There are so many narratives in life. I think there is a narrative to this coffee shop I’m sitting in, Bean Around The World in Victoria. One exists for the whole schema of caffeine, for the imports of coffee to North America, to our present hipster and western coffee culture, and to Victoria’s plethora of coffee shops and then to this one in particular. There is a narrative of how 2 hours ago there was a line of 20 people waiting, and now there is only 11 people in here. I think it was beautiful
Millions of beautiful narrative never get told, but they are still beautiful.
(aka if a tree falls in the forest does it make a sound)
The narrative to actually recording India, Seattle is a little convoluted, it has many twists and turns and it has many different settings and people and emotions and going back and looking forward and all these good things. I wanted to write this out, possibly for myself in making sense of this narrative, and it may be of interest to you as well.
I had a burrito with Colin Stewart in October of 2013 at Hernandez’ on Yates st. in Victoria.
They had stopped serving the tacos for some reason and I remember us being angry about that, but we chatted about making records and it reminded me of many of the reasons I love Colin. We talked about scheduling. So much of recording and making a record comes down to scheduling and money actually. Most people don’t know this, but it does. It’s kind of setting aside time and money to be creative. I feel like I taught this to Kiana when I produced her record (and we learned this together) and then experienced this again when I produced Tyson’s record last year.
I ended up scheduling time with Colin, and it was a pitch patchy because he was also recording some guys record who’s name is Dan Mangan, and his record is important to lots of people and it needed to get made in a similar timeframe also. So I ended up tracking the drums on the record at Joby Baker’s studio before Colin and I really started working on it. So Lyle Molzan flew in from Toronto to play the drums and Joby played a bunch of the bass, and Shaun Huberts played some as well.
When Lyle flew in, we had some noodle box and I got food-poisining that night and went into the first day of the 3 day session on about 2 hours of sleep.
Lyle is great. Joby is amazing also. He’s an awesome engineer and an awesome guy. I love when you get to work with great people. Joby is a great engineer and uses lots of vintage gear and has a bunch of vintage drums and stuff. But the first session of this record happened at Joby’s studio for 3 days with primarily Joby, Lyle and I at the helm. I remember getting Lyle to listen to Greogory Alan Isakov and he really did take that kind of approach. The drums usually set the tone for a record if you track them first, and the drums on India, Seattle are a lot more feely and free, and I think that made some of the record pretty mellow. I also feel like that was the emotional space I was in at the time. If you listen to ‘The Closer’ the drums, acoustic guitar and vocals were all tracked in this session, and I thing it captures the vibe of these 3 days; it’s the only song that the vocals were tracked here. Kathleen Edwards just came on here at Bean Around The World, and Lyle has played lots of drums on with her, and on one of my favorite records in the world ‘Voyageur’ which Bon Iver produced. After the drums were done, I had to take a few weeks of a break, and then Colin Stewart and I tracked a bunch of acoustic guitars.
There is this little country bakery and café called ‘The Roost’ up in Sidney by Colin’s studio. They make some mean baked good; some pastry called a ‘Bee Sting’ and I always had the Reuben sandwich.
The acoustic guitars are inspired by Beestings and Reuben sandwiches.
Russell Broom is a guy that I’ve looked up to for years, I met him a couple of times and I always liked him. He’s from Calgary, he played with Jann Arden for many years and he’s a Juno award winning producer. I almost got him to produce the whole record, but I settled on him playing guitar. So he flew in from Calgary and we tracked guitars in 2 days at Infiniti Studio after Russ’ WestJet flight was cancelled twice and we missed a whole day.
I remember after we were done, we sat at Pig in Victoria and ate a pulled pork sandwich (it must have been Tuesday)
I asked Russ some questions about finishing the record and what I should do with it. Russ is kind of an artist as a guitar player and producer, but he’s not necessarily a songwriter of his own folk songs. He has a pure artist vibe about him. It’s often consoling to talk to these people about a record, or what you should do, they kind of get it and they are supportive, there are either comrades or mentors and I see Russ as this. Then he left and his WestJet flight got him home.
I had a coffee at Heist in Victoria with my friend David Heidrich
David listened to ‘Sunny Outside This Afternoon’ and I remember him loving the guitar on it, and he’s german and when German’s like something you have to take their word for it, because they will often tell you if they don’t like it also. I really remember people’s opinions on this record. I think people’s opinions had a real affect on me, because everyone has one, and it is very difficult to balance like 8 opinions. Choosing a producer, choosing the way you are going to record, getting someone that’s really pro, or getting your live band to play, getting your friends, asking for favours, paying people, hurting peoples feelings, communicating to them. I really felt in this recording that there was so much balancing.
Joby introduced me to the Aeropress and cane sugar in coffee. He also loves expensive local, very goood food.
I tracked some of the remaining bass with joby, and also did some strings with him on the upright bass and this guy Adrian Dolan. We tracked these at Joby’s studio. He is so musical and has great harmony ideas and he is a great engineer.
I tracked most all the vocals with Jason Cook. We at wraps at Red Barn Market.
He’s a little more straight forward than these other cats. He is a very good engineer and he plays live drums with me, and he’s a great producer too. He will come in again later.
This is a little more where Colin Stewart comes back in. Ultimately I produced this record and Colin helped me and he mixed the record. I spent about 17 days with Colin finishing guitars, playing piano, putting little synths in songs, doing background vocals, stuff like this.
His wife Kathryn Calder made us buritto’s sometimes when we didn’t go to The Roost.
The first time I thought the beans were pork, but It turned out they actually were beans! Veggie Buritto’s!
Kathryn plays in this band called The New Pornographers, sometimes they play for David Letterman and things like that. In these sessions I had Kathryn play and sing some, Jp Maurice sing, Vince Vaccaro sing, Nigel Barry, Kiana Brasset and a bunch of other people I’m forgetting come and play. I tinkered lots with little nuances, which I think are a big part of this record. My favourite thing we did was make the chorus to Julia by tracking like a million acoustic guitar and verbing the shit out of them. My most unfavourite thing was that I actually was going through a pretty tumultuous and tough time in my personal life. I was moving through a relationship with someone who I loved very much, a lot of what the record is about actually, so recording this record was almost like therapy with Colin Stewart. Colin is kind of like a big bear that is really kind and sometimes smokes weed. He is very safe to hang with, and I think his creativity and skills as an engineer and mixer are important to this record, but I also think that him as a person is important to this record.
We had one last Bee Sting together and I have only seen Colin twice since.
He’s often busy recording, but I love when I get to run into him and stuff.
One time I texted him a picture of a Pizza joint in Ellensburg, WA called ‘Colin’s Pizza’
I was dealing a little bit with losing lots of things at this time, and I also was kind of losing my band, things were chaning, people were change. Kiana, Nigel, Sjoerd, Colin Mctaggart. Kiana didn’t end of playing too much on the record, and that was kind of sad. Nigel had been playing lots of drums with me but that seemed to be coming to and end also. Sjoerd was having a few kids. Colin was getting a new job, a new wife (yeah!) and switching up what he was doing. He was interested to hear what the record sounded like, and his opinion is important to me because he is my dear friend and he works with artists and bands now and helps them out. These were and are really important people to me, but ultimately I kind of made this record on my own, though I owe so much to these dear friends.
I sat at my house for a few months and drank coffee and ate bagels from Mount Royal bagels and send internet links of my record to like a million people.
Not many people seemed to care about an internet link so I thought I’d start again. I felt self-conscious about my record. People and my friends had critiques. I was depressed because of the subject matter and of my personal life. Last August was the roughest of the rough honestly. I felt as though I was fucking my life up and that I had put my all into a record and it wasn’t good. My mom told me to get a job when I wanted her to tell me that she loved me and things weren’t good. I messed up on my factor grant, because I was depressed as shit, but they didn’t care afterward and so I lost a bunch of money and went a good bit into debt – my fault I guess. I wrote the song Hell Exists.
Late one night in Linden at my Larry’s farm, Shaun Huberts was little drunk (as were Jason cook and Kiana but not me! I drove!) and Shaun made Pizza out of nothing. A Pizza miracle. Pizza inception.
I decided that I needed to re-record the songs Blue Above The Green, and East Shore West Shore because they weren’t good. I was going to add Hell Exists to the mix to, just because I thought it needed to be on the record.
So over the next couple months, I recorded these 3 songs in Vancouver with Jason Cook, Shaun recorded some bass, Kiana played some fiddle, Alex Maillot sang a bit, Elisa who loves cats engineered and we did this at Monarch Studios. Things were sounding good and things hit a little bit harder.
Tyson and I also invited Jason Cook to come down to San Diego to eat Pizza with us.
So I ended up recording for two days at Big Fish Studios with Austin Burns, Ethan Hulse, Tyson, Josh Burns and some others and finished up Hell Exists, East Shore West Shore and Blue Above The Green.
I remember being in Alberta for Christmas Dinner at my sister Chantelle’s house.
I had just gotten back the final master right before the holidays and I decided that the record was finished and that I would put it out with Cordova Bay. I needed to put it out and finish it mostly for myself, for my life, for my person. I have trouble calling things finished and maybe ending stories. This was a hard story to end actually, it ends a chapter in my life, of which the record is about, I didn’t want to feel like it was meaningless and that I was a shitty person. I tried my best and made things and got lots of people involved, and I had no idea what I made. But it was Christmas and I was finished making things for awhile.
Sometimes you just need to stop making something, call it finished and name it. That’s what I have done. India, Seattle. The recording story ended, and now a new one, a spin-off in fact has begun.