You Will Feel Like This / All Or Nothing / Moving Into A New Space / Heart / I Forgive Me / Cloudy Skies & Rain / Feel / Ordinary Day / Surrender / Because / Everything / Morning / I Forgive Me (acoustic)
Chris Brann – “All Or Nothing” & “Heart”
Mandalay split in early January 2002 following a crazy 9-day whistlestop tour of the US (LA, San Francisco and NYC) in the Summer of 2001, including live in-store appearances: one sitting on a counter top in the tiny independent record store called Rebel Rebel on Bleaker St NYC, a corporate appearance for the record company in a cold strip-lit office at midday, a diva remix live vocal performance at 2 a.m. in a gay nightclub in san Francisco and a simple acoustic set. just guitar and voice, resulting in a standing ovation in an intimate – and very sweaty – bar club in NYC in the middle of a 30 degree plus heatwave.
It was during this visit to New York that I first met Craig Roseberry, manager of Chris Brann (aka Ananda Project, Wamdue, P’taah etc) and was asked if I would like to contribute vocals to his forthcoming album. I’d heard the hit single “King Of My Castle” and when Craig introduced me to Chris’ more mellow, leftfield music I immediately felt a connection.
The first backing track sent to me was for what became “All Or Nothing”. I worked a vocal to it sitting in a room on the third floor of a converted warehouse looking out onto a grey housing estate in North London. I thought the music was quite beautiful – the sparse beats and plaintive piano – and the vocal and lyric was finished in a few hours. “All Or Nothing” was released shortly afterwards on the “Seven is Seven is” compilation and Chris and I went on to work on several more tracks together. Strangely I’ve never met or spoken with Chris to this day – according to Craig, he’s quite shy and reclusive.
Sounds From The Ground – “I Forgive Me” & “Moving Into A New Space”
The record store Rebel Rebel, that I mentioned above, was where Brion Vytlacil worked part-time. He helped set up some of Mandalay’s NYC dates and was always a huge source of inspiration and faithful supporter of Mandalay. He became a friend over the years and we would spend long hours on the phone London to NY and back …. He would play me lots of music I hadn’t previously heard down the phone – especially stuff he’d just heard and was excited about … one day he played me some instrumental dance tracks, demos of a forthcoming album by a band he was working with called Sounds From The Ground. I loved what I heard and Brion put me in touch with them. Two songs resulted – “moving into a new space” was a vocal & lyric sung to their completed backing track, and “I forgive me” was a song I’d already written and demoed so they kept the vocal and reworked the music, transforming a small intimate song into a mega dance track.
Lenny Ibizarre – “You Will feel Like This”, “Cloudy Skies & Rain” & “Ordinary Day”
Back in August 2000 Mandalay stayed on the island of Ibiza for three weeks to play a series of chillout gigs and festivals around the island, including the 20th anniversary of Café del Mar, Namaste (Las Dalias) and an open air sunset gig at the beautiful Kumharas beach venue. These dates were arranged with the help and invitation of Lenny Ibizarre – an Ibiza-based producer and DJ specialising in ambient and chill beats, who recorded a sunset remix version of Mandalay’s single “Beautiful” that same year. So I first met Lenny at his beautiful home on the island of Ibiza. After Mandalay split he contacted me and we started sending cd’s to and fro, trying out some tracks together. He’s a very talented, warm, respectful and generous man – it’s a pleasure to work with him and his music.
Echo – “Feel”
Andy Gangadeen (drummer with Massive Attack, Faithless, M People) was a friend of the bass player in my band back in my solo/Fbeat days. When Mandalay came to playing live I asked Andy if he would join us – and was very flattered that he did. Just before I moved out of London I got a call from Gill, lead violinist with Echo, saying that Andy had been rehearsing with them for the next The Big Chill festival and had recommended me as “the perfect vocalist” for them – what could I say?!. I met Echo and heard some of their work in progress and later on they gave me some tracks to work with. One of these tracks, with an added vocal and lyric from me, became the song Feel. Their debut album including this song is due for release later this year.
Hector Zazou – “Surrender” & “Morning”
Hector Zazou got in touch with me after hearing the song “all or nothing” on a compilation cd which had led him on to seeking out Mandalay’s first album. He invited me to work on a track with him. I was thrilled – being a fan of his work, particularly “lights in the dark” and “songs from the cold seas”. He sent me some backing tracks later that year and told me to take my pick – one I particularly liked for its unusually quirky soundscape, sparseness and directness, which became the song “Surrender”. Then he sent me the most beautiful piano piece from Ryuichi Sakomoto, which brought the vocal and lyric for “morning” from me in one take, and Hector added the gorgeous string arrangement – probably the favourite of my collaborations to date.
Michael J Ade – “Because”
I met Michael in 1994/5. He had been working for years as engineer/producer alongside Saul Freeman and then David McAlmont when they formed the duo Thieves. Michael continued to work with Saul when Mandalay was formed. He was an integral part of Mandalay and became a friend, a source of inspiration and steadfast support. I’d written and demoed the song “because” and played it to Michael asking if he would produce it for me. He reworked it musically from scratch, keeping the basic feel and chord structure, adding the piano motif, bass, groove etc. I love what he did.