A Conversation with Erika Luckett (continued)
PM: All right. So say after the New Orleans Sessions, you're touring around that whole next year, or more. And so what led to the road that created this next album? Did you run into a producer, did you have an idea? How did you--
EL: First is the idea, and I knew that I wanted to really up the ante. And I think the beauty of being an independent artist is having the liberty to record whatever you want, because you're calling the shots.
EL: Also, the challenges of how to create a recording, as an independent artist, that has the sonic character of a recording that a much larger budget album is going to have. As independent artists, we are always balancing our vision with the reality of our resources. I expected I'd release an album a year, starting with Tinted Glass, My Little Crime, and The New Orleans Sessions. Then I took about a year to really distill what it was that I wanted to do next. And I had the wonderful fortune of connecting with Jeffrey Wood, the producer, through my friend Susan Nesbitt. We took a month to record the album, which was quite a luxury for me, because most of my albums I've recorded and mixed generally within about a two week time frame.
EL: So a month felt wildly luxurious. And with Jeffrey I was able to record at Fantasy Studios.
PM: Oh, really? That's a nice place.
EL: Frank, it's amazing! There I was in this room where everybody from Miles Davis to Bill Evans to--well, Carlos Santana was actually just across the hall recording something while I was there.
EL: And I sang through this mic that Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald had sung through. It was just so steeped in music, and--
PM: You didn't run into the Carlos in the hall, did you?
EL: I sure did. [laughs]
PM: Because, come on, I know that he would be crazy about you.
EL: Well, it's funny, because I was listening to him play. I did all the guitars on the album, so it was so fun, because I really got way into the electric guitar.
PM: Yeah, we're going to talk about that.
EL: Oh, man, it was so much fun! So I felt like he was a big muse on the album because I was listening to him play, and so much of his tonality resonates with my background, it just felt like his spirit made its way into my record as well.
Jeffrey and I recorded the basics in a week, and I think we took up the last three weeks just playing. I mean, one thing that also differentiates this album from the prior group recordings is that I ended up doing all the background vocals and the guitar work. It was a great experience having such a kickass rhythm section, and then the string section! It's so much better than sampled strings, just worlds apart.
PM: Oh, I think "Deepest Deep," both in English and French versions, may be the best thing you've ever done, to my ears. It's just stellar. Who did that incredible string arrangement?
EL: That was Barbara Christman.
PM: And is she one of the players?
EL: No. She was the string arranger. And you know I have a background in orchestral composition. Jeffrey said, "Do you want to get an arranger, or do you want to do this?" And I thought, "I feel like I'm doing so much on the album already." He recommended this woman very highly, and I said, "Well, let's have her do it." And the night before tracking the string section, we were getting the wave files of the string arrangements, and I'm listening to it, and I'm thinking, "No, no, it's too sweet!"
EL: And it was so funny because I thought, "Wait, no, I would have done this differently. Wait, wait!" And it was wonderful, because she did such a great job. We altered it a little bit, but what she did was wonderful. And it was a good exercise in having somebody else put creative fingerprints on it. I agree with you, I think that's probably the song of which I am most proud. I say "proud," but that's an odd word to say because I don't--
PM: Well, let's say "happy."
EL: But yeah, you know what? I'm really glad that song came through me, because I think it's a song that has a quality about it that I don't think I'd ever tapped before.
PM: It's really amazing. continue