Interview With Some Velvet Morning - Indablog - Indaba Music
News, Sessions and oddities from the Indaba Community
Wednesday July 14, 2010 at 06:54 PM
In the wake of the successful conclusion to the Some Velvet Morning contest, Indaba’s Mantis Evar had a few questions for the band. Singer and guitarist Desmond Lambert was happy to oblige. Read the full interview below:
What’s your creative process and workflow for writing music? Is it consistent or does it change from song to song?
We don’t generate songs out of jams. Songs (occasionally riffs) are brought into the rehearsal room & then merging the songwriting with the band’s identity is something that we spend most of our time on. Most of our songs go through many incarnations before we settle upon the arrangement that gives the best sonic impact for 3 instruments. One consistent pattern that seems to work is at the songwriting level to leave some space somewhere in the song’s structure that allows the band room to take the song in a direction which I might not think of just writing on an acoustic guitar or piano. For example ‘Godless’ on our first album starts as a typical singer songwriter 6/8 ballad until the middle 8 at which point SVM hijacks it into a double time frenzy. Similarly ‘How To Start A Revolution’ has a middle 8, which shifts to a 6/4 unison riff.
In the studio, how do you approach tracking?
For us it is essential to track together. As an engineer for other artists I have seen songs destroyed by ‘obeying the great god that is the click’. Our rhythm section have played together for years and to strip away that subconscious knowledge of one another’s subtleties for technical reasons (like separation) is insane. I also think perfection’ is an overrated ‘goal’. I think hearing a band find the pocket 1 or 2 bars into a section is one of the best things about listening to a live-based record.
Sonically, electronic music is way ahead of ‘rock n roll’ so a live band needs to think about what they can offer an audience. I think capturing the interaction between humans is that thing, and unfortunately something that seems to have been overlooked and underrated for a while now.
Do you work closely with a producer?
For our first album we were lucky enough to work with Rik Simpson who has since gone on to win a Grammy with Coldplay. As an engineer I have also worked with engineer/producers such as John Leckie (Pink Floyd, Radiohead) and Mark Opitz (ACDC, INXS). Recently we’ve been producing ourselves, which has so far been working for us, but obviously it could be dangerous and self-indulgent. We’ll see if the songs start reaching 20 minutes.
Describe your in-studio process. What gear is essential?
I engineer at (in my opinion) the best studio in London. I’ve learnt the most important thing for a session is what you do before you even arrive. I’m not in a rock band to chop up drums/ fix mistakes. So before we book the studio we’re rehearsed and 100% confident in the parts and arrangements. Then it’s a case of setting up, getting a sound and playing a couple of takes. Maybe we’re just lazy but I’ve noticed that although takes can technically get better as the session goes on, sometimes the vibe disappears, so being ready to capture the first couple of takes is vital.
For our next single ‘New York’ we recorded 2 takes, went upstairs for a listen and just realised we could do another 5 takes but what were we going to get that wasn’t on take 1? So we used it as the master. Then the process continues when I add sonics and atmospheres with my guitar and or synths & overdub my vocal.
Gear wise. The studio we record at has a custom made API Legacy desk which sounds unbelievable. The pre – amps are so open and everything that runs through a channel just sounds more ‘expensive’. Apart from the Studer tape machines my other favourite bits of gear are a pair of vintage LA2 compressors that just make whatever you put through them fatter and it distorts amazingly. Guitar wise I have a couple of mid 80’s delay units that modulate the delay brilliantly.
What are your thoughts on digital vs. analog production?
Don’t get me started on this one. My thoughts on this are more philosophical than audio, although I have opinions there too.
Philosophically I think Digital music production with regards to capturing a ‘Live Band’ gives the ‘producer/ computer operator’ too much power. We see the waveform and maybe fix a flam, we love the groove of the second verse more than verse 1 so we copy it over… before we know it, it’s perfect but it’s boring! It’s like genetically modifying life. Should we do things just because we can?
Eradicating all the accidents & extremes in nature. Homogenization! Obviously the digital tools available open up a world of possibilities (though there’s another issue there of too much choice paralyzing decision making) and make music making more egalitarian, which on the surface is good but I wonder if the levelling of the playing field rather than lifting everyone up could potentially have the danger of lowering the peaks?
What role do companies like Indaba that facilitate collaboration have in music creation?
I’m in a band so I recognise the importance of collaboration. Listening & considering someone else’s opinion although sometimes difficult is ultimately beneficial (even if it strengthens your original position). When I was younger I wrote music with someone based In Toronto. I lived in London. We used to send 4 track cassettes in the post. The immediate digital exchange of files and platforms like Indaba are an amazing development for potential collaborations on a global scale.
As your remix contest has just come to a close, what benefits do you see in hearing your music re-imagined in so many different styles?
It’s amazing to hear the variety of interpretations people have come up with. I grew up listening to a lot of electronic music and although professionally I play in a ‘rock band’ it’s great being reminded of all the different flavours music has to offer.
If only there were more hours in the day I would love to be working with some of the people here, hopefully in the future I will.
Are there goals you have yet to achieve that Indaba can help you with?
Our aims, like most musicians I’d imagine, are to improve and gain exposure to people who may potentially be interested in what we’re doing. Somewhere like Indaba gives us the opportunity to communicate what we’re doing with musicians all over the world not just the towns & cities we play.
Mantis and Indaba would like to give thanks to Some Velvet Morning for this great interview and for hosting such an interesting contest. Also, we would all like to extend our congratulations to the winners!
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