In my new album, I’m experimenting with a new way to make music. Actually, it’s the same way I made my first demos, mixing physical instruments with digital ones. But the way I’m working now is very different from how I made all my previous published music, which is with a computer. The PC here is mostly used to assemble live recordings, multitracked on a digital recorder (which is a very different beast than a computer, simpler, less intrusive, no huge monitor, no email) and then exported.
One of the advantages of working this way is that it keeps me essential: I can’t replace a sound I don’t like, or add another sampler, and mix in an extra percussion loop. I need to figure out beforehand which guitars to use, the settings, the amp, the key – the whole sound. And I need to have a feel for the finished music way before I used to. This keeps me very essential: many of the songs have 6, 7 tracks, the largest has 12. The music becomes spare and functional, although the album is full of hidden parts, that camouflage themselves in the mix and give it a different sound (a trick I’ve learned from JJ Cale).
But despite the major change, there is something constant in my music, right from the very beginning, whether made with a computer and samplers or with dobros and ukulele. It’s the idea that music is a place, a sonic location where the listeners are taken, and where they can stay for a bit, explore it, get a feel. If they like it, they can come back and stay some more – by replaying the tune.
Here’s So What, a track from my second demotape, which I made in 1986. Drum Machine, Guitar (4 parts, overdubbed and pre-bounced), Bass, Delay, Phaser and Turntable (sorry Stockhausen, I was young and reckless, I couldn’t resist). Recorded and mixed on a Tascam 244 Portastudio 4 Track Cassette recorder.