During the initial phase of writing my next concept album, titled ‘The Die Is Cast’, I had the idea of working on a remix of two songs by Cambridge-based band Ember Rev. In 2018, together with their songwriter Dan Ecclestone, I worked as a co-producer and mixer for their second album, ‘Premonition And Ruin’.
At the time, a song didn’t make the final cut. It was a piece divided in two short parts, bookending the album, that I always liked. I remember telling Dan — somewhat jokingly — that I would sooner or later want to use it. Land Of Kings is my interpretation of part 2. Papillon is the fourth song in the album, and my absolute favorite of the entire Ember Rev catalog.
Both songs feature lyrics referencing the painful process of living in England through Brexit, both pre and post referendum, and that’s what triggered my idea to do the remixes. My next album is in fact a concept revolving around migration, about how idealizing the place where you move to can be deceitful.
I had been living in the UK for five years when Brexit happened. What was going on was the exact opposite of what I loved about my adopted country. I remember the night of the referendum: I was up in front of the TV, watching my idea of the UK — England in particular — crumble before my eyes.
At five in the morning, right after the BBC declared the result, I stood alone in the garden. It was sunny, a good fresh smell in the air. Gobsmacked and incapable of thinking clearly, I felt like when a partner leaves without an explanation, betraying all their principles in the meanwhile.
Then, the most pantomimic four years came and went, and all I could see is ‘Rule Britannia’, which looked so out of touch with the world at large. My wife and I left the UK, and our good friends there, last September. I haven’t yet come to terms with the seismic change.
These two songs, even if written by someone else, prefectly encapsulate those days in June 2016. I spoke with Gerald Duchene, a long-time collaborator and friend of mine, about the idea of working together at these remixes. We both love a challenge, so off we went.
When I first heard the original recordings of these songs, I knew there was something there. Simone and I were pretty much simpatico and on the same page right from the start of our work on these tunes. We’ve been working together for awhile now and it seems like we have comfortably fallen into this new sound. I’m very proud of the work we did on these two great songs by Dan. I think they are the products of careful thoughtful musicianship.Gerald Duchene
A couple of sound effects, a classic in all my productions, completed our versions. Land Of Kings features the exact TV announcement that I witnessed at sunup on the day of the referendum (see video above). Papillon references a well-known section of the maiden speech by Jo Cox — murdered by a far-right extremist a few days before the referendum — at the House of Commons.
The love and craft we put into remixing these beautiful songs, are dedicated to her and to all the people who feel displaced and disoriented in this world.
Read more about Jo Cox.