Friday, December 11, 2009

Josh Mease Live/Interview (Empty Bottle, Chicago/11.10.09)

I went with a good friend to watch the Josh Mease show at the Empty Bottle in Chicago. Josh had a simple set up and played the acoustic guitar on the front of the stage. He had a quiet calm on stage. The songs from his brilliant album Wilderness came to life one after the other. The songs were even better live. I had planned on and shot a video interview of Josh, but there was some difficulties with the final product of the video. Josh was gracious enough to answer the questions again through email.

Could you talk about the recording process in your closet in Brooklyn?

It could be pretty difficult at times. I already had bass/drums recorded for most of the songs, and I would try to finish them off as much as I could with my makeshift setup. I started a few songs off from scratch at my place ("White Diamonds", "Eleanor", "Neon Ghost"). The usual process was to get a sound going, which involved lots of trial and error and running back and forth between my computer and the makeshift booth I made in my closet. Once I found a sound I liked, I would just do as many takes as I deemed necessary. It could be tough because there was always the danger of someone in the building taking a shower and ruining a take with the sound of running water. There was also an ongoing garage sale right outside my window when I was making the record, and people would occasionally yell or play Salsa music on their radio really loudly when i was working. I think I need to find a quieter closet somewhere for the next one...

Where did the "Asian" sounding influence come from on tall trees? Are there any other music styles you into that might find their way onto the next album?

I really wasn't thinking about any kind of Asian influence for "Tall Trees". I wrote the song after a trip to the Redwoods a couple of years ago, and I was mostly thinking about that. I think the Asian sound you noticed comes from the melody being based on an Asian pentatonic scale. This was totally unintentional. I never like to analyze what I'm doing and think in terms of scales / music theory when I'm trying to be creative and write something. I'd rather hear my way through it.

Could you talk about the production for a bit? What were you aiming for sound wise?

I was aiming for something that was a hybrid of "pro" hi-fi sounds, and lo-fi oddball sounds. I really like sounds that have lots of character and aren't overly clean or sterile.

Can you talk about your music background from Texas a bit and how that background informed the songs on Wilderness?

I studied music from the middle of high school until I graduated college. I used to think I wanted to be a jazz guitar player, so I'm sure the years of study to achieve that goal have influenced my music tremendously. I have zero interest in being a jazz musician now, but I'm still happy I spent all that time studying music. The challenge now is to make sure I don't over complicate things, or let my schooling get in the way of making honest music.

How is the tour doing so far? Any crazy moments yet, on stage or off that you could share?

The tour has been lots of fun so far. No crazy moments to speak of (yet).

Josh is great live and you should go check him out. Here's the link to Josh's site to check out his show schedule. I want to thank him and his label again.


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