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.

A Short Walk Through Gowanus

Gowanus, Brooklyn, is a really special neighborhood. It’s been described succinctly as a “working class bridge between Carroll Gardens and Park Slope,” and is infamous for it’s putrid canal (which is slowly getting cleaned up and has been designated a Superfund site). It’s even been memorialized in a painting by Randy Dudly, which is on view at the Brooklyn Museum (and is one of my favorites). The neighborhood is becoming less industrialized, though a few local industries still hang on, and more filled up with artists needing studio and musicians needing practice spaces. In the last few years the very popular club the Bell House has opened up on 7th street, as well as a sprinkling of restaurants along 3rd avenue. Band practice takes me to Gowanus on a weekly basis and I’ve decided to share some of my favorite sites along 9th street. To follow on this short walk just get off at the Smith and 9th subway stop (at 88 feet high the tallest in the system) and walk east on 9th street.

Gowanus Cement Truck

Polkadot Cement Mixer

The first thing I always notice when I get off the subway or ride my bike by are these polkadot covered cement trucks. I love the whimsy they bring to heavy industry! Aileen told me she remembered seeing them around NYC as a kid. Does anyone know the story?

Late Afternoon Icon

Gowanus Icon

After crossing the canal (unless you had to wait because the draw bridge was up) make sure you look up to see the famous Kentile Floors sign. Along this route you’ll encounter Find Home Furnishings for things unique and old and dear, and also Lowes, for daily home goods that are not so special.

Brooklyn Hot Dogs

Brooklyn Hot Dogs

Further along you’ll pass this other great, and less celebrated, example of Gowanus signage. I don’t know what this place is. It has never been open in all the years I’ve been walking by and why is there awkward, extra space at the end?

Bar Tano Atmosphere

Bar Tano, my favorite recent addition to the neighborhood

Don’t let the signs distract you too much though, because all good walks along 9th street include a pause at Bar Tano, a bar and eatery with an Italian slant. With cocktails like the basil infused “Gowanus” and tequila concoction “Flats Fixed” (inspired by a tire shop across the street) Bar Tano brings the feel of a European cafe to gritty 3rd avenue. Their pizza and bruschetta is also becoming a bit of an obsession for me.

Bar Tano Bar

The inviting bar at Bar Tano

I admit I was really surprised the first time I walked by and saw that such a sleek looking join had opened up on 9th street, but a few years on I feel it’s integrated into the landscape and I’m glad it’s there. Newer newcomers (and honorable mentions) include pie mavens Four and Twenty Blackbirds and Lowlands Bar. While these might speak to the upcoming (but not yet taken hold) complete yuppification of Gowanus, I’ll admit it’s nice to see good establishments operated by nice people opening up in South Brooklyn.

Frankie Rose and the Outs Profile on Venus Zine

I think that Ms. Frankie Rose is one of the coolest women in Brooklyn right now. She plays drums and guitar, she writes songs, she’s committed to her professional life and her music, and she lives a grown up yet still punk rock way of life. I got to interview her about her band’s new (self-titled) album and wrote a profile for Venus Zine, which you can read about here.

More good show pics…

The nice guys in Cobretti put some good pictures on their blog, including some of Mt. Olympus, who totally f’in shred and are the nicest guys to play with. The let us use all of their equipment, which led me to making an awkward analogy how their band was our band’s boyfriend… uh, whatever, but awesome show!

Note that Mike of Mt.Olympus is riffing in the crowd (Aileen is looking on) and Dickie’s hair is totally out of this world. He is my guitar hero.

New Food Blog, 2 Cooks in the Kicthen!

The Spread (labled)
Originally uploaded by killerfemme

I’ve decided to spread the blogging love and have started a collaborative food blog with my favorite chef SMH. We started our blog, 2 Cooks in the Kitchen, to be a collective project to share our love of cooking, eating and outer borough culinary exploration with our friends in New York City and the rest of the world. We hope to be the blog to visit if you are looking for the perfect market in Brooklyn, an ideal summertime vegan desert, are looking for the perfect thing to do with that strange vegetable you got from your farm share, or just enjoy reading about cooking and eating. We’re just getting started and welcome your feedback, ideas, and comments.

In addition, we’ll be serving sandwiches at the Desk Set’s Biblioball on Friday, December 11th. It’s a fundraiser for Literacy for Incarcerated Teens and also promises to be a lot of fun. Read the entry about it for details!

Hope you’ll join me on WordPress and continue to follow me on blogger!

Moving House

Sunset Expanded
Originally uploaded by killerfemme

As most of you know, I recently moved three blocks away from my apartment of five years to my own place in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. This is a view from my fire escape I snapped while I was supposed to be doing homework (the day after I moved I also started my Masters in Public Administration at Baruch College, part-time, yes, I still work too). It’s a low, slow process of settling in, but I’m enjoying it and have a penchant for collecting affordable, mid-century modern furniture. There’s an ever growing set on flickr documenting the apartment’s progress from gutted to liveable to move in to being decorated.

Swedes! Norwegians!

At the end of last month I got to check out two newer bands from Scandinavia, the ever fertile (if frozen) land of indie pop. Those Dancing Days and I Was a King both played at Union Hall and both were great. Those Dancing Days were a fantastic discovery and will surely be the next girly Swedish pop sensation (with a good amount of young punk attitude thrown in) due to their catchy melodies and high energy live show. You can check out my review for Venus Zine (and photos, though those are nothing to brag about) here. I Was a King sounded so much like American, mid-1990’s Chapel Hill-style indie rock that I felt like I was in high school all over again. They probably were too then. Check out my review for Venus Zine here. Thanks!

Birthday girls!

Birthday girls!
Originally uploaded by killerfemme

Last weekend LJ and I celebrated our 6th birthday together with a picnic at Coney Island. 7 of us met up at the Owl’s Head Pier in Bay Ridge and rode there along the Shore Parkway greenway. It’s so nice to have a mostly car free ride, though then the greenway dumps you off in the Toys’R’Us parking lot and you have to fight through traffic the rest of the way. Felix said that our birthday parties are some of the only times he gets out to Brooklyn public spaces, which I took as a great compliment. The sand was hot, the water full of trash, the boardwalk crowded and the arcades loud. All told, it was a perfect Coney Island adventure. And since it’s the last season of it’s grittiness, I plan to be there often to enjoy it to its fullest. Going back home (on the subway) the N train went express, nonstop, to 59th street, drawing cheers from all aboard and causing Jason to remark it was “like having a limo.”