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Breathing Life into the Voice of Hawkwind's Robert Calvert



In an era where memories fade and legends are consigned to the pages of history, the ambition to resurrect the voice of an iconic figure like Robert Calvert is both audacious and captivating. Respeecher, at the intersection of technology and artistry, sought to bridge the chasm between yesteryears and today.

Robert Calvert, the enigmatic frontman of Hawkwind during their iconic 1970s period, has left an indelible mark on the space rock genre. Hailing from Pretoria, South Africa, Calvert made Margate his home, drawing inspiration from Arlington House’s towering Brutalist visage. His music was not just notes and lyrics; it was a chronicle of his experiences, including the sweeping view of skies over Arlington House, so often described as ‘the best skies in Europe’.

The Challenge

Envisioned by Graded Films, the "Mirror Mirror" project aimed to capture the essence of Robert Calvert, juxtaposing his legendary past with a present that longs for his voice. The ambition was grand – to create an audio-visual experience that would evoke nostalgia, admiration, and a fresh appreciation for Calvert's genius.

The mandate for Respeecher was poignant: not just to emulate, but to revive Calvert's voice in its fullness, capturing its unique timbre and emotion. The goal was to create a sound that would touch hearts, especially those of Calvert’s fans and family.

The Solution

Diving into this endeavor required both technical prowess and a nuanced understanding of Calvert’s legacy.

  1. Data Collection
    Hours of Robert Calvert’s recordings - from live concerts, interviews to studio sessions - were gathered. Each snippet, a precious fragment of a voice lost in time.
  2. Voice Analysis
    Respeecher delved deep, analyzing Calvert’s vocal nuances, from his dynamic pitch shifts to the subtle inflections that made his voice so distinctive.
  3. Synthesis
    With a rich dataset, Respeecher’s voice cloning technology set the stage for Calvert's vocal resurrection.

With every technological pursuit, obstacles are inevitable. Making the voice authentic yet contemporary, ensuring it echoed Calvert's spirit without sounding synthetic, was a monumental task. But the feedback was resounding. Calvert’s son remarked, "I'm really happy with it... it sounded just like him!" The astonishment and appreciation in those words signified a monumental success for Respeecher.

Graded Films was equally effusive in their praise: "Thank you again for all your help with Mirror Mirror... His family were brought to tears by the rendition and similarity of his voice you were able to bring to life."

The Results

The accolades "Mirror Mirror" received in the festival circuit are a testament to the project's success. More so, its role in instigating the commemoration of Calvert with a blue plaque at Arlington House in Margate stands as a poignant tribute. But beyond awards and recognitions, the tears of Calvert's family hearing his ‘reanimated’ voice epitomized the project's emotional depth.

For a glimpse of this melding of past and present, of art and technology, watch the video below


As the blue plaque gleams in Margate's skyline, Robert Calvert’s voice, with a little help from Respeecher, finds its rightful place in the annals of space rock history, ensuring the legend of the “Silver Machine” co-writer reverberates through time.

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