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Iko find themselves on the cusp of releasing a brand new EP after two recording sessions in June and September, at Monmouth's Rockfield Studios, home to 'the Bohemian Rhapsody' piano and, in Kieran's words, "a truck-load of legendary records".

At the centre of Iko, the writing relationship between Kieran Scragg and Neil Reed has driven the last two albums. This time the keys featured more prominently as Neil's keyboard sketches kick-started many of the songs at the writing stage and his playing became the bedrock of the recordings. Aware that this would mark a shift in direction they knew this was a good place to go after TV and film placements had begun to bring their music to a world audience.

Kieran describes how it all started:
"Neil and I were naturally writing together for another purpose (some pitches for upcoming movies and TV) and as a result we had begun to form the spine of a record. We'd been looking to see what would happen if we made the song writing process more piano focused."

Neil takes up the story of how their different approaches affect how they write together:
"Kieran and I have become pretty quick at writing. I guess that comes from spending several years working together. My approach is probably more structured and disciplined (the dots make sense to me!) whereas Kieran is more intuitive and 'in the moment'. That might drive some people nuts but for some reason it works for us!"

This was to be the second album recorded with producer Sean Genockey. Now Sean was to bring together musicians he loved to work with and a space he loved to work in. Sean has developed a special relationship with the residential studio at Rockfield, where The Stone Roses, Coldplay, Oasis and The Charlatans have had some of their best moments.

Kieran explains how they first met Sean: "Iko have intentionally leaned towards a mixture of technologies and approaches to produce our music, but it's the relationships that are the key. Our first ever mix by Sean Genockey was done via email, with us having never met or even spoken. A chance Myspace exchange led to us sending him a recording we'd recently made, and just days later, a wav file arriving (rather slowly) over the net, spellbinding Neil and I as we received a properly produced version of 'Harpoon'. This was our first introduction to the man who would produce 'Ludo Says Hi'."

In June, as Kieran, Neil and Sean decamped to the wonderful musty rock 'n' roll of Rockfield's quadrangle, multiple demo recordings in hand. It was clear to them they were going to craft an album 'the old fashioned way' albeit with modern writing and computer back up. By the end of their second session in September they would exploit the sound of the walls and floor and the vibe of the space, with songs recorded as sessions, a full band playing together to lay down tracks.

At the beginning of the project though, they knew they needed to be open to experiment and prepared to take risks, they would break new ground, both for them and the studio. But the simplicity of working with just three people in an inspiring space helped work out the direction the record would take.

Kieran again: "The first time we entered Rockfield it was Sean, Neil and me. We worked intensely, enjoying the fact that with only three of us, the focus and productivity could be super high. We share very similar musical brains and as such it's not difficult for us to attempt something, and for it to come back through the speakers exactly as we intended."

The live rooms at Rockfield are genuinely some of the best in the world. It was the combination of this and the ability to tap into the skills of a drummer thousands of miles away that gave them the ideal solution. Steve Bowman (of Counting Crows 'August and Everything After' fame) had worked with Sean on a previous project and had been blown away when he heard 'Ludo says Hi'.

Steve recalled hearing Iko for the first time when Sean played him the record:
"He played the first song on it and I was just stunned … and I always assume every band has a great song … and then he played me another song and I thought 'Wow, this band has two great songs' … then we listened to the entire record and I just loved where it was coming from … I loved the sensibilities, the influence and the sounds. By the time it was done I told Sean if this band ever needs a drummer, let me know"…

So it was that, in June when a drummer was called for, they called Steve (in Nashville) via Skype. With a studio in the States set up to record and a five-hour Skype session where the band communicated how the guide tracks should work, the resulting recordings were sent to Wales, fed into speakers in the drum room and then re-recorded as if Steve was playing in the room. Kingsley, legendary owner of the studios, who's literally seen it all over his decades in the music industry, had never seen THAT.

A musical relationship had been formed, one that would flourish when Steve flew to England for the second Rockfield session in September 2012.
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find a place - single
 
released 16 march 2015
track listing:
1. find a place
 
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