Off to Monnow Valley...
And a spring tour too!
When I wrote my first song aged 13, it planted the idea that one day I might make a proper record. And now, years later, it's finally happening!
This time in less than a week I will be in a remote part of Wales recording four original songs and one cover for my first studio EP. And it's not just any old studio - we're going to Monnow Valley, which has hosted artists from Oasis to Iggy Azalea, Black Sabbath to Biffy Clyro and Led Zeppelin to Portishead (not to mention being the place where Bohemian Rhapsody was recorded!)
It seems surreal to have anything on this scale in the works. Just over 100 days ago I set myself the challenge of completing my first tour and planning my first professional record by the end of 2014. And I honestly thought I'd bitten off more than I could chew! But since crossing paths with producer Peter Waterman in the autumn, things have been cranked up more than a couple of gears, and the wheels are well and truly in motion. The musicians are booked and ready, preproduction is almost complete and all that remains is to find some warm clothes to guard against the Welsh winter!
I also have a set of songs all ready to go, including two that no one has heard yet! The Christmas deadline that Pete the Producer gave me certainly focused the mind and I managed to get all four originals written and demo'ed before the stockings were hung (just!) Then, of course, the minute the pressure was off I kept having ideas for even more songs. So material for the eventual album is coming along already.
The first thing any musician asks when I tell them I'm recording is 'are you prepared?!' And the next they say is not to be afraid to 'let the magic happen' when I get there. So I've concluded that the key to a great session is having everything planned out just enough to make sure we have a plan to abandon when the moment arrives! Time will tell...
And then there's the host of things you don't think about until almost the last minute. Like what to feed a band of ravenous musicians for three days? Or which brand of whisky will keep everyone happy? Or how to get everyone plus a photographer and your little sister from three different starting points to one of the more isolated parts of the British Isles with only one car? There's practising to do, and maps to print off, and lyric sheets to make, shopping lists to put together, and capos to locate, and all sorts of other small but important final preparations. In fact, I probably ought to be doing some of them now!
Fear not through, I'll keep you posted as the record comes together. Until then, if you want to hear the songs before they come out on the EP, you can catch me live on tour in various places around the country over the next few months (see listings below). Hope to see some of you along the way!
Emma Ballantine Spring tour
Tuesday 17th February, 7pm - Amberley Acoustic Club, Houghton, West Sussex
Sunday 22nd February, 3pm - The Forge & Hammer, Cinderford
Tuesday 24th February, 7pm - The Jam House, Birmingham
Wednesday 25th February, 7pm - The Silk Kite, Tamworth
Saturday 14th March, 12 noon - Salisbury Arts Centre
Monday 16th March, 7pm - Mr Wolf's, Bristol
Wednesday 18th March, 7pm - The Marine Theatre, Lyme Regis
Tuesday 24th March, 7pm - The Bedford, Balham, London
Thursday 9th April, 7pm - The Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast
11.46pm 19th Jan 2015