“We all boogie down....to TOY SOLDIERS!”

Comment

“We all boogie down....to TOY SOLDIERS!”

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MARTIKA!!!! 👏🏻🍾🎂 

Redtenbacher's Funkestra & I released our funkified-snazzy-soca version of Toy Soldiers on (would you believe?!) - Martika’s Birthday - 18.6.18! 🥂

Redtenbacher's Funkestra and Helena May putting their own funkified and most danceable stamp on this 1989 Martika pop classic and Eminem's 'Like Toy Soldiers'. ❤️ LISTEN ON YOUR FAVOURITE SERVICE:  👉🏻 bit.ly/2MiZDhe 👈🏻

IMG_7769.JPG

“Fantastically planned”...

I hear you say. “What a brilliant plan of dates” - which was actually a total coincidence! They do say things are always meant to be... 😁 We love our brand new single and we hope you do too!

“So, how did this track come about? Why Martika, why ‘Toy Soldiers’?”

When looking for new song inspiration, I wanted to research into my birth year. I wanted to find out about iconic events and most importantly learn about the popular songs of the year. I’m not going to tell you just yet what year I’m talking about - I would LOVE you to guess...

IMG_7938.JPG

1. The World Wide Web was invented!

2. The Berlin Wall came down.

3. The very first episode of The Simpsons aired.

Do you know what year yet...?

4. ‘The Living Years’ - Mike & The Mechanics was released.

5. ‘Especially For You’ - Kylie & Jason Donovan reached Number 1!

6. Michael Jackson was awarded Best Music Video for ‘Smooth Criminal’.

Please tell me you know what year now?! (Do comment below on this blog. 😉)

IMG_7737.JPG

More research...

I’d heard of this track growing up and most memorably knew of Eminem’s version ‘Like Toy Soldiers’. I was wary of Eminem - ‘The man who swears’ - I used to think! 😆

But Martika's original has always had a lot of resonance to it. She wrote the song about a friend who was battling a cocaine addiction. Quoted from her Wiki page: "I was a little hesitant because I had only written two songs before and they were light songs. I came up to Michael and said I wanted to write about drugs. It was the first time I got the nerve to write about something that was scary for me to talk about, so I did." 

Martika's 'Toy Soldiers' is our **DRUM ROLL** - 1989 choice! Tah dah! Did you get the year?

The Creative Process!

I loved creating this new funkified baby with Funkateers: Stefan, Mike & Eran. If you don’t know already (?!) - I’m a huge fan of Jamiroquai. I love acid-jazz, funk, soul genre where a lot of the vocal follows a main line instrument. During one of our sessions at the ‘Funkshed’ we found ourselves creating a Stevie Wonder, Incognito inspired vocal lick alongside the guitar. This was a great personal challenge - working closely with a new melody line with Eran on guitar. 🎸 

Future Plans... 

This process ran so well I would love create a medley of the Funkateers birth years - 'The Birth Song'. A funkified track with Stefan, Mike, Eran, Simon, Sid, Karl, Taggy's personal years - what do you think? 😆

IMG_7734.JPG

Great feedback! 

Back at the end of May (my Birthday week!) we played the wonderful Ziggy’s World Jazz Club - hosting an official Single Launch of our first funk baby:

Toxic - bit.ly/2IZhTha 

(If you haven’t heard it yet...) 

IMAGE.JPG

"Funkestra's brand of super sassy funk featuring soaring vocals from sparkling Helena May, led from the bass by supremo/leader/composer/arranger Stefan Redtenbacher featured the creme de la creme of Rhythm section & 'lickety-split' horns. Funkestra's tremendous musicianship & fiery soloists brought the Ziggy's crowd to their Feet. North London has never sounded so good... 2 sets of top class funk- fueled Joy".

- Steve Taylor, Ziggy's World Jazz Club (Jun 16, 2018)

Thank you so much Steve! 💛 We always have such a warm welcome when we visit. 

IMG_7939.JPG

Gigging Live...

When we gig live, we like to see if an audience can guess our funkified tracks within four or so bars. During one gig, I remember a lady singing the lyrics confidently to me but couldn't grasp what the track name was! Her desperation to know was fascinating - especially because there was a free cd prize at stake! 🤪 We always love to have a blast - play great music, party and boogie with our audiences.

IMG_7738.JPG

So, who’s on the track...?

The incredible funkateers:

Stefan Redtenbacher: Bas 

Eran Kendler:   Guitar 

Mike Sturgis: Drums

Ross Stanley: Keys

Simon Allen: Saxophone (Tenor, Baritone)

Sid Gauld: Trumpet

Nichol Thomson: Trombone

Karl Vanden Bossche: Percussion

Andy Little: Additional guitar

IMG_7733.JPG

If it wasn’t for you...

Thank you!

Recording Engineer: James Welch

Producer: Stefan Redtenbacher

Mix & Mastering: Rupert Christie

Cover Artwork: The Red Count

Cover Photography: Rob Blackham 

Hair & Make Up: Emelia Corfe

IMG_7746.JPG

I hope you enjoy the new single as much as we loved creating it. ❤️

What’s happening next...? 

We’re off to Austria this week! I'm so excited to be performing the tracks live with bassist Stefan Redtenbacher + Backwood Five.

FullSizeRender.jpg

We’re also back performing live at the 606 Club, Lots Road, Chelsea - ** 3rd August ** - don’t miss it: bit.ly/2MKyIdO

IMG_7714.JPG

Also..

** BIG NEWS **

My Page reached 2000 likes?!?!? 

I’m so very happy! 😁 It may not be “that much” but as an indie-artist it really does mean a big deal - thank you! 😘

Last but not least - thank you to those who have streamed, downloaded and shared the love of the singles and our collaboration so far. It means a huge deal. Watch this space. There’s more to come...

Keep in touch by clicking on our links:

Redtenbacher’s Funkestra FACEBOOK

Helena May’s FACEBOOK 

Big hugs and ❤️💜💛🧡💚💙 always,

Helena May xx

IMG_7767.PNG

Comment

Here we go...TOXIC OUT NOW! 🤪

Comment

Here we go...TOXIC OUT NOW! 🤪

IMAGE.JPG

I'm absolutely delighted to announce the release of TOXIC - my first single with Redtenbacher’s Funkestra!

Strudel Funkateers meet bushy-tailed soulstress, funkifying this pop classic by Britney Spears. The single 'Toxic' is a funkified, 'out-of-the-box' re-imagination of the classic pop song.

To listen to the track - choose your favourite service right here: ⤵️⤵️⤵️

https://bit.ly/2IZhTha

___

In 2017, newly in-town, I was introduced to well-established London based instrumental Jazz Funk band, the Redtenbacher's Funkestra. We teamed up, playing regular live shows down at the 606 Club, Chelsea and the last year has been a blast! Our pairing has been so well received, of course it only felt right to record together - creating a re-imagination, spun on its head.

A sassy "HELLO?!” from us to you! And BOOM - ** MONDAY 21ST MAY 2018 ** marks an exciting day! 🎈

** SINGLE #1 - TOXIC **

Hearing the finished mix, I’m pretty excited - I feel it brings the party.

___

Every one knows Britney Spears right?! I think everyone wanted to be Britney growing up - in my school time anyway. ‘I'm a Not a Girl Not Yet a Woman’, ‘Slave for you’, ‘Gimme More’ etc etc etc.

Britney was sassy, cool and very pretty. A friend from school had all her albums - I’d go round hers once a week and we’d listen to them and make up dance routines!? Oh, those were the days. 😆 

 ___

The recording process was a blast at Masterlink Studios with James Welch. Feeling the vibe and groove by recording the rhythm section and vocals live - bliss! This is what we sound like, truly - Come see us live! Everyone sounds amazing. Overdubs were recorded at the fabulous 'Funkhaus'.

Here are the funky funkateers:

Stefan Redtenbacher - bass

Mike Sturgis - drums

Eran Kendler - guitar

Rob Taggart - keys

Karl Vanden Bossche - percussion

Sid Gauld - trumpet

Simon Allen - saxophone (tenor, baritone)

Nichol Thomson - trombone

___

Like what you hear/see? Want more? Wanna see us live?!

WE HAVE SHOWS COMING UP:

Upcoming live shows

IMG_7174.PNG

Please share and tells us what you think.

I hope it brightens and funks up your week!

Lots of love, HM + Redtenbacher's Funkestra xx

 ———

Produced by Stefan Redtenbacher | Horn arrangements by Stefan Redtenbacher | Band recording by James Welsh at Masterlink Studios. Overdubs by Stefan Redtenbacher at the ‘Funkhaus’ | Mixed & Mastered by Rupert Christie  | Cover photo by Rob Blackham (Blackham Images) | Cover Art by Neil Hart | Hair + Make Up - Emelia Corfe

‘Toxic’ written by Henrik Jonback, Pontus Winnberg, Christian Karlsson, Cathy Dennis; published by BMG Gold Songs obo Murlyn Songs AB, EMI Blackwood Music Inc obo EMI Music Publishing Ltd

Comment

2 Comments

“You’re over doing it....” 🙈

“I think you’re over doing it, you need to rest more!” - You look busy!” - “Wow! I don’t know how you fit it all in”...

IMG_6651.JPG

I’ve noticed these things being said to me frequently lately...a little too much. And my response is: “Well, I enjoy being busy” - “I’ve just gotta make it happen” - “I’ve said ‘yes’ to doing it, so I’m doing it”.

Isn’t everyone in the same boat? Simply, over doing things? But the hard truth is, with my ‘busy lifestyle’ - rushing around driving to gigs, teaching a variety of students in several schools, University lecturing, plus private vocal coaching as well as jumping on planes to sing abroad lately (all very exciting - most definitely!)

But, the work load has been taking its toll on my body.

IMG_6638.JPG

Due to a injury (I’ve had coming up to ten years now?!) with my intercostal muscles surrounding my diaphragm and sternum (not good if you’re a singer by the way?!) - rushing around over the years has caused more injury through work-load stress.

When I first ‘did it’, A+E just told me I’d just “have to live with it” and “wait for it to heal over”....it’s something I’ve come to terms with, living with a scar tissue injury.

But, I need to be careful I don’t ‘over do it’ all the time, just incase it ‘goes again’. But that part is tricky! Busy life, gotta keep going - strive forward.

I’ve recently started seeing a specialist Oesopath, Robert Kulesza - he is literally incredible! 

He reminds me on a weekly basis that I’m “over doing it!” There are those words again...

IMG_6650.JPG

When I first started working with him, he told me my adrennoids were too high, my liver was inflamed and my diaphragm was locked!? I literally had no idea. I just knew that my chest was splitting far too much, too frequently and I was in pain, a lot - not nice!

So I needed (and still need to!) do something about it. I sometimes have to gig with the chest pain, but you have to keep going and make it happen. In that circumstance I tell myself: “The show must go on!”

** I wonder if anyone else has this problem?! Scar tissue around the ribs, that ‘rip’ now and again, whenever and wherever? ** 

I often ask myself “but how can I stop?!” I’m in the middle of Term time - I’ve got responsibilities, I’ve got teaching, I’ve work work to do! I’ve got gigs, I’ve got to drive.

I’m doing what I want with my life - my passion, a job I love and always want to do.

IMG_6649.JPG

I’ve stopped having coffee (due to Oestopath recommendation) and that has actually helped tremendously. I thought I always needed it to ‘keep me going’ - but five weeks strong without it and I’m feeling more alert and ‘buzzy’ than ever. I’m taking cod liver oil tablets (for my joints), milk thistle too (for my liver).

My body alignment is so much better with dedicated Oesopath sessions, but most importantly, I’m continuing with the exercises and techniques suggested on a day to day basis. You only get one body - look after it!

And a new recommendation  - YOGA!!!!!!! Wow, what a recent change in my breathing and self-awareness! I’ve recently tried out ‘Yoga with Nirosha’ in Twickenham. An hour and a half class on a Tuesday - beautiful, and what a difference can make with just one session.

IMG_6643.JPG

I’m more conscious than ever of my eating habits (no rice, no crisps?!), giving myself enough sleep and selecting special times to stop and breathe to help unlock my back and diaphragm - amazing! It really is working.

Look after yourself everyone, we can all try but sometimes your body has to interven and tell you physically!

I feel I’m on the right track now and aim to make my work-load better and easier again next Term. It’s Easter now, whooooooo! Time to rest and re-cooperate! 💚

IMG_6599.JPG

Oooooh, I’m on the look for more Yoga classes in West London/Central London area, if anyone has any recommendations? Plus yoga/food videos/articles. Would love to hear from you...

Happy Easter! 🐣 Lots of 💕, HM xx

IMG_6639.JPG

2 Comments

2 Comments

When my lil’ world changed.....❤️

Hello one and all, it's been a little while since my last blog. My new social strategy is to publish a new piece ONCE A WEEK - now I've set myself a good challenge! I hope all is well...👌🏻

To start things off, I'm excitingly now able to ANNOUNCE the album with Redtenbacher's Funkestra Part of Me will be launched with a live CD Launch at 606 Club, Chelsea on FRIDAY 1ST JUNE! I really hope that YOU can make it down. We've been working hard on our funky jazz-pop reimaginations over the last year - it's going to be special!

Ooooooooh, and the artwork - just you wait! :D

So with the launch and social media 'chatter' over the next few months Mr Stefan 'Boss Man' Redtenbacher has been setting me tasks with so many amazing questions that have been shining light on where it all started for little Helena May. One question in particular..... 

 

When was the moment when you KNEW you wanted do be a singer?

IMG_0055.JPG

When I finally put my 2001 Jamiroquai 'Funk Odyssey' album in the CD player...and pressed play! I was given it as a present for Christmas from my Mum and was instantly sedate about it because I didn't know who they were. "JAM...IRO...QUAI?!" - trying to say it aloud. I simply put it on the pile of presents and forgot about it. Baring in mind I was only 11 - the amount of presents mattered over the actual detail and content of the items, unfortunately. I was into S Club 7 and Five at the time (I know...I know!)

I believe my Mum only bought it because it was No 1 in the shops. But Mum's know best...oh yes they do indeed! So, I decided to give it a go...six months later (?!) and put the CD my bedroom player and pressed play. And, quite literally...MY WHOLE WORLD CHANGED! I thought "what...is this?!" I didn't know that this music existed. A nu-funk, disco-rock, dance-pop masterpiece! The bass, the drums, the vocals, the percussion, the strings, the backing vocals. They all blew me away - what a production! (Good work Rick Pope)

Like I said, I was really into Five, S Club 7, Steps - pop radio tracks you'd dance to shy-fully at school discos! Reach by S Club 7 was a popular one - we all knew the dance moves...dear oh dear! Making shows with my best friend Imogen - dreaming of being a pop-star one day...

 

ANYWAY...back to a new funky sound...

I’d listen to Funk Odyssey time and time again, dancing around my room, eagerly waiting for the extra track bonus track - So Good To Feel Real which follows 30 seconds after the album's final track Picture of My Life. Have you found it/heard it yet?! I would listen to it, over and over again dreaming of one day being Jay Kay's backing singer - I still very much have that dream!

Each individual instrument has their own individual path with each tune. I would replay the tracks over and over again listening to each instrument - seeing what they did throughout the song, discovering how the harmonies and rhythms intertwined. I still do now....I only just re-discovered the extra tambourine rhythms in Alright the other day!

Little L - Track 2 was the funkiest thing I had ever heard in my 11 years of living. I jumped for joy around the living room when they were on Top of The Pops. Who remembers TOTP?! Ah, memories...

 

 Yes, it's safe to say...

 ...Jamiroquai are sublimely high up there in my favourites. With many others up there, of course - Earth, Wind & Fire, Sister Sledge, Average White Band, Jill Scott, Merry Clayton

I've got Jamiroquai's whole CD collection - vinyls too! I'm currently running through their extensive collection as I write this blog to you. :) I've been hugely inspired as a performer by Jay Kay - his energy, his moves, his creativity!

I'd love him to hear the Funkestra material we've been working on.

 

So...what a question that has helped me remember where it all started! 

 

I've just reached the little old age of two years in London! The last two years in 'The Big Smoke' have been incredible. I was introduced to Funkestra quite early on in my London journey - Mike Sturgis (Asia, Wishbone Ash) Eran Kendler (The Red Counts), Karl vanden Bossche (Gorillaz), Sid Gould (Incognito), just to name a few.

And to be working with the one and only, Stefan Redtenbacher - producer, bassist extraordinaire and...as I like to fondly call him - 'life coach!'

Funkestra helps ignite the fire in me every day as London is now truly a reality not just a pipe-dream of a young girl from Wales!

 

THANK YOU Mum...

 ...for introducing me to the world of funky, disco, acid-jazz, nu-funk- pop! I'm extremely proud of the album Part of Me - coming out in June. Oooooh before I say "bye for now".

Something to check out -

** THE (incredible) albums of Redtenbacher's Funkestra: redtenbachersfunkestra.bandcamp.com/ **

Lots of love, bye for now!

HM 💋 xx

 

2 Comments

Comment

Promo Videos @ Fieldgate Studio

Hello everyone! I had been wanting to invest in some great slick-promotional videos for a while. It's sometimes hard to choose who to go with when there are so many options of studios and fimographers. Do you go for live video? Studio Video?! Location Video...?! 3K, 4K...5K CAMERA?!?!?

You can choose to film live at a gig which can be great for 'in the moment' promotional footage. In my experience it can also have it's problems with audio balance e.g - instrument clashes, vocal feedback,  audience chatter. You may have the option of plugging straight into the Engineer's desk but that's not always accessible with specific equipment needed which is of course, is extra money to hire.

Soooooo....I'd been thinking lots about the options and wanted a studio live in-house shoot for definite. Fieldgate Studios in Penarth, Cardiff had been on my Wish List for sometime. I'd been gigging a lot as a jazz-swing trio with Richard West - piano and Steven Tarner - Double Bass. We knew our repertoire down 'to a T' and I thought two of our jazz-versions would be perfect for Fieldgate!

The session went fantastically. So easy and slick between takes, we only did two takes of each song. Andrew really has the experience and knows what he's doing.

FIRST SONG: Estelle American Boy - My go to choice for any gig/open-mic/jam night. I still LOVE IT after six years since it was released!

  With Steve T, Andrew Lawson (FG Studio) & Richard W.. .

With Steve T, Andrew Lawson (FG Studio) & Richard W...

** TIP TIME **

Professional studios like Fieldgate will be set up and ready to go. It costs money to hire a studio but in the social marketing world we live in right now, high-res impressive videos are a MUST MUST MUST! :)

Take you time and do your research on finding the best studio near you...It took me nearly a year to find the best place for my recordings. RESEARCH RESEARCH RESEARCH! :D

SECOND SONG: The Zutons/Amy Winehouse Valerie. I think the piano's so very beautiful in our version and when the bass kicks in I melt watching it back...

** TIP TIME ** When choosing songs to record it's so important to go with choices you really love and know the lyrics by heart. With time constraints it can potentially be stressful to perform something you're not 100% with when there is a fixed allotted time to film, especially when you've hired a studio...

Please do visit my YouTube for more videos and the ones in my blog are also up on my Helena-May FB page. I'm so happy with them and I hope you love them too. Thank you Andrew Lawson for making them happen and of course Richard & Steve...

LOTS OF LOVE, H-M <3 XX

Comment