November 04, 2008

A little out of the ordinary.... (WITH UPDATE)

I got a frantic call from a guy yesterday afternoon wanting to know if I was free in the morning and could I speak with a Yorkshire accent.

Being born and bred in that particular part of the country I told him I could have a fair crack at it, told him I was free Tuesday and asked him why.

Apparently a major UK department store chain are putting together their Christmas Advertising campaign and need some different accents to do a voiceover and was I interested?

Having thought about this for all of 10 milliseconds I said 'Yes'.

The details came back later on: The company has already shot some visuals for this advert and are backing it up with a 'rough' version of the Beatles "With Love From Me to you" which will be played rather clumsily on a piano with various accents singing over the top. They want to try a lot of different accents and will then decide which mix would sound best over the images.

I had to be in Soho, London at midday.

Being terminally punctual as I was I took an early train and arrived at 11.30 at the Trident Studios. This is, apparently, a place of great reverence amongst audiophiles. It's actually a rather old, rather sad, brick terraced building sandwiched between an ad agency and a digital media company. There is nothing magical or special about the place just a very small plaque on the wall saying "Trident Studios" and a bell push. I pushed the bell, announced myself and entered.

Inside is rather plush, if cramped. Walking down the corridor to the ADR studio the corridor is lined with gold discs and various rock memorabilia. If you look on the back of some of your favorite old records, there's a good chance you'll see the Trident Studio name. Trident opened back in the late sixties and was the launch pad for many legendary artists such as David Bowie, Elton John, Queen and Marc Bolan. The names don't stop there. Trident was also booked by The Beatles (and later on Ringo Starr, George Harrison, John Lennon and Paul McCartney as solo artists / producers), Lou Reed, Carly Simon, Genesis, Supertramp, Black Sabbath, the list goes on. In fact their 8 track machine was why The Beatles came here in 1968 to record Hey Jude (Abbey Road still only had a 4 track machine).

The White Album tracks Dear Prudence, Honey Pie, Savoy Truffle and Martha My Dear were also recorded here. Many other artists were recorded for the Beatles' Apple label including Billy Preson, Mary Hopkins, James Taylor, George Harrison's triple album, All Things Must Pass, containing the massive hit My Sweet Lord, and Ringo Starr's It Don't Come Easy. Harry Nilsson recorded Without You here and met up with John Lennon, forming a long association of drinking and socialising. Paul McCartney inadvertently helped Queen on their road to success — he used to block-book the studio and not always turn up. Queen, signed to Trident's management arm, were allowed to use this down time for free and the result was Bohemian Rhapsody.

And now I'm here with my backpack and fleece ready to bastardise a version of "With Love From Me to You". Sweet!

Charlie - the producer was seated in the control booth next to the engineer. They had already done about 5 other voices that morning and played the audio through for myself and Stewart - the Scot who was scheduled in before me, had arrived on time but was still later than me! The quality was fabulous despite the fact that the voices were decidedly amateurish - which was the effect the guys wanted.

Stewart headed into the booth - which is exactly like you see on countless videos and movies, with heavy foam wall paneling to deaden sound, a large microphone hanging from the roof and a glass window looking out to the desk. He donned the headphones, did four takes with a heavy Glaswegian accent and left.

My turn!

The booth is actually a little freaky. There is no natural light and it is dead audibly, which is slightly unsettling. The only way you can hear anything is with the headphones on, then it becomes disembodied voices in your head.

Charlie played the tape and I sang the lyrics on the sheet in front of me - 2 verses of the song only. The only problem was that I could also hear the other vocals that had been recorded and found it difficult to hear my own voice. On take three I asked for just the backing piano and no more vocals. This was better but did manage to highlight my woeful ability to sign a) in time and b) in tune. The guys sat through two more takes of this before calling it a day.

If my voice gets chosen on the soundtrack I will find a Youtube version of it (as there will no doubt be one) and post a link here. If not, I might still put it up and see if you can work out what the voices were...

---- Update -----
Well the commercial was released today (November 11th) and here it is:

Having listened extensively to it I am unable to isolate my dulcet tones and must, therefore, conclude that I was not included in the final mix, although to be fair I can barely identify any voices other than the little girl and the first guy who joins in.

Great advert though!

0 comments (See Policy

Post a Comment