Our first interview in the Power Sessions series featured Chris Lord-Alge in a conversation with NYC artist/engineer Erica Glyn. With Glyn asking the questions, we captured a wealth of inspiring and instructive information for mixers and music professionals of every stripe.
But perhaps as illuminating was the creative collaboration that happened behind the scenes between CLA and his interviewer.
Impressed by Glyn’s 2011 album Static, Lord-Alge proposed he have a go at remixing a track or two – resulting in an ongoing dialog about music and audio and mixing styles that began at AES where the two met, and continued through the “Power Sessions” interview at Avatar to the completion of some new mixes for Glyn’s songs.
Here, we turn the tables, and CLA interviews Glyn – depicting the full-circle evolution of their connection and process…followed by the debut of Glyn’s music video for “Beautiful” featuring CLA’s mix. Enjoy!
CLA: So Erica, everyone’s heard all about me with our interviews. Let’s turn the tables – now it’s my turn to grill you. How did you get involved in music?
EG: I’ve always been very drawn to and curious about music; singing, songwriting, record making. So I just started poking my head around places and hanging out with people who were doing these things – trying to learn as much as I could.
My first step into the record business was an internship out in LA at Cherokee Studios. It was also the first time I experienced debilitating sexism and put the recording world on hold for a couple of years… I was a bit turned off from it. Then when I moved to NYC, I had a couple more experiences like that until I ended up assisting Bob Power.
You are a triple threat: singer/songwriter, producer AND audio engineer. How in the world do you balance wearing all those hats?
It’s actually very natural – I can’t imagine doing one without the other two. I enjoy the process of creating sound and knowing how to engineer allows me more options in developing my music. When I’m producing, if I have something in mind that I can’t quite perform myself, I can fake it enough until I find someone who can do it “for real.”
Writing my first microphone review in December helped me to realize that my knowledge of audio engineering has been essential for me as a singer/songwriter.
That microphone review was my first introduction to you. I read it and was impressed, which is actually why I sought you out. What did you think when I approached you?
I thought, wow, I must actually know a little bit about this music stuff…
I asked you if I could remix a song or two off of your record STATIC and you were reluctant. Not to sound cocky, but I was quite surprised at your lack of enthusiasm at my offer.
Ha – yes, I was reluctant. I had written, recorded, produced and mixed the record myself and was happy with the end result. I didn’t think it needed another pass at it. Also, I was familiar with your Top 40 hits and I didn’t think your style necessarily fit with mine.
I persisted but you were still reluctant.
Yes, well, I already had had a couple of people take a crack at it before which was what led me to realize that mixing it myself was something I needed to do. I had such a clear vision of how it should sound and had spent a lot of time with the music and didn’t think it needed anything else. Plus, I was busy working on other projects, was protective of my music and just wanted to push forward and move on. I was happy with STATIC.
But I don’t take no very easily and I really believed in your music. I felt if you just gave me the opportunity to remix one song and prove myself that I could make it better than it already was. And yes, it was pretty darn good to start with.
Well, knowing that you have mixed a couple of tunes in your time… I decided “what the hey?” I was curious to see what choices you would make, how the mixes would differ. Would the essence of my intention remain while sonically becoming more interesting and exciting? Yes, I was worn down and convinced. What could it hurt to send you the files?
I listened to the entire STATIC album and out of all of the songs I felt like “Beautiful” grabbed me the most. We had a little back and forth with different edits and choices I made. What was your initial reaction?
I have to say I was really surprised. The song “Beautiful” has particular weight and significance to me, so it was a particularly sensitive choice. The essence of my intention for the song WAS intact but there was something more exciting about your remix.
At that point, the edited intro and end refrain didn’t matter to me because the heart was still there and that’s what mattered most. And my vocals sounded amazing! They were more present, vibrant and alluring.
Watch the new “Beautiful” music video, featuring CLA mix (video by Laia Cabrera):
Which led me to ask for more songs.
Yeah, that was really cool. It turned into a fun and interesting exchange. You asked for the files for “All I Wanna Do” which was sort of an obvious choice as it’s a 3-minute song with a strong hook, but then I came back at you with “The Animal”. I was testing you a little with its fluid start and instrumental ending. It’s a song I really like and was curious to hear how it would sound CLA’ed. Plus, I had some challenges mixing it as there are a lot of instruments sitting in the same frequency range – I was having a difficult time getting them all heard.
Throughout the process, I learned a tremendous amount about the hierarchy of instrumentation, about carving out niches and balance. Once I recovered from my initial hesitation, it was exciting to see someone of your aesthetic sink into my music – which is maybe a little left of center from where you sit – and hand it back to me with the left of center still intact.
Who are your musical influences?
Oh it’s so hard, cuz there’s so much I like, but if I had to name names…. I’d say Clinic, Can, Tortoise, The Mamas and the Papas, Liz Phair, Bjork, Portishead, Air, The Kinks, The Troggs, Pink Floyd… oh the list goes on and on…
So what’s next for Erica Glyn?
Currently I am teaching, engineering, and producing, composing and performing with the multimedia installation/performance project Shifting Gaze. I look forward to performing STATIC in the near future as well as getting started on the next record. What I find most exhilarating is never quite knowing what’s next.