“My good friend Alec Dartley – who also runs Aagoo Records (the label we’ve been lucky enough to work with for the last few years) – has some property up in rural Vermont. They have a converted garage that I’ve set up shop in a few times. It’s a gorgeous piece of land with plenty of swimming holes around. It’s basically the upper floor of a large garage with wainscoted triangular ceilings. There are plenty of windows that look out in the surrounding forest. Alec is also an amazing artist and the walls are lined with past paintings. Plus. it’s totally isolated so you are capable of playing extremely loud until late with no worries of bugging the neighbors.
Dana Valatka and I (the current live group), were just up there last Fall to record an EP and we brought the equipment we had on the road, which consists of a drum-kit, glockenspiel, handbells, keyboard, lapsteel guitar, melodica, sampler and our own nice little PA. We also had a Mac up there to track everything on, plus a simple computer interface. The room itself serves as Alec’s family music room so there is lots of other instruments around, including another drum-kit, amps, steel drum, etc…
As I’ve recorded in numerous different places I’d say the only essential thing for me in a space I’m working in is windows. When we’re up in Vermont, it’s for the specific reason of recording, so we tend to try to be rather motivated. On a good day Dana and I will spend four to eight hours tracking and then I’ll put in an additional two to four hours mixing. When it comes down to all of the post-production work that happens away from Vermont (so most likely in whatever room I’m inhabiting at the moment) the process takes on a whole other vibe with me spending from eight to 12 hours trying to figure out how things are going to sit in the mix, plus tracking vocals if necessary.
I work alone for a lot of it and it tends to speed the process along, or at least in my mind it seems this way. Whenever there is another person involved the decision making part of the process takes a whole new light and requires extended verbal sessions. When alone I’m free to feel things out and make mistakes as I go, without having to confer first with another.
In terms of the songwriting process most of it comes out of extended improvisations or a kernel of a musical idea. From there I’ll start to track things loosely, initially throwing down far too much material on the computer. From there it’s a subtractive process with me in essence wheedling down the song into a digestible form or feeling it out over time in the live setting. Up until this most recent EP, I was using an old Mac laptop with a Mackie mixer and Cubase to track and mix everything. My laptop, being six years old now, has been having some difficulties, so I upgraded to one of the new iMac’s with a 24 inch screen – which I have been loving for its size and speed (not to be a salesman). I have also started using Logic, which has been nice.
I love the proximity to nature and space at the studio in Vermont. Nothing better than taking a break from staring at a screen all day long to go swimming and hiking through the forests of Vermont.”
Musical Rooms was talking to Luke Wyland of AU
AU (pronounced “Ay-you”) is the work of multi-instrumentalist Luke Wyland, begun while finishing up his degree from the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston. He then moved across the US to Portland, Oregon. AU is currently a full-time duo with Dana Valatka on drums (Jackie-O-Motherfucker, Mustaphamond). Last year, they released their second album, Verbs. The album is flanked at one end by the blissful bombast of a 20-plus person vocal chorus, and concludes some forty minutes later in the hushed strains of a wistful lullaby. They make their Irish debut Upstairs at Whelan’s on Wednesday, April 29th. Doors 8pm and tickets cost €10 plus booking from http://www.tickets.ie, WAV Box-Office, City Discs, Sound Cellar and Ticketmaster outlets nationwide. For more details, visit www.myspace.com/peaofthesea.