I was lucky enough to get to interview Steve Spiro who’s Frequent Traveller album is on SoundCloud for you to listen to. I’ve broken the interview into a number of parts as it is quite long. So here’s part 1, and there’s more to come over the next few days.
What gave you the idea to make an album on your journey?
My background really was always music. I started out as an artist, I suppose, then became a record producer. Produced lots of successful bands in the 80’s and 90’s. Then went on to remix them when the whole house scene kicked in – became quite a prolific person in that era, working with Hammer, Talk Talk and Farm things. Produced The Pet Shop Boys. Then I got into TV music – did a lot of them tunes for BBC Sport and the Olympic Games thing. House music was sort of the accepted background genre for all sports programmes. And I became sort of Mr House Music for the BBC. And I was getting calls from all the producers – it was a great time because I had a little studio in a bedroom in my house; small bit of kit with an Akai S9, Akai S3000, an M1 keyboard and my first ever Mac computer. And that lasted for quite a few years. I did loads of library albums for KPM, did ten albums with them.
Then child number three came along and basically I got shoved out the house and I ran out of space to put my studio – the kid needed it. It was choice between building a loft and putting my studio there or being brave and going out into the outside world and actually starting a business. So I opted for the latter. And basically from that day until about a year ago when I decided to kind of do the album, I didn’t write a piece of music, because I was so busy running the business. Business really took off, was really successful. It’s basically Felt music – basically what we do is sync music for adverts, film and TV. So what I was doing in my role as Creative Producer was managing other writers and guiding them how best to pitch their work and things like that. Which is really good but about a year ago I was sitting on the train, feeling, you know, a bit depressed that I hadn’t written any music for eight years and really missed it. And thought, well I’m stuffed really because I can’t do it during the day because I’m so busy with work and I can’t do it at night because I need to be with my family. But I’ve got an hour each day when I’m just sitting on the train; I have this kit bag, which is fantastic and I went out and bought myself an M Audio keyboard which I haven’t got on me now, and I had my lap top and everything and I thought, Well, with a good pair of headphones I could just sit here and just write music.
And I had this idea of calling it ‘Frequent Traveller’ – I just thought ‘Frequent Traveller’ was such a cool name for a project. It’s what I do – I sit on the train twice a day and I do this thing. And I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t spend any time on it apart from my train journey time, because I didn’t want it to take over my life. Also, it was going to be a project for me not something I had write hit records for or pitch to record companies. It was more about nurturing my soul, I think, nurturing a really important part of my life which I’d had to leave behind. And it was supposed to fun.
Mornings were very different from evening sessions. Mornings were more practical, me mapping out sounds that I wanted to use, textures and things and then in the train in the evening after a weary day, I’d kind of sit there and let the creative pores kind of open and home in on the things I’d started in the morning and just really work on them. When I first started making music, in the mid 80’s, the only place you could make music was in a big recording studio and they were very, very expensive, you’d need to have an A&R man from a record company interested in giving you a bit of demo time, or you had to have a rich uncle or something like that. So, every time I went into the studio, that was like with a love band, and I had to get musicians in and everything else. And to think that I had just sat on the train and occupied a quarter of a table for a year and manufactured an album or whatever with a tiny bit of kit which will fit in this bad, is quite an incredible achievement really in technology and everything. So, I’m pretty chuffed that that’s around because that’s what enabled my to make the album.
How do you think the experience of traveling has changed the process of making music for you?
I think that all the tracks on the album are basically built around the landscape of that part of the journey, every track on the album is named after the station.
Stay tuned for the next part of the interview coming tomorrow.