The train to Goldhawk Road stops at Wood Lane, and from the window you can see the former BBC Television Centre part way through an arguably sad transformation to residential use. I was on my way to Shepherd’s Bush for editorial shoot with music producer Mykaell Riley.
Mykaell is a music writer / arranger / for TV and film and as a producer working with Soul II Soul and Courtney Pine. He began his career as a founding member of Steel Pulse before moving on to found the Reggae Philharmonic Orchestra. Soul II Soul Club Classics and the Reggae Philharmonic Orchestra on the recordings? That’s down to Mykaell.
Now director of the Black Music Research Unit at the University of Westminster, I met him for a location shoot at the iconic Peckings records in Shepherd’s Bush. The shop is owned by producer Chris Price (Bitty Mclean, Jamiroquai, Lemar, Courtney John). Chris’ father George was the first man to bring reggae and ska to the UK.
Mykaell’s research on Jamaican music’s impact on British society will be profiled at the “Bass in the Attic” talk at the Ritzy Theatre in Brixton on 19 November. It is one of more than 300 events taking place as part of Being Human, the UK’s only festival of the humanities, organised by the University of London’s School of Advanced Study.
In the late 1970s, Mykaell’s band Steel Pulse toured the UK with several punk bands, including the Stranglers, the Clash and Billy Idol’s Generation X. He’s got some stories to tell of getting bottled by the hardcore reggae audience or (as a sign of appreciation) spat at by the punk audience.
Notes on the shoot: flash mounted on a stand on the pavement to act fake sun / backlight. The same technique inside the shop as the natural light wasn’t quite reaching far enough.