Flyotw Curate always has and will always be a passion project for Flyotw. Our last Curate project was called ‘Pedigree’ which consisted of London-based electronic band Meraqi and fellow Londoner, rapper and teacher, Imagery. I have always wanted to call folk from London; Londonite’s but I can’t because Londonite is an isometric-hextetrahedral mineral.
Back in March 2016, ‘Pedigree' was published, we said, and I quote "we want to make things happen. Make people, meet new people and explore new opportunities within their music. This is the early steps to what we call Curate.” Guess what’s changed since then? Sod all. Flyotw still wants to do this, and I think we always will.
The second of our Flyotw Curate has been, what you could call a slow roast. The project started well over a year ago. It was filmed over a series of months, on and off due to other commitments over at Flyotw Collective. Something always difficult when it comes to producing and creating. You end up being so attached to it you lose sight of what you started out wanting to achieve. Any fellow creative can empathise with this.
That said, that’s what this Flyotw Curate became about for many of the musicians involved. Being re-inspired by other creatives and placing yourself in a productive space your not used too. Often, people get comfortable in their creativity, they find a formula and stick to it which lends its self to complacency without challenge. Casey Neistat recently ended his very successful YouTube vlog for this very reason. He stopped wanting to swing to the next vine because it became easy to hold on to the current one. Furthermore, our recent Journal with travel photographer Jon Reid also talks about the relationship of curiosity and creativity. If you don’t stay curious, your creations will suffer. Always swing to that next vine, something at Flyotw, we encourage and try to practice.
The Hadal Zone — named after the realm of Hades, the underworld in Greek mythology — is a trench zone found at a depth of around 6,000 metres (20,000 ft) to the bottom of the ocean. This mysterious limbo found itself as the muse for a piece of music composed by pianist Toby Nelms.
We first came across Toby a few years back. A gentleman, willing to share ideas and eager to collaborate with other like-minded creatives. We originally featured Toby on Edition/Ello when we first started filming this mini-documentary.
This original piece later crafted into its final composition by the curated band, Scrufizzer, Rewd Adams, Josh Bevan, John Garner, Toby Nelms, Matt Gedrych and Joe Pearson. It then became something broader, more conceptual, a reclassified version of the original. Hadal Zone was a piece with greater depth, shape and flexibility than was originally thought by Toby.
The first time the eclectic group bound together was at The Royal College of Music. The small production team set up and aimed to capture the first moments of creativity. The musicians spent a few hours flicking through some pieces that Toby had stashed in his weathered, leather-bound book of ideas. It wasn’t long until a much less moulded, slower version of ‘Hadal Zone’ surfaced. The band seemed to slot in with the progression of the music immediately, Josh and Scrufizzer bounced back vowel sounds and harmonies which led them to have a unified conclusion of what imagery the instrumental was drawing upon. Josh described it as “a kind of, torn up love one”.
A couple of months down the line the group rejoined for a second visit. This time with a more solidified idea of what will become of ‘Hadal Zone’. The character in the room was warm and confident and felt like a reunion of families, similarly to one of which your aunt and uncle would fly in from another country once a year. A welcome gathering. This feeling extended itself to the production team, as for Flyotw director James McKenzie-Blyth, he was seeing cinematographer Craig Smith and photographer Lee Kirby for the first time, in a long time. A right creative bunch. The band spent the day finalising, discussing and making contributions to the project. By the end of the second rehearsal the song was completed and ready to be tracked.
A date for recording at Evolution Studios was set. A glorious space, built, owned and run by audio engineer Nick Moorbath, an equally important personality in this Curate project. A man with a wealth of knowledge in the music industry and someone who has spent considerable time in the Oxford music scene.
‘Hadal Zone’ was tracked through Nicks Trident 80B, a comfortably warm and punchy console with sweet sounding EQ’s designed by the God-Father of British EQ’s, Malcolm Toft. This particular Trident has a great history, which is worth a read.
Alongside Toby, our good friend and frequent project backpacker John Garner. John Garner's stringed accompaniment is somewhat sort after in our circle. His bow brings smooth textures and his occasional flurries of pizzicato, accent parts of the music that need it. Jazz Drummer, Joe Pearson and Bassist Matt Gedrych ended up being the lynch-pin for the song. Matt Gedrych’s bass, grooved along with the drums providing a warm and well-rounded foundation for Joe's drums which took the melancholy undertones and provided them with a forward pace. A drive that only a well-seasoned drummer would recognise when forming a song, including rappers such as Scrufizzer and Rewd Adams.
London rappers Scrufizzer and Rewd Adams set the pace for ‘Hadal Zone’. Scrufizzer’s grimey “fizzy-flow” skipped on top of the foundations laid by the band and Rewd Adams's more traditional hip-hop roots kept the piece grounded. Even more impressive, Rewd Adams jumped in on the recording session last minute, having not rehearsed with rest of the band at all before that day. Finally, Josh Bevan. Another frequent on Flyotw’s platform. This man's vocals are steady enough to lean on. Josh’s power determined the success of Hadal Zone's chorus and Josh truly delivered. A vocal cherry upon a melodic cake. Yum.
This Curate Project was defiantly a labour of love for everyone involved and a mantra we've always stood by. Hard work is always worth it if you have grown in the process. Flyotw learnt how differently approach the next Curate project of this size and we learnt that we want to shoot and create more of this content.
Anyway, personal thanks from myself, George Hopcraft and James Mckenzie-Blyth to everyone involved. You can watch the live session over on our YouTube channel now. It’s worth it.