POP MUSIC! SOMETHING TO BELIEVE IN! THE RICHARD STANNARD/BIFF INTERVIEW (PART TWO)

A lot is said about pop stars these days. Most of its gossip and it surrounds their lives. Which is fine as these singers emerge and evolve into icons and so forth. However, its always good to recall the very foundations that create the magic and thats the music. The glorious glorious pop music! As ABBA once wondered without a song or dance what are we and so I find myself returning this paradigm by focusing on the music and nothing more through pondering what is shelved and what is celebrated by the pop musician and artist Richard Stannard (A POP LEGEND!) otherwise known as Biff! What lies behind the music...actually more, what makes it pop!

Now, lets on move to Kylie! What did you make of Kylie when she first walked into your studio?

Its was a bit weird because I was a huge fan before I met her, and I especially loved the material that she had co-written, so to have the opportunity to work with her was like a dream come true for me.

What was she like back then…on first meeting her?


The same as she is now, very humble and very creative.

What did you think of her Deconstruction work?


Loved it, I still am a massive fan, Confide In Me is one of my favourite records of all time. I think it was a really important period for her to go through both creatively and lyrically it was a really interesting time.

How did team-up come to be? Who suggested the hook-up?


Parlophone. I was like.........er...... yes!!!!!!

What is the best song you’ve done with Kylie that is released. And unreleased?

Love at first sight, its hard to say why I like it so much, I just do. I think maybe because the chorus melody is so unusual yet at the same time it was really pop.There are several from all the albums that I have been involved with, Attention Seeker, What’s it gonna take (another track we wrote with Calvin Harris) Colour my Life and Ruffle My Feathers. There are about 40 in my tape cupboard at the moment and I was discussing with Kylie recently which ones we liked.

A Kylie/Deconstruction promo card!


Fever was a great album too. What’s the story behind Love At First Sight?

There isn’t really a story it just came out really quick one day in the studio, it’s just a really honest love song.

And Fever? What was the ‘spirit’ behind the writing and recording process. It’s a completely different pop sound to Light Years and remains to be one of Kylies biggest in her career. Incredibly cohesive and poptastic. How did Biffco and Kylie emerge to write and construct the sound of Fever?

As far as I can remember the brief was to make a more modern electronic pop record. When you work with someone like Kylie you try to be as contemporary as possible but also try to keep the pop elements in the tracks so when we were making Fever there was a lot of crazy electronic dance music being played in between the writing sessions.

Lets talk about Its In Your Eyes. Kylie wrote it with you and to me its one of my favourite Kylie tracks from her EMI time. How the track was created?

It started with a bass-line I had which eventually became the chorus, we constructed a very simple cord structure around it. Its sometimes easier to write strong melodies over simple backing tracks before you apply the current sounds and techniques that you hope are cutting edge at the time. This is something that is disappearing at the moment and it worries me because as a song writer you need to be able to free your imagination over the music and sometimes the bleeps and effects make that quite difficult.


What is it like to see how the song is interpreted when its picked to be a single? Like in its video format? I suppose the question I am asking is: do you ever write a song with an artist and imagine what the video would look like if you were the director?

Sometimes when you are writing a song with someone like Kylie you get a lot of visual ideas and movement ideas at the same time, its all part of the creative process and sometimes you see the whole picture instantly. I think the videos for Fever are all pretty much perfect.


I’ve talked a lot with Steve Anderson about Kylies b-sides such as Take Me With You and Love Takes Over Me. I wanna know more about the song Boy. It is amazing. How did it come to be? Even now. Dirty, slick and a glorious middle 8. Its electrolush!

Oh my god I have just listened to it for the first time in years, its much better than I remember Lol! I remember us playing round with lots of synths at the time. I think there’s a sample of a bird in there!

How was BPM developed?

BPM is a classic case of knowing I had a great song but never really getting the production right, I never really had the time and would love one day to return to it.

Have you heard of the Polish cover of BPM by an artist called Danni Evermore? Its ‘interesting’. (if ya aint heard it, I’ll send to you!).


No but I am intrigued and yes can you send it to me lol!!!

(He likes it!)
I adore the b-side, I don’t Know What It Is. It makes my bum wiggle. A real return to Kylie’s perky pop days of Light Years and its decade jumping. Where did it come from, what was it like recording and writing it and what are your thoughts on it?

I like it but again it’s a case of never having the time or the encouragement to finish it properly, its basically a demo but saying that I think demos as B sides is a great idea, and sometimes exposes the writing and production process more honestly.

Loving Days…one of Body Language’s strongest tracks and a firm fan favourite. How did it come to be?

We were just in a romantic mood and went for it. Its great when you say a fan favourite. I’m really flattered! Thanks!

Returning to those shelved songs… Something to Believe? Recall Anything about that song?

It was written in the first week of the X sessions, its called Something to Believe In, it was my attempt at a PWL song. we loved it but I don’t think the record company got it at all. Its very Liberace. Think fountains!

Oh my! And Simple Boy?


We did record it; it has an electro feel like Boy.

Sexual Gold sounds amazing. What was it recorded for and do you think it will see the light of day?

I really love this track; it was recorded towards the end of X and just missed the cut. I hope it will come out one day!

Fall For you-I think its brilliant. Bloody brilliant! Perhaps a b-side to the next single? I love love love it.

What was it like recording it? It was manic, we wrote it over this track I wrote with Greg Kurstin. A lot of people message me and say they love this track.

What was it like teaming up with Rob Davies on One To One? What does that track sound like?

Very electronic and very moody, I don’t think I even played it to Kylie cause I wrote it at the end of the X sessions.

The Kylie track Extraordinary Day is brilliantly uplifting. What is it about?

Again this was an early song with lyrics that meant a lot to Kylie, it’s an electronic ballad. I think we both knew at the time the song was a cathartic process and wouldn’t end up on X. We both really love it though and the vocals are amazing.

Can you remember and recall any thoughts about the following shelved Kylie songs which all sound brilliant: Colour My Life, Attention Seeker and Do It…

Colour my life-that’s really weird! We were only talking about that track the other day and how much we liked it. I think it was too upbeat for Body Language, it was very fast electro, very Mantronix!

Attention Seeker-Another song we love, we often sing the first line of the chorus which goes “Attention Seeker with ya boom boom big loud speaker”. Lol!

Do it-I love this one too, again probably too upbeat for Body Language, but very sexy.

A KylieX2008 Tour screen shot!

Another one of those unreleased songs was Ruffle My Feathers. But thankfully it premiered on tour. What was that like? To see the song shine! (You can hear the Bitrocka Remix of the song here!).

Really REALLY emotional because of the subject matter. The response to that song has been amazing, I’m really proud of it.

Now, it’s a massive favourite and fans are demanding to see its release! You okay with that?

Of course, I did a rework of it recently.

Where did the lyrics come from? They are brilliant! How did it come to be….

They were very personal to kylie, she had most of them already written down.

So lets talk about Stars. I absolutely adore that track. I love the lyrics. Absolutely brilliant song. And gloriously uplifting too. Extremely personal too. You can listen to it, late at night and feel really uplifted. One of the many highlights from X. How did you develop the song with Kylie?

We wanted to rock out a bit to keep us going late at night! It was written quite quickly i think...

Now, onto other acts! First though..yours! Can you shed any light on your time as a member of 2wo Third3.

I was the 4th member and in cartoon form! Hahaha. A good learning process for me. Lee was a genius!

They were quite groundbreaking. A “gay boyband”. I think a band full of gay members would work now.

Probably yeah. The band sounded a lot more underground at the beginning. we wanted to be more like Bronski Beat! Then the record company changed it a lot and we all lost heart, especially me and Lee.

Verbz/Natalia!

You also worked with the young Betty Boo Verbalicious, aka Verbz, aka Natalia Cappucini. I loved her single Don’t Play Nice and new material on her myspace. What was it like working with her?

No comment!

You did a track with her called Make It Someday. It sounds brilliant. And Queen of the Jungle! Were they ever finished?

Yeah. I was really happy with them.

She was supposed to have an album called Verbal Issues. I loved the Betty Boo-esq elements to her pop. What did the album, or bits that your were involved with, sound like?

Hip Pop

Now you've also worked with the amazing Alesha Dixon. You were involved with songs like Ting-A-Ling. What was Alesha like? She’s totally like a Spice Girl. A one woman Spice Girl!

She’s amazing and really talented, I really hope her new record is massive. She’s a fierce artist and a really lovely person.

A fab new singer Jasmine!

Okay, can we talk about the amazing singer Jasmine Baird. I am aware that you’ve helped out with Jasmine. And I adore Don’t Go. I was stunned! Stunned but not really that surprised to see that you co-wrote that song! Its very much “amaaaaaaaaaaaazing”.

Jasmines a very talented and eclectic song writer, so when she comes down to the studio to write you really have no idea what kind of song you’ll end up with, there are no rules with her, she wicked.

Your heavily involved in the Will Young album. What is it like working with Will? I

I’ve known Will for a long time now and its like working with one of my mates. I was the first to work with him on this album so there was a lot of experimentation, including some electronic dance stuff. I really love Wills new album but I’d love to do a really chilled out electronic dance record with him, his voice would work with anything.

What was it like working with u2?

I was in U2’s hotel bar in Dublin and Bono approached me and bombarded me with questions about Wannabe, he loves pop. We spent the whole evening getting drunk and talking about ABBA. The next day he rang me and asked me to select some new demos to produce. The process is very different to making pop records but I enjoyed every minute of it.

You’ve worked with a few Popstar winners. Nicole Sherzinger of course was famous for her time in the American Girls Aloud, Eden’s Crush (before she joined the Pussycat Dolls), Will Young, Sarah Whatmore and Hear’say. What was it like working with those individuals who were provided through a TV format rather than the usual processes? Did there background make any difference at all?

I thought it would but it doesn’t make any difference at all. In fact the only adjustment for them is to sing in a recording studio and not in front of a live audience, so perhaps they sing a bit loud at the beginning but that soon changes.

You’ve said in a previous interview I researched that a lot of the time its got to do with the voices. That you let your ears follow you. You like Kylie’s and Wills voice so team up. How does that sync up with Bono’s voice? It must have interesting to have Kylie, followed by Will enter your studio and then work on Bono’s voice?

That’s my favourite thing about my job, I try really hard not to do the same style all the time, so one day I would be recording Charlotte Church and the next a soul artist like Gabrielle. Voices are the best thing. Having a great singer singing your words or melody is the best feeling ever!

You said you were the first person to work with Kylie after getting better and that you did six days in five days.

That’s very impressive. One of the best sessions of my life. Very memorable.

I’ve ask other song-writers before as its something I am fascinated with… How does the music emerge? Do you stand back and listen back to the songs composed perhaps during darker moments? Something from another part of the brain. That wants to celebrate great melodies rather than dab itself with sorrow. Even ABBA’s darkest moments have a moment of joy within the chorus. Steps One For Sorrow is somehow a happy record. How do you think that sentiment emerges?

I think what your talking about is disco, it originated from adversity and still does to some extent. Everyone loves a good dance when they are unhappy and I think melancholic lyrics set to a dance beat, say for example Italo-Disco, are sublime.

Yes, perhaps another example is Goodbye (Spice Girls). To me it sounds like the girls were exhausted and completely homesick. People often say this is clearly about Geri. And to extent perhaps it is. But personally when I heard it, I knew somehow that the Spice Girls of the first two albums was coming to an end. I suppose the point I am saying is, even if Geri had still been on board, that song would still come out. Perhaps slightly differently but to me Goodbye was about the hectic craze that was Spice Mania and the effect it was having on those involved.

That’s exactly my opinion of the song; its was never about Geri, I think what its really about is saying goodbye to the naivety and pure joy we had writing the first two albums. Everything became so massive even for me and Matt and that song is a product of that, we wrote it in Nashville which was a really alien place for me especially. Everyone was home sick

What are you most proud about? In your discography?

That changes everyday. It’s normally whatever my latest song is that I’ve written. I’m a bit obsessive! I tend to criticize a lot of my stuff for ages then years later think....hmm, that’s not bad actually.

And what brings you the most shame?

George W Bush (easiest question!)

What track do you think could have been touched up a bit if you had more time?

Everything. It’s really hard to know when to finish. I’d like to mix Stars again to be honest.....

What are your thoughts on new singers-acts coming up? Any recommendations…

I love working with Daggers. Theo is the best front man I’ve met in years. They have a darkness to them yet they aren’t afraid of pop. I’m a fan of loads at the mo....Le roux, Lindstrom, Deadmau5, The Saturdays, Lets Go To War to name a few! And, anything by Stargate obviously. Like a Hurricane is incredible. Threes also a new girlband called Sillouhuettes that I'm working with. I love them!

And lastly, why pop?

I have a very broad opinion on what pop means. There is an argument that something like Aphex Twin is more pop than say Avenue, because he’s more popular!!!

5 comments:

Daniel said...

Mint ;-)

Paul said...

Proper mint :)

Mike said...

Stunning! Full of juicy tidbits and interesting info. I think Biff needs to work with Isabel Guzman next!

tombigbee said...

40 tapes!... One question for next time might be what it is like as a songwriter/producer to record a pile of new songs with an artist and then only a few make the album. Does he worry that the songs will never be heard, or does he consider working on those songs with other artists, or is he confident that there will always be new songs to write, in which case it doesn't matter? Great interview!

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