My 2014 In Words and Music (with links!)


It was a very productive year for me in and out of work with the highlight being the news I’m to become a Father of twins around April 2015.

Work wise there were several highlights throughout the year but here’s a recap month by month of what I was fortunate enough to be involved in. I’ve not actually written every single thing I did so please don’t be offended if you worked with me and your details are not listed.

I soft launched my online mixing service, which I hope to expand on more in 2015. Despite not promoting the service I received enough work to test it out including Raleigh Richie’s ‘Stronger Than Ever’ live radio broadcast mix (for Game of Thrones fans he’s the one who plays Grey Worm). Another project via the online mixing service was The Fuckwits 2nd full album “Ideology“. A veteran but lively punk band from Sheffield self recorded this album and I had the challenge to mix it and make it a cohesive and engaging listen. The songs stood up for themselves but needed gentle persuasion to enable them to translate to an audience. More can be found about them here.

One thing I do want to do more of in 2015 is collaborate more with artists, bands and other producers to expand my reach and network and really try to work smarter.  Therefore if you’re looking for someone to work with in the coming months please consider me. With luck and hard work this will be my most creative and productive so far.

Just before I begin with the review I just want to say how I feel I’ve progressed this year more than any of the others working in audio. I’ve learnt things that two years ago I didn’t even know existed, and began to understand some of the more esoteric aspects of the field.

Here we go then hope you enjoy the read and if you like listening to new music do check out the clickable links….

January:

Whispering Dolls – Rock n Roll 3 piece made up of a couple of members from the now defunct band Dead Delta. With no Bass Player in sight this was an interesting challenge to get the sound fat enough at the bottom end. To achieve this we worked on adding layers of guitars and compensating with low EQ and sub harmonic effects pedals to fill the void.

The end result of the 3 tracks I recorded and mixed (Quicksand, The Fear and By The Wayside) can be heard on sound cloud via the bands website – here

Sam Taylor – solo Country/Folk artist with heart felt emotive songs that tell stories of love, longing and loss. A gent of a guy to work with and no stranger to 2Fly Studios since he helped build it back in 200? when he was singer/songwriter in Dead Like Harry. This was an album recording of 11 tracks with 10 making it on to the as yet unreleased album. Albums are always busy projects and musicians that came into the studio to record parts included Ed Cosens (Reverend & The Makers), Adam Crofts (The Hosts), Jon Trier (Richard Hawley), Lucy Revis & Chris Brain (Studio Strings), Jody Marie, Joe Hastings, Matt Taylor (Dead Like Harry).

All in all though a thoroughly enjoyable record to make. The mixing was also a pleasure due to Sam’s trust and ability to allow me to experiment before settling on the direction the album mix was to take. The album will be released early 2015. Here’s a link to another project of Sam’s until this is released – here

Public School Battalion – super group consisting of 4 members from Rotary Ten, Fury of the Headteachers, Champion Kickboxer, Smokers Die Younger, Nat Johnson and the Figureheads. Brilliant songs from very creative musicians and I had lots of fun with the mixes making the band sound more electronic. I’d previously worked with James Trafford from Rotary Ten on two albums, which I remember fondly as really got to cut my teeth on them back in 2007 and 2009 (I think).

The link to listen and buy the Dead Tapes EP is here. 

Dead English Gentlemen – 3 piece of two brothers Ryan and Kyle Hall, and Rob Burras. Again no bass player (maybe the rumours about bass players being difficult to work with are true?). We worked on a 6 track EP to be released on new local label *Jammed Together. A rather large sound for a 3 piece, a mix between Frank Zappa and Death Tones. Very energetic and quite technical in parts. The challenge I faced was getting the sound as energetic on a recording as it is live.

Take a listen to the finished work “We Don’t Tell Lies, We Just Keep Secrets” – here.

*Jammed Together is a collective of musicians headed by Ron Adams with the aim of creating interesting music from set sessions that I record and then mix ready for label release.

The Retrospectives – at the time a 3 piece band and now a duo. Sort of like Elvis Costello tinged Indie Rock. I’ve had the pleasure of working with them for past 5 years since they were 15/16 years old.

I believe the track we worked on in January was “Gold And Green” which you can listen to and purchase here.

This was a bit of a departure from their usual style musically speaking but still very well written and performed non the less.

February:

Bonfyres – music collector John Kearney experimenting with creating music using musician Andy Martin as a conduit/producer. A self recorded project brought to the studio to take advantage of higher quality equipment and my mixing skills to create an unusual, experimental musical journey. As yet to be released. It will provide an interesting listen for the more avant-garde listener.

William Barstow – Another ex member of Dead Delta now a solo acoustic artist. Recorded two tracks, voice and guitar on one and for the other I added some keys and percussion.

The two tracks ‘French male and dead’ and ‘New York’ can be heard on a playlist listed here

The Exhibition – post punk/indie 4 piece. Worked on a single release for local label Of National Importance Records. The track “Artery” a dark blend of early 80’s Joy Division-esque melancholy framed with a powerful developing arrangement.

Artery link for a listen – here.

The Payroll Union – in for a day of demos ahead of coming in to record their upcoming album to be recorded later in 2014 and released early 2015. They recorded 11 or so tracks in a day so as a band they could here the parts and arrangements etc.

SSS – Five piece indie band from south Sheffield. I have an ongoing relationship with SSS but I think this is the track recorded and mixed in January – ‘Morning Light’.

They recorded a few tracks throughout the year and can’t quite remember the order in which they were recorded.

Brave New Storm – An interesting alt folk band. I recorded several songs with them but only one has been released so far. “Walden” can be heard here.

March:

The Monday Club – A poppy indie 3 piece (at the time now 4). This was a single release for a local label Tiny Teeth Records run by Ex-Little Man Tate and now solo singer/songwriter Jon Windle. Very catchy tunesmiths these boys gathering a decent following nationally. Here’s “Itchy Feet” the finished track here.

Spits and Strings – Humorous and quick witted hip hop four piece. This session was actually the start of mixing their debut album that was recorded over a few sessions spread over 3 or 4 months throughout 2013. The lead single from the album can be heard here.

Brigantii – An interesting mix of soul and cool vibes. Nice and different for me and would like to do more of this type of thing. This was the tracking session for an EP to be self released later in the year. Link to their band camp is here.

Be The Revolution – bit of an experiment here. Having never worked with main chap Ian Huddleston before even though we’d threatened to work together for years!! So this was an interesting session. The two tracks were quite psychedelic in nature so I was able to go to town along with guitar player Luke Killeen. These two tracks were later included on an EP towards the back end of the year. Listen here.

Danny Maddocks – Solo artist and highly accomplished jazz guitar player. Danny also has a great smooth vocal and creates luscious sounding jazz tinged tunes. Visit his website for a little taster – here.

April:

Volcanoes – In 2013 I did an album with this band. It was a great learning exercise. Time was tight but we got something really good out of it. Not sure if the full album will see the light of day but there were a couple of very well received singles from it. Take a listen here to one of them.

5th Pier – Nottinghamshire 4 piece with catchy poppy indie tunes. Did a few tracking days for 4 tunes for a self released EP. Some of the tunes are on their sound cloud page if you’d care to listen – here.

Frazer – I’ve worked with Frazer a few times now. I started working with them when they were quite young and green but still knew how to write catchy songs. Now though they are really starting to show promise in their song writing. Last thing we did can be heard here.

Southpaw – Very energetic, lyrically clever almost post-punk punk band from Retford I believe. I first worked with them for one day last year and this session was to record another two tracks for them to release a 4 track EP. Limited time again as usual but a decent result. Here’s one outlet for listening pleasure.

The Payroll Union – So this is where we begin album tracking. There’s several sessions for this one. This was a great project to work on. It pushed all my skills to a higher level working on this. Great songs well delivered with passion and conviction. This album will be out sometime during 2015 in the meantime here’s their previous work which is also great.

Tim Ashforth & Brian Ferry – two members of a band called Little Ze that was one of the first full albums I recorded along with Alan Smyth at my home 2fly Studios. This never came out but I often re-visit the files to try to update with new skills etc. But, I digress. Brian (Fez) and Tim now play with Mike Hughes (singer from Little Ze) along with drummer Jon Crofts (also Little Ze) for Mikes self titled solo project. They wanted to do something of their own outside their other commitments and have written some very good bluesy experimental americana type stuff. There’s nothing to hear as yet but hopefully again this will be completed sometime this year and will available to enjoy then.

May:

Matt Willoughby – The tune I actually recorded in this session with Matt will probably not be made available. It was another Tiny Teeth session but more of a development/see what happens thing. It was a really good tune so is a bit of a shame and the drummer used (Richard Hunter) has done many sessions in various bands throughout the year very good and easy to work with. In leu of the actual song here’s a single of Matt’s produced by Will Stocks of the Retrospectives.

Yellow Elevators – I’ve worked with Travis Eaton for many years on various projects he’s undertaken right from the Barnsley based Harringtons but this project is his most accomplished and interesting to work on. Quite psychedelic it allows for some fairly radical effects and production touches that enhance rather than sound gimmicky as in a lot of pop music. Check out their sound cloud page for a listen – here.

Blind Drivers – Rotherham based Blind Drivers fronted by Matt Thompson came in to record a 5 track EP. A bit of a challenge to mix due to the varying nature of each song on the EP but the result is a simple melodic pop/rock thing that works pretty nicely. Listen here.

Redfern – A trio with no web presence that I can see, which is a shame, as they create something poppy and catchy but a little bit different.

Soul Fire Saints – Heavy Alice in Chains-esque rock here. Gathering some interest locally and on the web this was the first of a couple of sessions in 2014 to record an EP which is now available to listen on their website.

Black Thunder Revue – Ballsy blues rock from Sheffield all home grown and gritty. Done several things over the years with them from their previous incarnation as Socrates Johnson which I didn’t realise till after they’d changed their name is a character from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure…! Some stuff is audible here.

Thirty Hearts – Quirky dark indie. Lyrically intriguing and musically interesting Thirty Hearts are well worth a listen. Good guys to work with too some tunes are available here to check out.

June:

Continuations of The Payroll Union album and other sessions with Yellow Elevators and Redfern. Plus another single session with The Retrospectives.

There were however other notable sessions with two of my more successful artists/bands. Hey Sholay recorded a demo for a new tune that would hopefully make it onto their next album. Something I recorded with them in 2013 is here, part of the Cloud, Castle, _ EP (available on lovely warm orange vinyl no less!) and they’re debut album ((o)) and a bunch of other things are obtainable here!

Following that was David J. Roch whom recorded with myself and a producer called Andy Bell (a great folk producer!). On this occasion we were recording a song for the centenary of WWi that can be acquired here. I’ll mention David a little later on regarding his second album.

The Ratells – This was a demo session again for Tiny Teeth Records that I think may have got put on the back burner. These things happen a fair bit for one reason or another. But of what I remember the tune was a strong one. Here’s a link to their website though so you can check out their other tunes.

Another notable session in June was one that I’m not fond of for several reasons but it did show me I have an amount of patience comparable to Mother Teresa! I’m not going to name names here cos I’m not that sort of person. They will know who they are if they were ever to read this (which they probably won’t!!) they would have to agree I did exactly what they asked of me. No links here but I do hope that the amount of effort I expelled on this project was worth while for them.

July:

Gilmore Trail – Full album tracking and mixing in 12 days. A self funded album but one of huge proportions in terms of ambition and arrangements. Clever and sometimes beautiful instrumental rock. I’ve worked with these guys before on their last album in fact but they really upped their game on this project. The album isn’t released till later in 2015 again so keep an ear out. Check out their website for updates etc.

The Monday Club – Another single session with The Monday Club. Again on Tiny Teeth Records this one can be found here.

Feral Mantra – Doncaster/Sheffield band. 80’s tinged Cure-esque dystopian riffing. Catchy tune with an interesting sound. Although a difficult birth this single turned out pretty good. Their sound cloud can be accessed from this here link.

Solanas Sons – This was a mix of two tracks for a single. The tunes were recorded at the Old Pig Farm Studio on the outskirts of rural Sheffield and released through their label MothBox Records Lead track “Rollin Around” and b-side “Pick Me Up” were mixed at my home set up. “Rollin Around” is gathering the band a good reputation and hope to hear more from this band and hopefully mix them again – listen

The rest of July was made up of mainly mix days and alterations etc for material recorded over the last couple of months.

August:

Notable sessions this month were another SSS single, a Redfern session to complete their EP (even though I can’t find it!!)

Dave Woodcock & The Dead Comedians – Album tracking in 3 days!! Yes that’s correct an entire album recorded in 3 days. We did over run ever so slightly but still quite an accomplishment for the time allocated. This comes out fairly soon I reckon as they’ve released the first single which was mixed by their guitar player and super photographer Chris Saunders. Have a listen here – track

This month also sees me undertake mixing for The Payroll Union album. Mixed from my home studio in-between other work there was a lot of vocal compiling and things to be done before the mix could begin so more interesting stories from this session a bit later.

A few more mix alterations for Gilmore Trail, Feral Mantra and another single from the mighty Retrospectives – this catchy tune this time here

September:

Reverend & The Makers – Album tracking and production. Very pleased to be asked to take the helm for their 5th album. I was associated with this band from their conception so to come full circle was quite fitting. This album contains some very big expansive moments that were truly great to be a part of. Utilising a whole host of Sheffield (and beyond) talent this in my humble opinion is their most accomplished album to date. This took most of September to piece together and then the band went off to Jamaica to mix with long time collaborator Youth. Hopefully the results will cement their position as a forward thinking bunch of contemporary pop stars! 😉 website

The Shrines – A brand new band made up of members from various other Sheffield bands some of which I’d worked with in the past and some not. A fresh sound but with history well delivered and the audience reaction is good and quite rightly so. Check them out here and here.

Jakarta Club – this session was just a demo session to record some tunes for other producers to hear their songs presented in a way so as to know where to take them. I very much enjoyed working with this band and for the time we had for so many tracks the result was pretty passable. Can’t find anything online for this so not sure if they’re still a functioning band or not.

October:

Soul Fire Saints – returned for second session to complete their debut EP. (see previous link above)

65daysofstatic – Ah the mighty 65dos. This session was for demos and development for their next album which I will be taking the recording duties in mid-January. We’ll be holed up in the middle of Lincolnshire slaving away. I’m not gonna say too much else about this as I don’t wanna let the cat out bag too much but I will say this is a very exciting project indeed. Here’s a link to their brilliant website if you want to know more about them (you’ll be glad you did) – website

Lomas – A short evening session in the studio and separate mix session. I think this was a self released single. Seemed to get some nice attention for the band. The result can be heard here

Ordnance – A new band to me and what a great band. A three piece with and original mix of electronics and guitars. Very evocative both musically and lyrically and very accomplished in all areas. Two song were completed over a couple of sessions in both October and December 2014. They can be found here

Julia – Singer/song writer/guitar player Matt Hall first came to my attention in the band The Velotones a few years back and I thought they had potential then. Matt had a brief stint in Violet May and is now collaborating with Andy Martin (ex-Dead World Leaders) and bass player Will Hitchmough and drummer Joe Smith (formerly of 10 Take Band) This was an initial demo session of all the tracks they’d written since their formation in April just to see which ones worked recorded. Two tunes were selected from this and recorded in December so more on that shortly.

Jammed Together – The first jam session of the year due to other commitments such as the release of the Dead English Gentlemen’s EP. Jammed Together is a platform for local musicians to get together and basically jam an improvised song. This then has a little more work and usually some lyrics and a tidy up and mix and voila…..a song that didn’t exist a few hours prior. There’s lots of interesting stuff over at the sound cloud and if you fancy having a go get in touch via the Facebook page, and listen to previous sessions here.

Joe Carnall Jnr – ex-Milburn and The Bookclub frontman as well as Reverend & The Makers bass player is now doing a solo outing, co writing/producing with Ed Cosens also of RATM. This session was to record and mix his first solo release, a song entitled “Three Things (Only A Fool)” This had to be done and dusted for a pre-christmas release so couldn’t hang about with it! Here’s the song complete with video on Joe’s website.

The Payroll Union – Proper mix time this time! In between these other sessions I managed to find time to more or less complete this record. All was going great. The band were happy with how the mixes were progressing and so was I. I was employing everything I learned throughout the year on this one and as I stated in my opening paragraph this year more so than any I felt happy with what I learned and how it had come together to assist me making better and more engaging mixes than ever before. So 95% there and bam a huge obstacle in the way of a band disagreement! Not with me may I add but internally. This threw a giant sized spanner in the works so much so that integral parts had to be replaced. So this record will now spill into 2015. A testing time for the band I feel but one that will provide a story for the album.

Can’t add any links as nothing is quite at that stage to be released but again it’s really worth keeping an eye on their Facebook page for news and things.

November:

Kartica – 2Fly regulars Kartica have recorded most of their output there. This session was a little different as a member was absent. Hopefully things will work themselves out and their plans for an album comes off sometime in 2015. Here’s a link to one of their previous recordings.

65daysofstatic – Promotional lead track (here) for the new album recorded and mixed over the course of a couple of days. Starting to get quite excited about this project now as it looms closer.

Luna Jackyl – energetic 3 piece rock. Top chaps and 2fly regular Dave Atwood drummer for Rumpus is the drummer for this project so a good starting point as Dave is a superb drummer. No online presence for this as yet it seems.

The Time Sellers – A young Sheffield band, these chaps are really good for their years. This sessions two tracks were recorded and are available on their sound cloud. Hope to work with these guys again at some point in the future, lots of potential Listen here.

Adelphi – a three piece with the addition of Rich Hunter on drums for this single track. Catchy and energetic tune hopefully will be available at some point during 2015. Nothing online at the moment other than their Facebook.

Thirty Hearts – returned for another session just before the end of the year. Two tracks were recorded and mixed and will be self released sometime during early 2015.

Something REALLY worth noting regarding November 2014 is the release of two albums. One recorded throughout 2013 and the other recorded between January 2012 and November 2013. Firstly the wonderful Nat Johnson’s first full solo record “Neighbour Of The Year” was released through her own label. It was a privilege to work with Nat on this record and although it appears without studio trickery it was quite a tough mix to get the right level of intimacy and solidity. Presented on clear 10” vinyl this is one of the highlights of my carer so far. Please check it out here!!!

The second record “A Cynic A Realist An Undertaker” released this month and the one that took the longest due to rewrites and remixes and several other factors is David J Roch’s follow up to debut “Skin & Bones”. Produced by myself and partly by Jim Sclavunos (Grinderman, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds), it was a bit of a battle but came out a triumph in the end. Gentle and expansive, dark and brooding this album is full of the emotion it exudes due to the long road to complete it. Check out David’s work here.

December:

Julia – with two tracks selected from the 10 recorded a month or so ago the band blistered through the recording phase due to being very well rehearsed but not over prepared. Both tracks are wonderfully put together and came out pretty much as I had imagined them to which is a very rare occurrence for me to be more or less fully happy with my work so quickly. One of the tunes opened up the show on the first BBC Introducing of the year here (Dead English Gentlemen follow too!). New Facebook page.

Ordnance – another follow up session to complete previously recorded material and finalise mixes etc. (link previously above) Looking forward to doing more with these chaps in 2015.

Pretty Citizens – Nottingham and Barnsley based band. Enjoyed working with these guys. Great voice and interesting arrangements a band that should do well over the coming months following the release of these tunes. Not online as yet but you can visit their sound cloud here and keeps yer ears peeled.

So, that’s it, my round up of 2014. Fingers crossed 2015 is equally as busy even though there’s the life changing addition of twins this year so I apologise in advance if I fall asleep during any sessions from April onwards! 😉

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