Thanks and thoughts:
Each time you chat to someone who has a phone in their hand, you are effectively trying to engage with someone while a circus plays out in front of you. I used to sit for hours and read the notes on album covers as I listened to them. But those notes did not have talking chickens competing for my attention at the touch of a screen.
A recording in a studio is different to a gig. At a gig the audience are pretty much captive, because I lock the doors and padlock the fire-escapes. Well, you know what I mean. I’m stood there in front, with lights on me, a human with all my ageing eyes, creaking knees, and messy hair. On a recording, the listener is in the middle of their own chaos - the traffic of their life is flashing past, and the clock is ticking. At a gig, the person has, for whatever reason, decided to dedicate the 1 hour 30 minutes of that evening to my performance. Of course they may be internally drifting around tidying up their inner landscape, and I just hope they occasionally, for a few fleeting seconds, fall under the spell that songs can cast. A recording can be paused, turned off and ignored more easily. So a recording ought to have more stuff going on right!? Well, maybe, but I have chosen not to go that route. Sure, there are some other colours on these recordings - but it is largely what you get when you sit at a table with me, and I tell you I’ve got a new song I want you to hear. I do want to mention the creators of those colours though, because they are certainly part of what brings the album to life.
I have known Jaël now for almost ten years, and we have sat in backstage areas, vans, buses, cafes, dinner tables, space rockets (ok not the last one), discussing songs, performance, vulnerability, confidence, tensions and all other aspects of being a songwriter and a singer. She has brought her incredible musicianship to this record - and I know you’ll enjoy how she’s painted harmony and intensity in carefully chosen moments.
Luk and I can talk about details, guitar effects we like, reverbs, compressors, analogue channels, tape machines and old microphones, but in the end, what makes him perfect as a protector of my music is that he listens with his heart. If it touches him, he doesn’t search for why, or how to enhance… it touches, and that’s the goal. That’s unusual. Many of the songs were recorded with his beautiful girl 3 month old Lalazar sleeping in the room. She brought her own grace and reality to the sessions.
Pim is a kind of Dutch Wizard, he walks the streets of Amsterdam with a huge staff made from the ancient oaks of Middle Earth. Well, maybe not, but he is a huge character (not the loud ego-type that often passes for character), and a gentleman with soul and charisma flowing out of his pointy ears (there I go again, they are not pointy). He threw some accordion dust on a song, and it worked like a charm, bringing just the right amount of humour and pathos.
Sami does not actually appear on any of these songs, but he’s too important to leave from these notes. Two of the songs were recorded beautifully in his studio Audiokonzept, with Sami as engineer and technician. He is one of the most important people in my life - he is a teacher. He teaches me how to be myself, how to love, forgive and connect; how to enjoy, be sad, be upset, be jealous, be confident and humble. He teaches me all those things, without me realising it for the most part. If I think enough, like when I write liner notes to a solo album, I realise it then, and it floods in. His drumming has a signature of its own, as big as Sami in expression and personality… We just couldn’t find the right place for it on this collection. It's part of his talent as a musician to say "this doesn't need me."
Oli adds some tasty little bits of guitar on Dead Horse, typical of his approach, he sits in with feeling first and an appreciation of what the song is. He is a fan of music, and has introduced me to some incredible artists over the years. I’m proud to say I think he likes my stuff a bit too. If you don’t like hearing the truth, Oli is not the man for you. He will tell you what he thinks, and will make you love him with his warmth and passion. Oli for president!
Dome makes me just want to giggle with him whenever he’s around. He makes me feel better about the world. His work as an actor and presenter is inspiring, he is a true creative artist in so many ways. He helped represent me through the rough seas of my previous record deal, and took a beating at times from the egos which surfaced in those years. Hopefully not too much from me. I’m delighted to say he has generously offered his help to get these recordings listened to. I wish him luck, because I know (as does he) they are not typical radio hits or pop anthems.
Jenny is an outstanding artist; and understands all the vulnerability and doubts that are a necessary part of the creative process as much as anyone I’ve ever met. It’s no wonder that the world’s top choreographers are climbing over themselves to get her help with their creations. I’m lucky, I get to discuss my songs with her over tea and toast. She helps me deal with the big questions and the detail of form in equal measure. She makes a belting thai curry, and has cooked me up two amazing boys. Thanks beautiful!
George and Arthur
Before you vomit from the sentiment I am throwing about like some kind of cheap, made for TV melodrama - I want you to know that my boys are the best children in the world - and that they make sure I know when my songs get a bit boring, and when I should not be so serious. Love you guys so much. You silly banana poo-bum willy willies.
A special mention should go to my friend Andrea Tschanze who has given me B&B so many times in Bern. Travelling away from home it is lovely to gently ‘put the world to rights’ over coffee, looking out on the Lieberfeld rain. Thanks Dea.
And finally... a huge thanks to Reto Grossen who has been my adviser on all this crazy music biz stuff for 5 years. I wish him luck with all his wonderful work in and around his hometown of Frutigen. You are a visionary, dude! Our path together is not broken, we continue to walk parallel.
Liner Notes by Andrew Shields
Lyrics (click here)
Licence by Sophie Records
Published by Sputnik Publishing
All Rights Reserved Copyright 2017
ALBUM EAN CODE: 7640153367303
Produced by Gus MacGregor
& Luk Zimmermann
Mixed by Luk Zimmermann at Influx
Recorded at Influx Studios, Bern
Dead Horse and To Do List, recorded at Audiokonzept, Bern
Broken Clocks recorded at The Spare Room, Shoreham-by-Sea
All words and music by Gus MacGregor
1. Secret Wedding
2. Maria-Elena (or whoever)
3. Dead Horse
4. Football Days
5. To Do List
6. Too Much of Everything
7. She's in Good Nick
8. Deep Enough
9. To Be a Man
10. It's Not you - It's Me
11. Broken Clocks
12. Oh My Sweetest