Mirror - There was not a big budget and a big budget wasn't needed
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Mirror is the quartet Frances Lawson, Thomas Anselmi, Ronan Boyle and Laure-Elaine assisted by producer Vincent Jones. While Thomas is the ex-vocalist of the Canadian punk rock band Slow, Vincent Jones was a member of The Grapes of Wrath and Ginger, and a frequent collaborator with Lava Hay, a band which included Jones' former wife, Michele Gould. Following Ginger's breakup, Jones became a session musician and producer, appearing on live albums by Sarah McLachlan and Depeche Mode's David Gahan, and studio albums by Mystery Machine, Cowboy Junkies, Monster Magnet, Rose Chronicles and Bruce McCulloch. Recently he also worked with Morrissey.
The self-titled album "Mirror" was written by Anselmi and produced, recorded and mixed by Jones who also took care of the programming and playing instruments. The release holds a couple of special guests including Depeche Mode vocalist Dave Gahan ("Nostalgia"), Mike Garson (Bowie's pianist for many years), Knox Chandler and American actor Joe Dallesandro (known from several Warhol films) next to the usual Mirror stars Frances Lawson, Laure-Elaine and Ronan Boyle who will also be the live line-up.
The Mirror album is available via www.mirror.fm on CD and as a download package including all the songs on the album in high quality MP3 format, PDF of 24 page album booklet and a high quality version of the "Nostalgia" Video featuring Dave Gahan. We caught up with Thomas and Vincent (who just returned from a tour with Alanis Morissette) to know how they got Gahan involved, how it was working with Knox Chandler, Joe Dallesandro and much more.
SL: Back in July 2007, we announced that Dave Gahan would contribute a song to our debut album. It did take a while before the album was actually released, a normal delay or not ?
Vincent Jones: It took us almost a year to complete the record, There were several reasons for this not the least of which was it was entirely self funded. We took quite a few breaks, not only did we need them creatively but I would also take the occasional high paying gig so I could afford to work longer on this project. I think it was a labour of love for both of us. Also we worked very closely together really searching for the right textures and parts to complement the songs and that can be creatively draining. We learned to recognize that and would take some time away from the music a break.We also pulled a lot of favours and ended up jumping around between quite a few studios. For instance on Nostalgia, Dave flew himself to Los Angeles to sing the track for us, after that was done Mike Garson agreed to play , and I moved all my gear to his house to record him. We recorded the tracks in 4 different studios and ended up mixing in Vancouver, it was a lot of work for 2 guys on a budget!
SL: Is this more than a thank you for being his live band during his solo "Monster" tour?
Vincent Jones: Well it was just incredible the day that Dave told me he would sing the track! Both Tom and I were thrilled. Dave is such an iconic singer, besides being one of the great singers and performers of our time, he is the most wonderful human being you could ever hope to have as a friend. Definitely more than a thank you and I think his performance is up there as one of his best!!!
SL: How did you actually get involved with him in the first place?
Vincent Jones: I was living in Los Angeles at the time, Victor Indrizzo was the MD of the band and was looking for a keyboard player who could sing. I was recommended by a mutual friend the producer Gavin Mackillop. Also I was friends with Knox Chandler, we had met years earlier on the Lilth Fair tours, so I called him and told him I wanted to do it.
SL: Speaking about Knox Chandler. What attracts you in his work?
Vincent Jones: Oh well Knox is fabulous! The way he approaches guitar is very unique, his sounds and parts are very creative and I knew he would be a perfect fit for the tracks he contributed to.
SL: Also included on "Nostalgia" is Mike Garson (Bowie's pianist for many years) who plays piano. Knowing that Dave is a huge Bowie fan I think he was more than pleased with it, correct?
Vincent Jones: You know I haven't really talked about that with Dave.... But I'm sure he is ! I know he is happy with the track. Mike Garson and Dave Gahan together... that was a dream come true for me. I idolized Mike from a very young age and to be in his house recording him was a dream come true!
SL: Vincent, you have been a session musician, and producer for such artists as Sarah McLachlan, Cowboy Junkies, Monster Magnet and so on. Do you consider yourself to be a session musician on this release?
Vincent Jones: Not Really, I was the producer, engineer and as it turned out mixer who happened to play a lot of instruments on it. I thought of myself as the producer first ,I was there to serve the songs, to try and bring Toms songs and artistic vision to life. It was a lot of work having to do so much, but I'm very proud of it.
SL: Thomas, there was a video shot for the song "Nostalgia", an obvious choice?
Thomas Anselmi: I have been working in video for a few years now. What excites me the most is capturing iconic performers. And Dave is obviously that and much more. I also was excited to explore the subtext of the song. When Dave agreed to do it, it was the obvious choice for the first clip. We are working on a few more from the record.
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SL: "Mirror" was written by you Tom, in how much did the production by Vincent change the sound?
Thomas Anselmi: I had been searching for a way to express the sound that was in my head. Something that would go well with the performance part of MIRROR. I wanted something dark, sweet and narcotic. Like cough syrup. Vincent intuitively understood this right away. One of the first words he used to describe the sound I was looking for was broken. I knew he was the right producer then. Vincent took something that was intangible and difficult to express and made it tangible.
SL: I suppose that every guest worked on a demo that you later on layered to complete?
Vincent Jones: Once Tom and I started working together on the music we never thought of anything we did as a demo, we were always working towards the finished album.
Thomas Anselmi: I think this is one of the really exciting things about music created with computers. There is no need for a separate demoing process. Often original sketches or improvisations can be incorporated into finished songs. The difference between the composing and recording processes has become less.
SL: You made the album available via www.mirror.fm on CD and as a download package including all the songs on the album in high quality MP3 format, PDF of 24 page album booklet and a high quality version of the "Nostalgia" Video featuring Dave Gahan. How did this work out so far?
Thomas Anselmi: There were some hiccups at first. Fans actually started buying things from the store before it was live. So that was a nightmare. But now things are running fairly smoothly and we have s steady stream of sales. This has been very gratifying. Selling downloads from our site to people all over the world.For artists to be able to sell directly to fans is an exciting development in the digital age.
SL: You self-released the album, why?
Thomas Anselmi: I had always envisioned putting this record out ourselves. MIRROR is a multi faceted art project, partly created in response to my experiences at the mercy of the relentless tinkering of record labels. I wanted to see MIRROR come to life without intervention.
SL: Was there a big budget involved or did you have to keep things under control...?
Thomas Anselmi: There was not a big budget and a big budget wasn't needed, thanks to a lot of peoples generosity and enthusiasm for the project.
SL: I was surprised finding Phil Western from Download on the album as well. What is the connection?
Thomas Anselmi: Phil is a long time friend of mine. We have worked together a few times and were originally introduced by Dave Ogilvie. I am a huge fan of his ambient work especially.
SL: There were 'unique' live shows planned for the project, is this going to be the case? What are the further promotional plans around this release?
Thomas Anselmi: MIRROR is first of all a show. And it really must be seen to be understood properly. Because it is unlike anything else. It uses projections, live video, and singing/acting performance to create a dream. A dream in the future of the past.
SL: How the hell did you get American actor Joe Dallesandro involved on this project? Was he easy going for this? (Editor's note: Dallesandro is known from several Warhol films, was portrayed as the money-minded "Little Joe" in Lou Reed's hit 1972 song "Walk on the Wild Side" and also featured on the cover of The Smiths' eponymous debut album.)
Thomas Anselmi: I have always loved Joe Dallesandro. To me he is a certain kind of movie star that they really aren't making anymore. Glamorous and larger than life, he only plays himself.
SL: Which collaboration for this album was the most memorable one and why exactly?
Vincent Jones: Recording Dave Gahan, Mike Garson and Joe Dallesandro. I grew up either listening to , or listening to songs about these men. and doing this record with Tom gave me the opportunity to record them.....like I said earlier, a dream come true!
Thomas Anselmi: Working with Vincent was a real creative breakthrough for me. I had never had anyone focus so much on trying to capture the conceptual subtleties of music like he did. I also love the track World Of Darkness that Frances Lawson sings with her father Ronan Boyle. And of course for me hearing Dave Gahan sing "Nostalgia" was a high point of my life as an artist. I consider Joe Dallesandro a dear friend now, and getting to know and work with him has been a real honor.
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