Episode 19

Nick Foster talks about his recent work on the movie musical Greatest Days

Personal stories of inspiration from professional composers, songwriters and musicians.

In this episode, Gareth chats with composer Nick Foster about his recent work on the movie musical Greatest Days (directed by Coky Giedroyc and based on the music of Take That), and how it all started for him.

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Host: Gareth Davies

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Transcript
Gareth:

Welcome to the music room.

Gareth:

At this time in the music room.

Nick:

there's a teacher there called Keith Matthews who conducted the orchestra,

Nick:

who went on to teach me A level music at Sixth Form College, and he was brilliant.

Nick:

He was just a force of nature and one of those teachers you

Nick:

hope you'll get, you know.

Nick:

Looking back, he knew so much, he was so clever and full of knowledge and yet

Nick:

he just sort of let you do your thing and, didn't sort of try and confine you.

Gareth:

Hello and welcome to The Music Room, the show where we hear personal

Gareth:

stories of inspiration from professional composers, songwriters and musicians.

Gareth:

I've chatted with a whole variety of brilliant, brilliant people

Gareth:

since I started this in 2022, so do go and dip into previous episodes.

Gareth:

They're free to listen to.

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And I'm sure the items and advice left by guests in the Music Room

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will be of use to you somehow.

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community.

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Type that in your browser.

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A massive thank you to my guests, by the way.

Gareth:

I say this a lot, but I really mean it.

Gareth:

I'm full of gratitude for your time, your stories, and your experience.

Gareth:

And I know our dear listeners, the Music Room community, are too.

Gareth:

So, to this episode's guest, Nick Foster is a multiple BAFTA winning composer of

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music for television, film and games, and I had the pleasure of chatting with

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him about his recent work Like the movie musical, Greatest Days, based on the

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music of Take That, as well as hearing about how it all started for him.

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Did you know he used to be a producer?

Gareth:

No, me neither.

Gareth:

That's coming up, but first, music stories.

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of a series of blog posts leading up to the Global Creator Summit on the 20th of

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September, Ivor's Academy board member and Music Room guest, Kevin Sargent,

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shares his thoughts on the importance of human creativity in a world where

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AI generated music is becoming more common And questions about the use

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of AI are increasing in importance.

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You can see the article by going to iversacademy.

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com slash news.

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Next, I asked the Music Room community group on Facebook, How

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do you celebrate hitting a new personal or professional milestone?

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Tricky one this, isn't it?

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David.

Gareth:

With me, it really is about the journey rather than the destination, even

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though I work fast to finish projects.

Gareth:

Fair enough.

Gareth:

Helen, I'm still celebrating.

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One of those people.

Gareth:

Good stuff.

Gareth:

Don't go changing, Helen.

Gareth:

Uh, Marco, despite being Italian, I just do that moderately.

Gareth:

Ah, how would an Italian celebrate hitting a new personal or

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professional milestone, I wonder?

Gareth:

Uh, Peter, dinner with the family.

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How lovely.

Gareth:

Yes, it's important to, uh, mark those milestones, isn't it?

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Rod?

Gareth:

So, cele

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So celebrating a milestone by starting another one.

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Interesting.

Gareth:

Okay, uh, Ruben says, Getting to erase things off my enormous work in progress

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whiteboard is immensely satisfying.

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Isn't it just?

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Also works for spreadsheets.

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Thank you everybody in the Music Room Facebook community.

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Nick Foster is a multi BAFTA winning composer of music for television, film,

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and games, based at Air Studios in London.

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Recent work includes In My Skin, which won Best Drama at both the BAFTAs and

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the RTS Awards 2022, All or Nothing, Arsenal for Amazon Prime, and Koki

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Gidrey's movie musical based on the songs of Take Back Greatest Days.

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He's also known for his work on the Derren Brown specials for Netflix

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and Channel 4, and ITV's long running animated series Thunderbirds Are

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Go, on which Nick collaborated with brother Ben Foster, and for which they

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were BAFTA, MAS and BAA nominated.

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I could go on for a really long time to list what Nick's achieved, but

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I'll leave some for him to explain.

Gareth:

If you're ready then, here we go.

Gareth:

Nick Foster, composer.

Gareth:

Welcome to the music room.

Nick:

Thank you, Gareth.

Nick:

Hello.

Nick:

Nice to be here.

Nick:

Nice to be here.

Nick:

It's a very nice room.

Gareth:

Ah, well, thank you very

Nick:

Very pleasant.

Gareth:

Yeah, yeah, uh, you know, all are welcome.

Gareth:

And, um, How are you today?

Gareth:

Let's start with that.

Nick:

Good day.

Nick:

I'm good today.

Nick:

I, it's 12.

Nick:

14 and I've done some writing and it feels like it's been productive.

Nick:

So

Gareth:

Ah, excellent.

Nick:

day

Gareth:

Is that writing for something?

Gareth:

Or is that writing just for the sake of it?

Nick:

It's to be honest, it's always writing for something I should be doing

Nick:

it just for the sake of it, but there's always something to write for which is

Nick:

great So yeah, i'm in the middle of um, well i'm doing a show with my friend

Nick:

ollie julian For apple called horse face.

Nick:

I don't think it'll be called that in the end, but it's about

Nick:

uh, it's about dick turpin.

Nick:

It's great

Gareth:

Oh, wow.

Nick:

of that and

Gareth:

that a drama?

Nick:

it's It's a dramatic comedy.

Nick:

It's really funny.

Nick:

It's really funny.

Nick:

So we're doing that.

Nick:

And, um, and I've also got this, uh, um, documentary, which is very, very

Nick:

different, but it's period as well.

Nick:

It's about Shakespeare.

Nick:

So actually it was just doing a little bit of that.

Gareth:

Wow, that's a couple of figures from history, isn't it?

Gareth:

I mean,

Nick:

Yes.

Nick:

It's not the, the other thing's about a, about a stalker that I'm doing.

Nick:

So, and that's, that's, there's been a lot of, lot of period stuff lately.

Nick:

I dunno, I dunno why there's been a fair amount of it.

Nick:

Lots of sort of grimy, olden days scenes and sort of, um,

Nick:

peasants in rags and sort of

Gareth:

Are you going method on the music or are you taking

Gareth:

the Peaky Blinders approach and

Nick:

Well, of course people won't be able to see, but I'm dressed entirely in rags,

Gareth:

You are?

Gareth:

Yes.

Nick:

Yeah, yeah.

Nick:

And so, yes, I think I am.

Gareth:

Triangular hat

Nick:

Pretty method and the triangle had I think a nice touch.

Nick:

Yeah.

Gareth:

Nice one.

Gareth:

so in your intro, there, I've described your TV work, but

Gareth:

you've also worked on movies.

Gareth:

The most recent of which is obviously the take that musical greatest days.

Gareth:

How did that come about and what was it like to take on someone else's music?

Nick:

It was brilliant.

Nick:

That one.

Nick:

It

Nick:

was great

Gareth:

it did look fun.

Nick:

I'd work because I was a record producer originally And I produced stuff

Nick:

for Gary back in the day Which was but that was just a lovely coincidence and

Nick:

I think he was enthused when he saw it was, you know I was involved but

Nick:

actually it came through Olly Julian, who I collaborated with on it, he'd

Nick:

worked with the director, Koki Kedroit, before on her, of her previous film.

Nick:

And so then the idea came up from him of us doing it as a team and

Nick:

it was because it was sort of felt like it was in both our wheelhouses,

Nick:

I think, with my pop background.

Gareth:

Yeah.

Gareth:

Yeah.

Nick:

but it was brilliant.

Nick:

It was a lovely thing to do and I'm proud of it.

Gareth:

It's funny how these things happen, isn't it?

Gareth:

You're saying through Ollie and just because of something else and, you

Gareth:

know, stars, there's a lot of stars aligning, isn't there in the industry?

Nick:

Yeah.

Nick:

That felt like one of them, to be honest, because of that spec,

Nick:

those sort of specifics, you know, it felt kind of perfect.

Nick:

But then again, that was, you know, I think we had, we did a

Nick:

sort of, I guess it was a pitch.

Nick:

We did pray.

Nick:

We did a version of Pray in a, in 2020.

Nick:

And it took, because of, because of COVID, it was, it was on and then it

Nick:

was off for six months and then it was off for a year and then it got

Nick:

remounted and it was, you know, um, so that was a long gestation period.

Nick:

And it took quite a while to do because we had 16 songs, I think, something like

Nick:

that, and it was new versions of all the songs and they were quite different.

Nick:

We did a sort of Busby Barkley version of Shine and we did a, you

Nick:

know, very stripped back version of really love songs and back for good.

Nick:

And we did sort of a huge dance number on pray.

Nick:

And so they were all very, very different, I think, but hopefully, but

Nick:

hopefully recognizably the same songs.

Nick:

I think they were.

Nick:

They were.

Gareth:

I look forward to seeing that.

Gareth:

And I saw on your, uh, your Instagram on the premiere, you had your

Gareth:

whole team around you for that.

Gareth:

That's a really lovely thing to see to

Nick:

Oh, that was lovely.

Nick:

Yeah, because there was a lot of us involved in that and we had, um, um,

Nick:

Ethan, Jeffrey, Ben Burrows, and we had, um, Sam Thompson and my brother

Nick:

Ben Foster orchestrating and Fee Cruikshank was, um, was, was mixing

Nick:

it and, and, and all over it, all over the recording, which was fantastic.

Nick:

And, um, and there's more people that I probably haven't mentioned, but it was,

Nick:

it was a fairly, It was a team effort, that one, because it's, yeah, it was

Nick:

a big crowd, and Jan, Jenna was there, Jenna Fenton, my agent, who's ace, so it

Nick:

was, it was nice to be able to do that.

Nick:

You don't get a premiere, really, do you?

Nick:

I don't, I've never been to a, I've never done something with a

Nick:

Leicester Square premiere before.

Nick:

That was kind of fun.

Gareth:

you've made it, Nick.

Gareth:

You're

Nick:

that was, that felt like I'd made it.

Gareth:

Yeah, you're living the life now.

Gareth:

That's it.

Gareth:

Remember us little people.

Nick:

Sure, I'll do my best.

Nick:

What's your name?

Nick:

Sorry.

Gareth:

Who are you?

Gareth:

Oh, yeah.

Gareth:

And as I mentioned, You've worked on TV, film, gaming scores.

Gareth:

I mean, I'll put your IMDB link in the show notes.

Gareth:

Is it something that you haven't done that you feel like you need to,

Gareth:

or have a burning desire to, or are you happy, and trigger alert here if

Gareth:

you're, you know, your music superpowers were taken away tomorrow, that you'd

Gareth:

be satisfied you've done everything you've always ever wanted to do?

Nick:

No, I'm just starting.

Nick:

I feel like I'm just starting.

Nick:

I've been doing it for ages, but I've, because I've sort of

Nick:

gone through different things.

Nick:

Like I did make pop records, then I did adverts, then I did entertainment shows.

Nick:

And then I did, you know, so I've done different things now.

Nick:

It's, it's, it feels like I'm still, yeah, I've got a long way to go.

Nick:

But I think that's okay.

Nick:

I think that's healthy.

Nick:

I'm sure, I'm sure, I don't know if John Williams feels like he's done it all.

Nick:

I hope he does because he, he deserves it, doesn't he?

Gareth:

yeah, there's got to be a point, isn't there?

Gareth:

And

Gareth:

it's got to be in your nineties that you think.

Gareth:

Yeah,

Nick:

if it's not in your 90s, then when?

Nick:

But I think...

Nick:

I think most people who are doing stuff still have this weird dance of

Nick:

insecurity and it hopefully spurs you on and doesn't make you feel terrible.

Nick:

I think it's good to be, you know, to be hungry and to be enthused.

Nick:

If you're not

Gareth:

That's it.

Gareth:

Yes.

Gareth:

The hunger, isn't it?

Gareth:

To be excited by things.

Gareth:

Um, yeah,

Nick:

there's, there's lots to be done and there's lots around.

Nick:

I've been doing more, um, drama and documentaries in the last sort of three

Nick:

years, I'd say something like that.

Nick:

And that's been a real, it's been brilliant.

Nick:

It's, it feels like it's, uh, it's been a turn

Gareth:

Oh,

Gareth:

a

Nick:

it feels like a turn, you know, it feels like it's slightly

Nick:

starting again because I'm not doing entertainment things I was doing before.

Nick:

I don't do commercials anymore.

Nick:

It's just sort of, it feels like a good.

Nick:

A turn and it feels like you need to sort of freshen up and

Nick:

learn new stuff and that's really

Gareth:

Yeah.

Gareth:

So documentaries and dramas, you think, that there's a lot there to dig

Nick:

there's a lot there in comedy too.

Nick:

It's scripted.

Nick:

Scripted or storytelling stuff.

Nick:

And I mean, docs are, docs feel really exciting in that way at the moment.

Nick:

Seems to be a lot of stuff being made that's, it's funny, I don't, I shouldn't

Nick:

sound surprised as if it were not the equal of drama, but I think in terms of

Nick:

narrative docs, it, it really feels like a, really, feels like a golden time.

Gareth:

Absolutely wonderful.

Gareth:

So, are we ready to go back in time?

Nick:

Yes, please.

Gareth:

out how it all began with

Nick:

It's quite a long way.

Gareth:

Lovely.

Gareth:

So here we are

Nick:

Take it as

Gareth:

back in time.

Gareth:

How did it all start for you, Nick?

Gareth:

What were your first memories of music to start with?

Nick:

My first memories of music would be, I grew up in a house.

Nick:

My mum's a music teacher.

Nick:

My dad was passionate about music and loved it and played

Nick:

it very loudly from records.

Gareth:

What kind of styles was the

Nick:

Classical music for Dad.

Nick:

He loved, he loved Haydn.

Nick:

He loved Wagner and he loved, um, Dvořák and things like that.

Nick:

So there's a lot of that around.

Nick:

Mum was more, is more eclectic, I suspect.

Nick:

She was, she'd been a singer, she's a music teacher, um, and then a vicar.

Nick:

But at the time she was a music teacher.

Nick:

And so we had a piano and so, so we learned.

Nick:

So we sort of were bashing on the piano young.

Nick:

And.

Nick:

And we had piano lessons young.

Nick:

Um, this is, I'm talking we, because it's me and my brother Ben, who's.

Nick:

We're quite close in age, so we, you know,

Gareth:

and still a great partnership?

Nick:

That's still a great partnership, that's nice of you to say, thank you.

Nick:

And, um, so we were always making up tunes, I think, as kids.

Nick:

And then it was a bit formalized quite young, because I remember mum

Nick:

encouraging us to write things, like write songs and carols and stuff.

Nick:

So it was slightly formalized, but we still did make up things and then

Nick:

we used to put on plays and write the music, write the tunes for the plays.

Nick:

And I remember, weirdly, I remember also having instrumentals.

Nick:

There was the B side to the Doctor Who theme by Peter Howell, which

Nick:

was a thing called the Astronauts.

Nick:

Just brilliant bit of instrumental electronica.

Nick:

It's amazing.

Nick:

And I remember making up lyrics to that, and Ben and I sang a sort

Nick:

of pop song on the back of it.

Nick:

Because you couldn't do that at the time, when I was whatever I was at that age.

Nick:

Pretty young, seven or six or something like that.

Nick:

No, maybe seven.

Nick:

And you couldn't...

Nick:

do something that sounded like Peter Howell in the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.

Nick:

He couldn't, so wasn't it great to add something to that and to

Nick:

sort of write on top of that?

Nick:

It's funny, I was only thinking about this this morning, that's as distinct

Nick:

from writing stuff on the piano, which I did, but it maybe that was a sort

Nick:

of hint at what I was going to be doing 10 years later, making records,

Nick:

because it was the fascination of doing something that wasn't just producible.

Nick:

On a piano or on a one instrument, it was what you could do in these magic places,

Nick:

studios, which I didn't really know about them, but I probably was starting to

Nick:

sort of think about, I was fascinated by radio stations when I was a kid as well.

Nick:

And that was sort of,

Gareth:

Wow.

Gareth:

It's

Nick:

again, the studios.

Nick:

It's a thing.

. Gareth:

So, aside from that, were you being introduced to instruments?

. Gareth:

Were you having lessons?

. Gareth:

Um, anything like that?

Nick:

Yeah, I started piano lessons very young, like some kids do, and I

Nick:

was about, I was probably four, might have been, yeah, I think I was four.

Nick:

I was four because I did my grade one when I was five, It's funny looking back,

Nick:

I've got nephews who are turning out to be brilliant musicians and I love the way

Nick:

they're being, they seem to be coming to it naturally, but at the same time I look

Nick:

back and think, well, I mean, look what I got from doing my grades and doing scales

Nick:

and doing all that, it wasn't the, it wasn't the most fun bit of my interaction

Nick:

with music, but it was pretty helpful,

Gareth:

Yeah.

Gareth:

So, so that was, I guess your parents recognizing something in you and going,

Nick:

Yeah, I think so.

Nick:

Yeah.

Nick:

And also it's just what we did.

Nick:

And as I say, my brother and I both did it because it's just what we did.

Nick:

I don't, we didn't know any better.

Gareth:

Yeah.

Gareth:

Yeah.

Nick:

that's what you did.

Nick:

And so it was piano.

Nick:

And then I actually asked to play the cello because I was precocious.

Nick:

I was, I, I saw, I saw, my dad used to tell me I saw

Nick:

Jacqueline Dupre on the telly.

Nick:

I don't know if that's true, but anyway, I was playing the cello when I was

Nick:

about seven, making a terrible racket, which never got that much better.

Nick:

Um, and so I, really?

Nick:

Oh, there

Gareth:

But mine was to get out of geography lessons.

Gareth:

Um,

Nick:

But mine got me out of games.

Nick:

So, you know, it

Gareth:

we go.

Nick:

It works, doesn't it?

Gareth:

Yeah.

Gareth:

And I only did it really because my brother was learning the cello.

Gareth:

Um, but my, my first passion was a piano, you know,

Gareth:

but I didn't, I didn't learn it until I think I didn't

Gareth:

have lessons until I was 10.

Gareth:

So it was kind of the other way around a little bit.

Nick:

because I always think the piano is a great starter.

Nick:

It's a great grounding.

Nick:

It's a great understanding because,

Nick:

because

Gareth:

like an orchestra on a keyboard, isn't it?

Nick:

because you've got your left hand and, you know, it's fantastic.

Nick:

You can, you've got everything there.

Nick:

You know, the only other one, I guess, being the guitar,

Nick:

which I don't really play.

Nick:

And I wish I did because I think it gives you another, another language slightly.

Nick:

When you're writing.

Gareth:

But then as a cellist, it's not too far away from.

Nick:

you're not going to, you're not going to strum on the cello, you're not

Nick:

going to sort of, it's slightly different.

Nick:

I love the cello, it's a beautiful instrument, but it feels, I

Nick:

don't know, slightly different.

Gareth:

Yeah.

Gareth:

Yeah.

Gareth:

It's very lyrical,

Nick:

Mmm, exactly,

Gareth:

I think I was talking about this with someone else, actually.

Gareth:

And, the register of the cello is, I think it's.

Gareth:

one of the closest things to the human voice almost.

Gareth:

So

Nick:

lovely point, yeah.

Gareth:

yeah, so it does feel very, like someone singing

Nick:

Yeah,

Nick:

And when you think of some of the greatest things written for cello,

Nick:

they're huge tunes, they're huge soaring melodies, and that's a lovely

Gareth:

Bangers,

Nick:

Bangers.

Nick:

Butchella.

Gareth:

bangers for cello at the new manuscript book.

Nick:

I think it's a hit in the making.

Nick:

Compilation in the making.

Gareth:

Nice one.

Gareth:

So, you're learning the piano, you're learning the cello.

Gareth:

A lot of my guests seem to hit high school or secondary school

Gareth:

and, Things slightly changed.

Gareth:

They join orchestras and they, they're involved in more organized

Gareth:

groups and veer off their way to the more poppy side of things.

Gareth:

How did it go for you a bit later

Nick:

Well, it kind of went both ways, actually, because I went to a

Nick:

school called Thornby High School, which is in Thornby, which is in the

Nick:

northwest of England, near Liverpool.

Nick:

And, um, and we had free orchestras.

Nick:

You could go and join an orchestra for free.

Nick:

And it was fantastic.

Nick:

And we had a really good, what do you call it, local LEA music department.

Nick:

It was really strong, fantastic people there.

Nick:

We had, there was an orchestra, there was a wind band, and

Nick:

there was a jazz orchestra.

Nick:

You know, it was just fantastic.

Nick:

It was fantastic.

Nick:

So I joined the orchestra.

Nick:

It was Not what I wanted to do for a profession, but it was, and I wasn't good

Nick:

enough as a cellist, that's for sure.

Nick:

But it was lovely, it was brilliant, it gave you that understanding

Nick:

of playing in an orchestra, you know, which is so valuable.

Nick:

And I

Gareth:

Well, it's orchestration for a start, isn't it?

Nick:

and how it all works and how it fits together.

Nick:

The people in, you know, the human aspects of it and people

Nick:

together making a noise together.

Nick:

It's just wonderful.

Nick:

I was so lucky and I don't know where that stands these days.

Nick:

I don't know whether there's an orchestra that kids in form we can play in now.

Nick:

I'm not sure, but I'm very grateful for that.

Nick:

And there was a teacher there.

Nick:

It would inspire me, which maybe we'll talk about that later, but um, it, it,

Nick:

well there's a teacher, there's a teacher there called Keith Matthews who was, uh,

Nick:

who conducted the orchestra, who went on to be my, to teach me A level music at

Nick:

Sixth Form College, and he was brilliant.

Nick:

He was just a force of nature and one of those teachers you

Nick:

hope you'll get, you know.

Nick:

Looking back, he knew so much, he was so clever and full of knowledge and yet he

Nick:

just sort of let you do your thing and, and didn't sort of try and confine you.

Nick:

Because the other thing that happened when I was a teenager

Nick:

was I got into writing pop songs.

Nick:

Um, and I had a pop group with my brother.

Nick:

And I wrote an album's worth of stuff, and I got, found my way to a recording

Nick:

studio in Liverpool, and I recorded it there, with a guy I went on to

Nick:

form a production partnership with for

Gareth:

Wow, wowee

Nick:

So that was the way in, and I was encouraged in all that, you know.

Nick:

And my parents too, in fact, who weren't, didn't know one end of the Beatles album

Nick:

from another, were really encouraging and, you know, helped me do that.

Gareth:

I think the most inspiring people are enablers, aren't they?

Gareth:

You know, they

Nick:

takes a lot to enable.

Nick:

When you don't understand something, don't you think,

Gareth:

absolutely.

Nick:

if it's not you, if it's not your thing, but you see that it's,

Nick:

it means something to somebody else that's, that's, you know, I think that's

Gareth:

Yeah.

Gareth:

Rule for life, isn't it?

Nick:

I think it's a rule for life.

Nick:

Yeah.

Gareth:

yeah.

Gareth:

Oh, that's that's fantastic.

Gareth:

So how old were you when you?

Gareth:

sort out this studio to make this album

Nick:

13 or 14.

Gareth:

Wow.

Gareth:

That's really young

Nick:

I know.

Nick:

And to the credit.

Nick:

The people there.

Nick:

Mike Rose, who I ended up working with, he was, um, He was canid enough to see that

Nick:

perhaps I had something good going on.

Nick:

I wasn't just a silly kid coming in and going, I want to be a pop star.

Nick:

Uh, I wanted to write songs and be in studios, and that was my intro to it.

Nick:

And it was, it was, you know, it was fantastic.

Nick:

And it still managed to run in parallel with loving playing the piano and being

Nick:

in orchestras and things like that.

Nick:

But, but it became the, it became the dominant bit for a while,

Nick:

for about 15 years, you know?

Gareth:

Yeah,

Gareth:

lit your fire.

Nick:

It lit a fire, definitely.

Nick:

Yeah,

Gareth:

that's fantastic.

Gareth:

So you've made an album by 14.

Nick:

yeah.

Nick:

No, no, I mean, let's, let's be clear.

Nick:

I don't know, um, the album was probably when I was 15, 16, but it

Nick:

was the, it was the intro, you know,

Nick:

um, and let's not, let's call it, let's call it a cassette

Nick:

with 10 songs on it, shall we?

Gareth:

Okay.

Gareth:

Okay.

Gareth:

Well, yeah, we've all done it.

Gareth:

We've all done it.

Gareth:

But, um, so what happens then, uh, you mentioned a level music.

Nick:

Yes,

Gareth:

form college.

Nick:

Sixth form college.

Nick:

I did all my A levels.

Nick:

I was quite academic as a kid and I was off to read, off to read music

Nick:

and managed to defer my place for a couple of years, because I got a

Nick:

job with Pete Waterman, who was, uh,

Gareth:

Hang on.

Gareth:

So defer your place at sixth form college

Nick:

no, no, a uni,

Gareth:

Oh, I was going to say, wow.

Gareth:

Okay.

Gareth:

But still, still pretty young to be getting a placement with

Gareth:

the likes of Pete Waterman.

Nick:

Well, yeah, again, we say a placement you've got good good words

Nick:

for all these things I made tea and I occasionally got to play keyboards, but

Nick:

I made tea and I got people at dinner and things But it wasn't it was it was

Nick:

my route into the business, you know I did it for I did it for six months

Nick:

and then I Signed on and I sat in my bedroom writing songs for two years

Gareth:

Wow.

Nick:

and at the end of it The two of us got a publishing deal and

Nick:

that was, then it was, we were off

Gareth:

So do you feel like that time, that six months you're, you're

Gareth:

absorbing, how to write a song as well as making tea for everybody?

Nick:

more, um, more the reality of it, you know, more than what, what it's like.

Nick:

It was thrilling being a recording studio.

Nick:

It was really exciting.

Nick:

That was really enough to start with, you know, but, um, it also

Nick:

gave me the hunger to do it myself.

Nick:

You know, because you slightly saw that, that, that it was, I was obsessed with

Nick:

Stock Aiken Law School when I was a kid.

Nick:

I thought they were fantastic.

Nick:

And I still do.

Nick:

some may disagree, but I'm correct.

Gareth:

can't, you're correct.

Gareth:

You will fight anyone.

Nick:

only one who takes me on on that.

Nick:

So I was keen to do that.

Nick:

But they were sort of past their prime by then.

Nick:

And it was, it was interesting to see how these things fall apart, really, I guess.

Nick:

Little bit.

Nick:

And, um, so then I wanted to do it for myself and I said I had a

Nick:

production partner and it seemed to take an age between moving to London

Nick:

and getting a publishing deal and starting having, you know, records out.

Nick:

It wasn't, it was about two and a half years, three, three years, three years.

Nick:

It seemed like forever at the time.

Nick:

I don't know.

Nick:

I was really lucky looking back.

Gareth:

you deferred university.

Gareth:

Did you actually go in

Nick:

No,

Gareth:

No, just you decided that's what you

Nick:

but I got my publishing deal at the end before, you know, and it was, yeah,

Gareth:

Well, you know, you're going to uni to increase your chances of work,

Nick:

I wouldn't, I wouldn't be anti further education in the slightest,

Nick:

and I would have enjoyed it, I know.

Nick:

But it was, it was what I did.

Nick:

And I like that I, looking back, I'm glad I was able to stand up

Nick:

and say this is what I want to do.

Nick:

And I was lucky to be able to do that.

Nick:

I had supportive parents.

Nick:

I had, yeah, I had people around me.

Nick:

and it was okay.

Nick:

And, and, and also I was able to sign on for it.

Nick:

a year and a half.

Nick:

You can't do that now.

Nick:

It was, you know, I was writing pop songs every day, which some

Nick:

might say was a bit of, it's

Nick:

not productive work, but it, but it led to, it led to the next

Nick:

20, you know, the next years.

Gareth:

honing your craft.

Gareth:

You were creating your products, you know,

Gareth:

same as anyone else.

Gareth:

Um, and I think, like you, you know, I don't want to

Gareth:

besmirch higher education in the

Nick:

No, not at

Nick:

all.

Gareth:

did a degree, but I think maybe in hindsight, me looking back now, if I knew

Gareth:

what, where I would end up, I probably would have done exactly the same thing.

Gareth:

If I had an opportunity to go and make coffee for people in a studio, I

Gareth:

think the amount that you can pick up there is, um, it's quite significant.

Gareth:

And the net, the networking aspect, you just can't.

Nick:

The, the, the setup is different now and you didn't have

Nick:

the music courses that now exist.

Nick:

There are some really, really good music courses now.

Nick:

There weren't so many when I was at that age, but um, I think everyone has a

Nick:

different route, don't they, you know, and

Gareth:

absolutely.

Nick:

odd set of circumstances that somehow move you

Nick:

through this, business, it's

Gareth:

Yeah, So you've got a publishing deal.

Gareth:

At what point do you go, right?

Gareth:

I'm a songwriter.

Gareth:

Oh, hang on.

Gareth:

I'm a composer.

Gareth:

Well, how does that kind of switch over?

Nick:

It was, I did, I wrote pop songs or co wrote pop songs and produced

Nick:

them for 10 years and it was great and we did some really good things

Nick:

and then it sort of felt like it was, The partnership reaches its natural

Nick:

conclusion, and I thought there's got to be other things I want to do than this.

Nick:

There was sort of, I love pop music still, but I felt like I'd done what

Nick:

I was going to do in pop music, and it wasn't going to get more interesting

Nick:

or better or, yeah, it felt like I wanted to do something else.

Nick:

And as a, as a kid, there was something about, you know, writing

Nick:

music for plays and we used to make videos and that sort of thing.

Nick:

And it was like, well, that's, that's good.

Nick:

That could be fun.

Nick:

Also, my brother was, was by now getting himself established as a composer.

Nick:

So I had a sort of proof that it could be done, perhaps, um, he was starting out,

Nick:

but he was, he was doing great things.

Gareth:

And perhaps saw a window into that world that you really liked.

Nick:

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Nick:

So, that would have been after, you know, 10, 11 years doing, being a

Nick:

producer that it sort of started to flip.

Nick:

And then I went into commercials and that was what I did for the next chunk of time.

Gareth:

Yeah.

Gareth:

Wow.

Gareth:

There's no easy route kids.

Gareth:

You just gotta, you just gotta get in there and get, get on with it.

Nick:

Yeah.

Nick:

Yeah.

Gareth:

Nice one.

Gareth:

Well, Nick, I ask all of my guests to leave an item and a piece of advice

Gareth:

in the music room for others to find.

Gareth:

What?

Gareth:

I don't know what you've chosen as an item or a piece of advice, but you

Gareth:

said it was somewhere in that room,

Nick:

It's over here.

Nick:

I want to show you guys.

Nick:

I can't.

Nick:

It's the MC, it's the, I'll do it properly.

Nick:

It's the Roland MC 500 Mark II Micro Composer.

Gareth:

Okay.

Nick:

it's a sequencer, and as a kid, it was all I wanted, and eBay,

Nick:

deep praise, you can now get them.

Nick:

That one's my brother's actually, but, so he might not know it's here, he will now.

Gareth:

It spent all morning going, where's that Roland gone?

Nick:

Yeah, it's an amazing thing, it's, you, you program drums in

Nick:

Steptime, and you, and you record with MIDI, and really, It's not that, that

Nick:

I want to leave in the music room.

Nick:

It's something to, something to enable people to make music, that's the thing.

Nick:

So, probably these days, what would it be?

Nick:

It'd be Logic, probably.

Gareth:

Yeah, no, I like, I like

Nick:

you know, it's, it's, but it's whatever, it's something

Nick:

to make you able to make music and write music and preserve it.

Nick:

It might be a pencil for somebody else, but I'm sticking with the

Nick:

MC 500 Mark II.

Nick:

yeah,

Gareth:

for Daisy Shoot.

Gareth:

Um, but I like that it's something that inspired you.

Gareth:

So we shall, you know, that's proof that it works.

Gareth:

So we'll put that in the music room for you.

Gareth:

Um, what advice would you like to leave for others to find?

Nick:

Best advice I ever got was write something.

Nick:

So it doesn't matter.

Nick:

It doesn't matter if it's good.

Nick:

It matters in the long run, but you know that moment where you've

Nick:

got to write and you, you just have to just do it and not get stuck.

Gareth:

Yeah.

Nick:

Just keep going.

Nick:

Just, just write something, let something come out

Gareth:

Yeah, it's the biggest fear, isn't it?

Gareth:

You know, I've got all this music in my head, but I know it might sound a

Gareth:

bit different when it comes out and then you've got to play it to people.

Gareth:

I mean, that's just terrifying, isn't it?

Gareth:

Really?

Nick:

But it can really block, it can really stop you, can't it?

Nick:

All these, there were so many things mitigating against doing what we

Nick:

do is it's kind of, it's amazing.

Nick:

And I'm so lucky to be able to sit and do this, but it's, it's

Nick:

also a bit weird and magical and doesn't quite make sense, does it?

Nick:

So

Gareth:

the dark arts.

Nick:

yes, I just don't think about it too much.

Gareth:

Yeah,

Nick:

Just get something out.

Nick:

And then once you've got something out, maybe something else will come out,

Nick:

maybe the third thing will be brilliant,

Gareth:

You've got a pointer and a marker, got a bit of context there, haven't you?

Nick:

Yeah, you've started, there's something to talk about,

Nick:

if there's something there, there's a conversation to be had.

Nick:

And the conversation might be, that's not right, but that's fine, because

Nick:

then you've, there's something else that will come from it.

Gareth:

I was going to say that it'll give you something to work on as

Gareth:

well, because you might realize, Oh, actually that doesn't make any sense.

Gareth:

So I need to figure out, you know,

Nick:

Hmm.

Gareth:

my string arrangements or, you know, whatever it

Nick:

Yeah.

Nick:

Or even like bars 9 to 12 are quite good, the rest of it's

Nick:

rubbish, but that bit's good.

Gareth:

yeah.

Nick:

I was like writing, on the piano, by which I mean the piano connected

Nick:

to the computer, just really, really wildly and it'll be a mess and it'd be

Nick:

horrible and it'll sound like somebody bashing away because it's, it's like

Nick:

you then can excavate stuff from it.

Nick:

You can, you can get ideas from it, there are bits and bobs in there, you'll have

Nick:

hit, there'll be something in there.

Gareth:

Well, funnily enough, with my last guest, Sherry Chung, uh, we were

Gareth:

talking about capture record and just the

Nick:

Oh, God,

Gareth:

to, noodle about and, uh, and then suddenly go, Oh, well, that's good.

Gareth:

And then you can just capture record and it's there.

Gareth:

You've

Nick:

that's one of the greatest inventions.

Nick:

Oh, that was a wonderful little bit.

Nick:

I'm sure I remember when that came in,

Nick:

when it, when it appeared on logic.

Nick:

Because it's brilliant, isn't it?

Nick:

You're right.

Nick:

You're right.

Nick:

Because then it's there.

Gareth:

Yeah.

Gareth:

Fantastic.

Gareth:

Well.

Gareth:

Nick Foster, thank you so much for joining me today in the

Nick:

Well, that was quick.

Gareth:

Yeah.

Gareth:

I mean, we could go on, couldn't we?

Gareth:

But yeah, thank you for joining me in the music room.

Gareth:

It's been an absolute joy.

Nick:

Thanks, Gareth.

Gareth:

Thanks for listening to the Music Room podcast today.

Gareth:

If you'd like to know more about the show or the community that surrounds

Gareth:

it, head to music room.community.

About the Podcast

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The Music Room
Personal stories of inspiration from professional composers, songwriters and musicians.

About your host

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Gareth Davies

Audio creator of music, podcasts, tales and rhymes. Toad & Friends (Warner Bros. Discovery) arriving in 2023.

Gareth is also the creator of The Music Room community, podcast and newsletter.

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With your continued support, we reinvest into the show and continue to make the best content that we can, whilst putting more time and effort into growing the audience to reach and help more people.
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Danny Brown $5
Saw your excellent post on Facebook, and happy to become a supporter!
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Anonymous £1
Thanks for making this podcast! I appreciate all the advice and useful items that guests leave, it’s helped me think about how I go about things.