What Got Us Through 2020? Abbey Road's Macleane Ndikumwami, Mark Robertson, Kayla Hopkins, Christian Wright, Dominika Dronska, Ian Taylor & Frank Arkwright

31st December 2020

As we reach the end of what has been a particularly difficult year, we asked the Abbey Road team to look back and reflect on a few of the things that have helped them get through it. From their favourite album to the best thing they’ve learnt to get through the challenges of 2020. In the final part we hear from Abbey Road’s Macleane Ndikumwami, Mark Robertson, Kayla Hopkins, Christian Wright, Dominika Dronska, Ian Taylor & Frank Arkwright.

 

Macleane Ndikumwami - Finance Analyst

What is one single that helped you get through the year?

This one is hard as there isn’t only one but the top one would be Beyoncé from the Lion King: The Gift album MOOD 4 EVA (feat. Oumou Sangaré).

What is one album that helped you get through the year?

I cannot have only one here but I will give you my top six:

1. ALICIA by Alicia Keys
2. King’s Disease by NAS
3. Twice As Tall by Burna Boy
4. GORE by Lous and The Yakuza
5. KIWANUKA by Michael Kiwanuka
6. Ungodly Hour by Chloe x Halle

Which new artist/band are you most excited about for 2021?

Celeste / Lous and The Yakuza / Bree Runway.

What’s the best thing you’ve learnt to help you get through the challenges of 2020?

MEDITATION is the highlight of 2020 for me – Spotify Peaceful Meditation playlist is great at least for me. My tip: “Shuffle the playlist and close your eyes. Oh and don’t worry if you fall asleep that means it works”
 
 

Mark Robertson - Head of Brand & Communications

What is one single that helped you get through the year?

Impossible to pick just one: Fontaines D.C.Televised Mind / Amirali - Dystopia / Romare - Gone / Alewya - Sweating / Jayda G - Both Of Us / Idles - Model Village

What is one album that helped you get through the year?

Actress – Karma & Desire / Working Men’s ClubWorking Men’s Club / Fontaines D.C. – A Hero’s Death / Amirali – Trial & Error / the genius of Andrew Weatherall’s work  

Which new artist/band are you most excited about for 2021?

Alewya / The Clockworks / Hamzaa / King Hannah

What’s the best thing you’ve learnt to help you get through the challenges of 2020?

Being grateful for the small stuff, taking each day at a time and not being afraid to dream big.
 
 

Kayla Hopkins - Studio Bookings Coordinator

What is one single that helped you get through the year?

Kwabs - Perfect Ruin

What is one album that helped you get through the year?

Machine Gun Kelly - Tickets To My Downfall

Which new artist/band are you most excited about for 2021?

Beabadoobee - I was intrigued to listen to her album after she did a Spotify session at the studios. I love how she is bringing back a “bubble grunge” '90s vibe which takes me right back to my youth!

Favourite game score of 2020?

Ghost of Tsushima! We did the score here, and after hearing it outside of the door of Studio One, I bought the game and started playing it during lockdown and it’s amazing! It was a Best Game Of The Year 2020 nomination at the game awards too. Didn’t win, unfortunately...

What’s the best thing you’ve learnt to help you get through the challenges of 2020? [it would be great to include a tip that others can try]

The thing I’ve learnt to help through challenges of 2020: Especially during the lockdowns, the days were just flying by and I was feeling that every day was starting to feel the same. Having an active distraction each day whether it’s reading, listening to a podcast, connecting with friends/family over phone or cooking a new recipe helped me get through not feeling like I was living an unrelenting Groundhog Day.
 
 

Christian Wright - Mastering Engineer

What is one album that helped you get through the year?

Sault felt important to 2020 and sonically beautiful, both albums. Tame Impala, Caribou always made me happy and want to dance even if alone in my living room.

Which new artist/band are you most excited about for 2021?

India Jordan, TSHA, Yendry, Lawrence Hart, Flownn and so many more.

What is one single that helped you get through the year?

It was nice to be involved in releasing some music with RoRo Black – Palace Of Me and a track that was so personal to her and 2020.

What’s the best thing you’ve learnt to help you get through the challenges of 2020?

Remembering music isn’t just work. Bought an old piano this year and playing is cathartic and definitely makes me happier. Playing with no ambition to compose and just to remember why music balances a healthier mind. Playing Bill Withers feels like I’m a teenager all over, R.I.P. Bill.
 
 

Dominika Dronska - Head of Digital

What is one single that helped you get through the year?

There wasn’t one single, really. Alewya’s debut Sweating (artist you can hear on Little Simz’s Where Is My Lighter) gave me great energy early in the year. Swan Lingo’s synth- rap tune‚ Can’t See Your Face Anymore somehow eased me into December. Although the track has been released a couple of years ago, I only discovered it on Lena Dunham's show Industry this Autumn and I’ve fallen for this Kavinsky style soundtrack.

What is one album that helped you get through the year?

Who listens to the albums anymore? I rarely do nowadays, but this year I’ve learned to listen to TV series soundtracks. I really enjoyed Sorrentino’s The New Pope vibe with Sofi Tukker (loaded track for quite a loaded scene), dark and dynamic energy of Trent Reznor’s soundtrack for Watchmen, or what Labrinth had done for Euphoria, how the music makes the story, completes the characters, creating something which is so realistic and so now, yet very dreamy. It reminds me of Angelo Badalamenti’s Twin Peaks, the best example of a series soundtrack that imprints itself on the show, becomes one.

Which new artist/band are you most excited about for 2021?

I need to mention a group that somehow framed 2020 for me, Modelman which was the last live show I went to at the start of the year. The gig was quite crowded, with an engaged audience soaking up electronic tunes and graphics created by the duo.

And then Fontaines DC.* Their music has spoken to my punk roots, yet felt current, expansive with prog-rock sound with an Irish folk twist. I am looking forward to seeing where will they go next.

What’s the best thing you’ve learnt to help you get through the challenges of 2020?

In this very zen year, when all the usual distractions are removed and we are left in a vacuum with nothing but ourselves. Many will struggle with that, they will struggle with rapid changes, accelerated states of mind, and with a sense of lack of control, with letting go.

I don’t think I am in a position to give advice out, but perhaps a reminder to myself (and I am reminding myself as well as you): remember that kindness starts within, be kind to yourself first, let yourself be, in the way you are, rest will follow.


 
 

Ian Taylor - Technical Engineer

What is one single that helped you get through the year?

Banda Ms Feat. Snoop DogQue Maldicion

What is one album that helped you get through the year?

Yellow Magic OrchestraSolid State Survivour

Which new artist/band are you most excited about for 2021?

** I think The Moonlandingz will be releasing a new album in 2021 – very excited for that and whatever Meridian Brothers release.
 
 

Frank Arkwright - Mastering Engineer

What is one single that helped you get through the year?

Kollectiv Turmstrasse - On The Streets (Let Freedom Reign)

What is one album that helped you get through the year?

Lou Reed - Transformer

Which new artist/band are you most excited about for 2021?

Not new, but The Beatles' film Get Back.

What’s the best thing you’ve learnt to help you get through the challenges of 2020? [it would be great to include a tip that others can try]

Playing music on CD's + vinyl made me feel a lot better.