Thursday, October 6, 2011

Insane Psychobabble

Make sense to you? Me neither. Had I not known the genius behind the madness, I would've labeled it as psychobabble (perhaps even Drusilla-caliber). It is actually the structure for the percussion line in the new instrumental track for Wherefore Art Thou Juliet?, which David and I are currently arranging. Yes, that's right -- we are recording an ALBUM!!! I'm giddy with delight. Positively giddy!

This whole thing originally started when Bryant and Barbra Dillon asked me if they could feature my songs at the end of each episode of the podcast, The Scoobies and the Newbie. I quickly realized that though I had the musical tracks for four completed songs, I didn't have good quality vocal recordings since we always captured the vocals live on camera. I'd been planning on making a CD anyway, and this was the perfect kick in the butt. Since rerecording You Renegade Vamp for the first podcast, David has recorded and mixed vocals for Ooh, Mr. Mayor and If I Were a Robot. The only song left was Wherefore Art Thou Juliet. Juliet is taking a little longer for a couple of reasons. First of all, it was the very first recording David and I ever did. He arranged and recorded it in a couple of hours the morning that we met on craigslist (yes, we met on craigslist). And given the circumstances, it's pretty darn impressive. But now that we are doing this for real, we thought we'd give it a makeover. I wanted to add a drum track, some base, possibly harmonies and other instrumentals, and in order to do that we needed to scrap the original. We are actually going to keep the intro, since it's rather brilliant and David and I agree there isn't anything we wanted to improve. But given that the initial piano recording was done without a metronome, there was no way we could even add a drum track in. So off we went to record our new track.

Recording a drum track from a keyboard is funny business. You have to reverse engineer the whole thing, counting out the total measures for each part of the song, what you want to happen in each measure, then syncing the beat changes with the measure count exactly the right time. In short, involves a lot of math on David's part, followed by David scribbling some crazy notes that only he understands, followed by David staring at the little screen on the keyboard and pressing the right buttons when the designated measure numbers come to bat. It's pretty amusing -- not to mention amazing -- to see him geek out over all these little beats and counts and know that they will somehow translate into music. Actual music. I just sit next to him, take a few pictures for my blog, and cheer him on for moral support.

So that's what we did the past couple of days. We picked out a few Doo-wop percussion lines, decided on the speed, decided where to switch from one to the next, and got it all down in Pro tools. And let me tell you I think it sounds pretty fab. Next, we noodled with the beginnings of the piano arrangement. It's the same chord structure as before, but we were able to decide on some nuances that we obviously didn't have the luxury to do when splatting it out in a hurry the day that we first met.

David needs to take some time to practice and familiarize himself with the new arrangement, at which point we will get together and record again, then brainstorm what else we want to do with the track. This one's kind of a tall order and it may take a while to really get right. But honestly, this may very well be the coolest track on the album. I don't want to jinx myself or make a self-fulfilling prophecy. The other recordings sound great, and I'm extremely excited for the new songs -- both written and unwritten. But the Drusilla song has a special place in my heart for a lot of reasons. First of all, I LOVE the character with all my heart (we are talking major girl crush). I also love the Doo-wop style and I think I've always secretly fantasized about performing it (though I never thought with a vampire twist). I think the biggest reason, though, is that it was the birthplace of this whole project. Sure, I'd noodled with a few Spike lyrics, but the experience I had seeing Juliet for the first time gave me such a jolt. It was one of those unforgettable, visceral experiences that takes you so outside of your comfort zone; your thought patterns; your ideas about what's real and what's not. And these types of experiences are the soil where amazing art takes root.

David and I will continue to work on Juliet, and in the meantime we are scheduled to record the video for Love You... with a Vengeance on Monday. More blogging to come!


  1. I want an autographed copy of the album when it's first released on CD!