in the mixing stage
LOWDOWN: NEW DAVID USHER IN THE MIXING STAGE
Author: Karen Bliss
In an exclusive playback at producer Byron Wong's Toronto recording studio, David Usher previewed So Far Down, Science and The Music from his fifth still-untitled solo album, due in the new year on MapleMusic/Universal Music Canada.
"It started out as a very folky record," says Usher. "And slowly it's gotten heavier, bigger and electric."
The British-born, Canadian-raised singer-songwriter recorded about 14 songs the past three weeks with his band - Chris Taylor-Munro (drums), Kevin Young (keyboards), Julie Galios (vocals, bass), and Jonathan Gallivan (guitar) - and will head to Los Angeles for 10 days in October to work with Brian Malouf (Pink, Madonna, Pearl Jam, Lit)
"Byron has produced most of it and Brian is going to produce the rest of it," says Usher. "Byron will be out in LA with me for the first part and the last part, and the Brian's going to mix it as well."
The new album is Usher's follow-up to 2005's If God Had Curves" his first as an independent artist on Toronto-based MapleMusic after leaving EMI Music Canada.
Usher, who now lives in New York, wrote that last album in Brooklyn and Manhattan, and says this new one was written entirely in the East Village.
"Having a neighbourhood and friends and a life there that we've settled into has made a big difference to the record," says Usher, who had tried to make Toronto home prior to moving to New York with his wife and young daughter.
"This record is different because I had the band coming down every month to play the songs, rehearse, write and everything like that. The craziest thing is that I'm in an apartment in New York and we can actually rehearse in the apartment," he laughs.
"I don't know what it is about my building, but the (people) have all been in the East Village for a long time and they're pretty chilled."
Usher and his band tested out some of the new songs live at tiny, limited-capacity shows at Pianos and The Rockwood Music Hall in New York the past year. He initially thought the songs would take on that kind of intimate folk vibe when he was first mapping out the album.
"When I had the guys coming down to New York, I was telling Jonathan, 'Get an acoustic guitar, bring it down,' and it started out with Chris playing with brushes and now it's almost all sticks," says Usher. "So it's changed a lot that way. It was going a certain direction and it flipped around the other direction."
Usher then came back to Toronto to record at Wong's studio, which is in a downtown condominium. The two are great friends and Wong has worked in one capacity or another on each of Usher's solo albums.
"Byron's a great producer," says Usher. "He's got great ears. He's got skills in all areas. He's a player and he really understands sound and the dynamics of sound and those are the kinds of things you're looking for in a producer. He also understands songs."
He must also understand when Usher gets a bolt of inspiration and finishes a new song (in this case White Flag) just two days before they are scheduled to wrap up recording in Toronto. That's what happened last Wednesday.
"I had this verse I'd been working on a little while and I had a little trouble finishing it, and I just got up that morning and it just came out," says Usher. "Songs sort of happen when they happen and that morning it just happened.
"Poor Byron, I emailed him at 7:30 in the morning saying, 'Got a new song, wanna hear it?' (laughs). Everyone (the band) came in Thursday and we cut the song, so it's pretty much done. If there's anything else to add to it, we'll do the rest in L.A."
After Malouf mixes the album, Usher will sit with it for a bit, and decide on the actual track listing.
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