AUTOreverse #14, summer 2011
Ian C Stewart
SO……DID YOU MISS AUTOreverse?
I did for sure. It was a real eye-opener for me. I had no real idea what was going on in the underground scene. Didn’t even know there was one, to be honest. AUTOreverse was always highly entertaining and provocative. Down in the main to your own personality…
THANK YOU FOR THAT. TRICKY QUESTION FIRST: CAN YOU TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT THIS ALBUM THAT NO ONE ELSE KNOWS?
I had originally started work on the track VICHY CIRCLES in 2007 for a previous album (RAW MESH), but I just couldn’t get it right, so I abandoned it. I felt bad about that, though, because I always thought the track had potential and that I was actually letting the track down, as it were. At the start of this year, I dug out the old wavs from 2007. Sure enough, the 6 and 12-string guitar parts and the synth part were fine. I just had to add a bass line and some beats. Took me a while to get the bass line right, as it is very repetitive and I was prone to fluff it when playing it straight through. So I broke the line down into two parts:- an opening loop which is used once and then a second looped which is repeated throughout the track. Worked fine and I was pleased to have finally done the track justice. Man, I love digital recording – nothing need go to waste…
WHERE/HOW/WHEN DID YOU RECORD YOUR LATEST THING, IF THAT’S WHAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT?
We moved house almost two years ago, and I finally got a space I can use permanently as a studio. It’s great to be able to have the gear set-up for use whenever the mood takes me. Other albums would have been recorded in my kitchen or my lounge and I would have to stow away the gear after every session, which was a major pain in the butt.
I recorded the album using a combination of a Tascam 2488 digital recorder and a PC or laptop using a variety of software packages, principally Cubase Essential 5.
Started recording in January 2011 and had most of the hard work done by the end of May. I stepped back from the album for the month of June, just to let things settle in my mind. In July, I reviewed all the mixes. Some of them worked great first time out, but a lot them had to be re-done, which was a bit nerve-wracking. Eventually, I came up with a complete set of mixes which spent some time in the CD player in my car. I’d go for long drives on the motorway and listen to the tracks at full blast to see if anything needed tweaking. Inevitably, tweaking was required. I finally signed-off on the album in early August and released it online in early September.
CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR SONGWRITING METHODS? HOW HAS THE PROCESS CHANGED OVER THE YEARS?
First thing that needs to be gotten out of the way is an admission on my part that I can’t play the guitar or keys in the normal sense. So there is no possibility of my sitting down with a tape machine and strumming out choons in a jam session and searching for inspiration in that way. The other point I’d like to make is that I’m not as young as I used to be, so every moment in a session is precious and I need to get some form of result out of it. I pre-plan to an insane degree. Where a guitar player might write a bunch of songs in a disconnected sort of way and suddenly realise that they have enough material for an album, which they’d better go and bloody well record, I start off with the notion of a complete album, with album and song titles, and then try and write the pieces to fit the notion. Helps me keep track of where I’m going with the album. If I’m writing an album of songs, which normally takes me about 18 months to do in total, I will spend a year working up backing tracks and then see where I am at the end of the year in terms of material that “works”. I’ll spend the next few months writing lyrics and recording vocals, and then I usually end up with a mad month or two of editing/comping vocal tracks before I hit the mixing stage.
I’ve used various forms of this methodology over the last 10 years or so, and it hasn’t let me down so far. The methodology has been refined over the years, mostly to do with improving technology. Access to a dedicated studio space also helps.
DO YOU WRITE MORE SONGS ON KEYBOARD OR GUITAR?
That usually depends on whether I have decided that the album is going to be synth-based or guitar-based. I probably write more tracks on the bass then I realise, but I share Paul McCartney’s preference to put the bass on last if possible.
YOU ARE NO STRANGER TO COLLABORATION – WHO ELSE WOULD YOU LIKE TO COLLABORATE WITH ON NEW MUSIC?
I wouldn’t have done as much collaboration as other AUTOreverse “artistes” have done. I find collaboration is a risky business because you’re trying to make music from potentially conflicting levels of ability, conflicting egos, conflicting schedules and conflicting modus operandi. A possible nightmare.
Having said all that, if the right vibe comes along at the right time, I’m open to suggestion… In that regard, you might like to check out http://abitofasession.wordpress.com, which I set up recently to log my collaborative work.
l prefer the idea of working on someone else’s project and having a defined role within it. I’m not really into blank-page, blue-sky, brain-storming – I don’t have the time to spend on it, to be honest.
I had great fun a few years back collaborating with yourself on a cover of MJB’s track “The Rocktober Of Unlimited Youthquakes.”
I have been working with Peter Fitzpatrick on and off for many years on Peter’s material. Mostly just tracking bass, but with occasional input on lyrics and arrangement ideas.
I did some work with Ken Clinger over the last year or so. I sent Ken some backing tracks and he sprinkled his unique brand of magic pixie dust. Two tracks from this collaboration have been released so far.
This year, I did work with a UK-based ambient artist who operates under the name Cousin Silas. We swapped ambient “beds” and each of us added some musical input to the other’s tracks. As this is part of a larger collaborative project, I have no real idea when the tracks will be released. But Cousin Silas’s work is awesome, so the overall project will be well worth checking out in due course.
In terms of who I’d like to work with in the future, being people I’ve never worked with before, I’d say people like Jason Mundok, MJB, Ray Carmen. There is another UK-based ambient artist who trades as Bing Satellites. Very impressed with his stuff..
WHICH BANDS OR ARTISTS ARE YOU CURRENTLY EXCITED BY?
Elbow, The Futureheads, Tame Impala, Grizzly Bear, Digitalism, Villagers
OVER THE YEARS I’VE NOTICED THAT YOUR WORK HAS A CERTAIN … (INSERT PROVOCATIVE-SOUNDING WORD HERE)…. HOW DID YOU ARRIVE AT THAT?
I think the phrase you’re looking for is “je ne sais quoi”, and my answer to your question is “je ne sais pas…”. I’ve always wanted to have my stuff sound as good as stuff that you’d actually go out and buy. From a record store yet. I need to take a lot of time to fine-tune and tweak mixes and masters to get them sounding as good as I can. I’m sure that I’m probably doing it in a manner which would horrify audio purists, but if it sounds right, it sounds right, regardless of how I do it. Again, the permanent studio set-up is a godsend for mixing and mastering. Just get the house to meself and crank up the monitors and see what the bastard sounds like at high volume
WHERE CAN PEEPS FIND YOUR MUSIC ONLINE TO PURCHASE OR WHATEVER?
My main outlet is my Reverbnation store, which can be found at http://tinyurl.com/68effju. I also recently started putting music up for sale on Bandcamp (http://danielprendiville.bandcamp.com). Various releases are also to be found on CD Baby, eMusic, iTunes. Seek and ye shall find…
WHAT SERVICES DO YOU USE FOR PEOPLE TO DOWNLOAD YOUR MUSIC? DO YOU LIKE IT? SHOULD I USE IT?
See previous answer. While all the services will get your material “out there”, the real challenge is to get people to visit your site and, at the very least, listen to the tracks even if they don’t download. The fact that I’m not typing this for you from my chateau in the South of France is probably indication enough that I could do with a few more “happy customers”.
So, to answer you question, all the services are fine as delivery systems. Unfortunately, they won’t promote your material unless you pay ’em to, so you have to promote the music yourself.
WHERE DO YOU FIND THE ENERGY TO KEEP CREATING AFTER ALL THIS TIME?
It’s a compulsion, really. I’ve been actively thinking about music, day and night, since the early 70s. I’ve been involved in making music since the early 80s, but I only found my “moment” (when affordable digital technology became available to mugs like me) in the late 90s. So I feel I’ve a lot of ground to make and a diminishing amount of time in which to do it. Add to that a desire on my part to explore new musical ideas and I think that gives me sufficient impetus to keep going.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR YOU, MUSICALLY SPEAKING?
I mentioned earlier how I pre-plan albums in advance. I actually have two new projects at the blueprint stage already. One is a guitar-based album which I hope to make as un-rock’n’roll as I possibly can. The other is going to be a non-reggae dub album (hopefully). That should take care of the next three years, I reckon…
WHERE CAN WE FIND A FULL DAN PRENDIVILLE DISCOGRAPHY?
Go to the Reincheque Recordings website (http://www.reincheque.net) and click “releases”.
Hear it here: http://www.reverbnation.com/tunepak/3427937
thank you, Dan!