I Would Love to Bake a Cake for… Tony Visconti

And, dear reader, I did.


I was lucky enough to be invited to the grand opening of The Visconti Studio at Kingston University last week and deliver a cake to a hero of mine.

I’ve not made any attempt to conceal my love of David Bowie and his music from you. This love affair started at the age of 17 and shows no signs of abating, despite his sad passing earlier this year. I have devoured Bowie’s music over these years with greedy abandon and with each new song I discover, my life becomes richer, more beautiful, more interesting. That’s a crazy fan speaking.

Now, one detail that many of you may not know is that I am also a musician. I sang (loudly) from the minute that I figured out how to speak and have played bass guitar since the age of 13. My first and only lesson in my instrument was my Dad handing me my first guitar with the wise words,

“E, A, D, G. Stick a tape on and see what happens.”

As a result, I taught myself to play by playing along with Gary Moore’s ‘Still Got the Blues’ and ‘Slippery When Wet’ by Bon Jovi.

By the time that I discovered Bowie, I had played in a few bands and was starting to retire my musical aspirations in favour of getting A-levels, a degree, a job, starting a business, not starving etc. I’ve spent the last 17 years sat happily learning Bowie basslines, challenging myself, all by myself.

Earlier this year, I came out of the bedroom and played live for the first time since my wedding. I played Bowie songs, jamming with local musicians to raise money for our local cancer hospice here in beautiful Bedford.

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Tony Visconti is not only the bass player on The Man Who Sold the World (hats off, respect) but the producer of Low, Heroes, Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps), The Next Day, and Blackstar (these are just my favourites… and I meant to list only three to make this sentence punchier… but I got carried away).

OK, for the non-initiated, this is what a producer does and this is why Tony is a genius.

“Out by then.”

No artist is an island. Bowie was a phenomenon but could not have created that sound, that song, that feeling that goes right through the pit of your stomach without the technical knowhow and instinctive innovation that Tony Visconti possesses.

Bringing this story beautifully full-circle is the opening of The Visconti Studio, a fully analogue recording studio on campus at Kingston University. I was invited to be involved in this opening by my dear friend (and, frankly, total girl crush) Leah Kardos. A lecturer at Kingston University and leading expert on the work of David Bowie, I could listen to her speak all day. Leah spearheaded this project and I’m ridiculously proud of her achievement.

Dr Leah Kardos with her also very proud actual partner, Ben Dawson!

Dr Leah Kardos with her also very proud actual partner, Ben Dawson!

The students I met were full of excitement for the months ahead in which they will be given the opportunity to learn from Tony in a hands-on, practical, working way. Their pilot project is working with the wonderful Mary Epworth, whose pilot tracks I was lucky enough to hear and love, with their disco beats and edge.

Tony Visconti also became DR Tony Visconti at the opening. It was wonderful to see someone recognised for their career achievements in such a meaningful way.

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You can find out all about The Visconti Studio by visiting their website (click the logo below) if you are interested in all the lovely technical bits and bobs that I can only pretend to fully understand and bore you with!

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Being a ‘high concept’ kind of girl, my cake was  Red Velvet cake to match the colour scheme of the studio. The octagon graphic featured around the cake – a nod to the octagonal roof on the performance room of the studio. My airbrush technician (Chris!) added the ombre detail to the bottom of the cake, black rising into blood red.

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It is certainly not every day that I am able to bake for a hero of mine. Tony was generous with his time and took the time to talk to everyone – even the crazy fan who brought the cake!

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Tony even signed one of the posters for my Macmillan Cancer Support vinyl party, which will be framed and raffled off at the event on Friday to raise even more money for charity. You could win this! Check out my event page for full details.

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So dream big, love what you are into, and try not to smile so much when you meet your heroes! My face hurt.

Stay gorgeous!

Cxx

Master