Last summer, Daughter and acclaimed composer/arranger Joe Duddell were brought together by Festival No.6 to participate in a unique project.
As the festival’s Composer-in-Residence Duddell, whose impressive CV has seen him collaborate with Elbow and compose for the BBC Proms, approached Daughter with an idea for the band to perform their songs enhanced by a classical ensemble. Daughter, who have always wanted to explore this area, agreed to his proposal immediately. With the green light given, Duddell set about crafting classical arrangements for five tracks from Daughter’s debut album If You Leave, which the band, together with an 8-piece ensemble, performed in front of an audience of 120 people in Portmeirion Town Hall.
4AD Session filmmakers Jane Pollard and Iain Forsyth were lucky enough to witness that mesmerising performance, and both they and the band were keen to re-enact that sense of intimacy for a wider audience. “Daughter is a special band – there’s a unique chemistry and a work ethic, a effortless, instinctive talent between these three people,” Iain and Jane say. “We knew we needed to find the optimal conditions and collaborators to ensure that everything was aligned to allow the same magic to happen - the same musicians, Joe Duddell at the helm – but this time in the country's best recording studio and recorded by the acclaimed Olga Fitzroy amidst a delicate set by art director Sal Pittman."
After further developing the arrangements for those same five songs for the Session, Duddell handpicked and assembled a talented cast of young musicians to make up a 10-piece classical ensemble, all of whom are either current students or recent graduates of the Royal Northern College of Music. Art Director Sal Pittman was also drafted in – her delicate paper birds hang serenely in the space above and around the musicians. In the acoustically and visually stunning Air Studios, Pollard and Forsyth captured the trio of Elena Tonra, Igor Haefeli and Remi Aguilella plus Duddell and the RNCM ensemble performing five tracks.
You can watch all the tracks uploaded so far here.
Elena Tonra – vocals, guitar
Igor Haefeli – guitar
Remi Aguilella – percussion
Joe Duddell – arrangements, conductor
Amy Welch – Violin
Tory Clarke – Violin II
Laurie Dempsey - Viola
Josh Lynch - Cello
Angelina Warburton – Harp
Delia Stevens – Vibraphone
Graham Proctor - Marimba
Tom Wood – Horn
Kai-Li Yang – Flute / Alto Flute
James Noble – Bass Clarinet
Directed by Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard
Recorded at Air Studios by Olga Fitzroy
Mastered at Abbey Road by Geoff Pesche
Director of Photography – Leon Henry
Art Director – Sal Pittman
Gaffer – Joel Rainsley
Camera Assistant – Warren Forster
Production Assistant – Tom Wood
Band Management – Matt Brown
Band Technician – Gordon Allison
“It is not a new concept as a percussionist to find one's self in a variety of musical genres, however, our collaboration with Joe Duddell and Daughter has been significant in a number of ways. It is a beautiful concept of fusing classical musicians and a popular commercial group and as a result, has created such an intriguing sound and visual presence in our performances. For young musicians, all of similar ages, to come together in this way has been an invigorating experience and one which I feel has had the energy, enthusiasm and commitment of the project's youth at the helm. It is my feeling that this collaboration has not only broken down barriers between classical musicians (a string quartet) and an alternative band, but has helped re-instate the sound of marimba, vibraphone and glockenspiel to the 'pop' world, which is healthy and as is the case with this industry, innovation is key.”
- Graham Proctor, Marimba
“As a quartet we have received many years of ‘classical’ training, so when we were asked by the RNCM to collaborate with Joe Duddell for a set with Tim Burgess (Charlatans) we were unsure what to expect and how we’d fit into the equation.
Since that first gig we’ve worked with Joe on several projects covering a range of genres from singer songwriters, folk singers and the spoken word, to name but a few. These experiences have all been very different from what is normally available in the ‘classical’ world and we are extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of it.
The main things we have learnt are to be completely adaptable, often changing notes at the last minute, and really thinking about how we can enhance different sound effects by experimenting within the quartet with bow use and balance. Most recently we collaborated with Joe on a recording project for Daughter, where there was an unusual set of acoustic/orchestral instruments involved. The studio space was very different from what we are used to on stage and so we needed to communicate effectively around the room to make the recording work.
It was fascinating for us, as our lives are often ruled by the dots on the stave, to work with artists who are constantly developing their music on set.
These sorts of experiences have helped us to become a more adaptable, well rounded and open-minded ensemble, which will inform and enhance our playing in both the classical and popular genres. Fusing our classical training with more mainstream music gives us the credentials, as a quartet, to get a foot in the door in the popular music industry; something we wouldn’t have been able to do without working with Joe and Daughter. Our collaborations thus far have always been valuable, successful, insightful and more importantly good humoured experiences for us all and we hope to continue our positive working relationship in the future.”
- Cassia String Quartet
“It was very exciting to work with Joe Duddell and Daughter on such a professional and artistic project including performances in Festival No. 6 and working in the Air Studios in London to record a collaborative EP.
I think that it is always interesting and fruitful to merge genres and musical backgrounds, leading to a certain transcendence, synergy and openness, reflected in the end?product. It is fantastic to be able to add further studio and recording experience to my resume and work with a few more alternative ensembles. Interestingly, the percussionist from Daughter also stems from a classical background and training which I think was reflected in his technique; he borrows a lot from the classical and orchestral styles in his acoustic sets, which we were able to compliment. Joe Duddell is also originally a percussionist, having studied with my teacher and experienced studio musician, Dave Hassell, so the worlds are even further interwoven. I would love to be involved in a lot more projects like this as it involves a completely different aspect of musicianship and ethos and I think benefits any musician, regardless of their background. I am very happy that Joe has continued to show his support for emerging young classical musicians who are beginning their professional careers after years of intensive training, meaning they have the versatility and virtuosity to adapt quickly to these new situations, but who are often not recognised for their dedication and wide range of skills.”
- Delia Stevens, Vibraphone
“Having participated in the 4AD Daughter recording session, I have gained a range of new experiences. This was mainly influenced by the none?conventional ensemble arranged specifically to achieve a range of different colours and effects to the artists' requirements.
Working with Joe and Daughter was very inspiring as I discovered a wide variety of new sounds by both being involved and observing these recording sessions. This is very different to what I usually expect when playing in classical ensembles.
At first I felt some pressure under the professional setups and the band, which was obviously renowned and reputable. But once the sessions kicked off, I was surprised at how the ensemble just naturally came together and how friendly the artists were. After a few initial takes, the sessions were flowing well and ahead of schedule.
I am very happy to have been involved in the project as I got to meet a lot of industry professionals. It was definitely an eye opening experience which I thoroughly enjoyed and am very much looking forward to the next opportunity to collaboration with Joe and the group.“
- Kai-Li Yang, Flute
“Working with Joe and Daughter was a great experience and thoroughly interesting. Despite my part being mainly accompaniment I found myself getting very involved in the music. The relaxed atmosphere reduced the pressure of a recording situation where each take needed to be perfect. Working with a band I found to be a far more enjoyable experience then working with an orchestra as there are far fewer players meaning that your voice can be heard and is listened to. The studio was incredible, with the pictures being taken and the lighting fascinating to watch. The experience has broadened my CV showing that I am a diverse musician and I hope will open up new opportunities for me in the pop world as well as the classical industry.”
- Tom Wood, Horn
"Such a fantastic opportunity for me and my colleagues as young freelance musicians working on a session at AIR studios. Having the chance to work with such a creative group such as daughter was a real pleasure. It gave me a great insight into working as a session musician with a professional record label and it was a privilege to work with Joe Duddell having previously heard his works live and via radio broadcast"
- James Noble, Bass Clarinet
"As a recent graduate from the Royal Northern College of Music, I am keen to gain experience in the widest variety of genres possible. Having been trained as a classical musician, it has been very exciting to work with Joe Duddell and Daughter in the recording studio. Any chance to work with different musical styles is a great opportunity to gain new experience.
Working with the ensemble and the band was a real treat, it is so enjoyable working with such talented and hard?working musicians and I hope to have the opportunity to work with Joe, Daughter and the ensemble again soon."
- Angelina Warbarton, Harpist
The 4AD Sessions are an ongoing series of video recordings with various acts from the label's roster. Following on from the Deerhunter session at the Studio Plateaux on Platts Eyott island in 2008, the recordings will see 4AD artists performing back-catalogue covers and alternative versions of their own material.