Toby is the quintessential musical journeyman.
He produces records, he runs Unagi Sound and he plays just about everything. He’s toured in the U.K, The U.S, Europe and Japan but for the last thirty years, he has been, most fundamentally, a singer-songwriter and a recording artist.
Even though life has not been easy for indie artists over the last couple of years, you can’t knock them down and you can’t knock him down.
And all paths have led to “Never Fall”.
“Never Fall” was written, arranged, and produced by Toby May at Unagi Sound in Geneva. As a multi-instrumentalist he initially planned on recording all the parts as a one-man band. While that’s how he began, the times were so weird that May felt compelled to reach out to his network of musicians for the type of connection we’ve all been missing. This idea felt perfect for the underpinning “Never Fall” spirit.
We’re stronger together.
Consequently, almost by happy accident, he put together a super-team from around the world to produce this new record in his Geneva studio: Unagi Sound.
The album features:
Greg Arnold: backing vocals, guitars, lyrics (AUS - Things of Stone and Wood)
Stef Roul: drums (FR - Anxious Records, Dave Stewart, East 17)
Dale Davis: bass (UK - Amy Winehouse, Paul Young)
Anna Murphy: Hurdy Gurdy (CH - Cellar Darling, Eluveitie)
Sara Wheeler: Backing Vocals (USA - Sara Wheeler Music)
Mark Baëchle: Strings (CH/USA - Grammy Award Composer)
Mathias Künzli: percussion (CH/USA - Regina Spector, Moby)
Richard Spooner: lyrics (UK/CH - Philippe Fankhauser, Dominic Shoemaker)
Joe Baamil: piano (CH - Pilots on Mars)
Lee Russell: recording (UK – Temple, Julian Lennon)
Rui Guerreiro: mix & master (PRT - Luísa Sobral, Rui Valoso)
Photography and Artwork by Franck Harscouët
Video production by Yvon Labarthe and Ana Lowry at Flying Focus
Lighting production by Yvan Cavazzana
"Hold Fast - Stay True"
"Hold Fast - Stay True" so say the mariners, whenever the wild storms hit.
And it seems an appropriate title for the third single (released on March 18th 2022).
Balance is a key lyrical theme in the song.
In turbulent times, how does one keep one's "hands upon the wheel"
and "feet on solid ground"?
To illustrate this he has worked again with Flying Focus to make a fun video, which features internationally renowned performer RollerMan (Jean-Yves Blandeau) and Angel skaters Nouria Castaigns and Curtis Langui.
And what better place to shoot this clip than Geneva airport's brand new terminal, the East Wing!
Written and recorded at Unagi Sound in Geneva he was joined (remotely and appropriately socially distanced, of course) by Richard Spooner (UK/CH - Philippe Fankhauser, Dominic Shoemaker) who co-wrote the lyrics, Dale Davis (UK - Amy Winehouse, Paul Young) whose groove inventiveness was on full display, along with his trusted, drummer-mate, Stef Roul (FR- Anxious Records, Dave Stewart, East 17). Greg Arnold (AUS - Things of Stone and Wood) harmonises and brings some antipodean oomph to those mighty choruses and Rui Guerreiro (PRT - Luísa Sobral, Rui Valoso) welcomed the good ship back into harbour with some warm mixing and mastering.
"Let's turn our faces to the Sun"
The second single is the cinematic scope Tough Year.
Toby May is releasing his new single on Black Friday in acknowledgment of what a tough year (or couple of years) it has been for us all.
This deeply personal song (which pre-dates COVID 19) is even more relevant in the current crisis and offers something we can all relate to.
It's been tough, for us all, and we're all in it together.
Produced and performed by May, with some mighty drums by Stef Roul (Dave Stewart, East 17), some anthemic backing vocals by Aussie Folk-Rocker Greg Arnold and American Singer-Songwriter Sara Wheeler, a couple of subtle piano notes by Joe Baamil and a suitably huge mix by Rui Guerreiro, "Tough Year" is a surprising blend of epic, cinematic scope and conversational intimacy. After an evocative, dark hammond organ driven opening, the lyric breaks through the grey sky ("Let's turn our faces to the Sun") and the song offers up some hard-earned and well deserved hope. This complex atmosphere has been beautifully captured by photographer Frank Harscouët and video producers Flying Focus.
So, let's welcome "Tough Year" into the world on Black Friday, in the hope that we can all, finally, have a bit of a Sunny Saturday.
"We just turned 18, remember that summer, no-one to boss us 'round, never heard the thunder"
The first single is the powerful "18".
The groove is both hypnotic and dynamic, and you'd expect nothing less, with France's Stef Roul (Anxious Records - Dave Stewart, East 17) on drums and the U.K's Dale Davis (Amy Winehouse, Paul Young) on bass.
Australian folk-rocker Greg Arnold (Things of Stone and Wood) co-wrote the song, and sang some backing vocals (along with a solo, sung through a Beatle-esque spinning Leslie speaker).
Then the strings swept across the Atlantic from Mark Baechle in New York, before the song finished its last exam and flew off to Portugal to get drunk, and also, to get mixed and mastered by Rui Guerreiro.
At first glance, "18" is a sunny celebration of "that summer"; the one where we turn 18 and we're free: no more school, no more rules, no serious adult responsibilities.
But, as with all of Toby' songs, there's far more at play here beneath the surface.
Deep in this lush sonic valley, he is actually singing about a relationship turning 18, and the whole thing is far more nuanced than we might, at first, suspect.
"I loved 18 the second I heard it - the chords and the melody; the overall emotion of it. I loved it even more once I got the whole, true meaning. It's been an absolute honour to be involved with this great track, and this incredible squad. It's like being in a sonic heist movie!"
Arnold, Things Of Stone And Wood, Universal Artist, AUS
"As soon as I heard and met Toby I knew, by experience, I was dealing with a very special & talented singer/songwriter/producer, now a dear friend too!
I feel honored to have been drumming on Toby's album which I consider to be one of the best album I have heard in a long time!
"18" has the power of a hit single and Toby's voice and vibe are just perfect to ears!
The live band I am part of with Toby and Greg Arnold is pure musical magic and joy!
Stay tune to Toby's news as more songs beauty is to come!"
Stephane Roul, Atlantic Records, UK/FR