The Supper Club spends a weekend on "Spirit Cove"
The idea of going away to a secluded spot to record music isn't a new one. Dozens of bands have recorded famous albums in barns, buildings and houses far away from their traditional setting in an attempt to capture something new and different, and completely inspired.
This was the course plotted by artists and musicians Dylan Thomas, Charles English, Haz Solo, Jason Jones, Victor Yañez-Lazcano and Miguel Rodriguez last March when they set out to create an album in a weekend in Tomahawk, Wis.
The Supper Club, as they are now known, created a 12-track album called "The Supper Club: Spirit Cove Edition" during their weekend in Tomahawk, which consists of seven instrumental tracks and three with vocals,with two other tracks that set up the aura around the experience.
Strewn throughout the album are various conversations that were spontaneously recorded, which helps give the album a reality TV show feel, bringing the listener into the creative process and the delirium that different group members fought.
"Spirit Cove Edition" was released for a free download this past Tuesday and truly showcases how experimentation and embracing every whimsical idea can come out to be something worth listening to.
OnMilwaukee.com talked with The Supper Club's Dylan Thomas, Jason Jones and Charles English about the new project and just how they managed to have something worth showing after a weekend of ideas, roadblocks, twists and turns.
OnMilwaukee.com: What led you guys to want to go to such a secluded place to record music?
Dylan Thomas: Charles and I were hoping that the seclusion of a cabin up north would help everyone stay focused on the task at hand. We wanted to minimize distraction. I've found that new surroundings can be very inspiring and aid the creative process.
Jason Jones: I think the truth is that life gets too busy to make music without the pressures and distractions of the daily grind. The whole premise started in an attempt to find unfettered creative freedom, and the timeframe was really determined by the fact that schedules were really difficult to work around. The seclusion was an idea that came from a need to escape. We love our families and what we do, but being with friends away from all that with a common vision and goal was inspiring in a whole different way.
Charles English: Environment plays a big part in how artists draw inspiration. When everything around you is new – the people, the walls, the motivation, the project – you are forced to look at the task with an open mind. We didn't know what to expect but we figured that it would be unlike anything we have done as individuals.
OMC: Who was all involved in the making of The Supper Club and what did each person bring to the table?
DT: Charles and I were inspired by a Rufio beat tape that Haz was involved with. We are constantly challenging each other to get better with our craft, so we came up with the ultimate challenge: collaboration. We drafted a list of artists that we thought would create the right mix for this album and we sent out the invite.
JJ: Dylan Thomas is a master producer. The man has an ear for detail that is unmatched, but at the same time he knows that variation and humanistic quality should never leave the process no matter the number of computers or machines used. Despite having the smoothest personality, he has an innate ability to lead/guide without taking anything away from others.
Haz Solo is the beat machine – only touched in prowess by his flows. The man takes elements that don't make sense to anyone, and turns them into the most seamless compositions. It really is like listening to a painting – as long as that painting is of a jazz band on its third encore for the night. Again, Haz knows the way to work with people flawlessly. He is not always a man of a million words, but I'll be damned if there aren't a million songs waiting in line inside his head.
Charles English is the glue of the group. In a lot of ways, he was the common denominator of the group. While not as active in the hip-hop community, his influence on the album is immense. Knowing him, I can say that much of the feeling I get when listening to the album comes directly from his influence in both production and arrangement. His lyrics are undeniably powerful, as he knows how fleeting it all is. He told me afterwards, "I couldn't stand to waste a word. We don't get that many in hip-hop."
Victor is a genius! Not only did he capture virtually every perfect shot of the weekend, play guitar on one of the coldest tracks on the album and find time to shoot video for some promo videos, but he also secretly recorded almost every conversation in the house. Every time someone said "Man, I wish that was recorded," it was! Victor is one of the oldest souls I know, a master behind the lens, and an incredible talent at seeing human relationships honestly.
As for myself, I hope someone has more to say about myself than I do. I felt so humbled to be a part of this. I have some musical talent coupled with a huge interest in a huge variety of musical genres. I don't believe my talent lies so much in creating, but rather tweaking. I love to help others narrow in on that perfect phrasing, or find ways to infuse something compelling where it was not. I am an engineer of sound first and an amateur producer second. I really became friends with these guys while becoming completely enamored with their unceasing talent.
Miguel had an unassuming role in the group. He came as a friend and kept things rolling. The man is hilarious and good-natured. He was constantly encouraging and kept things from getting stale no matter how sleep deprived the group became ... especially since Miguel is never sleep deprived.
OMC: How did you manage to incorporate everyone's vision for the project with so many people involved and such little time to record?
DT: Everyone involved was pretty easy going. The group put the album together. We all agreed on what made the final cut and what ended up being put aside. I honestly believe that the time factored into how easy the final decision was. We all agreed that when we left the facility the album would be finished from a creative standpoint.
JJ: This was actually a huge discussion on our first night after setting up. We spent some time all together, but the majority of the time was spent with everyone rotating between production stations. A bit of input from everyone went into every track because most everyone was present at one point or another in its production. There really is an absence of ego among these men, and collectively, a huge personality was created through the album's tracks that I think is very accurate to the hearts that made them.
CE: I think the time constraint helped with the collaboration process. We let the songs make themselves. Whenever someone had an idea we acted on it without taking the luxuries of contemplation or discussion. Even now we look back and try to figure out who did what. We were sixth gear the whole time. I think the essence of the album is the result of capturing a fleeting moment when it presented itself.
OMC: This is the first of a series, so what are your plans for the next installment?
DT: We are currently planning to take our second trip this March. We are looking at the possible addition of two more musicians: one well-known guy from Milwaukee and another equally talented gentleman from Chicago. With two more hands in the pot it looks to be even more challenging. We plan on upping our workstations from two to four – maybe five – in order to take our productivity to another level.
JJ: Obviously we don't want to break what worked, but also want to stay fresh and evolving. The location is going to remain the same, at least for this year. We are also going to include live drums and bass to the live guitars.
CE: We've had discussions about the finding the balance between keeping what we know works and pushing the envelope to create something completely new, but it is difficult to set a ratio. We realize that trying to control a moment of inspiration is like trying to manage a daydream; as soon as you are aware of it, it disappears. All we can do is change the tools we bring in hopes that they will come into play.
OMC: Dylan, what leads you and Haz to continue to work with each other?
DT: I continue to work with Haz because he's prolific. He keeps me sharp. You know I like to disappear for half a year, maybe longer. I admire his work ethic and ability to stay fresh. I would have retired years ago if it wasn't for this dude. I honestly believe that our best work is yet to come. I think we'll eventually get into creating our beats with live instrumentation. It'll be a slow process, but that is the future of The Supper Club.
OMC: Dylan, how do you feel about being dubbed "Milwaukee's Dilla" by Seizure Chicken?
DT: I think it's cool. It's inspiring, being that he is a hero of mine. I'm honored. I would never, ever be foolish enough to call myself that, but if others feel my work like they feel the late, great Dilla's work, I'll take it. I've been compared to a lot worse!
OMC: What is keeping you guys together as The Supper Club?
JJ: I think it is not just mutual respect, but also a genuine appreciation for the friendships that have grown. This isn't some guys fighting about whose name is first. We all know that artistic freedom is fleeting along with people's attention. Everyone involved just wants to do what they love and ride the wave for as long as the universe will allow.
CE: What brings us together first is a great mix of personalities. I think most of us are in a place now where we just want to make the most of the experiences we are ushered into. Also, the desire to create brings people together. If it wasn't music it would be something else. I am a father of three and know firsthand how easy it is to have something like this sit on the shelf if you don't budget time for it. I told Dylan in the idea stage that my focus is on my family and my career, but at the very least I'll make music one weekend a year. I foresee a time when the other members have a family as well, which will make the weekend even more valuable. I'm in as long as they are.
Post a comment / write a review.
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.