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An ongoing series of informational entries

The Hallows

The Hallows - Our road trip for a photoshoot…

May 16, 2016

A road trip, one million costume changes (slight exaggeration), great photos and fantastic curry…

Why would you drive for nearly 6 hours just to get your photo taken? (Apologies to any of our non-UK fans, but 6 hours is a long drive for us…)  The answer, is you make said drive so that you can work with a very talented individual. That individual is a man named Dominic Burd and once again we count ourselves very fortunate to be working with someone with such creative vision and passion. Dom is a very experienced photographer with a fantastic eye for interesting locations, angles lighting and composition. He is also great company, very funny and as Joe had worked with him before we had no doubt that the journey would be worth it.

We set off for Dom’s home town of Plymouth on a Friday evening. Big mistake. Rush hour traffic. 6 hours later we arrived in high spirits (ish) and settled into our hotel for some beauty sleep (ha!). The following morning we joined Dom who took us off on a trek into Cornwall to find what he had promised was a very interesting and unique location for our first shoot. He was not wrong. Where we ended up was an old, near derelict, abandoned clay processing factory. Glamorous surrounds indeed, but the place really was beautiful, graffiti and all!

The old roof had fallen through in many places which provided a fabulous quality of light to the building interior. Nooks, crannies, stairwells and overgrown vegetation combined with some luck with the weather meant we got some fantastic shots and you can see some of these below. The only difficult part of the day was changing clothes without getting covered in clay dust… Sarah however, was well practiced at this by the end of the day! ;-P

Saturday evening was set aside for treating Dom to dinner and a few drinks as a thank you for working with us. He took us to his favourite curry house in the town centre and we have to say it was some of the best we have eaten. Dave and Dom share a love of chillies (and indeed cooking in general) and Dave was so enthused about the manager’s Naga chilli paste that he got talking to him and is now a privilege card holder! Shout out to The Eastern Eye!

Sunday’s shoot was in Dom’s studio and was a very different one from the day before. We had some fun taking shots using mirrors which proved to be really interesting. Some of the shots were horrible – definitely not Dom’s fault, seeing yourself backwards can be quite unnerving! – and some were brilliant.

We are very much looking forward to working with Dom again in the near future and really hope that you all love his work as much as we do.

The Hallows

The Hallows - The Dark Art Of Mastering...

February 21, 2016

When you’ve spent weeks, months, even years writing, rehearsing and recording your songs, you want them to sound as good as they possibly can before you come to release the album for the whole world to critique. This is where mastering comes in.

Mastering is the final step in an albums production and is an essential one in bringing the audio quality of your work up to a level that will present well across all different formats, be it radio, internet stream, CD or iTunes Download.

Other than that, we really can’t tell you much more about what mastering is. Seriously, it really does seem like some kind of dark sorcery. Imperceptible button pushing and dial tweaking is followed by quickly switching between tracks and then repeating this process. All while we sit and listen and look confused. However we can tell you that the difference between what we brought to our mastering session (which to our ears already sounded great!) and what we left with was incredible.

Who was the wizard behind all of this? That man was the brilliant Andy “Hippy” Baldwin at Metropolis Studios in Chiswick, London. We feel very lucky to have worked with Hippy on the album as he is both a very talented man and a very cool guy to boot. Andy has worked with some amazing artists in the past including Blur, Coldplay and The Who to name just a few so we were indeed privileged to have his expertise on our project.

The whole day that we spent at Metropolis with Andy (and Seb who always joins his bands for the mastering stage) was a huge amount of fun and very enlightening and we have to say that we are really looking forward to going back soon be it for a re-master for vinyl (let us know if you would be interested!) or for album two!

You can find more info on Andy and Metropolis at the link below:



The Hallows

The Hallows - Guest Musicians

December 21, 2015

Being a three piece band has it’s advantages. It has been easier to bounce ideas around quickly. It has been far easier to arrange rehearsals. Each of us has the space to express ideas. The bar tab is slightly smaller. Slightly…

A lot of the time, less is more. But sometimes, more is better…

That is why, when writing and recording the album, we decided that we wanted to enlist the help of some very talented guest musicians. There were moments on many of the songs where we could hear a beautiful string melody and there were also points when a soaring or rhythmic guitar part would compliment a song perfectly.

We mentioned in our last blog how lucky we were to work with Seb Pecchia at Riverside Studios. One of the great perks to this is that it seems Seb knows just about everybody in the music business and so, when we were talking about possibly adding some guitars to our tracks, he knew just the man for the job. Enter Nigel Pulsford.

If you weren’t a rock fan in the mid to late 90’s then you may not know of Nigel by name. Nigel was the lead guitarist for the hugely successful British grunge rock band, Bush. Their debut album “Sixteen Stone” sold over 10 million albums in the United States and the follow up “Razorblade Suitcase” was no.1 on the Billboard rock charts. And to top that off, he is a thoroughly nice guy.

Nigel approached our tracks with a fantastically sensitive ear for what was needed and understood exactly what we were looking for. For example the acoustic guitar part on “Hourglass” perfectly offsets the opening bass groove, the textural and rhythmic lead work on “Little Wildling” adds great points of interest and we really can’t wait for you all to hear “Angel”…

We’d like to extend a huge thank you to Nigel for all his hard work on the tracks he played on and we really hope we get to work with him again in the future.

Elsewhere on the album we all agreed that certain songs would benefit from the warmth, depth and beauty that only real string instruments can achieve. Sarah composed all the string arrangements you will hear on the album and spent a huge amount of time making sure that each one captured the right mood and energy for the song. Sarah set out to write string parts that would work as stand alone melodies and hooks. An arrangement that, when the vocals are removed from the mix, the strings could be a focal point of the song.

We feel that the strings have added so much to the songs on which they feature. We hope you will enjoy the many different moods, from ethereal and atmospheric, anthemic and exciting to the haunting sound of a solo cello, Sarah has included them all.

The string quartet features:

Paul Barrett – Violin

Richard Couldridge – Violin

Rachael Birkin – Viola

Tim Gilbert – Cello

They were enormous fun to work with as well as being absolutely first class musicians.

We were also very aware that when in a session environment we needed to make the situation as straightforward as possible. Having no experience writing sheet music for strings we enlisted the help of Paul Batson.

Paul is a very talented musician and he scored the arrangements brilliantly, if it weren’t for his expertise the session wouldn’t have ran as smoothly as it did. He is also an award winning wood worker who is renowned for making world class, artisan conducting batons – he is a man of many talents.

Thanks for taking the time to read our blog, please feel free to share and leave feedback below.

We will be posting more content soon so watch this space!

Big Love, Sarah, Joe & Dave X

Coming in future blog posts:

The dark art of mastering…

Our road trip for a photoshoot

The Hallows

The Hallows - Recording The Album

November 21st, 2015

Writing and recording our debut album has been quite a journey for us. The three of us have been playing and writing music together for about ten years but it wasn’t until three years ago that we decided to focus on “The Hallows” in its present form. Our goal was to write music that would be interesting for many different people featuring pop hooks, rock sensibilities and atmospheric textures. It was after eighteen months of writing and experimenting that we jumped into the recording sessions for the album.


We have been lucky to have recorded the album with Seb Pecchia at Riverside Studios, just outside of Bath. It is a truly beautiful place to be and the studio had just the right feel for us. The live room where we recorded drums, piano and ultimately the string quartet is a great size and has a fantastic sound which Seb is so good at capturing. Seb has worked with many artists over the years, most notably Robert Plant on his album Mighty Rearranger.

Seb’s experience has been invaluable as an engineer, producer, fourth pair of ears, quality control, programmer and more. He has always been brutally honest with us (whether good or bad!) and this is exactly what we needed to get the best out of the songs we had written and the performances we delivered. As a result, we are incredibly proud of the final product!

We would also like to thank Seb and his lovely family for generously having us to stay with them whenever we were in the studio. We had a brilliant time and are so grateful for their hospitality. (Except for that one time Dave cracked his head open on the cupboard door… don’t worry everyone, the cupboard was fine.)

The recording process was spread across eighteen months but, in reality, it equated to four weeks of studio time accompanied by a lot of writing, practicing, mixing, listening and more. There is something uniquely enjoyable about studio work and the session, though at times hard work, seemed to fly by.

Working in such close proximity can also lead to a lot of cabin fever style humour which I don’t think any of us will ever forget! We now also appreciate how important time away from the studio is and have the opportunity to “live” with what we have done. It is eye opening sometimes that a track you felt really excited about in the heat of the moment may not actually work, and vice-versa, a track that had you feeling a bit unsure could ultimately become a favourite.

Something that was really interesting to see over the course of the album was how much some of the tracks changed. Where a few tracks like “Element” and “Euphoria” are largely the same as the originals written in Joe and Sarah’s living room, others such as “Icicles” and “Turn This Tide” are completely different.

“Icicles” in particular had a very interesting evolution. It is safe to say the track was not working – for some reason we were approaching it as a dance track! – and something had to be done. The decision was made to come back to the studio after the evening meal (and a drink or two!) and try something new – softer lighting, a mood change, a huge drop in tempo and some rethinking of the sounds we were using. This is how we arrived at the arrangement you will hear on the album. It was a very satisfying, organic process that produced something we really like and hope that you will too!

Ultimately, that is what the whole process was about – producing something that we are proud to play to friends, family and fans alike whilst having a great time doing so! We really can’t wait for you all to hear it.

You can find more info on Seb and the Riverside Studios at questmusic.co.uk.

Coming in future blog posts:

The dark art of mastering…

Guest Musicians

Our road trip for a photoshoot


Exam Results

February 1, 2018

A huge congratulations to my students Myra White and Charlize Hamilton for their triumphant exam results...

Myra White:

ABRSM Music Theory - Grade 1 - Distinction

ABRSM Music Theory - Grade 2 - Merit

Charlize Hamilton:

Rockschool Vocals - Grade 1 - Distinction

Studying for exams takes enormous dedication and hardwork and I am immensely proud of their success.

I would also like to thank all of my students for their hardwork  - here's to new challenges and further success!


Exam Results

March 30, 2018

HUGE congratulations to my student Myra White for earning another triumphant exam result in Grade 3 Music Theory...

Myra White:

ABRSM Music Theory - Grade 3 - Merit

Well done Myra!


Exam Results

February 20, 2019

Congratulations to Charlize Hamilton for securing a well deserved distinction for Grade 2 Vocals!  Achieving another distinction mark is the result of dedication, perseverance and great musicality - well done Charlize!  Now onto Grade 3...!

Charlize Hamilton:

Rockschool Vocals - Grade 2 - Distinction


Exam Results

July 4, 2019

Congratulations to Bonnie Fitzgerald for achieving a Merit for Grade 1 Vocal Performance Certificate!  Well done Bonnie, all your hard work and perseverance has been rewarded!

Bonnie Fitzgerald:

Rockschool Vocals - Grade 1 Performance Certificate - Merit


Recording Success

July 15, 2019

Congratulations to my student Mia Patey-Smith who has released her very first single with her band "Star Struck"!!

Best friends Mia and Victoria worked together to write their own original song that celebrates overcoming every day challenges through friendship and positive thinking, putting a positive spin on the difficult emotions children feel when they are growing up.

The rest of the band, Macy, Derren and Charlie, collaborated on the middle eight, adding a positive and hopeful focus to the song to deliver an optimistic message about the future.

It's super catchy and upbeat and has a chorus you'll be singing for days!

Band leader Paul says: “We’re all so proud of the musicianship, creativity and dedication that Star Struck have put into this amazing track. Well done!”

The band was formed as part of the Rocksteady Music Project (www.rocksteadymusicschool.com).  Rocksteady provide in-school weekly rock band lessons which make music fun, inclusive and accessible to all. By giving children the chance to play in their very own band, performing songs they love, it encourages them to achieve while building confidence, teamwork, resilience and listening skills.

You can stream "I Don't Mind" on Spotify and other streaming services now!


Congratulations Mia!  May this single be the first of many...


Talent Show Success

July 31, 2019

Congratulations to my student Libbie Price for coming 2nd in her school talent show!

Libbie (Year 9) had been practising "If I Ain't Got You" by Alicia Keys and performed the song in front of her school, Caroline Chisholm in Northampton, on Wednesday 10th July.

It is a huge achievement, something Libbie worked very hard towards and a great confidence boost before she starts working towards her music GCSE next year.  

I hope this performance is one of many more to come...


Exam Success

February 19, 2020

A huge congratulations to my students Charlize Hamilton and Bonnie Fitzgerald for their recent triumphant exam results...

Charlize Hamilton:

Rockschool Vocals - Grade 3 - Distinction

Bonnie Fitzgerald:

Rockschool Vocals - Grade 2 - Merit

Well done to you both!


The 'Music Makes Me Strong' Project

May 21, 2020

If you are looking for a musical project to be involved in during the lockdown then perhaps the 'Music Makes Me Strong' project is for you!  Organised through Crescendo, a local Performing Arts School, they are creating a music video remotely. 

The project is open to everyone!

For all the details follow this link:



Congratulation to my student Andrew on the completion of his debut album "This Is Me"!

July 2, 2020

Writing, arranging and recording an album takes a huge amount of time and dedication so it is such an achievement once it has been completed.  

I arranged the backing vocals on the albums - it has been wonderful to be involved and see the songs evolve.

The album was recorded at Soundgarage in Bedford and produced by Ben Garaway.  All songs written by Andrew Richardson.

Please do check out the album on Spotify:

This Is Me - Andrew Richardson - available on Spotify now!!



Exam Success

September 29, 2020

Congratulations to the following students who have recently received their brilliant exam results.  Despite the circumstances over the last 6 months you have all shown great focus, continued to work really hard and committed to performing at the best of your ability to achieve these results.  I'm very proud of you all!

Charlize Hamilton:

Rockschool Vocals - Grade 6 - Distinction

Bonnie Fitzgerald:

Rockschool Vocals - Grade 6 - Distinction

Poppy Latimer:

Rockschool Vocals - Grade 3 - Merit

Mia Patey-Smith:

Rockschool Vocals - Grade 3 - Distinction


Grade 8 Exam Success

May 23, 2021

Huge congratulations to Charlize Hamilton for securing a Merit in Rockschool Vocals at Grade 8!!  This is such a wonderful result and well earned.  

The standard at Grade 8 makes this no mean feat, it requires perseverance, diligence and attention to detail.

Also, all pass results for Grades 6-8 secure UCAS points and, through her Grade 8 Merit award, Charlize has secured 24 UCAS points to support her University entry requirements.

Well done Charlize!  All the time you have dedicated to your singing over the last few years has culminated in this achievement.  It's been an honour to help you reach this milestone.  

However, the journey of music does not end at Grade 8 and I'm sure there are many more singing achievements in your future...


Exam Success

September 10, 2021

Congratulations to Poppy Latimer who has achieved another brilliant Merit mark in an exam - this time Grade 4 Vocals! Poppy has shown great commitment and we are already working towards the next...well done Poppy!

Poppy Latimer:

Rockschool Vocals - Grade 4 - Merit