I’m not so much glad to be in the studio as much as I am relieved to be out of the house. Everything’s so absorbed by drama; Cassy crying because someone drank the last of the soya milk, Tori smashing a plate because she was asked to clean up after herself, Kelly always screaming cause she’s permanently drunk…the list is endless. It’s like they think silence is something which needs to be attacked. Everyone is constantly on. And even if they’re not their personality booms through the speakers in the house 24/7. Whether it’s Jorge’s pounding techno work out music, Ricki with his pantomime gangsta rap or Kelly and her sunshine party pop – all contributing to a personal soundtrack of a life once mine. Everything’s become less about compromise and more about denial of self. At this rate I’ll be repressed to nothing more than a series of monosyllabic grunts of agreement.
“Mr. Rubenstein is ready to see you now. Studio four second door on the left.” An unfeasibly pretty receptionist says.
As I walk down the corridor I examine the pictures of famous artists past and present – Robbie Williams, Kanye West, Beastie Boys, KISS and Cheap Trick. All undeniably successful and far removed from country. Inside the door marked SSL 4 a fat man bereft of hair and life sits angrily behind a mixing desk.
“You must be Leanne,” He says scornfully between meaty bites of sandwich, “come in.”
I make my way over to introduce myself with a handshake, which I think he mistakes as a play for his sandwich, causing him to back away protectively.
“Have a seat.”
I sit down beside him on a black leather chair amongst the never-ending dials. Are these actually necessary or merely an extension of his penis?
“So?” He says impatiently awaiting an answer as if he somehow asked a fully formed question. I’m about to respond when I realize he never introduced himself.
“Wow some setup you’ve got here Mr. Rubinstein.”
“Yup you’re with the big boys now honey here at Record Plant,” He says before smugly announcing, “where else would you find custom Augspurger cabinets with Tad components and JBL 4312’s mounted in surround soffit?”
Before I respond he concludes with, “For film LCR monitoring of course.” A technical term for watching porn while eating a sandwich no doubt.
I do the best blonde my self conscious will allow me to muster and tell him, “Awesome”.
“You know,” he says leaning in so close that I can smell the funk of onions and ham off his listless breath, “Akon is next door recording his new LP.”
No doubt recording another “fuck a bitch/killa nigga anthem” for Ricki to torture me with at a later date.
“That’s so cool. Have you ever had any country musicians in?”
His nostrils flare with such disdain you’d think I cut one, “Yeah we had that Tim McGrath fella in a few years back to lay a track down with Nelly.”
I simply smile and nod as I try to come to terms with the bastardization of a personal hero reduced to nothing more than a backing singer for Nelly. A man with album sales totalling over 40 million…
“Probably a fag if you ask me.” He says interrupting me.
“McCraw.”
“What?”
“His name is Tim McCraw and he’s married to Faith Hill.”
“Biggy Smallz’ ex-wife?” He says pondering before defiantly responding, “Still doesn’t change anything. Elton John was married for years.”

“Well how’d you get on cowgirl?” an unreasonably happy Kelly beams.
I’m about to rant about my day when I notice the cameras and think better of it. This album is going to be difficult enough to make without my producer actively trying to sabotage me.
“Yeah it was good.” and before I have a chance to elaborate Kelly’s hugging me tightly.
“Come on you can tell me all about it in the kitchen,” She says finally releasing her bear-like grip.
I sit at the counter lost in my own personal crucifixion of thought absently watching Kelly bounce around the kitchen in search of cocktail mixers. Me and my producer really couldn’t be further apart on the record and he even used auto-tune on my vocals without my permission. Every single point I made was instantly shot down by rebuttal after rebuttal with a celebrity’s name inserted to add a non-existent gravitas or relevance to his statement. “Britney always uses auto-tone” or “Lady Gaga never had a problem with it” He’d say.
Here you go sweetie.” Kelly says unceremoniously dumping a neon cacophony of miscellaneous swirling spirits (most probably evil).
“So did I miss anything while I was gone?”
Kelly’s face lights up, “Rick and Cassidy had another huge blowout.”
“What was it over?”
“I’m not really sure but I think it was about fruit.”
“Where are they now?”
“Cassidy’s still locked in her room and Rick and Mikey went out to shoot some pool.”
“Anything else?”
“I haven’t seen Jordan,” before pausing to take a sip from her cocktail, “Jorge is down the gym all day and Tori’s gone to get a tan for tonight.”
“Tonight?”
“Yeah me and Tori were talking about having a girl’s night down in Decadence.”
“Don’t you have that fashion workshop first thing tomorrow morning?”
“Fashion academy. Please I can sew with my eyes closed.”
And judging by some of the garments she’s produced it’s something she’s frequently tried.
“Sounds like fun but I’m totally beat and I’ve an early morning recording session.” I say preying that the rest of the house will follow suit leaving me in peace.
“Your loss cowgirl.”

Previous chapter.

From the beginning.

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