I’ve been collaborating, in some form, with Nandi Plunkett (Half Waif) for nearly two years now, and she’s become one of my absolute favorite people and musicians in Brooklyn. We did a few duo shows on various instruments in early 2014, then I played synth bass and trumpet in the band as it expanded to include the excellent Zack Levine and Adan Carlo. A little over a year ago I began working closely with her on a new album, the fifth of her project.
For this music I wanted to try out an idea I’ve been tossing around the last few years, of sampling source material for an album at a location somehow significant to the music. The idea is to use ‘found sounds’ in a way that is not a gimmick, or purely as an aesthetic choice, but as a way to create a sense of place that influences the songs. This sense is clear in music that is recorded in a very identifiable place, like in a cathedral or a field or live at a club, but I wonder if it’s possible to abstract that feeling.
This is a very personal album for Nandi (I guess most albums are!), so we went up to her childhood home in the Berkshires for a week of extensive sampling and sonic exploration. I ended up programming most of the drums on the album out of little sounds I found in that house. We also processed a lot of her digital synths by playing them (out of speakers) in to rooms of the house and re-recording them, sort of using the house as a reverb chamber. I think the final album very much ‘sounds’ like that house, both literally and in it’s character. The rest of the process was a bit more typical of projects I’m involved in – piano recorded in Ditmas Park (thanks Kris and Katie!), vocals recorded in Nandi’s apartment, drums in red hook, strings recorded in my bedroom, mixes done by Raphael Peterson between my and his apartments.
The full album is coming out this spring, but for now, check out the single on Stereogum! This is one of my favorites from the project. Features Zack Levine on drums and Elena Moon-Park on violin.
UPDATE: stereogum thinks this is one of the 5 best songs of the week! check out this nice little write up.
Also! Cool album art…
Last week two (very different) recordings I produced and mixed came out.
Clara Strauch is a singer-songwriter from an island in Sweden. I had the great privilege of producing her debut EP, “Doda”.
Evans the Pedestrian is a rapper from Seattle. I had the great privilege of producing his debut mixtape, “Psyliloquy”.
I’ve also started using a new pseudonym to release my hip-hop production work under. This new version of me is named “snells”, you can check out more of his music at snells.bandcamp.com.
Also, last week I got to answer a few interview questions for Seattle Music Partners, an amazing organization that provides free after school lessons to elementary students in Seattle Public Schools. You can read the interview here.
This post I wrote for Mason Jar Music’s current residency at indabamusic.com was just published. It’s about the difficulties involved in finding a unique voice as an electronic musician and some ways I’ve tried to overcome them.