July 05, 2011

Artist of the Week - Gardens & Villa

Gardens & Villa
         Gardens & Villa - click image to read bio

Happy record release day everyone.  I’m really excited about today’s release and this week’s Artist Of The Week. Back in the beginning of the year I received an email saying “here’s something I think you’d like”, the band was Gardens & Villa. I downloaded the album and started the first song “Black Hills”. As soon as the synth-esque dream started I was hooked. I emailed back and said “I’m only a minute in and I’m in love”. I’ve now listened to the song over a hundred times and the original sentiment still rings true. As of now it’s track #1 on my playlist for the year. Gardens & Villa’s self-titled album is officially out today. I asked the band to talk a little bit about the process of making their first full-length album. Below is what they had to say.  Enjoy!

"The sun would creep over the fence line around 8:30 each morning in our producer, Richard Swift's, backyard. Our band had set up camp for two weeks in his Central Oregonian compound to record our first full length record last June, 2010. Shane [bass] would wake up roughly fifteen minutes after our singer Chris, who set up his tent in direct view of the first morning sun. Levi [drums/third tent] and Adam [keys, studio floor] would follow thereafter. After stretching around a bit, it was standard to walk the five blocks to the small downtown area to eat at our favorite breakfast spot, where we'd fall through the heavy swinging door like post officers to lunch room during a heatwave. This went on for two weeks during June/July of 2010 as we tracked the self titled Gardens and Villa. The songs had been incubating in our minds and our hands for months (some, years) and their sounds and forms evolved alongside the various twists and turns of our lives during that period. Recorded live in a dark, incense-filled room to an 80s 8-track tape machine, the songs took on a life of their own, are were captured by recording master, Swift. Whenever inspiration ran low, a late night DJ set from Richard's extensive record collection would return us to vibe centre.

"The first day we walked into the studio with Swift… none of us were quite sure what we were getting into. All we had at that point were some rough demos that were loosely structured. We had sent them to Swift about a month earlier, hoping that we'd be on the same page when we arrived. I think we imagined that the first day we'd listen to the demos with Swift, talk about the songs, get a vision and then maybe start laying down some tracks. Instead, we ended up diving right in, little to zero conversation about our music transpired. Swift walked in the room, set the mood with some Captain Beefheart, asked us what song we wanted to start with and began routing microphones. We kind of unconsciously chose Black Hills… not sure exactly why. Maybe it was stuck in our heads or one of us had played the melody earlier in the day. We hadn't even completely finished writing it when we began recording. Less than an hour later the song was tracked (save vocals). It was a moment of realization that we were in the right place and that the vibe was strong. That same first day, we moved on to track Chem Trails and Orange Blossom. It taught us a lot of what we were capable of, not only as a band but as individual musicians working in the house of Swift.

The days went by in a magical haze… We had no shower and no kitchen and the weather was heating up. A few of the days we drove out to a pristine swimming hole to wash ourselves. In between takes we would wander out into the bright sun and stare at Swift's chickens as if we were in a trance; the melodies of our record on repeat in our minds. Inevitably, we fell in love with Swift. After laying down a jam or two, nights sometimes carried on late into the eve.

We also fell in love with the Swift family and their tight-nit community in Cottage Grove. After getting to spend July 4th with them, we felt like we wanted to move to Oregon. Hah. It rubbed off in the music. Even one of the songs on the record, "Thorn Castles," was written and recorded one day after we had been completely inspired by a super rad kid (who later starred in our music video for Black Hills). The record is definitely Calif-orgonian in nature.

"Days and nights became uniquely fused together during that time. The occasional journey outside was often accompanied by the realization that it was noon, or sunrise, or three in the morning. The cat's name was Bowie; the studio smelled of vinyl and well worn instruments. It was an extended waking dream." -Adam

It's hard to believe it was just two weeks. Our lives changed after that. We started playing a lot of shows and we met the righteous dudes at Secretly Canadian..

We've been waiting a long time to release this album and we're incredibly excited to get it out to people! We're in the middle of a long summer tour and we are looking forward to the next few months.. Hope to see you along the way!"


Melyssa Hardwick - Producer ABC Music Lounge
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