On Monday I put the finishing touch on my album; a backing vocal courtesy of Hana Fahy. As I was discussing with a friend over the weekend, recording is like painting with water colours – a little dab of blue in the right place can lift the whole work and Hana’s vocal was that dab of blue, giving the last song on the record a whole new life that satisfyingly rounds off the album. It has been intensely fun listening to the final mixes over the weekend, knowing that I can now send the master off to be printed at last. I’m really thrilled with Tom Bell’s work in the mix and can’t wait to launch the album in a few weeks
Making this album has been a huge learning experience for me – here’s how it unfolded:
In October last year Tom set up his recording gear in the former TVNZ studio on Dowling street and Rob Falconer and Bob Scott spent a productive day recording rhythm tracks for about 11 songs.
Since then, Tom and I have been chipping away when we could find a chance between both our busy schedules and those of the musicians involved. I recorded my acoustic guitar parts and vocals, then started bringing in friends to lay down overdubs. We recorded Hana Fahy on the grand piano in Marama Hall. Don Ferns and Jason Horner played electric guitar at the Radio One studio. Tom dragged his recording kit all across Dunedin, from a suburban house in St Clair to a woolshed on the Purakanui back road. Mike Moroney and John Egenes pitched in parts they recorded themselves at home. Marcus Turner played sitar and Trevor Coleman added trumpet texture to a couple of tracks. Matt Langley sang backing vocals and John Dodd recorded a bass part. I think one of the best aspects of this whole process was being able to work with so many great musicians from Dunedin.
From the eleven songs I originally recorded, I pared it down to 9 – inevitably a couple of songs just weren’t coming together as well as the others, so they hit the floor, maybe to be resurrected for the next album. Several parts were re-recorded several times. Tom had to put up with my inexperience and musical deficiencies as a recording artist. But we’ve got there now and I’m pleased with it. The last job, which I will finish this afternoon, is to finalize the album artwork. For the cover, I’ve chosen this eye-catching photograph.
The picture is of an abandoned farmhouse at Hooper’s Inlet, on the back side of the Otago Peninsula . It was taken by my friend Billy Lobban and has been featured in New Zealand Geographic magazine. I thought it really summed up some of the themes of my record and was a strong image for the cover of the album, which will be called “Mud.”
Next job is to launch the album, which my new band the Mark IVs and I will be doing on September 15th at Chicks and then Saturday 16th at the New Edinburgh folk club. Hope to see you at one or both of those gigs!