“This album begins with me and Shaggy,” announces Maxi Priest on the phone from New York. “It begins with a friendship that I will treasure for life and one that we’ve been able to maintain, despite all the troubles and trials we’ve been through in the music business. Every up and down that I’ve experienced, he can almost repeat the same thing, but we’ve often taken time out to work together, going back to songs like I Believe In Love, That Girland various others that we’ve written over the years.
“There’s a genuine chemistry between us and every time I’d go check him at Ranch – Shaggy’s studio in New York – he’d always encourage me to sit in and create something.
“Some of the songs that you’re hearing now were written maybe a year ago, except we weren’t doing them with the idea of making an album. That came later with input from my manager Toby Ludwig and Shaggy, who wanted to put another branch out there as a producer. He’s been a massive influence on me in the making of this album… ”
It’s a frosty winter’s evening down in Melbourne, Australia and Brendan Love, bassist and one quarter of the admirable Teskey Brothers [along with singer Josh Teskey, brother Sam [guitar] and drummer Liam Gough] is fielding my Skype call ahead of the August release of the band’s second album, Run Home Slow. Love’s other three buddies are, as we converse, on a plane to Europe for a series of gigs that will begin with the Love Supreme Festival. He, meanwhile, is taking a short off-road break to recover from the pressures of getting said album finished and shipped to Universal records on time.
“Yeah, I went through a bit of a rough time during the recording process and when we got to the end of it, I fell in a bit of a heap on the floor,” he says, with disarming honesty. “So I’m taking a short break. I’ll be jumping back in in a couple of weeks. I’ll be over there in the autumn, don’t you worry about that… ”
One of the positive aspects of the 21stcentury music business – despite all the illegal downloads, underpaid streaming and homogenization of mass-market pop – has been the creative flourish supplied by the indie scene. Whilst it’s true that an artist’s latest album is now unlikely to generate much income by itself, the internet at least makes it possible for recorded works to reach markets around the world that conventional territory/market boundaries would previously have blocked off. And while most artists will struggle to pay even one grocery bill out of Spotify royalty payments, at least they ought to be able to create and build audiences for their live shows – which, of course, could as easily be in their hometown as on the other side of the globe.
Indeed, the fun for we Echoes journos of late has been in attempting to stay abreast of all the great indie music out there – an impossible but still rewarding task, and usually one that demands you spend long hours sifting through relative sand in order to locate the genuine sparklers.
Accompanists sometimes do much more than make a bandleader sound better through a careful choice of notes. They can also contribute to their songbook. Guitarist Tony Remy, a first-call name for many in British jazz, signs up for both these mission statements. He likes to craft simmering melodies as well as take burning solos, as can be heard on his fine collaborations with vocalist Sarah Jane Morris.
“I was able to get in on the writing and be more of a creative payer, not just a sideman,” says Remy. “I’m not really interested in that. And me and Sarah clicked… ”