Way before Facebook took over, before Whatsapp and Twitter updates and global news every second, there was, once upon a time, MySpace. I was an avid member of it around 2007, as most musicians were at the time. I posted some music of my own on my profile page and one day I got a call from NYC, from a person who said he represented a well known music producer. He told me that the producer had heard my music on MySpace and believed "I was on to something". Receiving the call, as I was, in my hometown of Amsterdam, I was amazed by this cosmopolitan experience, the feeling I got from this virtual encounter. Back then such things were still a new thrill, back in the Web 2.0 days. Even more dazzling was that I got invited to come to NYC to finish off my album with the producer, who turned out to be the legendary Tony Visconti.
Arriving in New York I met with Tony and was immediately put at ease by his well-mannered and sensitive nature, he was a very clam presence and I felt very trusting. In a typically NYC manner, we started working straight away without the need for small talk, which I am used to in my own small country of the Netherlands.
The album, a spoken word record in seven languages soundtracked by me, needed one more guest vocalist and, through Visconti, that became the now late Lou Reed. The album is called Recitement and was a work I was very proud of. Not only because of its own artistic result, but also as in Visconti, I finally met someone who I needn't explain what to do or what I felt was needed for the best results. Clearly why his most famous collaborator DavidBowie, always goes back to him when he feels he wants to make a real DB album.
About 14 months ago I was in touch again with Visconti to invite him to work on my new album, this time intended to be a tribute to the lost art of pop crooning. I wanted to emulate classic pop, songs that had as little repeats in them as possible. Think Scott Walker singing a Brian Wilson song with timeless sounds and contemporary lyrics. I didn't want it to be 'retro' per se but a best of now and then. Visconti was very busy at that moment with, unbeknownst to me, Bowies new (at the time secret) album but to nevertheless, to my joy said a warm Yes to producing me again.
Given the geographical distance between us we had to work on it via the internet at first with singers and musicians from Canberra, Australia, Bristol, Bath, Amsterdam and London, and we finally met in Abbey Road Studios to mix the new songs. It again felt very familiar and it only took so much as a nod at each other tomake a decision about musical direction. Some of the vocalists were awestruck by the idea that they were now being heard, judged and produced by the man responsible for the classic recordings of what we all recognise as being one of the best popvoices of all time. And some of those singers, by no means novices, have already earned some considerable success for themselves, such as Glen Gregory from Heaven 17.
The album's name 'International Blue' has a clear reason behind it. Inspired by Yves Klein, an artist who devoted his life to (successfully!) finding the most beautiful colour blue on earth, and because all contributors on the new album live all across the world, it's a global project bringing together so many different people that would once have seemed impossible. It seems the virtual cosmopolitan feel of those early MySpace days has in fact, now become a real-life reality.
Single Untouchable feat. Glen Gregory is out April 7th & album
International Blue is out June 7th. More info: www.stephenemmer.com