Glyndwr graduate launches entertainment brand with new single by legendary Motown group.
A Wrexham Glyndwr University graduate is launching a band and multimedia entertainment brand by producing a legendary Motown act’s first new song in 20 years.
Mark Kendrick and his Flexy Records collaborator Todd Edwards have written and produced an environmentally-themed track for The Four Tops, known for global smash hits like Reach Out (I’ll Be There) and Loco in Acapulco.
Mark penned lyrics for Freedom while Todd, a virtuoso multi-instrumentalist from the Wrexham area, composed and produced the music.
He said: “It was a bit of a ‘pinch yourself’ moment when we heard the Four Tops wanted to work with us, because we’re two unknowns trying to break into the music industry.”
The song has a powerful message about climate change and the devastating effects that humans are having on the environment, habitats and wildlife.
It came about after the duo facilitated a live interview with Four Tops members for Northern Soul TV, with presenters quizzing the group virtually from from Roc 2 studios in Wrexham.
They then pitched Freedom to the act’s management and original member Abdul ‘Duke’ Fakir. They gave the green light, and the Four Tops recorded their vocals in Detroit, with Todd creating the music in Wrexham.
Mark, who is also part of the band Flexy Beats, with Todd, told of the duo’s pride at being chosen to work with the legendary quartet.
“To have this opportunity with the Four Tops and for them to listen to some of the songs we’ve made with Flexy Beats and like them, even though it’s totally different to that Motown sound… For Todd and me, it was a real moment for us,” he said.
“They could see the potential in us. They get requests all the time, so for them to do a song with us when lots of people have been trying to do a collaboration with them for years, it was a real moment of success for us.”
Mark and Todd are developing Flexy Beats not only as a band, with vocals by Wrexham singer Bobby – Jo Pritchard, but as a fully-fledged children’s educational entertainment brand, with two albums of material recorded and a cartoon series in the works.
Band members are portrayed as aliens from faraway planet called Flexy B. Their infectious sound, known as A-pop, is influenced by the massively successful J-pop and K-pop genres; fusing electronic dance music (EDM), rock and power ballads to create a wide musical appeal.
The band are planning to play live over the next year, with members dressed in colourful alien costumes. There is also a musical theatre show in the early planning stages.
Mark graduated with a BA (Hons) in Animation and Media from Glyndwr, then known as the North East Wales Institute (NEWI), in 2005 and has worked solidly in TV and commercial production ever since.
He told how studying at Glyndwr not only provided essential knowledge and training for the industry, but also helped him set up a business called Gizmo Media through the EU-funded Wales Spinout Programme, which provided funding for costs such as equipment.
“It’s definitely fair to say that I would have struggled to set up the business straight out of university without the support I received,” he said.
“There was a guy called John Jones who was part of the Business Enterprise Team at NEWI at the time, who was like a mentor for us.
“Without his help with things like loan and grant applications, who knows what I’d be doing now? It’s quite possible that we wouldn’t have got the business off the ground without the university’s help.”
The music video for Freedom can be seen on the Flexy Records Facebook page and Youtube channel: