Carl McIntosh of Loose Ends will be performing with the band at this year's exciting Great Voices of Soul gigs in the UK, with The S.O.S. Band, Gwen Dickey, Meli'sa Morgan, Soul II Soul, The Whispers and headliner Patti LaBelle all also taking to the stage.

Here, Carl talks to us about his most exciting moments throughout his career, in an eye-opening account of some of his happiest times.

1) Signing a record deal with Virgin

From an early age I've always known that music would be my world. For some reason it was as though nothing else mattered in life, just so long as I've got this feeling of wanting to create a vibe, whether I'm banging on percussions, strumming the guitar or playing a piano and humming melodies. I couldn't stop myself even if I wanted to, those melodies will always be dancing around inside my head as if there were a whole band just jamming around up there.

So after going through what every musician goes through and having that same goal as all musicians do - to make a hit record and get a record deal - well, I was so shocked when we got signed by Virgin that it just didn't feel real... In fact it was really quite scary, as though all eyes are on you, you're being watched and analysed, but at the same time it was quite exciting.

2) Going to America for the first time

Going to America for the first time was a real experience. It felt great and it seems to be the place for every soulful musician. You suddenly realise that this is for real, your band is now successful. I did kind of feel special and, most of all extremely lucky, as I know so many great musicians in the UK were still struggling. To tell you the truth I had mixed feelings, because it would have been more special if all my musician friends had made it too at the time when Loose Ends did... but thankfully, many of them have gone on to be very successful too.

3) Recording with American musicians and engineers

Once in America, we were hooked up with American producers and musicians - it did feel like a totally different world. Everything happens so fast in America and they are all so talented, even musicians that were just playing on the street corner, just hustling a little change, were extremely talented. They absolutely loved the Loose Ends vibe, and couldn't get enough of us. All the musicians and producers gave us the upmost respect and treated us real good... I did have fun out there and felt blessed for being in the position that I was in.

4) Having hit records in the charts

When hearing that our song had gone to No 1 in the States, well that was the icing on the cake! It was unbelievable, but that's when the work really began with all the live performances, it meant that the pressure was on.

5) Being in the studio with Stevie Wonder

One of my memorable moments was meeting Stevie Wonder in his studio. I mean... Stevie Wonder wanted to meet us! In fact, he had requested that we come to his studio. When we were told this, we all thought that it could only be a joke thing... but the chauffeur picked us up after our show and drove us to Stevie's studio.

Well, once again I was in shock and he touched all our faces one by one and described Steve and Jane's characters, but when he touched mine he just started singing 'Gonna Make You Mine'. We all laughed... that will stay with me forever.

6) The Pirate Radio movement

Pirate radio was and still is the best radio station that you can find. If you check it, you don't have to be signed to a record label for them to play your tune. Pirate radios were like a movement that supported the talent out there, but it was so strange that somehow these pirate stations got hold of some of Loose Ends' album tracks and were playing them continously, and when I asked the record company how they got the tracks because the album had not been released, the record company replied, 'ah they are just pirate radio!'

Well, in fact pirate radio is what really put us on the map. Loose Ends got the most airplay on pirate radio. Respect to all those pirate radio stations.

7) Releasing my first solo album

The 'Look How Long' album was a very strange but beautiful time, without being too political. Sadly, Steve and Jane had left the band so therefore I was left to my own devices with all these vibes flowing through me and as usual, I can't not do music, so I hooked up with some friends and we began to write the 'Look How Long' album.

At that time Virgin were waiting for another Loose Ends album, they had called me into the office to find out what was going on. The situation with Jane and Steve was unstable at the time so I showed Virgin the tracks that I had been working on with some other writers and Virgin were impressed, although I expressed that maybe I should wait for Steve and Jane to get back in the studio with me.

Virgin decided that this is the album and they are going to go ahead with it. I felt elevated because it had been a struggle with the relationship with Jane and Steve and having to work on songs without them, but at the same time I wasd relieved because it felt like progress, and you know that saying, 'The show must go on...'

8) Remixing D'Angelo songs ('Brown Sugar' and 'Lady')

Whilst in LA doing some promotion, I met up with an old friend; Angie Stone. Angie began telling me about this dude called D'Angelo who reminded her of me.

About a year later I was given this album and it so happens that it was the same D'Angelo. I loved the album, it was bad and I played it over and over. Not too long after that, I got a phone call from Trevor Nelson asking me to remix D'Angelo tracks. Well, I just said 'give me that record, I'd love to remix it'.

So I went on to remixing 'Brown Sugar' and 'Cruising'. This was such an incredible feeling and eventually I went on to meet D'Angelo in LA for the first time after listening to his vocals and remixing his songs. Well, that was it, when he found out who I was, he gave me such a big hug. So bag that he actually lifted me off the floor... such an amazing experience.

9) Writing a song with Leon Ware

Meeting Leon Ware was another great experience as he's such a great writer. As you may know he has written so many of Marvin Gaye's records and Marvin Gaye is one of my idols.

We wrote a track called 'Easier Said Than Done' and the experience of working with Leon Ware was out of this world, as he has this genius way of writing. I've learnt a lot from Leon and one thing's for sure, after coming out of his studio, I feel like a million dollars.

10) Winning at the MOBO Awards

Being invited to the MOBO Awards was quite exciting and then to be told that you have been nominated for quite a few awards... well what can I say? But unfortunately, I didn't win anything that year.

I was invited to the MOBO Awards the following year, 1998, and this time I wasn't so excited even after being told that I had been nominated again, but to my surprise I won award, The Contribution For Black Music Award. I was shaking while trying to hold it together as I walked towards the stage thinking, 'I'm not prepared for this... damn, what do I say?' I couldn't remember anyone apart from my fans, manager and a few other people. My mind went blank and afterwards I felt gutted because there were so many people that I wanted to give credit to, who were a great support to me and they were sitting at my table! Yep, I sure got it from them, they gave me a good beating! But they still forgave me and if there is a next time, I won't be sitting there saying, 'I'm not going to win'. Instead I will be prepared to win and remember everyone that has been there for me too...

The Great Voices of Soul comes to the O2 Apollo Manchester on Friday, November 13. It will also travel to SSE Arena, Wembley on November 15 and O2 Academy, Birmingham on November 16.


by for www.femalefirst.co.uk
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