Producers are a supergroup comprised of Lol Crème, Trevor Horn, Stephen Lipson and Ash Soan, formed in 2006 and originally launched with a series of secret shows at The Barfly in Camden, which saw them draft in guest vocalists lie Will Young and Jamie Cullum to perform covers of various songs from throughout the band’s collective careers.
Horn, of course, is one of the UK’s best known producers, having worked with everyone from the Pet Shop Boys to Tatu, and had success as an artist in his own right with The Buggles, Yes and Art Of Noise. Crème meanwhile is best known from his days in 10cc, Soan was formerly the drummer in Del Amitri and has since done session work for many big names, and Steve Lipson is another producer and long-time collaborator with Horn.
The band release their debut album on 28 May, ‘Made In Basing Street’, named after the location of the famous Sarm Studios owned by Horn. Ahead of that, three quarters of the group took to the stage at The Great Escape on Saturday to discuss the project and their individual carers. And ahead of that, CMU threw some questions in the direction of Steve Lipson and Trevor Horn.
CMU: How did the Producers project come about?
SL: Trevor and I talked for ages about playing live in order to keep on top of our instruments. I suggested Chris Braide as a collaborator, who in turn suggested Ash, and then Trevor brought in Lol.
CMU: When you played your initial shows you performed covers. How soon after that did you decide you wanted to write original material together? Or was that always the plan?
SL: I’m not sure how long it took, to be honest, maybe within the first year. But it wasn’t the original plan at all. Then Trev suggested that we go to Hookend [recording studio in Oxfordshire] for two weeks before Christmas, during which time we recorded the bulk of the album.
CMU: How long did it take to settle on the sound of Producers? Did all of your collective experience make it easier or more difficult to get the project to a point where everyone was happy?
SL: There was no conscious effort made by anyone. It just seemed to be the noise we made instinctively.
CMU: Do you feel older and wiser, or just older? Do musicians improve with age?
SL: I find as one gets older it becomes all too apparent how much one doesn’t know. But inevitably the knowledge that has accumulated over the years is useful.
CMU: The interactive sessions you did at universities around the country back in March gave students are chance to tap in your collective knowledge as a band. What did you learn from the sessions?
SL: That musical education is the largest growth area in the music industry!
CMU: You’ve worked with an amazingly broad range of artists over the years. What attracts you to work with the people you do?
SL: Their wanting to work with me. Their music. Their personality. Their management.
CMU: Are there any artists you haven’t worked with which you wished you had?
SL: Oh, many!
CMU: Trevor, you’re given credit for effectively inventing the 80s (with your productions for ABC, Frankie Goes To Hollywood et al), do you ever feel that you also invented the 90s at the same time with Art Of Noise, in terms of sampling culture and anonymously-made dance music?
TH: If you really think back, you’d probably also say that Kraftwerk were responsible for the sound of the 80s. It was always going to happen at any rate, if you think of the evolution of the technology. I think we were just the first people that had that technology, both at the start of the 1980s and the start of the 1990s. Digital was the next step in an ongoing development of technology and style progressing that began way back, at least as far back as the analogue developments for tracking subs in the 1940s.
CMU: What was it like reconvening with the Pet Shop Boys (for their 2006 ‘Fundamental’ album) nearly two decades after you produced ‘Left To My Own Devices’? Do you ever fear that ‘going back’ won’t be able to deliver the magic you had the first time?
TH: Obviously it was different, simply because everyone was 20 years older, but the Pet Shop guys are really fun, as they know how to treat producers and are just great company. The result was a lovely record in 2006, and the show with the symphony orchestra was great.
CMU: Who has been the most interesting person or act you’ve worked with? And who’s been the most difficult?
SL: Simon Fuller. And Whitney Houston.
CMU: What are your ambitions for the future, both with Producers and personally?
SL: Be happy and work hard. More gigs and ideally new material.