Dance Into the Fire With Terry de Castro

At the end of 2020, The Wedding Present & Friends released Not From Where I’m Standing, a compilation of James Bond theme songs. Helmed by the legendary David Gedge, the project brings together covers done by members past and present from The Wedding Present. All proceeds from the project are being donated to CALM – the Campaign Against Living Miserably which works tirelessly in the fight against suicide and can be ordered here. In addition to the great cause, the music blows away your expectations of what these classic songs can sound like. 

For fans of the James Bond franchise, these covers breathe a fresh perspective into the original arrangements while showing the utmost respect for the original compositions. Terry de Castro’s hauntingly cool cover of Duran Duran’s “A View To A Kill” might be the most successful example of this. While de Castro wanted to reinterpret a song originally sung by a man, “A View To A Kill” was definitely an unexpected choice. “I hate to say this to Duran Duran fans, but I didn’t ever really like the song at the time it came out. I thought it was a bit cheesy. But in learning it, I realized what a truly great song it is,” shares de Castro. As for the Duran Duran songs she does love, “Ordinary World” and “New Religion” are the first to come to mind!

For fans of the original, de Castro’s cover brings an understated elegance to the song that allows more space for the mysterious lyrics to breathe. Driven by guitar, the track replaces the jolting synth stabs with a more laid-back vibe. “The chords are AMAZING, and so unusual. And the melody is really great as well. I absolutely loved learning it, singing it, and performing it,” says de Castro. When you hear it, you can imagine Bond driving down the California coast where A View To A Kill was partially filmed as the credits roll by and the sun sets into the Pacific.

For de Castro, her career certainly extends far beyond this Bond compilation and fans of 90s alt-rock who haven’t heard Goya Dress are in for a treat if you can track down a copy of their album Rooms. Singer/guiatrist Astrid Williamson, bassist de Castro, and drummer Simon Pearson followed up a handful of acclaimed EPs with their brilliant debut in 1996. Signed to the same label as Suede, songs like “Crush” are simply undeniable and why the label wasn’t able to get traction for Goya Dress is quite the mystery. Check it out!

“It was so much fun being in that band in the 90s, and we did a LOT of recording and quite a bit of touring. I’m kind of gutted that there is absolutely zero live footage of us playing. We just missed the cell phone / internet era. Our best ever gig was the last one we played at the Phoenix Festival in 1996,” remembers de Castro. “And then shortly after that we disbanded. Astrid and I have gone on to collaborate on tours and recordings. She’s a brilliant musician and a wild, prolific talent. We’re very close.”

While Williamson went on to have a solo career, de Castro soon found herself in Cinerama with David Gedge which then morphed back into Gedge’s original band, The Wedding Present, for several albums and tours. While she hasn’t been on the road as much as other musicians in recent years, she has embraced the growing trend of virtual shows.

“I still do the odd gig or short tour here and there. But virtual shows have been great, and I’ll be doing a virtual performance (it’s a video, really) of an alternate version of “A View To A Kill” for The Wedding Present’s annual At the Edge of the Sea festival, which usually takes place in Brighton, but will be virtual for the 2nd year running.”

As for “A View To A Kill”, de Castro was not working alone on the track. “I took a little demo that I’d made of it to my friend and very long-time music collaborator, Paul Hiraga from a Seattle band called Downpilot. He is an incredible musician and producer (and songwriter, mechanic, carpenter, electronics whiz – a Renaissance man). He basically created the recording single-handedly. I played him my guitar part and vocal, and he got behind the drums and created a drum track, then a bass track, then the real guitar part. I chose the key, arranged a simple demo, which had the smooth, laid back vibe, but he’s the one that really made it sound the way it does, and he played every single instrument. It was amazing.”

Released as a 7” single for Record Store Day earlier this year, the b-side to “A View To A Kill” is a cover of the Wedding Present’s “Spangle” which appeared on the band’s seminal album Watusi before de Castro joined the band. Jimmy Eat World’s cover of the song stripped it down from the original and de Castro goes further, revealing the emotional weight of the lyrics. It was a song that she grew attached to while touring with The Wedding Present. 

“The ending has a fuzz bass part played with a slide, which I used to love playing because it was so unusual. But I picked the song because I love the melody, and I could hear a harmony in my head when I sang it to myself. I love harmonies, and I often choose songs because I can hear the harmonies in them. Danielle Wadey, the then-guitarist for The Wedding Present sang a beautiful harmony part. We recorded it when we were doing an album in Wales. We just tacked it onto the recording session – I didn’t know how it was going to get used, but it was perfect for the b-side!” 

You can order copies of A View To A Kill/Spangle from Terry directly while supplies last. Just drop her a message via Twitter (@terrydecastro) or through her Bandcamp page. If you’re shopping, her solo EP You Can’t Separate Light is a fantastic album with smart songwriting and it’s a worthy addition to any record collection.

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