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Recording with Nick Bullock in Nashville

Updated: Jun 26

I stood on the side of the road in the sun, surrounded by neat green lawns and unmoving houses. It was eerily quiet and growing steadily warmer. I started to sweat a little in the Nashville heat.

My Uber driver had dropped me off, adamant that it was the correct address, and I wondered, as I stared at the house I stood in front of, with its closed door and shuttered windows, if there were two streets of the same name, one in the heart of the city, and one in a far-off leafy suburb, where deer and roamed and squirrels scurried. One which held a music studio, and the other, just someone’s house. I decided to knock on the door. I walked up and knocked, then waited full of anxiety. No one came. I knocked again, louder, aware of the sound so stark in the silent morning.

It was my first day at the studio and I was on time. Although the minutes were ticking by and soon I’d be late, which added to my anxiety. I wanted to make a good impression. Nick and I had been working together for months from a distance, he in Nashville and I in Perth.

He at the Doghouse Studios, where Dolly Parton and Alison Krauss had recorded and I in my very simple home studio. Nick and the musicians Aaron, Hannah and Clark recorded all the instrumentation to scratch tracks I’d made while I sat on a livestream with them a few months earlier, when Perth locked off from the rest of the world. Then the borders opened, and I flew to Nashville in July to record the vocals in person.

I stared at the closed door of the house in the suburbs and shook my head at myself. Obviously, I had misunderstood the directions. There was no recording studio here or anywhere down this neat and quiet street.

I opened WIFI settings on my phone to see if I could pick up not just a free signal, but to look and see if anywhere there was a sign of an internet service belonging to a studio. Nothing. Just a series of numbers and letters. So, a very bold step for a nearly always broke musician, I turned on Data Roaming and checked the map and my messages. I appeared to be in the right place. I messaged Nick.

‘I think I’m in the wrong place.’

He wrote back immediately,

‘Come to the garage at the back. I’m in here!’

I walked around to the garage, which admittedly I hadn’t considered approaching as it looked quite small. He opened the door and we met in person for the first time. Nick was exactly as I expected, as warm and kind and funny and obsessed with guitars as he had been in all of our many zoom chats.

I stepped inside the little garage and it grew before my eyes like a TARDIS, revealing a large live room complete with a beautiful Steinway, a series of valve and condenser microphones all set up waiting for me, guitars, posters and that unmistakable music studio smell. We walked through to the control room with its expansive desk and then onto the kitchen and lounge area where Nick offered me a coffee. There were Grammys on the shelves, squirrels at the window and a record to be made. It was quite magical.

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