As much as I am completely, avidly, and wholeheartedly obsessed with music, I cannot for the life of me fathom how artists can create songs. I am constantly in awe (and also thoroughly envious) of musicians ability to have art in their heads and then go and make it a real, living thing.
Weathervane Music’s Shaking Through video series allows musical plebeians such as I, to experience this amazing process of recording. Their brand new video showcases Katie Crutchfield’s Waxahatchee creating their new anthemic jam of a song, “No Curse.” Being as that the session was the first time the band played the song together, you’re able to see the song build and take shape before your very eyes. Continue reading →
The folks at Weathervane Music are back it again, this time bringing us a Shaking Through session with Waxahatchee. Katie Crutchfield & co will be in Fishtown’s Miner Street Recording this weekend, January 21st and January 22nd, and the live-stream cameras will be on hand to give us a backstage pass into their recording process.
Martello will be joined by members of Cayetana and Three Man Cannon as her backing band to perform a song from her self-titled album that came out last year. The session will be done at Miner Street Recording. For folks who are used to seeing Martello play solo with her electric guitar, this will be a unique experience of seeing her work with a band. Continue reading →
Brooklyn’s Big Thief, once the solo outlet for Adrianne Lenker and now a full-fledged band, are on the verge of finishing their first full length and poised to make a splash as they continue to develop their delicate yet powerful sound. Tonight you can catch them at Boot & Saddle as part of the Weathervane Music Residency alongside indie pop quartet Zuli. For more information on the show click here. Continue reading →
Every Tuesday, Boot & Saddle, see you there. This December, Weathervane Music will officially be taking over one of our favorite music venues to round up participants and friends of their acclaimed Shaking Through music documentary series. Continue reading →
It’s no secret that Philadelphia experimental rock duo Pattern is Movement is calling it quits. But before they announced their break-up, they promised to go out with a bang – and part of that bang was recording a song for Philadelphia non-profit Weathervane Music’s Shaking Through series. Continue reading →
By now, I’m sure you’re familiar with Shaking Through, a documentary series from Weathervane Music that follow artists as they record one song in two days, start to finish, at Fishtown’s Miner Street studio. The latest episode features the Philly punk trio Cayetana, and gives you some insight into the personalities of each member, how they got together to form a band and most importantly, how good the music sounds. The song recorded is “Miss Thing,” which frontwoman Augusta Koch wrote about her grandmother (we heard an early version in the band’s Key Studio Session last year). Check out the video and listen to the song below.
Toynbee tiles- those clandestine, ceramic squares marked with crudely scrawled chunks of some lost conspiracy manifesto- are everywhere. Ever walk past one? They’re all over Philadelphia. And Chicago. And Buenos Ares. Hundreds of tiles have been placed around the world over the past 20 years by an anonymous tile-placer, more often than not stepped over, torn apart by civic management or otherwise weathered by two decades of simply existing. The tiles don’t draw too much attention to themselves; there’s no Banksy-level gawking involved, but they have left many folks simply puzzled.
“They’re definitely esoteric. They’re cryptic,” says a puzzled Raj Haldar, i.e. Lushlife, between sips of coffee and behind sunglasses in a sleepy South Philly café. (It’s 6 p.m. in November, by the way.) He’s explaining what about the Toynbee tiles drew him to write an 11-minute, multi-movement rap song called the Toynbee Suite.
“I think, like a lot of people, they just piqued curiosity in me. I’ve been walking around town over the last decade and just had very much a passing interest in them,” he says. “That sense of unknown origin gave me a lot of scope to build a narrative of what was behind the tiles. That openness was fruitful for the creative process, rather than writing about a historical fact where you’re limited to structure.”
The Toynbee Suite has dragged Haldar out of his creative comfort zone in a handful of ways. Aside from fixating on a particular, tangible subject matter (“I usually don’t rap about something this specific. My rhymes are more stream of consciousness,” he says), the sheer scope of the project forced the 30-year-old hip-hop artist to work with a slew of outside musicians and producers (“With the Lushlife records, I do absolutely everything. It’s completely DIY”) in a pithy 48 hours (“A three-minute song usually takes me like five months to write and record”). It’s operatic in its construction, divided into four movements, each based on a line from the most seminal and ubiquitous of the Toynbee tiles, the one that reads something like:
IN KUBRICK’S 2001
ON PLANET JUPITER
Recorded at Miner Street Studios in Fishtown, the Toynbee Suite is the latest in a series of installments from Shaking Through, a project from Weathervane Music that challenges musicians to write and record a song in two days, documenting the process along the way. Haldar’s might be one of the most ambitious Shaking Through episodes to date, although he had written the bulk of the Toynbee Suite months in advance. “Even with all that planning, the 48 hours was just so packed,” he says. “The song, in the multi-track, has over 140 tracks. It’s unreal.”
Earlier today, the folks at Weathervane Music debuted the latest installment in their Shaking Through series – a gritty, poppy number from Philly’s Hop Along called “Sister Cities.” The song is loosely based on Günter Grass’ book The Tin Drum, it was written this winter and recorded over the course of 24 hours at Fishtown’s Miner Street Studios. This is something of a change of pace for Hop Along – frontwoman Frances Quinlan is an admitted perfectionist, and their excellent 2012 LP Get Disowned was the result of two years of hard work at Headroom Studios. What was it like going into a situation where they had to finish the song in a day? How did “Sister Cities” grow from its solo beginnings we heard at Quinlan’s PhilaMOCA show in January to the rager we hear today? And will this experience change how Hop Along works in the studio? I caught up with Quinlan at Johnny Brenda’s last week to find the answers to these questions and more.
The Key: How would you say songs, this one in particular, change between when you first write and when you have a finished / recorded project?
Frances Quinlan: This was really different from songs I’ve worked out in the past; it’s been a while since I’ve really felt like I had to beat the shit out of a song. I remember reading this interview with Tom Waits and he was talking about how some songs come to you in a dream and some songs are like a dance. And some songs you have to drag kicking and screaming and, like, fight with them. I really felt like this song was a fight. I remember we were jamming it a while back and everyone was like, “yeah, you know, this is cool.” But we really did not have strong feelings about it until we got in the studio and hashed it out. The structure was the same, but the feeling of it changed in the studio.
TK: So when you say, “when we got in the studio” do you mean you got to Miner Street and didn’t know that was song you were going to record?
FQ: No, we knew. We had no other song that I really felt confident enough to say, “oh sure we could make this work in a day”. This one started out as a very straight song. I thought it was mellow! To me it was like a uniform feeling all the way through, but it was steady and I was like, “that’s what we have, this is what we can work with, we can do something and it won’t be terrible”…you know? But no, we got in there and it was like 75 percent, 80 percent done. It needed some character to it. But that’s why you take that shit to a studio and figure it out! [laughs]