It was some time ago. I don’t remember the year but I was working at The Odeon in Camden Town whilst holding down a degree at London Guildhall University. The job was the best ever. Watching films and being paid. A strict diet of popcorn, washed down with coke followed by Haagen Dazs icecream was on the menu almost every night and when Wagamamas opened around the corner no appearance of James Lavelle or Jonathon Ross would tempt me away from the tub of Yaki Udon fat noodles for £5.65. For only a pound more than the local Chinese takeaway’s chow mein I soon spread this new habit amongst the rest of the staff.
But beyond the late night staff screenings, clocking-inout machines and high sugar low nutrition diet, I was attempting various forays in to the music scene. DJing, promoting, starting a radio station, writing for the university rag and College Music Update under the moniker D77. On reflection I don’t know where all the energy came from.
I’d befriended a handful of music-industry people through the relentless blagging and found myself one day outside the poster covered frontage of EMI records on Goldhawk Road. It was like some sort of magic doorway. The glass frontage was plastered with pictures promoting the next big thing. It seemed as though the only way to enter was if you wore rollerskates and sped blindly in to the wall. But I found the sliding glass pane and it opened for me.
I tried to act cool, like this was normal but it was the first time i’d been there. I was slightly awestruck by the Beatles platinum discs and huge TV’s with MTV silently playing. But ultimately it was an office building. Housed inside was an office that my music business pal walked me to. He had established a safe haven for artists to develop, something of an independent label but a smart venture that would negate the need to buy out an indie label for the sake of one cash-cow and all the expensive and inconvenience that would go with that. He called it Regal Recordings. Not boasting, just businesslike he said he’d just come off the phone from T-Love’s manager, arranging flights to the UK. He wanted to sign her to the label. I’d heard a the female MC, T-Love track just a couple of days before at Mr Bongo on Poland Street and liked it enough to ask who it was.
As I sank down in to the big black leather chair and noticed the stacks of CD cases on the desk, floor and various other surfaces. I became aware of how the room was more of a lounge than office and the separates sound system and little monitors were the centre pieces.
“Take a listen to this”, he said as he pulled a silver disc with blue marker pen out of its crystal case with three words scribbled in capital letters ‘PUSH IT OUT’. “They just biked it over”. Then the swirling heavy rain started landing on the cymbal and the room began to hum. I was all ears and electrified by the moment that I was one of the very first people to hear The Beta Band’s newest song. What did the lyric mean? “push it out” over and over again. The words repeated and lost their meaning then wove amongst the piano, cymbal, drum, growing layer by layer building something fantastic. A timpani drum now. Swirling and building up to an acoustic melody and more layers of vocals. The volume seemed far too loud for an office but this was the music by business. Music is supposed to be played loudly. You have to feel it. And it ended. I didn’t understand it but I knew I liked it.
Ah. The energy came from the music.