This is going back into history with an archive of recordings produced over a span of 20 years !
Bizarre Inc Megamix
Bizarre Inc – Nogozone megamix
This was the first megamix produced by Reeves and myself in 1992 with nothing more than a reel to reel, an SL1200 and an Ensoniq SQ2
This megamix was commissioned by the acts management for inclusion on their last single release
U2R came from the roots laid down in around 1991 by a meeting between Chris Woods (Me) & Reeves Watson.
Reeves, a successful club and mobile DJ in Essex was upping his game by editing together artist megamixes for release through DMC, a rival to Music Factory who were behind the Jive Bunny productions. Reeves was also very involved with radio productions and was looking for someone to provide keyboarding and production skills.
Around this time, I had returned to the UK having spent five or six years in Germany, building up a collection of sythesizers and electonic musical equipment and learning/inventing ways of recording. Oh the joys of bouncing tracks on a 2 channel reel to reel to create ‘interesting’ compositions.
Nick Kane – The Finest
Nick Kane – Nogozone – Finest – Vocal
A cover of the SOS band classic, nick presented us with our first ‘decent’ vocal but was busy with his own projects including Africa so this project was a one-off.
U-Turn feat. Marie G – Don’t Go
U-Turn – Dont go – club correction mix
We were chasing a record deal like thousands of others and thought the way to go was with danced up covers. It wasn’t a bad plan and this track was bootlegged and got quite a bit of Ibiza club play at the time (around 1994) under our first alias.
Rie – I’ll be around
Rie – Ill be around – vocal
Another dancy cover, this time featuring Rie who’s previous claim to fame being one of the guitar wielding babes in the Robert Palmer ‘Addicted to Love’ video. A couple of tracks came to fruition in the course of chasing the dream. Rie continued to work with a guitarist we knew called Ian Brown (Not that one!)
Tasmin Archer – Sleeping Satellite
Tasmin Archer – Sleeping Satellite – Nogozone 93 remix
Another avenue we pursued was the middle ground between megamixes and fully original productions, making use of acapellas as they became available. This was still 1992, so it came down to what you could find on a B-side or the editing room floor.
Shai – If I ever fall in love
Shai – If I ever fall in love – Nogozone 93 remix
Remixed from a bonus track on their CD, this was a direct record company demo to get a deal. We were yet to discover that sending out tapes was not the way to go.
Take That – It only takes a minute
Take That – It only takes a minute – Nogozone US 12 Remix
The first remix commission came via Take That’s road manager at the time while they were trying to break the US. We were asked to come up with a remix for the US market however their UK label knew nothing about it and tried to slap a law suit on us. At the time, we knew more about Take That’s behind the scenes activities than the UK record company wanted to have public and the matter was dropped. Shame really, it was a good mix.
Back in the UK, now armed with a 4 track portastudio, Reeves approached me to create musical and rhythm tracks to tie in the segments on his megamixes and Anthem Productions was born. I was already hunting for and working with vocalists to produce dance tracks but to be fair to them, none quite delivered the big soulful diva style vocals I was hoping for and with my inspiration coming from acts such as C&C music factory, Chaka Khan, Prince and electronica such as Kraftwerk they were both musically exciting times and technologically frustrating times. Without the budget for decent outboard gear, mixers or samplers, it was amazing what we managed to do. In attempt to generate revenue for decent equipment, we started producing radio commercials, took on board a third partner (Who was a guitarrist) but turned out to be bone idle. A partnership was created, a princes youth business trust award won and the partnership dissolved in order to remove the dead wood.
One good thing did come from the third partner, an intoduction to Rich Kersey who had travelled a similar musical path to me but with more live experience. He had a publishing contract with a major record company but wanted to get involved with sound engineering as well. Although without a financial interest in what was now the Nogozone. Now with 3 studios in one building, pooled resources and an additional producer, Ian Sharpe, given studio space to pursue his own ambitions in return for writing and singing on radio ads, Nogozone was beginning to make a minor impact.
To cover the rent, we had to make ads. We were beginning to acquire some good advertising commissions but what we were not prepared for was confronting a regional monopoly, a rival production facility which at the time was producing 80% of UK radio commercials. Our biggest local radio station client was pressured into ditching us by this company. In addition, the local council installed CCTV nearby and used this to justify a 200% rates increase. This was simply too much financial pressure and we were forced to disband.
Ian continued on his own for a couple of years and Rich continued writing under contract however as he didn’t need much more than a single keyboard to compose, he left his synths and newly acquired mixing console with me. Reeves, myself and one of our voiceover artistes (Paul Price) regrouped and re-assembled the studio in a basement of an office block in central Ipswich. For a year or so Paul and Reeves managed a business relationship with a company on site which required voiceover casting and recording with my sound engineering skills called into use. This covered the rent along with my DJ’ing.
U2R – A twinkle in the eye…
Whilst scripting, auditioning voiceovers, writing backing tracks and composing relaxation music there wasn’t much time to spend on my real objective of composing, producing and releasing dance music. At this stage I had little DJing experience and relied on contemporary chart/dance productions for inspiration. At the time the style was either euro techno trash or to cut up tracks in a similar vein to Bomb the Bass which in reality led me to create highly disjointed arrangements with moments of true inspiration. I could almost go back today and crop elements to make some quite banging tunes but perhaps best left in the past. We did spend some time producing ridiculous cheesy, toungue in cheek Euro, the inspiration for Dr. Mingemad, a pitched down pimp with a German or Dutch accent. It makes me laugh and shudder to hear it now. It was also the time of ripping off just about everything musically – we did it too when we could afford our first proper sampler, an AKAI S1100. This piece of kit really opened up some possibilities with our old sampler being relegated to playing fart samples to amuse ourselves during vocal sessions.
Dr Mingemad – Skatty Vibe
Dr Mingemad – Take me up
Dr Mingemad – Take me higher
Darell feat. Bridget – Hold on to love
Jaydee – Gotta get over you
Jaydee – Gotta get over you – U2R Dub
Gina – Move your body
Gina – Move your body – U2R House mix
Gina – Move your body – Get the party started mix
Nogozone 5 hour wonders – Sing to the music
Nogozone 5 hour wonders – I can love you
Initially the best acts were the ones that came on sample cd’s – they didn’t need feeding ! However, sample cd’s didn’t have much charisma and didn’t have much stage presence. Rich developed an alter ego by the name Dr. Mingemad and performed on his own tracks as well as ones he was involved in the production of. Contractually he was unable to appear under his own moniker even though we made no money at this stage (In fact we didn’t at any stage !).
As we came across vocalists, they were invited to participate in our productions on the chance of being discovered, something several of them nearly were. Darell liked to hang out in recording studios and when he came to Ipswich, Nogozone had the most going for it. Having provided vocals for Snap and being extremely enthusiastic we paired him up with a vocalist we discovered during auditons for advertising jingle vocalists. The result was Hold on to love, a Euro tinged commercial affair which seemed to suit Darrell’s musical background.
Always on the hunt for that perfect vocal, Rona was invited to record a vocal session from which to grab samples. If anything got signed or profitably released, proceeds were to be split. Unfortunately, several years later a nasty letter arrived however as nothing had gone further than A&R the connection was concluded. Her vocals did get good exposure on several tracks and were widely presented to A&R.
For the fun of it we contacted a local newspaper claiming we had the next big artist to come out of Ipswich – We got a front cover and substantial media and A&R interest without even having a record. We soon came up with a quality set and started to set up PA’s. Commitment time was close at hand and Jaydee bailed out with cold feet. We did have fun doing the PA’s ! -The U2R Dub was a stirring of what was to come though …
Gina was a gigging jazz singer that knew the ropes and represented perhaps the most qualified singer of the roster. By way of doing something completely different we used her vocals on a commercial Euro style production with alternative mixes.
There were also a couple of sample based dance productions following the flavour of the moment which were produced in what seemed like 5 hours but sometimes when you just throw things in the pot you can strike gold.
Working with Rich, the arrangements began to come together and we would join forces in production to varying degrees, generally with me on rhythms and Rich on melodies and songwriting. Rich enjoyed some healthy royalties and stretched to buying the studio an amazing Mackie mixing console which took production to a new level however eventually we ran out of money and had to leave the studio complex. For me an era ended.
This did however provide an excellent education for the next musical phase following the closure of the Nogozone (Which was a really bad name – I know !!!)