Jun. 20, 2012 - Issue #870: Food Trucks
When the going gets easy
Devon Sproule's songs cross a landscape dotted with sounds ranging from folk and country to jazz and pop.She teamed up with producer Sandro Perri for her latest album, I Love You, Go Easy, recording in Toronto with a trio of musicians. Sproule recently answered some questions about the making of the record.
Vue Weekly: How long did it take to make I Love You, Go Easy, from the initial songwriting through to the end of the recording?
Devon Sproule: I had bits of those songs floating around for a few years before I really got to finishing them. Once I did, it probably took three or four months to wrap 'em up, and I would send a demo to Sandro as soon as each one was finished. Once I got to Toronto, it was two days of rehearsal and five days in the studio.
VW: When you were writing the songs, did you come at them in a particular way? Lyrics first? Music first?
DS: I usually write a couple verses, then try to put them to music. As I do, the words change, so I'm left with something pretty different in the end. Most times my first melody idea is pretty bad, so I find the melody I'm singing on the guitar, and then plonk around on the surrounding notes, trying to find more interesting patterns and intervals. Choruses usually come last and bridges at the very end, if at all.
VW: Did you take the songs to the recording sessions fully formed, or were they sketches that were then filled out by the band?
DS: The songs were pretty solid by the time we started recording, but we did end up changing a fair bit as we went. Sandro and I rearranged the melody for "Runs in the Family" as we were doing it, and "The Faulty Body" was completely transformed by Jeremy Strachan's horn parts.
VW: What were the recording sessions like for this album? Did you record as a band live off the floor or did you piece it together one track at a time?
DS: We did most of it live. If it was a soft song, we did it all in one room, with a few barriers for separation. On a couple of the louder ones, I did my parts in the control room while the others were playing in the main studio. Sandro added lots of great synth and guitar parts later. And "The Warning Bell" drums were added later too, by my friend Brian Caputo in Virginia.
VW: What did producer Sandro Perri bring to the recording?
DS: He has such a gentle approach and he's a great listener, but when the situation needed a leader, he was right there to do it. He hadn't listened to any of my past recordings, as far as I know, and purposely, so he was able to arrange the songs based on what they needed, not on any preconceived notion of what my music sounded like. And, in general, he was just incredibly positive and encouraging, without blowing any smoke anywhere.
VW: Were there any other songs written that were left off the album?
DS: Nope! As usual, I needed every one I had.
VW: If you were to trace the musical map that led you to I Love You, Go Easy, what would it look like?
DS: Geographically, it was Virginia to England to Toronto. The songs were written in Virginia, and many of them about Virginia, but I met Sandro and the rest of the band (who are all from Toronto) through my English label friends. Musically, it was just a good time to loosen up a bit, and these were the perfect people to do it with. I was out of my comfort zone and it really let me experiment a bit. Not to mention the instrumentation, which was so weird and wonderful. I'm writing this sitting on a couch with Thom Gill, another amazing Toronto musician. It's such a great little circle of folks there, and I love that the record reminds me of them. V
Sun, Jun 24 (8:30 pm)
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