The Uncommon Mastering of a #1 Album: Vampire Weekend Gets Creative with The Lodge

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EL: The Lodge’s arsenal is constantly being updated. We look for choice pieces of equipment, in both the analog and digital domains that best serve our clients’ needs.  As Vampire Weekend was recording Modern Vampires, I became a sponsor for AVID HD Thunderbolt Interface, and I knew that this would be extremely helpful to Rostam’s process in the making of this record.  I suggested that he utilize this newer technology so that he would have the most flexibility throughout recording, mixing and mastering. This allowed him to seamlessly and effortlessly connect straight to our mastering rig.

The difference between their second album, Contra and Modern Vampires of the City is that this technology allowed Rostam and [producer] Ariel Rechtshaid the freedom to walk in and connect their laptops, with their own mix sessions and their own plug-ins, and easily tweak the mixes during the mastering session. This flexibility was essential in making the album exactly how they wanted to make it.

How did working with an outside producer in Rechtshaid affect the creative experience for Vampire Weekend?

RB: Ariel and I co-produced the album in a distinctly modern way. We’d synchronize hard-drives every few days and take turns opening sessions for individual songs. This was possible because we had nearly identical Pro Tools rigs with identical UAD set ups. We spent time in the studio together, working on production side by side but also time working on sessions individually. Ezra often ricocheted between rooms where we were each set up. Finalizing a song often meant the three of us being in a room together.

Rostam, now that Modern Vampires is a wrap and a #1, what mastering explorations are in store for the next album? In other words, what new ideas did you get from this record that you’re already looking forward to trying out next?

RB: When people talk about “big bass” what they really mean is that the track is reacting to the kick drum. So much of bass is perceptual. I think that will definitely play into my mindset for whatever I produce next.

Emily, meanwhile, how would you say your own philosophy/approach to mastering has evolved in that time? 

EL: My philosophy has remained the same; I do whatever it takes to achieve the best results possible. At the heart of it, I am passionate about helping artists tell their stories through their music. Today’s technology has evolved and made it even easier for me to do my job.

My greatest days and my happiest moments mastering are when I listen to a flat mix and it is stunning.  On this album, I absolutely loved how Rich Costey’s mix of “Step” came out off of our tape machine already singing.  It was so lush and deep — a truly great mix!

A special record comes alive in Brooklyn this weekend.

A special record comes alive in Brooklyn this weekend.

Why do you think Modern Vampires of the City an important addition to Vampire Weekend catalog, and the musical universe?

EL: I know people have been referring to Modern Vampires as the third album in a trilogy, but I like to look at it a little differently.  I tend to think of each of the three albums as a complicated, beautiful chapter, and I expect it to be a really epic novel!

Sonically, musically, and lyrically, there is no doubt that this album is special. I’m not exactly sure who is really qualified to comment on the musical universe as whole, but I can say that it’s one of my all-time favorite albums. I’m a huge fan of their infectious melodies and I’m looking forward to more adventures from the characters that they create.

Looking ahead to this Friday, you’ve mastered previous Solange albums, and are getting ready to master the new Sky Ferreira album Night Time, My Time. What’s the common thread between about all three of these Lodge artists: Vampire Weekend, Solange, and Sky Ferreira, who will all be coming together for the first time on stage at Barclays?

EL: Each of these artists is truly original and has maintained credibility since the beginning. They have developed unique sounds and have a strong sense about what they need to express and how they want to do it. It’s inspiring to watch them grow.

– David Weiss

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