StevePretty.com

I do music and performance and stuff

Hello. I am Steve Pretty. This is my website, on which I attempt to explain my confusing 'career' to you. I do mostly performance,  music composition, arranging and production, and sometimes photography and writing.

If you're confused, think how I feel.

Unlikely new double act with astronomer Chris Lintott

In October 2017, I debuted my very unlikely new double act with Professor of Astrophysics Chris Lintott. You might know him from presenting Sky at Night, which he co-presented with the late, great Patrick Moore until his death, and now leads on.

Poster for the show

Chris approached me backstage at Robin Ince and Brian Cox's superb Compendium of Reason show (where I was MDing and he was on a panel with Brian and some legit astrophysics legends), and suggested that we do something together. He's a fan of HCB, and a big music fan in general, and we realised that we are both very interested in, but very ignorant of one another's worlds. We thought that this enthusiasm and inquisitiveness might be shared by an audience, so in October 2017 we debuted the show at the Old Fire Station, Oxford, promoted by Science Oxford, which they called 'Big Bang to Big Band'.

We had a really lovely audience, and superb feedback. We've got a lot of polishing up to do, and I need to do a lot of practice with the brand new solo music setup which I have put together for this - which involves enough tech to give NASA a run for its money* - but the proof of concept is definitely there.

We're currently putting in some more dates for this project; hopefully one more before 2017 is done, then some more in early 2018. The idea is that we can then piggy back one another's existing gig schedules, meaning that we can get Chris to some rad music festivals and I can go to some awesome science festivals, plus everything in between.

*For those interested, this consists of my HCB pedalboard rig plus robot drummer, synths, weird remote triggers and things all running into Ableton Live. Super powerful. Once I learn how to use it properly.

Hackney Colliery Band live at Koko - FULL SHOW video

HCB played a sold-out show at Koko, London on 26th May 2017. It was a really special evening, and made more poignant as they show took place just days after the devastating Manchester terror attack (see our tribute at 18.30).

We recorded the entire thing for posterity - all 108 minutes of it! We're really happy with how it's come out. What do you think?

Be sure to come to our biggest show yet, at the legendary Kentish Town Forum on 16th February. ROLL UP!

Hackney Colliery Band perform to a sell-out crowd at London's iconic Koko. Performing in the same week as the devastating Manchester terror attacks in 2017, the show has added poignancy with a tribute to victims of terror all over the world, alongside HCB's trademark barnstorming punk/jazz/electro hybrid party music.

On Mass

I am once again Musical Supervisor for the frankly extraordinary On Mass project at the Roundhouse, part of the London Jazz Festival 2017, and featuring very special guest Angelique Kidjo. I'm very excited to be working with Angelique and all 180 young people involved in the project. It's going to be absolutely amazing! Tickets available now for the show in the main space of the Roundhouse on 12th November.

Part of the EFG London Jazz Festival and led by three-time time Grammy award winner Angelique Kidjo. On Mass brings together professional and emerging music and performance artists from around the world, to collaborate with home-grown talent including London's top carnival band Kinetika Bloco, Sadler's Wells acclaimed hip hop festival Breakin' Convention, Battersea Art Centre's Beat Box Academy and music collectives.

Roundhouse Rising Sounds 2017

In late 2016 and early 2017 I worked with young artist Moir to produce and mix a brand new track for the Roundhouse Rising Sounds project in London. 

I took the track in an electronica/soul direction, and I'm really happy with the result. Sarah wrote the song especially for this project, and it was all written and produced over just two days in the studio, and then mixed by me at my own studio.

As always, it was a treat to work with the incredible Roundhouse, and the rest of the Rising Sounds album has some really interesting, original music on it, so do check it out.

Brian and Robin's Compendium of Reason 2016

As usual I had the pleasure of MDing Robin Ince and Brian Cox's annual bash to celebrate reason again this year (and there has not been too much of that around this year). These shows are always an absolute treat, albeit an occasionally stressful and always enjoyably chaotic one, and once again the Hammersmith Apollo was packed to the rafters to listen to a night of science, comedy and music.

This year I thought it'd be fun to bring Hackney Colliery Band along, and we performed two of our own tunes (Reawake and Jump Then Run, both from Sharpener, since you asked), and also played Nothing Compares 2 U with the excellent and lovely Sophie Ellis Bextor, in tribute to Prince.

Hackney Colliery Band with Sophie Ellis Bextor at Brian and Robin's Compendium of Reason, Hammersmith Apollo, December 2016

We were joined for all this by Jack Liebeck and his quartet. It was such a treat writing for strings, and a particular treat to hear HCB material with added strings. Really hope we can do that again soon. 

2017 is already on sale, and rumours of line ups are already swirling around... This year we had Duran Duran, Chris Hadfield and more. What a blast.

Carnatic Connections chosen as one of the Top 10 albums of 2016 by Songlines Magazine

I'm really delighted that Carnatic Connections, the Bollywood Brass Band album I produced, mixed and performed on has been selected as one of the Top 10 albums of 2016 by legendary world music magazine Songlines.

I worked super hard on this record, and I'm really proud of the result, so it's great to see it getting such a lot of praise (also FIVE STARS from the Evening Standard, with more reviews on the way). Do check the record out.

Carnatic Connections album gets five stars from the Evening Standard

The Bollywood Brass Band album Carnatic Connection which I mixed and produced in summer 2016 got an outstanding five star review from Songlines magazine editor and all-round world music legend Simon Broughton, in his review for the London Evening Standard. It also got a great review from other world music legend Robin Deneslow in his review for the Guardian.

This is the first album I've ever fully mixed (I've produced the last two HCB records, but not mixed them), so I'm over the moon that it has been so well received.

With its combination of south Indian violin, percussion and brass, it's pretty niche, but no worse for that, and it was a pleasure working with virtuoso violinist Jyotsna Srikanth on this project, as well as the Bollywood Brass Band of course.

New Bollywood Brass Band album

As well as producing HCB's latest album (which went in at number 3 on the jazz charts and number 14 on the independent music charts, but stop going on about it, yeah?), I also produced the Bollywood Brass Band's latest record Carnatic Connections in summer 2016, which Simon Broughton gave five stars in his review for the Evening Standard.

This is the first record which I also mixed (HCB's Sharpener was mixed by the incredible Geoff Southall), which was a really exciting new challenge. I've mixed some bits for the stage and radio before, but not a full album, so thought I'd throw myself in at the deep end by mixing 6 horns, 5 drummers and south indian violin!

I'm really, really proud of the result. This record is a collaboration with Jyotsna Srikanth, a very well-known and respected south Indian violinist, and I tracked all her contributions in my home studio, along with tabla, mridangam and other south indian percussion (played by master percussionist RN Prakash), and mixed it here in my home studio, and while on the road in Edinburgh. 

I've been performing with the band for years (and also appear on the album, both in the ensemble and soloing/duetting with Jyotsna), and to me, this is possibly the best the band has ever sounded on record. There is some extraordinary playing from Jyotsna and Prakash, and some really great ensemble playing from the band, playing quite a diverse set of music, ranging from banging covers like Jai Ho to more introspective classically-influenced south indian pieces like Deva Deva and original compositions like Drum Dance.

I really enjoyed producing and mixing this record, and look forward to doing some more mixing and production (on top of what I do with HCB) very soon.

Listen to the album on Spotify here or on Bandcamp below:

Sessions

I've had fun doing some nice sessions of late, with studio sessions in section with chum Pete Wareham for the likes of Paul Epworth (in his incredible studio The Church featuring - geek alert - a 72 channel Neve desk which was used to record Dark Side of the Moon) and some nice sessions I've recorded myself at home through my increasingly tasty setup of a Coles ribbon mic and Neve channel strip. If you want me on your record, drop me a line and I can either come to your world famous studio or record in my own non-world famous studio.

Paul Epworth's 72 channel Neve desk at The Church

Paul Epworth's 72 channel Neve desk at The Church

Circa Tsuica at Warwick Arts Centre

In February/March 2016 I was a visiting artist at Warwick Arts Centre, where I worked with the incredible French circus heroes Circa Tsuica and the brilliant University of Warwick Big Band.

Warwick is my alma mater, and I was musical director of the Big Band for four years, so it was a real treat going back to work with them. The band are sounding better than ever, and we all had a blast working with Circa Tsuica's musical director Camille Secheppet. As well as being a superb sax player, Camille specialises in sound painting, and the band and I learned a great deal about this really interesting way of working with both improvised and written music.

 

The show was nothing short of breathtaking, with superb musicianship on display...all whilst doing acrobatics, riding bikes backwards with five people on board and upside-down cloud swinging. Extraordinary talent, and a brilliantly inventive, funny show. The moment when we all performed on stage together for the finale was one of my favourite moments of 2016 so far.

Here's a little demo video of the guys. It's great, but, y'know, it's much better in person.