🚀 Part 2: Rocket Science 🎧

KELLY SNOOK AND IT’S NOT ROCKET SCIENCE STUDIOS

After several months of singing with Diane at open-mics and devotional gatherings in New York, a songwriter friend of mine, Hillary Chapman, came over to me one night at The Cornerstone and recommended that I get in touch with a great sound engineer he knew down in Washington, DC. Hillary gave me a phone number and within a week I was on a bus to DC for my first session with Kelly Snook at It’s Not Rocket Science Studios.

At that time, Kelly was, in fact, an astrophysicist working in the upper echelons of NASA and specializing in Mars research. But it was clear from the first time I met her that Kelly’s true calling was music. While working at NASA, she was simultaneously building a recording studio and developing her skills as a music producer by recording local artists in DC.

Our very first recording session began with a democratic spirit that was, in hindsight, surprisingly automatic, and which would characterize the way we worked together from then on. Every decision – musical, technical, logistical – was talked through with mutual consideration for each other’s ideas. This kind of artist-producer dialogue was exciting in that it created an openness to new possibilities and led to artistic decisions that perhaps neither of us would have arrived at alone.

That day, we only spoke briefly about the subject of devotional songs. Setting the Bahá’í Writings to music was still a new area for me and I had a bunch of other “proper” songs that I thought I should record first. I played a few of them for Kelly and we settled on one called A Few Honest Words.

The way Kelly transformed my little acoustic ditty completely blew my mind. The following day, I went back to New York with what seemed like a totally different song to the one I had sung the day before. Kelly had been developing her own methods of music production, using her skills in both science and music to create layers upon layers of sounds that weave in and out of each other and surround the listener from every direction.

That first session in 2007 was the beginning of a 10-year intercontinental collaboration which has brought me and Kelly back and forth across the Atlantic too many times to count, and which has slowly led to the making of Year of the Nightingale.

kellyBeing the album’s producer, sound engineer, arranger and my main musical collaborator, Year of the Nightingale would not exist without the spirit and skill of the good Dr. Kelly Snook.

To hear an example of Kelly’s production, here is the recording of A Few Honest Words from that first session at It’s Not Rocket Science Studios: A Few Honest Words, produced by Kelly Snook

 

The Story of YOTN

🏙 PART 1: DIANE BADIE AND NEW YORK CITY 🌇

On the last day of January 2006, I moved to New York. I had no concrete plan of what I was going to do in America but I arrived at JFK with my guitar and a conviction that I would somehow find musicians to collaborate with.

New York City welcomed me into her arms the way only New York City can – within three months of my arrival, I had caught pneumonia and food poisoning, and had been held up at gunpoint outside my Brooklyn apartment. But during those same three months, I also met Diane Badie, who was to have a quietly profound influence on my musical direction for many years to come.

I first met Diane at The Cornerstone, a weekly open-mic held at the New York City Bahá’í Centre and hosted by the ever-encouraging Nasan Fitzhenley, who had a knack for making every songwriter, poet, and local-crazy-who-wandered-in-off-the-street feel good about what they had to offer (even when everyone else in the room didn’t). Diane was a regular contributor at The Cornerstone, singing her favourite songs across multiple genres and reciting her original poems to the delight of an expanding group of participants.

The Cornerstone became the centre around which I built my whole routine in New York and after a few weeks of sharing my songs there, Diane suggested singing something together. It was clear that our voices blended well and we soon found ourselves singing together regularly around the New York open-mic scene.

Around that time I was making my first attempts at setting the Bahá’í Writings to music but it was something I considered as no more than a personal hobby, an ‘exercise in songwriting’ to be done on the side (surely, it wasn’t ‘serious’ music, was it?). But Diane had grown up singing the Bahá’í Writings. Far from being a mere exercise, for her it was natural and rewarding to make melodies for the words and she encouraged me to do more of it. So I chose a few prayers and started making songs with them. Create in Me a Pure Heart arrived one day not long after the mugging. Sorrow Not and The Light of Unity came too. But more and more, I found that the majority of songs were emerging as duets – with Diane’s voice in mind.

Diane was hosting a regular Sunday morning devotional gathering at the Bahá’í Centre and she invited me to come along and sing some of the new songs there. It was largely through singing with Diane at her Sunday devotional that I realized I wanted to spend more time making songs with the Bahá’í Writings.

Every album begins with the songs and the songs on Year of the Nightingale began with Diane. Were it not for her gentle encouragement to continue setting the Writings to music and her unconditional willingness to listen attentively every time I had a new melody and help me work out the harmonies without the slightest complaint, I might never have placed so much focus on singing the Bahá’í Writings.

11 years later and almost every song on Year of the Nightingale features Diane’s soulful voice. It feels like a special gift to have finally recorded the songs we used to sing together on Sunday mornings at the New York City Bahá’í Centre.

To hear Diane’s beautiful vocals, check out Lesser Pieces, her new project with my brother Mike. They have an amazing album in the works and you can hear their first two singles on YouTube: youtu.be/PtXDeDAeu9w and Soundcloud: soundcloud.com/lesser-pieces/you-and-i-no-emergency

diane

🎉 Album Release Announcement 🎉

Dear friends,

Below is a special Video Announcement about the upcoming release of Year of the Nightingale. Please share the video, spread the word and join the Facebook Event for the Album Release.

Facebook Event: Year of the Nightingale – Album Release

I can’t wait for you to hear the new songs!

Luke x

🎉 A special announcement about the release of Year of the Nightingale 🎉

Shirin Sahba’s Painting

Dear friends,

I’m thrilled to share with you Shirin Sahba‘s stunning new painting, specially commissioned for the cover of Year of the Nightingale.

When Shirin agreed to paint the album cover, I knew the artwork was in good hands. Midway through recording, I sent her a handful of half-finished songs to listen to and left her to it. When she sent me this a few months later, my jaw hit the floor. The painting is now with designer Jamie Hanrahan, being set out for the album cover.

Thank you Shirin! (click the painting to see the full-size image!)

To see more of Shirin’s work check out her blog limonana.blogspot.co.uk

Shirin Sahba’s new painting, commissioned for the cover of Year of the Nightingale (click to see the full-size image)

 

 

Year of the Nightingale [Coming Soon]

Dear friends,

Happy 2017!

The recording of my new album Year of the Nightingale is on schedule and set for release in the springtime – I can’t wait to share it with you!

While working on the album, I’ve been writing a series of updates about the recording process for all my Kickstarter supporters. Rather than keeping these updates exclusive to Kickstarter, I wanted to share them here on my blog, in case they are a useful resource for any music-makers interested in learning about recording. Here are the links:

The Recording Process, Part 1: Consulting on Songs

The Recording Process, Part 2: Tracking

The Recording Process, Part 3: Editing

The Recording Process, Part 4: Mixing

The Recording Process, Part 5: Mastering

On another note… 

Several guitarists among you have asked me for the guitar tablature of the Arabic song I learnt while in the Middle East last summer. During the holidays, I had some time to type it up for you. Here it is for you to download via Dropbox and GoogleDrive. I hope you enjoy playing it!

Sobhanaka Guitar Tab (Dropbox link)

Sobhanaka Guitar Tab (GoogleDrive link) 

My best wishes to all of you for a brilliant 2017,
Luke

sobhanaka

AlzTalks, Monday 17 October

Dear Friends,

This Monday 17 October I’ll be playing at a special event at The Sugar Club in Dublin called AlzTalks – an evening of music and talks aimed at creating a better understanding of Alzheimers/dementia.

Hosted by the Alzheimers Society of Ireland and based on the TedTalks concept, AlzTalks will be a unique opportunity to learn directly from people living with dementia and their carers as they speak about their lives and experiences with this challenging condition.

The evening will include live music from Brian Deady, Claire Z and myself. So if you’re in Dublin this Monday, do come along to The Sugar Club and help the Alzheimers Society ‘bring dementia out of the shadows’.

Tickets and details are available here.

Thanks, as always, for your support,

Luke x

lukeslott.com / facebook.com/lukeslott

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36 Hours

www.lukeslottkickstarter.com

Dear Friends,

Just 36 hours remain until our Kickstarter Campaign ends tomorrow night at midnight London Time!

The Special ‘Twin Album‘ goal is in sight. During these final hours we have a chance to reach that goal which will enable us to produce an entire SECOND album of songs based on the Bahá’í Writings, in addition to Year Of The Nightingale.

I have already composed enough songs for two albums – the only obstacle in recording and releasing them is funding.

Many of you have been helping to spread the word about this project, and that is truly the best way to support it! So if you have friends who might be interested in helping us to reach the Twin Album Goal during these final 36 hours, I would deeply appreciate it if you could share the link with them –

www.lukeslottkickstarter.com 

It would be a true honour to contribute Twin Albums to the celebration of these Twin Anniversaries.

With my deepest thanks,
Luke x

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