Steve! I think a congratulations is in order – its been twenty years since you first collaborated with Kylie! An immense achievement. How does it feel?!
To be honest until you mentioned it I hadn’t really thought about it like that and it certainly hasn’t felt that long but overall I would say it feels amazing.
Did you recall doing those early remixes+initial steps in the industry…..?
I was lucky enough to get an apprenticeship/teaboy job at DMC Studios after creating some mixes for their subscription service. One of the perks was getting to play with multi-tracks that came into the building which an unknown remixer would never have had access to otherwise. This turned into me creating two remixes a month for them and that’s really how I learned the craft I guess. Luckily a few people saw something in that and gave me a break remixing for labels including the ones you mentioned. Ultimately without DMC I wouldn’t have had that springboard to show what I could do and also work around such brilliant and talented people who I learned from all the time.
Can you recall what was running through your head when you wrapped-up on the finer feelings remix?
I had actually remixed “Step Back In Time” for DMC before that as I was (and still am) a huge Kylie fan so I remember getting that multitrack and being blown away by her vocal on it. “Finer Feelings” came from someone at PWL loving what we were doing with Brothers In Rhythm which up until then had been predominantly house music so taking on a gorgeous mid tempo was quite a risk but of course we loved the song and just embellished what was there with a whole load of piano, strings and choir - been doing that ever since!
Would you have told me to get my head checked if I had told you that you’d end up doing that version of Finer Feelings once again twenty years later with an orchestra and at Abbey Road Studios? It is been a remarkable journey.
It has and I didn’t really think about the significance when arranging the Abbey Road version as I had such a clear vision of how I thought it should be. The song is so fantastic that it was perfect for that cinematic feel and her vocal on it is extraordinary. Also it was a great excuse to put a “Lawrence Of Arabia” kind of orchestral arrangement to it which i did as always with the brilliant Cliff Masterson.
That Finer Feelings remix – what did you want to do with that remix?
On the original 1992 remix it was purely about making the rhythm section tougher and the orchestration more lush - everyone was influenced by Massive Attack then so that’s where we were headed but probably came off a little more cinematic - as always.
Why do you think the collaboration between yourself and her works so well?
I think we just get each other - she inspires me more than anyone I’ve ever worked with and there’s always a real thrill when I know I’ve done something thats going to make her smile.
Do you think “it just works” because you know the DNA of nearly every Kylie song she’s released.... On nearly every release you just have your head around every track every time she puts out a new album?
I wouldn’t say every song she’s released but I’ve worked on a fair bit of it especially this year with Anti Tour where we kept adding songs! Also the reinvention thing is great but sometimes I love just going back to the original versions and maybe just beefing them up a bit which is what we got to do with “Spinning Around” in Aphrodite and now that version sits just as comfortably at The Queens Diamond Jubilee and Proms In The Park.
Gotta ask as its Christmas time...A Kylie Christmas album! In ten or twenty years?
Wouldn’t that be perfect? Its amazing there hasn’t been one already. Its all about timing as always but I’m sure when its the right time then it will happen - how could it not...
Get tickets for the Christmas last show tomorrow here
You've got actually Christmas show coming up called Santa’s Little Belter. Whats that all about?
Santa’s Little Belter is an special Christmas edition of our Little Belter show at Madame Jo Jo’s - its so much fun and of course a great excuse to do as many great Xmas songs as possible. This year we’ve added a new arrangement I did for “O Holy Night” as its one of my favourite Xmas songs and perfect for Elouise to truly shine on.
Free Download of Steve's version of Grown Up Christmas List here
You’ve also taken on the masterpiece by David Foster Grown Up Christmas List! What inspired you to do that beautiful Christmas classic?
I love Amy’s voice and her Xmas album is one of my favourites, especially this song, so I jumped at the chance of including it in the show. I am a huge fan of David Foster and was lucky enough to work with him on Kylie’s performance with Rod Stewart on his ITV Christmas show recently.
Santa’s Little Belter also includes a fantastic performance of The Weather Girls glorious disco tune Dear Santa (Bring Me A Man). How did you not crack up recording Terry Ronalds bit as the naughty elf on the track?
Terry often records guide vocals for everything we do and they are always a scream to listen to. However there is a serious side as its a great reference for the actors or singers when they come to delivering it themselves.
Dynamic is a big thing in a lot of the work you produce (in remixes, shows aswell as productions and songwriting)…..this year saw a multitude of Steve Anderson related “stuff”: tours, releases and musicals. Been a busy bee! What keeps you going?!
I just love my job and having the opportunity to work with incredibly talented people. I’m not very good at saying no if I think something is going to be fun and challenging as I’m always learning which is the best part.
2012 started with the Little Belter show tour in the UK that includes a soundtrack that again re-imagines classics and “remixes” them for a 2012 audience. And with Hurly Burly too – you revise contemporary classics & give them the burlesque treatment. From your perspective was this part of the point and logic behind the music of both shows?Little Belter was about creating a show around Elouise’s amazing voice. She is a unique mixture of Bassey/Garland and Streisand so it gives us the chance to revisit some amazing old songs and rework some new ones to suit the way she sings. Also just singing the songs isn’t enough so Terry Ronald’s writing and her performance really brings the show to life and invites people into her world for a bit plus its a lot of fun alongside some beautiful heartbreaking moments.....Hurly Burly is all about the fun! William Baker, Terry Ronald, Ashley Wallen and I have loved burlesque as an art form for so long so the chance to work with Polly Rae and her fabulous girlies has been a real labour of love and one that has taken us on an incredible journey including three West End runs and shows in Australia and South Africa. I firmly believe the current version of the show is the strongest ever so I hope it continues to go from strength to strength.
I actually think it good that I have ways of getting those ideas out there especially with Hurly Burly, otherwise they might end of up on something they shouldn’t! Everything is arranging at the end of the day which is just an extension of remixing. I have an ability to be able to hear a song in my head completely stripped away from its original music and re worked so its very lucky I’ve been able to do that as a job.
Hurly Burly saw you, William, Ashley W and Terry Ronald work with Polly Rae create a series of burlesque postcards, backed with a modern soundtrack, that celebrated pop and merged that together with the world of burlesque – a genre usually housed in the home of cabaret. Was this your intention?
Yes - it was about old fashioned Benny Hill/Carry On fun - very British and very classic but with a contemporary twist especially in the music and song choices. Basically if it made us all laugh out loud it went in. You would be surprised how easily the ideas came together as its just our sense of humour.
Steve with Elouise
With Little Belter what did you and the creative team set out to do with regards to the music in it.
Little Belter is like a watching an amazing boxer go 20 rounds to win a prize fight. Elouise taking on the biggest songs in the world and knocking them down one by one whilst taking the audience on a journey with her. Musically I was adamant with both shows it had to sound classic so we used a lot of real instruments especially brass as well as employing the genius talent of Francis Goodhand when it came to something like transcribing a new arrangement based around a scratchy mono recording of “As Long As He Needs Me” from the Judy Garland TV Special to enable us to re orchestrate it as closely as possible.
Although there is the central story of the singer in Little Belter, could you also make the argument that Little Belter is in many ways also about the importance of songs and the underpinning role of the arrangers that have provided the canvases that allowed the likes of Judy, Dusty, Barbra and Shirley to paint their gorgeous pictures on?
Absolutely. There are so many different versions of classic songs and these are all down to the arrangers who were very often uncredited.
And, if so, I would say the same of Abbey Road. As for me it really does celebrate the glorious melodies by Matt and Mike of PWL. Abbey Road brings to the fore some of that excellent chord progression and as such the album celebrates that....
Yes. The structure of the PWL songs was so classic and very much in the style of Motown where it was all about chords and melody and so much less about being cool and credible. That’s why the songs stand the test of time.
The Hurly Burly Girls
If there is one moment you could take from Hurly Burly and Little Belter what would it be? For me, it has to be the Geisha Medley. And in Little Belter it's a toss up between Smile and No More Tears.
My favourite thing in Hurly Burly is probably “Bad” as it just works so brilliantly and the build up alongside Polly’s bed routine is so superb. I also have a real soft spot for our Marie Antoinette medley as its a bunch of songs that you would never put together but works so well. From Little Belter my favourite is “As Long As He Needs Me” as its a real showstopper and she absolutely nails it every time.
With Hurly Burly wrapping up its South African stint and Little Belter setting off to Australia what other shows do you have up your sleeve…
We have a new show which has just opened in Miami called |Orchid which is a cross between Moulin Rouge and Cirque Du Soleil with a strong burlesque influence. Its William Baker, myself, Terry Ronald and Ashley Wallen again but much more of a Broadway cast mixed with incredible circus performers. The music is very much still modern pop but its less bawdy than Hurly Burly - it still has its moments but there is more a narrative throughout. It also has an incredible star in Lexy Romano who inspired the new version I arranged of “First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” for it (Hear it here). I'm also thrilled that I am going to be working with Leona Lewis again on her UK tour. I absolutely adore Leona and its so inspiring having a voice like hers to arrange for.
With the Australian stretch of Little Belter how will it differ from the UK version of the show?
We are literally just getting started on it now but the idea is to be bigger more spectacular than ever before - it has to be done especially in Melbourne which I regard as my second home anyway plus I have so many great memories of Crown Casino. Its such a fabulous venue so I can’t wait to put the show in there.
Talking of taking things to new territories – lets talk about Christophe Willem. You must be delighted to see his English album finally coming out!?(see below for the DSTP review)
Finally is the word. Christophe and I had the original idea to record the album in both languages at the same time which was hard work for him but he loves a challenge. Also most of the songs were originally written in English and then adapted to French for the Prismophonic album. So yes I am thrilled its coming out as I am so proud of what we did alongside such an incredible team of contributors including Freemasons , Biff Stannard, Richard X , Karen Poole, Sarah deCourcy , Jamie Hartman and Hannah Robinson. Hopefully it will be on iTunes early next year.
I loved his London show this month and would love to see him do a few more dates here.....
Me too - its one of the best gigs I’ve ever been to so I hope he gets to do more.
You were of course the executive producer for his album….that included so many brilliant pop talents….would you ever be up for producing Kylies next album?
Thanks - who knows whats to come but I’m so happy I got to produce The Abbey Road Sessions and Prismophonic as I think they show both sides of what I do equally well.
I’d love Christophe to release an acoustic version of the album. In London, he did some wonderful stripped back version....
Me too - he did the most beautiful stripped down version of “When You Dance With Me” with Sarah at that show which you could tell really affected people. I think it would be great if he did a more acoustic album , maybe some of his songs and some covers. His voice is incredible and the tone so superb - with the right arrangements and production I think an album like that could be so very special.
And..for Kylie? Musically…If we get a 12th studio album next year…what would you like it to sound like?
I would like it to sound like Kylie being in the best place in the world doing what she loves.
Is it true there’s going to be a Denise Van Outen project hitting the west end soon?
Yes. Terry Ronald and Denise have written a fabulous one woman show which is hopefully opening early next year. As Denise has an incredible voice there are plenty of opportunities for a few songs and I’ve reworked some classics in a very different style - can’t say too much at the moment but we couldn’t be more excited! I love Denise - she’s got the most wicked sense of humour and is a much bigger talent than people probably know - hopefully this show will be able to show this. I’d love to say more but I don’t want the Basildon mafia turning up!
If I could only pick one I would say Kylie’s Proms In The Park was my highlight. It was the realisation of so many years of planning and I honestly could not have been more proud of her.
Part two of Interview Coming Soon!