beginning to end.

Local heroes: Execs welcome PPL-PRS to Leicester

PPL-PRS is the biggest music business to be located outside London. Execs and locals hail its arrival in Leicester… “Leicester is a great city and they’ve welcomed us with open arms. Being a cultural city it’s a really good fit for the industry. We’re trying to get to know the local community and to make sure we really integrate ourselves into the business community.” Suzanne Smith, MD, PPL-PRS“It’s fantastically important that PPL-PRS is based in Leicester. Because I’ve discovered, being based in Liverpool, that there is another industry outside of London. It’s like being on a roundabout and it’s only when you get off it that you say, ‘Why didn’t I get off that earlier?’ So Leicester is a fabulous choice because it does show that, as we move to a more inclusive Britain, the various areas have a role to play. We keep going on about the ‘northern powerhouse’ but when you look at places like Liverpool and Manchester, there is so much talent there. Leicester is an incredibly diverse community, but no one makes a big issue of it. And a large chunk of the staff here are songwriters, musicians or in bands. Isn’t that fantastic? When they phone up and talk about the licence, they know in their hearts as musicians and songwriters how incredibly important that money is to the community. It keeps the ecosystem of the music industry really healthy.” Steve Levine, producer“I’m absolutely over the moon they chose here. It’s a fabulous thing for Leicester. Leicester had a bit of an inferiority complex, it wasn’t quite sure it could attract businesses so to bring in a business such as the new venture is phenomenal because it really underlines what the city has to offer. Leicester has a vibrant music scene but you’ve got to go behind closed doors to find it. That music scene really recognised the value of having a company like this here.” Helen Donnellan, previously inward investment director for Leicester Council, now director of business engagement with De Montfort University“Having such an exciting business joining us here in Leicester is a very welcome addition, and the passion and atmosphere felt at the launch event [on April 11] can only add to the vibrancy felt throughout Leicester at the moment.”Jonathan Gregory, commercial director, Leicester City Football Club“Proud to have you in our hometown. Thanks for everything you do to help artists. Love Sergio, Tom and Chris.”Kasabian

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