Emeli Sandé announced on Twitter that she is writing with Miranda Cooper this week. Last year, Miranda Cooper talked to Red Magazine about Emeli. Miranda said: «She's part of an exciting new generation of producers and writers, and I am always hearing great things about her.»
Emeli Sandé is a 23-year-old Scottish singer and songwriter who has been writing songs since she was 11. A former medical student, she has achieved two top 10 singles in the UK, by collaborating with rapper Chipmunk on "Diamond Rings" (2009), and then with Wiley on "Never Be Your Woman" (2010).
She also sings on Professor Green's "Kids That Love To Dance", and on Tinie Tempah's "Let Go" and is working on her debut album.
Alex Gardner's new single is in stores now. "Feeling Fine" is the follow-up to his debut "I'm Not Mad". It was produced by Xenomania and written by Alex Gardner, Brian Higgins, Jason Resch, Kieran Jones, Tommy Baxter and Simon Tellier.
After receiving mixed feedback, a new version of the song, with reduced vocal effects, is now being released. The digital bundle comes with a remix by Wez Clarke, while the CD-S is backed by an acoustic version of "I Wanna Be With Her".
If you buy the CD from the Universal Music store you'll get an exclusive signed copy - buy it here. See the reviews, read the lyrics and watch the video.
Nadine from Girls Aloud has said that her debut solo album has a running storyline and that the self-penned tracks each tell a part of the story:
«I wanted the album to be very real, in terms of real instruments. No auto-tune, a full gospel choir on there, really heavy backing vocals, lyrical content that made sense - but not lyrics that only made sense to me, but could make sense to everybody listening. You can take from it what you will, but there's a storyline, and just music that I wanted to hear.»
Nadine also revealed that it was different to record an album for Girls Aloud: «In Girls Aloud, except for 'Stand By You' and 'See The Day', none of our other songs had any storylines whatsoever. It was deliberate, it wasn't about storylines, it was about the music and the fact it could be worked with clothes and it was a backing canvas for us to go as crazy as we wanted with costumes and hair and stuff, so it was a different style.»
She also told Digital Spy what it was like to write her own material away from Xenomania and Girls Aloud:
«I found it liberating. The best thing was being able to come back to songs and re-jig bits: adding a bit of drums here, some BPM there, a bit of drum 'n' bass on that. In Girls Aloud it was always someone else making those decisions. None of us were quite sure who that 'someone' was, but it's great knowing that it was me for this album. It makes the whole thing feel genuine, although I was always half-expecting someone to be on my shoulder telling me, 'No, not like that!'.»
This week Tim Powell scored his first top 10 post-Xenomania with the single "I'm In Love (I Wanna Do It)", which he co-wrote. Some of his upcoming productions include Pet Shop Boys' "Together" and Ed Drewett's "Champagne Lemonade" and he has also been in the studio with Saint Etienne.
Today sees the first official release of his remixing alias "pepptalk", from the man who was once known as "Tony Lamezma". Visit Pepptalk's MySpace to listen to his reworks of Bright Light Bright Light's "Love part II" and Love Is Electric's "Beating Like a Drum".
BRIGHT LIGHT BRIGHT LIGHT is singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Rod Thomas. He is the second signing from PopJustice HiFi.
"Love Part II" includes the b-side, "Cry At Films", (with guitar and backing vocals from Scissor Sisters' Del Marquis) and a remix from Pepptalk.
The single is out now digitally and as a limited edition CD in gatefold 7" sleeve. Buy it now:
POPJUSTICE HI-FI is a label that specializes in "above-average pop tuneage". Its first release was "Waterfall" by Rosanna.
The label is a joint venture between Popjustice founder Peter Robinson, Dan Stevens and David Laub from Darling Artists and Virgin Records, so it's somewhere between an indie and a major label.
Popjustice Hi-Fi treats pop music like the most important thing in the world "because there is little evidence to the contrary". Click here for more.
TONY LAMEZMA was the generic name given to Xenomania's in-house remixes between 2004 and 2008. Those remixes were mostly done by Tim Powell, although occasionally other Xenomania members also had some input.
He mostly remixed Girls Aloud's singles; the only non-Xenomania production he reworked was Sophie Ellis Bextor's "Me & My Imagination".
Lamezma's remixes became cult favourites for their euphoric extravaganza and the "club banger" status. With Tony Lamezma you always knew what you were getting, and that was no bad thing at all.
2004: Girls Aloud - The Show / Girls Aloud - Love Machine / Girls Aloud - I'll Stand By You / V - Hip To Hip 2005: Girls Aloud - Wake Me Up / Girls Aloud - Long Hot Summer / Girls Aloud - Biology 2006: Girls Aloud - Whole Lotta History / Girls Aloud - Something Kinda Ooooh / Girls Aloud - I Think We're Alone Now 2007: Girls Aloud - Sexy! No, No, No... / Girls Aloud - Call the Shots / Sophie Ellis-Bextor - Me and My Imagination 2008: Girls Aloud - Can't Speak French
"Feeling Fine" is now available to download from iTunes - click here to buy. The download bundle features a new version of "Feeling Fine" with reduced vocal effects (listen here), the video and a remix by Wez Clarke, a South London producer and resident DJ for Hed Kandi.
The CD-single will be out tomorrow - pre-order now from HMV or order a signed copy here. The b-side is an acoustic version of "I Wanna Be With Her".
Go to Alex's YouTube Channel to watch a behind the scenes video on the making of "Feeling Fine", plus an acoustic version of the track:
Mike Chapman has began working with Xenomania this week. In the photo above (tweeted by Florrie) you can see the man during a writing session at Xenomania HQ. That's Florrie, Mike Chapman, Fred Falke, Toby Scott, Kieran Jones and Jason Resch's head. Brian Higgins is either taking the picture or simply hiding from the camera.
Mike Chapman is an Australian-born producer and songwriter who was a major force in the British pop music industry in the 1970s. He created a string of hit singles for artists including Sweet and Suzi Quatro with co-writer and co-producer Nicky Chinn. He later produced breakthrough albums for Blondie and The Knack.
Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman - the "Chinnichap"
In collaboration with Nicky Chinn, Mike Chapman was among the most successful songwriters of the 1970s. He was in the group Tangerine Peel when he first teamed with Chinn. Under the supervision of RAK Records' chief Mickie Most, the duo quickly composed a series of smashes for acts including Sweet ("Ballroom Blitz"), Suzi Quatro ("Stumblin' In"), New World ("Living Next Door to Alice"), and Mud ("Tiger Feet"), in all scoring over 40 U.K. hits during the 1970s.
Mike Chapman with Debbie Harry and Ronnie Spector. Pop royalty.
As a solo producer, Chapman enjoyed his first hit with Nick Gilder's City Nights (1978). But his real breakthrough was Blondie's classic Parallel Lines, which launched the blockbuster "Heart of Glass". The album also includes "Sunday Girl", which Florrie recently covered for the Nina L'Elixir campaign.
Florrie with Jason, Kieran & George at the Nina L'Elixir launch. Any similarity with Parallel Lines is not a coincidence.
The partnership between Blondie and Mike Chapman catapulted the group from the underground to mainstream chart success. He produced three more Blondie albums -- Eat to the Beat (1979), Autoamerican (1980) and The Hunter (1982) -- and most of Def, Dumb and Blonde (1989), a Deborah Harry solo album. Chapman also teamed with The Knack, whose Get the Knack yielded "My Sharona" (quite possibly influencing Girls Aloud's "No Good Advice"). In 1979, Chapman and Chinn formed their own label, Dreamland, and created hits like Exile's "Kiss You All Over" and Toni Basil's "Mickey".
Chapman remained in demand through the 1980s and 1990s as a songwriter and producer. His compositions have included Tina Turner's "Simply The Best" and Pat Benatar's "Love Is a Battlefield", while he has produced albums for Altered Images, Australian Crawl, ABBA's Agnetha Fältskog, Divinyls, Rod Stewart, Lita Ford, Baby Animals, Material Issue and Bow Wow Wow.
"Sunday Girl" is now available to download from iTunes France - click here to buy. It was produced by Xenomania and recorded by Florrie, who also plays drums on the track. "Sunday Girl" is a new version of the original 1970s song by Blondie, written by Chris Stein. Florrie has slightly tweaked the lyrics to fit in with the ad.
Florrie is the face and voice of Nina Ricci's new advertising campaign for the Nina L'Elixir fragrance. The song is played on the TV advert:
Lyrics: Florrie - Sunday Girl
I know a girl from a fantasy
A world of rainbows and mystery
Close your eyes, Sunday Girl
Hey, I saw your guy under the apple tree
He said hold tight and come with me
Run and fly, Sunday Girl
Hurry up, hurry up and wait
Until the sun comes up and breaks the day
Cherry trees and honey bees
Won't you come and hide with me
She can catch up with the fireflies
Dance across the blueberry skies
Live in dreams, Sunday Girl
Baby, meet me under the stars tonight
Think I've got something you might like
Come with me, Sunday Girl
Hey, I saw your guy under the apple tree
He said hold tight and come with me
Run and fly, Sunday Girl
Hurry up, hurry up and wait
Until the sun comes up and breaks the day
Cherry trees and honey bees
In our world of make believe
My sky is blue
Please please please come see
What you do to me
My sky is blue
My Sunday Girl, my Sunday Girl
Tim Powell was a member of Xenomania from the very beginning. In March 2010, after 14 years with the team, Tim became an independent producer and songwriter. His first co-write since leaving Xenomania is out now (Alex Gaudino's "I'm In Love") and Ed Drewett's "Champagne Lemonade" (which he co-wrote and produced) will be released on 1st November. Tim has also worked with the Pet Shop Boys for their new single "Together", to be included on their new Greatest Hits album. Also look out for his remixes under the alias Pepptalk.
Alex Gaudino & Maxine - I'm In Love
Alex Gaudino's new single was originally just a dance track with a catchy piano line and the looped "I'm in love" chant, in the same vein as Eric Prydz's "Call On Me".
But the song was given new life with a topline written by Tim Powell. A former Xenomania singer called Maxine Ashley stepped in to perform the vocals.
The single is out this week, on the Ministry of Sound label, and has been steadily climbing up the iTunes chart.
"Champagne Lemonade" is Tim Powell's first production work since leaving Xenomania. The song, which he also co-wrote, is Ed Drewett's debut single, to be released on November 1st. This is the video:
Pet Shop Boys - Together
The track-listing for the forthcoming Pet Shop Boys' greatest hits album includes 25 years of hits from 1985's "West End girls" to 2009's "Love etc." and concludes with a new song, "Together", written and recorded this month.
The new song was written and produced with Tim Powell and will also be released as a single. The release date will be announced shortly. Ultimate Pet Shop Boys will be out on November 1st.
Pet Shop Boys' latest album Yes (2009) was entirely produced by Xenomania. The team also co-wrote three songs on the album: "The way it used to be", "More than a dream" and the single "Love etc.".
Bright Light Bright Light - Love Part II (Pepptalk remix)
During his Xenomania days Tim Powell was also known as "Tony Lamezma", whose remixes became cult favourites. Now he continues to remix tracks under the name Pepptalk.
You can now pre-order a special edition signed copy of the new Alex Gardner single - click here to buy. "Feeling Fine" can also be pre-ordered from Amazon and HMV. It will be released on September 27th. This is the CD tracklist:
01 Feeling Fine (Vocal Mix) 03:38
02 I Wanna Be With Her (Acoustic) 02:50
A new version of "Feeling Fine", with reduced vocal effects, will be the one released as a single - listen to the vocal mix. The song has also been remixed by Wez Clarke, a South London producer and resident DJ for Hed Kandi. The remix should be available to buy digitally.
In her new biography as a solo artist, Nadine Coyle talks about the time she spent being a Girls Aloud and recording with Xenomania:
"We developed a machine-like mentality. I don't regret a second of it. It taught me amazing discipline. I learnt everything I needed to learn about myself as a singer and songwriter from Brian [Higgins]. We made some amazing records with him. And I got to do that alongside four great girls".
Nadine also talks about how her dream was singing songs where "every line means the world to you" with the full back-up of a live-band . She says that the closest she got to that dream with Girls Aloud was when the five girls wore the sparkling gold gowns in "The Promise" video. She even adds that "The Promise" is among the top five songs Girls Aloud ever made.
She also talks about her vocal register in Girls Aloud: "If you listen to all the Girls Aloud records, they're in a really low register. It was because I'd just come off tour and we had to record with my throat tired from three months singing at full energy on the road. I didn't want to have the same constrictions this time."
There is also an interesting paragraph in her biography that explains in a very succint and superficial way how Girls Aloud's albums were made:
«If in modern music industry terms two years seems like a lengthy gestation period for an album, consider for a moment how long Girls Aloud were given to put their five records together. Nadine Coyle has certainly earned her dues. At the end of every one of their ever-increasing tours, Nadine would be sequestered off to the house of GA producers Xenomania in deepest, darkest Kent. She’d work with producer Brian Higgins for two weeks, three maximum, putting vocal licks for songs together, run off on holiday for a week and then return. A week for mastering and bingo! There’s your album. Six weeks, maximum.»
Pet Shop Boys announced on their official site that they will release a new greatest hits compilation on November 1st. Ultimate Pet Shop Boys will feature 19 hit singles in chronological order from "West End girls" to the Xenomania-produced "Love etc.".
The Special Edition version will feature a DVD containing a series of classic BBC TV performances from Top Of The Pops and other shows recorded over the last 25 years, as well as Pet Shop Boys' Glastonbury headline show from June.
Pet Shop Boys have also revealed on Twitter that they have recorded a new song, apparently with ex-Xenomania member Tim Powell.
The expanded and re-mastered versions of the Saint Etienne albumsTales From Turnpike House (2005) and Good Humour (1998) will be out on October 4th 2010. Both albums will be re-released as Deluxe Editions featuring the original album, an extra disc of original B-sides and unreleased material.
These are the final pair of original Saint Etienne albums to be given the deluxe re-issue treatment. The set will be rounded out in Spring 2011 with the release of the remix compilation Casino Classics.
Tales From Turnpike House, the band's most recent studio album, included two tracks co-written and produced by Xenomania: "Lightning Strikes Twice" and "Stars Above Us". One of the b-sides, "Got A Job"/"Gotta Jump" was also produced by Xenomania. The reissue will feature a second CD of rarities, with sleeve-notes penned by author Travis Elborough and Turner Prize winning artist Jeremy Deller.
Disc 1 Sun In My Morning / Milk Bottle Symphony / Lightning Strikes Twice / Slow Down At The Castle / A Good Thing / Side Streets / Last Orders For Gary Stead / Stars Above Us / Relocate / Birdman Of EC1 / Teenage Winter / Goodnight
Murder In E Minor / Take Me Home (On A Pushbike) * / Another Cup Of Coffee * (Mike & The Mechanics cover) / School Run * / You Can Judge A Book By It's Cover / Who Pays The Rent * / Woodhenge * / Got A Job / Must Be More * / Holiday Song * / The Leyton Art Inferno / Missing Persons Bureau / Inside The Hive * / Aqualad * / Book Norton / Quiet Essex
Wood Cabin / Sylvie / Split Screen / Mr Donut / Goodnight Jack / Lose That Girl / The Bad Photographer / Been So Long / Postman / Erica America / Dutch TV
Hill Street Connection / Hit the Brakes / Madeleine / Swim Swan Swim / 4.35 In The Morning / Clark Co. Record Fair / Zipcode / My Name Is Vlaovic / Afraid To Go Home / La La La / Do You Love Me * / Cat Nap / Jack Lemmon / Constantly / The Emidisc Theme / 4.35 In The Morning (original version)
In antecipation for tonight's £20 Music Prize, Popjustice has provided a download of the 2004 Twenty Quid Music Prize programme, which features interviews with Brian Higgins, Cheryl Tweedy, Richard X and many others. Click here to download it.
You might learn that Richard X and Hannah Robinson actually wrote "Some Girls" with Girls Aloud in mind, instead of Rachel Stevens. Since they knew that Brian Higgins was doing the whole of What Will The Neighbours Say?, they didn't even send the song to Girls Aloud. In her interview, Cheryl Tweedy says that Brian Higgins should be on the back of the £20 note, as well as Miranda Cooper, who is "an unsung hero of Girls Aloud". She is also left wondering if "The Show" is indeed a song about anal sex.
Here is Brian Higgins' interview:
Popjustice: Is Ricki Lake often 'on play' down at Xenomania towers?
Brian Higgins: Only when Sugababes are in attendance. They tend to watch a lot of the American shows like that when they're not singing.
If 'Hole In The Head' wins the Twenty Quid Music Prize, who gets the money - your lot, or the band?
Which shortlisted singles are your favourites?
'Leave Right Now', 'Sweet Dreams My LA Ex', 'Some Girls' and 'Superstar'. Having discussed it with the team, we think for overall sincerity and delivery, Will's record wins.
Is there anything that the shortlisted singles all have in common?
The majority sound like British records - they're not attempting to ape the huge volume of American product we're being served. And the majority are sincerely trying to give the artist a definite individual identity, which is what it's all about.
Why did 'Hole In The Head' get to Number One and 'The Show' Number Two? Was 'Hole in The Head' better?
There are two contributing factors: firstly Sugababes have the full support of all UK pop radio and Girls Aloud do not. Secondly, 'The Show' is a quirkier record and less easy to get your head around.
Why was 'Hole In The Head' eventually a Sugababes song rather than, say, a Girls Aloud song?
The music was pretty much there before the song was written. We'd gone away to write for three days just to focus on Sugababes - I brought all of the backing tracks we'd made over the last six months and as soon as the 'Hole in The Head' track came on I instantly knew it was the single. Writing the melody and lyrics was easy, so sure were we about the music. Those moments of clarity are the best bit about the music business. We try to find perfect matches unique to the artist we are working with. It doesn't always work, but that's the aim.
The word 'shit' stayed in 'Hole In The Head', but was removed from 'No Good Advice'. Why?
I'm sure that when Girls Aloud sell as many records as Sugababes have, their work won't be so readily edited. Sugababes definitely have a lot of adult buyers, which is a credit to them - and hopefully Girls Aloud will get those same people over time. The record company would have made the decision to delete the word.
You've told us in the past that, currently, pop groups aren't getting a big second chance in terms of making a big impact. You worked with V on their second single. Was that their second chance?
The story started last year when Island asked us to work with V. We were right in the middle of Mania's album so we were unable to do it. In April they asked me again, as they still felt that they didn't have an ideal second single, and we agreed to meet the band. We thought they were great. Bright and motivated, with a lot of charisma. We've done four tracks with them and we're very happy with all of them. I think V have the potential to be very big. When we decide to work with an artist it is normally a decision based on personality and the challenge we feel it holds for us. I think V's first chart entry of Number Six wasn't bad.
How much cash do labels spend marketing duff track into the charts, blind to the fact that a decent song does a lot of the legwork itself?
Marketing is a murky word - one in which music, great or poor, definitely takes a back seat, and money spent seems to start at six figures, although I think the general public is more discerning than it was three years ago. And don't forget that good pop records are as hard to come by as good records by traditional bands.
You wrote Cher's 'Believe'. What's Xenomania's next global hit?
I have genuinely no idea. We're working with some very big international artists at the moment so I would say the chance to do well internationally over the next 12 months is definitely there - we just have to be as good as we can possibly be, and make sure we stay fresh and don't get too tired. I am not sure at all if we would ever do something on the sheer scale of "Believe", but I would love to have another big hit in the States.
Is the pop single ever likely to die out completely?
In the case of hard copy CDs, I suppose the answer is yes. Over time, methods of delivery will become easier and everyone will have downloadable music at their fingertips. In terms of the pop single as a piece of music disappear, I think not. Pop music just goes through phases. At the moment, it has become very trendy to slag it off as a genre and the word 'manufactured' is pulled out at every opportunity. But over time a new set of producers and writers will emerge - these people will be influenced for a high quality modern sound. Bands had it all going on in the mid 90s and then, a couple of years later with Spice Girls, modern pop dominated. In the last couple of years we've seen the resurgence of those bands, which is the legacy of Britpop. The same will happen with pop music over the next few years as the bands start to fade creatively. I think it's inevitable.
What role have the Sugababes played in Xenomania's road to success?
A crucial role. We first met them in October 2001 and we'd spent the previous twelve months working on our own musical direction. We were getting quite desperate as we were struggling to connect with the predominantly R&B artists we'd get sent. Our ideas seemed a bit out of place, and for that reason we connected with the Sugababes as I felt they too were a little out on a limb from the pop mainstream at the time. To me they represented something superior to what was out there. As a result, the Sugababes undoubtedly brought the best out of us as we always felt under pressure to produce results that would do justice to their voices and overall talent. As it happens it was the pressure to match 'Round Round' that led directly to 'Sound of the Underground'.
What role have Xenomania played in the Sugababes' road to success?
We found a way to make their songs more accessible without removing too much from their characters. This crossed them over to a larger audience which helped them sell loads of albums. 'overload', 'Freak...' and 'Stronger' have also been crucial songs too - we're just very, very happy to have played a role.
Starsmith revealed in an interview that he has been working with Miranda Cooper. He said: «I have a couple of people that I've worked with extensively on other projects. I called them, and they were interested, so I got to work with Alan Braxe, Miranda Cooper from Xenomania whom is just amazing. I've found a really big musical bond with her! You’ll have to see when the album comes out. Anything can happen by then».
Starsmith (real name Finlay Dow-Smith) is a 22-year-old electronic remixer, composer, producer and musician. He has created remixes for Katy Perry, Little Boots, Private, Lady Gaga, Frankmusik and many others, and also produced tracks for Ellie Goulding's debut album Lights and Diana Vickers' debut album Songs from the Tainted Cherry Tree.
He has also been working with Cheryl Tweedy and is currently getting ready to release his own debut solo album. A song titled "28 Days", written by Miranda Cooper, Starsmith and Rob Davis was recently added to the Warner/Chappell database.
Two Jessie Malakouti demos leaked onto the Internet this week. "Who's that Man" and "Jungle Town" were produced by Xenomania:
» Who's That Man
» Jungle Town
Jessie Malakouti began working with Xenomania when she was part of Shut Up Stella. Once the group finished, she flew to the UK to work as a writer on Girls Aloud's Out of Control.
But she saved those songs for herself: «The songs felt like mine, emotionally, so, when Brian [Higgins] said we could keep the songs for me to record, I was more than happy!».
The Xenomania-produced "Standing Up For The Lonely" was set to be released as a single on Hard2Beat/ Ministry Of Sound, but only ended up on a few dance compilations. A 4-track megamix of her Xenomania collaboration is still available to listen/download here.
Xenomania is a songwriting and production house based in Kent, England. It was founded by songwriter and producer Brian Higgins.
Since 1996, Xenomania have written, produced and remixed tracks for a string of successful artists including Girls Aloud, Pet Shop Boys, Sugababes, Dannii and Kylie Minogue, Saint Etienne, Cher, Gabriella Cilmi and many others.