From ABBA to Zorba, we’ve got it covered

We love writing and playing our own music – and are thrilled when people enjoy it. But if ever we want to grab an audience’s attention or stop shoppers on the steps of M&S, we break into a well-known cover. Nothing draws a crowd like a blast of The Greatest Show or opening bars of Despacito.

It wasn’t always like that. We trained as classical musicians and met while studying at the Royal Academy – the only two guitarists in our year. We worked our way through the classical pieces but the guitar repertoire is relatively limited in size compared with that of the violin or piano. So we moved on to flamenco. The music is rich and vibrant and, unlike classical, you don’t have to keep as still as a Madame Tussauds waxwork to perform it.

But, much as we love playing flamenco, we didn’t want to restrict ourselves to one style. So when we met our manager and he suggested we try some classic and modern pop covers, we were up for the challenge. To make a living as a musician, adaptability is crucial. And name an artist who hasn’t at some point covered someone else’s music. If it was good enough for The Beatles…

We began with Adele’s ‘Rolling In The Deep’, then The Rolling Stones’ ‘Paint It, Black’, followed by Eurythmics’ ‘Sweet Dreams’ and haven’t stopped since. We’ve arranged dozens of tracks – everything from the 1960s classic ‘Moon River’ to the current hit ‘Nothing Breaks Like A Heart’ by Mark Ronson featuring Miley Cyrus.

Arranging a pop cover for two classical guitars can be tricky. We sometimes consult the original sheet music but always find we need to adapt it to fit our own style. A lot of arrangements are done by ear. 

Not all tracks work but those with strong hooks and melodies and interesting or unusual rhythms tend to stand the best chance of success. Our aim is to make an arrangement faithful enough to the original while giving it a distinctive, flamenco-style twist. Our version of ‘Hotel California’ could probably be renamed ‘Hotel Barcelona’.

Sometimes we set ourselves the challenge of arranging a medley of hits by the same artist – so far we’ve done The Rolling Stones, Camila Cabello and Elton John.

And we’ve had great fun with our ‘duos’ – taking two songs, often unrelated and preferably in different genres, and blending them into one. ABBA’s ‘I Have A Dream’ meets ‘Zorba’ – aka ‘Zorbabba’ – is a favourite, even if the accompanying video ended up with us knee-deep in a cold, muddy pond.

We love it when anyone responds well to our covers. But it’s especially gratifying when the people behind the originals give them the thumbs up. When we and our canine mascot Dora filmed a video of Gnarls Barkley’s ‘Crazy’, it was liked by the band’s incomparable singer CeeLo Green. We hope his verdict wasn't based entirely on Dora’s insanely cute (and rhythmical) cameo but wouldn't blame him if it was. Judge for yourself!

We recently covered two Clean Bandit singles (‘Baby’ and ‘Mama’) as they leant themselves perfectly to our style and were delighted when they shared both tracks on Instagram.

And while our version of Justin Timberlake’s ‘Say Something’ hasn’t yet been endorsed by the man himself, it’s been liked and shared by the next best thing: his mum Lynn Harless.

We’re continuing to write our own material and plan to produce an album of original tracks before long. But, in the meantime, we’ll keep the arrangements coming. A track can be old or new – but as long as it has a great tune, we’ll have it covered.

Please suggest anything you’d like us to cover in the comments below – and find most of our other arrangements on our YouTube channel.


Unknown said…
Hi I was visiting Cheltenham today and could not believe the sounds coming from your guitars it was pretty amazing could have listened all day.
haggishunter1 said…
18th July 2019 nearly had to call the fire brigade, as you two amazing guys really set Winchester on FIRE-----Fantastic sound, heh when are you premiering at O2 or Royal Albert Hall ?
Unknown said…
Just heard them playing Hotel California in Winchester High Street - brilliant talent. Will be buying their album & following them!
Unknown said…
Just found ourselves totally mesmerised by Duo in Winchester! Such powerful connection, awe inspiring 😊
Excellent in Cheltenham today lads. Hope you had a good day.
Unknown said…
Brilliant performance on the High Street at Cheltenham today. Would be great to see you on the stage at Wychwood....
Heard you guys on BBC Breakfast for the first time this morning- what amazing talent. Loved listening to your GIYG for NHS worker last night and had to look you up! If you ever find yourself in Northern Ireland please let me know- or come a do a GIYG in my garden!!! Keep blessing us all with your fabulous music. 😊
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