Liner notes from the recording of "Emerald" by Jane Kitto

Phoenix Starlight
“The rules have changed in silence, you’re one half of the pawn. The king he stole your bishop and rode out on your horse”
Phoenix Starlight is PBS’s first sonic voyage written about the resurgence of the symbolic Phoenix who rises from the ashes. I had diaries full of prose after a 3 year hiatus of non-writing. It was a real tough period of my life, when all I’d ever known previously was songwriting and for it to leave you; it becomes a very empty space for me even if it’s full. This was the song which broke the silence. I collected every word I had written from that 3 years or so to put the lyric together. I still remember the day. Meantime Pna had created the tune on acoustic guitar in the lounge room, piece by piece whilst the harmonies flying around the room like a music rainbow. It was a majestic moment. ’Phoenix Starlight’ was the gift to us.

Words & Music by  J. Kitto / P. Andersson (Apra/Stim)
Kitto – Vocals / Acoustic Guitar / Bass / Percussion
Andersson –  Vocals / Electric Guitars / Drums / Percussion / Moog
Oakhill – Electric Piano

Kingdom
“So rule your kingdom with a question coz the moon will soon reveal all lies”
“Friends for work, friends for play and friends for life – it’s just know the difference”. This lyric somewhat describes the superficial hungry ghosts which identify themselves within the realms of various scenes.

Words & Music by J. Kitto / P. Andersson / D.Oakhill (Apra/Stim)
Kitto – Vocals / Acoustic Guitar / Bass / Percussion
Andersson –  Backing Vocals / Electric Guitars / Drums / Percussion
Oakhill – Organ

Rock And A Tide
“Erode me for the better. Take away the old, wear me to the letter”
Rock and a tide is a somewhat “tongue in cheek” lyric written by Aussie front man for ‘Pearls & Swine’
Ex-Johnny Teen and the Broken Hearts Robert Gale, who is also a long term friend of mine. We had co-written a cache of tunes since we have known each other. However this song was one of Rob’s floating drafts which we implemented into a catchy “OMG, Why am I writing this”? Ask Rob.

Words & Music by R.Gale / J. Kitto / P. Andersson (Apra/Stim)
Kitto – Vocals & Backing Vocals / Acoustic Guitar / Bass / Percussion
Andersson –  Harmony Vocals / Electric Guitars / Drums / Percussion
Oakhill – Organ

Bend Me Your Sky
“Now I see with new eyes, how the perfect sky always was my home”
This is more of a classic track. A story of the realization of what we have in our lives all along from the beginning. The sky above reminds us of this; a kind of
‘coming home’.

Words & Music by J. Kitto / P. Andersson (Apra/Stim)
Kitto – Vocals / Acoustic Guitar / Bass 1 / Percussion
Andersson –  Harmony Vocals / Electric Guitars / Bass 2 / Drums / Percussion
Oakhill – Electric Piano

Science Man
“For a puzzled guy, there’s so much for him to do. He says not to be afraid of a room with a starlight view”
The song ‘Science Man’ is about a ‘not so common, common guy’ who is actually someone close to us. It explains a brilliance of mind tempered with solving the basic daily tasks of living whilst accompanied by his muse – Ziggy Stardust as his interpreter”.

Words & Music by J. Kitto / P. Andersson (Apra/Stim)
Kitto – Vocals / Acoustic Guitar / Bass / Percussion
Andersson –  Backing Vocals / Electric Guitars / Drums / Percussion / Orchestration

Hence Your Body
“Driving home, I guess the dawn was on my side”
Hence your body is about those momentary attractions which we can be a little afraid to admit to at times. You choose it then it chooses you. Pna delightfully stumbled upon a catchy 60’s retro hook which L immediately dived upon and penned the lyrics almost as quick in a hotel room one afternoon before sound check. Confessions of ‘Classic Pop’

Words & Music by J. Kitto / P Andersson (Apra/Stim)
Kitto – Backing Vocals / Acoustic Guitar / Percussion
Andersson –  Vocal / Electric Guitars / Bass / Drums / Percussion
Oakhill – Organ

Gospel Of The Waves
“And we all shall carry the wave”
Gospel of the waves was written in one evening at the studio by Pna. Whilst I was busy in the kitchen penning lyrics to
‘Bend Me Your Sky‘, Pna struck gold inspiration in noodling to this theme; something about ‘All carrying the wave‘. His first ever ‘blues Infused’ tune. At the time, my head was somewhere else trying to solve another lyric. But it caught up with me; this song completely blew me away with its simplicity and Pna’s guitar execution and feel, how his voice summons us all to listen.

Words & Music by J. Kitto / P. Andersson (Apra/Stim)
Kitto – Backing Vocals / Acoustic Guitar / Bass / Percussion
Andersson –  Vocals / Electric Guitars / Drums / Percussion
Oakhill – Harmony Vocals / Piano / Organ

The Flight Of Vladimir
“Stretch your wings out for your height of your life and fly those seasons. Until the night arrives to say goodbye”
This song is inspired by the true story of a male dancer from the Baltic states, who spent many years performing away from his wife and children in the hope that one day he may afford to eventually be united with them in one country. As time went on, he finally decided to take a job instead as a cleaner in the same place where he had previously danced. I had got to know ‘Vlad’ the dancer in the video during my travels, when on one occasion; he saw me and rushed over most excited to express the news about his lucky break to have a secure job as a cleaner. He glowed with such a humble happiness, that I felt immediately moved to write this song about him. A dedication to a true phoenix spirit!

Words & Music by J. Kitto / P. Andersson / D. Oakhill (Apra/Stim)
Kitto – Vocals / Acoustic Guitar / Bass 1 / Percussion
Andersson –  Backing Vocals / Electric Guitars / Bass 2 / Drums / Moog / Orchestration
Oakhill – Electric Piano / Organ

Aquaria
“Every glance shall pass its seed upon the fence of yesterday’s poets. And darkness is just wounded light “
Aquaria is the first highlight track from the PBS album ‘Emerald’. As an eight minute trilogy, it set the tone for the creative playground that I believe is the sound of our Perfect Blue Sky. I got a chance to weave the spirit of the vocals into Pna’s beautiful song craft wizardry. This song is the love story of the creative muse; she eludes and beckons us; the agony and ecstasy in nurturing a dream, something that I longed for always to capture in poetry. It happened on the Greek isle of Tilos September last year 2014. We are grateful for Aquaria. Ps. It was actually the very last track written for the album (! Week) and consequently the first released.

Words & Music by J. Kitto / P. Andersson (Apra/Stim)
Kitto – Vocal / Acoustic Guitar / Percussion
Andersson – Harmony Vocal / Electric Guitars / Bass / Drums / Melotron / Organ / Orchestration

Solomon
“And the days of conform when only true law is that which leads to freedom”
Solomon is an adaptation based on the book
‘Johnathon Livingstone Seagull’ written by pilot author – Richard Bach. I wrote this song sometime back after reading Bach’s Novel and presented it to Pna with a view to create a finishing theme to the album ‘Emerald’. Pna was able to capture in production, the excitement and symbolic life of the seagull which is no ordinary bird – but one who defies convention and ridicule from the flock in seeking his higher purpose and destiny; to complete the flight of his life and soar toward the dream. We both relate and live by this code.

Words & Music by J. Kitto (Apra)
Kitto – Vocals / Acoustic Guitar / Bass / Percussion
Andersson – Backing Vocal / Electric Guitars / Orchestration / Drums / Percussion / Orchestration
Oakhill – Piano

Ps. I wanted to mention that I make all my own lyrical music videos of the songs and story. I think it lets our listeners in to a more personal perspective of PBS.

Thank you for reading xx

Production notes from the recording of "Emerald" by Pna Andersson

Introduction & Phoenix Starlight
Almost every record has that
one song, call it an anchor or a reference point in which all other songs on the album are measured against. Many times that tune springs to life deep into the writing process, changing everything up until that point to fit the new framework, forcing new arrangements and sometimes even new songs to be written in order to match the new found guideline. With Phoenix Starlight we truly struck gold since it was the first tune to be written for Perfect Blue Sky. We knew straight away that we had discovered something special. That feeling of tapping straight into the source, exploring a limitless sea of sound and potential. It spoke to us in such a simple way that it stood clear from day one what PBS was supposed to sound like…timeless!

Out of a producer’s perspective, that means using recording gear that has stood the distance against time such as classic microphones, warm preamps and punchy consoles – but even more importantly; it takes an analog mindset to steps away from the modern “cut-and-past” recording techniques in order to bring it back to real musicianship and feel. Even though the tape machine is a Pro Tools station in Scarecrow Studios, we treated it like a tape; leaving flaws and mistakes where they were so that the magic wouldn’t be washed away. It even went so far that when we were recording Phoenix Starlight, a recording we considered a demo at the time, we decided that we didn’t want to re-record anything when it was time to lay down the tracks for the actual album.

And there was the formula. We treated every song as a rough demo when we recorded it. It is just like taking a picture of a picture every time you have to re-record a riff or re-do a vocal. A little piece of that first exciting discovery dies every time you have to reinvent yourself. Eventually there will be nothing left but a bleached script made of ink and paper. The voice of the actor is long since gone and the magic disappeared the second it went from being a scrappy paper to a printed perfect score.

We built Phoenix Starlight on the signature sound of our two vocals twined together with the acoustic and electric guitar as the spinal chord carrying it. Everything else is mixed into the track beneath that layer to support what vocals and guitars are formulating and the result is quite a peaceful vision with plenty of room for imagination

Words & Music by  J. Kitto / P. Andersson (Apra/Stim)
Kitto – Vocals / Acoustic Guitar / Bass / Percussion
Andersson –  Vocals / Electric Guitars / Drums / Percussion / Moog
Oakhill – Electric Piano & Organ

Kingdom
Kingdom was another track that was written early in the process. It carries a somewhat heavier streak and it was a challenge to fit it next to a song like say Phoenix Starlight. It wasn’t until we started to add on the electric guitars that carried the more psychedelic flavors that we knew what it was supposed to sound like. From that point onwards, all the instrumentation fell in place and now it’s safe to say that I consider Kingdom as one of the most interesting songs arrangement wise; being so rich and still hovering around a pretty basic and classic blues pattern. What really strikes me with this track is how Jane manages to get her vocal to sound so punchy, intense and sharp whilst staying in such a low key, even for her voice. That feeling of balancing on the edge and holding back just enough to keep the spell true, like a cobra mesmerized by the snake charmers flute. But I guess that is how you capture the temptress.

Words & Music by J. Kitto / P. Andersson (Apra/Stim)
Kitto – Vocals / Acoustic Guitar / Bass / Percussion
Andersson –  Backing Vocals / Electric Guitars / Drums / Percussion
Oakhill – Backing Vocals / Piano & Organ

Rock And A Tide
This track is even more so, a rough demo that made it to the album. The vocals on this track are the initial first take and you can even hear Jane clapping and dancing around in the recording booth since she didn’t think it mattered since we “weren’t supposed to keep them”. We did try to re-record the vocals with a somewhat different hook in the choruses and with some minor changes in the lyrics but we never managed to capture that ‘bird in the flight’ again so we stayed with the first take. It is actually the same with all the instruments on this track. I remember recording the twin solo with the headphones on in my living room just as a try-out and it turned out I couldn’t find that feel again. Danny Oakhill’s gritty organ seals the deal nicely and Rock and a Tide carries a quite refreshing live feel that can only be produced through being “non-produced”.

Words & Music by R.Gale / J. Kitto / P. Andersson (Apra/Stim)
Kitto – Vocals & Backing Vocals / Acoustic Guitar / Bass / Percussion
Andersson –  Harmony Vocals / Electric Guitars / Drums / Percussion
Oakhill – Piano & Organ

Bend Me Your Sky
This song is carried a lot by Danny Oakhill’s electric piano. We made sure to distort it so that it got a bit of grit and together with the dry acoustic and classic electric sound it made a nice fresh blend. Another signature feature of PBS is the airy vocals stacked in the back – most noticeably in the last chorus that creates a nice space and tone. Jane is truly an expert when it comes to laying down the vocals and she can score all the harmonies on the fly. Another nice detail is the old phaser we squeezed into the middle eight sections over the entire track in the mastering to bring it a gentle psychedelic movement, dancing with the instruments and vocals like it was a part of the room. Jane loves her phaser.

Words & Music by J. Kitto / P. Andersson (Apra/Stim)
Kitto – Vocals / Acoustic Guitar / Bass 1 / Percussion
Andersson –  Harmony Vocals / Electric Guitars / Bass 2 / Drums / Percussion
Oakhill – Rhodes Piano

Science Man
“Dynamics” was the main formula for this track. It carries a lot of air and we made sure not saturate it with more instruments than necessary. It is actually one of few tracks on the album where we felt no need for any electric piano or organ since the contrast between the mid based acoustic and the overdrive lead guitar just seemed to fill that space on their own. Again just like with Bend Me Your Sky, this track is caressed in the smooth airy backing vocals arranged by Jane; almost making you feel like your hovering just above the earth in a space shuttle. The drums are played more percussive and we were very careful with not to let them take more room than necessary, leaving them more like a gentle shaker than a punchy beat.

Words & Music by J. Kitto / P. Andersson (Apra/Stim)
Kitto – Vocals / Acoustic Guitar / Bass / Percussion
Andersson – Backing Vocals / Electric Guitars / Drums / Percussion / Melotron

Hence Your Body
This is one of two tracks on Emerald that features myself on lead vocals. It is flirting with the 60’s pop scene and is a somewhat no brainer. Jane did a great job on the bass making it move and groove just perfect – recorded with her favorite bass, an 3/4” Epiphone SG. By the way, she has all the notes written out on the fret board to make sure she doesn’t lose track of where she is. I’m thinking of doing the same.

Words & Music by J. Kitto / P Andersson (Apra/Stim)
Kitto – Harmony Vocals / Acoustic Guitar / Percussion
Andersson – Vocal / Electric Guitars / Bass / Drums / Percussion
Oakhill – Piano & Organ

Gospel Of The Waves
This track is what the name initiates, a bluesy gospel in minor. The backbone of the gospel was written in only a couple of hours along with some improvised vocals that marked the melody and chorus. This track wasn’t meant to make it to the album from the beginning since Jane didn’t pick up on it so we kind of lost the vibe for it and said we should ditch it and move on. Eventually, maybe a week or two after I did the rough sketch it found its way back to Jane again, I think she kept the rough sketch on her phone, and this time she fell in love with it and demanded that we should finish writing and record it for the album. This sudden change of heart led me to believe she wanted to complete it to make me happy since I started it but before we knew other the lyrics where done and the arrangement was sealed. The song is driven by the electric guitar whilst the aura is produced by the light, almost rain like piano work of Danny Oakhill. Also adding to the magic is again Jane’s beautiful haunting harmonies that linger around the verses only to erupt like a volcano in the middle eight part, capturing the spirit of the gospel. The guitar solo was another lucky one take that just seemed to land straight away, inspired by the playing style of BBHC’s version of ‘Summertime’. On a completely different note, it’s my dad’s favorite song with PBS while my mom thinks it is mediocre. Just shows you that you can’t win ’em all.

Words & Music by J. Kitto / P. Andersson (Apra/Stim)
Kitto – Backing Vocals / Acoustic Guitar / Bass / Percussion
Andersson –  Vocals / Electric Guitars / Drums / Percussion
Oakhill – Backing Vocals / Piano & Organ

The Flight Of Vladimir
Here is a song that presented a similar challenge to Kingdom but not by being heavy but more so from the chord structure of the track. The words meant great importance to us, especially Jane, and we knew that there was no way that it wasn’t going to make it to the album, it was just a question of finding that magic formula that brought it to life. The introduction on organ by Danny was improvised and I think it was the second take that we held onto. Danny also made great work with the electric piano, moving around the acoustic guitar, making it sound easy and light. It stood clear that the drums had to give way for the acoustic guitar since Jane had such a great groove in her timing supporting the vocals and leaving the drums as more of a percussive layer than an actual driving factor. And so it was time for the electric guitars. I remember we had tried everything from arpeggios to straight chords but nothing seemed to land. We were actually considering not having any electric guitars at all on the track since they just didn’t seem to find their natural space after flogging for hours in the studio. And so suddenly, whilst playing around on the pedal board, the swelling floydes-que sound appeared and we knew straight away that we had struck gold. From there on, the rest was simple and we recorded the duel between the vocals and solo guitar in the breakdown section with Jane screaming her lungs out on a bar stool in the recording booth. I was laughing hard but that was her way of manifesting that proud phoenix that rose from the ashes. The solo was pretty much there straight away…Jane fell asleep on the sofa in the studio while I was sound checking the lead guitar so she woke up to a nice surprise when the solo was already done and she started to play air guitar straight away and hasn’t stopped since.

Words & Music by J. Kitto / P. Andersson / D. Oakhill (Apra/Stim)
Kitto – Vocals / Acoustic Guitar / Bass 1 / Percussion
Andersson –  Backing Vocals / Electric Guitars / Bass 2 / Drums / Moog
Oakhill – Electric Piano

Aquaria
From the second I heard Aquaria, I knew that we had tapped in to something special but it was such an epic piece of music that we had to break it down into three separate parts to get a grip around the arrangement. We felt the track had to build slowly over time and we decided to start with the acoustic guitar and vocal and then wait and see what the song was asking for. After laying down the basic tracks Jane also played a dub guitar on an undistorted Gibson SG to support the acoustic and give it a twelve string feel. She tracked herself so well that even I believe when I hear it today that it is a funky sounding twelve string rather than two separate guitars. The next piece of the puzzle was the pumping bass that fires up the third and final section of Aquaria. Jane heard that bass in her head from the beginning so we decided to put the idea on tape whilst it was still fresh in our minds. The bass riff that ended up on the album is actually the original riff played by Jane but all the other bass parts got recorded later by me. Since I had to adapt to the sound of the initial demo bass riff; the sound of the bass on this entire track was decided by pure coincidence since we didn’t care for the bass sound on the demo recording. Sometimes luck is the best sound of ’em all. Jane mentioned adding the melotron pretty early in the recording process but she had to leave town and take a break just a day into the recording session of Aquaria to play a show outside of Sweden (where we were recording). I was left with a couple of days on my own in the studio and decided to go it alone and put down a couple of keyboards and guitars just as an experiment. I ended up spending more than thirty hours in the studio, working through an arsenal of guitars laying down all the remaining instruments from drum & bass to electrics and melotron. The track was so exciting to work on that the inspiration just flowed so I thought I had to harvest while the creativity was present, hoping Jane would like the ideas just as much as I did. With Jane back in town, she was ecstatic for what had taken place in her absent and we did some final touch ups to the mix, added some percussion and the rest is history. One of my absolute favorite tracks on the album.

Words & Music by J. Kitto / P. Andersson (Apra/Stim)
Kitto – Vocal / Acoustic Guitar / Bass / Percussion
Andersson – Harmony Vocal / Electric Guitars / Bass / Drums / Melotron & Organ

Solomon
What better way to finish the album then how it started; with the soothing sound of sea waves dancing across the rocks and sand, graced with the chanting hymn of seagulls. I was always a fan of concept albums and tying tracks together so after playing around with the track listing for a bit it soon stood clear that Solomon was perfect to frame the album with. On another note, this is the only track that wasn’t written specifically for PBS but much earlier by Jane. Even though she had played it live a few times, it never found its home in her earlier catalogue. But she carried Solomon with her for many years, binding her time and waiting for the opportunity to give it a new home. PBS turned out to be the perfect soil in which it could finally bloom and it got me thinking that she was on to this band far earlier than any of us ever realized including herself. Even though it is an epic song stretching over nearly nine minutes, it kind of arranged itself in a way and once we had the balance between the expressive drums and strumming acoustic, the rest just seemed to fall into place. Again, Oakhill made beautiful work of the piano, bringing that extra spice and color to the chords that blended just perfect with the signature sounding electric. Last we laid down the dreamy backing choirs and the string and horn arrangements, tying the last lose ends together. I believe this song has the most beautiful chorus of all the songs on the album and I’m quite jealous of some of the riffs she wrote here, secretly wishing I had written them myself, but at least I got to play ’em. Thank you Jane

Words & Music by J. Kitto (Apra)
Kitto – Vocals / Acoustic Guitar / Bass / Percussion
Andersson – Harmony Vocal / Electric Guitars / Orchestration / Drums / Percussion
Oakhill – Piano & Organ