Whenever I work with Marina, Julie, and Emil, I find myself studying the chemistry that bonds three individuals into one OP. The secret to their musical accomplishment isn’t just magic, but science. For although they weave enchantments through song, a successful October Project endeavor boils down to three key elements: themselves.
Much like I did in my college chemical engineering lectures, I stay silent this segment. But, unlike those learned in CHE400, I am mesmerized by the reactions and attractions that spark an October Process.
— J.W. Harvey
Interview with Marina Belica, Julie Flanders, and Emil Adler
(Continued from part 2)
Emil: Dave Sabatino and I have a phrase for going through a song in as many ways as we could. We called it the “update kit.” We would have a version of a song that may or may not have been successful, and we’d say “OK, let’s put it through the update kit.” And we’d change the time on it, we’d change the tempo, we’d change harmonies, or even the total approach in terms of style.
Marina: Oh, yes, you did this even on this album, you know. You redid sections in new meters…
Marina: And then had to work your way back! (laughter)
Julie: That’s true. On Uncovered, the songs also changed dramatically when Emil wrote vocal harmonies for them. Unlike any other time that we’ve had vocal harmonies, on this album the vocal harmony is its own melody and not just a reference to the primary melody. In singing a cappella, Marina and I have been finding a new sound together. I’ll also speak to the fact that these songs really are uncovered. Marina’s voice is so up close and personal, it’s sort of like a photograph being taken in natural light with no makeup and no airbrushing! You have to be a very together singer to be listened to with that kind of scrutiny. What would you say about it Emil, that you can get that close to Marina and it still sounds beautiful?
Emil: Well it’s just like a photograph of Marina, actually.
Julie: Yea, it’s similar.
Emil: She’s got great bones! And so you just throw a camera on her. Whereas, in my case, you have to replace my head with Marina’s in Photoshop, and then I look good.
Marina: It’s also exciting to hear Julie’s voice so clearly. When we sing together, sometimes our vocal lines cross in such a way that neither one of us is certain who is who when we listen back. We have very different voices, and yet, because we know each other so well, there’s a sister quality that sometimes makes us indistinguishable. It’s fun for us to play with the variety and the similarity.
Julie: Yes, sometimes our voices are very distinct and contrasting, in what we hope is a good way. And other times even Emil gets confused about who is who. We have a name for it. Each voice has its own sound, but together we call it “The Juma.” It’s something that happens between the voices. It’s an incredible feeling to be inside of a song that way. It’s very different than hearing it back.
Marina: “Juma” is JU for Julie and MA for Marina.
Julie: Even Emil calls it that…not just when we are singing, but when we are nagging him. In fact, I think Steven, Marina’s husband, also probably calls us that – “The Juma” the terrifying Juma.
Marina: Oh no, the Juma is in the room!
Emil: The two-headed hydra!
To be continued. Follow the October Process blog for the remaining segments of this 7-part interview series!
J.W. Harvey on Twitter: twitter.com/xjwharvey
Contact J.W. Harvey: James@OctoberProjectMusic.com