As cliché as it may be, the phrase “think outside the box” is a useful reminder to creatives that there is a preexisting box, one already filled with scores of, well, musical scores. So, when faced with thousands of years of prior creating, how do artists keep from being square? Hopefully, they follow the October Process.
For Marina, Julie, and Emil, the process is simple: October Project creates. Whether inside the box, outside the box—or knocking the box off its pedestal—October Project creates.
Interview with Marina Belica, Julie Flanders, and Emil Adler
(Continued from part 5)
J.W: Fans always want to know where outside influence fits into their favorite band’s process. Where does inspiration come from? How does it develop from playing at a piano, to writing it the first time, to playing it the first time, to…
Emil: I think that, as much as, in the end, you want to do something that is yours and please yourself, after a certain amount of time it becomes a wisdom of writing. You don’t want to over-analyze or judge what you do because you end up stopping yourself. But I know that in our history as performers, the way we sing, the way we produce, the way we arrange, listening to what’s going on and trying to imitate it is sometimes part of the process. There have been many songs that Julie and I have responded to and thought they sounded great, and we would do our take on it.
Julie: (laughter) No one would ever recognize this.
Emil: Yes. You know, we’d never go “here’s our version of a Lady GaGa song.” But if we were both listening to a Lady GaGa song, as a common reference point, and liked a particular thing that she did in that song, we might analyze it and experiment with it as a starting point.
Marina: Julie and Emil have never worked that way from the standpoint of trying to capitalize on what someone else has done. It has been more of an exercise or challenge: “what would it be like if we tried that? What would that be like?”
Julie: People would laugh if they heard what comes out of that process.
Emil: Mhmm. Right.
Marina: They probably would never guess! (laughter)
Emil: No, they never would. But that really isn’t the point. And it really isn’t a game. Sometimes it bears great fruit to go through that process. Your question was, I think, about process. And listening to other people’s work is part of the process.
J.W.: An unconscious part of process, perhaps?
Julie: Yes. Inspiring simply because we love music and what other artists do and create. Or sometimes, if we really don’t like something, that is clarifying as well, because it helps us realize where we are not going as well as where we are.
J.W.: And in terms of writing, and in terms of singing, how do you find your sound?
Emil: Well, I’ll give you another example, in terms of making a record, too. The “in your face” sound of a vocal that was very dry was not in fashion when we began as a band. When we made albums, we joked that we imported reverb from Europe.
Emil: That’s how wet those old records were. And then records started to sound very dry and compressed and “in your face,” and that is the sound of records from at least 2000 on.
Julie: I could stand for some more reverb. Bring back the reverb, please.
Emil: It’s coming back! Perfect example of a wave. The dry sound is going away. I hear a lot more records that are incredibly wet right now.
Julie: I think if I could do anything with Uncovered I would just recut it, but in a bathroom … a very large bathroom with a lot of reverb. A virtual bathroom.
Marina: (laughter) I’m sure that “Virtual Bathroom” is a setting on some studio dial.
Emil: Well, then it wouldn’t be uncovered.
Julie: Part of the exposure of this is that we didn’t use reverb to convey mystery, which we did a lot with the old albums. I think Mary and Marina were always soaking wet. I still love that sound.
Emil: And will very likely do again on our finished album to convey the idea of a magical, expansive landscape or atmosphere, a sonic space in which the song resides. This is not how we approached Uncovered, which is why it’s an act of courage to put it out. Because the song and the singers are laid bare. And we think the songs speak. Even in that raw form.
To be continued. Follow the October Process blog for the final segment of this 7-part interview series!
J.W. Harvey on Twitter: twitter.com/xjwharvey
Contact J.W. Harvey: James@OctoberProjectMusic.com