Oak Tree Music’s Emoji Songs #3

Here’s our next emoji quiz for you all to puzzle over. The first person to name all four songs correctly wins a pile of ice cubes to share with their friends. 🧊☀️

Oak Tree Music's Emoji Songs #1

Answers

  1. lleH fo tuO taB
  2. regnA ni kcaB kooL t’noD
  3. revoL ruoY evaeL ot syaW 05
  4. maerD a nwoD ‘ninnuR

Words, Music & Wardrobes: The Story Behind Kellyann’s Debut Album

Fresh Manna - A Testimony Through Song: Vicky Reid, Kellyann Lea, Daniel J. Logan, Joe Topping, Lara Simpson & Lesley-Ann Geary
Clockwise from top left: Vicky Reid, Kellyann Lea, Daniel J. Logan, Joe Topping, Lara Simpson & Lesley-Ann Geary

Having performed in the same session band a few years previously, Daniel J. Logan teamed up with Kellyann Lea in the summer of 2020 to record and produce her debut album, Fresh Manna.

Besides being a collection of Kellyann’s music and lyrics, Fresh Manna presented an opportunity to also support and raise money for a local food bank in Liverpool during the COVID-19 pandemic. A successful crowdfunding campaign via GoFundMe set the groundwork for the project to launch.

During pre-production, it was decided to keep all instrumentation authentic, avoiding the use of MIDI and samples, and so Dan and Kellyann soon made their way over to Edge Studio in Cheshire to begin recording (with the help of engineer Gaz Dupes), drawn by a beautiful upright piano and the lively acoustic of the space.

Joe Topping, who joined the Oak Tree Music roster towards the end of last year, played expressive, deep guitar parts (as well as mandolin and baritone guitar), adding weight to the music and giving it a strong foundation to build on. Sessions with Joe were staggered to work around his busy schedule, as he was in the process of competing in the televised finals of The Voice UK. After the guitar parts had been recorded, Oak Tree Music’s virtuoso violinist Lara Simpson and cellist Vicky Reid were brought in to help support the strong melodies and vocal sound. They added a rich string layer to many of the songs and, between them, created a sound that was large and full, belying the fact that there were only two instruments producing it.

Lara tells us, “I really enjoyed playing on Kellyann’s album. The songs were really beautiful, and we found it very easy and natural to add strings to the tunes. We came up with the arrangements mainly on the day with the help of Kellyann and producer Dan, who were both very helpful and easy to work with”.

“A nice thing about working at Edge is their collection of outboard gear,” says Dan. “For example, one of the fun parts for me was when we recorded the Hammond organ played by Lesley-Ann Geary. I got the sound by running the signal through Edge’s Distressor compressor to get it nicely overdriven — I may have gotten a bit carried away, but it sounded great in the mix!”

Although the album was produced almost entirely in the studio, there was one exception. When it came to vocals, Kellyann preferred the familiarity of home surroundings, and so Dan travelled up to Liverpool, and the pair set about building what became dubbed as ‘Narnia Studios’, as half of it was in her wardrobe!

“Working within my artist’s budget and requirements always needs thought and careful planning, but the results, if done properly, can be fantastic,” Dan notes. “And ‘Narnia Studios’ did afford me a beautiful view across the Liverpool skyline whilst we were recording!”

The album was mixed under Dan’s hybrid approach of using digital and select analogue equipment before being sent off to Mike Cave for mastering.

But the process of getting Fresh Manna out into the world was not yet complete! Oak Tree Music helped guide Kellyann through the administrative minefield of the release, involving registering her work with the PRS and PPL as well as their US counterparts. This tailored service is available to anyone who feels they would benefit from release support and advice, and further information can be found here.

Fresh Manna is out now, sounding fantastic, and we’re thrilled to see Kellyann’s songs being heard and enjoyed by so many! Make sure you grab a copy of the album here — and treat yourself to some merch while you’re at it!

Joe Topping ‘Does a Turn’ on The Voice

Joe Topping on The Voice

Like many musicians in 2020, Joe Topping found himself with more time on his hands than usual due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Again, like quite a few of his peers, he took the opportunity to finally start teaching himself how to record and make videos at home to post online. However, what doesn’t happen quite so much is getting a call from a researcher at ITV suggesting he audition for their prime time talent show…

“Applying for The Voice is not something I ever thought I’d do, but seeing as I had no work, I figured I’d give it a go, not thinking I’d ever actually make it to the TV show,” says Joe. However, three auditions later (two by Zoom and one in London between lockdowns), he found himself playing to the back of four chairs sat on by Olly Murs, Sir Tom Jones, Anne-Marie and will.i.am!

One extra bonus for Joe was the opportunity to play with a live band for the first time since the start of the pandemic, although he has been in the studio recording with Daniel J. Logan and played a couple of Christmas gigs with Lara Simpson that Oak Tree Music organised for him.

“Rehearsing and playing with the live band has been a treat … and they are of course top class musicians.”

As you’d expect, this series of The Voice isn’t immune to coronavirus restrictions, and so the audition was a little different, with Joe performing in a big, empty TV studio without an audience. Although this was a little nerve-wracking, the production team were brilliant at preparing him for it. “Everyone who works on the show is so nice and genuinely seems to want you to do well,” says Joe.

And it seems Joe’s performance was very well prepared too, as he impressed Olly Murs enough for him to turn his chair and have him on his team! Being able to celebrate this success with his wife and kids, who were backstage in the studio, was a particular highlight for Joe!

The next stop is the battle rounds, where he’ll be pitted against another of the singers on Olly’s team. We at Oak Tree Music wish him the best of luck and send good vibes! 🤞

Find out more about Joe here.

Watch Joe’s blind audition below.

Holly Fitzgerald Releases New Single

Artwork by Tillie Stevenson

“Weight of the World”, Holly Fitzgerald’s third single, was released yesterday! Inspired in part by her own experiences of being “in a dark place” but working through it, this new track takes a metaphorical look at mental health and is intended to remind people that, with help and support, tough times can be made better.

The song, recorded at Oxygen Rooms in Birmingham and produced by Tom Brookhouse, gives a nod to many of Holly’s influences, such as Florence + the Machine and Beirut, and features Holly on guitar, vocals as well as programming, along with performances by producer Tom.

Holly has been busy collaborating with other artists throughout 2019 and plans on releasing more singles and a new EP in 2020.

Listen to “Weight of the World” on the following platforms:
Spotify
Apple Music
Amazon Music
Google Play
Deezer

Interview: Naomi Campbell from Motel Sundown

From left: Karen Turley, Naomi Campbell and Rob Johnson

Having recently returned from playing at Melodica Reykjavik in Iceland, and with new music in the offing, we sat down with Naomi Campbell from Motel Sundown to talk about the band and their trip to the frozen north…

Oak Tree Music: How did you meet your bandmates?

Naomi Campbell: That’s a funny story because there’s three of us: myself, Karen and Rob. Rob’s from London. He came to Liverpool for uni, as did Karen, but me and Karen are actually from the same town back in Northern Ireland. We met over here in Liverpool, which is weird; we didn’t know each other back home. We met via a mutual friend, and we started singing together. Rob’s been floating around for a few years or so, playing gigs with different people, so we all started jamming together.

OTM: Was Motel Sundown a covers band first or have you always played original music?

NC: Yeah, we did covers first. Me and Karen did a lot of duo gigs together, and then we got into writing as a duo, and then Rob brought his songs to us too.

OTM: How would you describe your style?

NC: I think we’d say we’re mostly Americana, and I’d say Rob brings a bit of folk to it. Me and Karen are obviously quite country, so the good thing is that we all have different styles. Rob has a bit of a 90s thing to his writing, kind of like Cheryl Crow, and myself and Karen love Dolly Parton!

OTM: What is your line up? Do you all play?

NC: Rob plays electric guitar. Me and Karen both play acoustic guitar, and we all sing together. Having three-part harmonies is quite nice!

OTM: Tell us about your recent trip to Iceland.

NC: That was fun! I met a guy in Nashville last year who is from Iceland. Every year, he runs a festival called Melodica over in Reykjavik. We applied and got accepted to play this year. It was really fun, and they took really good care of us. They put us in a house, and every night of the festival they had soup and beer for everyone! Everyone listened to everyone else’s set. There was no talking during performances and everyone supported everyone else, which was really nice.

OTM: Was this your first time in Iceland or had any you been there before?

NC: No, it was the first time for all of us, and we all loved it!

OTM: What’s the country like?

NC: It’s really cold, but the thing you notice is how clean it is as well. The streets seem so clean, and it’s literally like a breath of fresh air. There’s no litter or graffiti anywhere; there’s lovely murals on the walls… And they do nice fish and chips as well!

OTM: Did you play just one set while you were there? 

NC: They put on an open mic session for us to all get to know each other on the first night. That was probably more intimidating than the festival itself! Even then, they were listening really intently, so it was kind of nerve-wracking! But by the time we played our set on the Saturday night, we were relaxed, as we already knew everyone. And the rest of the time, it was karaoke at the local bar!

OTM: You’d go back then?

NC: Yes! We’d love to play again next year!

OTM: What’s your favourite song to play live?

NC: Well, at the minute there’s one called “One More For The Road”, and we like that one because we play it at the end of the set. It started off as a slow ballad that Karen wrote, and she brought it to Rob, and the more we played it live, the more it sped up! It’s like Fleetwood Mac double time towards the end.

OTM: Now you’re with the band, are you still playing as Naomi Campbell solo?

NC: I’ve not done original stuff by myself for ages, unless I’m asked to. It’s fun doing it with the band!

OTM: What’s next for Motel Sundown?

NC: We’ve got a single launch coming up for a song called “Chicago”. That will be exciting, as it will be our first release as a band!

Check out Naomi Campbell‘s and Motel Sundown‘s profiles to find out more, and drop us a line to book.

Anna Silvers and Daniel J. Logan Go Boating

The Narrowboat Sessions – videos of acoustic performers playing original music on board a narrowboat that travels up and down the country, raising money for Cancer Research – have attracted quite a cult status over the last five years.

It’s a simple premise. Mark Holdsworth records the performances (sometimes solo, occasionally up to as many as seven musicians) on his boat, the Cariad IV, and releases the footage on YouTube and his website.

The Narrowboat Sessions have proven extremely popular and many hundreds of recordings have taken place since 2014 when Mark launched the project. Joining the ever-increasing list of performers, which includes the likes of Henry Priestman (The Christians), Nick Harper and Rob Vincent, Oak Tree Music artist Anna Silvers took to the water and recorded three songs alongside percussionist Daniel J. Logan and bassist Cameron Williams.

“Mark is fantastic and has a great platform to promote singer-songwriters like myself. The canal is a beautiful setting and it was a wonderful experience,” says Anna. The first of her videos, “Get Lost (Without You)”, will go online in mid-October, with the other two following over the coming months to help kickstart the crowdfunding campaign for Anna’s debut album, which will launch at the beginning of next year.

This is not, however, where the narrowboat story ends. In 2015, Mark enlisted the help of Daniel J. Logan to mix some of 2014’s recordings (pulled out of a hat at random) into an album. The result, a 2-CD box set, was picked up by BBC Radio’s Genevieve Tudor and played across several regional stations. This began a snowball effect that has helped make the Narrowboat Sessions a major part of the UK folk and acoustic music scene.

Songs from the subsequent albums (2015 and 2016) have been played out on BBC Radio 2 and continue to garner attention from other media outlets. “I’m amazed at the reaction we get from the albums,” says Dan, who mixes Mark’s multi-track boat recordings at Orchard Studios in Cheshire. “I always enjoy working on those releases, as I get to hear some fantastic music that I may otherwise have missed,” he adds.

Mark is continuing to record this year’s sessions, live on the boat, and will be setting sail once again next year. Click here to see the latest videos and visit Mark’s website to find out more about the Narrowboat Sessions.