West Coast

This spring and summer I had some great studio sessions with Patrick Watson and Howard Bilerman, including a series of sessions with Montreal’s own Adam Cohen. One of those sessions was for Adam’s late great father and my long time idol, Leonard Cohen. I still can’t believe I got to sing on a Leonard Cohen track, even though it hasn’t yet been released. During the summer of 2016 I listened to I’m Your Man and The Future for a few times every week. I still can’t get his voice out of my head.

Molly Sweeney and Patrick Watson

Photo Credit: Howard Bilerman

 

My first session with Adam was particularly memorable because I didn’t know he was any relation to Leonard Cohen. I knew he was from LA, so I assumed he was a west coast songwriter with a buttery voice (which he most certainly is)…so when Adam sang in his mid range, I told him his voice sounded Leonard Coheny in that register. My compliment was met with silence, and then I got that awful foot-in-mouth feeling. How could I have missed the family resemblance? He must hear that all the time! Overhearing our conversation on the vocal mics, Howard instantly texted me a picture of Adam and Leonard together with a LOL caption from the control room. That was so far my favorite way to start a collaboration.

Molly Sweeney and Adam Cohen

Photo Credit: Howard Bilerman

 

My biggest regret leaving Montreal when I did was that I wasn’t there to join in the candlelight vigils around the Cohen residence. There’s something really special about mourning a poet, especially one so beloved by an entire city.

So now for the I played my last show in Montreal with my friends Avec Le Soleil Sortant de Sa Bouche and Yoo Doo Right at the end of August, surrounded by friends and Patrick joined us onstage for Floodgates. Less than a month later, I drove a 26′ foot truck out to British Columbia, where I’m building a studio and working on songs for my third album (that’s right, my third one). We drove across Canada with a futon in the back of the truck and camped out at beautiful vistas along the way, nearly lost my two cats in Thunder Bay (turned on the air brakes while taking them on a walk), and our truck got egged by teenagers just outside of Regina. I guess maybe our American license plates might as well have been a bullseye.

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Two Shows at CMJ

Hello friends!

I’m bringing my band down to the Big Apple to put on a couple of great shows at CMJ, here’s a sneak peak of the first single “Under the Radar” with a music video teaser.

 

Tuesday October 13 @ Fat Baby in the East Village at 10pm

Wednesday October 14 @ Pete’s Candy Store in Williamsburg at 10pm

I finally have some promo copies of my new vinyl! Be the first to have a A Golden Grin on 150g vinyl…it was my first time putting a vinyl together and it just sounds perfect.

Hope to see your beautiful faces in the crowd in New York. Live long and prosper.

 

 

 

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Pop Montreal

Lately all that I’ve been listening to is music from Mali…the works of Ali Farka Toure, Toumani Diabate, Tinariwen and Bombino are already a well-loved part of my music library.  I was excited to learn that Ali Farka’s son Vieux Farka Toure is a great musician in his own right and I’ll be sharing the stage with him tomorrow as part of Pop Montreal.

I’ll be previewing songs from my upcoming LP which is available for presale in my store, and Brad Barr of the Barr Brother will join me onstage for Floodgates, and I’ll be covering a song by French psychedelic chanteuse Catherine Ribiero.

I’m also excited to see the Besnard Lakes performance this Friday, they’re planning something epic at the Rialto in Montreal.

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Under the State Trooper’s Radar

I’ve spent the last two years just about in the chair of my production studio, figuring out Protools and testing mics and preamps and trying to get good sounds. Vocal takes, guitar takes, all that stuff…it’s pretty good practice actually, spending that much time on nine songs.

Now, finally, I have some spare time to play other songs and get inspired to write some new ones. I’d been subletting my jamspace for the past year to save money for the recording…now I’ve got it back and I’m playing drums and guitar and jamming with some great musicians. I went through my voice memo recording and took five days to organize them all…there’s an accumulation of 3 years of ideas I haven’t properly gone through.

So my boyfriend Linus has been encouraging me to do Youtube videos, get used to being in front of a video camera. I used to love that stuff when I was younger…my childhood friends Dan and Adam Brown and I used to make tapes of us joking around when I was living back in Michigan. Well, now I’ve got a sweet little production studio and I’m hopefully going to stick to my new years resolution of doing covers of songs by artists I like, and maybe a few of my own tunes. Linus is the cameraman and video editor, I’m the sound engineer. It’s a little sonic and visual tour of the room where I’ve spent the past two years editing and doing takes.

So without further ado, here’s my cover of Bruce Springsteen’s State Trooper, my favorite tune from his album Nebraska. It’s an excellent tune and really fun to play. A little vocal frye and overtones in there for effect.

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Shiga-what?

I had a great end of summer trip to the pastoral Gaspésie Region of Quebec playing some shows in front of the ocean with seals honking in the background. We traveled to Gaspé with Blood and Glass and played the Shigawake Music Festival with Patrick Watson and The Barr Brothers. The highlight for me was staying up till sunrise in a barn the last night with Sarah and Joe and singing Will Oldham songs, and finding a bottle of terrible whisky partway through the night before the others had retired.

Shigawake is a very special place and a special festival.

After a return to Montreal, having had my summer fill of “squeaky cheese” (i.e. artisanal poutine cheese), I started preparing to go back to another beautiful landscape in Quebec to shoot the music video for my first new single, Under the Radar. I haven’t done much art since high school…but thanks to my internet research and stumbling upon Jonni Good’s website, I’ve built some beautiful antlers and a mask to outfit my friend Maica Mia. Her costume is sublime; my partner Linus had the vision in a dream and we’re nearly close to completing it. I’ll be layering paper maché and varnishing throughout the rest of the week while we finish the storyboard. We’ll be shooting the video north of Montreal. It’s cold enough now not to have to worry about insects tormenting us, but I’m praying it doesn’t rain.

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Mixing

As a self-produced artist, mixing has always been such a beautifully stressful process for me.  It usually takes place as the budget is running out, so each decision counts because there’s usually not enough funds to remix.  And if you don’t love the result, then the song has to be remixed or you won’t love your album.  This would be easy-peasy if I was willing to mix “in-the-box” as they say, but my ears always prefer an analog mix. No last-minute tweaking for me.  I prefer the pressure and excitement that an analog mix offers.  I also did most of my first records at the Hotel2Tango, and this is how Radwan works.

It’s been a while since Radwan Moumneh and I mixed Gold Rings and Fur Pelts so I forgot just how much pressure I feel when making concrete decisions for the album.  Mixing an album typically takes over a week…Gold Rings was mixed in 3 days.

Radwan is a monster mixer in his ability to work under pressure.  We did 14 hour days, and then Radwan left for a month-long sojourn to Lebanon on a 5 am flight the next morning. This guy knows how to get things done and make every song shine.   And his project Jerusalem in My Heart is amazing.  He’s got a really beautiful voice.

I recorded a lot of the Gold Rings vocals at home on my Audio Technica 4047 (which Radwan had recommended…and I still love this mic) and a Mackie sound card.  I focused less on the sound and more on the performance.  Looking back, I had no idea about using class-A  preamps or fancy converters.  I learned about those aspects of production for this new record, and the sounds I was able to capture really paid off.  This time around, I got both the vocal performances and the sounds to shine.

I had a few friends give me excellent production advice along the way:  Bob Oliver, Martin Rodriguez and James Finnerty. Not to mention Dimitri Condax, who continues to help me in these final stages.

I’m mixing A Golden Grin with Mark Lawson.  I first heard of Mark through Montreal bands like The Unicorns, Black Feelings and Saltlands, and when I heard Basia Bulat’s Long Tall Shadow and Timber Timbre’s Creep On Creeping On, the mixes floored me.  They were as noticeably beautiful as the music.  So when we decided to work together, I was pretty excited.  He’s a heavy hitter.

So far we’ve mixed 7 out of 9 songs. We’re working on Who Can I Run To, which Sam Shalabi did an amazing string arrangement for.  Some of the string players from Warhol Dervish played on it.  The vocal is so present and the instrumentation so moody and sparse, this is a far trickier song to mix than I had anticipated.  Once we finish that, there’s just one more to go. I just can’t wait to get everything mixed, and then I can finally hear this lbum.  I’m going to (hopefully) master them in June as well as filming a music video for Under the Radar.

This June is going to be a musical month. Aside from mastering and music videos, I’ll be attending the Suoni Per Il Popolo festival as much as possible.  There’s an insane lineup this year, check out the program here.

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