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There’s a good story behind most things… I remember exactly when I got the phone call. I had reached that point in every musician’s career: time to get a day job. Despite the amazing success of my last project ‘The Imagined Village’, the royalties were years away and whatever was going to drip out of the pipeline was hardly going to sustain my family and me. I had never received so much critical acclaim and I had never been so broke. So with my house on the market in response to the terminal decline of the music industry and CD piracy putting me and my mates out of business it was now time to do what every self respecting musician does when you hang up the guitar strap: join the post office, or drive a mini cab. I had left school with no qualifications but managed to get to university and go onto do a PhD in an area of philosophy so obscure it still makes my head hurt thinking about it. I can’t read or write music so teaching was out of the question. Then the phone rang:
“Hello, it’s Mark Constantine here, do you know who I am?”
“Haven’t a clue mate.”
“Well I started up the Lush Shops, heard of them?”
“Err no. “
In fact I lied, I hadn’t heard of Lush but when my band The Imagined Village played at the Poole Art Centre, I had invited my local Dorset Bird Watching group along with the incentive of free tickets. One of them pointed out to me a rather formidable figure holding forth in a loud booming voice dressed resplendent in a very loud Paul Smith floral shirt.
“That’s Mark Constantine; he’s an Uber Bird Watcher. He’s planning to record every European native bird song. He’s re-defined bird sound recording and identification. He’s a legend”
Yeah whatever….just another bird watcher on the blag for some free music. Mark continued:
“So Simon, saw your gig in Poole, love what you’re doing and it’s inspired me to open up a string of Spa’s I want you to compose some music for, fancy the gig?”
“Err…..yeah I could do with some work, I’ll run it past the band and phone you back.”
Now for me, having spent the last thirty years on the road, gigging, hanging out in dodgy recording studios doing late night sessions a Spa means only one thing: the 24-hour lifeline for a Musician. It’s were you go to get your Lucazade energy boost, or rizzla when they run out. I phoned Eliza Carthy, singer and fiddle player in the band:
“Hey Eliza some bird watching bloke from Poole wants us to do a load of music for a supermarket chain he’s opening up. Something to do with Spa’s. Say’s he’s involved in some bubble bath thing called Lush.”
“I think you’ll find dear boy, the Spa’s he’s talking about are health spa’s and I suggest you do your research on Lush because it’s a bit more than ‘a bubble bath thing’ “
So I did what all information deficient dads’ do, I asked my 11-year-old daughter what Lush was.
“OH MY GOD. Lush is just soooooo cool. I CAN”T BELIEVE you haven’t heard of them. They just like totally dominate the high street with all these amazing smells that come from these exploding things you put in the bath and all these stars and fairies and bits of trees and flowers like burst out and like you go into the shops and it’s full of all this amazing smelly stuff dripping off the shelves. I CANT BELIEVE IT, It’s just going to be soooooo brilliant: My Dad Is Going to Be Working for Lush”
and then she was gone…. Funny thing is she didn’t have this response when I told her I was going to be making a record with Peter Gabriel. I phoned Mark back:
“What is it you want me to do Mark?”
“Well first you’ll have to come down here to Poole and have a series of massages with our beauty therapist, then once you feel ready and inspired I want you to compose some music based around the massage and my bird recordings.”
“OK. Lets meet”
As we are both industry hardened businessmen we decided to combine the business deal with some late summer bird watching on the Dorset Coast. He picks me up in his car and what should be playing on the car stereo but an extremely obscure bit of film music I had only just downloaded that week: The Main Theme from ‘Son Of Rambo’. Mark knew all about the composer, the film, and the guy’s previous catalogue. Not only was he a bird watcher, he was a musical train spotter. I knew we’d get on. I met up with my fellow co-composer and producer Richard Evans, a true bohemian gentleman, genius studio boffin, all round multi instrumentalist and one who is not unfamiliar to the world of Spa’s and the sweet smell of aromatherapists. Days turned into perfumed, relaxed months of massages and more massages. The swallows left, the swallows returned. And in between being scented down with oils and herbs by beautiful beauty therapists fully conversant in the ways of relaxation, we composed some more. We made a trip to Budapest to record the orchestra, were as you know the 1st spa’s were invented and we had some more treatments, and relaxed a bit more and recorded the orchestra and composed a bit more but this time around some Nordic Hawk Owls recorded by Mark at night in a Fyord at minus 25c (you have to be hard to be a real bird watcher). Then there was the nightjars and the nightingales and the rooks at Corfe Castle. It was a tough gig but some one had to do it. Finally it was done. The music finished. The therapy complete.
“And now”, said Mark, “lets start a record label and we’ll call it ‘Emmerson, Corncrake and Constantine’, you’ll go onto a wage so for the 1st time in 30 years you can relax, enjoy your job and continue to do what you and your musician friends do best: make music that I love and that inspires me, the people I work for and all your fans. But finally, just to show you how much I respect you, here is a piece of art that my eldest son and heir has bequeathed to you. I want it to be our new record company logo. I hope you like it”:
Yeah, whatever. Simon Emmerson


ECC Records Ltd is a label dedicated to promoting radical new English roots music from folk to dub step to rap and spoken word. Set up in 2010 by Simon Emmerson from the Imagined Village and Afro Celt Sound System with Mark Constantine. The intention of the label is to have an artist driven label where the musicians keep control of their own music with the maximum amount of income getting paid over to the artist direct.

Other acts on the label are the recently signed Dizraeli and the Small Gods, the UK’s most exciting live festival band fronted by Radio 4 slam poetry award winning rapper and poet Dizraeli and a band that features a sterling cast of young musicians including the UK female beat box champion Bella Trix. The labels breadth of vision reaches out to include Jackie Oates, ImaginedVillage member and Radio 2 folk singer of the year who’s album Saturnine got nominated for best folk album of 2011.

Both Jackie Oates and Dizraeli and The Small Gods released new albums on March 18th 2013.

Also on the label is Imagined Village cello player Barney Morse-Brown and his band Duotone whose latest ECC album Ropes was released to amazing review including album of the month and a 5 star review in Songlines magazine and was voted one of the top albums of 2012 in the Observer magazine.

The label has just signed underground dub step act The Gaslight Troubadours, who mix Victorian steam punk music hall with mad cutting edge beats. Their album will be available in October 2013 as a multi media project.

ECC works closely with Gorilla Perfumes and Lush Cosmetics. We will be releasing a 20 minute, post classic composition called “Set In Stone” that comprises 6 tracks inspired by 6 Gorilla perfumes, composed by ImaginedVillage keyboard player Simon Richmond and viola player and musical director/composer John Metcalf who has recently been orchestrating and touring the Peter Gabriel back catalogue.

Following this Sheema Mukherjee, Imagined Village and Transglobal Underground sitar player has an album in production that will be released later in 2013 with a similar product tie in of perfumes inspired by her music. The 1st of these is Sikkim Girls already available and a best seller through the Lush shops.

These perfumes were launched at Lush’s very own festival last summer, which included Dizraeli blowing up two cars. Other product tie-ins between ECC Records and Lush/Gorilla Perfume has been the Imagined Village inspired best selling Lush bath ballistic Space Girl: A face foundation, colour supplement called Jackie Oates even a charcoal based underarm deodorant for the busy man about town taken from the lead track on the new IV album called The Guvna. ECC Records is a label that has a unique, uncompromising identity and a creative vision that is constantly looking for new ways to market and sell music. It is backed by one of England’s pioneering radical entrepreneurs Mark Constantine. It is a label that has an amazingly creative rostrum of musicians, producers, performers and writers that is now ready to reach out onto an international stage.


Lush Spa Music

Is this the most unusual and unlikely collaboration so far in folk and rock music? Simon Emmerson, leading light in both The Imagined Village and Afro Celt Sound System, teams up with Lush Cosmetics co-founder Mark Constantine for a set of CDs that draw deeply on both a love of folk music traditions and bird song. The result is an innovative project, put together partly to act as a sound accompaniment to Lush’s various spa treatments and massages yet also a stand-alone musical pleasure. Given folk music’s use in the past for such social functions as seasonal celebrations, crop fertility and dancing, it must be the first time this has been extended to massage and spa treatments. What will surprise many listeners, however, is that the music here, rather than being a commercial response to this collaboration, remains as bold and innovative as that produced in recent years by The Imagined Village and others pushing the boundaries of folk tradition.

The Sound Approach

Simon Emmerson had also worked with Mark Constantine before on composing the music for a bird book released through Mark’s independent publishing company, The Sound Approach. The book is called Birding From The Hip, and is a collection of amusing birding stories from the pen of Irish birder, Anthony McGeehan. Anthony narrated a selection of his stories which were put to new music from Simon and woven around bird song recorded by The Sound Approach. These compositions were released across two CDs that came with the book, with The Guardian describing it’s author as “a cross between Hunter S Thompson and James Joyce.” The Sound Approach, as well as publishing their own books, are also a collection of birders who hope to record every bird song in the Western Palearctic. They were founded in 2000 by Mark Constantine, Arnoud van den Berg and Magnus Robb and aim to popularise bird song.

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