2016 Spotify Sessions Are Coming: But First, a Recap!
Yes, SXSW was in March, so we’ll file this update in the “Better Late Than Never” folder. For those who follow Jim Eno’s production life, you know that every year since 2012, Jim has partnered with Spotify during SXSW for “Live in the Studio” sessions. These recordings feature some of music’s premier up-and-coming artists as well as those who have been around awhile and are still making waves.
Miguel Stops by Public Hi-Fi
This year was no different, and so we geared up (heh) for a week of studio madness. Miguel dropped by first. He wasn’t part of the official Spotify Sessions, but he was in town for SXSW and rented the studio. A recording artist in his own right, Miguel impressed us with his producing chops.
Also falling in the category of pinching himself: Jim was stoked to hear that Tony Visconti himself mentioned Jim’s name during a SXSW Music Keynote, which you can watch here.
Monday, March 14: Sunflower Bean
New York psych darlings Sunflower Bean stopped by Monday afternoon and recorded “Come On,” “Easier Said” and a stellar cover of T. Rex’s “Life’s a Gas.”
The trio was fresh, energetic and willing to play around with instruments—notably a 12-string acoustic and a vocal pedal that made for a standout rendition of guitarist Nick Kivlen’s line, “Right now, I’m on the edge of my seat.” Vocalist Julia Cumming was psyched to get to add new background vocals to songs.
Tuesday, March 15: Empress Of
Lorely Rodriguez, aka Empress Of, kicked off Monday morning by proving that big voices come in petite packages. She and her band powered their way through “How Do You Do It,” “Water Water” and “Standard.”
Upon hearing the recordings, Lorely was all smiles and even busted out some dance moves in the control room. We’ll consider that a successful session.
Wednesday, March 16: Miike Snow and Grace Mitchell
Swedish indie-pop band Miike Snow likely doesn’t need an introduction. American singer Andrew Wyatt and songwriter/producer Pontus Winnberg were in attendance with a backing band and put unique twists on songs “I Feel the Weight,” “Genghis Khan” and “Animal.” For “Genghis Khan,” Pontus created a cool beat in a matter of seconds on a Teenage Engineering OP-1 keyboard.
Also worthy of note: Andrew kept applauding the Maudie’s breakfast tacos we provided and calling them “ill”—in a good way, not a bad way.
Update: The Miike Snow Spotify Session is up. Listen to it below!
Later that evening, 18-year-old Grace Mitchell came through. After fueling up on some Salvation Pizza, she and her band ripped through songs “NoLo,” “Jitter” and “Raceday.”
Let’s just say that Grace Mitchell has major vocal range and an impressively upbeat personality to match. Her laughter filled our studio and likely lingered around until the end of the week.
Thursday, March 17: Gallant and Pumarosa
At 8:30 a.m., we loaded in for alt-R&B singer Gallant. We’d seen video of him singing with Seal and knew we were in for a vocal treat. Despite being so early in the morning, Gallant wasted no time and powered through “Jupiter Grayscale,” “Weight in Gold” and “Bone + Tissue,” leaving us spellbound. There really are no words to describe Gallant’s voice, but we’ll settle for epic or larger-than-life.
Also, even though he was practically running late to his next show (which was with John Legend), Gallant stuck around with Jim, just to make sure the tracks were perfect.
This five-piece from London only had one song on Spotify, so we weren’t really sure what to expect. But what Pumarosa gave us was intense groove, bright guitar melodies and Isabel Munoz-Newsome’s empowering vocal lead reminiscent to The Knife or Björk.
The band recorded “Red,” “Cecile,” which had a memorable saxophone, and “Priestess.”
Friday, March 18
Ra Ra Riot
Here’s another band that’s been around awhile but continues to impress. Ra Ra Riot was our only session for Friday, so we spent lots of time giving Wes Miles and crew the Eno treatment. The band tracked “Foreign Lovers,” “Absolutely” and “Water.”
The session was a flurry of keys, harmonies and strings. We might have even given “Water” a pretty major facelift courtesy of a Moog synth. And even though the band had SXSW show to catch, a couple members were willing to stay behind to perfect that Moog synth line.
Saturday, March 19
Our session with Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack, aka Wye Oak, might have brought a tear to our in-house photographer’s eye. Jim has known the band for a while and has been trying to get them in the studio, so this was a win for everyone. The duo has been making music since 2006 and knows their way around a guitar and drum set. Plus, Andy drove from Marfa just to attend the mixing, so we are extremely grateful for that.
Jenn and Andy took us through “Trigger Finger,” “Shriek” and “Watching the Waiting.”
Traveling from Manchester, Everything Everything had an unfortunate bout of food poisoning during SXSW, so we initially were nervous the five-piece wouldn’t make the Spotify Session. But they pulled through and recorded “Distant Past,” “No Reptiles” and “Spring/Sun/Winter/Dread.”
All photographs taken by Dominick Mastrangelo.
That rounds out 2016’s Spotify Sessions. It was a whirlwind week that left us—and our patch bay—admittedly exhausted but undoubtedly inspired. All the mixes are done, and we will be sure to post the songs once they’re released.