Rest in peace George Martin. March 9th 1926-2016. Thank you for producing some of the best music ever. And thank you for the inspiring letter you wrote to me. airstudiosmontserrat.com
Our family first moved to the Montserrat in autumn of 1980 from Los Angeles. I was 17yrs old, my brother Carrll was 19, and our sister Patty 25yrs old. Dad had been hired to manage a private investment bank. My first question to my parents was if we could live on Montserrat forever! The whole family fell in love with the island and the people, and spent a total of 12 years there. My brother and I were the only two surfers on Montserrat, and at the time we focused in doing just that!
Dad helped us start a watersports business. We did what we could, but the demand was not very huge for this, our sister Patty made crafts.
It seemed like Montserrat helped both my brother and I discover our talents you might say. Carrll was really getting into photography, and writing...He has been self-employed since 1993 as a photographer on Maui.
At 20 years old (1983) my parents brought home a piano. Prior to the piano, I had played on this tiny-plastic-Casio-keyboard-thingy, with room for one finger, for fun. I was determined to learn the piano by myself. I played 2 hours a day making up music by ear. I guess year by year my music improved, and in 1988, I went into Air Studios to record some of my piano compositions. I had the pleasure of meeting George Martin. It was a great experience, I feel very blessed to have had the opportunity to record there. The Bosendorfer piano was very beautiful… the room was so cool, like a deep-honey color as I remember. I had been there before with Carrll, he had friends that worked there, Yvonne Kelly, Frank Oglethorpe, Tony George, were some of them...and the big German shepherd, "Bosendorfer".
A few days after recording, we were hanging out at Rendezvous Bay, George Martin was there with his family. My dad thought he'd ask Mr. Martin if he could give him a cassette of my recent recording, he did, and in return, he wrote me a very nice letter, which made a huge impact and inspired me very much.
From time to time, we'd see the artists around: the Stones walking around Plymouth, The Police hanging at the beach at Old Road Bay. We took Roger Daltrey waterskiing. Carrll being Carrll, heckled at Sting while he was jogging along the golf course, so sorry Sting! Another time, Carrll hid behind a bush to take pictures of Sting playing tennis at the View Pointe Hotel, when Sting saw him, and threw his racket down! So much for getting away from it all! Elton John, Sting, and Boy George were our neighbors at one point while they recorded on the island.
Hurricane Hugo came along, September 17th, 1989... It was crazy, the scariest thing we had ever experienced! Mom, dad, sister and I were in a closet for 8 hours. Thirty percent of our roof took off, but we had no injuries. No water at the house for 2 weeks, no power for 3 months. I voted to repair the roof ourselves (I am kind of a handyman). We did so and then moved to Maui in 1990 with much sadness. In 1991 dad buys me a Yamaha SY77 Synthesizer workstation, I discover I can arrange music...I'm totally blown away by its magic! I now could arrange and record on 16 tracks, using any sound I wished! I could also save my music on floppy-disc, wow!
Here it gets a bit interesting...Missing Montserrat a lot, three years later, we moved back to Montserrat (1994). But watch out...August of 1995, the first volcanic ash cloud flew over the town of Plymouth...then more and more. We decided to leave unfortunately, and returned to Maui. That was the last time our entire family would live on Montserrat. In my attempt to help the island and the people, I recorded a benefit album in 1997 titled "Project: Montserrat". It did ok at Virgin Megastores, and locally in Hawaii, but nothing huge. Over some time I secured two recording contracts, but never got that big break.
Our house sat there, empty...year after year, a jungle slowly growing. I went to Montserrat to check on our house in 2000, I spent a month there, working 16hrs a day repairing the place. It was very quiet on the island then. The volcano lit up at night. I'd see giant boulders roll down in red color against the night. Carrll went there in 2005, also to do repairs. In 2014, I finally got back to Montserrat. This time I took my wife Irina and our daughter Masha. They fell in love with the island as well. Once again, the amount of work I did on the house was huge. In hopes of keeping the house, I did what I could to fix and patch it.
Montserrat was still very magical, still very friendly…and very quiet. We drove to the studio and looked around. It sits there with a few caution signs and a fence around it, it's become a ruin and it's very very sad.
During this trip our daughter Masha (age 10) was invited to a radio interview where she released her very first Reggae song, “Raspberries”, she was thrilled! I continue to compose and record at home. I do projects with Irina and Masha, it’s fun.
As for the conclusion on the house...Well our roof was going very fast, the house needed a lot of work and money put into it, ultimately we were forced to sell it in 2018. We'll always have great memories of our true home, Montserrat. Thanks little island for helping me discover composing.