I love football and I love dance music. I love them both so much it has long been my dream to fuse them in some sort of magnificent celebration of my two greatest passions. In an ideal world this would mean a five-a-side game with the Hessle Audio lads followed by an egg sarnie and a cup of tea round my house, but until that dream comes true, I'll have to make do with something else.
Luckily for me, that something else has arrived. It was announced all the way back in June of 2015 that the big guy, the so-happy-he-really-wants-to-clap-his-hands, French wonder-producer David Guetta was going to be producing the anthem for Euro 2016. Hold on a second, football…check, dance music…check. Everything was in place, the stars had aligned. My excitement further went through the roof when I discovered that David Guetta was giving fans (guilty as charged), the opportunity to perform on the track. Which is immediately what I knew I had to do. I had to record guest vocals for David Guetta's Euro 2016 banger.
To be clear, when I say things like "perform on the track" and "record guest vocals," I'm being fairly generous with the truth. In truth, David Guetta has started a campaign to try and get a record number of voices on his Euro-smasher. In order to achieve this, he's set up a website where anyone can drop by and record a chant that will play a central role in the final track. So, in order to take part in history and record the process, I documented my contribution.
I sit at a shared desk space, and seeing as I was about to launch into an actual out loud chant, all the while encouraged by a faux-enthusiastic dead-behind-the-eyes Frenchman, I thought it was only fair that I found somewhere a little more discreet. The search for physical space, of course, would also afford me the opportunity to find some creative headspace, the other space that is crucially important to recording with David Guetta. I eventually settled in the reception area of our office, as I decided the vision of me singing into my laptop would also make a great first impression for anyone visiting our forward thinking media company.
When you first go on the website, your entire computer screen fills up with David Guetta's face. It looks something like this…
I stared at him for a while. His sandy hair, his pursed lips, his "there is literally nobody in here" eyes. He's the bloke Channel 5 cast in the lead role when they make some knock off fantasy drama to bandwagon Game of Thrones success. He's the divorced dad who still goes surfing every other weekend. He's a Nivea advert on a billboard that's gone grey in the rain. I pressed play, and David Guetta shouted at me, "WELCOME TO MY STUDIO." The longer I spent watching the introductory video, the more it looked like David sort of didn't want to be there. He was shifting around on his chair like a man who'd just nicked a Mars bar, and was describing the recording process with all the excitement of a divorced dad who still goes surfing every other weekend meeting his ex-wife's new husband.
At this point I was played the "chant" so that I could practice and sing it back. To be completely honest, I'm not sure you can call it a chant. If it is a football chant, it's one of the ones the blokes down the rough end of the terraces shout/sing that basically sounds like loads of vowels trying to push past each other. If I had to type it, I'd probably go for something along the lines of "EEEEEEYYYOOOOOHHHH, EEEEEEEYYAAAAAAHHHH." Shout that, in your best raspy impression of a crowd, and you might be somewhere close. Put it this way, I was just disappointed it wasn't followed by a massive "YOU'RE SHIT AAAAAAH." Regardless, it was my turn now. I scrolled down and prepared to record.
As I sat there, in the reception area, a skin-pricking breeze curling through the suggestion of a gap between our two front doors, I suddenly felt quite vulnerable. David had been right beside me a second ago but now, as I was laying down my vocals, he was nowhere to be seen. The chant, I soon realised, was actually strangely high, and considerably out of my vocal range. I was having to strain to reach the notes meaning it lacked the aggro befitting a soaring soccer yell. As I sat there, softly cooing "eeeeeeyyooooohhhh" over and over, I realised a couple of important things. Firstly, there is something a bit off about all of this. It's symptomatic of much in modern football; David Guetta recording the Euro 2016, not only that but staging something as inherently spontaneous as a chant for the purposes of the track says a lot about the game in 2016. It's the commodification, and glossing, of the grit, the gang-mentality, the blood, sweat and tears into sepia toned Coca Cola adverts. It's pub brawls sponsored by Mastercard. It's Gazza on Twitter. The other, and far more immediate, thing I realised, is that there is no sound more tragic than a man singing a chant on his own. It is, if nothing else, the truest evocation of loneliness I think I have ever heard.
All that aside, I'd done it. I had recorded guest vocals for David Guetta's Euro 2016 anthem. I'd even made the fucking cover art…
You see, this one's for me, and look how chuffed David is. He's honestly over the moon with the whole thing. At least that's the story his hands tell, just don't look into his eyes. His hollow, "is it a Tuesday or a Wednesday today?" eyes. It might be completely meaningless, you'll probably listen to the track once summer has rolled around and tell me you can't even hear my voice in the mix. But I'll know, I'll know I'm one of the millions of voice in there, in fact I'll probably squint and just about make myself out. Oh well, if nothing else it gives my mum something to tell her friends at Bible study.
Back of the net.