A year or so ago I was cleaning out some cupboards and came across a taped up box I had carried around with me for so long I couldn’t even remember why.
On opening this box (which had done time outside in the garage with the bugs and spiders and was looking a little ragged) I found a whole bunch of DAT and cassette recordings of old live sessions, demos and studio work from 1990 – 2003.
Curious to hear them again, I headed to Stebbing Recording Studio where engineer Steve McGough carefully “baked” the old tapes and then resurrected them as clean, digital files.
On first listen I was just really pleased to hear the tunes again, and then a little sad that most had never been heard outside of the odd live gig, then I was annoyed at my younger self for not having the courage to stand up for these songs at the time.
Why hadn’t they ever been released? Just because me really…. I went through a lot of angst before and after my second album, Tremble. My fear was that I would be written off as rock chick and not appreciated as a songwriter. So post It’s My Sin, I vetoed a lot of really good rock songs.
(In hindsight, stoopid. Now I find myself quite enamoured with the rock sound and really quite like the idea of being able to rock like the best of them.)
I have chosen 18 tracks here and they all have their own story, told in the liner notes. The quality of the sound recordings is as good as it can be. You may find a few glitches and warps but they are what they were. There is no way of getting back in to the recording studio to change them. The original studio session masters are long gone. I actually quite like the rawness and the honesty of the live recordings and other songs I would probably arrange differently now are perfect in their own imperfect way.
Lost Songs is not made for listening as you would a standard album. If I were to release this as a formal album I would have culled at least 7 songs. This is a collection of tracks I thought worthy of being heard and – even though I did withhold some that didn’t cut it technically – this project was all about putting them out there, warts and all, I make no apologies for any of them.
Venus is Dead, Words and Music Jan Hellriegel, Produced by Shane Mason, Beaver Studios 2003
I wait on with half a heart for the weight of your smile to lighten my load
Can’t get any further just a map or a sign would do wonders you know.
I put this song right up front because it is one of my favourites of the bunch. It was produced to a level where I nearly released it but I simply ran out of determination and cash and it was around the time when I gave my music career away and headed off to business school at Auckland University. At the same time I was recording a 4/4 version of Filled Me Up, which I hoped might get some radio play. That was the first time and the last time I would ever change a song to get played by the radio and have despised the practise ever since. Fortunately I managed to record Filled Me Up in its original time signature for the All Grown Up album. With Venus is Dead I remember having a bit of bell sound crush going on and I appreciate Shane Mason put loads of bells in there for me. As far as I recall a lot of the music for this song was produced on a sequencer and put together by Shane Mason. I really can’t remember who played guitars etc. and I am sorry if it was you and I didn’t give you the credit you deserve. I never re-recorded this tune because this recording sums up the song aptly enough.
Best View In the City Words and Music – Jan Hellriegel, Mark Bell – Guitars, Martin Nightingale – Guitars, Tony Lumsden – Bass Guitar, Wayne Bell – Drums, Live demo recording for Tremble. Live Demo Recording for Tremble at York Street Studio with Nick Abbott. 1993
When the party is over. You’ll have to agree, I’ll be your worst nightmare. You’ll always be thinking of me
I remember writing this song when I flatted with Wayne Bell in Maxwell Ave, Grey Lynn, Auckland. Before gentrification and when you could afford to live there. I had the most amazing view overlooking Grey Lynn and across to the sea. It was a strange time – I was working in a retail store to pay the bills and frustrated that things weren’t moving fast enough – although they probably were. It’s My Sin had finally been released the previous year and I was waiting around to start recording my second album Tremble. I guess was a little angry with the world, the music industry old boys club and myself at this stage. Little did I know this was just a holding pen – a flat phase before the next step, which would be Australia.
Lost Songs is due to be released on the 17th of May 2013. You can also pre order the album on this website and if you do you get a card from me! Because I want to say thanks. PRE ORDER HERE