Local Current Blog

Sting and Shaggy recorded part of their new album in Minneapolis

Sting and Shaggy at RiverRock Studios. (USA Today/AP)

The Super Bowl brought a flurry of activity to Minneapolis in the week leading up to the big game. A slew of celebrities visited the Twin Cities, including big-name musicians, who came to town to perform at pre-game concerts. While in Minneapolis, four of those artists — Sting, Shaggy, Migos, and Gucci Mane — stopped by RiverRock Studios in Northeast Minneapolis.

Before the game, Sting performed at the NFL Tailgate Party at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Shaggy joined him to sing the single, “Don’t Make Me Wait,” from their upcoming album 44/876. Sting also performed at a private party for NFL owners.

While he had some downtime in Minneapolis, Sting’s label connected he and Shaggy with RiverRock Studios to work on the final track for their album. The duo had recorded most of 44/876 in New York. Sting’s label reached RiverRock through a studio referral service that they work with, which connects artists to recording studios in cities that they may not be familiar with. In 2015, the same referral service connected RiverRock to Pentatonix, who recorded a song at the Minneapolis studio for their self-titled album.

Eric Blomquist, RiverRock owner and engineer, explained that when the label initially reached out, they didn’t tell him which artist he would be working with, but he immediately agreed to the offer. Half an hour after talking with the record label, Blomquist received an email with the headline: “RiverRock Sting.”

“I honestly had a jaw-dropping moment,” said Blomquist. “I was definitely not expecting to see his name.”

Sting and Shaggy came into RiverRock on Saturday morning, Feb. 3, to finish up the last song for their album. They needed to re-write the melody, record lead vocals, and add grand piano. When they got to the studio, Sting sat down at the piano to focus on songwriting, and the pair got to work.

“They were really laid back,” said Blomquist. “They were enjoying just the moments of being able to work on music and get away from all of the interviews and all of the mayhem that was the Super Bowl.”

While the pair were at RiverRock, they recorded an interview in which Sting responded to the Prince hologram rumors by saying, “God knows who they would team me up with. I’m gonna write in my will that I’m not to be a hologram.”

According to Blomquist, Shaggy “loved telling stories.” While at RiverRock, Shaggy reminisced about recording with Minneapolis legends Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis at their studio, Flyte Tyme Productions, in the late ’90s. (Coincidentally, RiverRock formerly used an analog console previously owned by Jam and Lewis.)

In 1998, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis produced the single, “Luv Me, Luv Me,” a duet between Shaggy and Janet Jackson, which they recorded for the 1998 film, “How Stella Got Her Groove Back.” Shaggy later released the song with vocals by Samantha Cole on his 2000 album, Hot Shot.

However, before Sting and Shaggy even stepped foot in RiverRock, Blomquist received a call from another label looking to book RiverRock for Migos and Gucci Mane, who were also in town.

Blomquist was in the studio on Friday night, preparing for Sting and Shaggy’s session the next morning, when he got that call. The label explained that Migos and Gucci Mane were looking for a recording space, and Blomquist eagerly agreed to work with them at RiverRock. The response: “That sounds great, they’ll be there in ten minutes.”

The engineers quickly flipped the studio in time for the arrival of Migos and Gucci Mane. The artists stayed in the studio until around 11:30 p.m. and after they left, the crew at RiverRock cleaned and reset the studio to prepare for the session the next morning.

“That was just an unbelievably cool, incredibly fun weekend,” said Blomquist. “I would love to have the Super Bowl every year.”

Colleen Cowie is a student at Macalester College. She hosts the show Locally Sourced on WMCN.