Back in the late 1980s, Peter Gabriel built a recording studio into an old mill in Wiltshire, England. Foremost in his mind when creating it was the concept of bringing together musicians from a wide range of backgrounds. It's now considered one of the finest recording studios on earth. I've admired it for 20 years.
Just a few of the many folks who have recorded there include: Alicia Keys, Amy Winehouse, Björk, Bonnie Raitt, Coldplay, Deep Purple, Ginger Baker, Jay-Z, King Crimson, KT Tunstall, Massive Attack, Mumford and Sons, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Paul Simon, The Pixies, Robert Plant, Sigur Ros, Tears for Fears, Thomas Dolby, Tom Jones, Tracy Chapman, and Van Morrison.
I have a very rare opportunity to add my name to that list.
Just a few years ago an outfit called Beatcamp started inviting around 20 producers from around the world into Real World Studios each year to work together on a record that's then released commercially by Real World Records. It's an intensive workshop that emphasizes collaboration in a beautiful, top-of-class studio that was built expressly to encourage collaboration.
I applied last year and didn't think anything more of it, and then got an email a few days ago. I learned how to make an international call to the UK, and they confirmed that I was one of just 22 producers invited this year! Those folks over in England liked the music I've made enough to invite me into this group! It's a tremendous honor and opportunity. Music I record there will be engineered by folks who have engineered for U2, The B-52's, Sinead O'Connor, The Vamps, and Peter Gabriel. It will be released on Real World Records, the label Gabriel founded.
It's not free. It's a workshop, they're not a non-profit, and this is an experiment in focused collaboration in a very short period of time, in an extremely well-equipped and well-staffed environment, with extremely well-qualified guides.
I'm afraid I've never been prepared for this sort of thing financially. I've spent most of my money on musical instruments, and most of my time trying to make music with them. I've made albums in vans, transit buses, yurts, and a variety of sheds and shacks, mostly with scant food and abysmal heating. Over the last few years my income from record sales and streaming has slowly crept up to about $50/year, for which I'm surprised and grateful. This has been a labor of love, and I love it. I think focusing on the music without regard for commercial success is what has gotten me to this point in my craft.
I need $3,500 to go. That's $3,011.17 (current exchange rates) for the workshop itself, and just under $500 for whatever I'm too naive to realize I need, like transportation from the airport to the studio, or, only slightly less important, transportation back to the airport. A dear friend - lifesaver, really - has already offered to buy the plane tickets for me. I'm switching from a mix of Sharp Shopper, FoodMaxx, and Red Front to almost exclusively Sharp Shopper beginning tomorrow. And it's heading into dumpster-diving season, for the few grocery stores left that don't compact their trash.
I need your help. This is one of the rarest and coolest opportunities in my life, and one of the most affirming and promising moments of my musical career. This could change a lot. But I've only gotten this far through your friendship. Some have helped even when I couldn't ask, and I owe them my life. Here I'm asking, but for just a bit of spare cash, to help me with my art, my craft, my avocation, my passion.
I'm asking you for a small contribution towards the big total expense, and I'm hoping I can in some small way take you with me on my journey. The camp itself is extremely intensive: pressure-cooker schedule, serious professional feedback, unabashed approach to collaboration - so I think that other than a few photos and brief words I'm just not going to have time to report back during the writing and recording sessions.
I hope to take two or three days off to decompress somewhere in the UK after recording. I'll be on a different continent for the first time in my life, so I'd like to walk around a little bit and see some fancy old buildings and some heaths or moors. Calm down before getting back on the plane. I'll stay in hostels and live on bangers and mash - $40/day.
I'm looking forward to sharing with contributors my experience, thoughts and reflections during those days just following the camp, along with some pretty pictures of mountains and abbeys. And I'm looking forward to sharing a lot more music made once I get back.
Here's more information on Real World Studios
on their record label Real World Records
and on the workshop
Push comes to shove, I'll see what I can get for the sixteen year old car and the banjos. I'm amazed no one has yet paid me to quit playing those things.
Info on perks coming soon. Production credit on a future release? High quality download of my first 19 albums? A life-size cardboard cutout of me wearing whatever you want? Send ideas. We'll figure something out.
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