How we did it: Sleeping Satellite by Tasmin Archer | Pop and rock
Tasmin Archer, singer-songwriter
I had had quite a bit of work paying the bills while writing music – including working in the front kiosk at Leeds Magistrates’ Court, collecting fines and doing some administration – and helping to Flexible Response Studios when an engineer introduced me to my future band mates, John Beck and John Hughes.
I didn’t consider any of our songs to be a success at the time of writing. The first time I remember someone who chose Sleeping satellite It was also special when we met Julian Mendelsohn, a producer who had directed It’s a Sin through the Pet Shop Boys and Liza Minnelli’s Results album. He was very excited about the song.
After getting the melody, the chords and the general arrangement with a few vowels, John Hughes finished the lyrics. The phrase “I blame you for the moonlit sky / And the dream that died” is not a criticism of man’s arrogance on leaving Earth, but more of the lack of further space exploration that could have led to a better understanding of ecological issues.
The song’s two weeks at number 1 and continued popularity has seen us tour Europe and beyond. We did a lot of promotion before we dominated the charts, so it’s been an intense year in terms of international travel.
I wouldn’t compare a # 1 record to entry into space for a minute, but it was a high bar that we set ourselves with this first single. We didn’t want to do a second copier album, and EMI was generally in favor of that.
Then there was a change of staff at a higher level, and we were encouraged to record more commercial material. We hit our heels, and I got a very short phone call one day from the label’s new boss saying they weren’t taking our third album. Although I say once I keep the UK award we won in our kitchen for tenderizing steak, I am very grateful that Sleeping Satellite has been enjoyed by so many people.
the “Orrery on an underlit table” the video for the American market was made because our American label saw us as an alternative act. It must have worked because we were nominated for an MTV award in the alternative category and were able to attend the ceremony in Los Angeles. Neil Young, Pearl Jam and Madonna performed live. Kurt Cobain and the members of REM and Aerosmith were seated directly behind us.
In the end, we lost to Stone Temple Pilots and spent most of the after party talking to Jonathan Ross. The British gravitate together.
John Hughes, guitarist / songwriter
Our demo was rejected by every record label we could get it to, but Ian McAndrew, who had just started in management, got to hear it. He networked like crazy, got us a publishing deal with Virgin Music, and we signed with EMI.
The general structure and melody of Sleeping Satellite were written in the summer of 1989. I had read an article on the 20th anniversary of the moon landing. This momentous event and the lack of lunar exploration in the years that followed struck a chord with me.
I wasn’t disappointed when the record entered the charts in the 1930s: reaching the Top 40 usually meant a Top of the Pops appearance. Back then, this often involved live vocals on the backing track, so we had no choice but to mime playing instruments.
The dry ice was a bit OTT, however. He has become a staple of our appearances on the program, and has done little to help promote the free shoes that were given to us on the day of the show’s taping.
We were on the road to support Curtis Stigers on his UK tour when we found out that Sleeping Satellite had arrived at No.1. performing acoustically at the 1993 Brit Awards, he helped push the Great Expectations album to platinum in the UK.
Tasmin and I never worried about these successes putting pressure on our romantic relationship. Some people at the record company would have preferred me out of the way because they thought they could handle Tasmin more easily. They never realized that it probably would have had the opposite effect.
There is little room for creative empathy at the top of these institutions if it threatens profit, and once you are aware of it you can understand the label’s modus operandi. The differences we had with EMI on our second album, Bloom , are all water under the bridge now. Directors and employees of record companies can also be under a lot of pressure.
When I first started recording with Tasmin, we called ourselves the Archers as an ironic way to get the attention of the label’s executives. We half hoped they would think we were soap stars turned musical. Until this year, we haven’t released anything as “Tasmin Archer” for over a decade: we continued to write and record, but in private. And while not releasing our songs was an indulgence that a 90s world hit (and non-extravagant lifestyle) gave us, we’ve recently had a change of mood. This time, however, the intention is to do it ourselves. Just a bunch of songs that we love and have fun producing.