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Blog Archives – Haynes Music Productions

Benjamin York has recently released his debut EP, Lost, which was produced at my studio. We worked on the tracks in bits and pieces over the past couple of years and it’s a very strong piece of work.

it’s often the case that some of the most talented artists have no confidence in themselves and Ben is an example of this. He has an exceptional voice – smoky, dark and completely suitable for the melancholy songs he puts together. But he doesn’t actually realise how good his voice is!

Lost was the first song we worked on together; he wrote it with George Simpson and we put the track together a couple of years ago, tweaking it again recently. It’s the poppiest of the songs on the EP and got a bit of radio play.

Not For Me is was of my favourite things that I’ve worked on. It was performed live in the studio, with Ben singing and me on the piano – no click tracks. He did some vocal overdubs and I added some ambient guitars and the track was done pretty quickly.

Radiohead track Creep was another song that we recorded completely live, and although it’s a cover, the lyrical content and ambient style of this version fits really well into the mood of the EP.

In fact, what I love about Ben’s songs is that he writes according to mood more than anything else. So, the instrumental final track Unreachable is pure mood. Ben played the piano and I treated the sound to give it more atmosphere. Even though there’s not much going on, it’s exceptionally evocative.

I hope Ben records more tracks and starts gigging – with hiss voice and the types of songs he writes, he has a clear sound, and one that I think a lot of people would love.


When I was 14, my mate Matt handed me a C90 cassette with the Beatles’ White Album on, and I spent an entire summer wearing that tape out.  It remains one of my favourite albums ever.

What blew my mind was the sheer breadth and scope of the music on the album.  There were stunningly beautiful acoustic songs (Blackbird, Julia, Mother Nature’s Son), there was proto-heavy metal (Helter Skelter), a sly bit of Country (Don’t Pass Me By, Rocky Raccoon), a dip into orchestral Hollywood (Goodnight), early Ska influences (Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da), a dash of music hall (Honey Pie), sound collages (Revolution 9) and much, much more.

It’s also the scariest Beatles album.  There’s a feeling of unease that going through it, starting with the way Glass Onion breaks into an ominous orchestral section at the end, the sickly nursery rhyme of Bungalow Bill and the downright weird Wild Honey Pie.

The ominous feeling culminates towards the end, though.  What on earth happens at the end of Long Long Long with all the ghostly rattling and the scary wailing voice?  Why does Cry Baby Cry feel so damn uneasy?  Why does Paul’s hidden song Can You Take Me Back begin, only to fade away immediately?  And then, of course, Revolution 9, which is an eight minute sound nightmare.

Fans, journalists and even producer George Martin have stated that you could condense the White Album into one single great album, but that seems like it’s missing the point.  It’s meant to be sprawling and hotch-potch.  It means that it never gets boring.  It’s like a huge buffet – you’re bored of the sausage rolls? Try the sherry trifle!*

It really does need to be listened to in order, though.  Hearing some of the songs out of context just doesn’t seem to work, much like reading a random chapter from a book without knowing the rest.

Do yourself a favour, put 90 minutes aside and dig in.

* Worst analogy ever.

Last week, I went away on holiday to Cornwall.  Before I left I started to get what I call “August Brain” where a combination of self-employment, kids being around for summer and the continuing heat turn me into a blabbering and incoherent mess.

So it was really nice to take a step away from the studio and general communication with the world – I didn’t take my laptop and kept my phone on silent.

In the evenings I wandered on the beach (usually Trebarwith Strand – beautiful place).

The beach feels like the one place on Earth where I don’t feel like I have to be doing something.  Watching the sun set over the sea is probably my favourite thing in the world, with walking the Cornish cliffs a close second.

I got the clutter from out of my head and let it fill with inspiration.  Ideas for music, new production techniques, new things I could do, stuff I probably shouldn’t do anymore, things I forgot about but really should do.

Each idea I got was either written in a note or recorded onto my phone.  When I got home, I found 178 ideas….

….Which is the last thing I need, because now I have to implement them all!


It’s been a couple of months since I last blogged – this is mainly because it’s been very hot in the UK, and I’ve been very busy.

But also because, if I’m honest, I’ve run out of ideas for things to blog about.  Bloggers’ block, if you will.

When I first started blogging I wrote all the time, and was hugely active on social media.  As soon as I finished something, I’d usually write about it but I soon realised I was devoting too much time to blogging when I should have just been getting on with music.  So I started to just write them periodically and my ideas have recently sort of ground to a halt.

However, I do know that some people find my musings enjoyable and I know that regular blogs keep my website and Facebook page up-to-date so that people know I’m still in business, so I’d like to spruce things up a bit on that front.

So, my question is – is there anything you’d like me to write about?  Anything you’d like to see on my blogs?  Any ideas, suggestions, comments?  No matter how crazy or boring, I will consider it!

Either send me an email or reply to this on Facebook.  Thanks for reading, and hopefully there will be lots more to come!

I can’t think of a good picture to accompany this post so please just humour me in re-posting the picture of me at Abbey Road. Okay? Cool.

Last year, I wrote a blog about some ambient music that I decided to do in my spare time.  

After years of making music for other people (which I still absolutely love doing) I realised I hadn’t made any music just for the fun of it.  I was going through a bit of a stressful time and so I turned to one of my true loves in music – ambient.

I’ve always loved lush, atmospheric sounds, particularly on the guitar, and under the name Smoky I quickly improvised three EPs under the volumes “Night Music / Ambient Haze” and put them out quietly; just knowing that they were out there was good enough for me.

What happened next was…weird.  

In February last year, I decided to check my Spotify statistics.  On Monday, I’d had about four plays, Tuesday was nine, Wednesday six plays, Thursday FIFTEEN THOUSAND PLAYS, Friday ELEVEN THOUSAND PLAYS.

Thinking there was clearly some kind of mistake, I looked at Spotify and realised that one of my tracks, Penarth Pier, had been added to an official Spotify playlist, Dreamy Vibes, which over 200,000 people had subscribed to.  From then until now, it has never left the playlist and still maintains a few thousand plays per day.

No one knows the names of the people that create these playlists.  There is no way of pitching your music to them and, honestly, I have absolutely no idea how my music got picked up.  Anonymous playlisters are now the unreachable gatekeepers that used to be the realm of record label A&R.  One song on the right playlist can catapult an artist from nowhere to somewhere very interesting.

So.  The question I get asked all the time is – have I made any money from it?  Yes, I have.

Spotify royalties are tricky to decipher as there is no standard rate.  People estimate it as being 0.5 of a cent per stream but in reality it’s an ever-changing figure depending on how many subscribers Spotify has at the time, how many songs are being listened to, what the interest rate is like, etc.

Since February 2017, I’ve had just over two million streams on Spotify and have made £5,332.84.  I’m only putting this information up here to be transparent, because I’m finding it difficult to find any good statistics online about how much independent artists can make from streaming.

I get that my case is the exception rather than the norm.  In fact, Smoky is the tip of the iceberg of the hundreds of projects, bands etc that I’ve done over the years.  In fact, I have put out lots of other ambient music in the past year which is getting very few plays, even though the quality is the same, so it really is the luck of the draw!

The thing that encourages me, though, is that Penarth Pier was music direct from the heart, created for fun, rather to please someone else.  The fact that it now appears to be pleasing thousands of people is very rewarding.  

And it’s confirmed something to me that I’ve always thought, which is that if you play the music that feels right to you, rather then playing something just because you think it will sell, that’s the most important thing.  Because even if it doesn’t get any streams or sales at all, it’s still great music, and you created it, and you can listen to it and love it, because it’s awesome!

(If you’re interested in listening to Smoky, here’s the Spotify link or click below.  Do not listen to whilst driving or operating heavy machinery.  Do not expect anything particularly interesting to happen.  But life might just feel a little nicer.)

A lot of people are surprised by the fact that I work with a lot of overseas artists, so I thought I’d do a short blog about how this one came about.

Italian singer, songwriter and guitarist Irene Conti got in touch with me in November last year to producer her single, Say Hey!, which is out this week.  It’s an upbeat dose of positive energy, which I think is something that the world needs at the moment.

After a few emails back and forth, we set up a Skype chat.  If working remotely, I always think it’s useful to have a Skype chat with someone so we can get to know each other, ask any questions, and I can find out more about the project.

We chatted about her inspirations and what she wanted out of the song, and she sent me the track Say Hey which, even as a rough demo, sounded wonderful.

From there, I went away and make a little “tempo test demo”.  This is basically a very rough sketching of the song with looped drums and piano chords, just so we can establish things like tempo, key and structure before I go ahead and arrange the song properly.  After all, it’s no fun to be asked to change the key of a song after everything is recorded!

Irene is a superb guitarist so she went me an acoustic guitar tracks and guide vocal to work to and I set about creating the track with a multitude of drums and percussion, bass, piano, electric guitars and shouty vocals.  We emailed ideas back and forth, Skyped when we needed to.

When the instrumentation was finished, Irene recorded the vocals at home and send a few vocal takes for me to choose from, although they were all pretty much perfect.  I then mixed the track (a few mixes got it just right) and it was mastered by John McBain in the USA.

Irene is one of the nicest and most genuine people I’ve ever met.  We’re now working on a second song which is very nearly complete and is one of the most emotionally affecting songs I’ve worked on.  Watch this space!

You can listen to Say Hey! on Spotify or download from iTunes.