You might not recognize his name, but I bet you have heard his voice. He has appeared on several Above & Beyond tracks, and really grabbed my attention with the hit single “Sun & Moon”. Since that track came out, I have been trying to figure out why a guy with a voice this powerful hasn’t been featured on more tracks. Then Armin van Buuren released Intense, and when I heard the song “Love Never Came”… I just smiled in my chair. Oh, and the album is pretty great. If you haven’t heard it, I highly recommend you listen. Anyway, after hearing that song I just had to reach out to this guy. I sent him an email, and within a few hours he was ready for an interview. Shut the front door… this guy has worked with Above & Beyond, Armin van Buuren, and is now wanting to work with me? Sick! I try not to get too excited when doing an interview with someone, but I am a big fan of this guy. It is my absolute pleasure to introduce you to the vocal stylings of the one and only Richard Bedford.
Your voice pretty much make tracks like “Sun & Moon” and “Love Never Came” that much better. When did you first realize you had such an incredible voice that seems made for electronic dance music?
Well firstly, thanks for being so very kind about my voice!
I guess, although I had experimented at home with electronic music, I started life as a keyboard player and tended to write from that perspective in my early writing development, influenced by Depeche Mode, Pet Shop Boys, Yazoo, etc. My first real taste of singing in the scene was “Alone Tonight” with Above & Beyond. I knew what they were doing was different to my preconception of trance, wide open for an emotional vocal, but it was still a few weeks until the track had taken a little more shape, then I thought, OK.. This sounds like my kind of music!
What are some of your first memories of electronic dance music?
My early memories are probably Depeche Mode B Side’s. As a kid I collected vinyl, especially from the MUTE Records catalogue. So much of my time back then was spent hiding in 2nd hand record stores trying to find little gems, those obscure remixes that took a track in a new direction. In the early days of my first tracks working with Above & Beyond I found huge love for Super8 and Tab, Gabriel and Dresden, Maor Levi and on the housey end of the spectrum artists like Booka Shade.
You have done a lot of work with Above & Beyond. Tell me more about your relationship with them.
I met the boys back in 2005 through a friend of mine Dan Myles who worked at Anjuna at the time. I was pretty nervous when I made my way down to work with them for the first time in their studio, I was not sure what to expect at all, but I met Tony first I believe and he was so welcoming and warm it kind of put me at ease within a few moments of arriving. They are a complete pleasure to work with, I have a huge respect and love for what they do, they pretty much get where I come from vocally/creatively.
“Alone Tonight” and “Sun & Moon” were both nominated for an International Dance Music Award. “Sun & Moon” might be my favorite track. With all of the tracks you have appeared on, is it possible to pick a favorite?
That’s a hard one really as every track has a special moment for me. “Alone Tonight” because it was my first, “Sun & Moon” had me keeping the guests up in my hotel, bouncing around my room for hours after our first day recording it. “Love Never Came” was a bit of a milestone for me too and the response has been incredible.
Above & Beyond (feat. Richard Bedford) – Alone Tonight
Besides singing, you are also a songwriter. Where do you find inspiration for a new track?
I tend to visualize a scene; a still image and try to create a narrative around that… like a little film script. I mean, it doesn’t always work like that, sometimes things can grow organically from a riff, chord sequence or bassline. Mostly I hold an image and paint the words for it.
When you appear on a release, do you work directly with the artist in the studio, or do you just send them the vocal tracks?
Again, it depends. Pretty much all my work with Above & Beyond was done in their studio in London, but recently I have been recording here. On “Love Never Came”, for example, I did the vocal in my own studio and we bounced ideas across the cyber universe.
I saw a video on YouTube of you performing “Sun & Moon” with Armin in Vancouver. Do you make guest appearances like that often?
I tend to do a few live public appearances a year on my own, have done a few live shows with Above & Beyond in Beirut, Russia and GlobalGathering in addition to the Armin show in Vancouver. I believe there is more to come in the next few months and onto 2014, plus I have two solo shows in Indonesia later this month that I am really looking forward to!
Above & Beyond (feat. Richard Bedford) – Sun & Moon
When you are not producing, what are you listening to? What is currently on your iPod?
Currently still listening to Apparat – The Devils Walk and Feist at the minute plus Bo Bruce’s debut album is pretty lovely.
I know how I would describe it, but how would YOU describe your vocal style? Has that style changed over the years as EDM has changed?
A good friend of mine describes my music as miserable/beautiful. I guess I tend to edge towards vocals that feel heartfelt and honest, its kind of just the way I sing but it fits. I think it probably has changed, matured over the years. It feels more natural to me now, not so forced.
There are so many big names in electronic dance music. Do you find there is a lot of competition out there, or does everyone get along?
We all hear stories or rumors of people being rude or diva-esque but in my experience everyone I have had the pleasure to spend time with in our scene has been very supportive, polite and warm. So yeah, I would say people tend to get along just fine.
You haven’t been singing professionally for very long. What were you doing before you started singing? What would you be doing if you were NOT singing professionally?
I have been involved in community arts projects and always enjoyed sharing and learning from other creative folk. I guess if I wasn’t making music at the moment I would probably still be working there and doing a little teaching.
You have been working with Above & Beyond for quite some time. I am sure there are endless stories of your time spent with them. Care to share a few memories with us here today?
I remember first demoing “Liquid Love” and halfway through my 2nd take Tony tore the door open to the vocal booth and gave me a big hug. That always stuck in my mind as a lovely moment. Seamus their tour manager walking into the hotel kitchen and making himself some eggs for breakfast in Russia… Jono doing his magic tricks always blew people away and hanging out with Bid and Zoe in Beirut for a pretty special show always stands out as a special time, too.
Male vocals are rare in EDM. Do you find that challenging or exiting to have appeared on so many successful tracks?
It’s pretty much still a “pinch yourself” moment for me. There are certainly more male vocalists out there than when I first started out and its terrific to see that the scene is becoming more diverse in terms of the kinds of vocalists and songs that make it onto records now. I suppose I would say its an exciting challenge to be involved right now!
What’s next for Richard Bedford?
I have a really special collab with the incredible legendary producer that is BT in development at the minute so that’s pretty exciting and some other HUGE tracks currently in production that I cannot wait to expose! Plus I have been writing songs for my album for a good while now and I am hoping to give some of those a test drive on some of my live PA moments in the next few months too, very much looking forward to how they will be received!
Thank you for taking the time to chat, Richard. I know you are a busy guy. In all of the interviews I always give the artist the last word. Go.
All that’s left is to say thank you for asking me to be involved in the interview and to everyone who has supported and connected with my work and career thus far.
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