Rollo Armstrong (full name according to BMI
repertoire: "Rowland Constantine O'Malley Armstrong") has an
honours degree in philosophy, he's a Taurus and has a habit of talking
around subjects. He was expelled from scouts and became a member of
MENSA; He started his own gang called the Krazy Kats when he was 10
and he can write upside down. He swam in the Ganges, won the North
Yorkshire heats of a Disco Dancing Championship, was a barman in
Sydney, and a gardener for Islington Council. (quote
from "Reverence" booklet, probably most of this is a joke, at least
the MENSA membership, see Club Cow
In January 1992 Rollo released his first record. Made with 2 friends,
Francis Wright (a guy called Felix) and Red Jerry in Rollo's bedroom
studio, this record went to sell 2.2 million copies - it was
Felix "Don't You Want Me".
Four years on and on Rollo's writing and production skills have brought him
sales in excess of 5 million singles. This doesn't include his remixes of
3 UK number ones (Simply Red, Livin' Joy and Gabrielle) and 4 top tens (Pet
Shop Boys x 2, M People and Donna Summer). Also included are four bona
fide House classics: Kristine W - Feel What You Want, Gloworm - Lift My
Cup, Franke - Understand This Groove, and OT Quartet - Hold That Sucker
Down - and you have one of the most in demand dance producers/remixers in
He's avoiding cameras and public appearances, he is not performing live,
and prefers to be the studio mastermind kept in the background.
FAITHLESS is the first time Rollo entered into the band land area to
work alongside vocalists Maxi Jazz and co-conspirator Sister Bliss, on
what has turned out to be a long term project. He's thoroughly
enjoying the experience.
In July 2000, Rollo's first solo album under the project name
"Dusted" has been released.
(German article about Dusted in RAVELINE 03/2001)
(German article about Dusted in Kulturnews 03/2001)
Rollo (right) and an engineer (Grippa?) in front of a mixing desk
Rollo's face mirrored in a glass pane
"Because of his forgetfullness Rollo is the perfect
producer. He is still pleased by our melodies like a Punch after he
listened to it a hundred times."
Sister Bliss, in an interview
- - -
In 1987 Ayalah Bentovim (Sister Bliss) discovered
home music and healthy obsessional interest in the sound and lifestyle
ensued. A pianist since the age of 5 it was a natural progression
that not only did she start spinning tunes on the dancefloor, she knew
she could create her own. DJ residencies at the cream of London clubs
and a fistful of demo tapes leads to a meeting with Rollo and the
spark that was to fire up many club anthem began.
"(Can'tgetamancan'tgetajob) Life's A Bitch", released under her own name,
was a huge club and chart hit. It firmly established Sister Bliss as a
force to be reckoned with. Sister Bliss is the kind of person who built a
shrine to Jim Morrison out of onion peel and stale bread, joined the
Woodcraft Folk (lefty version of the Brownies) and hitch hiked to Turkey in
the style of "Thelma and Louise". Sister Bliss on Faithless: ...Faithless
sits somewhere between trip-hop, dance and good old fashioned song writing,
with more than a twist of London grit. "When a man is tired of London, he
is tired of life; For there is in London all that life can afford".
"Reverence" is a journey through the external world of urban experience, to
intense internal world of faith, love and fear.
(Sister Bliss on|
"Sister Sister" sleeve)
(Sister Bliss interview|
in German magazine
TV-Spielfilm issue 25/2006)
- - -
The group Faithless has the 'main' members Rollo,
Sister Bliss, Maxi Jazz (Maxwell Frazer, a vocalist, rapper, he's been
on a jazz band named Soul Cafe Band), joined by guest appearances on
each album like Jamie Catto, Dave Randall, Zoe Johnston, LSK (Leigh
Kenny) and many additional collaborators (like Dido, Pauline Taylor,
Aubrey Nunn, Matt Benbrook, Paul Herman, ...).
Their first single "Salva Mea" was first released in September 1995,
but after that "Insomnia" became a Top 10 worldwide, it was remixed
and released again. Their debut album "Reverence" has a mix of styles
in it, due to the input from musically different individuals, followed
by the 2nd album "Sunday 8PM" (1998), the 3rd "Outrospective" (2001),
the 4th "No Roots" (2004) and as 5th "To All New Arrivals" (2006).
Besides this, also 4 remix albums, a greatest hits compilation, a live
performance video, many singles and other contributions have been
released. They are on tour, and their live show is a unique mix of
live instruments with loops and samples.
(Faithless cover and article in Mixmag 05/2001)
- - -
Dido (Florian Cloud de Bounevialle Armstrong) was
five when she stole her first recorder. This didn't lead to prison,
but rather to her entrance one year later to the Guildhall School of
Music in London. A bit of a child prodigy, by the time she was 10 she
played piano, violin, and the aforementioned recorder. Her teenage
years were an interesting mixture of stealing her brother's record
collection (from The Clash to Gregory Isaacs to Duran Duran) and
touring the UK with her classical music ensemble. And then, at 16, she
finally fell in love with Ella Fitzgerald. So began a passion that
eventually led Dido from listener to participator: she started singing
with various bands in and around London, and despite the fact that her
brother, Rollo, told her not to give up her day job, she eventually
appeared on the debut album of a band that Rollo formed in 1995.
(Dido & Rollo as children)
This band was Faithless, and they went on to sell five
million records. Over the next two years, Dido toured with Faithless
(a very different experience from her classical days) and, whenever
she was back in London, also recorded demos of her own songs. On
Faithless current release, Sunday 8PM, Dido appears on two songs, one
of which incorporates her own 'My Lover's Gone'.
(The Armstrong Family)
So began the recording of Dido's debut album, No Angel. The album was
produced by Dido, her brother, Rollo (obviously now deciding she
should give up her day job), Rick Nowels and Youth, and what a
beautiful album it is. Unified by both Dido's stunning voice and
lyrical acuteness, the album travels through various and diverse
styles ranging from the impassioned magnificence of 'Here With Me',
the gentle soulfulness of 'Thankyou' (featured in the recent Gwyneth
Paltrow movie 'Sliding Doors'), the deep dubbiness of 'Honestly OK',
to the lyrical perversity of 'Don't Think Of Me'. Combining Dido's
love for warm acoustic sounds and her brother's fascination for beats
and all things electronic, the album is both new and classic at the
same time. Above all, it is the quality of the songs that will make
this album both durable and successful.
(Some Dido pictures taken from the Cheeky page)
(German Dido article in FOCUS 08/2001)
(German Dido article in FOCUS 11/2002)
- - -
Pauline Taylor has a love for songs and song- writing
with a heavily traditional approach... meaning, you're gonna get
lyrics with passion and relevance and music with bite. So where has
this gift sprung from? Rollo was on the search for that elusive
fantastic voice that would bleed soul, depth and guts all over his own
stunning music; and what does the bugger do? Well he goes and finds
it, in the diminutive form of Pauline Taylor.
She enters into the Cheeky dance-fold where she gives it up on a huge
range of material, entering the foray of artists challenging your
preconceptions of genere and capability, through her powerfull and
ground breaking musical style and lyrical observation.
- - -
Many Rollo productions from 1994-2001 took place at the
Swanyard Recording Studios (www.swanyard.co.uk) located in
Islington, London, UK. Independant and privately owned it was opened
in 1985 and closed in February 2001.
It is always difficult to say goodbye but sadly at the end of February
2001 the studios will be closing their glass doors for the final time.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank all our clients for
their business and support over the last few years. It's been great.
With studios like ourselves shutting down all over the place it should
make the studio bookings situation a little easier and hopefully more
profitable for the studios out there that are left! Its all been such
a squeeze over the last few years hasn't it? I wish the remaining
studios the best of luck over the next year. Kick some ass!
I would like to say a thank you to a few special people who have
worked so hard to make Swanyard such a great studio to work in. James
Law (Assistant Manager and part of the comedy duo) Sam Wiltshire (for
having grrrrrrrr!) John Harrison (Top Engineer, warmest person I know)
Wol Ariec (We appreciate all those sleepless nights, but what a way to
catch up with your studies) Gavin Callaghan (unflappable Engineer and
crap footie player, fancy breaking your arm Gavin?) Howard Beck &
Dave Nally (for keeping everything working so well) Nick Kirkland (for
being a Woollyback and awake 24/7) Keith Knowles (for all his support)
Grippa (irrepressible) Rollo Armstrong (for all his business and never
being enticed away, although I know some of you tried to! I know who
you are, I know where you live!) Martin McCorry & Rod Wildman (for
arriving on the first day with broken noses and blackened eyes!) James
Dalton & Ibi Tijani (for knocking over dustbins in corridors, then
hiding and all your hard work) Mel, Raj, Eddie and Sarah(at Champion
Records for their business and long may their success continue) Cheeky
Records (for all their business) Morgan (formerly of Cheeky now at
BMG) All the boys at Dreamhire for proving "service is paramount".
Finally I would like to thank myself Michelle Ward for looking after
the above with no concern for my own sanity! It really has been a
blast and from the Swanyard team we bid you, in the words of Anne
Michelle, the Studio Manager, Feb 2001
- - -
Cheeky Records was founded in 1991 by Rollo Armstrong
- originally set up as an independent label to release 'incredible'
dance singles as a solo artist and by other artists, and re-formed in
1994 together with Mel Medalie, who also owned Cheeky's former sister
label, Champion. The first release (CHEEKY01) was
Frankë's "Understand This Groove" in 1991 produced by Rollo &
Rob D. Rollo soon turned to nurturing serious album acts beginning
with the ground breaking Faithlesss.
In 2000 Rollo signed an exclusive deal and sold Cheeky to BMG Records
who runs it as a sub-label since then (with re-launched promo
catalogue numbers starting with Dido's "Here With Me" as
CHEEKY001). The "real" BMG Cheeky sublabel releases purchasable in
stores usually doesn't have a label-specfic numbering scheme, they're
just using the standard BMG barcode / international article
number. After BMG's merge with Sony in 2004 Cheeky is now part of the
Sony-BMG Music Entertainment group.
In June 2007, Faithless left Cheeky/Sony-BMG to "be masters of
their own destiny, to stop churning out hits for radio and get back to
the naive experimental early Faithless days" (quote from BBC
Cheeky numbered discography items:
- Rollo's Cheeky (1991-1999)
- BMG's Cheeky (2000-)
- - -
Contacts & Links:
Links related to Faithless / Rollo / Sister Bliss:
- Official Pages
- MySpace Pages
- Rollo/Faithless Fanpages
- Dido Fanpages