Billie Eilish recently made an appearance at Third Man Records in Nashville, Tennessee on Wednesday night, where she performed a special acoustic set alongside her brother Finneas in front of a private audience. This live set was recorded on a direct-to-acetate disc, which is a type of vinyl popular from the 1930s to the late 1950s for recording and broadcast purposes.
Unlike conventional vinyl presses which are quickly formed from lumps of plastic by a mass-production molding process, acetate discs are created by using a recording lathe to cut an audio-signal-modulated groove into the surface of a special lacquer-coated blank disc, necessitating a real-time operation that requires expensive, delicate equipment and expert skill for good results.
Third Man Records hosts one of the few direct-to-acetate recording equipment and processes, which are mixed in real time on a Rupert Neve 5008 console by Grammy Award winning engineer Vance Powell, and instantly cut to vinyl by master cutter George Ingram using a 1953 Scully Lathe. The Scully Lathe was used to cut master recordings for prominent Kings Records artists such as James Brown.
Eilish performed an 11-song set which included “Ocean Eyes”, “Bury a Friend”, “I Love You”, and “Bad Guy.” During the process, the singer reportedly stated “Do you see that? They’re like making my voice onto a thing. Like right now! That’s crazy.”
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Eilish’s debut album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? has seen massive commercial success, reaching at number one on the Billboard 200. This achievement made her the first performer born after 2000 to have a number one album.