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Good at MagicThe Creative Industry of Richard Reynolds
The Vanden Plas

The Vanden Plas was formed in summer 2001 by my brother Peter and I. It was the third incarnation of our branded musical colloborations. This time we set out to bring an old school opulence to dance music, inspired by the luxury of Vanden Plas motoring and our vast vintage library of disco records. One of these records became the basis for our first track, Santa Margherita, Italo in name and nature, a bit Giorgio Moroder, a bit Giorgetto Giugiaro. It was a remarkable adventure for us. The Vanden Plas turned out to be as enjoyable but as rocky a venture as the British Leyland and Austin-Rovers motors that wore this badge in the 1970s and 1980s - I know I once owned a 1971 Vanden Plas Princess.

Our childhood was a musical hot house. We were both cathedral choristers in Exeter, singing daily 'for our supper' (as our parents justified it to us). Our inspiriing music teacher Stephen Tanner encouraged us to be song writers and held a competition every year, one I was always beaten in by my year's musical, unicycling and sporting prodigy Chris Martin of Coldplay. Fast forward to 2001 and Peter and I are now in London. I have read The Manual for hit singles by Bill Drummond and we set out to do just that. Our first record iimmediately created a buzz wtihin the industry. We were offered first prize in Diesel's U-Music competition in 2002 by judge Mark Jones of Wall of Sound. But we turned his offer down to sign something bigger with Independiente, leaving him to hand the prize to also unkown Miles McGuiness, who later became rather better known as Mylo.

Our record then sat in Independiente's out tray for 18 months as we had to track down the owners of our very obscure disco sample. They would take no risks after trouble with Norman Cook's "Dub Be Good To Me" a few years before. The record was eventually released in July 2003, and much to the label's surprise it was our original version that got the most airplay and buzz and not the raft of remixes they'd commissioned from Derrick Cartner, Guy Williams and Peace Division. Pete Tong and Nick Luscombe were champions - it was an Essential New Tune on BBC Radio 1 (see video). Even our B-side, "Let's Stop", which we cobbled together over one weekend got air play and ended up miscredited as the politically charged "Let's Stop Marx" on a Belgium techno compilation. We became even more musically ecclectic. We recorded a remix of label-mate Martina Topley Bird's "Anything", we wrote a rap record "Don't Walk On By" with Ken, the Big Issue seller who worked outside our flat (instrumental only released) and we visited Exeter Cathedral to record our old choir for backing vocals in "Portofino". Peter's curiosity and ambition went beyond dance music and in late summer 2003 he split and later emigrated to Montreal. I continued recording as The Vanden Plas, clocking up a remix for Uniting Nation's top 10 record "Out of Touch" as well as for The Crimea "Baby Boom" and Jentina's "Mysterious", a big hit in Italy. I also wrote the soundtrack for Rachel Steven's fruity Prostrate Cancer awareness 2005 ad campaign. In 2011 I completed and released several recordings that Peter and I had worked on together between 2001 and 2003. These are immaculate rust free productions available on iTunes and on vinyl (see left of this page) inspired by the heroes we were celebrating on Good at Magic T-shirts made during the same years. There is lots more music in the garage that might one day see the light of day and The Vanden Plas continues to roll on as my vehicle for DJing.



Purveyors of Luxurious Electronica and Ecclectic Pop  The range is available to download from iTunes
The original 12" release of Santa Margherita and Let's Stop is available to buy as vinyl in mint condition from my vaults for £5. Please contact me if you would like a copy.

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