I would have posted earlier but December hit like a tidal wave. We began the Danielle Thrush album and I simultaneously mixed the As We Tremble project. It was a busy, busy month, not to mention the hectic nature and schedule of Christmas time.
When Danielle approached me to produce her first full length album I had a certain amount of trepidation due to how incredible her e.p. sounded. It was produced by my dear friends, Aaron Ankrum and Joel Hanson and was mixed by Mark Nash. All heavy hitters in all that they do in their musical careers.
I have recently come to grips with the reality that my style of production is a bit different than that of my peers. What I am about to try and communicate, in no way, devalues the approach of other people in my line of work. It isn't at all a "my way is best way," but rather, it is me finally becoming okay with my approach being "different."
A few words on that...
Though my sound is a very clean one, I tend to gravitate towards music that, although it could still be categorized as "pop music," tends to be more eclectic and to my ear, is more like... painting. Only instead of a canvas the medium is sound. This is music that really gets my blood pumping. Unique instrumentation (not unlike creating mixed-media), the risk-taking in finding non-traditional sounds and effects (using unique and contrasting colors), not to mention my love for hearing authentic instrumentation as opposed to stock sounds from a digital synthesizer or computer program (real brushes and real paint, as opposed to creating a digital image on a computer) hence the investment over the years in my ever-increasing vintage keyboard collection! Of course, I record onto the computer, but for me it is more like a photographer using old equipment and real film and then processing it to its desired final look in photoshop.
I have come to find a substantial degree of value in the approach of trying to create something that has never been heard before. So things like, having the artist sing into a plastic cone, sticking a microphone into a ceramic hand-drum to help shape the sound, beating on large plastic bins instead of drums, using car keys instead of a shaker, etc. really excites me. In general I would say that I prefer risk over safety and have found that it produces something of original value.
In the art world, of course, an original work far exceeds the value of a reproduced print. Recorded music, by nature, is like a print. It is reproduced for the masses and everyone who puts the music into their CD player, or iPod or computer gets the exact same thing. With visual art, there is a distinctly different feeling to experience an artists original work. You see the texture of the paint, you are standing in front of the very canvas the artist stood in front of for hours on end. It is... original. None other in the world like it. Therefore, my approach to recording is to attempt to make each "print" original at the onset. To create art on this sonic canvas that no-one has ever heard before. In doing so, the desired end is to have the listener tap into that same feeling when they stand in front of an original work of art. That wowed feeling of, "This work that I am seeing (hearing) right now has never been created in this way before." To cause them to listen on a deeper level. A level that moves them to the core.
Back to the Danielle album...
I informed her during our first meeting that, if she was looking to record something that was an extension of her e.p., that I probably wasn't the best fit, as my production style is a bit more organic and eclectic. After informing me that she was indeed hoping for this, we began this journey. The players on this album are the guys who have been playing in her band. Alex Young on drums, Zachary Ojeda on bass and Kyle Tennis on electric guitar. All three brought their very best and even allowed me to stretch and challenge them, both in the parts they played and in the tones from their instruments. Honestly, I was a little nervous to work with musicians outside of the realm of who I normally hire, however, they all worked incredibly hard and gave me really wonderful parts to work with. It seemed to be a rewarding experience for all participants.
At this point, we are in the mixing stage and it will be completed no later than mid-February.
I am really proud of this work and I hope to have helped define Danielle as an artist, as a songwriter and also have helped her find a sound that is her own. A sound that has uniqueness and originality. A sound that young songwriters will use as an example of their own influence.
Alex Young on drums
Zach Ojeda on bass
Kyle Tennis on electric guitar
A Library staple: Ben Rosenbush playing cello
Danielle singing into a microphone inside a plastic cone
Alex playing various junk for the looped section of the song "Parade"