Sometimes you work on songs and love the results. Sometimes they come out quickly, sometimes you have to wait a while, sometimes they never come out at all. A couple of these languishing gems have finally been unearthed…
Frankie Rose recently released “Sorrow String”, a remix I made for the single from her last record Herein Wild. The remix is based around voice, live strings, and Moog bass, and I’m thrilled to have it out in the world. My studio partner Yale Yng-Wong recorded the strings and synth bass, as well as mixing Frankie’s new record Cage Tropical. Cage Tropical is out now on Slumberland Records, and Frankie and her band are on tour now.
I also mixed the single “Asleep at the Wheel” for Fort Lean around the time Daniel Schlett, Jake Aron (my other studio partner, and former member of Fort Lean) and I were finishing mixing their last album Quiet Day. It was one of my favorites from those sessions, and still sounds great years later. Enjoy!
Rituals, the debut album from Brooklyn dream-punk quartet Honduras, is out now on Black Bell Records! We worked on this record last fall/winter – recording live to 8-track tape in upstate NY at Outlier Inn, and mixing/mastering in Brooklyn at Doctor Wu’s – and were all thrilled with the results. Brash and immediate, lovely and catchy, the record captures the energy of these songs and finds the group exploring new territory in the process. Interview Magazine and NME streamed the record, both The Fader and BK Mag ran features on the group, and they’re wrapping up a tour with Oberhofer – go see them in your town! Re-listening to Rituals now, I remember why I was so excited making this record, and look forward to getting back into the studio with them this winter. Stream Rituals from one of the links above, and check out album-closer and personal-favorite “Mirror” below:
Dan Friel‘s new album Life is out October 16th on Thrill Jockey Records. I mixed this wild instrumental noise-pop record with Dan earlier this year, and as a fan of both the man and his music, it was a real pleasure to help bring this thing to… well, life. Fact Mag and Stereogum debuted the first single “Life (Pt.1)”, and NPR premiered “Rattler” in their column “Songs We Love”, throwing in a Sonic Youth comparison for good measure. The album was mastered by Sarah Register, and “Rattler” is available to stream below. Also, make sure to check out Dan’s interview and in-studio performance on WNYC’s Soundcheck!
Service Industry, the sophomore LP by NYC outre-rock duo Lushes, is also out October 16th, via Felte Records. I worked with the group to flesh out the recordings with synth arrangements and effect treatments, yielding some interesting results and avenues of exploration. In addition to the first single “Low Hanging Fruit”, Tiny Mix Tapes and Self-Titled Mag premiered “Circus” and “Rub Your Eyes” (streaming below). The album was recorded and mixed by Aaron Mullan, mastered by Sarah Register, and features Sam Hilmer (Zs, Diamond Terrifier) and Justin Frye (PC Worship).
PC Worship shared the first taste of Basement Hysteria with “My Lens” (via The Fader). It’s a 13-minute doozy of a track, an example of the more stripped-down and stretched-out vibes from the new EP (which I mixed and mastered this summer). The group is on tour in Europe now, with NYC dates supporting Panda Bear, Container, and The Men this fall. Basement Hysteria is out November 13th on Northern Spy.
Godmode Records are releasing a series of EPs by their artists entitled You’ve Been Sweating Wrong Your Whole Life, many of which I mastered earlier this year. Yvette is a NYC electro-noise-rock duo I’ve been a fan of for years, having gotten to know them and sharing the stage with them multiple times, and their new Time Management EP is absolutely ferocious. Pitchfork and NME featured the single “Calm and Content”, and Noisey and Stereogum hosted streams of the EP in its entirety.
VBA recently issued their debut EP Will It Still Be There. I worked with the group earlier this year at Seaside Lounge and Doctor Wu’s to record and mix these songs, which push the boundaries of rock into more experimental textures and form. The group finished vocals and arrangements this summer, and mastered with Josh Bonati. Stream the album below, and keep an eye out for them around NYC this fall.
Fort Lean released their long-awaited debut album Quiet Day last week on Ooh La La/Caroline. My studio partner Jake Aron plays bass in the band, and I watched as they spent years crafting this album of immaculate indie rock. The album was recorded and mixed at a variety of studios, including Dreamland (in upstate NY) and Strange Weather (in Brooklyn). I did additional mixing with Jake at Doctor Wu’s, and the record was mastered by Chris Gehringer. Check out their series of utterly bizarre videos by Mike Anderson (think Tool meets Beetlejuice), and stream the album sampler below:
Humeysha came by Doctor Wu’s to master their self-titled debut LP with me last month. The Fader premiered the surreal video for the first single “Burma Between You and Me”, a great sampling of the New York via New Delhi sounds on this unique record. Humeysha is out now on Camp & Street.
I also mastered the new Polly Hi album Deceleration at Doctor Wu’s. The record was produced/recorded/mixed by Andrew Lappin, a regular and friendly presence at the studio. Fans of Here We Go Magic and Wilco take note – this is spacious, grooving, beautiful stuff.
MPHO came into Doctor Wu’s last month to mix and master their new EP T.I.G.H.T.. They’re a new synth-pop group comprised of Mark Perro of The Men/Dream Police, Holly Overton of Juniper Rising/herself, and Russell Hymovitz of Junk Boys/Dream Police. I’ve worked with these three multiple times, it’s always fun, and it’s been great to watch this project develop over the last year. T.I.G.H.T. is a gritty and gleaming sampler of disco power-pop – check it out!
Apart from all that, I’ve spent much of the past couple months focused on Eaters. We did another run of shows with Shabazz Palaces, including a fantastic home-town show at the Music Hall of Williamsburg (check out these awesome photos by Impose). Our sound-sculpture Moment of Inertia was featured in both The Creators Project and The Spec, and we’re planning a couple sound/art installations in the new year. We’ve also been hard at work completing the next full-length – I’m not sure what to say other than I can’t wait to share it with everyone! In the meantime, Eaters are playing a couple shows around CMJ this month – October 16th @ Cake Shop (Inland Empire Touring showcase w/ Turn to Crime, The Gotobeds, Spray Paint and more) and October 18th @ Silent Barn (Dull Tools/Wild Wild Life party w/ Future Punx, Pill, Beth Israel, and many more) – come hear the new stuff!
Please feel free to reach out if you’d like to talk about sound, and thanks, as always, for reading.
Well… there goes 2014. It seems like only a short while ago that I was shaking off NYE and going upstate with Parquet Courts to finish Sunbathing Animal. That album earned its way onto nearly everyone’s year-end lists, including Spin (#2), Pitchfork (#24), Rolling Stone (#28), NME (#35), and Stereogum (#50). Based on the strength of that record, their follow-up full-length-EP Content Nausea (which featured some outtakes from our SBA/Tally sessions), and months of killer live shows, Spin declared them “2014 Band of the Year”. The band played a sold-out show at Webster Hall this month – the day the Spin article posted and with homies PC Worship and Blues Control – that felt like a victory lap for everyone involved. I couldn’t be more thrilled for my dudes, and can’t wait to see what they do in 2015.
Another one of my favorite projects of 2014 is the recently-released second single by glam rockers Fa Bonx. I. love. these. songs! The first single sold out and this one’s even better, so don’t wait! “49 Stick” b/w “Tramps Jamble” is out now on What’s Your Rupture?
Fort Lean – a band that includes Jake Aron, my studio partner at Doctor Wu’s – are releasing a new record called Quiet Day, their first full-length. The album was recorded and mixed through 2013 and 2014, and the time and energy spent making it is evident in both their songwriting and arrangements. Daniel Schlett mixed the bulk of the record at Strange Weather; I mixed one song entirely and did additional mixing with Jake across the rest of the record at Doctor Wu’s. Quiet Day comes out spring 2015 on Ooh-La-La Records.
Also recently released is “Dreams”, the new single by Australian darkwave duo Buzz Kull. I met Marcel earlier this year while touring Australia with Parquet Courts, and was psyched when he asked me to work with them on this track. Marcel did an interview with Noisey recently (thanks for the shout-out!), and the physical single is out soon on Fabrika Records.
I spent a week mid-November at Outlier Inn with Honduras, recording their full-length debut. It was a real treat to be back at Outlier Inn (where we finished Sunbathing Animal) – the gear and vibe there are truly great. We recorded to my Otari MX-5050, and the band were eager to capture the live energy while pushing into new sonic territories, which gave me a real license to experiment with sounds. We mixed and mastered at Doctor Wu’s earlier this month, and it’s a truly killer-sounding album. Look for it spring 2015 on Black Bell Records.
Another record I recently worked on was with a new band called Shop Talk. Basic tracking was done by my friend Kyle Keays-Hagerman (who I worked with on the Dream Police LP), and I recorded vocals as well as mixed and mastered at Doctor Wu’s. It’s tightly-wound melodic punk – the metaphor we kept using was “raw nerve” -and turned out way cool.
I also recently mixed a handful of songs for Rat Columns (led by Lace Curtain tour buddy David West). Rat Columns is way different than his work with Lace Curtain or Total Control – bittersweet, C-86 vibey pop songs. I’m not sure what’s in store for these tunes, but hopefully they’ll be out soon.
And I’m wrapping up an album by Hums and Haws, the studio project of Chicagoan Matt Kordonowy. Matt was an intern at Experimental Sound Studio while I worked there, and it’s been great to reconnect and work together on this record. I’ve mixed many of the songs on the album (ESS engineer Todd Carter mixed the others) and am mastering it now. The songs on the record are quite varied – from beat-less washes of melody, to grungy pop songs that recall both the Kinks and Beck, to percussion-heavy rockers, and everything in-between – and it was a fun challenge to pull it all together.
I’ve also mastered a few records over the last couple of months: the debut album from new band Lightning Bug (a heady blend of shoegaze mind-numbers, psych-pop ala Broadcast, and ambient drone), the third EP from Railings (rock/pop equal parts dreamy and mathy), and a new album by the I Ching Quartet (acoustic folk ensemble and old friends from Chicago).
I’ll be spending most of the next couple months working on Eaters with my main man Bob Jones. We’ll be writing and recording new material and have some shows coming up in the new year, including a show with Wham City’s own Dan Deacon (February 25th at Rough Trade NYC). We got together a couple weeks ago to start plotting out this next record, and recorded this musical gift for everyone. It’s a cover of “Radioland” by Kraftwerk, based on an arrangement Bob wrote for guitar.
I got some exciting news this week: The Apocalypse – a short film by Andrew Zuchero, which I sound-designed and mixed – will be premiering at Sundance in January! It was such a fun project to work on, and I think it turned out truly great… I’m very happy about this. “Four uninspired friends try to come up with a terrific idea for how to spend their Saturday afternoon”, starring Martin Starr from Party Down and Freaks and Geeks and Ella Rae Peck of Gossip Girl fame.
Since their signing, I’ve had the opportunity to work with Kevin, the owner of WYR and all-around cool guy. One project he brought me on board for is a restoration of a recording by Brett Smiley. I was unfamiliar with who this was, but Kevin schooled me pretty quickly – teenage glam heart-throb who worked with Del Shannon and then Andrew Loog Oldham, recorded a LP, then had it shelved for 30 years. The album Breathlessly Brett was finally released in 2004, but these tapes are from before then, when Brett was working with Del Shannon (of Runaway fame). It features 5 recordings done with Shannon (3 of which are previously unreleased) and some unheard demos…. needless to say, it’s been a cool project to work on.
Another recording to recently resurface is the original Hindu Windmills by Elephant Micah. Joe O’Connell (E.M.) and I recorded this eight(!) years ago, late at night in a performance hall on the Northwestern campus, while we were working on the Mittens on Strings album Look Up the Sky!! (another album worth revisiting). Joe wasn’t thrilled with his performances, and as we were discussing what to do with them, a mutual friend accidentally leaked the mixes, which quickly spread across the Internet. In response, Joe re-recorded the songs himself, which were released a couple years later on Time Lag. As the years have passed and water has flowed under the bridges, Joe decided to put our sessions online for posterity. I found the original mixes, did a quick remaster, and they are now available online for a donation as the Hindu Windmills: First Sessions. I have to say that while I can hear the tiredness at times, and that I will always be disappointed that these songs leaked the way they did, I’m really pleased to have them properly out in the world now – they’re great recordings of wonderful songs.
If you’re free tonight and around the NYC area, come to Glasslands to celebrate the release of Fort Lean’s new EP Change Your Name, and see why the New York Times recently gushed: “Three or four decades ago, Fort Lean would have been a mainstream success spawning emulators. Nowadays it’s a one of one, not that anyone should bother trying to compete.” Patrick from Chairlift (who produced the EP) will be DJing, and Ludwig Persik (who recently released an awesome self-titled EP) and Cruiser open.
Thanks so much for reading through this! I sincerely hope you like this stuff as much as I sincerely do. If you’d like to talk about sound or come check out Doctor Wu’s, please drop me a line: jonathan[dot]schenke[at]gmail[dot]com
I just finished mixing the new record by Forest Fire for Fat Cat Records this weekend. We started the initial recording two months ago in mid-September at Tree Time Studio, which was awesome. Since then, we’ve been doing overdubs and mixing at Doctor Wu’s, with some preliminary editing and mixing at my place. I’m really excited about this record, my first proper producer credit! It’s a good batch of catchy songs with inventive arrangements, with some krautrock and glam flair… I really tried to channel my Inner Eno on this one. I can’t wait for people to hear this.
A couple weeks ago, I did sound design and mixing for a short film called The Apocalypse. It stars Martin Starr (from Party Down and Freaks and Geeks) and Ella Rae Peck (of Gossip Girl fame), and was written and directed by Andrew Zuchero. It’s about the end of the world (duh), and was so much fun to work on. I don’t want to spoil things, but some of the sounds I was doing Foley for were pretty unbelievable The Apocalypse will hopefully be making the rounds on the festival circuit this spring.
I also worked with Andrew last month on a series of Intel spots, which you can view at the Intel Ultrabook site. It’s really hard and fun to do sound design with no music!!
The new Fort Lean EP Change Your Name is out tomorrow. I co-engineered some of the sessions (the initial drum/bass sessions and some guitar overdubs) along with Jake Aron from the band (and Doctor Wu’s). It was produced by Patrick Wimberly from Chairlift, and mixed by Michael Brauer – pretty fucking hi-fi! Check out a couple songs on Stereogum and MTV.
I recently had the opportunity to do another recording upstate, this time with the band Wild Leaves. We borrowed my friend Austin’s Tascam 388 to record an EP in a quonset hut, and spent a long weekend recording and hanging out by the campfire. It was a great camp-out style adventure, until Hurricane Sandy came and I ran back to Brooklyn!
Before that, I worked with Jeffrey Gray Somers on an EP of solo material. We did the basic tracking at Seaside Lounge, and are wrapping up vocals and mixing at Doctor Wu’s in the next few weeks. It was awesome to be back at Seaside Lounge (were we did Funky Was the State of Affairs), and it’ll be cool to work some Wu magic to the tracks. You can hear some of his stuff as Jung Bulls on Last.FM
I also recently mastered the new I Ching Quartet record Birdsongs at Doctor Wu’s. I worked on a few of their records back in Chicago, and I can say with certainty it’s their best yet.
If you haven’t heard the new Parquet Courts LP Light Up Gold yet, do it now. We tracked it back in February on a Tascam 388 (3 days), mixed it at my place (2 days), and I mastered it after the first one got messed up (1/2 day). I’ve been a total fan of the LP since we started working on it – it’s one of the best punk records I’ve heard in a long time – and it’s awesome to see all the attention its been getting since it came out in August. Check out all the kind words from Pitchfork, Stereogum (it’s in their Heavy Rotation), eMusic and Aquarium Drunkard that I’ve seen recently.
Another record that’s been getting some (well-deserved) love is Field II by Wiccans. I mixed it at Doctor Wu’s this summer, and it’s just an awesome, heavy, brainy beast of a hardcore record. The AV Club just nominated it the second best Loud album of the month and called it “one of the most intriguing, ambitious, ass-kicking hardcore records of the year”. They’re almost sold out of the first pressing (which will hopefully be repressed, because they’re beautiful objects), which you can buy (or download for free) here.
I’ve got lots of cool stuff on the calendar, which I’m really looking forward to. If you ever want to check out Doctor Wu’s or just talk about sound stuff, hit me up: jonathan [dot] schenke [at] gmail [dot] com. And thanks, as always, for taking the time to read this.