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Topics - Harmonium

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General Vanessa Carlton Discussion / I'll Wait For You – Digital Single
« on: September 24, 2013, 02:31:28 pm »

Vanessa Carlton will release a digital single "I'll Wait For You" on 10/1/13.  

It was around midnight at the tail end of last winter when my friend Patrick called me to tell me he had been bewitched by a song. He had been given his grandmother's collection of 78's and had discovered this tune sung by Bernice Parks. He played it for me thru the phone while I laid on the couch with my on mute. It sounded like a beauty.

Patrick had a plan. He asked if I'd fly down to Nashville (from New York) and reinterpret this song with he and his pal Luke. Victor (dog) and I flew down a week later.

When I started to sing, a rain storm broke out. I sang thru the whole storm in this lovely studio behind a house. Luke played slide guitar while I sang and Patrick played drums in a bombastic orchestral style later that evening. Carl (who plays in My Morning Jacket with Patrick) came by late that night and sang some crazy high background parts. Hancock Reserve may or may not have been flowing.

The next day I flew home...just in time to miss the incoming Nashville tornado.

We all fell under the spell of a simple and beautiful song and it was an honor to sing on it with such a talented group of guys. Im happy I picked up the phone that night.

Enjoy "I'll Wait for You"


General Vanessa Carlton Discussion / Vanessa Carlton - Patience
« on: April 20, 2012, 03:40:42 pm »
A taste of Vs new music! Sounds so cool!

General Vanessa Carlton Discussion / Mix online Interview
« on: August 23, 2011, 11:00:07 am »
Long, interesting interview about the production of ROTR! Don't think it had been posted :)

Singer/songwriter/pianist Vanessa Carlton was in search of new artistic directions when she began writing songs for what became her fourth studio album, Rabbits on the Run (released on July 26), which Carlton says was partly inspired by the books Watership Down, by Richard Adams, and Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. After the breakout success of her 2002 debut album, Be Not Nobody and its hit single “A Thousand Miles,” followed by 2004’s Harmonium (featuring the single “White Houses”) and 2007’s Heroes & Thieves (with “Nolita Fairytale”), Carlton took her time in discovering new inspirations and collaborators, and eventually, new ways of working.
“After my last record [Heroes & Thieves], I was out of juice,” Carlton reflects. “I wasn’t clear about what I was doing, and I knew it wasn’t completely honest.” By contrast, she describes Rabbits on the Run as “the most clear-minded and pure reflection of my sense of music that I’ve ever been able to achieve. It’s also the most collaborative, because everyone was so clear about what it was going to sound like. I think that’s because the bones of it were so strong. The skeleton of this record was so thought-through, and that’s when you can really play with your team members. Maybe it took time, it took [my previous] records, to get to this place, but I’m very grateful I’ve arrived here.”

In between Heroes and Rabbits, Carlton found creative rejuvenation in rediscovering the music she grew up with—classical works, rock and reggae from the 1970s—on vinyl. “I just started listening,” she says. “I was born in the ‘80s. My parents still preserve their vinyl collection, so it was like going back to my childhood, to some sort of purity. I loved those records! It was clear: This is how I want to make my records.”

Another turning point for Carlton occurred in 2008, when she met vocalist KT Tunstall while on a scientific voyage to the Arctic Circle. Carlton later visited Tunstall’s home in rural England, and there, at a housewarming party, Tunstall introduced Carlton to UK-based producer and bassist Steve Osborne (B-52’s, U2, The Doves), for whom Osborne produced the albums Eye To The Telescope (2004), Acoustic Extravaganza (2006) and Drastic Fantastic (2007).

Carlton describes her first meeting with Osborne as “a very serendipitous situation. I was looking for Steve Osborne while I was in England because I knew he was on some of The Doves’ sessions. Sonically—and in terms of aesthetics—that band was a totem for me. I had no idea [Tunstall] worked with Steve. And apparently, he asked KT about me; he didn’t even know that KT knew me, either. It’s all very strange.”

“I got an email from Vanessa’s management about working with her,” Osborne recalls, “and then the next day KT was having a party. I spoke to KT and said Vanessa Carlton’s management had been trying to get in touch. She says, ‘Oh, yes, she’s just standing over there.’ She was literally standing behind me. The first thing we were talking about was the English countryside and the landscape.”
“He said, ‘I work out of [Peter Gabriel’s] Real World Studios [in Bath, England]. Have you ever been?’ I didn’t even know what it was,” Carlton says. “He said, ‘Well, why don’t you come by?’ We finally decided to meet up in a week, and before I left England I took the train out to see him. He was just setting up his new room at Real World. I couldn’t even believe that place existed. It’s magical. Steve is very in-tune to his environment. The location is very important to him; I didn’t know how important it was to me.”

“Real World is an old mill,” Osborne says. “At this time, my room was right at the top of the mill, but I’ve moved now. I’ve had my own room there for coming up to two years now. So we had beautiful views. We could see over the whole site into the countryside. That whole West of England landscape really appealed to her. Plus, the studio is built of Bath sandstones. It’s a beautiful place and the acoustics are very good. I think she was convinced right from the beginning that this is a really special place to make a record.”

From there, Carlton entrusted the production of her new album project to Osborne. “For her it was a very personal album,” Osborne says. “It was about focusing on the songs and getting the right musicians. This is Vanessa really doing what she wants to do. I think [in] the work she had done before, maybe she hadn’t fully realized the sound she was looking for.”
Carlton began Rabbits on the Run back home in New York City as she wrote songs on her MacBook Pro in GarageBand. “I’m pretty amped about GarageBand because I know how things work in it and it really helped with my demos,” Carlton says. “But don’t think I didn't first go to buy a cassette recorder. The only reason why that didn’t win out is because it didn’t work, and so I had to figure out the laptop.” As she wrote, she emailed MP3 files to Osborne for his feedback. “We started a dialog,” she says. “This is the first time I had been completely isolated in my process, and was absolutely terrified to share with anybody, because I wasn’t working with a boyfriend-slash-producer anymore; I wasn’t working with Ron Fair at Interscope [who produced Be Not Nobody]; I had no one to speak to, except sending these MP3s. And I would muster the courage to do it because all you have to do is click Send. So I started sharing my sketches with him. And terrifyingly, sometimes he would not respond! [Laughs] So I would just freak out. But then once you know Steve, you realize that he listens to everything. He’s a man of few words, and he’ll say something when he feels like it needs to be said."

For Carlton, the next step involved forming a band that would help her shape and develop her new songs. She chose drummer Patrick Hallahan (My Morning Jacket) and guitarist Ari Ingber (The Upwelling). “I had known Ari for a while, but I met Patrick later on,” Carlton recalls. “Patrick was someone I had dreamed of working with because I admire him so much as a musician, and I just realized what a wonderful person he was, too. I felt like I had a band. I mean, I’ve worked with some amazing musicians over the years, and it’s been an honor to work with them. [But I had] never felt this way before, where we were all so excited about what we were creating together. We were meant to play these songs together. The collaboration with those guys started almost six months before we did the tracking sessions. We started demo’ing in my living room, just hashing out some of the songs and getting to know each other. So by the time we went out to Real World, we all knew the songs, and were ready for takes.”

Osborne then brought Carlton, Hallahan and Ingber over to Real World Studios, and joined the trio on bass. “We spent a couple of weeks in my room getting the arrangements how we wanted—just going through the songs, rehearsing, trying out different ideas, trying out different beats with Patrick, trying different guitar parts. I was doing the bass. We were a little four-piece in the room: bass, drums, guitar, and Vanessa on piano. And we got the ideas together.”

Osborne scheduled 10 days of recording sessions in Real World’s Wood Room, with engineer Dan Austin at the controls. Osborne mentions that he brought Austin into this project because Austin had engineered The Doves’ sessions that Carlton enjoyed, so Austin “understood that sort of sound. We set it up so that we were all playing live, together, without clicks, because we wanted to get more of a live feel,” Osborne says. “We spent 10 days in the main room just doing takes. We set out so that if we wanted, we could keep Vanessa’s vocals. We isolated her enough so that we could keep the piano and overdub the vocal again, if necessary. I was playing bass. It was really nice for me to be playing on the recording, rather than on the other side.”
Notably, in keeping with her rediscovery of hearing analog sound on vinyl, Carlton wanted to track Rabbits on the Run exclusively to tape. “I was all up for it,” Osborne says. “It does take a little bit longer, but she was very keen on the tape.” Austin and Osborne tracked through the Wood Room’s Neve 33122 mic preamps to RMG 911 2-inch tape running on a Studer A820 tape machine that Osborne rented from Real World. “We ran Dolby SR because I wanted to work in 15 ips,” Osborne says. “We used Pro Tools a couple of times, just when we needed to slave things. I’m a big fan of working in Pro Tools, but sometimes that process can get a little clinical, and tape forces you to focus on the moment. And working to tape, we’d make decisions all along the way.”

“He wanted to test himself, too, I think,” Carlton says of Osborne. “He welcomed [recording to tape] as a challenge. Those limitations make you crystallize what you’re really doing, and I think it brings out the best in your work.”

For most songs, Carlton played an upright piano recorded through ADL and Chandler Ltd. outboard gear. (Osborne states that she also played Real World's Yamaha grand piano.) Osborne explains that he bought the upright piano at a local shop specifically for these sessions. “During the band sessions, we used my piano,” he says. “When I first met Vanessa, I said, ‘I need to get a piano for my room, and I’ll make sure that that’s here when you arrive.’ She wanted an upright that had a flavor, that wasn’t just a nice-sounding regular piano. There’s a piano place just outside of Bath. Ethan Johns had just done an album with Tom Jones, just before we started with Vanessa, and he had hired quite a few pianos for that session. So I went to the same place where he hired those and I tried all the pianos in the shop, and there was this one piano in the corner. The guy in the shop said, ‘It’s not a really good piano.’ I said, ‘I kind of recognize that one.’ He said, ‘That’s the one that Ethan hired out for Tom Jones.’ I played it and I was like, ‘That’s the piano!’ So I bought that piano specifically for the album. Vanessa calls it the ‘Schwander’ because apparently ‘Schwander’ is the name of a particular action, which I think is German. But the piano is an old British piano.

“So we did all the live takes on the ‘Schwander,’ and we miked that pretty closely,” Osborne continues. “We had a contact mic in there, and I think we had 58s, or 57s, probably, because there wasn’t huge isolation, so we had to get in really close on that. There was a song that we cut with [Real World’s] Yamaha grand piano. Peter Gabriel has a pair of the valve Royer R-122Vs, which we used. I think we had the Royers a bit closer and the pair of Telefunken ELA-M 251s a bit further away—so we’d go for either a close or a distant sound.”

Carlton sang into a Soundelux ELUX 251 tube mic. “Did I tell you I bought that mic for KT Tunstall?” Osborne says. “When I was working with KT, she had done some demos using the original ELA M 251 and really loved that sound, so we did a shootout with a number of different versions, and the Soundelux was the one that really worked. It sounded closest to what she had been using. And that was perfect for Vanessa, as well. That mic really suits a female vocal. I think we used the Avalon VT-737sp vocal strip. Certainly when we were recording vocals, we’d work to a point where I’d have four tracks left to do vocals, and we would work on those four tracks; if there was a vocal we didn't like, we’d go over it. And it really was [about] working in that completely old school kind of manner.”
Following the 10 days of tracking in the Wood Room, Carlton and Osborne completed the album in Osborne’s rented space at Real World, including overdubs and new songs. “As with most records, you don’t always finish it straight away,” Osborne says. “The idea was that we would try and do as many of the songs as possible with the band, and then for the rest of the album, we went upstairs to my room, and that was pretty much just me and Vanessa on our own. We took certain songs that we didn’t feel were right. I don’t think we scrapped anything particularly. There would always be something from the live session. But we did start remixing things and pulling things around, and finding other ways to make songs work if they didn’t feel quite comfortable in their skin.

“I have an assistant, Joe Jones,” Osborne continues. "He was able to run the machines if I was playing. We hoisted that same tape machine up to my room. We hired an [analog] SSL [console]. It used to be part of the desk in the big room, before they changed it over for a new one. We had the centerpiece with 24 channels, without the VCA. I don’t have mountains of equipment in there. We needed to borrow a few bits and bobs. I needed a couple of Drawmers. We borrowed the odd reverb that was around.”

Osborne cites the album’s single “Carousel”—which features Carlton’s piano, lead vocal, strings, and a children’s choir—as an example of a track that they revamped extensively after moving sessions to his room. “‘Carousel’ was completely different when we finished the recording session,” he says. “From the original session we only ended up keeping the piano. We weren’t getting the best out of the song, and when I just listened to just piano and vocal, it sounded so much better, and we knew we wanted to [add] strings and do other things. So, for example, with that song, I added the guitar and the Mellotron in the second verse. We did the backing vocals.”

Osborne produced brass and string sessions in one day at Ray Davies’ Konk Studios in London. “We did the string quartet most of the day and then in the evening we had a brass trio: French horn, tuba and trombone,” he says. “It sounded really great in there, and they’ve got that lovely old Neve, so that was a joy. We bounced the string quartet down as much as we could. I didn’t want to have multiple mics, so we’d choose which ambient combination [of mics] we wanted, and then we’d have the direct mics.” He recorded the children’s choir in Abbey Road Studios to Pro Tools and later bounced down to tape. Carlton adds, “The Langley School choir [on the album The Langley Schools Music Project: Innocence & Despair, released on Bar/None Records] was a direct influence for this children’s choir.”
Finally, Osborne says, “We did all the edits on tape, with a blade. I actually love doing that, so it’s fun for me. And again, you’re making a commitment. We mixed the whole thing in my room on the 24-channel [analog SSL] desk and then mixed down to half-inch. We had no automation because the SSL had no VCAs, so it was hands-on. The whole thing was old school. I had to mix quite differently [than] if I was using Pro Tools’ automation. We worked for long periods to get the balance right, and then we did live takes to half-inch; we’d get quite a few wrong, and then there’d be one that we’d get right. [Laughs] It was a lot of fun.”

For Carlton, the entire experience around producing Rabbits on the Run was rewarding and offered the kinds of changes that she had been seeking following her first three albums. “Steve very much responds to the clarity of the artist,” she says. “I have never learned so much, I think, as I’ve learned from watching the way he listens and operates within a studio. He’s like a professor-wizard man, and I really wanted to hold up my end of the bargain. It’s difficult to articulate. I think I get a little bit emotional about it, as well.

“The goal was to be as authentic as we possibly could—as I possibly could,” Carlton concludes. “This was my dream, and I can hold it on vinyl. It was an honor to work with the people I got to work with on it, and I’m so grateful that they came along with me, and believed in [the] sound that we were trying to get. I feel like this is the beginning of the rest of my career, in a way. Again, it’s difficult to put into words, but it feels like something completely new.”

Creative Endeavors / Cover art - I don't want to be a bride
« on: August 18, 2011, 04:13:42 am »

Made some loving rabbits under lavender skies:P  Just for fun.

Creative Endeavors / Jerimaha illustration (ROTR style)
« on: August 17, 2011, 02:03:18 pm »
Don't know if everybody remembers Jerimaha, the unicorn Vanessa used as a symbol on the BnN era, (he is in the background on the first page of
I had some spare time, so i made an illustration of him in ROTR style :)

Live Shows / 2011 Fall tour with Matt Nathanson
« on: August 15, 2011, 01:18:43 pm »
I'm taking the Rabbits on the ROAD. Thanks to Matt Nathanson for having us join his caravan.
Bringing this album to life on stage is a daunting and awesome task. I'm excited. One thing for sure...
this feels fresh. See you there.
- VC

Links to tickets here:
Edit: Now up on, tour section

September 25, 2011, New Orleans, LA, House of Blues (New Orleans)
Time: 6:30pm. Admission: $20.
Address: 225 Decatur Street.
All Night Noise Tour 2011
w/ Vanessa Carlton

September 27, 2011, Washington, DC   9:30 Club
Time: 7:00pm. Admission: $25.
Address: 815 V St. Northwest.
All Night Noise Tour 2011
w/ Vanessa Carlton
September 28, 2011, Washington, DC   9:30 Club
Time: 7:00pm. Admission: $25.
Address: 815 V St. Northwest.
All Night Noise Tour 2011
w/ Vanessa Carlton

September 30, 2011, New York, NY, Terminal Five
Time: 7:00pm. Admission: $25.
Address: 610 West 56th Street.
All Night Noise Tour 2011
w/ Vanessa Carlton
October 1, 2011, Philadelphia, PA, Electric Factory
Time: 8:30pm. Admission: $25-$28.
Address: 421 N 7th St..
All Night Noise Tour 2011
w/ Vanessa Carlton
October 2, 2011, Pittsburgh, PA, Diesel
Time: 8:30pm. Admission: $20-$25.
Address: 1601 East Carson Street.
All Night Noise Tour 2011
w/ Vanessa Carlton

October 4, 2011, Buffalo, NY, Town Ballroom
Time: 7:00pm. Admission: $18.
Address: 681 Main Street.
All Night Noise Tour 2011
w/ Vanessa Carlton

October 6, 2011, Toronto, ON, The Opera House
Time: 7:00pm. Admission: $33.25.
Address: 735 Queen Street East.
All Night Noise Tour 2011
w/ Vanessa Carlton

October 8, 2011, Boston, MA, House of Blues Boston
Time: 6:00pm. Admission: $39.50.
Address: 15 Lansdowne Street.
All Night Noise Tour 2011
w/ Vanessa Carlton

October 11, 2011, Columbus, OH, Newport Music Hall
Time: 6:00pm. Admission: $18.
Address: 1722 North High Street.
All Night Noise Tour 2011
w/ Vanessa Carlton

October 12, 2011, Pontiac, MI, Clutch Cargo’s
Time: 6:00pm. Admission: $20.
Address: 65 East Huron Street.
All Night Noise Tour 2011
w/ Vanessa Carlton
October 14, 2011 Madison, WI, The Capitol Theatre
Time: 8:00pm. Admission: $20.
Address: 201 State Street.
All Night Noise Tour 2011
w/ Vanessa Carlton
October 15, 2011, Chicago, IL Riviera Theatre
Time: 7:30pm.
Address: 4746 North Racine Avenue.
All Night Noise Tour 2011
w/ Vanessa Carlton

General Vanessa Carlton Discussion / Donnie Darko and Vanessa
« on: August 03, 2011, 01:07:41 pm »
I was watching Donnie Darko and made some fun discoveries.

-In one scene they talk about  "A Brief History of Time".

-In one scene the class gets to read "Watership Down and watch and discuss the movie"

- In one scene the little sister made a review of "The last unicorn", the movie vanessa mentioned on twitter a while back.

Can it be just coincidences or do you think Vanessa read these books after she saw the movie?
I't seems that she must have been pretty inspired of it and we all now she has a little crush on Donnie  ;)

General Vanessa Carlton Discussion / Tiger Newspaper Review
« on: August 01, 2011, 09:45:54 am »
Lovely review. :)

Watch out for Rabbits on the Run

The sunshine of late July brought along with it Vanessa Carlton’s fourth studio album, Rabbits on the Run, released under Razor & Tie. Her first album in nearly four years, Carlton’s work continues to impress fans and critics alike. Listeners intuitively re-embrace Carlton’s natural and seemingly effortless gifts with piano, soothing melodies, and whimsical lyrics.

After such a prolonged hiatus, fans of Carlton, like the artist herself, were unsure if studio-released music would become a priority of hers again. However, newfound adventure seen in Real World Studios in London ultimately persuaded the singer-songwriter to tackle another full studio album.

The first single off of the album, “Carousel,” is a perfect summary of the fresh folksy and indie roots that Carlton stemmed inspiration from while writing and recording in the English countryside. “Fairweather Friend,” “Get Good,” and “London” lyrically emphasize the organic poetry behind Carlton’s writing, displaying the obvious muse behind the album – the surroundings and atmosphere of England.

Longtime fans of Carlton’s will hear that the artist has come—both literally and figuratively—“A Thousand Miles” from her first studio album, Be Not Nobody. The maturity portrayed in her writing, especially in “I Don’t Want to Be a Bride” and “Tall Tales for Spring,” illustrates the extent of Carlton’s personal growth since entering the music scene back in 2002.

Altogether, Rabbits on the Run was well worth the wait. Original, refreshing, and genuinely inspired music surpasses the appeal of forced, auto-tuned, fodder music any day.

Erin Chan: Staff Writer

Completely Off-Topic / Spotify Invites
« on: July 31, 2011, 03:47:41 am »
I have 6 spotify invites, It said "Be nice to your friends in US and give them an invite" when i logged in to spotify, so I thought some of you nessaholics maybe wanted one :)

General Vanessa Carlton Discussion / WAMC - Radio Interview
« on: July 29, 2011, 07:44:16 am »

General Vanessa Carlton Discussion / Huffingtonpost Interview
« on: July 27, 2011, 01:35:08 pm »

A Conversation with Vanessa Carlton

Mike Ragogna: Vanessa, how are you and what's up with your new album Rabbits On The Run?

Vanessa Carlton: I'm great. I've been in a rabbit hole for three years. I've been in England, mostly, working on this project. It took me about two years from the commencement of the writing, to the mastering and the final days working on it. Actually, I'm still to this day working on the artwork with the wonderful Joe Radcliff, who did all of the amazing illustrations of the rabbit for the album cover and the vinyl cover. So, that's where I've been...immersed in this.

MR: Great, Now, this is your fourth studio album is that right?

VC: Correct.

MR: And you recorded it at Peter Gabriel's studio?

VC: I did. I was so lucky to be able to do that. I didn't even know a place like that existed.

MR: What was that process like?

VC: It was incredibly organic. I call it arts and crafts. It was just a pure exchange of ideas that were kind of hovering around a very distinct aesthetic message that was carved out very clearly. I think that allowed us to really play around. We recorded all analogue. We collaborated with Patrick Hallahan, the drummer of the band My Morning Jacket and Steve Osborne my producer, and the Capital Children's Choir - which is a children's choir based out of London.

MR: Correct me if I'm wrong, but the album had a theme before you even started recording, right? Didn't you get your inspiration from a couple of books?

VC: Yes, I did. I think one of the books that help me break out of the writer's block that I was suffering from at the time was Stephen Hawkings' A Brief History Of Time. That was a very chaotic time of my life, personally, and it obviously got in the way of my creative process. I mean, I stopped writing songs. I wrote some instrumental pieces, but I was struggling a lot. That book helped me make sense of a lot of the chaos, from a physics standpoint, that goes on in the universe. But I was able to apply all of that to my micro-universe, if you will. The way that he marries the physics and the philosophical made it an incredibly influential and important book to me at the beginning of this process. Watership Down by Richard Adams was the other book - which seemed appropriate because he is an Englishman and I recorded this record in England. That story, which is about these rabbits breaking away and creating something pure for themselves was very inspiring to me. I literally carried that book around with me for a year, almost like a bible.

MR: As you were getting inspiration from these two books, were you also contemplating and exploring consciousness and evolution and things of that nature?

VC: Yes. I think I was also exploring existential reasoning. But, for me, it was kind of figuring out a spirituality of some sort, something that I felt I was maybe missing in my life. I felt much more plugged in once I found the recipe of those two books together for some reason. It made me feel alive again and made a lot of sense to me in terms of exploring my own purpose and why I exist.

MR: Nice. Do you think that the writer's block that you were experiencing was because of something you were missing personally but found in those books?

VC: Absolutely. Things were very cloudy for me for a couple years. I mean, I think it's difficult to be in your '20s. But I definitely lost my way and I had to get back on track. I've never felt so clear-minded as I do now. If anything, it's the most humbling thing in the world because it makes you realize just how small and daunting everything is, yet how beautiful it is at the same time. But I do think that I had to reach a place where writing was absolutely necessary.

MR: I know we mentioned that this is your fourth studio album, but technically, it's more like four and a half for you. Can you tell us a little bit about your initial demos and the process leading up to your first full studio album?

VC: Sure. I started recording songs on a cassette tape when I was about 16 or 17, when I was still in ballet school, and the cassette tape ended up in the hands of Ahmet Ertegun who is one of the founding fathers of Atlantic Records - the godfather of the music industry. I then had the honor of being invited into his world. After I finished all of my classes during the week, I would go and talk to him and he would tell me stories about the music industry. During that time, I was also piecing together a record of sorts. Then, I ended up signing with Interscope Records, mainly because at the time, Atlantic was kind of a figurehead in the music industry. I think Ahmet was still very interested in working with me, but no one else at Atlantic was so I moved on to Interscope. After all of that, I recorded a record that was kind of put on the shelf that was tentatively titled Rinse - it was a cleansing, if you will. It's certainly something that a 17 year-old girl would come up with. (laughs)

MR: Didn't you work with Jimmy Iovine on a few more tracks while finishing up the others?

VC: Actually, I didn't end up working with Jimmy, but he oversaw the project. He handed the project over to Ron Fair and Ron took it over and re-recorded it. All at once it was a big deal! It was a big flashy situation that I had never been a part of before - all of a sudden, there was an orchestra and everything. I was just watching everything that was going on with these wide eyes. These were my songs and I couldn't believe it.

MR: And that record produced the hits, "A Thousand Miles," "Ordinary Day," and "Sweet Baby," along with three Grammy nominations that year, right?

VC: Yeah. I couldn't believe it. That was a big surprise.

MR: What was that like?

VC: That really opened some doors for me. I am, to this day, very grateful. That led to more and more work and I felt that it was my job to evolve as much as I can and refine my craft as I could. I really was given an amazing opportunity. I felt like I was lovingly accepted into the music world.

MR: And from there you went on to Harmonium, which was recorded at the Skywalker Ranch.

VC: (laughs) Light sabers everywhere. It was similar to Real World Studios, which is where I recorded this latest one. Kind of. It was beautiful. It was the same in the sense that I was an isolated studio where you lived and could bike to the studio everyday and work there. It was much more elaborate and enormous compared to where I was in England. But when you're living, breathing, and working in the same space in nature, it's great. To even be able to stumble upon a studio like that is rare, but that's also the place where I work best. That was a great find.

MR: That album contained one of, if not my favorite, song in your repertoire "White Houses."

VC: Thank you very much.

MR: There was also a bit of controversy behind that song, right?

VC: Well, that was a collaboration with the writer Stephan Jenkins, and it was a great time. I guess there was a bit of controversy and I understand it, I think. I think I was viewed as much more of a "sweet girl," I don't know. Not that that's not a sweet song, but it's a very realistic song. It's a serious song with a serious and multi-dimensional story. I'm not sure why it was just accepted for what it was and it had to be censored in certain ways. I think it was because of my age or whatever pre-conceived notion people may have had about my image, I'm not sure. But I'm 30 now, so hopefully, it's much more accepted. (laughs) Hopefully, the notion is, "Oh, I get it. She's a woman now."

MR: It seems that it's always been a bit more of a struggle for young female pop artists in this industry, that they are judged much more harshly based on their actions and the content of their material than young guys or especially other older artists. Do you agree?

VC: Yeah. The other is issue is that, having been one of those girls, I know that they are all figuring it out on their own, so cut them a break. Also, girls in that position or young women that are coming of age can't raise your children for you because they are on a path of their own as well. People shouldn't be so quick to judge them. Granted, I have seen all of that from afar because I'm not that plugged-in to pop culture, but I know who Miley Cyrus is and I have a lot of compassion for her, and I think she's going to come through all of this and do really well. She already is. But I do think it makes it harder for her and girls like her to get through all of that with the public being so critical. But that's what happens when you're in the public forum - that's just what happens. I think they can be very unfairly judged.

MR: I also feel very strongly that there's a double standard between young male and female pop artists in that if a controversy arises with a guy, the impact in much smaller than it would be if it were a young female artist. You know, boys will be boys.

VC: Yeah. That's just too bad. It doesn't sound very fair to me.

MR: Very true. Alright, getting back to our tour of your career, your next album was Heroes And Thieves, and you recorded some interesting things on the side, including that descant on "Big Yellow Taxi" for the Counting Crows. What was that like and how did you get involved?

VC: I don't know, actually. I think like I was replacing someone else, to be honest. (laughs) I'm pretty sure that happened through Ron Fair. I was in Florida at the time and he asked me to come into the studio and sing a couple things. Their first album, August And Everything After, had a huge impact on me so I was really excited about doing something with Counting Crows, though they were not in the studio. I think I met Adam Duritz serendipitously on the streets of New York City one day, years after I did that for them, and I think I said something silly like, "I've been with you!" (laughs) He eventually realized who I was and we chatted. That was my experience with that. (laughs)

MR: You also supported Stevie Nicks on her Gold Dust tour.

VC: Ah...changed my life.

MR: How did it change your life?

VC: Stevie coming into my life and my friendship with her is one of the most important relationships in my life. She's a very special, lovely woman and I can go to her with situations, stories and moments and she responds to me in a way that no one else does in my life. It's just extraordinary. I feel extremely lucky to know such a lovely person. She's been extremely generous with me. We did a little video clip for this record, "Carousel," and I did a little ode to her. She gave me a little leather strung necklace that has a little square medicinal pouch with a little sword and I tied it to the back of my white dress. That's a little secret about the video. It was like my little charm or talisman during the shoot...that made me feel amazing. Unfortunately, the necklace is still in the field that we shot the video in, but she didn't mind, and she did wind up seeing the video and thinking it was amazing, so that's important to me. As far as the tour goes, I met her a couple of months before the tour took off and she was just great. That tour was a very important time for me.

MR: Nice. Since you brought up your new album, let's chat about one of my favorite songs "Dear California." As a transplanted Californian myself, I'd love to know what went into the making of that song.

VC: That song is kind of a mournful one, but it's also kind of inspired by The Beach Boys as well about my move from San Francisco back to New York.

MR: Do you miss California?

VC: I do, I love California. Well, I miss the foghorns in San Francisco. I do go back every few weeks. I'm a bit of a gypsy, so every few weeks, I go somewhere. So, I frequent San Francisco.

MR: What advice would you give to new artists?

VC: Hmm. I'm still figuring a lot of stuff out. But I would say when something doesn't resonate to you musically but someone is trying to talk you into it, always go with your gut.

MR: Very smart. Thanks again for taking some time, I really appreciate it, Vanessa.

VC: It was my pleasure, Mike. Thanks.

General Vanessa Carlton Discussion / Daily Californian review
« on: July 27, 2011, 01:18:36 pm »
Worst review yet. What a B*tch...

There’s nothing extraordinary about Vanessa Carlton. She plays the piano alright. She sings just okay and she’s pretty enough not to scare off CD buyers with her face on an album cover. However, being just suitable isn’t enough. Since her 2002 hit and Zales commercial go-to song, “A Thousand Miles,” Carlton has yet to release material of a similar pop magnitude. Almost 10 years since and four records later , Carlton’s most recent release, Rabbits on the Run, joins the ranks of the nameless tracks and mediocre piano-driven ballads that have come to comprise her career.
Even in her heyday (if having a one-hit-wonder can be defined as heyday), Carlton only played second string to Michelle Branch and on this record, her bland persona and middling musical dynamism only sink Rabbits on the Run further into this second-rate rut. On “Carousel,” there’s light, airy piano. On “Fairweather Friend,” there’s light, airy piano. And to no one’s surprise, there’s light, airy piano ― complete with light, airy vocals ― on every track. There’s nary a note of variety to be found on this record, where songs run the the extreme range between trite guitar ballads and trite piano ballads with Carlton’s almost squeaky vocals found somewhere amidst the rudimentary rubble.

However, if you dig deep within the trite, there is some, potential treasure. The muted and intimate a capella vocals on “This Marching Line” recall the rawness of Cat Power’s “Lived in Bars.” But, to call those fleeting moments “treasure” would ignore how drab most of this album is. At times, when Carlton is crooning, it feels as if she’s as bored as anyone who listens to Rabbits on the Run will be.

Jessica Pena is the assistant arts editor.

General Vanessa Carlton Discussion / Artistdirect Interview
« on: July 26, 2011, 10:25:20 am »

Vanessa Carlton Talks "Rabbits on the Run", Muppets, and More

Vanessa Carlton wasn't afraid to get a little psychedelic on her new album, Rabbits on the Run.

Carlton nods to a '60s aesthetic via the most vibrant and vital vocal performance of her career thus far. That's exactly why it's so intriguing, invigorating, and infectious. The music flutters through a myriad of emotions, and Carlton paints a sonic portrait that's as evolved as it is entrancing. There are strands of literary influence lying just underneath the surface, and Carlton does something few artists do anymore—she makes the audience think.

Vanessa Carlton sat down for an exclusive interview with editor and Dolor author Rick Florino about Rabbits on the Run, her visual influences, and bringing everything back to The Muppets.

Did you have one vision for Rabbits on the Run as a whole or did it come together track by track in the studio?

Let's put it this way. The skeleton of the record was so strong and healthy, and that led to all of us feeling we could really stretch down rabbit holes. I hope that's apparent when people hear it. We also limited ourselves when it came to our tools because of the analog approach. We didn't have infinite takes, options, etc. That led to a more cohesive body of work which is extremely important to all of us involved.

What went into building that skeleton?

Complete obsession and existential crisis [Laughs]. It was almost like the focus on building this record pulled me out of a very difficult time. Once I really saw this project clearly coming together, I took a lot of time demoing these songs, putting them together, and sending them through the ether to Steve Osborne at Real World Studios via Internet for a good eight months before I even went into the studio. I just sent demos back and forth trying to figure this puzzle out. It was like a remedy to many things in my life.

Is it important for the music to be as visual as it is auditory?

Good question! Certain songs are my favorites because of the visuals that pop into my brain when I listened to them. We all have our own versions and takes on other people's lyrics. There's thematic feeling to it. Visuals are extremely important to good storytelling and songwriting. I spent a lot of time trying to improve my storytelling skills. I think it's all in the details. Details are everything. They're like little on and off switches. The big sweeping overarching ideas are important, and then it's all about the nuances of a moment. To me, that's when a song cuts through. I tried to share that kind of stuff in my writing, which I don't think I used to do. I did it sometimes. I really just wanted to get better and evolve the process. Just because you know how to write a song, it doesn't mean you write the same song over and over again. I didn't want to do that.

What fosters that visual sensibility for you? Do you read a lot or watch many movies?

Absolutely! I owe a lot of my evolution to basically sitting, listening, watching, and reading for about three years straight. On my end, I wasn't really coming up with anything. I was just observing. I really connected to authors, musicians, and other artists that I admire and study their process asking, "Why do I connect to this?"

Which authors did you connect to?

I go a bit old school, like the '40s to '60s. I went back to a lot of Jack Kerouac and John Steinbeck. I listened to a lot of Bob Marley. I was also going back to Aldous Huxley as well. Then, in terms of a new author and philosopher, I was reading Rebecca Solnit. The overarching story that completely penetrated me and the process of writing on this record was Richard Adams's book, Watership Down. I reconnected to that. The book that was the catalyst for me in terms of calming me down and bring a lot of peace was Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time, which my brother had to re-read at school. I got a copy so I could participate in his ping pong debates about it.

What's the story behind "In the End"?

That's such a cyclical song. It's hypnotic, and it's a bit of a never-ending rabbit hole. There's really no end to it; it just disintegrates. The sonic message reflects the philosophical message as well. It's a little prayer that I wrote for my brother who lost someone extremely close to him. She was a mother figure in his life. I just imagine her in this field turning into diamonds. I thought it was so beautiful that I thought the idea would comfort him. It's not just for my brother though; it's for everyone.

If Rabbits on the Run were a movie or a combination of movies, what would it be?

I wish that it would be some sort of combination between Donnie Darko, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and The Dark Crystal. Maybe in the past, the records were part Muppet and part CGI. This record is 100 percent to the bone Muppet land [Laughs]. People will have different interpretations of what that means. It's old school. It's a real puppet rather than a digital one.

There's an organic element to the sound so that fits.


General Vanessa Carlton Discussion / New York Post - Review
« on: July 26, 2011, 09:30:14 am »

Lend ‘Rabbits’ an ear

Vanessa Carlton "Rabbits on the Run"
*** 1/2

After her 2002 debut album, “Be Not Nobody,” and its chart-topping single, “A Thousand Miles,” Vanessa Carlton’s career stalled to the point that many tagged her as a one-hit-wonder. “Rabbits on the Run,” her fourth studio album, sweetly rescues her career and stands as validation of her singer/songwriter skills.
The 10 songs on the album highlight her ability to make ethereal, Enya-like tracks that get close enough to pop for radio spins. With her lyrics, Carlton, 30, shows herself to be a thinking woman — influenced, she’s said, by the scientific writings of physicist Stephen Hawking and the pastoral children’s classic “Watership Down,” from which the CD borrows its bunny title.

If that sounds too brainy for its own good, the disc is accessible in both meaning and catchy melodies that reference Lilith-style rockers such as Sarah McLachlan and Alanis Morissette. Album opener “Carousel,” a piano ballad layered with bright, jangly bell accents and hand-clapped beats, is the record’s top tune, with words that say life is cyclical. The album’s other standout is “Dear California,” in which Carlton really flexes her pop muscles with a hook-filled sayonara to the Left Coast that could have been borrowed from the Sheryl Crow songbook.

General Vanessa Carlton Discussion / Beatweek Magazine Interview
« on: July 25, 2011, 10:52:42 pm »

Vanessa Carlton interview: Rabbits on the Run, Carousel, and waking up

“A Thousand Miles” is nothing compared to the distance Vanessa Carlton had to travel in order to breathe life into Rabbits on the Run, her first record since 2007. The journey encompassed a trip to England, a venture into life as an indie artist, and a voyage of awakening through her own mind.

Four years is not that long between albums. But you did go and disappear for awhile before this record.
Yeah I practically fell off the face of the earth, and was happy to. I was in my own world. I was really going through a lot of transitioning of my life, personally, professionally. I’ll stay vague about it, but I really had to in my own way lose a lot. I don’t want to use the cliche “rock bottom” because it wasn’t rock bottom, but I was very confused at a lot of decisions I had made, I think. In a way, what’s worse than getting your heart broken is breaking your own heart. I really feel like I had to recover from that, and I feel like I had to make some big changes.

Were you working on Rabbits On The Run at the time, or did you have to isolate yourself from music as well?
I think music isolated itself from me (laughs). It was like “Nope, you are not ready to touch me again.” Actually that’s not true. I was writing a lot of instrumental pieces. But I did not see a record at all. I didn’t know if I was ever going to do another record. The blueprint of another record wasn’t clear to me. I had nothing to say. And then slowly things got better. I started to figure it out and piece it together. Once I wrote London, which was the first song, the record unfolded itself to me and I was like “This is the record.” If I’m gonna do this, I want this to be the record I’ve always wanted to make, and I think the only way to do that was really cut ties with a label and do it myself. And that’s what I did. It set me off on some path that I had never been on before, and I just feel so awake now.

You made this record in the English countryside, which is quite a contrast with the fact that you’re a New Yorker.
Things about this record unfolded in an organic, almost mystical way. The way things tied together, I still can’t believe it. Box, England is absolutely the place that I was meant to make this record. Did I know that? No. Was it pre-planned? No. Things just unfolded in the most natural, wonderful way. I’ve never had that happen in a project I’ve worked on before, and I think you can feel it in the work, maybe. It was just pure arts and crafts for everybody involved.

I ran into Steve Osborne, who I’d been searching for, at a bonfire party at my friend’s house in Hungerford, England. He was like “Oh, I’m actually working at Real World studios, come by and visit, let’s hang out, let’s meet.” I go there and I’m like, this is where the hobbits are. I’ve been searching for this place all my life. I can’t even believe this is happening. I’d been looking for a children’s choir. Coincidentally, the cousins I was staying with in London, their daughter was part of a choir that I ended up working with for the record. Once you’re just awake and open to it, the blueprint just kind of writes itself.

Carousel includes the line “rabbits on the run” in reference to the book Watership Down. Did you already have that phrase in mind when you wrote the lyrics to the rest of the song?
That’s a good question because that’s the thing, I dreamt it. I don’t know if you’ve ever had songs that you write in your dreams, and they sound amazing in your dream because dreams are just motion. Then you wake up and they’re usually kind of shit. They’re embarrassingly bad. Carousel, I woke up at 3:30 with it in my head, had ascending lines, the kind of hopeful glory of that song, and simplicity of it. I went to the piano, recorded it, and then I went back to my bed by 3:45 and wrote with my thumbs on my BlackBerry all these ideas. I did spend a lot of time fleshing through it the next day, but the majority of that song was written then.

It’s one of those really organic threads that have happened with this project where it was like yeah, reading Watership Down and then I don’t know, it just came out. “Rabbits on the run” is pretty obvious, if you’ve read the book. I would say it is a direct reference to the story of Watership Down, and it is also very purposefully rabbits, like as a collective, all of us as a collection of human beings. It’s not my solitary story. It’s about the collective of us. So that was important to me.

The whole time the lyrics are “All you’ll hear is the music, beauty stands before you,” like you’re telling this message to some friend of yours. And then at the end you turn it back around on yourself, first person. “All I hear is the music, beauty stands before me.” I’ve been wondering if this was a song that you had written as a message to yourself.
I had to feel that message for myself in an authentic way in order for me to write that song, and that was one of the first times that I’ve felt that thought in years. So I would say that song is doing double duty. Every time I sing it, it makes me happy.

With the song I Don’t Want To Be A Bride, there’s a curiosity as to whether that was just a sentiment you felt in the moment you were writing it, or do you really feel like you never want to get married and that’s not going to change?
It’s something even bigger than that, and I think it’s about not canceling out love with liberation. It’s not about open relationships, which I support that as well. It’s more about I have yet to hear that message being sung to me by anyone. Maybe I’m the minority, but I feel like I’m in the most curious kind of libertine chapter, one of the most wonderful chapters of my life. Usually this is when the pressure comes in from society as a woman to lock it down, and I just don’t think it’s fair. I also, with that said, believe wholly in a great love. I really do. I feel like both should be able to exist. So right now that defines how I feel, and I think hopefully there’s others out there that know what I’m talking about.

The end of this record devolves into this ethereal kind of thing. What was going on in there with those soundscapes?
It was a prayer to my brother. I wrote it for my brother. He lost someone very close to him. A sliver of it is a little bit to myself and the collective. We wanted it very much to devolve into something cosmically celestial. It’s the end of the record but it’s never the end.

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