Mic check...1, 2, 1, 2...
Updated: Mar 5
Studio - Arthur Lea (keyboard & voice), Laurence Corns (guitar & voice), Marcus Bonfanti (guitar & voice)
BSL - Alice Zawadzki (voice and violin)
Over the past two years, Spitz musicians have been writing songs with residents and staff of Bridgeside Lodge. These new songs, many of which had their beginnings in our summer hang-out sessions, became a regular feature of our summer concerts. Residents learned the words to one another’s songs, and the Spitz Team found themselves whistling the tunes on the tube! For almost as long as we’ve been writing songs with residents, we've been dreaming about recording an album. Back in July, Spitz pianist Arthur suggested that we start using BandLab, an online recording platform, where musicians can collaborate remotely, recording their parts at home and uploading them — creating full songs from anywhere in the world. It proved to be revolutionary in this element of our work as it meant that any member of the Spitz team could collaborate on the tracks from home. Perhaps more importantly however, it meant that residents (as long as they signed up for a free account) could also access these tracks and listen to them whenever they chose. Resident S has told us that she listens to her songs on BandLab every night before she goes to sleep.
“Everything you hear in my songs happened to me. Listening to them in my own time – it’s like someone walking on me (in a good way). It’s helping me to get it out of my head – to get over it."
- Resident S, BSL
Today the dream took a momentous leap forward as we spent the day at a recording studio in Marylebone, laying down guitars, keys and vocals for six songs aided by recording engineer & producer Danny Monk.
As the musicians tracked guitars, keys and vocals, Spitz charity co-ordinator Thom rang through a video call to Kate at Bridgeside Lodge who was visiting residents with musician Alice Zawadzki. Using iPads, (purchased with Covid emergency funds over the summer) Kate was able to show J the progress of his song “The Money”, and, most importantly, get his input! He was delighted, and so enthusiastic about the album. As he listened and watched the musicians live in the studio, he asked for his guitar and began singing along with his lyrics.
“This is my song, I wrote that”
- Resident J, BSL
Alice harmonized and added violin melody lines as well. From the studio side of the call, it was clear to see how excited J was that his song was coming to life in the studio. Creating this bridge between the recording studio, the “outside world”, with the care home had a really stimulating effect on the residents. J seemed to visibly swell with pride.
The musicians recorded six songs, written by three other residents on Thursday. G was very happy to see us.
“Wonderful, I was wondering what I would do with my afternoon.”
- Resident G, BSL
At first when we showed him the iPad he thought he was watching TV until:
“I recognise those two, they’ve played music in the garden for me many times.”
- Resident G, BSL
His memory is deteriorating so this really shows the impression the music left on him. S was a bit distracted organising things for her new accommodation, however, as soon as she heard Arthur singing her song “Poppy and Toffee” she couldn’t help smiling and joined in.
This was an utterly ground-breaking day for The Spitz and we're so excited to see the tracks take shape in the weeks to come. We've not heard of other care-based arts organisations writing songs with residents or service users, so we're very proud of the fact that we are doing this and even more so that we're now bringing these songs to life at a professional recording studio.