Lock-downs and Collaborations pt. 2 - Brad and Elliott
So, this all started with my admiration for the jazz pianist, Brad Meldhau. I was working a temp job when I first moved to Edinburgh, and I started listening to this album day in and day out as it kept me occupied over my spreadsheet work. The album is called Independence Day, featuring Chris Thile. This was a very new side to Meldhau's repertoire. In my mind, when I think of his playing, my first recommendation would be the The Nearness of You album; an insanely good duo album with Joshua Redman (if you haven't listened to this, now's the time my friend, if you're into jazz, that is).
On Independence Day, they cover a wide range of Americana and folk tunes, beautifully accompanied by Thile and his mandolin. And then I hear "Independence Day", the title track of the album. This tune became my most listened to last year with beautiful melodies floating around this minor-ish, dorian sounding pallet. I had no idea who wrote this but I had associated it with Meldhau and Thile's work (I should've just googled it, to be honest).
Later that year, I'm out one night with my good friends Emily and Graham, the amazing singers you'll be seeing in this video, and we start chatting about our music and what we're into. Emily drew up a playlist for me of an introduction to Chris Thile and the Punch Brothers. Emily and Graham form the folk duo: The Jellyman's Daughter, hence the folk connection. So I go on and spot "Independence day" on that list. What a coincidence!
She then goes on to tell me it's an Elliott Smith cover. Ok..... So I go down a Youtube wormhole listening to all of Smith's works. I listened to albums, live recordings and even watched a Jon Brion TV special where Brad Meldhau just walks in and sits in on "Independence day" and "Bottle up and Explode!"
See what a little research can do! A fun experience nonetheless.
Smith's melodies are subtle but draw on emotion. His vocal delivery is upfront and present but emotionally fragile. It was great throwback to a 90's sound I thought I'd get tired of. I was wrong. I guess we were all into emo pop/soft-rock at some point in our lives. But at the end of the day, a good melody is a good melody, no matter what the context.
Having spent time with this tune on the piano, I thought I'd give it a try. I called up Emily and asked if they'd be keen for a fun lockdown collaboration. I hoped to blend the two versions I knew best, the Meldhau/Thile arrangement and the original. This is what we came up with!
Go check out The Jellyman's Daughter here!
And their Spotify:
So my experience recording this:
Doing one-takes of the track is a skill and super helpful for editing.
Understand that it's never going to be perfect. Look for character in the imperfections and choose the take that closely resembles what you want your sound to be.
LIGHTING IS KEY.
I don't have professional lighting on my takes... I wish I did.
Learn how to video edit. It's a skill that you're gonna want to have the fundamentals on. I spent 2 hours learning how to edit on the Youtubes and I was able to release a video product on the internet within a day. Give it a try. Use Adobe Premiere's 7 day free trial! It's worth it!
Off to the next thing.... stay safe! :)
TOP TIP! If you're cutting your own hair, always start long then go shorter. You can always cut long, you can't grow hair instantly....