There’s a good story behind most things…
I remember exactly when I got the phone call. I had reached that point in every musician’s career: time to get a day job. Despite the amazing success of my last project ‘The Imagined Village’, the royalties were years away and whatever was going to drip out of the pipeline was hardly going to sustain my family and me. I had never received so much critical acclaim and I had never been so broke. So with my house on the market in response to the terminal decline of the music industry and CD piracy putting me and my mates out of business it was now time to do what every self respecting musician does when you hang up the guitar strap: join the post office, or drive a mini cab. I had left school with no qualifications but managed to get to university and go onto do a PhD in an area of philosophy so obscure it still makes my head hurt thinking about it. I can’t read or write music so teaching was out of the question. Then the phone rang:
“Hello, it’s Mark Constantine here, do you know who I am?”
“Haven’t a clue mate.”
“Well I started up the Lush Shops, heard of them?”
“Err no. “
In fact I lied, I hadn’t heard of Lush but when my band The Imagined Village played at the Poole Art Centre, I had invited my local Dorset Bird Watching group along with the incentive of free tickets. One of them pointed out to me a rather formidable figure holding forth in a loud booming voice dressed resplendent in a very loud Paul Smith floral shirt.
“That’s Mark Constantine; he’s an Uber Bird Watcher. He’s planning to record every European native bird song. He’s re-defined bird sound recording and identification. He’s a legend”
Yeah whatever….just another bird watcher on the blag for some free music. Mark continued:
“So Simon, saw your gig in Poole, love what you’re doing and it’s inspired me to open up a string of Spa’s I want you to compose some music for, fancy the gig?”
“Err…..yeah I could do with some work, I’ll run it past the band and phone you back.”
Now for me, having spent the last thirty years on the road, gigging, hanging out in dodgy recording studios doing late night sessions a Spa means only one thing: the 24-hour lifeline for a Musician. It’s were you go to get your Lucazade energy boost, or rizzla when they run out.
I phoned Eliza Carthy, singer and fiddle player in the band:
“Hey Eliza some bird watching bloke from Poole wants us to do a load of music for a supermarket chain he’s opening up. Something to do with Spa’s. Say’s he’s involved in some bubble bath thing called Lush.”
“I think you’ll find dear boy, the Spa’s he’s talking about are health spa’s and I suggest you do your research on Lush because it’s a bit more than ‘a bubble bath thing’ “
So I did what all information deficient dads’ do, I asked my 11-year-old daughter what Lush was.
“OH MY GOD. Lush is just soooooo cool. I CAN”T BELIEVE you haven’t heard of them. They just like totally dominate the high street with all these amazing smells that come from these exploding things you put in the bath and all these stars and fairies and bits of trees and flowers like burst out and like you go into the shops and it’s full of all this amazing smelly stuff dripping off the shelves. I CANT BELIEVE IT, It’s just going to be soooooo brilliant: My Dad Is Going to Be Working for Lush”
and then she was gone….
Funny thing is she didn’t have this response when I told her I was going to be making a record with Peter Gabriel.
I phoned Mark back:
“What is it you want me to do Mark?”
“Well first you’ll have to come down here to Poole and have a series of massages with our beauty therapist, then once you feel ready and inspired I want you to compose some music based around the massage and my bird recordings.”
“OK. Lets meet”
As we are both industry hardened businessmen we decided to combine the business deal with some late summer bird watching on the Dorset Coast. He picks me up in his car and what should be playing on the car stereo but an extremely obscure bit of film music I had only just downloaded that week: The Main Theme from ‘Son Of Rambo’. Mark knew all about the composer, the film, and the guy’s previous catalogue. Not only was he a bird watcher, he was a musical train spotter. I knew we’d get on.
I met up with my fellow co-composer and producer Richard Evans, a true bohemian gentleman, genius studio boffin, all round multi instrumentalist and one who is not unfamiliar to the world of Spa’s and the sweet smell of aromatherapists. Days turned into perfumed, relaxed months of massages and more massages. The swallows left, the swallows returned. And in between being scented down with oils and herbs by beautiful beauty therapists fully conversant in the ways of relaxation, we composed some more. We made a trip to Budapest to record the orchestra, were as you know the 1st spa’s were invented and we had some more treatments, and relaxed a bit more and recorded the orchestra and composed a bit more but this time around some Nordic Hawk Owls recorded by Mark at night in a Fyord at minus 25c (you have to be hard to be a real bird watcher).
Then there was the nightjars and the nightingales and the rooks at Corfe Castle. It was a tough gig but some one had to do it. Finally it was done. The music finished. The therapy complete.
“And now”, said Mark, “lets start a record label and we’ll call it ‘Emmerson, Corncrake and Constantine’, you’ll go onto a wage so for the 1st time in 30 years you can relax, enjoy your job and continue to do what you and your musician friends do best: make music that I love and that inspires me, the people I work for and all your fans. But finally, just to show you how much I respect you, here is a piece of art that my eldest son and heir has bequeathed to you. I want it to be our new record company logo. I hope you like it”: