While touring with Pulp in 2012, Jarvis Cocker stayed at the Chateau Marmont, perhaps the most storied hotel in Hollywood. After an over-booking saw him upgraded to a room with a piano, he started to ponder the lives and loves that the keyboard had witnessed.
Cocker immediately called the Canadian producer Chilly Gonzales – who he befriended in Paris, and collaborated with on a version of Stephen Sondheim's 'I'm Still Here' in 2013 – and suggested the project.
Room 29 is a song cycle, drawing upon the structure of 19th century lieder cycles such as Schubert's Winterreise. It is the result of three years research into guests like the actor Jean Harlow, Mark Twain's daughter Clara and the gangster Mickey the Haberdasher. Recorded as a series of live takes in Paris, the largely voice-and-piano record aims to convey the real and imagined emotions of the suite, and in doing so expose the sad reality behind much Hollywood glamour.
Perpetuating its link to the classical tradition, Room 29 will be performed at a series of concert halls after release: Hamburg's Kampnagel (17-19 March), London's Barbican Centre (23-25 March) and Berlin's Völksbühne (28-30 March), before appearing at an as-yet-unannounced venue in Paris.