PETE YORN and SCARLETT JOHANSON album of duets “BREAK UP”
After Xmas and new years the year was starting up and i wasn’t all that sure of what was in store for me in terms of my next job and what not. For sure one of the scary bits about being a freelance record producer. My friend had been in LA for new years and was on her way back home to Big Sur. i asked if I could tag along, + then there i was up north in one of the most magical parts of our wee Isle of America. I got away enough to have some good clarity and reflect on the past year which was rather action packed. Then I get a call from my boy Max Goldblatt… He says that Pete Yorn (max’s cousin) gave him a call because he had a dream that we were all making a record together so it seemed in real life we should all meet to discuss said dream…
i came back down from the clouds and back to life in LA. at the time I was living in the back house of my friend Jamie (Captain Girl “Gay Jamie” of Trilambs fame). It was a great pad I had goin. huge open floor loft like situation with living quarters upstairs and a studio blow, both very large spaces. I had just moved there a couple of months earlier.
The three of us gathered for a meeting and the big extra hook was that they wanted to do a duet album with Scarlett johansson (if she could sing) in the fashion of the great Gainsburg/Bardot records with a bit of Americana twang in there for sure. So this project which already seemed cool got a whole lot cooler sounding to me.
Pete knew Scarlett so he got in touch and she was keen and said she could sing„,so we were off and running. I had been on a crazy kick of 70s folkish rock things at the time. in my knowing of music I started as a kid hearing mainly the jazz, r+b, international, and funk type things. then onto a long adolescence of hip hop into trip hop, drum and bass„,blah blah blah. in recent years ive been filling in the gaps and focusing on sort of…….john martyn, JJ cale, Off shoots of members of the Byrds, Richard and Linda Thompson, karen dalton, lee hazel,all the great warner bros in the 70s recordz…u know„, that knid of stuff.
A new friend of mine named Zach Cowie was schooling me on many many records i didnt know about. he was in between living situations so he kept his glorious vinyl collection in my studio on these huge old library shelves.
we started workin and the record really took shape quickly. a big part of it was the lack of any drummer. it was all left to me to make beats and rhythms to convey the feel and aesthetic we were shooting for. it would have been very easy to make it sound very dumb and sort of “hey, we r revisiting and adding slamming beats, u know for the kids”
somehow we slipped into the perfect space between some nostalgia and a fresh sound. Pete would play down the song to a click just simple on an acoustic gtr and then id sit and sort of design a setting for the tune and then we would build from there. Maxx giving great input and playing a bunch of bits including a surprisingly large amount of BANJO„, . Giuseppe patane’ on some bass and Amir yaghmai on some strings and a bit of synhs. Our biggest little trick was a still very young Robert Francis. he played a bunch of bass and gtrs that are very happening. He was still working on his first record and such a great sense of naivety but still knew all the references of the things i was shooting for. i think he was like 17, we caught him at a great moment.
we had all the trax feelin good and then Scarlett came in to sing. we were all sort of hoping she could sing and flying a bit blind. from her first note, we all smiled and knew we were in Luck, she sounded perfect, exactly perfect.
all the tracking was done in a span of about 2 weeks. pete and max went on tour for about a month and while they were gone i did all my tweaks and tricks dimensional tailoring as well as mixes….boom we were golden and done. I put so much attitude and heart into making the record because i felt it was a big shot for me. something evryone would hear about because of the popularity of both pete and Scarlett. For a bunch of silly reasons the record just sat for almost TWO YEARS, made me crazy. but, things work out in the end and when in fact it did come out the timing was optimal and it was crazy well recieved. people really wanted to take shots at it because of an actress singing and all, but they had a hard time because its a very solid record if i say so myself.