About this Playlist
70 years of musical influences have created the ‘Human Rhythms and Algorithms Sound’ from Disco to Dub and House to Hip Hop, Soul n’ Funk, some Jazz, a bit of Post Punk and Indie and of course some Rock n’ Pop and everything in between. The Hoof brings you the latest music and some classics, all taking influence from what went before and what the future will bring, the latest selection is brought to you from his favourite label Ramrock Records.
Greenwood & Horn’s ‘Towards the Sun’ is a powerful follow up to last year’s White Isle classic, ‘Dust of Falling Stars’. With Ali Horn’s beautifully laid back lyrical delivery and Ian Greenwood’s masterful melodies, ‘Towards the Sun’ will be raising the heat wherever it’s played.
So who are Greenwood & Horn, back in the 70’s, you’ll find a young Winsford born Ian Greenwood sharing a bedroom with his much older uncle listening to Northern Soul classics, with his older sister in the room next door singing into a hairbrush to Motown classics…fast forward to his first band Sunset Over Berlin who later became Day Without Rain which gave Greenwood his first real taste of the music business when the band found themselves in the world-famous Amazon Studio’s recording their first EP ‘The Way She Was’ with John Murphy (Thomas Lang) on production duty. Then came a stint with Widnes Indie band 35 Summers who went on to sign to RCA Records and released two singles, ‘Really Down’ and ‘I Didn’t Try and also having the accolade of doing not one but two John Peel sessions.
Ian then joined Wirral Indie band Fishmonkeyman and it was with them that Greenwood cut his production teeth, experimenting with electronic music, a collaboration with Chameleons drummer, John Lever and building his home studio named AM studios. Ian produced his own house productions undervarious disguises such as Oscar Le Mons and Damoon and going on to manage Liverpudlian group, The Sugarmen. Mick Jones of The Clash was such a huge fan of the band that he produced their debut album at Paul Weller’s Rockfield studio. Over the next five years Greenwood invested heavily in his home studio and was pondering his next career move when lockdown came along, and he started writing music + producing again. Keen to find the right vocalist to accompany his work Greenwood called up the bass player from The Sugarmen, Ali Horn – and so the ‘Greenwood & Horn’ story begins….
Ali Horn picks up the story: “I actually first met Ian when he was managing The Sugarmen in Liverpool over 10 years ago –crazy!!! I think we’d been aware of each other’s projects since then and then lockdown was the perfect time for acollaboration”. Ali was born in London, raised in Liverpool and has been playing music as long as he can remember. He’s been integral part of many influential bands such as Strange Collective, The Sugarmen and Post Romantics, Horn knows his way around a hazy, laid back tune and has found just the right balance between slices of Surf, Psychedelia, Folk and Alt-Indie in his musical output and vocal delivery. Having released his debut E.P. ‘It Wears Off’ in December 2019, Ali spent the majority of 2020 documenting, writing and recording his debut album ‘Balcony Boys’, which hit the shelves on the 16th July2021 via Loominance Records, a label that Horn set up with a couple of friends.
His music is a firm favourite of BBC Radio Merseyside’s Dave Monks, BBC Radio 6’s Liz Kershaw with sessions for BBC Introducing and BBC Wales and featured on Tom Robinson’s 6Music ‘Fresh on the Net’.
The Hoof caught up with Ian for a chat..
So how have you kept busy during the last year or so, did the time during the pandemic stifle your creativity or did the free time allow you to experiment more.
We’ve been really busy of late. Ali has is own solo work going on as he’s promoting his second album Balcony Boys right now. I’m always busy is the studio writing away. The pandemic obviously gave us more time to be creative, but it was also a time for me to use the time to correctly and make the most of spending full days in the studio. Before the pandemic lock down I’d have the odd spare hour through the week and maybe half a day over the weekend. I actually started to compose as if it was my day job.. up in the morning, go for a run then straight in to the studio for the rest of the day.. which for me was a dream job. When you you are not under pressure to be more creative, you can be more experimental with your sounds. I’m an old school analog guy so I like to see what happens if I link certain bits of hardware together to create new or different sounds. With the last release ‘Dust of Falling Stars’ I experimented with a lot of different guitar sound effects. Most of the trippy sounds on the record are from the guitar.
What’s the inspiration behind your music
I’ve always been a big fan of electronic music producers who push boundaries.. anyone can purchase software and throw a few loops down on a house beat, but not everyone can make music that moves people both emotionally and physically. I remember seeing the Chemical Brothers live in Liverpool when they first formed, and I was like ‘wow how did they make that sound’. I used to work for a local PA company so I always had access to the back stage area, so I’d be looking at the set up to see what gear they were using. I found that very useful haha. Then there was David Holmes, Leftfield, The Orb and Future Sounds of London.
Tell us about your writing and recording process, what instruments, hardware or software to you use.
My first instrument is the guitar, I’ve been playing since I was around 12 years old. I have never been one to learn other peoples songs and from an early age I just wanted to write my own songs based on what I was listening to at the time. Most of the time I’ll pick up my guitar and jam around with ideas.. I’m more creative playing outside of my studio as I don’t feel I’m under any pressure to come up with something. Once I have an idea I like, I’ll record it into my phone, then I’ll go grab my bass guitar and jam around to my recording to get a feel of the direction.. The next step will be to fire up my studio and get to work.
Here’s how my studio is set up.. I have an Allen & Heath 16 channel mixing desk that links into my soundcard then into my 2005 PC… yes 2005, if it ain’t broke…! I’ve been using Cubase as my DAW since the mid 90’s and will continue to use it and all it’s my personal choice and it works for me. I have a friend who comes over to update things and load me up with VSTI’s and other plug ins. So into the channels of the desk I have a Technics 1210 for listening or sampling vinyl, a Poineer CDJ for the same purpose, a channel for my bass guitar (I use a Fender Precision Bass) I have various bass effects I like to use, my favorite pedal is the Electro-Harmonix Mono Synth pedal. You can get some great bass sounds from this. Then there’s the guitar channel, I use a Boss GT100 effects processor most of the time, there a lot of scope for pushing the presets with this and finding wacky sounds. I use two external keyboards, a Novation Ultra Nova and Microkord XL (small but powerful for its size and full to play around with).
Then I have a channel for my Audio Technica AT4040 microphone. (I like to experiment with percussion sounds as well as using this for my visiting vocalists) I have a large number of guitars locked away but my go-to guitars are my Fender Strat and Fender Telecaster. I also have two Taylor acoustic guitars for when I’m in that mood. Finally I have a Roland tr8 drum machine.. and that’s where I start my recording process.I start off with just a kick drum that I use as a basic click track over a 16 bar loop. I then record the guitar part, making sure I’m happy with sound of the guitar, then I play the bass part in.
Once I have this foundation I then start to experiment with sounds, I may stay with the guitar or I might start building melodies with the synths. I have a lot of VSTI synths to choose from as well. Once I have created a wall of sound that I’m happy with (based around the original guitar part) I’ll then start to look at a full song arrangement.I will also look start to look at drum loops that will suit the track. I like to use old records or to sample drums. I have quite a good selection of my own drum samples that I’ve collected over the years.
The recording process I use is is a bit like painting a picture, I throw all kinds of different things at the canvas to see what works, and quite often I have a finished track that I know I could never re-create. I also mix the track as I am going, placing things in the mix and equalizing my sounds as I’m building. At this stage I always think it’s good idea to have an ear break and go listen to something else before I start to arrange the track. I would say that I spend most of my time on a track arranging it, listening back to see what should drop in or out, what doesn’t need to be there etc.. If it’s track that I have made for a vocalist, I have to think about space and try to consider what a vocalist would like to sing against.
I used this recording process on the last release ‘Dust Of Falling Stars’ knowing that a vocalist could lift the feel of the track and take it in another direction, and that’s exactly what Ali Horn did.
What is your 2023 looking like, what are your hopes and dreams, do you have any exciting plans, new releases, tours or gigs.
2023 is looking really good for myself and Ali Horn as we have another 3 tracks to back up Dust of Falling Stars. One of which is ‘Towards the Sun’ out on Ramrock Records now, with remixes from the NSW crew coming soon. I also DJ, one of my goals is to try and get out of the studio and go and play the records I love listening to. I’m more of an early evening laid back kind of DJ who likes to play anything from Nightmares On Wax to Jimi Jules.
Mark Doyle from Hedkandi has been pushing Dust of Falling Stars on his radio show, and lot of Balearic radio shows are saying great things about the track, so we’d like to go and do some live PA appearances in the future.
Can you give us a classic track, something that has inspired you or simply one you love and never get sick of listening to.
I only heard this track about 6 years ago in a coffee shop in the lake district. I didn’t have a signal so I asked had to ask a member of staff to ID the track. It was Sebastien Tellier ‘La Ritournelle’. I have to play it in my studio every couple of weeks. I just love the way the piano sits on the drums, then the orchestration builds and builds.. then the vocals come in and take it to another level. It’s a song that’s full of emotion and will still sound great in 20 years time.
Can you recommend any new music, something that you’ve just discovered or are just really digging at the moment.
I’m really into all the electronic producers that are pushing boundaries. Jimi Jules, Bonobo, Four Tet, Bakai, T.E.E.D. I’m also loving the UK jazz scene at the minute. I spend most of my Saturday’s listening to 6 music, Jams, Gilles etc..
Do you think playlists are important, what types do you enjoy, in your opinion, what’s the future of the playlist.
I’m always putting my own playlist together and sharing with my daughter Georgia who’s also crazy about music. It’s always been healthy for music, we were doing cassette playlist for our holidays back in the 80’s. It’s a great way of selecting artist and songs you like without having to listen to the whole album that may contain some songs you don’t really feel. I don’t mind other peoples playlists but I’d rather listen to my own or listen back to a radio show of my choice, this way you get to know about the background of the artist rather than just hearing the song.
How do you prefer your music to be heard, streams, downloads or physical product sold. Why?
I was always a fan of hard copies, going to the local record shop and feeling your records etc.. but I’m happy to move with the times and I think as much a people are saying there’s a vinyl revival, the truth is, we will be mostly listening to music on our devices in the future. I love to put on an old record in my studio and kick back and enjoy the moment but I’ll also plug my phone into my desk and listen to what’s new out there.
How do you connect with your audience, email, social media, PR firms.
Hmm not a good question for me as I’m not a fan of ‘the socials’All the music I’ve released over the years has been promoted by the PR companies employed by the label. I had a Facebook years ago and each time I released a record I would have 3 friends like the post. I love to get out and meet people, local gigs, DJ events that have decent artist on and I’m there. Festivals etc.. go and say hello to people who like you and your music, it’s for more healthy for the soul… see you at bar!
What’s the best way a fan could help you today if they had just ten minutes to spare.
Tell their friends to tell their friends to tell their friends why they like my music. I’m a teacher in a college and I’m always sending my music to the students… spread the love of music!
What would you be doing right now, if it wasn’t for your career in music.
I’m only a part time musician/producer and in my spare time I climb mountains. I have a holiday home in North Wales, I’d love to be a mountain guide talking about music and songs to my clients.