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Classic Tracks: White Town ‘Your Woman’

Producer: Jyoti Mishra By Tom Doyle
Published August 2023

Jyoti Mishra, photographed for Sound On Sound in 1997.Jyoti Mishra, photographed for Sound On Sound in 1997.

Recorded completely at home, Jyoti Mishra’s irresistibly catchy hit single ‘Your Woman’ inspired a generation of bedroom producers.

Making release‑ready music at home is now commonplace. But it wasn’t always so. Not until the late 1980s, with the proliferation of affordable samplers and MIDI‑equipped computers, often used in conjunction with cassette multitracks, were a generation of (typically rave‑minded) musicians able to produce finished tracks outside of the traditional studio environment. This in turn gave birth to the concept of the bedroom hit.

In 1997, Derby‑based Jyoti Mishra (aka White Town) took the idea to a whole other level by scoring the first bedroom‑recorded UK number one with ‘Your Woman’ (also a chart‑topper in Iceland, Israel and Spain, as well as a top five hit in Canada and top 30 hit in the States). Based around a 1930s trumpet sample motif, a loping ’70s funk‑turned‑hip‑hop beat and a bouncy synth bass line, all topped by Mishra’s grainy, emotive pop vocal, ‘Your Woman’ was not only a distinctive blend of influences, but also insanely catchy.

“One of the things about ‘Your Woman’ is I designed the production to sound old when you first heard it,” Mishra tells SOS today. “I wanted to have a track that was like a mishmash of time zones... so you weren’t quite sure what year it was.”

Originally championed by DJ Mark Radcliffe on Radio 1, ‘Your Woman’ took Mishra from indie obscurity to pop stardom (and back) with incredible swiftness. But it has since enjoyed a long life as a now‑classic track, being sampled or covered by (or even simply influencing) the likes of Dua Lipa, Tyler James and Naughty Boy, as well as sounding like it might have been the sonic blueprint for Gorillaz.

The experience of having a one‑off chart‑topping hit was also to teach Mishra much about what he liked and didn’t like about fame, making him ultimately realise that he was happiest operating in the indie world.

“I’ve always felt,” he says, “like I’m on the outside looking in on the scene.”

Jyoti Mishra: I would have been home with my girlfriend when we got a call from the EMI people saying, ‘It’s number one this Sunday’. It sold 400,000 copies in just over a week.

One Man Band

As a kid, Jyoti Mishra’s ears were always drawn to any records that featured electronic sounds, whether it be the synth bass on Sailor’s 1975 hit ‘A Glass Of Champagne’, the eerie hooks of Jean‑Michel Jarre’s ‘Oxygène (Part IV)’, or the futuristic pop of French band Space’s ‘Magic Fly’ (both 1977).

Mishra himself began recording at home as a teenager in the early ’80s, messing around with an organ and two cassette recorders to create live‑overdubbing, in‑the‑room recordings. “I was just amazed,” he says. “I can still remember the thrill of putting a bass line to some chords I’d played. I know that sounds so stupid now and anybody under the age of 50 will just be like, ‘What’s he on about?’ But it was a magical moment.”

Having been bitten by the recording bug, by the mid‑’80s he’d progressed to using a Fostex X‑15 cassette four‑track and Roland MC‑202 MicroComposer synthesizer/sequencer.

“The X‑15 was like a quantum jump in sound quality,” he recalls. “I managed to get an MC‑202 off some bloke, who didn’t know what it was, for about 50 quid. And that had FSK sync code. So if I gave up a track of the four‑track, I could run things in sync... I could sync drum machines, and maybe not put them down ’til the final pass to a different cassette.”

At the end of the ’80s, Mishra became more enamoured by indie rock, after seeing a Pixies show at Nottingham’s Rock City in 1988. “I just remember thinking, ‘I love this,’ and the way it feels when your whole body’s vibrating. I was like, ‘I need to do this.’

So I got this guitar from a friend... this acoustic guitar for 15 quid. The action was like the fucking Golden Gate Bridge, it was ridiculous.

“But I basically put on the Wedding Present album, George Best, and tried to play along with it. I just kept playing and playing, and I thought, ‘I need to do a new band now.’”

The new band was White Town, who formed in 1989 and drifted apart the next year, but not before recording a self‑titled three‑track EP, released via 1000 7‑inch singles. The record caught the attention of Illinois‑based indie label Parasol, for whom Mishra as an effective solo artist made a series of releases between 1991 and 1996, along with a debut album, Socialism, Sexism & Sexuality, in ’94.

“I tried to recreate the sounds that I’d been listening to,” he explains, “which was like C86 into American noise rock and a lot of shoegaze. I was trying to do that on my own with a [Roland] TR‑707. Then gradually, after the first album, I just thought, ‘Why do I have to pretend that I’ve got a band to constrain me? Why do I not just record stuff that I could not play live?’”

Jyoti Mishra’s studio, post signing to EMI... Front and centre are the E‑mu Emax II sampler and Tascam 688 cassette recorder used on ‘Your Woman’. Also at least partially visible here are a Moog Rogue, Roland JX‑3P and PG‑200, a Novation Bass Station, Casio CZ‑101 and a newly purchased Akai S‑3000. Bonus points if you can spot a copy of SOS.Jyoti Mishra’s studio, post signing to EMI... Front and centre are the E‑mu Emax II sampler and Tascam 688 cassette recorder used on ‘Your Woman’. Also at least partially visible here are a Moog Rogue, Roland JX‑3P and PG‑200, a Novation Bass Station, Casio CZ‑101 and a newly purchased Akai S‑3000. Bonus points if you can spot a copy of SOS.


Mishra’s crucial gear purchase that was to shape the sound of ‘Your Woman’ was an E‑mu Emax II. “That came out in ’89,” he says. “So, I had to wait for the prices to come down quite a lot. I managed to get one that was being sold as new, but it was second‑hand. So I managed to haggle the price down.

“But back then when you first got your first hardware sampler, that was a revelation. You think, ‘Wow, now I can manipulate sound itself in a way I could never have done before.’ That must have been 1994. I recorded ‘Your Woman’ in ’95 and I’d had the Emax for a year or so by then.”

Central to his setup at the time was the MIDI‑friendly Atari ST computer, running the Sequencer One software (designed by Manchester company Gajits) that had been given away free on a floppy disc on the cover of a magazine.

“It was very much an introductory sequencer,” Mishra remembers. “But the best thing about it was you had a rudimentary piano roll, where you didn’t see any notes or anything, you had little hollow squares. And once there was music in them of any kind, they’d go from white inside to blue, or black. So they’d just be like buckets that filled up if there was any information there. It could be a modulation wheel bend, it could be anything. So you couldn’t see any notes. You just knew there was something MIDI happening in there [laughs].

“Basically, you had cut and paste, and you could quantise, but that was about it. So I used to use it like a big tape recorder and just start it going and play something in all the way through. Cutting and pasting wasn’t easy. It was like almost maths.”

By this point, multitrack‑wise, Mishra had moved on from the Fostex X‑15 four‑track to the Tascam 688 Midistudio eight‑track and also invested in a pair of Mordaunt‑Short MS30 monitors. “Wow, they were brilliant,” Mishra says of the latter. “One of the worst decisions I ever made was stopping using them.

“Back then, I would be pootling around in that room, which was a spare bedroom. But it wasn’t just my studio. That was my computer room and my doing work at uni room. I’d be sitting there for hours listen to Radio 1 over the same speakers, so I’d got completely used to them. I knew exactly how they sounded for normal music. So when I was doing my music through them, they were great.”

When Mishra first released ‘Your Woman’, it was as the lead track on a 1996 EP titled >Abort, Retry, Fail?_: a reference to the fact that he was at the time trying to update his system to a PC running Cubase and had suffered a hard‑drive crash.

“I was just getting into PC sequencing,” he groans. “I think I had a dodgy version of Cubase. Obviously once you move from an ST to PC, the sequencers get way more usable, and you have all this power... but then it crashes. And your ST never goes wrong. My fucking hard drive crashed and all these songs I have never recovered since were on this hard drive. The songs that were still on the ST, like ‘Your Woman’, I still had them because they were on floppy disks.”

Somewhat overshadowed by a more recently acquired Korg Trinity, Yamaha O2R mixer and Tascam DA98 digital recorder, you can just glimpse a Roland TR‑707 and a very well‑hidden MC‑202.Somewhat overshadowed by a more recently acquired Korg Trinity, Yamaha O2R mixer and Tascam DA98 digital recorder, you can just glimpse a Roland TR‑707 and a very well‑hidden MC‑202.


The spark of inspiration that led to the creation of ‘Your Woman’ was its trumpet sample. It was lifted from the 1932 track, ‘My Woman’, by Lew Stone & the Monseigneur Band (featuring Al Bowlly), which Jyoti Mishra discovered on the soundtrack album of 1978 BBC musical drama series, Pennies From Heaven.

“I thought, ‘Oh, I liked all these ’30s songs... let’s have a listen to it.’ And then this one track came on. As soon as the trumpet came in, I was like, ‘Wow, that’s good. That’s really catchy sounding... really spooky sounding.”

Later, when ‘Your Woman’ became a hit, some listeners mistook the riff for John Williams’ ‘The Imperial March’ from the Star Wars film series. “It is very similar,” Mishra acknowledges. “But I mean, then again, you could say, ‘Well, it’s just arpeggiating around a minor chord. How many different ways of doing that are there?’

“Years ago, a journalist was doing some review and they said people liked the riff because it’s like children at school, going ‘Na na na na na’. It’s hardwired into us.”

The beats on the track, meanwhile, derived from a sample CD produced by Parliament/Funkadelic’s George Clinton in 1993 called Sample Some Of Disc — Sample Some Of DAT. “I naïvely thought it meant it was royalty free,” says Mishra. “No, it wasn’t... so I got sued. The trumpet sound was cleared quite quickly.” Key to the groove of the track was the fact that Mishra doubled the beat. “One is in strict 4/4,” he explains, “and one is in swung 4/4. So they don’t line up. They lollop along.”

In terms of the bass line, Mishra at the time had a few synths at his disposal, including a Roland JX‑3P and a Casio CZ‑101, but chose — at least initially — to use his Moog Rogue. “That was my first ever monosynth,” he says. “I used to gig with that live and it was an amazing sound.

“Then on ‘Your Woman’, I was playing around with the Moog, and it was like, ‘Yeah, this is good’, but it wasn’t quite right. So I sampled the note. When it goes down to low C, it’s really low. It sounds kind of weird down an octave... What you’re hearing is the growly note of the lower sample. The actual sample itself is just a standard Moog‑y bass sound, sampled around, say, Middle C and then played too low.”

Along with the bass, practically everything else on the track came from the Emax II. “The piano was just a standard Emax library sound,” Mishra says. “That would’ve just been the piano it came with. The only things that aren’t Emax II are my voice and the first time you hear that guitar, when I’m playing it. Every other time, I sampled it on the Emax. I couldn’t play it again because I was shit [laughs].”

The only other beat on ‘Your Woman’ is the one that briefly pops up at 3:09, which was produced by Casio’s classic (and affordable) mini‑synth, the VL‑1, as used by the Human League and the Fall, but made famous by German band Trio’s 1982 novelty hit, ‘Da Da Da’. “I must have got it in 1981,” Mishra remembers. “So there’s the ’81 middle eight bit with a beepy‑boopy VL‑1, which people would only know from Trio if they’d heard it ever.”


Similarly cheap was the microphone that Jyoti Mishra used to record his vocal for ‘Your Woman’: the Realistic PZM that was sold for £19.95 by tech chain store Tandy. Although normally powered by one AA 1.5V battery, it could be modified by using two mini 6V batteries together to significantly improve its dynamic range.

“You’re putting a stupid amount of voltage in them compared to normal,” Mishra says, “and it makes the frequency response better. Also, they’re so forgiving because the pickup pattern is ridiculous. You can clamp it into a mic stand, you can stick it on the wall, you can hang them off something and play a guitar in front of them and they will just get everything. You can do this wiring to adapt it to phantom power and you get even better signal out of it. So, I cut one of mine up and I fucked it and so I only had one [laughs].”

On ‘Your Woman’, Mishra recorded his vocal using the PZM routed to the Tascam 688, via a Boss BE‑5 guitar effects unit (featuring compression, chorus, digital delay and overdrive/distortion). “The best thing about the BE‑5 was it had a noise gate on it,” he says, “so I could record stuff through it. I mean, it’s not great audio quality, but I could record stuff through it onto my 688 and gate it at the same time. This to me was amazing.

“So, I used the BE‑5 for my vocal chain, although it was a guitar pedal. And then when I was working out the vocal for ‘Your Woman,’ I was just experimenting, and I put the overdrive/distortion on it. Once it’d gone through the overdrive, it took out all the bottom, and it just had this nice telephone‑y sound. It fitted because I just thought, ‘Well, it sounds like a ’30s track now.’

“But also one of my favourite ever pop singles is the Buggles’ ‘Video Killed The Radio Star’, and that’s the sound Trevor Horn has on his vocal. I just thought, ‘Oh, it sounds like the Buggles. That’s cool.’”


Jyoti Mishra still has the cassette multitrack for ‘Your Woman’, which he’s stashed for safety in a biscuit tin. Surprisingly, perhaps, he only used five of its eight available tracks.

“One track is the FSK sync,” he says. “One track is the vocal. There’s a stereo track of all the keyboards and basically all the backing. There’s one track that’s the bass line and one track for the guitar... so five tracks.

“Then I put this other crazy synth solo on it. I did this Moog‑y thing that was through the verses as a countermelody, from the second verse onwards. And I was listening back to it, and I just thought, ‘That’s shit.’ So I left off. So it would have been six tracks, but it’s five tracks.”

As a result, of course, ‘Your Woman’ didn’t take long to mix. “The thing about [recording using] four‑tracks and eight‑tracks is you’ve already committed,” says Mishra, highlighting the one benefit of having to bounce. “On ‘Your Woman’, how loud is the piano compared to the organ? It doesn’t matter because you can’t change it.

“In the starting verse, the keyboards and the organ are both centre‑panned. From the second verse, I panned them left and right. I did that as it was being recorded down from the ST onto the 688. So, I can’t change that. That’s just done.”

At the time, however, the norm was to leave the Atari ST MIDI parts triggering synths and samplers running live until the mix was laid down to DAT. Mishra says that his decision to bounce the parts to tape was as a result of his calamitous hard‑drive crash.

“By that stage, I had the fear of losing stuff that wasn’t committed to tape,” he laughs. “Even if it’s gone down onto a master cassette or a master DAT, it’s like, in the ether. So I was like, ‘I can put another 15 tracks of different things down as I go down to DAT. But what if I lose the sequence? What if I lose those sounds?’ I was really — and rightly so because of the hard‑drive crash — getting more paranoid.

“So I’d rather record them down as a stereo pair, like I did on ‘Your Woman’, and have too many things crammed into one stereo pair. At least it’s there. And it has the effects on... it has any delays on and you can’t change it afterwards. And that’s it. If you don’t like it, you could always re‑record it.”

Another key factor in bedroom musicians being able to finalise mixes for release was the increasing availability of DAT. Access to digital mixdown at home — in Mishra’s case, using a Sony DTC‑750 — meant no degradation in sound quality at the final stage.

“At first I couldn’t afford a DAT machine,” he remembers. “So I used to rent one from the local music shop. They’d let me rent it out for 50 quid a day or something like that. I used to do all my recording, then have a day of mastering and try and record all my things to DAT.

“Then the price came down, so I could afford a DAT. I had one by ’94 definitely. When the consumer DAT machines appeared, I was like, ‘This changes everything.’ Provided you gated stuff on the 688 as much as you could, I could get reasonably quiet recordings. That was a huge difference.”

Number One

Classic TracksIn the summer of 1996, ‘Your Woman’ was featured as the opening track of the >Abort, Retry, Fail?_ EP, released by Parasol Records. Mishra was at the time earning extra cash by DJ’ing and, one night, decided to give the track a spin.

“I put it on, and people danced to it,” he recalls. “One of my friends there was completely wrecked, and he came over to me at the end of the set, and he was just going, ‘Mate, I love that song with the trumpet.’ I was like, ‘That was my song’. He looked at me and he was like, ‘F**k off... I’ve heard your stuff, it’s shit’. And then he just walked off.

“So when I went back home, I told my then‑girlfriend about what had happened. She said, ‘Well, I told you it’s a really good track. You should send it off.’”

Given the pile of rejection letters that Mishra had accumulated in recent years, he was understandably reluctant to post the EP off to major labels. “But then we scraped up enough money to send off a few,” he remembers. “And one of them was to Mark Radcliffe at Radio 1. If he hadn’t spotted it, none of this would have happened. Nobody would know the song.”

Radcliffe first began playing ‘Your Woman’ on his night‑time Radio 1 show in the autumn of 1996, and then continued to do so when he sat in for Chris Evans on the far more high‑profile breakfast show. “Daytime listeners go mad,” Mishra recalls. “And then they’re pestering [other DJs] for it. I’d phoned Parasol and said, ‘You might need to press maybe 2000 more’. And then once it moved to daytime, it went absolutely mental. Woolworths were trying to ask for 40,000 copies. And I’m like, ‘Well, there’s 800...’”

Luckily, radio plugger Neil Ferris (whose other clients included U2 and the Spice Girls) contacted Mishra, offering to take the track to the major labels. A deal was duly struck with EMI to re‑release ‘Your Woman’ in January 1997. “I would have been home with my girlfriend when we got a call from the EMI people saying, ‘It’s number one this Sunday’. It sold 400,000 copies in just over a week. I’ve got the gold disc upstairs in the bedroom [laughs]. It’s not even on the wall because we’ve been doing decorating.”

But when Mishra was invited to appear on BBC 1’s flagship music show Top Of The Pops to perform the track, he turned down the offer, unsure of exactly how — as a bedroom artist — to present the track onstage.

“There were great electronic bands already, obviously, like the Prodigy where it was like, ‘Well, that’s how an electronic band should be. Me, I’m just a fat bloke. I’ll be there prodding a synth. That’s gonna look awful.’ Also, by that time, I’d experienced a little part of some celebrity. And I didn’t like it.”


Record company interference forced Mishra to release the trip‑hoppy ‘Wanted’ (featuring singer Ann Pearson) as the follow‑up White Town single, when he preferred another track, ‘Undressed’, the slow‑burning electronic ballad opener of his 1997 album, Women In Technology.

“I really liked ‘Wanted’,” he says. “But it’s very much an album track, and I said that when they chose it. They made a video and took it to Radio 1, who refused point blank to play it. They said, ‘It’s an album track. We’re not playing that as a single.’

“So then they had to about turn and go with my original choice, which was ‘Undressed’, and make a video for that. And by this time, it was three months down the line. And it went into the charts at number 57... with a bullet [laughs].

“The album didn’t do well at all. Because at the time, people really didn’t like the album. Now people are saying it’s a great work and I’m like, ‘Thank you... you could have said this 25 years ago.’”

But as Jyoti Mishra returned to the indie world, releasing another five subsequent White Town albums — the latest being 2021’s Fairchild Semiconductor, a soundtrack for an imaginary TV series — ‘Your Woman’ continued to have a life of its own.

In 2005, Amy Winehouse’s friend Tyler James released a version of the song as a single from his album, The Unlikely Lad, and in 2011, Australian singer/songwriter Darren Hayes chose to cover ‘Your Woman’ live on Radio 2. A year earlier, Naughty Boy (with Wiley and Emeli Sandé) had both covered and sampled the track on ‘Never Be Your Woman’, while in 2021 Dua Lipa (and producer Koz) actually sampled the original Lew Stone ‘My Woman’ track for ‘Love Again’, bypassing the White Town track entirely.

Mishra insists that the latter didn’t irk him especially. “It was amazing... I loved it,” he enthuses. “It was a huge boost in terms of getting people to listen to ‘Your Woman’. And also, because it was 25 years ago, most kids have never even heard the song. But they’re gonna hear a sample, and then they go online and discover ‘Your Woman’.

“But it’s weird now,” he adds, “because the sample itself has spread so much that I don’t think people connect it back to my track at all. It’s just out there as itself now.”

In 2017, to celebrate its 20th anniversary, Mishra reimagined and re‑recorded the track as ‘Your Woman 1917’. “I basically tried to do it with things that would sound age-appropriate for 1917, apart from the vocals... because the vocals would never sound that good, ’cause they’d be cut to lacquer.

“Somebody said recently on YouTube, ‘OK, so you reimagined this 1997 song as a 1917 song, yet you made the vocal sound like nowadays. But on the original, it sounds like the 1930s.’ I was like, ‘You’re the only person who’s worked out that I did it deliberately!’ [laughs].”


Down the years, Jyoti Mishra has inevitably been tagged as a ‘one‑hit wonder’. But as he always cheerfully points out, that’s way better than being a ‘no‑hit wonder’. “I feel privileged and lucky,” he says today. “Ninety‑nine percent of musicians struggle their entire lives for no reward whatsoever. Like, how many people do you know that have put 200 percent into their music, and they’ve tried their fucking best and they never made it? How many people do you know now that are talented motherfuckers that 30 people listen to on Spotify?

“I am a terrible musician [laughs]. I’m a rubbish vocalist. I’m an absolutely awful guitarist. I’m quite good at keyboards. And I would say a quite good producer. There are plenty of people better than me in loads of different ways, hugely more talented, who will never make it, never make any money. And more importantly, never connect. I feel so lucky to have had anything at all because most musicians have nothing.

“So,” Mishra concludes, “to have one thing you do connect with so many people is a gift.”