New music brought to life in old buildings
pieces, and the sound of the buildings themselves were sometimes incorporated into the compositions.
“I had my pick of all the weirdest National Trust properties,” says Price. “It isn’t that I didn’t want to write in stately homes, it’s that I actively wanted to write in strange spaces. The writing comes from physically interacting with the space and activating memories.
“It’s like when you go on holiday, and you go on Rightmove and imagine an alternative future for yourself. What would life look like? So for Goldfinger’s house, I’d think about what it would be like if I lived here...Where would I make music and what would it sound like? Would it be loud and raucous, or would it be more healing?”
This history of the buildings and their occupants was important to the music. “Goldfinger was a Jewish immigrant from Hungary who built controversial buildings like Trellick Tower, but this was a family home, so all the light switches are at kids’ height. It doesn’t take much to create the story.”
Recording in these radically different spaces wasn’t easy. In Willow Road, Price chose a room with a natural stage and curved fireplace as he says it felt “like being inside a violin”. At the Tudor Speke Hall in Liverpool, he recorded in a courtyard with 300-yearold trees. In the ruined Fountains Abbey in North Yorkshire, musicians played at dawn in a bat-filled undercroft, while at Quarry Bank in Cheshire, they recorded in the old mill building, using the sound of weaving machines to add texture. The hardest space to work with was Fan Bay, a network of tunnels beneath the cliffs of Dover that was used as accommodation for the Royal Artillery in the Second World War.
“It’s 50m down, no light, very damp. After a couple of hours we all wanted to get out,” says Price. “At Fan Bay you feel physically under threat. You can hear it in the singer’s voice, the moisture getting to him. I imagined what it would be like if
by Michael Price is out on Friday; he is playing at King’s Place, London, on Sept 6