Photo: Tim Mosenfelder/WireImage
St. Vincent On Magic Moments Behind 'Masseduction'
The Recording Academy New York Chapter and the Producers & Engineers Wing joined forces to host a special Craft Session event at Electric Lady Studios featuring St. Vincent and legendary mixing engineer Tom Elmhirst. In conversation, the singer/songwriter described the magic moments behind her 2017 album Masseduction that Elmhirst helped create at the historic studios, originally built by Jimi Hendrix.
The two addressed the new evolution of recording technology that makes it possible to capture great performances wherever they occur. "In these days, there's not some big chasm between a demo and the final thing," St. Vincent said. "We all have these democratic tools to make what could be a final version of the song."
They agreed that although a high-end studio can capture better sound, it's the performance that's most important. "The fact that I'm able to record myself — we're all able to record ourselves, at least in an inchoate state — I think it can be very freeing," St. Vincent shared.
"Sometimes the best way to get a great master vocal take is to pretend like it's the demo," she added. "There are a number of vocal takes on Masseduction that were scratch vocals."
St. Vincent also spoke about collaborations, and admitted she was in awe of her experience working with GRAMMY-winning producer/songwriter Jack Antonoff, best known for his work as a member of Fun. While "blue-collar" hours or "bankers hours" in the studio, with strict start and finish times, represent virtuous dedication, Antonoff was an example of how magical creativity cannot be set like a clock or guaranteed to fill an eight-hour shift, she said. According to St. Vincent, he is someone "who can give you the best three hours of your life and then you don't need the other five because some magic happened in the three."
Elmhirst agreed "100 percent" and shared stories of his own intense, shorter windows of creative productivity. "Things happen in small periods of time," he said. He shared that taking his dog for a walk can be part of getting prepared for the most creative decision-making while mixing and mastering.