Artist Focus: Twin Cities

Twin Cities exemplify CDR’s potential; production duo Gareth ‘Analog’ Jones, and Guy ‘Guynamite’ Benton were introduced at a CDR London session, they’ve met singers there, and used Plastic People’s soundsystem to air and improve their tracks. After two years of exploring and recording ideas, they’ve just released a 7” single and an album’s due in the autumn on Mukatsuku.

“It always starts with an idea from one of us” states Guy, informing on their studio practice,  “the album’s pretty much half and half in that way.” One of them comes up with the rhythmic idea, “then we’ll settle on a chord progression that feels right. Generally, if we’re gonna have choruses, breakdowns and bridges that’ll be all be written as almost the first thing. So you have a rhythm to write it to and you get the idea of where it’s going to go.”

“We don’t have many tracks that are just a vibe” Gareth interjects, before outlining how they’ve utilised numerous skilled vocalists from both sides of the Atlantic, “we’ll always work with the singer. We’re interested in what the singer can bring to the track.” This collaborative approach means talents including Londoners, Selina Campbell, Shea Soul, and Duchy all bring their own charisma, phrasing and technically strong voices to the productions.

With the pair appreciating all kinds of music, their collective influences are broad. Acts that have inspired, “more in mentality than sound” [Gareth’s words], range from the drama and arrangements of Ed Motta or 60s singers like Dianne Warwick, to the innovations of 90s’ R&B. The latter is a much dismissed genre but Guy speaks in its defence: “it doesn’t have to cheesy,  all about licking people up and down. To us it’s very valid.”

Both men work to make music, squeezing in paid jobs to feed their passion. Gareth freelances at the BBC as a sound engineer and radio producer. Guy provides admin support at the Institute of Education. Along with D.ablo (who also features on the album), the double act moonlight as instigators of London parties, Boglewaltz.

Recalling their first CDR visits, Guy reveals initial nerves were eclipsed once his track got aired. “Your music has got a very valid place amongst everything else that’s out there,” he explains, “but your first instinct is to be afraid of how your mix is going to sound compared to others.” Sharing his memories  Gareth adds, “I went in 2006. The whole room had a sense of anticipation for each track. There was this big amount of energy. I remember hearing a track of Guy’s, a track of Oriol’s, and one of [Mr] Beatnick’s, and thinking there were all pretty ridiculous!”

The pair fondly recall Tony taking the time to talk with them; a factor that motivated them to return.

Now familiar faces every session, Guy speaks on behalf of many regulars, saying “it’s quite easy to go there and feel like that there’s an established clique, that you’re not a part of, but it’s really not like that.”

Continuing his impassioned words, the longer-haired partner concludes, “CDR’s had a huge impact on my life the last few years. Partly, it’s been a source of influence and inspiration from my peers. You realise who else is out there and what they’re making, and how good they are. You get huge amounts of advice whether it’s technical or creative. And also through the characters I’ve met.”

Sharing his final thoughts, Gareth speaks warmly of the number of producers progressing through CDR to becoming released artists, “Also, if you look in another five years they’ll probably be a few things that are influential and big that you’ll be able to trace back to what Tony and Gavin have set up.”

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Image credits: Deanne Oi and Elliot Johnson

Piñata credits: Noah Kwid and Tarra Thompson @Thud.