Video for Corita’s Song “Remember That You Will Die”

When I asked my dear friend Leila Bourgougnoux if she would be interested in making a video for my band Corita I didn’t honestly believe she would say yes. Making a video is a lot of work, after all, and it’s not like Corita can pay our artist friends the big bucks. But she did say yes and I sent her a bunch of songs to choose from. She chose our shoegazy take on metal and Buddhist philosophy “Remember That You Will Die” and, after getting kicked out of filming in a Parisian laundromat, shot this beautiful Super 8 footage in the south of France. When the other members of Corita and I saw the results we were absolutely thrilled by how perfectly she interpreted our song. I hope you will be too.

The Rubin Museum of Art also wrote about the video and their song on their Education blog. It was my work on the Rubin exhibition of the same name that inspired the song, so this is a nice full circle!

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Tru Luv

ECW + SMH, July 2011. By Dominick Mastrangelo.

I’ve told you a lot about my talented friend Dominick and the great photos he takes. He’s shot my band Corita on numerous occasions, but he does more than shoot music. Earlier this summer he came over to my apartment to do a food photo shoot with me and SMH for our food blog 2 Cooks in the Kitchen. We’ll have those photos (and recipes!) up there soon, but I wanted to take this opportunity to share this photo with you. I know SMH hates his photo on the internet, but I wanted to share this one. I love it because it’s so honest. It was taken on a Sunday. I was tired. We had been cooking in a hot kitchen at a fast pace for several hours. I was not wearing any make up, my hair is too long and out of order, and our house is a mess. But when you look at this photo none of that matters. It’s an honest portrait of two people and their feelings. That’s why I love Dominick’s photography so much.

Corita in the Studio: An Album by Dominick Mastrangelo

Recording hand claps with Corita by Dominick Mastrangelo

I met Dominick Mastrangelo by not-so-random chance. When I first started review shows for Venus Zine (RIP) he was the photographer assigned to my second-ever review- the Carrots at Cake Shop. When I saw a nice guy with a “real”camera shooting them I asked, “Are you Dominick?” and mentioned I would soon be traveling to Glasgow to see (and review) My Blood Valentine. He mentioned he’d been there and emailed me some travel tips. A friendship was born (I’ll leave out the part where 3 months later I temporarily forgot his name while waiting in line to see Ted Leo for free at Castle Clinton). For over a year we became a writer and photographer team, covering indie rock luminaries such as Bon Iver at Town Hall, the mud bath that was (the last) All Points West in 2009, and small, more humble affairs at the likes of Cake Shop.

Reviewing recording notes by Dominick Mastrangelo

Dominick has also been the documentarian of Corita since the beginning. It’s been wonderful to see him grow as a photographer over the past few years and hopefully he’s also seen us grow as a band. In February, when we were recording with Joel Hamburger at GodelString studios he nicely came and made pictures of us in the midst of a very busy day of shooting! I already shared some of those photos with you, but here are some more, not just of me, but of the band. What he does so well as a photographer is capture the feeling of the moment. In these pictures you can see exactly what I love about Corita, even though we’re not even playing our instruments. These three people who push me to create and perform the best I can, who let me laugh, and, most importantly, give me the space to be exactly who I am.

Corita listening closely by Dominick Mastrangelo

Aileen and Nick by Dominick Mastrangelo. I love Aileen's smile.

Nick making drummer like motions by Dominick Mastrangelo

Marisha by Dominick Mastrangelo

Aileen with Joel Hamburger in the background by Dominick Mastrangelo

Marisha by Dominick Mastrangelo

Nick by Dominick Mastrangelo

Me and Nick by Dominick Mastrangelo

Taking a rest on the recording notes by Dominick Mastrangelo

Corita Recording Notes

Recording at Godelstring Studio. Photo by Dominick Mastrangelo.

After two and a half years of being a band Corita finally took the time to go into a proper studio and commit our songs to tape (or digital files, in this case). We were in luck to work with Joel Hamburger at Godelstring studios in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

Concentrating on overdubbing my new part. Photo by Dominick Mastrangelo.

It’s a beautiful, well kept studio that Joel build up himself over 7 years. An incredible engineer (and Physics student) who also plays a producer’s role he knew what we wanted to achieve and made our songs sound like they always have sounded like in our heads. He was relaxed, confident and reassuring, setting up the environment to be as natural as possible so we could relax and concentrate on playing our songs. He also knew the flow of the recording day so well he knew exactly when to suggest we take breaks, get food, and even (towards the end of the first day) have a beer.

First engineer Joel with second engineer Delilah.

I learned a lot being in the studio. I always dreaded recording, thinking about it as a tedious process that was mired in frustration and unhappiness. In Joel’s capable hands it was long, for sure, but immensely satisfying and even fun!I also learned a lot about being a musician. I realized that the more I relaxed the better my playing and singing became. This is not surprising, but important to recognize.

My Guitar at Godelstring.

Recording vocals is always very revealing and at certain moments I began to over think my singing and got progressively depressed about it. That was when it was time for a break. What I realized when we listened to the tracks back was that I was over singing before. In the studio there’s no reason to push your voice over a roaring sound system because you can hear everything.

Aileen's bass chills with the organs.

I realized I was pushing my voice to be too theatrical and it was creating music that I didn’t want to listen to, which is a real problem because I feel like I should always write the music I want to hear in my own band. It was real revelation to realize that in the studio I could relax and let my voice be its own, limited self, and that the songs sounded better that way. That’s a lesson I’ll carry out of the studio and on to  the stage.

Aileen and Marisha enjoy their time in the studio.

It was also a very validating experience to spend two full days concentrating on something I create. After six years of working full-time in “the arts” I’ve started to think of myself less of a creative person and more as someone who supports other creative people. Lately I have been telling the artists I work with that I am a writer and musician just to make myself sound more “for real” to them.

Nick tests out the drums in the studio.

Two full days in the studio felt like my very own weekend artists residency and I realized that I have to take this kind of time to take my own work seriously. What I love about my band is that it gives me a focus and there are three other people to push the project along. But after seeing what a weekend can achieve I feel energized and more able to value my own creativity and projects. And that makes me more valuable to the artists I work with as well.

Recording notes. And an egg shaker we didn't end up using.

Trying on the New Year for Size

I always grumble that New Years is my least favorite holiday, but this year I decided to pre-empt my new years ennui and throw a party. It’s a good excuse to see friends, make good food and get dressed up but not have to go anywhere. I even managed to convince my friends who live in Washington Heights, Bushwick and Greenpoint friends to come down to Sunset Park.

Party Shoes!To celebrate the passing of the old year and the beginning of the new I wore an old, favorite dress: a sparkly, vintage number I bought at the Garment District in Boston in 2000 and wore to my senior prom! The shoes are brand new and by Robert Clergerie in Paris. They constitute my year end bonus from work. I first saw them on Fashion is a Playground and fell in love.

Reflective Electronica DuoAt some point during the evening we thought it would be a good idea to a photo shoot… on the kitchen floor. Ah, revelry! So here is wishing you all the very best for the new year! May it bring you happiness, health, adventure and joy!

Wahoo! 2011!

And now, a little blast from the prom night past! Hilariously, my outfit 10 years later is almost the same: sparkly tights, high heeled Mary Janes, but not the pink wig or cats eye glasses. Enjoy!

Prom Night 2000

Prom Night 2000

Corita Style!

I love my band Corita. We have been a band for over two years now and been playing shows out for over a year. I was recently asked about how I mitigated the stress that comes with New York living and I brought up Corita as an example. There are few things better than having a time every week to get together with 3 of your closest friends and work on a collective, creative project. Since we all have our own careers there’s no pressure on the band to “make it,” in the traditional sense of getting signed, man. For us “making it” as a band means writing good songs, challenging ourselves as musicians, and making sure that when we play out, we play well and look good. To that end, we always coordinate our outfits.

Half the Band in a Super Punk Glam Portrait

You can see another photo like this here with our good friend Phil Pierce from the band Crawl Babies (who are one of our favorite bands to play with).

Black dreses, colored tights, black shoes

Sometimes we get even more girly with our get up.

Summery Pastels (in low light)

Professional, yet punk

And sometimes just punk! (thanks to wunderfemme)

Dots, stripes, and old glory

I want to apologize to Nick, our drummer, who is also very stylish, but stuck behind the drums, and so not often photographed. You might say that I’m being a superficial feminist rocker by talking about fashion, but listen, rock and fashion have always been closely related and dressing up for a performance is part of our way of saying “thanks for listening, we care that you are here.”