I can’t remember how long ago it was when Laura Theis and I first started talking about recording an album together. The basic idea was that we would record a little over half of the tracks with a stripped down band in a studio, and then I would layer in all the rest of the stuff afterwards. That’s generally how I work best, tweaking tracks in small chunks over a long period of time, while working on several projects at once. But it does mean it takes a long long time to complete. It’s probably been about 3 years. But I’m really happy with the result, and I think/hope Laura is too.
I say ‘recording an album’ together: although there is a lot of very ‘me’ stuff on there it is very much Laura’s album, with me in the Producer chair. She was able to be very clear about what sort of album she wanted: about half of it proper Badass, and the other half sweetly Snow White. Sometimes the clear idea you have at the beginning is only a starting point, and you end up with something very different at the end, but I think we’ve ended up with pretty much exactly the album we discussed.
In fact I think there was only really one thing which we differed on. The penultimate song on the album, ‘Asenweg 16’, is the song most personal to Laura – the one which she feels is most ‘her’. Because of this, and because so much of the album was acoustic and electric instruments often played in a deliberately rough-around-the-edges way, I thought it might be an interesting contrast to make this song very precise and electronic, with just synth sounds and drums. It ended up sounding a bit like I’m Your Man by Leonard Cohen. Quite 80s, in other words. I sent Laura the first drafts, and she said, polite to a fault, that ‘Asenweg 16’ was the only one she wasn’t entirely sure about. I did a few tweaks, and played another version of the same arrangement. “Is this any better?” I asked, as I played it to her. And clearly she still wanted to be polite, but she just couldn’t help involuntarily bursting out laughing as soon as the track started playing. Needless to say, it’s nothing like the arrangement that finally made it to the album.
My previous big project had been making the Joy & Jealousy album, and it had been fairly intense. I had brought in a couple of other musicians to play on a couple of tracks but otherwise did everything myself: selecting and adapting the material, performing it, recording it, mixing and mastering it, and designing the album art. I was keen to do something very different, and to focus on specifically the production side, so this seemed like a perfect fit.
Anyway, so now it’s all done, and dusted. (Well, in this case perhaps, knuckle-dusted.) And I’ll continue to do a special feature on a track each month.
All I have to do now is to resist the usual temptation to go back and remix the fucker.