Isle of Noises features brand-new, exclusive, in-depth conversations with twenty-seven of the UK’s greatest living musicians.
Artists discuss their individual approach to writing, the inspiration behind their most successful songs, and the techniques and methods they have independently developed. It is an incredible musical journey spanning fifty years, from ‘Waterloo Sunset’ by Ray Davies to ‘The Beast’ by Laura Marling, with many lyrical and melodic secrets revealed along the way.
Original handwritten lyrics from personal archives and notebooks (many never-before-seen) offer a unique glimpse into the heart of the creative process, and some of the greatest names in photography, including Jill Furmanovsky, Pennie Smith and Sheila Rock, have contributed stunning portraits of each artist.
The combination of individual personal insights and the breadth and depth of knowledge in their collected experience makes Isle of Noises the essential word on classic British songwriting – as told by the songwriters themselves.
Here is a small extract taken from Annie Lennox’s conversation:
Biggest hit Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) (Eurythmics), February 1983 – No 2; 14 weeks in chart
Biggest Album Diva (solo), April 1992 – No 1; 80 weeks in chart
Singing is a great experience. But writing and performing your own songs is a deep and powerful means of self-expression. I started writing when I was 19 as I was simply fascinated by the effects of words, melodic line, phrasing, nuance, chord progressions, and all the magical things that go into the alchemy of the process.
A lot of alcohol and narcotics have been imbibed by a lot of people in pursuit of the muse. Whatever works and doesn’t damage you is fine by me.
I take lots of breaks.Going out for coffee and sandwiches. Lying down.Getting up again. Lots of repeating lines and phrases over and over until they find their true nature. I work on my laptop, cutting and pasting. Is songwriting ‘describable’? I’d answer this with another question. ‘What does it feel like to play with sand?’ You’re just ‘in the moment’ of attention and connection.
In the Eurythmics, Dave and I were a male and female version of the Three Musketeers… with the sum of our parts adding up to more than two. I wrote the lyrics and Dave would work as a kind of mentor/editor. Sometimes I’d write 90 per cent of a song, like Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves or There Must Be An Angel, where Dave would have great input for structure and form, and at other times we’d start from scratch and both put ideas in, like Sweet Dreams, or Here Comes The Rain Again.
He was definitely in charge of the technical side of the recording process, as he’s incredibly au fait with cutting-edge technology, so he was more of the ‘producer’ in that sense, but I also had a part to play in production ideas in a more organic way. We always shared everything 50-50, as that was how we saw our partnership.
Thorn In My Side was work in progress. Rage, fury, revenge, regret… What can I tell you?
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