British Columbia musician Rhys Fulber doesn’t remember every recording session in a career stretching back to the 1980s, but a day in the studio in 2001 sticks in his mind.
He recalled the privilege of working with the “transcendent” Sinead O’Connor. They were connected over more than 8,000 kilometres, he in Los Angeles and she in Dublin, as she recorded vocals for a track on Mr. Fulber’s debut solo album.
“You hear them through the speakers, you’re using the talkback microphone to communicate, so it’s a recording session, but they’re just not anywhere near you, they’re somewhere on the other side of the world, so just hearing her demeanour, a very soft-spoken, very sweet-sounding person,” Mr. Fulber said.
Ms. O’Connor, the Irish singer-songwriter who became a superstar in her mid-20s, with hits including Nothing Compares 2 U, died Wednesday at the age of 56.
In 2001, Mr. Fulber, who now lives in Gibsons, B.C., had been working with respected producer Rick Nowels and big-name songwriter Billy Steinberg as he hashed out solo material under the name Conjure One.
Mr. Steinberg had a tune he wanted Mr. Fulber’s unique take on after a version by a Belgian group didn’t do it justice.
“So I kind of did my version of the song and then they had said, we’d like to get like, you know, a really special singer for the song, and they came back to me and said ‘what about Sinead O’Connor?’ ” Mr. Fulber said.
“And I’m like, wow, yeah, great, and they made it happen and next thing I know we’re sitting in the studio.”
Ms. O’Connor was a continent and an ocean away. Remote work might be the norm these days, but in 2001, recording studios had their own cutting-edge system connecting distant musicians.
“That was my brief experience with this timeless, special, transcendent artist.”
The song that came out of that session is called Tears From the Moon, and appeared on Mr. Fulber’s 2002 debut solo album under the name Conjure One. It also appeared on Ms. O’Connor’s 2005 Collaborations compilation album.
Mr. Fulber said the electronic song made a splash in eastern Europe and Russia, with several remixes over the years including one released just last year.
“A good vocal is forever, you know? It’s like any great piece of art is forever,” he said. “And her voice and everything she sang on is forever, and to be part of something like that is not something I take for granted.”
News of Ms. O’Connor’s death hit Mr. Fulber with a wave a sadness, the singer only a few years older than him.
Ms. O’Connor was found unresponsive in a home in southeast London and pronounced dead at the scene, police said. They did not say how she died but said her death was not considered suspicious.
She was public about her mental illness, saying that she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
The volatile and emotional nature of the music business takes a toll on many artists, Mr. Fulber said.
“It’s a hard world to navigate emotionally sometimes and I’m pretty sure she had some struggles,” he said.
Mr. Fulber, who is still releasing music under his own name, looks back on that time in his career fondly, getting to play in the big leagues with major names before the shift from physical album sales to online streaming.
He said he may lament that era being over, but he feels lucky to have had the opportunity to work with people including Ms. O’Connor, even briefly.
“It’s always special artists that die too soon,” he said. “It’s always people that had more to offer that are gone too soon. It’s always a sad, sad day.”
With reports from the Associated Press