Semi-Toned – Rich Man | Gwen Stefani ft. Eve & Fiddler on the Roof

RICH MAN IS HERE! Feast your eyes on our debut music video, out now!

 

Original Artists: Gwen Stefani, Eve / Sheldon Harnick, Jerry Bock
Arrangement: Ed Scott
Soloists: Ed Scott, Eddie Henley
Vocal Percussion: Ed Jillings

Funded and supported by the Voice Festival UK.

Recorded, mixed and mastered by Liquid 5th.

Director: Tommy Hamer
Producer: Ed Jillings
Director of Photography and Editing: Paddy Bartram
Lighting: Alistair Heath and XTV
Assistant Producers: Ted Bartram, Jamie Blencowe, Eddie Henley, Duncan Payne
Make-up: Issy Wilson-Clarke and Rosie Smedley

Special Thanks to:
The Real McCoy
Anne Stewart and Exeter Croquet Club
The Prop Factory

SEMI-TONED USA TOUR 2015 DAY 9: RAINING MEN

The stage was set. After another late night, (this time with the lovely folk of Nonsequitur), our simple task was to catch a coach to Washington DC at 10am. Having heard (and promptly ignored) our 8am alarms, pandemonium ensued in the ‘lad pad’ as a 9am rise and shine quickly became a poor idea. With mattresses deflated and cereal eaten at an agonizingly slow rate, we left the house at 9:40am with only 20 minutes to traverse New York. Oh, and did I mention that the rain outside was torrential? Ed Jillings feared that his reign as Tour Manager was under threat, but as a true professional he was able to rein in all our resolve and our spirits could not be dampened as we splashed through subway and street towards the coach.

Splashly Waters

Splashly Waters

It hadn’t left. This was good. The damage was clear to see though, as Eddie Henley took off his Barbour and proceeded to wring it out in the street. Naturally, this sparked debate about the inefficient drainage system and the priorities of the US government – suggesting that more dollar should be invested in a weather protection system… Clearly tired from proceedings, we snoozed and dried up on coach, although Jamie Blencowe’s snazzy new shoes were still a shade darker upon arrival in humid Washington. Arriving at ‘American Hostel of the Year 2013’ we were not disappointed. We grabbed some snacks from an adjacent supermarket and headed up to the sun-soaked roof where Sylvan Rackham and Ted Bartram stripped down to catch some valuable rays.

We headed out at sunset, catching the beginning of a magnificent lightning strike that overshadowed the Washington Monument. As the rain began to fall and we began a rendition of Muses’ ‘Butterflies and Hurricanes’, the surrealism of the situation was compounded as we were passed by an entourage of Segways. The thunderstorm prompted a dash for a local Tacos restaurant. The spices were plentiful, (and certainly not forgotten), before half of the group ventured to the White House whilst the other half were overcome with slumber. Arguably my personal standout moment of the tour so far, we enjoyed much speculation about Barack’s day-to-day life and made enough risqué comments to ensure immediate arrest from the FBI, but were disappointed that he didn’t join in with our tentative version of ‘Sit Back, Relax’. The Washington Memorial was as equally impressive, whilst an awestruck Michael Luya proceeded to hug the monument with excessive vim and vigour.

halleluya white house

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today was certainly a rollercoaster of emotions, having discussed banishing Washington from the itinerary altogether not 12 hours before. An eagerly waited pancake breakfast awaits us tomorrow morning, before we head out on our ambassadorial duties.

– R.C.

SEMI-TONED USA TOUR 2015 DAY 8: PARK LIFE

After our fantastic night out with Pizmon, we were all feeling a little tender when dawn – or in some cases Rob Cross – nudged us awake on Sunday morning. However, the promise of an elaborate rooftop brunch at the home of Tommy’s uncle Neil was enough to lure us out into the light and aboard a subway to Manhattan. We were not disappointed – a feast of fruit, bagels, and scrambled eggs awaited us, as well as enough coffee and orange juice to wash away our headaches. We can’t thank Neil and his lovely wife Angela enough for providing this fantastic start to the day at their lovely home, and also for letting us use their stunning rooftop to record a few songs!

Feeling replenished, we set off to Central Park. This green expanse in the midst of crazy, non-stop Manhattan made for some stunning views. We busked all over the park to some wonderful audiences. A highlight for sure was watching one gentlemen “sing” along to the Star Spangled Banner in American Sign Language! Singing done for the moment, we decided to visit Macy’s once again, mainly for the toilet facilities. I’ll just say this – finding a toilet in Macy’s was about as easy as finding a toilet anywhere in Manhattan. Sorry – washroom.

park life

After what felt like seven centuries of wandering the department store, we met up with our first group of the day, NYU’s “The Mixtapes”, with whom we shared a performance in Washington Square Park. With some serious sass and a massive dose of creativity (who knew that “hnng” could be such a good syllable?) they are definitely a group worth looking up! After our performance our two groups made our way to ‘BBQ’, a full-on American bar and grill (though not too full-on for our veggies, who enjoyed an extremely filling black bean burger). Ashley was delighted to enjoy yet another virgin pina colada, though it was somewhat dwarfed by our fellow diners in the Mixtapes ordering a “Superman” cocktail, which was bigger than Eddie’s head and almost as colourful.

columbia

On any other day this would have been the end of it, but we had another appointment with another group – Columbia’s “Non Sequitur”. We shared an improvised warm-up, before an informal performance outside their library. Slowly but surely, I was beginning to regret wearing shorts. Performing on their lovely campus, though, which did not match any expectations for a Manhattan university – was a real treat, and between us we drew in a small crowd of students grateful for a break from their late-night library sessions. Non Sequitur performed some heartfelt numbers, including Hosier’s apocalyptic “Take Me to Church”. After a wonderfully chilled out mixer at an apartment which, to the delight of many of us Brits, had a widescreen TV and a copy of FIFA, we made the long journey back to Queens, heads drooping at every pause. New York may be the city that never sleeps, but the same cannot be said of its latest temporary citizens, Semi-Toned.

-E. S.

SEMI-TONED USA TOUR 2015 DAY 7: EXPLORING THE CITY THAT NEVER SLEEPS

The sun was shining, hot and sizzling like the spices of Mexico, as we arose from a night of peaceful slumber (and some intimate spooning) on our assortment of air beds, futons and pillow forts. A light breakfast of bananas and chai tea accompanied the obligatory brawl for the right to use our one shower but after much squabble and Bob’s increasingly panicked entreaties that we hurry up and leave, we set out, catching the subway to East Broadway then crossed the Manhattan Bridge to Brooklyn. This was under the leadership of Tommy who, being a certified, hard-as-nails New Yorker, decided it would be fun to cross on the non-pedestrian side of the bridge, earning us the derision of many of Brooklyn’s cyclists. After some verbal jousting we made it to the other side and, somewhat perturbed by the combination of sweltering heat and frustration with the unfortunate Mr Hamer, we resolved to calm ourselves with a bit of a sing-song by the Brooklyn bridge. Here we recorded a video of our latest arrangement, ‘Rich Man’, with a breathtaking view of the Manhattan skyline behind us. This done and our spirits raised we caught the subway to Washington Square Garden where we tried our hands at busking to the myriad New Yorkers out enjoying the sun.

morale=low

Morale wasn’t too high…

those cyclists

She looks like a total cyclepath

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We began with a rendition of ‘Uptown Funk’ mashed with Flo Rida’s ‘Low’ and within a few bars we had gathered a crowd of over a hundred and after a set of only four songs we were met with rapturous applause and a gratifyingly full collection hat. Our confidence fully restored we decided that a well-earned break was in order so we made our way to the Rockefeller Plaza where we split off to engage in some classic tourism, some of us heading to Grand Central Station, marvelling at the beautiful architecture and heavily armed law enforcement, then Macy’s to admire the gorgeous, yet sadly expensive, array of designer products on offer, whilst others bought souvenirs and trinkets for family and friends.

Waiting to be scouted

Waiting to be scouted

Our inner tourists satisfied, we agreed that it was time to wow New York with some more scintillating a cappella goodness so we strolled over to Bryant Park where the good citizens of that fine metropolis were gathered to soak up the rays and, of course, eagerly await our arrival. We launched straight into our set, but after our first song we attracted the attention of not only a large and eager audience but also that of a member of the New York Police Department. As he sidled up, the sidearm protruding terrifyingly from it’s holster, we were sure that we were about to feel the full force of New York’s justice system. Images of American prison food, showers and shankings flashed through our minds as he quizzed us on our reasons for being in his city. Our earnest replies seemed to please him. He smiled wryly, chuckled and gratefully received our gift of a copy of Semi-Toned’s EP (priced at £5 or $8 and available from a Semi-Toned member near you) before wandering away, allowing us to finish our set to the excited reception of the surrounding crowds.

spoiler - This isn't even a selfie

spoiler – This isn’t even a selfie

 

Our sight-seeing then took a sober turn as we went down to Ground Zero, the site of the World Trade Centre memorial. The fountains lined with all the names of the victims of 9/11 left all of us at a loss for words as the gravity of our surroundings affected each of us deeply. However, as well as appreciating the sombre feeling of the monuments around us we were also engaged by some gentlemen standing by the entrance, armed with placards and pamphlets, claiming various inconsistencies in the narrative of that fateful day on September 11th 2001. Having experienced similar conspiracy theories in the past, we were somewhat cynical at first sight of these rather vocal individuals, however, after chatting with these men for 15 minutes our eyes were partially opened as the many unanswered questions surrounding 9/11 were presented to us. We learnt today that cynicism should always work both ways and we encourage our fans to question what they are presented with by the mass-media, and if Messieurs Bush and Cheney are reading, you have a lot to answer for.

Theotube

Footsore and sweaty from a long, hard day, we returned to Queens for a siesta and a delicious supper of, once again, vegetable Bolognese and pasta then hastily dressed into our smart gear to head out to Time Square. Here every one of us was completely gobsmacked by this bastion of American capitalism, the bright lights glinting on our faces, our mouths agape. After some time rubbernecking at all the shiny people and beautiful lighting we decided that one more busk couldn’t hurt and we launched into some hearty renditions of ‘Lowtown Funk’, ‘I’ll Make A Man Out Of You’ from Disney’s Mulan, and of course ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ to the delight and excitement of Time Square’s many other patrons. This done, and our proverbial banner planted firmly in the heart of New York, we caught the subway shuttle service to Columbia University where we were to meet Pizmon, Columbia’s first and finest Jewish a cappella group, for some casual socialising and sharing of our musical styles. The members of Pizmon were tremendously hospitable as well as an extremely talented group, wowing us with Hebrew renditions of Myley Cyrus’ ‘Wrecking Ball’ and some beautiful Jewish traditional songs that left not a dry eye in the room. Due to the lateness of our arrival, we soon found the hour to be approaching dawn and we reluctantly extracted ourselves from our lovely hosts (some of us finding this more difficult than others) and stumbled back to Queens and bed to rest before another long day in the Big Apple.

T.B.

 

SEMI-TONED USA TOUR 2015 DAY 6: BACK IN THE BIG APPLE

A slightly more grey morning than usual greeted us in Yale which only further increased its likeness to a high-end English University. We met up by Phelps Gate and said goodbye to our wonderful hosts from Something Extra and caught the bus to New York. On the trip we managed to recall the previous evening’s events, to the surprise of some, but we came to the conclusion that we made a good impression.

we pulled

Michael pulled…

bois on tube

A pizza lunch in the bus station in New York followed by a quick subway journey took us to our cozy house/apartment, where we will be staying for the next couple of days. We set up camp, somehow fitting all 14 of us into 3 different rooms. We decided to save money by eating in and a couple of boys got to work cooking up a giant batch of vegetable bolognese. Luckily they didn’t forget the Mexican Spices so we got the flavour of sunshine and it tasted delicious.

where the keys

Who’s got the keys?

 

After dressing up nice and smart we took the subway back into Manhattan to make our way to our first gig in New York. In the beautiful setting sun we decided to take the opportunity to have a little warm up. In Washington Square Park there was already a large amount of footfall and within a minute of us singing we had gathered a crowd of over 100. The reception was amazing on such a beautiful night. We then headed over to the Kimmel building where we were greeted by the wonderful members of APC rhythm. The views from the building were amazing over the Washington Square Arch and towards the Empire State building. We performed in a tiny room with an audience of about thirty with some special guests including Scotty’s parents and Josh Chopak, who was recording our single, Rich Man, a few days earlier (and who definitely appreciated seeing it live). APC Rhythm consisted of a lot of musical theatre students and you could tell this in their performance as they had a very relaxed but confident vibe, resulting in a smooth sound over the variety of songs they performed to us.

nyu guys Washington square

 

We then headed out with them to have a little social where we learned what its like to go to school in New York and like every conversation on this tour, it soon turned to attempting each other’s accents. We decided to head back to the house early to get a full night’s sleep so we were fully rested to explore everything New York has to offer us, but not before grabbing another slice of heavenly New York Pizza.

Tomorrow we are exploring more of Manhattan and meeting up with another New York based group.

– D. P.

 

SEMI-TONED USA TOUR 2015 DAY 5: HARVARD & YALE

harvard banner

 

Today we spent a lovely morning exploring Harvard university. The historic campus was the site of an anti-fossil fuel demonstration, and, even more excitingly, lots of souvenirs. Shot glasses, t-shirts, and caps were all bought, before we hopped on a bus from Boston to New Haven. There, our host group, the lovely ladies in Something Extra, showed us around the gorgeous campus. The architecture was gorgeous, and at times it was hard to believe we were in America and not Cambridge!

We then dumped our bags before heading out to a lovely little Chinese restaurant, where we learnt a bit more about the particularities of the American higher education system. Jamie in particular was delighted to learn that indecisiveness as to what course to take is very well catered for in the USA.pillars

After this dinner, we headed to one of the girls’ apartments and had what these American folk call a “mixer”, singing songs to each other, playing games and building upon the historic special relationship that our two great nations have established. Something Extra wowed us with renditions of “Skinny Love” by Bon Iver, and “I Won’t Say I’m in Love” from Disney’s Hercules, in response to our very own Disney arrangement, Mulan’s “I’ll Make a Man Out of You”.

scotty drunk

 

It was a fantastic evening and we all made lots of friends, and we can’t wait to visit Something Extra, and the beautiful campus of Yale in future.

Tomorrow we head back to the Big Apple for a few days of living it large in the big city!

-E. S.

SEMI-TONED USA TOUR 2015 DAY 4: BUSKING IN BOSTON

Eddie Brekkie

American style pancakes

What a busy day! The boys were raring to explore Boston and with some delicious pancakes to start the day we were fuelled up to do some singing and show Boston how the British do it. In some glorious sunshine we headed out to Boston Common and recorded some of our thank you videos in a beautiful stone band stand, aided by our heads of photography; Ben and Theo. A quick busk in front of the Boston State House made us realise that people would love our accents just as much as our singing, so we made talking to our audience between each song a must.

Broh

 

We made a quick stop at a local 7-Eleven to pick up some lunch so that we could sing through lunch hour and catch the best crowds. After meeting up with some Boston based Exeter alumni we headed back into the park and despite Ashley’s intimidating terminator glasses we managed to draw quite a crowd.
Then after bidding farewell to our alumni we headed into town in search of a busier spot. We found a nice junction with lots of footfall and no traffic so set up shop and did thirty minutes of solid singing, the highlight of which being a rather intoxicated lady who whilst dancing to our Lowtown Funk mashup literally “hit the floor.” Quick to make fans, when we took a break several locals asked for photos with us and were very interested to learn where we were from and information about the rest of tour. Everyone was so friendly and readily offered us advice about what to go see in various places on our trip.
With money in the hat and suncream applied we decided to have a short rest from singing to explore the historic buildings of Boston, located on a tourist route in true American style called the Freedom Trail. This is where our wonderful tour guide Ed Jillings came into his own, with a mixture of information extrapolated from the guide book and his own abridged version of events resulting in a hilarious hodgepodge of history.

long story

Some history

Whilst in the Old South Meeting House due to the wonderful acoustic we asked the management if we could sing the Star Spangled Banner for them in the main hall. After agreeing a small audience formed in the seats and a slow, powerful rendition of the national anthem brought many of them to tears. After speaking to a few members of the crowd afterwards we realised that it was the two year anniversary of the Boston Marathon Bombings which was commemorated with a Good Deeds day. With that in mind we headed out ready to bring some happiness to people’s days. We then went to the Old State House which made us come to the realise that it is apparently a lot easier to qualify as “old” for American architecture than it is in England. Here we learned all about the controversial Boston Massacre where soldiers fired on Boston citizens in 1770.
We found a company where you could write a good deed you have done on a note on a wall and in return get a cereal bar, so we thought we would do one better a sing for those doing good deeds. A smooth rendition of Sit Back, Relax Your Minds got the locals smiling and got us some cereal bars which helped as the boys were starting to flag in the afternoon heat. We then strolled through Quincy Market wide eyed at all the delicious looking Boston cuisine and took some photos by the Boston harbour. We also managed to find the location of the Boston Tea Party which we learned was a historic flashpoint in the American Revolution, again aided by our scholarly tour guide.

boston
We had just enough energy in us for one last busk so headed back into the park to do a few more songs. In the setting sun people on their way home were surprised to see a British A Cappella group blocking their path but were more than happy to stop and listen. By the end of the day’s singing we were beginning to see the difference in busking in America as we felt the American audience expected much more of a show, proven by the fact that our songs that had full choreography went down a treat.
Some very tired boys then headed back to our hostel to get changed before heading out to try some proper American Fast food. A short walk took us to Shake Shack, a trendy burger joint where we scoffed down some lusciously greasy burgers. We also met up with some of the girls who we met at Northeastern University, one of which just happened to have gone to school with our very own Ben Street. What a small world! We then headed back to our hostel for a well earned rest but with the exciting prospect of visiting Harvard tomorrow.

 

– D. P.

SEMI-TONED USA TOUR 2015 DAY 3: IN THE STUDIO

In what has fast become a trend, we awoke on Tuesday morning with bleary eyes and sensitive ears. We were dispersed in three groups across the houses of members of the UniSons, our gracious hosts for the previous evening’s concert. After saying embarrassingly tearful goodbyes (Ted Bartram just can’t let go, it would seem), we made our way via train, taxi, bus, and unhealthy breakfast to a leafy Boston suburb. The picturesque neighbourhood had hidden within it the makings of a Liquid 5th production office. One of the prizes given to Voice Festival winners is the recording, mixing, and mastering of a single by Liquid 5th, free of charge. As we had recevied such amazing feedback, we decided to go with “Rich Man”, our mash-up of “If I were a rich man” from ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ and Gwen Stefani’s remake of “Rich Girl”.

Rob going for it

Rob going for it

The process was meticulous – two days earlier our producer Josh Chopak had received a score and MIDI file for “Rich Man”, and it was more than we could’ve hoped for that he didn’t run for the hills. With multiple tempo changes, bizarre sound effects, and frequent complete stops, the piece was no easy task to synthesize on a metronome click track. However, our man was up for the job, and in a mercifully quick few hours we managed to record the whole piece, including some additional group chants of “Oi!” to end it off.

being a dweeb

After this smooth session, we travelled to the heart of Boston to drop our bags off at what turned out to be a rather lovely hostel. Then, we headed out for dinner to a restaurant of Josh’s recommendation – ‘Fire and Ice’. In this unique restaurant, you took all you could from a buffet of raw stir-fry ingredients, then chose a sauce and any spices you wanted, before handing it to a chef who operated a huge ten-foot hot plate, who cooked up your own special recipe. Semi-Toned’s veggies and meat eaters alike were spoiled for choice and went back for seconds, thirds, and even, in the case of ultra-human Ed Jillings, fourths. And they even catered for Ashley Waters, whose persistent whining all holiday for a virgin piña colada was finally quietened by the restaurant’s service.

firenice

Smiling through the hunger

hotplate

Our custom dishes

chef

Then, as if the evening couldn’t get any better who should turn up but two of Semi-Toned’s sexiest alumni – Theo “Bass and a Half” Cowper and Ben “VP Education” Street! These guys had planned a whole holiday around our tour, and turned up to support, film, and sing with us, truly proving that they love us more than Simon or Joe ever could.

Tomorrow, we explore Boston’s infamous ‘freedom trail’. See you then!

– E. S.