News & Insights 11 December 2012

Emily, Andy Baldwin & The City That Never Sleeps

George in Andy's Chinatown studio, laying down guitars. You can tell he's in New York 'cos of his wicked hat.We recently unearthed a version of Lightyears track “Emily” which hardly anybody outside the band has heard before, and we’re giving it away free as part of Project Lightyears – just as soon as we reach 100,000 views. In the meantime, I thought I’d take the opportunity to tell the story behind this unusual version of one of our most popular songs…

During our third American tour, we played a venue in the Lower East Side called Pianos. A producer called Andy Baldwin (who had previously worked with acts like Bjork and Morcheeba) was at the gig and we got chatting afterwards; he said we reminded him of Blur, which as you can imagine we thought was BRILLIANT, and the idea of working together whilst we were in New York was mooted.

Problem was, we didn’t have a lot of time. We were gigging every night – squeezing in meetings and parties inbetween – and were due to fly back to London just a few days later. Turns out the answer was to sacrifice sleep, which partly explains why the recording has an unusually gritty tone for a Lightyears record. We were all completely wired during the recording sessions.

In truth, of course, the grittiness was mainly down to Andy’s production skills – in the past we’ve often been produced to sound clean and poppy, but he was very deliberately going for a much dirtier, edgier sound. I recorded my backing vocal after an all-night bender in Brooklyn (I have no idea how – I had no voice – but somehow Andy got a performance out of me; the man’s a genius), and George’s lead vocals sound uncharacteristically husky, which is rather cool. As a result we have two different versions of the song – Hugh Padgham’s polished, super-charged pop version (online here at Soundcloud and available on our 2009 album London, England) and Andy’s chunky, punchy Britpop version (available at Project Lightyears once the counter hits 100K).

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