Architects of a New Dawn

We’d like to show the side of the world you don’t normally see on television.

THIS IS A COPY OF A BLOG WE POSTED ON OUR MYSPACE PAGE (myspace.com/wwwmyspacecomsalvadorsango) IN DECEMBER 2008. PERHAPS ITS VALUE DOES NOT LIE IN THE MUSIC-TECHNICAL DETAILS PRESENTED BUT IN THE SUBTLE, YET VERY POWERFUL MESSAGE, THAT DREAMS DO BECOME TRUE WHEN FOCUS, PERSEVERANCE AND PERSISTENCE ARE INVOLVED....

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Saturday, December 20, 2008

WHAT IT TOOK FOR US TO GET THERE..WHAT A STORY!
Category: Music

The previous blog that we posted about two weeks ago had a really poor viewing. And I know why. Who wants to know whether YOUR particular CD is out or not when there's tens of thousands new CD's coming out every month? That's perfectly understandable and I would not argue with it. Furthermore, these days the listener is bombarded with sounds that range from trash which, once played, is forgotten the next moment and the kind of music that, once played, stays forever, it is heard by generations to come.

Well, the truth to tell is that I have been gravitating towards the second kind all my musical life. Equally, everybody who has played with the band, and they were not few, shared the same passion with me, otherwise they didn't stay, after a few sessions they never came back.

To produce what we did, where we did, i.e. in Nigeria, guys, is not at all simple! That's the reason why both me and everyone else in the band are proud that this thing came out of Nigeria. First of all because this kind of music has never been played before in Nigeria and second and equally important, because it shows the tremendous talent and potential that Nigerian musicians have. This record is a living proof that Nigeria is capable of producing music as powerful as this, and all of us in the band know that it is powerful. You know "powerful' music when you hear it, wouldn't you agree? It touches you in a particular way...Well, we have given our whole selves in order to produce this music. Nigeria can produce good music and it does. When one talks of Babatunde Olatunji, of Haruna Ishola, of Sunny Ade, of Fela Kuti, of Orlando Julus, doesn't one talk of Nigeria? How many aeons must pass before the music of these people is forgotten?

But, to come to the crux of our matter, I want to say something about how the CD was produced:
After the rhythm section was set up, and that happened very quickly, although we changed a few drummers, the main problem were the horns and the lead vocals. It took us nearly nine months of rehearsals to finally find the correct musicians for these instruments. Our pain, disappointment and impatience were growing as the time was passing. But nobody thought of abandoning the task. We played Ojotto Village and Latino and Ashake hundreds of times with many different musicians. And all this with daily problems that are non-existent in Europe and America, i.e. little or no electricity, sometimes no water, musicians caught in traffic jams that lasted for four-five hours and never made it until after the rehearsal as well as musicians who were often unable to come to the rehearsal for lack of transport money... I think you get the picture....

I had previously recorded the same CD in New York with some top Afrocuban musicians and wanted to keep the best performances by those musicians and mix them with the new version that was to be recorded in Lagos. When the time drew close to enter the studio there was a general fever, which we could all feel as we were all living together in the same compound. Horns were practicing themes in one side, the percussionists were brushing up their skills and the days were filled with music from different sources.

Our first day in what was known to be the best studio in Nigeria was a horror. We had to wake up at 4:30am and left the house with our instruments in a small bus around 6:00am. We got to the studio one and a half hours later, having traversed all of Lagos. It took the engineer about half of the day to set up the sound and when he did and the conga player played the first note through the headset we nearly fainted. The expensive, LP Armando Peraza congas that sounded like the roar of lions in the rehearsal room, in our headsets they sounded like big aluminium pots that were being beaten with a mallet....wow! After we changed mikes and positions for a rather long time, we managed to get a pitifully acceptable sound. Then the Korg Triton piano failed...We spent about 30 mins trying to fix it and it turned out we had to use another keyboard...The worst of all was the drums....which is a painful story that I don't to go into. When we finally got around to the recording part, the band played with conviction but there were technical problems with connections and sounds that made us play the same things over and over. We didn't finish until 11:00 pm and everyone was knocked out but we still got together and heard the rough mix of what we did. Nobody was happy with the sound. We had to get some sleep because the next day was also another marathon. We arrived at studio a bit later and the story continued where we left off... Having paid an amount of money that could feed a whole family for several months, when I got the wav tracks from the engineer it became clear that we could not use the recording. Not having the correct sound had also prevented the musicians from delivering their best.

So, on the phone to our friend Asuquo in New York to send us microphones and headphones and connectors and amplifiers and the list goes on....so that we could turn our rehearsal room into a studio where we were going to start re-recording our music. We had to build a dead room with plywood and thick foam and we wired all the connections from Protools to the recording booth. It looked like a makeshift recording studio at first but when we spent a couple of days recording we realized we had everything required to produce a top class sound. Our congas were giving us the "bite" we needed, the timbales and the hand percussion sounded just marvelous (check them out here on Myspace), the guitar sounded out of this world...So slowly, we regained the confidence and desire needed to produce a world class CD...and we did but it wasn't easy.

For many hours every day we had to live with the reality of "no light"....sometimes the small generator we were using when there was no electricity tripped off that fast -probably from overloading- that the UPS could not react and the computers went off in milliseconds....bye-bye recording session!... And the heat in the recording room was unbearable...sweat was flowing on our bodies like water from a fountain...and at night the mosquitos became our best friends; with plenty of sweat on our bodies, they had a feast on us (mosquitos like sweat, by the way). Have you seen the Alpha Beach mosquitos? Wow! you have never seen such arrogant monsters before...they are everywhere no matter what you do and no matter how you try to protect yourself. We're actually lucky to be alive, because, with all the insecticides we used, we could have almost died of poisoning before the mosquitos did..

But we didn't mind, because the love of what we were doing was bigger than any problem we faced. We re-recorded everything. Rhythm section came first, the horns, then vocals, then the nitty-gritty stuff that comes on top of every well arranged and recorded base...small rhythm guitar riffs, small african hand percussion patterns, second, third (and fourth sometimes) chorus voices and so on and so forth until, two weeks later, when we sat down to listen carefully to what we had produced we couldn't believe our ears...All our trials and tribulations had paid off..

We were proud of what we had achieved and we hope that you will be too after listening to our vibes.

Sotiris Papadopoulos

(which in Yoruba means: s'o ti ri baba dobo lo)

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