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The M83 Album.

Discussion in 'Ask Justin Meldal-Johnsen' started by Floridabwoy, Jan 27, 2012.


  1. Justin,

    I read your post about the M83 album. I think it would be interesting for other people, as well as myself if you told us a little about the production of the album. I put together a few questions as guides. If you have time and don't mind answering of course.

    First can you explain a little about what sequencer you used for the drums on the album? The programing is pretty incredible and I am sure VERY time consuming. Did you sequence outboard, or use, for example, Battery, or a samples in some kind of DAW?


    There are a lot of lush pad's and reverbs. I loved the electro organic mixture between the acoustic guitar and the synths on the album. Were these verbs outboard? What kind of verb's did you use?

    Claudia Lewis is probably my fave on the album. I love how you switched back and forth from a Moog(?) and live bass. What really stood out was the 80's drum kit. Can you tell us more about the kit? Was it a kit off a vintage synth?


    Can you tell us a little about your creative process? Did the other guy do the drums and you played the instruments? Did he bring you the song's roughed and you polished them? Did you guys work in the studio together, or work independently?
     
  2. jbiscuti

    jbiscuti

    Dec 22, 2007
    NYC / LA
    Endorsing Artist: Grolsch Strap Locks
    Just got the album and totally digging it. Trying to wrap my head around the recording and programming processes. The answers to any of the above questions would be greatly appreciated!
     
  3. jmjbassplayer

    jmjbassplayer Justin Meldal-Johnsen

    Mar 25, 2005
    Oops, sorry missed this thread.

    Thank you kindly, jbiscuti.
     
  4. jmjbassplayer

    jmjbassplayer Justin Meldal-Johnsen

    Mar 25, 2005
    Best,
    Justin
     
  5. jbiscuti

    jbiscuti

    Dec 22, 2007
    NYC / LA
    Endorsing Artist: Grolsch Strap Locks
    That is super interesting...I would have never thought that it evolved from jams. But I guess I shouldn’t be surprised – it seems like I eventually find out that so much of my favorite music has actually come out of jams, and not how I always seem to envision it: one “mad scientist” carefully constructing all parts and showing it to the rest of the band.
     
  6. jmjbassplayer

    jmjbassplayer Justin Meldal-Johnsen

    Mar 25, 2005
    Well, the "mad scientist" part comes later, but the nucleus of the song often came from a more immediate, visceral place.
     
  7. jbiscuti

    jbiscuti

    Dec 22, 2007
    NYC / LA
    Endorsing Artist: Grolsch Strap Locks
    Did it work similarly with, say, Mutations or Sea Change? Obviously the songs are Beck's, but were the arrangements fleshed out by the band?

    BTW, I don't know what the heck inspired ""Raconte-Moi Une Histoire", but that track really makes me smile. :)
     
  8. jmjbassplayer

    jmjbassplayer Justin Meldal-Johnsen

    Mar 25, 2005
    Those albums were different, in that Beck came with largely finished songs - on
    guitar/vocal. The band would flesh them out in studio the day we tracked them.

    J
     
  9. ugly_bassplayer

    ugly_bassplayer Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2009
    Québec
    Just listened to the record, awesome job my friend.
     
  10. Pirkka

    Pirkka

    Apr 12, 2008
    Finland
    This is really interesting. Great album, really nice to get real "inside" information about it.
     
  11. wonderjosh

    wonderjosh

    Nov 19, 2009
    Fort Worth, TX
    Hey Justin,

    I have a question I've been wanting to ask for a few months that's relevant to this thread.

    Whenever you're writing and arranging "electronically dense" songs like the ones for M83, is the eventual live performance ever a consideration when making decisions on how you do certain things? Specifically, would you ever make a compromise and not do something exactly how you wanted to, because you thought it would be difficult or impossible to recreate live? Obviously, M83 uses backing tracks or sequencing, as most every one else is these days, but there's sort of a delicate line as to how much you can put on a backing track before the band is left standing around on stage sipping earl grey tea while the laptop plays everything. ;)

    I've had a lot of internal conflict (in my head, not in the band) with how I've been writing songs over the past couple of years related to this dilemma. I tend to write with a lot of electronic elements, and often end up with songs that have many more layers than my 4 piece band can recreate live without using a backing track (which we are not doing currently). Out of frustration, I've been trying to strip down and rework a lot of my songs to fit the capabilities of the live band and I usually find myself dissatisfied with the end result. Do you feel like it's best to just write the best song you can without placing any constraints on it related to eventually being able to perform it live, or is it something you take into account?

    I figure this is an issue you've probably had to grapple with, if not with M83, but with some of the other big bands you've MD'd for.
     
  12. jmjbassplayer

    jmjbassplayer Justin Meldal-Johnsen

    Mar 25, 2005
    Thanks, gang! I'm so stoked, truly, that this is fun for all and that the album is a pleasure for you as listeners.

    Josh, I think that for me, I really never think about it. I'm not being flippant. I really just don't think about it very much at all. I'm all about how the record sounds. Even if I have to put down 12 tracks of guitars on "Reunion" or "This Bright Flash", or 20 + synths on Claudia Lewis. Same thing goes for strings, choirs, horns, all that. Just gotta do what sounds right. Then of course it bites me in the ass when I MD/program the M83 tour, but that's ok because I'm in control of those decisions along with Anthony, and I think we've done a stellar job. The show sounds incredible with four great musicians up there and some carefully chosen tracks.

    Best,
    J
     
  13. amstudios

    amstudios

    Mar 13, 2012
    Hi Justin,

    I'd say Hurry Up is the best produced and best sounding album I've ever heard, great work :). Was just wondering whether you could explain some of the vocal production techniques you used in the studio. Because I've read about Anthony using chorus, layering, and really dreamy reverb to give that massive sound to the vocals. But for Hurry Up they sound so defined and clear and sit brilliantly in the mix, was this down to the choice of Plugins? or.... something else. So yeah some insight into how you got that crisp but yet still dreamy vocal sound would be really great.

    Thanks
     
  14. jmjbassplayer

    jmjbassplayer Justin Meldal-Johnsen

    Mar 25, 2005
    Wow!!! Accolades!! Thank you.

    The vocal sound was partially because of the vocal chain, and partially some very clever eq'ing to get them to cut while being immersed in a crazy swamp of delay, reverb, modulation, etc. Some of the reverbs and delays used I would like to have remain a trade secret, but suffice to say, I think that it came out pretty well!

    The mic, by the way, was a Peluso 2247, and a few times was a first edition Rode NT1 (one of my favorite mics for the price). The preamp was an Aurora Audio GT2Q, the EQ was a vintage API 550A, and the compressor was a Purple 1176.

    Thanks again, you're too kind!
    J
     
  15. Thank you for answering my questions! It is incredible to have a producer such as your self so accessible and open to talk about this kind of stuff!
     
  16. bassvirtuoso

    bassvirtuoso My God, it's full of chrome! Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 28, 2006
    Nebraska
    Never heard of M83 before you JMJ, just bought the album off of your reputation alone, knock out job!
     
  17. jmjbassplayer

    jmjbassplayer Justin Meldal-Johnsen

    Mar 25, 2005
    Cheers cheers!!
     
  18. I have a question about the intro and Zola Jesus.

    When you wrote the song, was it clear that you'd have a duet? Did you always want Zola Jesus or did you think of several (female) singers first?
     
  19. jmjbassplayer

    jmjbassplayer Justin Meldal-Johnsen

    Mar 25, 2005
    There were many ideas about that song, and in fact it went through several incarnations. We were never thoroughly pleased with it until we did some more changes after Zola sang on it. If you think it's complex now, instrumentally, you should have heard it in one of it's previous versions!

    Best,
    J
     

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