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Below is out interview with Oranjuly’s Brian E King, discussing the recording process behind their upcoming sophomore release. For more info on the band, please head here
I know there were a lot of personnel shakeups within the band. Can you explain that a little bit?
2010 was a tumultuous year for me, personally and musically. After our first record, I made the decision to completely change our lineup besides Lou [Paniccia] and myself. I wasn’t happy. We were playing poorly and it wasn’t exciting. Now, I’m playing with four (sometimes five) people I respect immensely and there’s a lot more collaboration and fun, which is new for this band. If you saw us play live in the past year, you should really see us now…
How does the new record compare to your last release in terms of style and the creative process?
Although I’m still writing 100% of the music and playing the majority of the arrangements, it feels more like a band because of the organic sounds and less studio reliance. Lou’s drumming more on this one, Kyle’s playing some guitar, and Aaron’s been engineering and helping with the soundscape/vibe-based stuff. He’s been great with that.
How did you choose the studios this time around?
We used a few, but most of it was done at my apartment in Ten Hills, Somerville. We tracked drums straight to tape at Esthudio in Brighton (an analog-based home studio – literally, the entire house) with Dan Gonzales (Pretty & Nice/Spirit Kid) engineering and Strewnshank is in Charlestown where Aaron and I tracked piano, vocals, and all kinds of quirkiness. They have an old Baldwin upright – I stuck thumbtacks into the hammers to make it a tack piano. It sounds like an “old western/honky tonk” piano.
What kind of sound were you looking for and how did you achieve it?
Real ones. I wanted it to sound good and that’s my gripe about our debut. It sounds too clean and synthetic, which is why there’s tape and more roominess now. On the debut, I had a rule of “NO REVERB.” Rules can be fun, but most of my favorite records have imperfections, which I enjoy.
Did you use any special gear or recording techniques on this one?
Tape saturation is big so far. Gear-wise, nothing too wacky. 12-string guitars, Nashville-tuned guitars, great compressors, great mics. I know what I want for sounds, so whatever fills that need works. Lou played an electric fan for percussion. It sounds like a güiro.
What was your philosophy on live, full-band takes versus individual tracking?
Everything’s been individually tracked. There’s more separation and options [when you track that way].
Any special guests for the new record?
A lot and then some…
Beth Holub just played violin and viola on “To L.A.” and will be doing some more string arrangements. Emeen [Zarookian] of Sprit Kid is on some stuff, and there will be more too. I’m open to having new and exciting sounds as long as they fit the song.
What did you try to accomplish in the studio that you’re not able to do live?
To create more of a feeling or vibe than just making a collection. Recording-wise, I’m thinking more in “live” terms too. Our last record is stacked with sounds and could never be performed faithfully as a five-piece, so now I’m struggling with when to not go too far. I still love pretending I’m Brian Wilson and writing huge harmonies and kitchen-sink arrangements, but if it doesn’t need to be there it won’t be.
Did you face any obstacles in recording, and how did you overcome them?
Lots. We’re only 30% done with tracking as I’m writing/revising constantly, but finding the right feel is the key. We’ve scrapped stuff because it wasn’t exciting. If I’m bored, what does that say about what the listener will experience?
Any funny stories from the sessions that you’ll be re-telling for a while?
This is personal, but Aaron’s pizza addiction is getting worse day-to-day, Kyle refused to play a note unless we brought his bed to the studio, and Lou brought a bunch of dogs in to sing backups. They were vicious, but their harmonies were just delightful.
Album Title: TBA
Release Date: Fall 2011
Recorded at Brian E. King’s apartment, Esthudio in Brighton, MA and Strewnshank Studio in Charlestown, MA // Produced by Brian E. King // Engineered by Brian E. King, Aaron Benson, Dan Gonzales, Kyle Fredrickson and
Oranjuly is Brian E. King, Aaron Benson, Kyle Fredrickson and Lou Paniccia