Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Air Studios with J.R. Richards

A few weeks ago, myself and mum were invited to Air Studios in London as part of J.R. Richards' pledge. You might not be familiar with J.R., I certainly wasn't until mum introduced me to him and his music. He is an American singer songwriter and used to be the lead singer of Billboard award winning band Dishwalla. 

Like many other bands/artists we follow, J.R. has decided to release his latest album through Pledge Music, allowing fans to get involved by pre-ordering a copy as well as pledging for some brilliant exclusives. As her Mother's Day present, I pledged for mum and myself to visit the studio with J.R. and his wife Min, along with a small number of other fans.

Having been in a studio session with Kingsland, I guess we had some idea of what the evening would be like but in all honesty it exceeded any expectation that I had! We were greeted at Air Studios by J.R.'s lovely wife Min who is a film director/photographer. She welcomed us into the holding area where we got to meet J.R. as well as being reunited with the Britroyal twins who we hadn't seen in over a year! We certainly got given an American welcome by Joni (J.R. and Min's personal assistant) who poured me the most lethal vodka and coke I think I've ever had haha! We got chatting to some of the other fans whilst we waited for the rest of them to arrive.

Once everyone was present we went into the studio, firstly into the area where all the mixing happens. All I can say is WOW. What a place! I've never seen anything like it and probably never will again, if I was an artist I would kill to be able to work in such an incredible studio!! We were told that Coldplay would be working in the exact same room the next day which was a crazy concept for me to get my head around!

so many speakers and buttons and all sorts of important stuff

We then went into the actual recording area itself. There were chairs laid out for everyone with a set of headphones on each seat. Firstly J.R. gave us some of the history behind Air Studios (for example, it was founded by Sir George Martin, legendary producer of The Beatles no less!!!). He then explained what we would be doing in the studio that evening but before we got stuck in, we had an opportunity to further chat with J.R., Min, Britroyal and the other fans over some food. It was amazing to see the variety of people that were there - one fan had flown in from Holland whilst three men from Wales (who only live around 40 minutes from us, small world!) had come as an alternative stag do as one of them was getting married!

Then it was time to see the man at work! J.R. recorded a song on the piano and we got to sit inside the studio with him whilst listening through headphones. By doing so we could hear the instructions given to J.R. by the sound men. It was so difficult trying to stay still, I desperately wanted to tap my foot along to the music but any noise would have carried onto the recording!

J.R. then sang a song acoustically to us briefly, then we got to hear what a mixed version of that song would sound like. It's amazing to see all the work involved in recording a song! J.R. also recorded his version of Jeff Buckley's Hallelujah for us. He does such a haunting version of a brilliant song!

JR preparing for his performance of Hallelujah 

Finally came my favourite part of the night, where I got to relish in the fact that I am tone deaf yet still got to sing group backing vocals on a song for J.R.! I genuinely thought he was kidding when he said we would get to sing, but then he played us a beautiful song called Tug of War and showed us the "aaaah, aaaah, oooooooh" bit that we would be singing (I wish I could sing it now to show you how it's supposed to sound haha!). 

myself and mum in our element ;-)

We had a few practice goes then recorded it for real. We also got to listen back to it in the mixing area and for 15 amateurs we didn't sound too bad!!! We actually had to sign consent forms to allow our voices to appear on the song, it felt like we were signing a record deal! Apparently our names will appear on the credits of the song which will be an awesome reminder of a brilliant night at the studios.

signing away!

all smiles at our first contract ;-)

To end the night, we all got to have our pictures taken with J.R.. As a photographer, Min was so professional and made sure we all had a fantastic keepsake of the evening. 

myself and J.R. (photo credit: Min Reid-Richards)

We also had a group picture which was taken by Joni (unfortunately the three welsh men had already left by then). We couldn't have asked for a nicer bunch of people to spend the evening and share the experience with!

the crew! (Photo credit: Joni DeLuccio)

We also had the opportunity to chat more with Britroyal as we set a date for our day out with them (another pledge, I should link my bank account direct to the site I think haha!).  It was nice to have a catch up with them as well as having my first picture with them!

myself and Britroyal aka Kais and Mazin (photo credit: Min Reid-Richards)

myself, mum and Britroyal (photo credit: Min Reid-Richards)

I genuinely had a brilliant night.  It was such a fantastic pledge and a night I will remember for a long time.  It was a surreal experience to be in such hallowed studios and it was fascinating to get a small insight into the making of an album.  The fact that we actually got to be involved by singing backing vocals just added to the experience.  I'd like to thank J.R. and Min for such a lovely welcome and for being so kind to us all.  Pledge is a marvellous concept as it allows fans to experience things they could only dream of doing otherwise.  It was an honour to be a part of the making of J.R.'s album and I look forward to hearing it when its released!

Here are some links so you can check out both J.R. and Britroyal!

J.R. Richards - Pledge
Twitter - @JRRichards
Facebook - J.R. Richards

Britroyal - Pledge
Twitter - @BritroyalMusic
Facebook - Britroyal

Please check out these amazing artists and if you enjoy their music, please pledge for their albums or other mementos/experiences that are on offer.  Your support would mean the world to them!

One of our next adventures will be the day out with Kais and Mazin - I'm so excited to spend the day in London with them!

Hwyl am y tro ✌️