Friday 20 April 2018

The music studio on its way to your phone

Video may have killed the radio star, but one video director could make everyone a digital star. That's the promise of a revolutionary new mobile phone app co-developed by Kevin Godley, once of synth-pop giants 10CC and Godley & Creme and one of the most successful pioneers of the art of the music video ever (think U2, The Police, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Duran Duran).

I'm shadowing the 66-year-old Lancashire-born, Wicklow-based impresario as he films a gaggle of Irish musicians in Dublin's Westland Studios. Long hours have been spent in numerous recording sessions, capturing performances by everyone from the Republic Of Loose's Mik Pyro and The Edge to indie popstrels Gemma Hayes and Cathy Davey.

Studio producer and engineer Lance Hogan -- of the band Kila -- is the director of operations, manning the controls and overseeing the running order.

He explains how Hayes laid down a basic vocal and acoustic guitar part before handpicking musicians to embroider the song with bass, drums, electric guitar, string arrangements -- and who knows what else by the time you read this.

All the while, Godley is swooping with his camera, videoing the individual musicians. He will then adapt the audio and visual content for the app, titled Whole World Band, that he has created in tandem with his techie-in-chief Andy Wood.

Launching initially on Apple's iPhone 4, 4s and iPad2 in March (with Android to follow), Whole World Band is an interactive tool that allows you not only to see each musician's performance of a song separately, but also to rearrange the song yourself as you see fit.

And here's the stroke of genius: you can replace any part with your own musical performance and even upload footage shot on your phone of yourself playing your part of the song.

And then the whole iPhone community can download the song with your performance in it and add or subtract their own version of it, before uploading it and leaving it for the next person to tinker with.

So the concept is that a sort of musical chain letter will evolve that allows as many interpretations of a song as there are people in the smartphone universe.

Godley is scheduled to demonstrate his brand-new toy at the Hot Press Music Show, which takes place at Dublin's RDS on February 25 and 26.

He will be there with some of the local rock stars who feature on the app, and members of the public will also get a chance to stick their metaphorical oar in.

I watch as he captures Kieran Kennedy's explosive Fender Telecaster guitar solo and the subtle shadings of former Cry Before Dawn and Fountainhead guitarist Steve Belton, then Godley shows me how it all works on his iPad.

He calls up original footage of former Eurythmics supreme Dave Stewart, who is playing guitar in a room in LA. On multiple split screens, there is footage of Stewart adding percussion and of his daughters weighing in with handclaps.

Don't like the handclaps? No problem, you can remove them from the mix. Think it could do with some didgeridoo? Actually, no track ever could do with some didgeridoo. But you get the idea.

Godley explains: "What I love about this project is how democratic it is. It allows everyone to participate, so that rather than just being consumers, they can bring their own talents and personality to the party.

"The other big selling point is that it enables artists to make money from the music they create. In this age when people expect to download your album for free, that's a significant development.

"If a song becomes massive as part of this app, then the original songwriter will receive a royalty -- depending on how successful it is -- because it's all part of Apple's iTunes system.

"Also, if you were to alter the song and then upload your own version and that went on to sell millions, you would also receive revenue from it. It's a win-win situation."

I've got a feeling that the whole world is going to fall in love with the Whole World Band app. Kevin Godley and friends will demo the Whole World Band app at the Hot Press Music Show in the RDS on February 25 and 26.

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