Q&A with Tony Mortimer

Published 16 December by Callum

Twenty-five years after its first release, original label, London Records, in collaboration with Waltham Forest London Borough of Culture 2019, have released a brand-new recording of the classic East 17 Christmas No1, Stay Another Day.

Stay Another Day is available to buy for 99p at stayanotherday.info or you can text E17 to 66777.

We recently spoke to Tony Mortimer, the writer of the original, about the song’s legacy and the experience of re-recording it right here in Waltham Forest…

You wrote Stay Another Day twenty-five years ago. Why do you think the song has had such an enduring appeal?

If I knew that, I would have written another song just like it! I think it’s because it was a Christmas hit and it reminds people of Christmas. I think that people associate it with good times, positivity and all the fun that comes with the festive season.

The song has now been re-recorded with 100 young people from schools around Waltham Forest and East London Brass. What was it like being at the recording?

It was amazing. I drove down to Walthamstow Assembly Hall where I used to hang around as a kid and all these memories came back. To see the young people go through the recording process and observe how well they coped was incredible. It was such an honour to hear them singing a song that I wrote sat in a bedroom just down the road, twenty-five years ago. It was very emotional to hear 100 voices singing the song back. The brass band was the composer and arranger Joe Duddell’s idea and that worked phenomenally, too. It’s all very surreal, but it was so great to be back in Walthamstow with the young people of Waltham Forest on board. I’m so proud to be a part of it.

As a founding member of East 17 and being from Waltham Forest, why was it important for you to be involved in the project for the Waltham Forest London Borough of Culture 2019 programme?

I liked everything about the project from the start. It felt like giving back and I wanted to be a part of it and help. It’s a project that can help people, which made me feel good and incentivised me. When I grew up in Waltham Forest, I looked around and saw places like the William Morris Gallery – the house and the blue plaque and it gave me inspiration. I want the young people of the borough to look around and be inspired, because inspiration is everywhere.

Can you tell us more about the partnership with CALM and its relevance to the song?

My brother’s suicide was the original muse behind Stay Another Day. It made me write a love song based on a huge personal loss. When I was first approached about this re-release, the label said they wanted to work with a charity promoting mental health and CALM seemed like a perfect fit. Last year they directly prevented 675 suicides, so it’s an incredibly important cause. Men don’t talk, that’s our thing. That’s our problem. We don’t talk and we’ve got to find a way to communicate. I love the saying, ‘it’s OK to not be OK’ – It’s so true and that’s what we have to teach each other.

A lot of people won’t know about CALM, so this project will hopefully help to get the message out there that help is available.

Stay Another Day is 25 years old now. Do you feel that it resonated with the young people singing it and did they find it inspiring?

I spoke to the young people and a lot of them knew about the song and they were really happy to be singing it. Some kids might be a little bit troublesome at school and not know why, but they might be creative. If you just show them the arts, they begin to realise they might have creative minds.

I believe this re-recording is going to give the song a new energy for a new generation. This version could become such a positive thing for Waltham Forest, CALM and all of the young people involved and I can’t wait to see how far it goes.

Since the original track was first released, a lot has changed in Waltham Forest. How do you think the borough’s year as the Borough of Culture has had a positive impact on the entire community of Waltham Forest?

For me the borough has always been a bit like Narnia, where you’ve got this urban centre that becomes greener as you go out to the outskirts. It’s a wonderful borough, it always has been and it’s always had a great community spirit. Waltham Forest being the first London Borough of Culture is a brilliant thing. I hope this year has inspired people and I hope it gives them dreams. The crazier the dream the better. When people say you’re mad, you know you’re on to a winner.


Stay Another Day is out now to download, stream or purchase as a CD at stayanotherday.info. Help us to spread the word by using the hashtag #STAYANOTHERDAY on social media.