I’ve just finished recording Eye of The Tiger for a new Cadbury Olympic advert. Here’s how it came about…
The radio station Magic FM were looking for people to sing Survivor’s 1982 rock hit Eye OF The Tiger, in a new advert to get the nation to back Team GB in the Olympics. I sent Magic FM a video link of me singing When I see You Smile by Bad English. A few days later I received a call telling me I’d been chosen. I was really excited; it was a great opportunity to work with a major brand and it’s not often you get the chance to be involved in something as big as this.
On with the story…
On Saturday 27th January I arrived at London’s Dean Street Studios. A venue that has recorded David Bowie, T-Rex, Thin Lizzy, U2, Moody Blues, Adam Ant, Prefab Sprout and The Alarm amongst many others. Other well known artists also hired the studio space independently, including Paul Oakenfold, S’Express, The Smiths, Jesus and Mary Chain, Big Audio Dynamite, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Tina Turner, Wham!, Duran Duran and Dexy’s Midnight Runners. My mic call was at 3 o’clock so I got to Dean Street Studios around 2pm. There were another nineteen people there who had also been chosen to sing – Those who made the cut would get their vocal on the finished song, singing a line or two.
As the ad was for Cadbury there was a huge pile of various Cadbury chocolate bars on the table in the room we were waiting in. Tempting for sure, but I didn’t have any before I sang as it can dry out your throat, so it was peppermint tea for me to keep my throat lubricated and ready to rock!
While waiting for my mic call I was interviewed and filmed by Magic FM. They wanted to know a little about me and my singing, and how I felt about singing the song. They also wanted me to give an Olympic shout out to Team GB. The atmosphere was great and the Magic FM team made us all feel welcome.
One thing I can tell you is that sitting around a hot recording studio waiting for your mic call whilst dressed in a snakeskin suit makes you get pretty warm!!!
The production team tried to rush one guy off to hair and makeup until he told them he was just a courier delivering something to the studio. I’ve never seen anyone look so worried – when he thought he was going to have to step up to the mic and rock out to an 80s track!
Purple Bandanas and Eyeliner
The production team were running late and I was called in to hair and makeup at around 3.30pm.The reason for hair, styling and makeup was because the vocal recording was being filmed for the ad and the behind the scenes footage which will also be released.
So after a purple bandana and belt to represent the colours of the brand Cadbury, and a swift bit of charcoal eyeliner (I still don’t know what this was for but I was happy to get into the spirit of the day!),
I was shown in to the recording room. I thought it would be a vocal booth with the track played through headphones. But it was a large room with a condenser mic in the middle. The walls were purple (yep, there was a lot of purple that day!) and there were Team GB logos on the walls. There were a lot of people in the room – the Director, cameramen, production staff and people that I didn’t even know what they did but they all had a specific role I’m sure and every one of them was great fun and very supportive. There were no headphones – the track was played over the studio speakers.
This made an interesting challenge for me, as I’ve never recorded like that before. I normally record with headphones on and a little bit of delay on my vocal. Oh, and I have the music/backing track very, very loud in my headphones!!!
Time to Rock
What made it more challenging was that the singing was being filmed for the advert and for a behind the scenes video, so with this in mind I was asked to really ‘rock it on’ while the track was playing. While I was singing there was a cameraman moving around to get multiple film clips. I found it interesting that as soon as I started singing, I forgot the Director and all the production team were in the room watching. It was all about the song and the ‘rock it on’ for the filming. I did three takes of the song. I sang with a singer called Lucy-May O’Reilly and then it was time for the next person to come in. The mic time went incredible quickly, but it was great fun.
I managed to find the makeup artist and had the eyeliner removed before my journey home!
It was a great day and I’d like to thank Jenny Allen and the team at Magic FM, Dale Healy and the production team, and everyone at Cadbury for making it happen and for being such great fun.
And thank you for my goodie bag, really appreciated it.
So how did I practice for this performance?
The morning of the recording before I set off from home, I practised our TVS Onset Package. This included a vocal workout we do at The Vocalist Studio that is absolutely key to our methodology and to your development as a singer. It also serves as part of our regular warm up set. The workout is the octave siren and the melodic 5th siren. At TVS, we do a lot of sirens. Why? A slow and controlled siren forces the body to build astounding muscle memory and strength on every possible position the voice can find itself in. The fluidity of sirens insures fluidity in your ability to modify resonant placement, vowels and many other physiological and acoustic components that are required to sing great…or in my application on this morning, to simply get warmed up.
If the elements of your Onset Package aren’t right, then your singing will have problems. It’s the understanding of the physiological and acoustic components that make up our phonation package that we drill at TVS that gives us the edge. At TVS, we don’t only get the results we want. We understand the components and ‘moving parts’ that have to be trained to gain a result. It begins with the Onset Package, which later becomes the Phonation Package. Inside the Phonation Package is the code; The answers all singers are looking for to learn how to sing, to solve their challenges as singers and even how to warm up properly. It’s this that gives TVS trained singers the edge. Find out more about our TVS Onset Package in The Four Pillars of Singing.
Click here to see Eye Of The Tiger being performed by the original artist: Survivor.
As always, if you have any questions please drop me an email to mip@TheVocalistStudio.co.uk
Mip Phillips, TVS.