How to Record a “Band” Album Sans Band

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In The Studio with Jeff Taylor

PRE-PRODUCTION

What was your pre-production like on this project?

After a few years of obsessing over the idea of being in a band with a set group of people, I decided to make a record that focuses more on completed songs – one that doesn’t depend on working hand-in-hand with others on the songwriting process.  I just finished these four songs, asked a friend to produce, and we went into the studio.

I finished these songs in a very natural, focused way, over the past six months or so. Instead of settling for half-arranged versions, which didn’t satisfy, I’d work on these songs even when I didn’t feel like doing it. Just pick up a guitar, or sit down at a piano, and play it through. What feels right? What feels honest? That’s how these were pre-produced.

How did you choose the studio?

I didn’t choose the studios this time around. Thomas Bartlett, the producer for this record, brought us into rooms he has experience working in. I’ve been thrilled with the environments and engineers.

Listen above to “River” by Jeff Taylor, from the new Organelle EP.

PRODUCTION

What kind of sound were you looking for and how did you achieve it? 

I wanted to make a record that listened all the way through with the kind of homogeneity to which our last record kind of said ‘fuck you.’ And that was fine, last time, because we were finding our way through the weeds – not just in the musical sense, but in the business one, as well. It’s easy to shoot yourself in the foot. Remembering to store your weapon safely – with a cleared chamber – now that requires experience.

What was your philosophy on live, full-band takes versus individual tracking?

‘River’ was performed live with no click, as a full band.  Other moments on the record are more ‘assembled’ creations based on the sound of an instrument, how it would record best, and of course the types of rooms we worked in. Some vocals sounded great just the way they were on the initial tracking day. Others felt like they could use a revisiting.

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Any special guests?

You’re our special guest – welcome to the studio! Can we get you some coffee?  [laughs] Well, I’m very excited to have gotten the chance to work and play with Thomas Bartlett. Steve Wall, who’s played such a big part (engineering, producing, playing in the band) over the past couple years in Dumpster Hunter, continues to be involved.  He sings and plays on here as well.  David Heilman, who played with me all summer long, helping me work through arrangement ideas on a couple of these tunes, drums on ‘River.’

What did you try to accomplish in the studio that you’re not able to do live?

I just wanted to sound natural and to have a good mix.  Honesty and meaningfulness are totally new friends for me – I tend to be totally full of shit most of the time. I hope this record comes across as sounding kind of genuine.

What were the toughest challenges you faced?

The toughest challenge was figuring out how to facilitate studio time, musicians’ availability, etc.  Through some online fundraising we were able to make it happen on our own.  That weird, interconnected network of servers and satellites out there these days – thank goodness for that, otherwise the death of the record store would have tolled that of the entire music industry.

Any funny stories from the session that you’ll be telling for a while?

These sessions have been pretty focused and deliberate, I’m afraid. You’ll have to meet up with us after the show to create some good laughs. We can always use them!

POST PRODUCTION

What are your release plans?

Initially, the people who helped us raise funds via our online campaign will be the only ones to receive the record – a general release will follow in 2014. By then, though, we’ll be well into our next recording project.

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Any special packaging?

This one went straight to vinyl. It’s the first time I’ve had my songs pressed on vinyl and I was really adamant about that happening this time around. I don’t think I’ll be pressing CDs again until someone else can invest in that for me. It’s hard to even locate a CD player these days, other than in a car.

ALBUM INFO & CREDITS
Artist: Jeff Taylor
Album: Organelle
Recording Studio: Pat Dillett’s Studio/ Saltlands.
Record Label: Rockwood Music Hall Recordings
Release Date: Spring 2014
Engineers: Day 1: Dave Groener at Pat Dillett’s studio in Midtown. Days 2/3: Dawn Landes at Saltlands Studio in Dumbo.
Mixing: Steve Wall
Mastering: Steve Fallone at Sterling Sound, NYC
Artwork: Rawan Rihani.

photography by Anton Coene

For more visit https://www.facebook.com/jefftayloralive and follow Jeff Taylor on Twitter @dumpsterhunter.

Have a unique studio story to share? Email [email protected]

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