(Photo Credit: Ray Flotat)
The Brooklyn based band TEEN escaped from the bleakness and monotony of New York, traveling to Nova Scotia to record LOVE YES, which was released on Carpark Records in February. Each of the members of TEEN took the time to tell us about the creation of the album, unfiltered and from their own unique perspective. Each musician details their own motivations and struggles, as well as the growing relationship as a band that they each explored and discovered while making this.
(Photo Credit: Hannah Whitaker)
The entire process of this record was something new for all of us I think. For our last record, The Way and Color, we had so little time because of budget and deadlines, and although we were totally happy with the outcome, there was still this uncomfortable feeling of being rushed.
We started writing this record last winter in upstate New York. We stayed in Woodstock for a month and overall it was a pretty rough time. I wrote “Please” when we were there and it was pretty much the only song we worked on that made it on the record. I suppose you could look at that month from a different angle and say that we figured out how we work together and how we want to work together in the future. As difficult as that month and pretty much that entire winter was, I’m thankful for the space I had physically and mentally to write that song. It was definitely a time of self-reflection.
When we first came up with the idea of recording in Nova Scotia I was ecstatic. Not only did I love the idea of getting out of New York but also Nova Scotia is our home. And we had an entire month, which is unheard of for us (I think we recorded The Way and Color in 10 days). Not to mention Nova Scotia is one of the most beautiful places on earth. It feels good just being there. We basically didn’t leave the property except to go swimming or go for walks and occasionally get a beer somewhere. But really all we did was record and make food. It was pretty magical. Ideally, I would want to make every future record the way we made LOVE YES.
I think making this record was very illuminating. We all really went through a process; as individuals and collectively as a band. We struggled at first, feeling a lot of pressure and trying to force something to happen without much inspiration. It was very discouraging, but at the same time sometimes the struggle is what creates the ground for what you need to do next. We realized we needed space and to allow ourselves to relax with the process of creating the record. We basically stopped working on new material, toured a little and then took time off. Teeny had an important creative breakthrough by going to Kentucky; a lot of the songs for the record came out of that writing retreat.
One of my personal favorite times from the writing process was in the weeks leading up to going to Nova Scotia. Teeny and I basically shut ourselves up in our dingy little New York City practice space and workshopped the demos she’d made in Kentucky. She often writes using a drum machine and then we go back in and figure out how to translate that to the kit. Sometimes it’s pretty straightforward and other times it’s pretty challenging trying to find the right feel for a song. It’s also a translation process of her communicating what she has in mind and me taking that to the kit and how I play. I think being sisters helps and luckily we often have the same sense of what’s working and what’s not. Then, when the whole band gets together, things naturally shift or get tweaked depending on how it feels with everyone playing. It’s a lot of work, but it’s fun – like a puzzle you’re trying to put together. On the other end of the spectrum, there are other songs like “Tokyo” and “Please” where we just played and the groove came naturally. That is a totally different kind of satisfaction in the writing process, where things just flow smoothly and you all fall into place around each other kind of naturally.
I think the interesting thing about this band is being able to work in all different ways. You have to be flexible, because we don’t just write one kind of song – there’s always a new challenge. At the same time, there’s an underlying continuity of how you work. So there’s constant change and yet the longer you do it, the deeper and more grounded your process becomes. I think that juxtaposition is a big part of anything creative and developing both sides of the coin, so to speak, is what makes the work so fulfilling. At least that’s how it is for me…
As a practicing musician in New York, it’s rare that I get to be unhurried and deliberate about a recording. There’s never enough time. Budgets and lifestyles just don’t allow it. The band saved money and made time by running off to The Old Confidence Lodge in Nova Scotia. The Rebekahs (a female branch of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows) used to meet there, which boded well for our coven.
Making LOVE YES was luxurious and metered. After workshopping the songs for months in Woodstock and Brooklyn, we got an entire month to hone sounds, parts and harmonies. Daniel Schlett, our producer, brought a 15 passenger van full of gear from Brooklyn in order to get everything just right. I had four basses with me, including a P Bass, a fretless P Bass, a Kay hollow body, and a loaner from Gibson. Spending all that time in the remote and beautiful home of my adopted sisters made for an otherworldly and inspiring process. Intersperse that with grilling, swimming, and hiking, and you have a musician’s utopia. The album is indeed imbued with all the love we could pour into it.
As with most of the records we’ve made, nature played a very important role in the writing of LOVE YES. New York City can be incredibly suffocating and I personally have a hard time finding inspiration. When I went to Kentucky to write music for the record, the songs poured out of me. I need to space and quiet to create. It made total sense for us to travel to Nova Scotia to track the LP there. With the water across the street and total silence at night, we were able to track all day, everyday with the comfort of the ocean right there. The experience was really fun, surreal and so special. Being in a space that acted as a cocoon allowed us to create a world that is totally our own.
(Photos courtesy of TEEN)
(Intro paragraph by Lauren Doyle)