4/26/2011, 8:38am

From: Matt
To: Steve
Subject: An Idea for How to Start the Record
Because so much of my work is about connections between different generations – and some of the songs have a vaguely retro feel – it could be cool to begin in a different era, aurally….we could begin with some simple 1950’s-ish “domestic sounds” –  a cabinet opening, tea cups clanking together, being placed on the counter, water pouring into a tea kettle, a flame being lit, a woman humming…meanwhile, we could have a radio playing in the background, that we gradually get closer to, and I begin (crooning): “We were sooooo young.”  The whole intro sequence wouldn’t have to take more than 10-12 seconds…then the intro section (w/ a cool effect)…then the walk-up would still be the transition point, with clear modern percussion, and we’re into it. 

4/26/2011, 8:40am
From: Steve

To: Matt
Subject: Re: An Idea for How to Start the Record
I like it.  Should be pretty easy to run a few cables from the studio and get that going…

*


When I first pitched the idea of “songs as postcards” to the producer, Steve Schaller, I was (a) surprised that he accepted and then (b) realized I had no idea what I was getting myself into. 
 

We didn’t even know each other that well, so I was nervous that first day, walking up to his home studio, guitar case in hand. 


“Hey man.”

“Hey.”

The first thing he had me do was lay out my vision for the record.  We were sitting on stools in the studio.  “You know that feeling when you’re digging through an old trunk in your grandfather’s attic, and you dig way down the bottom, and pull out an old, creased, sepia-toned photograph with frayed edges…you run your finger over it, feel the texture…that feeling you get in your chest?”

“Yeah.”

“Something like that.”

I expected him to laugh, but he just said: “Yeah.  We can do that.”

*
5/8/2001, 11:34pm
From: Steve
To: Matt
Subject: Tiny Miracles

Hey, I added a bunch of stuff to Tiny Miracles today.  I’m pretty excited about it but let me know if it’s too much.  I’ve attached it here as well as a version with just your guitar and vocals so you can experiment with your own ideas. 

 5/9/2011, 2:45pm
From: Matt
To: Steve
Subjet: Re: Tiny Miracles
 
I love it.  I think you nailed it.  I’ll follow up with some notes later, but as far as the arrangement goes (the hardest & most important part) I think we’re locked in…

*
This has been an entirely new—and invigorating—creative process for me.  For the past few years music has been a very solitary experience.  I’ve spent countless hours performing for empty rooms–or, when traveling, out on the hood of my car, in National Parks and desolate Walmart parking lots.  There was always that specter of an imagined audience, of course; sometimes I imagined myself in a dark auditorium, silhouetted in a single white spotlight, just me and my Taylor; other times (this is embarrassing but true) I imagined playing on TV shows like the Today Show or Letterman.  I guess it’s not so different from the clichéd little kid singing into a comb in front of the mirror…the difference being that I wasn’t imagining myself as famous in those moments, just that there was an audience out there beyond the edge of my vision.  Somewhere.  Even if I couldn’t see their faces I could feel their presence—vaguely—and that was good enough.

The E.P. is now about 85% finished (it’s only 5 songs), I can say it’s been one of the best creative experiences I’ve ever had.  Until now I’ve always made a distinction between “making” and “sharing.”  You go away and write a song…then share it.  You write a story…then share it.  It’s been refreshing to find that “making” can in fact be a social experience, and, if you’re working with talented people, it can push you to levels you didn’t think you were capable of.     

I can’t wait for you people to hear this record.


Leave a Reply