Working from home is one thing, says Sally London. Composing a jazz track with a 16-piece band, all recording from home, is a different challenge entirely.
Main image: London’s rhinestone-encrusted keytar is a crowd favourite.
Producing an album is tricky at the best of times. Are the songs good enough? Is the arrangement right? Are the musicians available? Is there enough studio time? Doing it with a big band based in New York City is almost an artform in itself, especially during a pandemic-related lockdown. It’s impossible to get everyone together in the same hemisphere, let alone the same room.
Sydney singer Sally London, who works as a senior associate in private equity and venture capital at Herbert Smith Freehills, is currently spending her weekends writing and recording music for her upcoming jazz record. Eight of the songs were put together over two session days with her band mates. However, public health orders have meant the last two have been recorded piece-by-piece in the homes of each individual musician.
“It’s saucy big-band gangster jazz,” she tells LSJ. “We were worried it was going to lose its energy, but there was something fun about it too. It’s such a different process, but so far it’s working.”
London records the demo and emails the audio file to the producer, who arranges it and writes all the music for the big band in the US. It then becomes a kind of pass-the-parcel process, except instead of removing a piece of wrapping paper, each musician adds a layer of sound. It starts with the drums, then the piano, then the bass, then the horns. Once the full track is ready, it comes back to London, in Sydney, for the vocals.