Broken People Production: Keys & Vocals

March 20, 2011Comment

Before I blab any more about production, I must say that I’m really excited to finally release Broken People and to start sending out rewards to my patient project fuelers! The release date is now less than a week away—Saturday, March 26 is the day! If you weren’t in on the campaign party, you’ll be able to chase down the new record at CD Baby (physical CDs and digital downloads) or at the digital store of your preference (iTunes and many many others). Some digital retailers are a little slow to list releases, so watch for detailed updates about digital distribution. You might have noticed that I’ve fallen off the face of the internet since production began on Broken People. No worries… we’re planning a relaunch of Banks Nelson on the social networks—Facebook, MySpace, MyBook, Facespace… Stay tuned!

Okay, on to keyboards and vocals. All of the keyboards were recorded at The Brown Owl, a really happening little studio in Nashville’s Berry Hill. They have a growing collection of quirky vintage keyboards as well as other miscellaneous toys, not to mention the cool vibes and great engineering staff (yo Z, you my man!). Byron McQuain, a good friend and talented keyboard freelancer, played all the keys on Broken People. The acoustic piano tracks were recorded on a way cool old upright piano (think early Coldplay)—complete with unpredictable double hammer strikes and organic vibe. We tracked several vintage electric pianos as well, including the classic Wurlitzer and Yamaha CP-70. On a whim, Byron did a take on a vintage Farfisa compact organ, which sounded so fantastic that we kept it in the final mix. It’s worth noting that we didn’t use any virtual instruments or replacement samples (neither for keyboards nor any other instrument). I mean, if it’s a record about broken people, it should sound a little broken, right? I hope so.

Vocals ended up being thicker on the record than I’d imagined before we started production. I had some help from a great new friend—Laurianne Cates, who is part of a rad folky duo called Boot Hill & The Paramount Ship. She was gracious enough to lend her haunting voice to two tracks on Broken People. She’s brilliant. For my vocals (both lead vocals and backgrounds), we used a great mic that I’d never heard of—a Microtech Gefell that apparently once belonged to John Michael Talbot. The Microtech Gefell beat out the Neumann U 87, a de facto standard studio vocal mic.

Stay tuned this week for the conclusion of the production story… and mark your calendar for Saturday, March 26 for the official release of Broken People!

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