April 2018




AM: What is your favorite song?

SB: There were so many good songs to choose from, you definitely kicked my ass in March. This was really close. It took me a good week and a half to get past your first song, Let Go by The Undercover Dream Lovers. Doug DeLuca instantly brought me back to the moment in time I discovered Leon Bridges, which I love. Then I got lost in Raindrop Blue by King Tuff, which is going to have to be my pick for March. While it starts out as a strong, simple tune, by the end, it's this trippy psych rock experience that doesn't seem to end. 

AM: Have you heard any of these tracks before?

SB: The songs from The Hails and Pet Fangs and Doug DeLuca were the only ones I'd heard before. Otherwise, all new.

AM: Name one band alive you wish you could hang out with for a night and tell me why? 

SB: This is an easy one: Daft Punk. As I've watched them over the years, I've become more and more infatuated with them. What started out as "hey, these guys have some good beats" quickly morphed into an unwavering appreciation for everything about them. I've watched countless documentaries, YouTube clips of concerts, interviews of friends and acquaintances, and even stories from other sound engineers talking about how incredible their song construction is.

Things I love about them:

A) The way they got their start. Both were around 15 when they started talking with record labels when, at the time, most labels were giving newcomers short 1-2 year deals with a higher signing bonus, in return for owning the rights to the music and full creative control. The result usually forces new artists to produce singles vs albums and creatively skew their sound to popular music in an attempt to sell as much as possible before they lose their 15 minutes of fame. But these guys (these teenagers !) at that time had the business acumen to negotiate a 10 year deal, retain the rights to their own music and, most importantly, maintain creative control. They chose to forgo the short term money, knowing that if they could spend the next 10 years working on their vision, they'd come out as 25 year old veterans who had complete control over their music.

B) How they've evolved. When they started out, they knew the type of music they wanted to ultimately create, but they also knew they didn't have the skills yet to create it. With each album they learned more. The big turning point actually came when Disney hired them to make the Tron album. This changed two things. First, it made them start thinking about albums as stories, not as groups of songs. And secondly, it gave them access to Disney's orchestra and got them thinking about arrangements in ways they never had. When they finally wrapped the soundtrack, they finally felt like they knew how to produce the music they dreamed about and so they started gathering all of the musicians they wanted (mostly through Paris nightclub recruiting) and made Random Access Memories.

C) Coachella '06. The event had tried to get them to perform for years and each time they said no. Until one day, Coachella threw so much money at them, they said yes. But not because they were greedy. They did it because that money would allow them to create the show to end all shows. In fact, they took all of the money from Coachella and put it into the production of their performance. That show changed everything for EDM concerts. Up until that point, people at EDM shows would face in the opposite direction away from the artists and towards their dancing friends. But after that, they turned around, because it wasn't just someone pushing buttons on stage, but it was a jaw-dropping spectacle. It's the reason why the popular EDM acts today put so much into their set design and production.

D) Their creative process. Basically, most artists today take a year, maybe two, to put out an album because their fans and labels expect it. But these two are ok hunkering down in a studio for 4 years, taking months to perfect a sound on one song.

E) Their robot helmets. In another brilliant decision, they started wearing helmets early in their careers. While it's a great way to help people remember your group, it's a better way to have nobody know what your faces look like, which allows you to live a normal-ish life. They wanted their kids and families to be able to go to school, to a restaurant, or anywhere else normal families go without being hounded or recognized. Mission accomplished. Today, their families are friends, live in modest homes in France and hang out together.

F) This next story. During the production of RAM, they had a song in which someone was talking about the past, the present and the future. So they decided to get 3 microphones. One old one that came out during the 70s (which was what the guy starts talking about), then one that's out today and then one that hadn't come out yet. And they set them all up for an interview. The crazy thing about all of this is that the sound quality for all three was so high, it was impossible for people to know that the interview/stories were recorded on different microphones. When they were asked why they did it (because nobody knew the difference), they simply responded...we will. 


SB: What is your favorite song?

AM: Gonna have to say it's a tie between Blossom / Colin Magalong and Figure A / Time Atlas. It's taken me 22 days to say that. Honestly I couldn't decide. I couldn't even get past Nothing on Me / Paul Williams (honorable mention) until week two. 

SB: Have you heard any of these tracks before?

AM: Q-Tip and Cut Copy took me back to college. The Hails I also used this month. Doug DeLuca is a new swoon -- catching his show in LA later this week. Otherwise, no.  Did I mention that I love it when we end up with identical tracks on our lists in a month? There's something cool about being so far away from you and knowing you and I both vibed with the same song at a random moment the month before. 

SB: Naming your band is one of the most important aspects in a band's life. People will judge you for it. It communicates something about your music and it will forever be attached to what you create. What is one / are some of your favorite band names you've heard throughout the years and why?

AM: This question tripped me up and I've really had to think about it. The truth is, I don't think there's any one name that's driven me crazy. I'm a sucker for origin stories. How two people met, who made the move. How two business partners met, how they crossed over from knowing each other to building a company together. Why someone moved to a new city. Why someone has that middle name. 

How a band formed and took a name is no different. It's catnip for me. I want to know everything. Exactly who was present that night? What time was it? What was the conversation before? The conversation after? Did it feel significant at the time? What other names almost made it? All of it, I want it all. 

I will say that names like Boogaloo Assassins and Tame Impala intrigue me because I wonder how two totally different words got strung together. HOW? I also wonder about bands who name their bands something totally obscure and lean in to it -- like, do they expect it to resonate with me? Or do they only want the music to resonate with me and the name is an Easter egg for a small group of people? I have so many questions.