Im partial to music being a bit different, crossed mixed genres with world influences. Then along came Tiki Black.Tiki booked in through Cottonmouth Studios to record some vocals for a track that she had recorded over in the States. Straight away, I realised that Tiki had something pretty unique and well I just had to record her new album… Out Of The Black.
Hello Tiki, how are you?
Tiki – Hey Chris. It’s like old times talking to you about the album again…
How did you come to record with Toast?
Tiki – Well I came to add the vocals for a track I was mainly recording in the States and we got talking. I had seen many producers before all great but this project required someone who understood about fusion and who really saw the potential in my music. If you remember, I came along with Paul from The Seniors and we were so excited after talking to you. There was no doubt in my mind that this was where the full “Out Of The Black” project would happen.
Did you have a clear vision of what you wanted from the whole production from recording to mixing?
Tiki – I wanted the live, acoustic and piano-based feel of my solo gigs but with added texture maybe to make up for the loss of direct contact with the listener. I always loved the collaboration between Western and African strings in the music of the band Taffetas. I worked on some original cello arrangements with Michael Calvert who I met at a gig. Still, I wasn’t sure how I would actually put all this together. Then you suggested this layered and flexible approach to adding instruments. The rest, of course, is history, recorded no less.
In the recording session I remember you saying you have a book of about 200 tracks that you have written. It’s very rare i hear of an artist who has that much pre written songs these days. What influences you to write?
Tiki – There is a song in every tear (dropped or not) just as much as in every breath taken, it is just a matter of perspective. I see a story in everything but rather than a linear story bound in time or space, I like to draw parallels between similar events so I always end up with the essence of stories, as universal as I can make it. I feel it gives people more space to contextualise songs in the light of their own lives, like you would a book.
I know continuity is important to an album so we used a variety of musicians through the process to give us enough options through the album in the mixing process: Matt Owens – BassJohn Ellis – Piano Sidiki Dembele – Percussion and Nkoni Michael Christopher Calvert: CelloRachael Shakespeare, Leo Strings: Cello
Do you think we made the right choices in the editing to give the album continuity but also give the listener a variety of songs?
Tiki – Well it is too late to change that now, lol. I think that it was important to have instrumentation that showed that the songs, although part of the same theme, were all individual and expressing different aspects of it.
For a lot of people producing an album is a very challenging and emotional process. There is the obvious stress of time and money for unsigned artists. Did you have any dark moments or was it all just smooth as a babies bum? ( you can mention the desks power supply blowing which caused a slight delay!
Tiki – Recording is a bit of an alien process for me. In addition, when you have to be the singer, the backing singer and the vocal coach as well as the manager, the accountant, the reviewer, the baby-sitter (;)), it is easy to crack up and for vocalists, that can be very detrimental because it will show in the voice. I held back for the sake of this project because it was, is vital to me. However I am not over my darkest moment yet so we’ll have to get back to it much later on.
What were your highlights making this album?
Tiki – Woh, there are too many of them. I loved the piano recording day, especially mixing my minimalist style with John’s jazzy playing. I loved watching the musicians expressing how the songs spoke to them. I loved every moment we realised “that is it! That’s the way the track is supposed to sound!”. Taking the first printed CD out of its package was a bit of an incredible moment and it took me several days to realise. Most of all, I still am incredibly grateful for meeting you.
Perfection is a hard thing to achieve, i could always tweak and make things better and better so taking away everything that we learned from working with each other would you change anything to make another album.
Tiki – When I make a new album, I’d like it to be a new experience, its own thing. I understand more about the process to know what to do in order to achieve certain things. However, I would not change a thing about the making of this album.
It’s only been a month since the album was finished. For me i have to take some time out away from it so i can start listening like a listener would hear it. Since you sent me the CD, packaged and designed. I can feel that we achieved a lovely album and listening to the full version of ‘Open Your Eyes’ with the lights low and silence around me the track really pulls you in progressively with the vocals and piano working intensely to the end still gives me goose bumps. Are you happy with the end result?
Tiki – I am happy with the end result as much as I can be in this little time. I am afraid it will take me a longer time that most to actually hear it like a listener. At the end of the day, that will still require me to listen to my vocals and I leave these weird happenings to the recording and mixing processes
What are your plans for the near future?
Tiki – I need to sleep! Seriously! I have not slept more than 3 hours a day since all this because of all the work that remains to be done, including promotion, touring, reviews, interviews such as answering your questions lovl. The truth though is that releasing this album has unblocked many more songs so I am already thinking about my second release