“My favorite place to make music is my studio. It’s conveniently located in a converted shed in my back yard. I’ve spent years accumulating recording equipment, musical instruments, and software and I finally think I’ve gotten my studio exactly the way I like it. Because of this, I can work at a much faster pace than in the past, which is perfect for our current project, A Year With The Very Most (Indiecater Records), where we write and record an EP every three months for each season.
It’s a 13’ X 13’ room with a vaulted ceiling and parquet wood floors. There was some water damage the first year we had the studio, and so some of the flooring is warped and lifted up off the ground. The walls are painted different shades (blue, green, tan and white) and they have acoustic treatment panels on them. The lighting is pretty low. Other than the windows, I just have a single lamp that lights it. I have a framed poster of Brian Wilson looking down at me, and I also have a poster of Jason Anderson’s The Wreath (K records), an album I co-produced in 2004. I have so little time to keep things tidy that it’s usually a pigsty out there. I debated whether to clean up the space for the photos, but decided I wanted them to be an authentic representation of how it usually is.
For instruments I have Fender Telestrat guitar (that is, a Stratocaster body with a Telecaster neck), a Fender DeVille 410 amp, 88 key Fender Rhodes piano, G and L bass guitar with Ampeg BA115 amp, Yamaha analog synth, Alesis Micron analog modeling synth, all sorts of percussion doodads (tambourines, shakers, vibraslap, woodpecker, guero, cabasa, wood blocks), a melodica, and a Jaymar toy piano. I make heavy use of these little percussion doo-dahs, and a lot of them have already found their way into our Spring EP that just came out on Indiecater.
For recording gear I’ve got a Peluso 22 251 tube condenser mic that I use on almost everything. I have a few other mics as well, including my secret weapon on guitar amp: the AEA R92 ribbon mic. I run my mics into Seventh Circle Audio preamps and then into my computer via an EMU audio interface. I use Sonar Producer 7 software for all my mixing and editing. In addition to being what I record and mix in, Sonar also has a lot of really cool software synthesizers that I make a lot of use of. Most of the organs and synth sounds on my recordings are from Sonar. I’ve found perfect equilibrium with the gear I have. I think I’d miss most of the things I own if I were to lose them, but I also don’t really desire much of anything more. I love it!
The most important things to have here are my gear and a beverage. I’m addicted to Diet Mountain Dew. I don’t know how widely available Diet Mountain Dew is outside of the US, but I’m hooked on it. It’s kind of a lame thing to be hooked on, but I swear it is so refreshing and crisp. I sound like a commercial. I also need a capo at all times because I use capos a lot in my songs.
Sometimes, when I have a deadline, I really put a lot of time in here, but there are times when I can go over a week or more without setting foot in there. I don’t have a set schedule at all. I just use it as needed. Isolation can be important when I’m writing. Because of how long it takes me to come up with parts (most of the time) I definitely wouldn’t want anyone hanging around in the studio at those times. I’d just be embarrassed because of how long I take.
The creative process usually goes like this: there will be a time where I play on my guitar or my Rhodes, and the very beginnings of a song will emerge. Usually it’s a pattern on my guitar with a rudimentary melody. I quickly record that little “songlet” as I call them, and usually file them away for quite some time. In fact, sometimes “songlets” don’t become songs until several years after their “birth.” Then, when it comes time to record some serious songs, I sift through the songlets, pick the ones that have the most potential and start developing them. For the real recordings, we usually start with guitar, drums, bass and lead vocals and start building from there. I listen to the early versions of the songs in my car on my way to work and start coming up with ideas for additional layers (e.g., horn, synth, lead guitar, or string parts). Then eventually, I just begin layering these ideas, weed out the ones that aren’t that great or that aren’t working with other parts of the song, and then finally I’m done. At least until it comes time to mix, which is a grueling process when you’ve got over 50 layers sometimes to work with.
I like that this space is close enough to my house so that I’m not completely divorced from what’s going on at home (I’ve got a wife and three little girls), but far enough from my house that I can get stuff done. I also like that I can keep everything set up the way I like it, for the most part. I also really like my Brian Wilson poster.”
The Very Most are an indie-pop band from Boise, Idaho founded by Jeremy Jensen in 2002. A Year With The Very Most is a series of EPs released every three months, one for each season of the year. Spring, the first EP is out now, and Summer is due out on May 1st. For more details, visit www.myspace.com/theverymost, www.theverymost.com/ or www.indiecater.com