As ECC100 release Instant Replay, an album of creative 1970s covers from an eclectic array of artists, Lush audio producer Nuala Davies explains what it means to work for a company that loves and owes a lot to music.
When I joined Lush four years ago, I never imagined I would be singing on an album from ECC100 records, let alone on a cover of ‘Grease’! Yet here I am thanks to a spot of ukulele playing, an internship, and Lush’s love of talent spotting.
In June 2015, I started working for Lush on the shop floor, helping lovely customers pick the best products suited to them and their needs. From this job, I progressed into an internship and then into my current role, developing an array of creative content for the business from product copy to podcasts.
While I was plugging away on the shop floor, Lush co-founder Mark Constantine and musician and producer Simon Emmerson were pouring their efforts into ECC Records: a label they founded together in 2009. These two music enthusiasts initially united to create the beautiful soundscapes that serenade visitors to the Lush Spa, (though Simon nearly refused, believing he was being asked to create soundtracks for a chain of well-known corner shops).
Nowadays, ECC Records brings together an array of exceptionally talented musicians who create music in a variety of different capacities. At the beginning of the journey, this was mainly spa music but it has evolved to include original albums. ECC100 - its vinyl-only sister company - was coined with 100 releases in mind, and has so far put out an intriguing and eclectic mix of records.
Instant Replay is the 2019 release of a musically diverse triple vinyl, featuring over 30 brand new covers of songs originally recorded between 1971 and 1981 – including some of the finest funk, folk, punk, pop, and ballads of the time. To name a few, there are tracks from Teddy Thompson, Jackie Oates, Honeyfeet, Stealing Sheep and, of course, yours truly.
How on earth did Nuala Davies end up on an album with these legends I hear you ask? Well, I may or may not have recorded a song on the ukulele about The Lush Creative Showcase in 2018 and Mark Constantine may or may not have taken pity on me… (To add context, I have worked as a professional singer for a number of years but pity probably was a bigger factor.) Mark chose ‘Grease’ from the cult musical and into the studio I popped with musician, composer, and producer extraordinaire Rhodri Marsden. We literally recorded the track within a few hours. Slick, professional, and lots of fun, probably my easiest recording experience to date
Yet ECC100 also stands for something very important that I’m keen to talk about. In an age in which the internet is crushing musicians through piracy and illegal downloading, ECC100 is committed to keeping the art of vinyl alive.
Looking back to look forward is always something that has resonated with me in a time of digital tech advancements. Our generation wants everything and we want it now. Instant download. Fast access. I understand that there is a time and a place for digital platforms that allow us to access music instantly, for example, when we are travelling, working out, or just out for a stroll. But what if we also started giving ourselves and the music we consume the time both deserve?
Put on a record, sit back and pour a cup of coffee. Or, better still, jump in the bath. (Disclaimer: keep your record player out of your bathroom, please!) Allowing yourself the time and space to savour music not only gives the piece of art the recognition it deserves and the opportunity to resonate, but also gives you the gift of an experience. This sort of moment, or creative connection if you will, provides a welcome pause for breath in the fast-paced world we live in.
I also want to talk about supporting musicianship. Music inspires so much in our lives, be it the background music in a bar, that song that helped you get through that really difficult break-up or even that track that your kids won’t stop singing and has been stuck in your head for weeks on end. (Dare I mention ‘Baby Shark’?)
Similarly, being a musician is a 24-hour, full-time job. You think about your music when you’re lying in bed trying to rest before you get up the next day and make some more music. There’s little downtime. You also work in an industry that forces you to prove your worth every day. You have to inspire yourself and normally not for very much money.
What ECC100 and ECC Records have created is a community of artists, whose time and creative skill are nourished and financed in the appropriate manner, with no questions asked. Their music is recorded and sold in Lush shops globally, giving music the space it deserves. Lush as a business owes so much to music; it has inspired people and products and so we want to keep that going and growing. So thank you, Mark, for letting us do our thing and valuing it.