'Upon Ayr', the debut album by Fletcher, is a compelling, storytelling record that opens with an ode to the sadness of Jack Kerouac's legacy, closes with the creak of the foot driven mechanical pump of an 1840s western Harmonium and paints scenes of Polynesian whale myths, 1920s synchronised swimming mermaid's dream and the death throes of a love affair.
Written and produced by Fletcher, 'Upon Ayr' was recorded in Sydney ('stolen' studio time in a university), London (his bathroom and Urchin Studios) and Stockholm (Decibel Studios), with the record mastered in Berlin. Written over two years, while Fletcher was on tour playing bass, guitar and keyboards with friend and fellow Australian artist Sarah Blasko (who features on backing vocals), this is the multi-instrumentalist's first album.
A founding member of Bluebottle Kiss and, later, The Devoted Few, Fletcher joined Blasko's band in 2005 moving to London in 2010 to continue touring Europe and the US with her. This time on the road proved to be the perfect environment for Fletcher to write this collection of pictorial tales in what has been, as he explains, a natural and surprisingly simple process:
What you're listening to is demos; fleshed out demos. Throughout 2010 I was on a world tour with the beautiful, Australian singer Sarah Blasko. We played almost 200 shows that year and most of the songs on this record were written during that period. They developed in sound checks, in band rooms, in hotels, on trains, in vans, or humming into iPhones. In early 2011, while still on tour in Australia, I got together with two of my mates to sneak into a university studio where a friend of ours had been studying musicology. Our friend's course had finished months ago but he still had the keycard and security code that opened the doors to the studio. We snuck in around 11pm and would record all night till 4am or 5am, turning off the lights and hiding every 2 hours while the security guard cruised by. We did this for three nights and I recorded the guitar and vocals for around 14 songs.
2011 saw more touring and a little more writing. I recorded more songs in London, this time in my bathroom, two of which (Here Stands The Broken & Swim Through The Mouth Of The Whale) ended up on this album. I thought these and my Uni studio sessions would just be demos, but they sounded pretty good and everyone I played them to said, you should use them as your album. So I did.
Not to say I recorded this whole album in the shower. These songs needed a little more rhythm and pulse, so when I finally got off tour in early 2012 I went into Decibel Studios in a snowy Stockholm to record some extra bits, including bass, drums and the amazing voice of one of my best friends: Sarah Blasko.
I brought my album back to London to mix at Urchin Studios in May 2012, and there you have it. Simple and easy, like I've always wanted but never fully achieved in my past recordings. Most of what you hear is first take, all the vocals were done either in a bathroom on a borrowed mic that would sometimes electrocute my lips, or in a little wooden room I had to hunch to fit into. I've always felt like I've been guilty of over thinking my recordings but this all happened without me even realising it.
So you're hearing the first album from me as Fletcher. Upon Ayr is the album title - a nod to one of first recorded uses of the name Fletcher, in a south-western town of Scotland, Ayr.
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