Credits and About
Sachal Vasandani Voice
Romain Collin Piano
No More Tears (Sachal Vasandani)
I Love You (Billie Eilish O'Connell/ Finneas O'Connell)
The Sound of Silence (Paul Simon)
I Can't Make You Love Me (Mike Reid/ Allen Shamblin)
Blue In Green (Miles Davis/Meredith d’Ambrosio)
Freight Train (Elizabeth Cotten)
If Only You Knew (Dexter Wansel/ Cynthia Biggs)
Someone Somewhere (Nate Smith/ Sachal Vasandani)
Latch (Guy Lawrence/ Howard Lawrence/ James Napier/ Sam Smith)
Let It Go (James Bay/ Paul Barry)
How Could We Be (Romain Collin)
Washing Of The Water (Peter Gabriel)
Produced by Sachal Vasandani & Romain Collin
Executive producer Dave Stapleton
Recorded by Jeremy Loucas at the Bunker Studio - Brooklyn, NY, July 23 and 25 2021.
Mixed by Jeremy Loucas.
Mastered by Jeremy Loucas.
Album artwork by Oli Bentley, Split.
Front Cover photography by Dave Stapleton.
Piano by Steinway & Sons.
Romain Collin booking and management: SGENT NATION / email@example.com
Sachal Vasandani booking and management: Adrian Ross, ARE GROUP / firstname.lastname@example.org.
In 2020, as the pandemic spread across the globe, both Sachal and Romain found themselves confined to New York with all their touring cancelled and their artistic expression put on hold. When they were allowed to do so, these friends and neighbours met for walks and for coffee to talk about life, Art, Politics, the craziness of the world, and music. The idea of collaborating emerged, with no thought beyond finding a way of channeling their anxiety and anger.
What emerged was a very real desire to make music that was quiet, introspective and nuanced. Music that spoke with emotion and feeling, which didn’t allow virtuosity to override meaning, expression and feeling in the song. Midnight Shelter was born – a project that reworked classic and modern songs and reinterpreted their own originals. It was deeply emotive and intimate: the sound of a 2am session with friends without trying to wake the neighbors. As Sachal describes it, “We left out a lot of piano or vocal solos, or any kind of flights of fancy. The intensity of the song and the mood were the most important, as opposed to any of the typical stuff you would see in a jazz performance”. Throughout the album you can hear the sounds of the hammers in the piano, the squeak of the sustain pedal and the delicate subtleties of the breath. It’s up-close and personal, like being in the room with these two exquisite performers.
The resulting album, Midnight Shelter, was released in April 2021 to huge acclaim and as the pandemic continued to rage, their desire to make another album intensified. This time they wanted to go deeper into the music with a greater purpose, to think more about song choice, about tone and their collective sound.
The result is Still Life. The first major difference is the studio and more importantly, the piano used to record. The piano used on Midnight Shelter was, as Romain Collin put it, “…a piano that had been around and seen some things. It was full of character yet it lacked a quality and depth”. For Still Life, Steinway was the piano of choice which allowed Romain Collin to play even quieter than he could previously, to draw more tone from across the entire keyboard, with even greater control and a more nuanced depth of tone. As a result, Sachal’s rich and expressive voice was able to blend perfectly.
The sound was built from a desire to find their own approach to a common instrumentation, as Romain Collin continues; “There’s a certain sound that I’ve been looking for. Like a guitar, almost like strumming and I really love songs and singer songwriters. I’ve been working on this for a while”.
This project is about mood and meaning, not showmanship. In some sense, Romain and Sachal are simply storytellers, speaking through their instrument and voice. As Sachal describes; “I’m not taking a solo, I’m not really reaching vocally for the stars. So I think that’s kind of the unique concept of the project. The mood is the connective tissue for the whole record. The mood was focusing on a kind of brutal honesty. I don’t think there’s anyone that can do that for songs better than Romain. He’s able to bring out the essence of the song and nothing more. So it’s a cool collaboration in that way, because I get to focus on the meaning of the song”.
Choosing the right repertoire for this album was always a challenge with so many great songs to choose from, as Sachal continues; “We had a lot that we were listening to. And part of it was, Can I sing it with some honesty? I might like the song and I might be able to vibe on it as a listener, but I don’t think I can do it justice. If I don’t feel it honestly, as a singer, or the melody just isn’t sitting right, or any number of things, then we moved on. But in the end, we went through about 50 songs to figure out what would be the final 10 or 12. But I’m really happy about the ones that we got”.
For this album capturing the sound was as important as the delivery. Romain: “We were just playing very, very softly. I realised pretty quickly that the dynamic range and the level at which I was performing would drastically change the way Sachal would deliver the story in the song. And because of the repertoire of the material we had chosen, I felt that we needed a certain level of intimacy. And that was best delivered when I played very softly. I’ve never played this soft in my life for this long. Sachal is standing right next to the piano. There are no overdubs and no editing. We play a take and see if it’s good. And that’s the way it should be for this music. It ‘s very much part of the emotional and sonic character of the record”.
In its conception, Still Life is an album of simplicity. It’s a piano and voice with no edits or overdubs. But it’s the subtleties and context around the project that reveals its depth and meaning. The focus on the mood, the meaning and the song selection is real, honest and authentic. To hear Romain and Sachal perform is a compelling experience. They are totally absorbed by the song itself and have complete confidence and trust in each other. They play with so much control yet only play what is completely necessary to deliver the song. It’s a perfect antidote for a world gone crazy and for listeners who are searching for calm, a moment of introspection and stillness in their life.
"We play a take and see if it's good. And that's the way it should be for this music. It 's very much part of the emotional and sonic character of the record.”