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Musical Roots: 5 Steps With Cera Alba

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The Inspiration

So wind on a few years and playing records had become my passion, I found a close circle of friends with similar tastes and we would often meet up have a few beers and discuss music, normally while all taking turns to play the new music we had found over the previous week. It was an exciting time and Leeds never disappointed in bringing the artists we wanted to see right to our door step. However I soon realised that to simply play records was not enough in the modern world to get you gigs and I remember thinking I was ready to play out as there was only so much you could do at these house parties. I knew I had to produce music in order to get noticed, of course this was something I had already started back in my uni days. I decided to really take it seriously so paid out for a new Mac, monitors and Logic Pro 8. I also enrolled myself at Leeds College Of Music to study the Logic Pro beginner’s course, I had been playing with Ableton Live when I was in Ibiza but the layout had never really appealed to me, probably because of my previous experience in using Cubase. 

The Logic course was a great introduction but by no means had given me the skills to make passable music. It took a painstaking 2 more years of solid work spent in the evenings and at weekends to really get anywhere with my productions. It came to around early 2011 and I had started to get frustrated with what I was making. At this point I had a few small releases out but nothing of any real note.  

Breaking Through

My first small breakthrough came when I wrote the track ‘Can’t Let You Go’ in the summer of 2010 it very quickly signed by Tom Craven and James Cotterill who had recently launched there label, Illusion Recordings. It was a great feeling when they got back to me saying they wanted the track as both of them were real music heads and had been playing and running parties in Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham for years. They also wanted to get on board remixer’s and we managed to get Berlin’s house/garage legend Alex Agore and Dublin based producer Lerosa. This was a great start to my career and I owe a lot to them both.

The next track I wrote was Runaway I remember coming to a point where I decided to not judge what I was putting in it so harshly, I just wanted to make a driving techno track with whatever I could create. I think this helped me write without so much hesitation. The second track I wrote in this period was Missing You, it was an idea which I had been working on for a while but I had never managed to refine the arrangement. One day I just decided to make it as obvious as possible, I really started to think about how the track would work on the dance floor. I wanted to create a complete change over so the crowd would all stand up and pay attention. After I had sent out to a few labels I got no response, it was hugely disheartening and I think at one point I nearly decided to give it all in. One of the most frustrating things about writing music is that it doesn’t matter if you write what you believe is the greatest track ever written because if the guys with the money don’t want to release it they don’t have to, probably why so many producers create their own labels. A few months went by and I had pretty much given up on the prospect of these two tracks being signed and then came a break through. My friend and fellow DJ, Brett Sinclair was playing at Mint Club in Leeds and he played my track Runaway. Unbeknown to him Richy Ahmed had been in the club at the time. He came up to Brett and asked him what track it was and he asked him to get me to send him it. At the time Richy was still an up and coming DJ but he was also doing A&R for Hot Creations so I sent them over. Again a few months went by with anything really happening. Then out of the blue Richy called me to say he had played Missing You in front Jamie Jones in Paris and he wanted to sign the track straight away. It was amazing news and I was delighted. It really felt like so much of the hard work had all been worth it, although this was not the end of the story.

They agreed to release Runaway on the Hot Waves VA and Missing You to go a Hot Creations VA. It was around the start of July and I had just moved flats in Leeds. I was heading out to friends with my laptop and back up drive, they were both together for when I was moving. I was walking out the door then my phone rang and I went back in the house putting my laptop on the side, I then walked into the front room on the phone for a few minutes, when I came back my bag was gone. My bag had been stolen, I lost all my project files, music and personal stuff. Plus because I had my back up in the same bag there was no way to recover it. This was one of the most horrendous feelings I have ever experienced, all my work for the last 5 years was gone. I was lucky in that I had given the pre masters for the releases to Rob Small for mastering so he had copies of them. I still lost everything else, so many unfinished projects as well as all those special tracks and samples you collect over time. Sadly this event was going to come to haunt me further in future. It came to about 3 weeks before release of Missing You on Hot Creations. They asked me about the vocal I used in the track. It was Kim English’s vocal Missing You and at the time of using it I was unaware that it was owned by Nervous Records. Obviously without this license Hot Creations could not release the track. We tried to pay for the license of the vocal but Nervous were asking for too much. I could have arranged for the vocal to be re-sung but as I had lost all the stem files when my laptop was stolen. I even tried to remake the track but it was impossible. Hot Creations had to drop the release and said they could only put it out as a free track to prevent licensing issues.

This was a huge blow and it took me a long time to get back on track after losing everything, luckily I had a lot of friends willing to help me out. I do generally feel everything happens for a reason and this set back has probably made me stronger and more determined. I still feel happy that at least the fans who supported it got to eventually play and listen to it when it was given away as a free track on the Hot Creations website.

You can catch Cera on 6th December playing at The Egg (London) for the X & Resonance Party alongside Citizen, Robert James, Mark Jenkyns, Patrick Topping, Cozzy D and Pierre Cordarin. Tickets are available below.

To buy tickets for this event please visit the events page: X & Resonance Records: Robert James, Citizen, Cozzy D, Mark Jenkyns, Cera Alba tickets from Skiddle.

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