Ben Smith recently played two drum tracks for Toni Saddler-French at London Bridge Studio– they were the first two songs she’s ever written. Tom Hall of Earworks Audio was the studio engineer, and one of her guitar teachers, Daniel Christopherson of Purple Treehouse Recording, was producer for the session.
Six months ago, Toni hadn’t envisioned recording her own music, much less hiring pros. Her teacher Daniel encouraged her to experiment with recording and then to reach out to session musicians. But when Daniel told her that Ben Smith might be available, she was a bit nervous.
“It was daunting to think of working with the drummer for HEART and other cool bands on my first songs – gee, this guy has played at prestigious venues around the world, including Royal Albert Hall in England,” “Who me? On my songs? But my teacher assured me that Ben is a great guy and supportive of musicians, and I knew I’d kick myself if I passed up the chance.”
Toni also felt that Ben’s expressive and insightful style and strong beats would be a great foundation for both songs – one about getting stuck forever in traffic and the other about older cottages getting knocked down for bigger, generic houses.
“When I pulled up for the session at London Bridge Studio, where bands like PEARL JAM, MACKLEMORE, and many others have recorded, I got nervous again. But Ben put me at ease right away – he was so down-to-earth and kind. And it was so cool to watch him in action… he had great ideas and quickly provided the perfect vibe for both songs.”
After Toni’s experiences, she urges new musicians to experiment with recording, and not to be shy about working with pros. “Find teachers who can help coach you through the songwriting process and connect you to others”. “For anyone considering songwriting, don’t be afraid to dive in and reach out. It’s cool to not just learn music but to be a part of it, and you get to learn so much from others.”
Toni’s teacher Daniel said, “We tend to think of songwriting as a magical and very special thing, and it is. But the capacity to create and connect is innate in each of us, and music is for everyone!“
Toni worked with three teachers altogether, including Daniel, Mike Mattingly (of The Herding Cats), and Lucien LaMotte-(NoteWordies studio) on developing the songs. Plus, Daniel played bass on one, and Mike played all guitar, including a solo, on the other song. Rounding out the talent are Jennifer Ivester on background vocals, and Don Garberg on keyboards.
Toni is finishing up vocals and adding visuals for videos, then hopes to publish her songs in a few weeks. She’s writing some new songs as well, and hopes to work with Ben again.