Tennerz: Tony Momrelle – This Could Be Us (The Layabouts Vocal Mix) (Reel People Music)
Not that many artists come up with the thing that British singer Tony Momrelle obviously has. As a matter of fact, listening to one of his performances gives the feeling he stands apart. And he definitely does. With ‘This Could Be Us’, the second single from his aptly titled ‘Keep Pushing’ album, makin’ no exception. UK pair Leigh Darlow and Alex Paschali, aka The Layabouts, givin’ it a salutary boost.
“This could be us if we break this down and we bring this vision of love…” An uplifting perspective which The Laybouts push to another level. Meanwhile using a sort to say Electro synth riff over a syncopated rhythm, meanwhile expanding its uplifting lyrical content…
This could be us… The only question being: do we want this to be so? Let us know how you feel about this…
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– Thank God for the friend who, nearly 20 years ago, persuaded a young Tony Momrelle to visit the Olympic Studios in Barnes, South London and contribute a few backing vocals. Momrelle was 18 and well on his way with a Youth Training Scheme in the car industry. Music being something of a sideline…
Momrelle picks the story up. “I was looking at a career in marketing. I had been messing around in a Hip-Hop band. And a few people knew I could sing. I wasn’t convinced though about travelling across London for a random job I knew nothing about. Of course I did go down to Barnes and there was Gloria Estefan in the studio waiting for me.”
They call that a baptism of fire. As a professional singer, Momrelle was straight in at the deep end. But Estefan liked what she heard and soon there were other lucrative offers of session work. “I got the pay cheque for my work with Gloria and I was blown away. Then I realised that maybe I could make a serious go of singing. I was still aware of the risk but, for me, it was worth taking. I’ve never looked back.”
Tony is another of those effortlessly talented artists with a family upbringing stepped in music and entertainment. He started studying music from the age of just 8 and would embrace Gospel through regular church attendance. At 13, he’d switch to “part-time” rapping with a local Hip-Hop group five years before fatefully meeting Estefan.
Since then he’s been touring with the biggest and best. His association with Estefan has been rather impressively followed by work for Whitney Houston, Sir Elton John, Take That and most recently Sade.
Let’s not forget neither Momrelle‘s long and fruitful association with bastion of live soulful groove, Incognito. His consistently tip-top vocals on the road impressed the band’s main man Jean-Paul ‘Bluey’ Maunick to the extend of offering him a spot. Not only on the band’s 2002 album ‘Life Stranger Than Fiction’. But also on their their relentless international tour dates.
“I was very fortunate to land with Incognito. It was all word of mouth. I would have started touring with them even earlier than I did but there were issues with my visa. Bluey remembered me though and brought me in. It was amazing to be recognised in that way.”
As if it wasn’t enough, Momrelle also managed to find the time to record with Gospel group Seven. Eventually takin’ the lead on the 2007 album ‘Message In The Music’ by the likes of Austrian band LBB (Lungau Big Band).
Touring the world for Sade, supporting Incognito. But also driving momentum for Reel People, fronting the band everywhere, from Europe to Japan… No wonder how 15 years have gone from the release of his first album – ‘Freetime’ – back in 1998 on Art & Soul and its follow-up – ‘Message In The Music’ – on P-Vine via Reel People Music, 15 years later.
Tony Momrelle is a pretty good example as to how artist development remains possible in the underground sphere. A compulsory process speakin’ of which Oli Lazarus & Co. have widely shown their savoir faire at Reel People Music, one release after another…
As a result, Tony Momrelle‘s ‘affair’ with Reel People Music stands as an already impressive collection of absolute must haves. From ‘Amazing’ along with Reel People and Imaani back in 2008 to the ever shining ‘Love Is Where You Are’. But also the jazzy Latinesque ‘Time’ with The Realm which Frankie Feliciano remixed a couple of years after. And how about the Stevie Wonder-ish ‘Golden Lady’ with remix courtesy of Louie Vega? Then the infectious ‘Pick Me Up’ again with Reel People. And we could also add ‘This Could Be Us’ as remixed by The Layabouts. Not to mention the classy ‘All The Things You Are’ which Louie Vega happened to remix as well. Then more recently DJ Spinna‘s Galactic Soul Remix of ‘Love Me Again’ to name just a few…
– The first time I heard of The Layabouts brings me back the the first half of the 2000’s. Back at the time, Olivier Velay, who was in charge of Stalwart Records, warmly told me about them. Suggesting it would be cool welcomin’ them for an interview on the first version of Indamixworldwide. Something he ended up doin’ for us. With, from then, Leigh Darlow and Alex Paschali widely showin’ us as to how they are a force to definitely count with.
Darlow, the man behind the rhythms, and Paschali, the guitarist and orchestrator, first met back in 2001 in home city London. Off back various projects they happened to be working on in the same recording studio. They delivered their first release – ‘Small Talk EP’ – 3 years later on Soulworks Recordings. Eventually collaborating with Alix Alvarez on ‘Feelin Right’ and from then progressively establishing their reputation as a driving force. One might remember their remix of David Harness & Roland Clark‘s memorable ‘The Deejay’s An Alien’ for Foliage Records back in 2008. Or their rework of Choklate‘s ‘The Tea’ on Reel People Music two years after. Not to mention the outstanding ‘Thank You’ feat. Pete Simpson with remix courtesy of Reelsoul. Or ‘Perfectly’ with Shea Soul which received the remix treatment of Atjazz.
As many gems which would lead to countless others. From Renn‘s ‘Nights In Africa’ to Reel People‘s ‘Sure’. Eventually bringing them to be managed by Reel People Music label head Oli Lazarus.
On year on, and they would deliver one of the cuts of 2011, while remixing Imaani‘s ‘Found My Light’. Then Tarantulaz‘s ‘I Wasn’t Kidding’. Meanwhile, they would introduce us to Portia Monique with ‘Do Better’ in 2012. Eventually sharing the duties soon after with Omar on the hypnotic ‘As Long As You Believe’. Their debut-album – ‘Future Retro’ – following soon after. With 2013 seein’ Portia Monique joinin’ them for like an encore on ‘Colours Of Love’…
More recently, back in 2016, Choklate and The Layabouts‘ paths would cross once more on ‘Wide Open’. Meanwhile the twosome gave a brilliant boost to Tony Momrelle ‘This Could Be Us’ soon after. With their remixes of Portia Monique‘s ‘Ecstasy’ comin’ out a month later. Another year goin’ and they would make a beautiful return along with Imaani on ‘Stay’, therefore marking the return to activity of German label Foliage Records after a 3 years hiatus.