With an array of studios from grand tracking rooms to cosy production suites, we get the luxury of working with some of best producers in the biz, and the last few months we’ve had the good fortune of hosting Julian Gingell & Barry Stone, aka Jewels & Stone, aka The Alias.
The production partners set up camp in one of our newer production suites, Elektrobank, to work on new material. So before they wrap up and Elektrobank becomes available for bookings once more, we grabbed a few minutes with the guys to chat about some of their biggest hits and what’s up next for the dynamic duo
How are you and what are you currently up to?
Barry: I’m wrecked thanks for asking, currently working on new music with Steps which we’ve been focused on for the past few months.
Much of your year has been taken up by Steps’ latest album. You both produced the whole album which is a rare thing these days. What qualities do you as individuals bring to making a record, which combined makes such a winning formula?
Barry: Yes I guess it is unusual these days for one team to produce a whole pop album – it’s been a huge undertaking for us. Apart from our mixer Pete Hofmann it’s just us two, so a hell of a lot of work. I guess we’re both quite fanatical about pop music so working with an artist like STEPS who are pure unadulterated pop with no other agenda is a very good fit for us.
Julian: There’s a lot of crossover, but at a push, I tend to focus in on the rhythmic elements and Barry has a better ear for vocals details. For the most part we have oddly similar musical tastes and reference points, so when we have a production or remix we’ll instinctively be on the same page about where to take it. If I have a clap sound from an obscure 80’s 12” remix in mind, he’ll actually know exactly which one I’m thinking of.
You both produced the last Steps album which made number 1, congratulations! Has the approach been different this time around?
B: did it make number one? It probably did somewhere but here in the UK I seem to remember Ed Sheeran keeping us from the top spot – damn him! The approach hasn’t been very different this time no…I think we were more prepared this time though.
Starting your careers with Stock, Aitken and Waterman, you’ve got a long history of working with pop artists. How do you think pop production has changed in the last 20 years ?
B: Obviously the technology has completely changed the game. In some ways for the better but in other ways not. The amount of choice it gives you I find completely frustrating as it’s so much harder to commit to something. I’m thinking particularly about vocals here. Especially working with a five member vocal band…we record take after take and know we have all this material banked to compile the ultimate performance after the artist has gone but then you end up spending the same amount of time again or more sifting through the takes. I think back to my time at PWL when the comping i.e. dropping in was done during your time with the artist and that was it / you accepted it for what it was.
You’re known for your Club remixes, will the record have a strong clubby feel or are you heading in a different direction?
J: Nothing too hardcore, we’ve always been happy to be at the pop end of the club scene.
Which do you prefer, full album production work or remixing?
J: There’s aspects of both, full production is more intense – you get to guide a song through beginning to end, and because of the vocal production, more so with a band such as Steps where the harmony stacks are so integral to the sound. I love me a good remix though, especially when it’s a track that feels like its own animal, rather than a side event to the radio mix.
How does it feel being back at Miloco, was the last project you came here for Dead or Alive?
B: The first time we worked here was with Dead or Alive yes…back in the nineties when we worked under the name Jewels & Stone. We were actually in the same room we’re in now (Elektrobank) although back then it was called Toyshop. We did 3 tracks with them (I’d already worked with them on their “Nukleapatra” album at PWL) – never a dull moment with Pete Burns around. It was amazing to work with him, seeing as it was his record “You Spin Me Round” that had inspired me to get into the music industry in the first place. We did covers of Prince, Madonna & U2 tracks with them. We returned again a year or so later to record what would become our first hit single….”I Breathe Again” for Adam Rickett whose vocals we recorded here.
This time you chose Miloco’s Electrobank for recording and mixing the album. How have you enjoyed working in the room that was formerly the Toyshop and how has it changed?
B: It’s been great. The room has been completely revamped and looks very different to how it did back then but still has the same great vibe. The team at Miloco are all lovely and I’m sure they’ve all loved hearing the new STEPS record blaring out through the walls.
What’s been your musical highlight of 2019, and which artists and producers making the biggest impression on you right now?
J: The last track I really loved was Jax Jones ‘Harder’, love the sounds on that.
B: I’m a big fan of Ina Wroldsen and anything she puts her name to. We’ve never worked with her but have produced a few of her tracks…she’s a fantastic modern song writer with an amazing voice.
Lastly what will 2020 hold for The Alias?
B: Season two of Handmaids Tale for me.
J: It’ll be Season 4 for me. I won’t spoiler it.
Check out our Elektrobank studio The Alias have been working in and get in touch with our bookings team to enquire about rates and sessions.