Thursday, February 11, 2010
[moogmusic.com] Jaylinn Davidson is one of the many women using Moog gear in her Austin-based band, The Boxing Lesson. The Minimoog Voyager is the centerpiece in her rig. Read more to learn about her songwriting process and more...
The Boxing Lesson is an up-and-coming band out of Austin, Texas... a collaboration between Jaylinn and songwrtiting partner/singer/guitarist Paul Waclawsky. They're currently in the studio recording their new album. We took a little time to talk with Jaylinn and find out a bit about the woman behind the Moog...
What was your inspiration behind the song “Dark Side of the Moog”?
I was inspired by the Moog Voyager itself. This song was written shortly after the Voyager was purchased back in 2005. We were in the overdub stage of “Songs in the Key of C” and the synthesizer was delivered to me at the studio. I put on some headphones and flipped through all of the presets. I was so thankful for the presets as I had only been exposed to a handful of synths, and the Voyager was a bit overwhelming at the time. In one studio session, I found sounds that would augment or replace other parts I had written on all the songs we were recording. Talk about trial by fire!
After finishing the album, I couldn’t wait to get back into our rehearsal studio to experiment. I had a sneaking suspicion that I had one of the greatest keyboards of all time and was excited about the vibe it brought to the sound of our band as a whole. I wanted to make a bass sound that rumbled to play under a new guitar riff that Paul was working out. I started twiddling and fiddling with the envelope. Within those moments, I manipulated the frequencies into a sound that felt like the beginnings of a sonic earthquake: BRRRRRRRROOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWWGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHH…
I saved the setting and named it Dark Side of the Moog.
Is there a certain process that you go through to write new material?
(I love these questions, by the way) Yes, there is. Most of the time, it’s a song that been swimming in Paul’s head and he already has the melody worked out on the guitar. He’ll bring it to me and I come up with my parts through listening to the feel of what he’s playing and opening up to hear what song wants to be. Depending on the song, I'll add atmosphere, texture, soundscapes and melody to create a mood. I just let what he’s tapped into go swimming in my head, gel in my brain for a while. Listen to it with my Frontal-lobe-phones. Ask myself, “What could I add to this to make a musical supernova?”
Being the bassist as well, sometimes it's necessary to use both hands at different times within the same song to play the bass line. So both hands have to think like a bassist. Regardless of which hand it is, the bottom is always being held down.
The other way new material materializes is through improv jamming. This is what I find Paul and myself naturally doing after playing this many years together. I’ll be messing around with sounds and find one that is inspiring. I’ll loop it, switch settings and do it all over again. All the while Paul’s doing the same thing on guitar. Or the other way around! Paul will be messing around with sounds and echoes and I'll chime in with my own. Our sounds blend together like rings of concentric circles layered upon one another.
How instrumental is the Voyager in your process?
Extremely instrumental (pun intended). Because of the infinite choices, it took me a couple of years to get “comfortable” with such an intelligent machine. Now I have a solid understanding, although I am still learning - and that’s actually the best part of the Voyager, in my opinion. Mastering that machine may span the length of my career (and then some!).
Does it help to spark new ideas?
OF COURSE! I always start with the Moog. It most definitely sparks ideas. Sometimes in the middle of some sketch that we’ve been working on, I’ll try a little something extra or different on the Voyager. On more than one occasion, what seems to be a small change at the time, will create a whole new song just on the happy accident that comes with experimentation and the new sound it creates.
What is your live setup like compared to your studio setup?
Identical. I am a very big proponent of (are you sitting down?) actually playing live what you hear on the recording. Operative word: PLAYING. It’s so frustrating to me sometimes to see a show where most of what I’m hearing is backing tracks. It seems somewhat like cheating. Perhaps at some point in my career I’ll prove myself wrong. But for now and the past 5 years, everything I do is in real time. If you hear a loop – it’s because I just looped it. If you hear the bass – it’s because I’m playing it.
Do you run the Voyager through an effects chain? If so, what do you use?
Not usually, but we did record this one spacey jam where I ran the Voyager through an old ADA Flanger and a Space Echo. The tone was out of this world. We will be doing that more on our upcoming recordings. It's too tasty!
Do you utilize the CV inputs to control different parameters of the Voyager.
No.... I wish! I visualize using the CV inputs, I just haven’t actually yet due to the lack of controllers. One day, baby! I’ll have an arsenal of pedals! (hint, hint). I have MIDI'd up my Triton Rack and used the Voyager as a polyphonic controller to have sweeping strings and voices underneath my synth sounds.
Have you ever run other instruments through the Voyager and used the filters?
Yes!! I run a drum sample through the External Input in one of our new tunes, "Better Daze", and play with the filter to create a crunchy thick rhythm. The direct line of the sampler runs through one amp and the filtered beat comes through another amp creating a psychedelic stereo effect when mixed together. We have also run Paul's Big Muff'd guitar through it and it creates an amazingly versatile filtered fuzz!
What in the musical world inspires you these days?
I tell you what hasn’t left the disc changer in a while:
Liars – Drum’s Not Dead
Acid Mother’s Temple/Gong – Acid Motherhood
Animal Collective – Strawberry Jam
Hawkwind (it’s a mix of a few of their albums)
Radiohead – In Rainbows
Brian Eno – Another Green World
This is why I find it so inspiring: I have heard all of these albums a hundred times. These are touring staples. Yet I can still hear something new! I can still find a pocket of sound that I hadn’t picked up on before. Layers of voices… Little delicate cymbals here and there… Percussion… Another looping rhythm that I had overlooked (overheard?) in the past. It’s so inspiring to me that some of these albums were made 30+ years ago and still sound so fresh. The same kind of percussive loops I hear in Animal Collective's Strawberry Jam and Merryweather Post Pavilion mimic the clavé that Eno uses all over Another Green World. There’s a purity that sounds as fresh today as the day it was recorded. I want to make timeless music like this. Music that keeps surprising the listener even after the 100th listen. Music that sounds awesome 30 years from now. The musicianship on these albums is what I hope to achieve. I want to be great.~
You can learn more about The Boxing Lesson HERE!
Check out the "Dark Side of the Moog" video right here...
Posted by Dan Goldin at 3:48 PM