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Stephen Sedgwick

Inside Track: Gorillaz ‘Charger’

Secrets Of The Mix Engineers: Stephen Sedgwick

Behind every virtual band, there are real producers and engineers. In the case of Gorillaz, they were Anthony Khan and Stephen Sedgwick.

Blur frontman Damon Albarn has spent the last two decades working on a dazzling variety of musical projects and collaborations, the most famous of which is inarguably Gorillaz. A collaboration between Albarn and artist Jamie Hewlett, with Albarn responsible for the music and Hewlett for the visual representation, Gorillaz are a virtual band comprising fictitious musicians 2-D, Murdoc Niccals, Noodle and Russel Hobbs. For something that was initially seen as a novelty act, Gorillaz have been both long-lived and remarkably successful. Released this Spring, the fifth Gorillaz album Humanz instantly went to number two in both the UK and in the US, and topped the iTunes charts in almost 60 countries around the world.

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Albarn’s lyrical and musical starting point for the album was the “dark fantasy” that Donald Trump would win the US presidential election — this was the beginning of 2016, well before Trump had even secured the Republican nomination. Conceived as a “party for the end of the world”, Humanz features an enormous number of guests, including famous names like Grace Jones, Mavis Staples and Carly Simon giving it, as one critic wrote, “the wildly entertaining feel of a circus show”.

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Magazine for sound engineers with a lot of technical info about the recording process of “The Magic Whip”. Interviews with Stephen Street and Stephen Sedgwick.

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Cracking the whip

The only way for Blur to make a new album was by pretending they weren’t. Without any pressure to perform, The Magic Whip’s template was cobbled together in a secret Hong Kong jam session. But it took a pair of Stephen Street and Sedgwick, to whip them into shape.

While band breakups can get messy, there’s also no easy script for getting back together. Besides being able to stand each other, the main challenge for reformed acts is to regain artistic credibility.

Most sidestep producing any significant new material. The moneys in the touring and reissues anyway, so why taint a perfectly good back catalogue. Especially one that’s aged beyond criticism. Blur had walked this well-trodden path ever since the band officially reformed at the end of 2008. Until recently, all the band had released since then were three singles. An attempt at recording more new material with producer William Orbit — who had produced their last effort as a four-piece, I3, and had a hand in the band’s last album before the final split, Think Thank — was aborted. Read More