Danced Interview

The following incident occurred whilst I was co-producing Toyah's first album "SHEEP FARMING IN BARNET" at the now sadly defunct Chappell studio in New Bond Street, where my co-producer Steve James was then a house engineer.

Our method of working was to get the band in during the day to record backing tracks, and then send them home while we would work long in to the night deconstructing the tracks and then splicing them back together in an attempt to make some sense out of them. At this time Toyah's band were very young and had much to learn in the art of song construction!

One night we were working on the track "DANCED" and were desperately looking for a way to make it come to life when Steve mentioned that he had seen a new synthesizer in the music shop earlier that day, a Roland Jupiter 4. "Right, let's try it" I said. Steve had an "arrangement" with the friendly night watchman whereby he would borrow various items of equipment from the shop downstairs, which was also part of Chappells. Ten minutes later we had the Roland plugged in to the desk. One of the things that intrigued us was a button labelled "arpeggiator". I pressed the button, played a chord and a sound that I can only describe as Mantovani gone mad issued forth from the monitors. "Wouldn't it be great if we could get that perfectly in time with the track!"

Then, at the back of the Jupiter we noticed a socket labelled ARP CLOCK IN or something similar (Remember we are in pre-MIDI days here). After much experimentation, we found a snare drum seemed to trigger the effect the best. Unfortunately the snare drum on the track was playing straight fours which didn't produce the sound we were looking for. Steve went out, played 16s very evenly on the snare drum along with the existing track. Then we gated it and sent it to the Roland and I played the chords. Magic. It transformed the song. We went home tired but happy.

Next day the band came in to listen to what we'd been up to the previous night. A little apprehensively we played the track. Toyah herself loved it - "What's that? It's fantastic!" Ten minutes later the keyboard player arrived and we played it to him. Halfway through the "Mad Mantovani" section he went berserk and knocked me out of the chair yelling "I'm the keyboard player, how dare you put things on without asking me!"

Somewhat stunned, I had no chance of retaliation as Toyah leapt up and started punching him. My memory is a little hazy here, but at some point the offending Jupiter was damaged and I recall Toyah chasing the hapless chap out of the studio and in to the long corridor screaming abuse. Though only 5 foot tall, Toyah was as strong as an ox, and a formidable adversary.

Fortunately, tempers cooled down, the Jupiter was repaired and the mad Mantovani strings were allowed to stay on the track. To the best of my knowledge this was the first time anyone had used the arpeggio function in this way, and many years later it still sounds worth the aggravation!

Keith Hale was talking to Roland magazine - Spring 1994.


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