About Paul O’Duffy
Grammy & BPI nominated Paul O'Duffy is one of the world's leading producers and songwriters with multi platinum selling records and groundbreaking hits in each of the last four decades.
Early on at Marcus Music London, Paul worked on a Marvin Gaye session, “I went into the studio to set up a mic for Marvin and then noticed him smiling and waving at me from the control room. He told me he didn’t want to sing in the studio, he wanted to sing in the control room, he said: ‘man, give me a 57 in my hand‘ (a hand held mic) with him flat out on the sofa. I’d never seen that before, recording vocals lying down on a sofa, in the control room, but it worked.”
Under the tutelage of engineer, producer Barney Perkins (engineer for Barry White, Bobby Womack, Aretha Franklin) Paul was soon engineering sessions for Barney including; Gonzalez, WAR and The Andraé Crouch Singers. ”Barney would say, ‘understand what sound you are going for and start from the simplest signal path, the correct recording techniques and adjust from there - and don’t use too much eq, it will only end up sounding smaller”.
A move to New York followed in 1983 working at Sigma Sound, Paul would establish himself as part of a successful remix team at the beginnings of Hip Hop. He worked with the likes of Man Parrish, Animotion, Freeze, the Bar-Kays, Stephanie Mills, “Out with live, in with electronica, everything changed, 808s, 909s DMXs, sampling. I was the first person in NY with an AMS sampler, you name it I sampled it. We’d work up the mix during the day and then take it uptown to a club, if it popped, great! If not we’d go back in the studio and fix it”.
Paul returned to London in 1985 with an opportunity to move into production. His first success was on Hipsway's debut album which included the hit single produced and mixed by Paul: ‘Honeythief', a top 20 hit on both sides of the Atlantic, followed by his work on the number one platinum selling debut album by Curiosity Killed the Cat; ‘Keep Your Distance’.
His 1988 BPI nomination for Producer of the Year came from his work on the multi-platinum debut album ‘It's Better To Travel’ by Swing Out Sister, which included the worldwide smash hit ‘Breakout’. “After many musical adventures, hit singles and hit albums together with Corinne and Andy we became more like family, we knew each other so well that sometimes in the studio words weren’t necessary to communicate, which was probably a little strange for anyone else in the room. In relation to that first record, I knew what I wanted to achieve and how I wanted it to sound, I took no prisoners”
His work was Grammy nominated for both the single and album. This led to more recognition for his distinctive sound and work with US acts.
One of these was eccentric Pop R&B group Was Not Was with the resulting worldwide smash hits ‘Walk The Dinosaur’ and ‘Spy In The House Of Love’ from platinum selling album ‘What Up, Dog?’ “I was a fan of theirs already but nothing could prepare me for these crazy bunch of characters from Detroit, I was brought in to deliver ‘the hits’, this collective was led by Don Was, a successful producer in his own right - and I was now looking after his baby. They were happy I was coming from the same place as them musically so it turned out all easy, actually we got on so well that at one point I unwittingly acted as the ‘getaway driver’ for a couple of group members in some shenanigans one day on route to the studio. Thankfully, I delivered on the hits so I’m still safe to venture out in Detroit”.
At the other end of the spectrum, O'Duffy additionally produced and mixed Tom Verlaine's critically acclaimed solo album ‘Flash Light’. “I liked Tom’s band Television and wanted to see what we could achieve together especially given the fact that he could make a guitar sound like anything other than a guitar”
Around this time Paul got to meet and start a working relationship with legendary composer John Barry, “I grew up listening to John’s work, he was a huge influence for me, I was always trying to figure out how he achieved some of the sounds he used and what were the key musical elements to capturing his sound. I managed to get hold of his number and plucked up the courage to cold call him and for some reason he didn't hang up! He agreed to meet and come down to the studio to hear my work, a couple of weeks later he asked if I wanted to work on the next Bond film with him, I nearly passed out! This was the start of what turned into a long-lasting friendship and a working relationship with John, a musical legend by any measure who I could learn so much from and also bring something new to his sound”
Paul produced John's score for 007: The Living Daylights and various other projects with John up to the time of his passing.
Paul also worked with Hans Zimmer producing the score for Days Of Thunder; “Hans is the King, I used to rent the main studio in his Lillie Yard complex and spent a lot of time hanging out with him, he had this massive modular synth on the back wall I was always trying to use, sometimes even successfully. He asked me to come over to LA to work on this film with him, we ended up setting up a studio at the Daytona race track, that was a first.”
In the Nineties as well as composing music for various series on BBC, C4 and Carlton, O'Duffy's songwriting also came to the fore, writing and producing on four subsequent albums for Swing Out Sister, including the hits; ‘You On My Mind’ and the million selling and (Japanese) Grammy winning song ‘Now Your Not Here’ (originally written for Dusty Springfield) He subsequently produced Dusty on her album Reputation, which became Springfield's bestselling new album since her '60s-era peak and also produced her performance of what sadly turned out to be her last ever recording, ‘Someone To Watch Over Me’, “Dusty was a beautiful person, inside and out, spiky sense of humour, humble and without question one of the greatest voices I’ve had the honour to record. She had her demons but she trusted that I would always capture her at her best. She lived near by at the time and would often come over, we’d discuss and play music and invariably end making each other laugh about something or other into the small hours - and she’d always sing to my cats, lucky cats”
Other productions, additional productions and mixes at this time included: The Pretenders, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Jeff Beck, Danny Wilson's hit ‘Mary's Prayer’ and The Beloved’s US hit ‘You’re Love Takes Me Higher’.
It was also in the late Nineties that Paul lent his production and mixing skills to the classic eponymous debut album by Lewis Taylor, including the tracks: “Lucky” and “Bittersweet”, cementing his reputation and ability to make truly groundbreaking records. “Andrew (Lewis) was one of only a handful of people I’ve had the pleasure of working with that the term ‘genius’ would be appropriate to apply to, he was from ‘somewhere else’, that’s for sure. I think he probably ended up going back there.”
In 2006 Darcus Beese (Head, Island rec) approached Paul to work with Amy Winehouse. “A direction had yet to be found that she or the record company were happy with, I’d worked with Lewis Taylor previously for them and she also liked that I’d worked with Dusty (Springfield). It started out very casually, she’d come over to my house to hang out or visa versa, we’d play pool and of course listen to a lot of music; Sarah Vaughn, the Shangri Las, Little Anthony and the Imperials and slowly over a month or so a direction emerged which Amy felt happy with. We started a few ideas but ‘Wake Up Alone’ came very easily, we had tried a technique new to her where she would ‘free associate’ her lyrics over the backing track instead of working through section by section, the results were instant, she was free from over analysis and we got the finished version in virtually one take, we were jumping up and down, when Darcus heard the result he was also jumping up and down, happy days”
Paul also worked with Amy on the first signing to her label Lioness Records, Dionne Bromfield. Her second album ‘Good For The Soul’ included the hit singles produced and mixed by Paul; ‘Yeah Right’ and ‘Foolin’ as well as his co-writing, producing and mixing; ‘That’s The Way You Wanna Play’ and “Remember Our Love’.
Paul has continued to work with the hottest and most original artists emerging from the UK and worldwide, co-writing and producing for Ella Eyre (Virgin/EMI), Charlotte OC (Interscope), Purple Ferdinand (Columbia), Will Heard (Black Butter/Polydor), Genevieve (Verve US), Marlon Roudette (Universal Germany) Andreya Triana (Nina Tune) whose song together; ‘That’s Alright With Me’, as well as being a popular A listed radio hit on Radio 2 was also the most streamed performance on the ‘Sofar’ platform in its nine years of existence.
Paul also co-wrote and produced two songs on the critically acclaimed debut album from Lapsley (XL) "Long Way Home" (‘Tell Me The Truth’ and ‘Silverlake’ ) which was nominated for AIM Independent Album of the Year, and most streamed debut artist.
Paul has recently been busy writing and producing with a long list of talented artists, including co-writing ‘The Show’ with Tom Walker (Relentless) on his recent number one debut album.
Upcoming material include; Lapsley (XL), Mahalia (Asylum), Ella Henderson (Black Butter), Aeris Roves (RCA).
“I love to create and be a part of making good cutting edge music infused with love and innovation that will stand the test of time”
XLtalent - Ross Gautreau