Located on Worship Street, Shoreditch, at the northern edge of the Square Mile and just north of Liverpool Street Station, Principal Place is a 15-storey mixed-use block designed by Foster and Partners with two roof terraces on levels 10 and 16 that offer nearly an acre of elevated outdoor space. The development is part of the Principal Place masterplan, which includes Principal Tower (a 50-storey residential tower designed by the same architects and due for completion in 2019) and a new public piazza. Archaeological digs at the site, ahead of construction, found the remains of one of the first gasworks in London. Completed in 2016, Amazon UK moved their headquarters to Principal Place in 2018. The building has capacity for 5,000 employees.
I was thrilled to be asked by Nick Luscombe to contribute a track for his Musicity project and also delighted to get another opportunity to work with my longtime musical collaborator Jean-Paul ‘Bluey’ Maunick, leader of the Jazz-Funk band ‘Incognito’. Like myself, Bluey is a London resident, so we were both very keen write music inspired by the architecture of our beloved city.
After discussing the project and location over the phone, we agreed to start with Bluey providing some musical parts which I would mould into a finished piece. I was amazed by what he sent me (after only 4 hours in his studio!), as the song already sounded quite complete, comprising of guitar, bass, Fender Rhodes, a drum loop and full vocal. I felt I should treat it more like a remix by changing the tempo, adding new drum programming, live synths and effects and generally rearranging it.
After getting about 80% of the way with the production, I decided to take a trip to Principal Place to record some sounds of the building and generally soak up the atmosphere of the location. I must have looked a bit suspicious with my microphone, as a security guard told me I needed a permit and that I had to stop recording. Luckily I had already taken some great field recordings which I was able to add the track when I got back to my studio.
I’m really happy with how the piece ended up, as it has quite a summery feel which captures the heatwave we have been experiencing in London. The lyrics and synths also evoke the futuristic nature of the building, and the changing landscape of the city - “no time like the future, creating tomorrow”. They also reference an Incognito track I remixed a while ago called “I can see the future”, so it seems that we have gone full circle on this project!