Tagged with " Silk Screens"
In our latest edition of Silk Screens, Berkeley, California producer Yalls details the inception of “Remember,” one of the many standout tracks on his latest EP, The Voice.
Name your own price for The Voice here.
“Remember” started with a simple chord progression I came up with just playing around one day. I ran the chords through a simple soft synth and then later ran the midi out to a DSI Tetra and mixed the two. Usually, I’ll loop the chord progression and listen to it for a few minutes/days/weeks and think about whatever I’m thinking about and try to write or find vocals to sing over it.
In this case I added an a cappella sample vocal that I’ve warped so much I can’t remember what it is. I loaded it into a sampler, played with the pitch, and worked out a new melody by chopping up small bits that I could play like an instrument.
I added the bass line with a light bass synth and doubled it with a DSI Tetra again. It’s pretty much the same bass riff throughout.
Then I sampled a quick bit of Amber singing, “Remember the pain we put each other through?” and it made me think of elephants. I may have been thinking about elephants already because they are incredible creatures we should never forget (I have been told). But it fit what is the closest thing to a chorus in this song.
The elephant then reminded me of The Elephant Show, which I used to watch as a 3-5 year old. It was very musically important for me and it triggered a huge wave of sadness/nostalgia type feelings that inspired the higher pitched arpeggiating synth, taking the song in a much more melancholic direction.
I was probably eating Skittles® at this point and reading Wikipedia about the funeral habits of elephants, crying.
Then I worked on the drums. I always tap out the drums on a drum pad and quantize/edit afterwards to get a more live feel. I’ll usually manipulate everything a bit to try and create an interesting mix and then bounce it.
And lastly, here’s the elephant that inspired this song. This picture was the original album cover on SoundCloud:
During the making of ‘Between Places’, most of the tracks on the album took on a lot of different shapes and forms before they settled into what one can hear now. “When Kisses Are Salty” is perhaps the track that was sent back and forth the most before we were satisfied. The idea was to try to make a track with a lot of different parts and with a hip hop-like chorus. The song is sewn together using different musical ideas that had the same kind of feel. The big a capella segment was for instance recorded around 6AM when I had been kicked out from an after-party or “nachspill” as we call it here in Norway. The synth segment in the middle was originally meant to be the verses but it didn’t really work as that. This is the first demo version of the song.
Then I added some more ideas, like the vibraphone part ending of the track. I sent the vibraphone score to a friend of mine called Alexander Von Mehren (responsible for all the vibraphone you hear on the record) and he recorded it in his home studio.
The structure was changed a few more times, and we also tried a lot of different lyrics. I sent Chris Holm (vocalist and he tours with us) this version for him to write some lyrics to. This is close to the structure we ended up with. The only thing was that the opening didn’t really work.
After we had worked on the lyrics for a long time, we almost gave up. So I sent it to Emilio Sanhueza (Emilio is one of our lyricists – he doesn’t play any instruments) for some fresh ideas and lyrics. But we wanted to keep the chorus. This version is with Fredrik Vogsborg (Fredrik sometimes sings on the recordings – he has done some choir and sings the lead on “First Days Of Something” – he plays live with us on special occasions) on the chorus. It was originally meant for him to sing. On this version the opening has been changed. With the melody and instrumentation that are on the last version.
We met a couple of days later in the studio and we started writing the new lyrics. I think we wrote most of it in half an hour. It was really inspiring and we had a lot of “poet slam” moments (that’s what we say when we write something good). We tried one more time with Fredrik on vocals but it didn’t really work. So Chris gave it a shot. We tried many different approaches, but it was hard to get what we wanted. It didn’t seem to have the same feel as the backing track. So I suggested: “What if you just sing it really quiet and we overdub it like 20 times?”. It was the opposite of what we had been trying out before, which was to get one very present vocal take. After we had recorded all the tracks and pressed play, we just thought, shit, it sounds really nice now. It sort of just blended right in. This is the final version with my rough mix.
In our latest installment of Silk Screens, Stephen Ramsay of the Montreal-based band Young Galaxy details the history of their strikingly beautiful single, “Pretty Boy”.
Ultramarine is out April 23rd via Paper Bag Records.
In March 2011, right before our son Fergus was born, the band did a small tour of the eastern seaboard which included playing a couple of shows in the New York City area, which meant a chance to visit one of our favourite haunts in St. Marks Square on the lower east side, The Angel’s Share – a cocktail bar run by Japanese ex-pats that’s hidden in the back of an Izakaya restaurant on the second floor above St. Mark’s Bookshop at 3rd Avenue between 8th and 9th streets.
If I recall correctly, it was an early evening visit in order to avoid waiting to be seated – so afterwards we had a little time to pop into the bookstore which, though small, is renowned for it’s stellar selection. After a visit to The Angel’s Share I always feel a bit expansive, and I remember buying three books that evening that were a little outside my usual reading material – which is modern fiction. The first two were science fiction novels, and the third was Patti Smith’s autobiography, Just Kids.
Just Kids sat on our bookshelf at home until late winter, 2012, when I finally got around to reading it. It was the first book in a long time that moved me to tears – the account of the relationship between Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe and their commitment to each other and their art struck a chord in both Catherine and me and were the main influence for the lyrics for ‘Pretty Boy’. We rarely write lyrics without the song being in place first, but having freshly read the book we felt real love for these characters and were very inspired by their story, so the lyrics happened quickly and naturally. They were written from a place of simplicity and love.
When we were lost
We found each other
And headed sightless
For the city
We had no way
Misfit and stray
Living beyond both
Means and pity
And I know you feel isolated
And I feel what you won’t say
I don’t care if the disbelievers
You’re my pretty boy -
I felt your pain when
You changed your name
We were each other’s
Would shift the weight
But never make your pack
And I know you feel isolated
And I feel what you won’t say
I don’t care if the disbelievers
You’re my pretty boy -
I had a musical idea kicking around which was in the vain of ‘We Have Everything’ off our previous album, Shapeshifting. I have always been a huge fan of songs like ‘I Feel Love’ by Donna Summer, and ‘Everything’s Gone Green’ by New Order, which feature hypnotic, strobing, and insistent arpeggiator lines. I wanted to build on the previous attempt at a similar effect with ‘We Have Everything’, but strip it down and refine it more. I like the idea of marrying Catherine’s super emotive voice to machines, to combine the emotional with more hypnotic and robotic elements. Like most songs I’ve started in the last couple of years, the ideas begin in Logic Pro using soft synths and programming. This particular melody was kept simple and sweet so the insistent arpeggiator wouldn’t grate on the ears… the Pretty Boy lyrics were the only lyrics tested with the music, it came together very easily. Here is the demo we came up with:
After demoing, we took the idea to the band to work out the parts, arrangement, dynamic, etc. as we always do – here is an example of a very rough, early full band take on the demo, recorded at our rehearsal space. We decided to strip away the arpeggiators at this stage to make room for more ‘analog’ instrumentation, and to work on the dynamics and arrangement of the song, mostly.
In May 2012 we went to Gothenburg, Sweden to record with Dan Lissvik. When it came time to record ‘Pretty Boy’, elements of the original demo were used, but we added parts we had worked out in rehearsals, such as Andrea’s added live drums and Matt’s added pianos. We also worked with Lina Molander, a brilliant violin player from Gothenburg who we met through Dan. In one afternoon, she recreated the synth string parts and improvised a bit as well – which added some beautiful flourishes to the song and solidifies the final, emotional impact, in my opinion.
In our latest installment of Silk Screens, Asheville, North Carolina’s Jackson Scott details the creation of “Evie”, a new single from his TBA LP, Melbourne.
So I’ve been in Asheville, NC for a couple years. Started living in this house with some friends back in June. There’s no cable and we didn’t have internet until a few weeks ago. Really the only thing to do is listen to records and make art and well, gosh anyway, I’ve been into recording music for a while but started to really get obsessed with it a few years back. I haven’t been going to college since last spring because my parents wanted me to take a year off and work and get in state residence in NC, but I’ve basically been spending my college funds on avoiding getting a job, thinking about music, writing songs and other things…
My roommate got this Tascam 4-track cassette recorder last summer and I started to dig the idea of recording to tape. In September we saw Ty Segall and Thee Oh Sees in Nashville, which was really sick, been a fan of both of them for a good while now. During the show, I found Ty and asked him how he recorded his album “Melted”. He said that he did it all on an 8-track.
So we got back to Asheville, and the campus bookstore I was working at fired me. So I started spending every day recording to the 4-track in my basement. Every time I grabbed an acoustic guitar I just wanted to sing creepy campfire songs so I decided to make an album’s worth of them…only a few ended up sounding like real campfire songs though. I think I got inspired after this campfire I was at last year, during which my friend put an empty liquor bottle with the cap on into the fire. I tried to take it out and it exploded in my face, I almost went blind in my left eye…
I think “Evie” sounds like a campfire song, it’s supposed to be about religion and different things associated with religion like Adam and Eve…it’s also supposed to be about evil and innocence, it’s not our fault humans are so fucked up you know. I started by recording the guitar with this kooky little nylon I have, then added bass, drums, tambourine and all that stuff…I also added this creepy old toy piano for the intro. I used a compression sustain pedal through the 4-track for pretty much everything, and then an echo pedal for some of the guitars and vocals. Then I played back all the cassette tracks into Garageband and converted all of them to mp3.
Bella Foster gave me the idea to build a world through sound. Her first idea was for me to build a body, but this was the song that came first. It’s called “Patterns Of A Diamond Ceiling” (stream above). Some of the lyrics are from things I had been listening to and looking at. The song is basically about building fantasy worlds for yourself. I didn’t want the song to be like spoken word, so I spent a long time trying to attach different sounds to different words. The imagery I had for the lyrics “idea of the north” were sharp and cutting, whereas Gould seemed to see them as playful and fun. I like that our experiences differed, as did I’m sure, most of my associations.
Using music to choreograph a scene. Putting musical identifiers onto objects to build character through sound…
These are some of the other ideas that I drew from when writing “Patterns of a Diamond Ceiling”:
Bella Foster paintings: Her artwork is the single biggest influence on all of my music. I can’t imagine making music without her in my life, or living for that matter. She is the single most talented person I know, and I owe almost everything to her. Thank You B!
DANA SHUTZ: I liked the idea of the performer confronting the viewer, which is what her paintings are about, and I loved the title, “Self-Eaters”. I loved the image of people eating their hands and feet, and the deeper symbolism there.
Sylvia Plath Diary: Eloquent and gorgeous. This specific part is what I loved the most.
Arthur Rimbaud: Learning that he began using what he coined Synesthesia: his Sonnet of the ‘Vowels’ (1871); In which each vowel is assigned a color. This was exactly in the vain of what I was trying for, just with music instead of color.
Patti Smith —”Horses”: The poetry and visualization in this song is amazing. it’s a ‘go-to’ song for so many musicians, but the build kills me. I love it.
The Glass Slipper: Bella and I liked the idea of the glass slipper in fairy tales…A glass slipper itself is cool and we liked the symbolism.
And lastly, this background image was pinned to my computer wall when I wrote this song:
Pre-order Marnie Stern’s new record, The Chronicles of Marnie, here and stream the lead-off single below:
Curated by Speaker Snacks.