In two days, I’ll be going to Soma Studios in Wicker Park to mix one half of our forthcoming LP. From a purely logistical standpoint, I’m excited and a bit relieved to be moving into the end phase of what has become a two-plus year project; however, the specifics of what we’re about to do are particularly thrilling for me.
Before we go any further, I should just put my fanboy biases right out on the table: we are going in to mix at the studio that produced Millions Now Living Will Never Die, one of my favorite albums of all time. Okay, there. I said it.
I grew up in the Chicago suburbs during the mid/late ’90s, and by the age or 16 or 17, listening to new music and discovering new bands had become a defining part of my daily life. And based on simple proximity to the city, combined with my particular interests, the music of Thrill Jockey was hard to miss. I don’t exactly remember what it was like for me to hear this record for the first time, but I do recall the first time I heard the band name Tortoise—which took place in a conversation whereby my ears also first witnessed the names “Slint” and “June of 44.” Not too long after that I purchased Millions Now Living, and they quickly became one of my favorite bands.
I wouldn’t doubt that my affection for this record has a lot to do with the time in my life at which I discovered it—perhaps its songs are subjectively linked to nostalgic feelings over my teenage years, or at least tied to the thrill of musical discovery that was so important for that time in my life. But even outside of the historical significance that this LP personally has for me, I’m still drawn to it for the same reasons as I was 17 years ago: it’s at turns bizarre and cerebral through songs like “DJed,” contrasted with moments of emotional directness via “Glass Museum” and “Along The Banks of Rivers.” And the production—at moments it feels almost completely untethered from the rules of traditional songwriting, nearly otherworldly in its execution.
Though my songs are far more conventionally rooted in the pop format, I’ve slowly become more interested in manipulating sound—making instruments sound unlike themselves, exploring noise, texture, atonality. And in my personal experience, this is one of the albums that opened up these possibilities for me.
So here I am: two days away from mixing 5 songs that I’ve lived with for 24 months straight, in a studio that produced a landmark LP for my life. I’m nervous, but more than anything, I’m excited to hear the results.