I’m James Harrison, I produce backing tracks for theatre and general performance. Although I specialise in “showtunes” I can produce other styles when needed. I’ve played piano ever since I could reach one, and have always had a real passion for theatre music. You can find out more about me and my live playing and other projects here.
When producing backing tracks I work by ear, picking out each instrument/layer from the arrangement of a given recording. I can get my tracks to sound so close to the original recording, I’ve been told that many find it hard to distinguish from the original, and wonder how I got rid of the vocals. I’ve had emails from people asking me “Why do you charge so much for pressing the ‘remove vocals’ button!? Surely it takes a few minutes at most”… I suppose I should take this as a compliment!
I started dabbling in making tracks when I was about 13/14 years old (not that they were any good!) but that’s when I started. I was involved in various amateur performances, where the backing tracks they used were a disgrace to the music, so this was what inspired me into producing my own, and trying to convince local theatre groups to use them! (It proved difficult convincing them to trust a little kid and his keyboard…)
Of course back then, I had no professional recording equipment, so I just made do with my “good old” Casio keyboard, getting used to arranging music etc. Producing tracks for amateur theatre companies was a great experience and learning curve. I then started to save up for more professional hardware/software, and learnt how to work with all the necessary tools involved when producing a track.
At the age of 15 (2008) I was given my first professional job by a leading backing track company, Paris Music Ltd, in which I was commissioned to produce a track from ‘The Sound of Music’, this resulted in getting more work which built up, and I have since produced tracks & arrangements for theatres all around the world, including The West End, working for major production companies, from full show arrangements, to commercial jingles.
High quality backing tracks for musical theatre seem to be very hard to come by, and there is such a high standard in the performing arts industry now that performers deserve 100% consistency in these sort of tracks. Therefore, I have made it my mission to provide the very best quality backing tracks I can, so that performers and audiences alike can enjoy the music as it should be heard within a show when live music isn’t always available!
Many thanks 🙂