A love song for Europe: the couple who drove 20,000 miles to record 731 tunes

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They put a recording studio in a rickety motorhome and crossed 33 countries – asking strangers to knock out a tearjerker

‘People asked us, ‘Are you crackers?’” says Gemma Paintin. She can see why. Along with fellow Bristol artist James Stenhouse, Paintin spent half of 2018 travelling around Europe in an old motorhome, recording love songs. Their epic trek took in almost 20,000 miles, 33 countries, 46 languages and 731 songs – each sung in their battered mobile studio, mostly by random strangers.

These ranged from a seven-year-old Greek boy singing the Kiss song I Was Made for Lovin’ You (“even the guitar parts”) to MEP Peter Simon, who laid down a German folksong. There was a singing security guard in Madrid and some lads in Leeds who bawled through Robbie Williams’s Angels. This, says Paintin, was “exactly how you’d expect a lad version of Angels to sound”.

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