Corita Rocks the Office

Guitar + Work = Rock

I was so thrilled when Jason, the filmmaker behind the webseries “All New York’s a Venue” approached Corita about featuring us in his project. His videos feature indie bands playing songs in atypical locations, often quite unfit for a musical performance. The best part about the videos, I think, is that they are not music videos per se. They are not overly staged. They are just a live performance in an unconventional location.

My band Corita posed a challenge, however. We can’t play acoustic. I don’t want to sound snobby, but our songs rely on reverb, delay and a little bit of distortion (see, we’re a bit shoegaze). This does not work on an acoustic guitar, so playing on the subway or down by the Gowanus canal (our favorite NYC polluted waterway) was not an option. We needed somewhere to plug in.

Then I came up with an idea. My workplace is incredibly supportive of artists. That’s our business. We also have an airy, light-filled loft in DUMBO. Considering we had a feminist tea party come and set up shop in the office for a week I thought, well, why not a band? The organization was only too happy to agree, as long as we did it on a Saturday when the office was empty and kept the noise to a minimum.

It was really funny, and strange, to load all our gear into my office and play our songs about disenchantment, growing older, and looking at the sky in the middle of the file boxes and computers I see everyday. But that is part of the fun of the project. The incongruous nature of the music and the location. I hope you enjoy watching the results!

All New York’s a Venue #6: Corita – “Act So Fake” from Jason Hood on Vimeo.

All New York’s a Venue #6: Corita – “Clouds” from Jason Hood on Vimeo.

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Flying (and Photographing) Above the Clouds

A shot from the sky over New England

If you follow me on Twitter or Flickr you are probably aware that my latest technological obsession is the app Instagram. It allows you to take, share and comment on photos with your iPhone, as well as add filters to them that make them look a little better than the average smart phone snap. What I love about Instagram is that it connects me to a network of friends and strangers around the world who share postcard moments of their daily lives. It’s pure visual pleasure (on a small screen) that allows members to share the stories of their lives through photo vignettes.

Flying Above the Clouds IV

Above the clouds

On my Instagram feed my visual obsessions become quickly apparent: there is a high quantity of images of clouds, sunsets, sky, cats, coffee, food, Paris and New York. Looking at so many shots of sky from around the world inspired me to snap a few pictures using my iPhone (I used Camera Plus and Hipstamatic) while I was on my puddle jumper of a flight up to Maine yesterday. I loved the distortion of the sun and sky provided naturally by the airplane window and the textures of the clouds. It also reminded me of the song “Clouds” that my band Corita wrote – shimmery, sing songy, dreamy and noisy. You can listen to it and download it here. Enjoy!

Sunburst

Atmosphere

Flying Above the Clouds

Sky, sun, clouds, faraway lakes

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.

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.”

Corita on Youtube!

It’s been ages since I have updated this blog and I am sorry. Corita is playing a show tomorrow (Thursday, July 8) at Fontana’s on the Lower East Side, making it almost a year exactly since we played there last! Some really nice person caught our tweest song “The problem with alcohol (is)” on video at our last show during the NYC Popfest. Check it out!

Corita at NYCPopfest 2010!

I am sure my 18-year-old-self would be jealous of me right now not because I’m about to hammer in the nail on the coffin of my twenties, but because my post-punk band of my dreams Corita is playing a free show on Saturday afternoon, May 22nd as part of the NYCPopfest. As a teenager I loved indie pop as much as I loved punk and post-punk and wished I was part of a cute, cardigan sweater wearing community. We might leave the cardigans at home on Saturday, but we’ll for sure coordinate our outfits and wear the spiffy shoes Corita is becoming known for (I hope we are also becoming known for our good songwriting, but we’ll see). We play at 3 p.m. at Spike Hill in Williamsburg, Brooklyn on Saturday May 22nd and its FREE. We’re profiled on the NYCPopfest blog 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.