Eclipse Choir Production

Eclipse Choir with Harp and Flute accompanying

I set up Eclipse Choir earlier this year to combine my love of working with live vocalists/musicians and being a music producer. I find I use the same fundamental principles for both roles and one strongly complements the other. In December we had our second big concert and it was a good demonstration of how bringing live, acoustic performance together with appropriate music technology and production can be really effective. I had budget enough to hire a cellist, harpist, flautist, guitarist, a double bass player and drummer and each played acoustically with no need for any sound reinforcement as the performance space had such a supportive acoustic. I filled in the gaps in accompaniment with elements from Spitfire+LASS’s string library, Omnisphere’s synth pads, 8Dio’s Epic Taiko Drums and snares, XLN’s Addictive Drums 2,  Ilya Efimov’s Duduk, Garritan’s CFX Concert grand, East West’s Symphonic Choirs and Play Orchestra, Air synths such as Loom.

This mixture of live and pre-recorded sound was awesome and it was such a buzz to conduct!

You can read more about Eclipse Choir and our Christmas concert here, and check out the brilliant photos of the event!

The Rockabellas’ Debut Album 2015 – “Bring It Back!”

From Pledge Music through to Project Completion

Following their successful Pledge Music campaign last year, I set about producing the debut album for The Rockabellas.

Having been fully invested in the project from the start of the Pledge campaign, my role as producer covered a broad range of musical duties and I took a very hands-on approach. I was there to assist The Rockabellas in generating creative ideas as well as producing the songs and melodies they brought to me.

Buy the Album Here

Buy on iTunes

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The Rockabellas debut self-penned album, "Bright it Back!"
Album produced by James Hawkins Music

Composition, Arrangement and Production

The Rockabellas are known for having a vintage vibe, and I thoroughly enjoyed writing the string arrangements, brass and other instrumental parts. Then actually recording them with session pals made this album an absolute joy to produce.

The songwriting was a team effort for the first few songs, but then the girls found their stride and went on to complete the album, which is an assortment of sounds centred by The Rockabellas’ trademark close vocal harmonies.

We recorded in various studios, including my private studio in Kingston, The Bunker, and most notably, Studio 2 at Abbey Road Studios.

The great George Shilling mixed and mastered the album and I’m extremely happy with the result!

Production values

I’ve selected some favourite moments from The Rockabellas’ album which you can hear below. These are backing tracks so that you can hear the musical arrangements and production layers. If you’d like to hear more of the album it’s on iTunes, or to purchase a CD copy please visit www.therockabellas.com. It’s a great feel good and fun listen so don’t miss out!

 

 

“Fall At Your Feet” String Arrangement

Jim was asked to prepare a string arrangement for “Fall At Your Feet” for a choir recording at Abbey Road Studios.

Here is the MP3 backing track produced for your enjoyment.

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have a similar backing track or arrangement request.

“Voice of McDonald’s!” In Session with UK Champion Chloe Jones

Chloe Jones at the microphoneChloe Jones won the UK finals in, “The Voice of McDonald’s”, a singing competition held earlier this year. Chloe beat off tough competition to earn herself a place in the European finals this coming Wednesday 2nd October!

This is where the competition heats up as contestants are selected to represent Europe in the world wide final held in Florida, US, next year. The prize at stake is $25,000 and a part in the next Dreamworks animation! WOW!!

Hear Chloe singing and vote for her at: http://www.voiceofmcdonalds.com/voting/europe

Today Chloe and I are recording vocals for her unique version of Fleetwood Mac’s, “Dreams”.

This is a reinvention of this classic song done distinctly in the style of the, “Live Lounge”, featuring Chloe Jones on lead and backing vocals, Rory Harvey on guitar and bass, and production by Jim Hawkins.

Listen to her new audition song:

Good luck to Chloe and we are all rooting for you here in the UK!

Chloe also writes and records her own songs. Hear her latest live session on “OnT’Sofa.com”:

 

 

“I Really Love You”, lyrics and melody by David Bromley, musical arrangement and production by Jim Hawkins

Here’s a great example of how a song can be turned upside down and re-interpreted! David came to me with this song and described how he wanted it to sound a little bit like Blondie, a bit edgy and contemporary.

If you listen to the acoustic demo version brought to me as a guide track, you will  hear how this song is perfectly capable of being a folky-“guitary”-pop style, but I was more concerned with David’s want for it to sound contemporary and similar to  a Blondie style of song.

Initially, I set about production by listening to Blondie and checking in on iTunes with what’s going on in the teen-music/dance pop genre. I was scared! I finally took great influence and inspiration from Daft Punk’s latest album, with particular focus on their single, “Get Lucky”. This production combined live acoustic instruments with electronic synthesisers and a cool dance/disco groove. I wanted to do that!

The lyrics and melody to, “I Really Love You”, are simple, memorable, honest, fun, playful, targeted towards the younger listener and so I wanted the production to highlight this and keep the sound similar to current trends so that listeners can identify with the music behind the lyrics.

It has been my mission to use various session musicians to help develop the arrangement, get a live feel and realise the potential in the song. For too long I have tried to do everything individually…lesson has been learned! I think the song is centred on Rory Harvey’s imaginative and technically challenging bass line, his, “Nile Rogers”, guitar chops along with Lisa Andreas’s versatile and on-point vocals! They each brought something valuable and inspiring to the process, ideas I would never have had on my own. To top it off. they were both highly professional, very easy to work with and generally cool!

You will hear live drums (Jim Hawkins), live bass guitar (Rory Harvey), live and programmed synthesisers (Jim Hawkins), live guitar (Rory Harvey) and vocals + backing vocals by Lisa Andreas.

Overall, I feel we got the best out the song, we made the right decisions with style, tempo and production. I’ve learned a lot from building this song and hope that you can hear the production aims and objectives as described above.

I present to you, “I Really Love You”, Lyrics and melody by David Bromley, musical arrangement, recording and production by Jim Hawkins.

 

 

 

 

In session with Carrie Rawlings!

Carrie Rawlings at the micCarrie Rawlings on the keys

Carrie is an accomplished session vocalist/pianist and actress who has performed around the world in both cabaret and theatre for the last decade.

Here Carrie is recording her latest piano/vocal interpretations of popular songs and we hope to be developing them into full productions later this year.

For now, please enjoy the seed of something very special!

 

O2 and Echo Arena!

In July I performed on stage at both the O2 and Echo Arenas as part of “Rock Choir Live!”.

Not only that, but I had been commissioned to produce the first 15 minutes of music for the show and after almost 6 months of patient waiting, I finally got to hear my sounds played back through a mega PA installation and in front of an excited crowd! To hear the cheers of excitement of over 15,000 people was phenomenal! The best bit was actually hearing the crowd cheering in all the places I hoped they would from the start of the soundtrack! It was an awesome experience!

UPDATE! This is the video of the show released in Jan 2014 and below is the backing track…

Here’s the first song of the show that I produced (backing track) which came in at around 5 minutes into the introduction sequence:

 

Rock Choir Live at the O2

The Rock Choir Team 2013

Jim sang at the )2

My-team-after-the-show-at-the-O2

 

O2 and Echo Arena shows (backing track)

I am pleased with the overall effect of this track and instrumental arrangement of the classic Queen song “We Will Rock You”. This forms part of a 15 minute, tension-building, intro-sequence I composed and produced for the Rock Choir. It is due to be performed with live vocals in June and July 2013 as part of a sold-out national event hosted at the Echo and O2 Arenas. MENTAL!!!