Dam Brino

When we were making Dam Brino, we spent about two months doing preproduction work, which meant that Neilson (Hubbard) and I would have lunch every other week and discuss the direction of the record as well as the rebel queen Dam Brino character. A lot of the development was pretty abstract and highly visual because I am a graphic designer, and the sounds on the record hinge on things I’ve made. For example, I was walking in a 5k on a whim and didn’t have shoes for the particular event, so I bought a $10 pair of velcro strap-ons and drew all over them. Those are now on my website, and during the recording process of the first track (“Good Night White Knight”), I wore the shoes. That first track defined the direction of the album, and it was built off a ukulele/vocal/beatbox loop that took me a minute and a half to build.

Even though we spent about two months getting things together, the second that we got into the studio we realized each song was going to be a challenge. Because the loop for “Good Night White Knight” was already built, we thought it would take no time at all. It took us about two hours just to get the drums. I had built it without a metronome, so we all had to just feel it without a click track. I think this gave it sort of a Diana Ross old school feel, which we ended up really loving.

“Leave the Fight On,” one of my favorite tracks, was actually something I recorded and programmed on my Mac originally and ended up bringing into Neilson’s studio, giving him all of the layered vocal tracks. And “Swallow the Key” was written on a dulcimer, which eventually was thrown out virtually altogether (you can barely hear it in the intro). The lap steel player started playing a riff over the dulcimer scratch track, and the part was so spooky and stellar that it trumped the dulcimer part. And during “I Want Everything,” the trumpet player dropped his instrument during one of the pauses, making a sound like a handbell. We kept that.

There were so many amazing accidents that made this record what it is. Life is full of them, and they make us who we are. Even our demons can give us a little bit of heaven in the long run. The message of the quirky record full of those beautiful little musical accidents can be summed up overall in the last line of the entire record: “I’m going to kick off one shoe and wear the other like a trophy that I won from the bullshit.”

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