Remix Project #7: Where You Gonna Go

Written and performed by Original Cyndi

Recorded by the Kelly Bros. and Justin Jordan in 2002.  Mixed and MFI 2016

Fred Kelly:

Justin was the first. Long before we (or anyone else we knew) embraced the advantages of computer-based hard drive recording (as opposed to tape or dedicated non-computerized hard drives), Justin had discovered the power and the freedom in using a DAW in his music. It took us a while to see the light (which, of course, we have).
Coincidentally, around the time that Jonathan and I had started our own 8-track garage rock odyssey with The Rockwells, Justin had formed a new organ-based garage rock project: Original Cyndi. The songs were different from anything he’d written before. And, at least in my opinion, the tracks were all smokin’ good. As a result of our 8-track cassette, analog experimentation, Justin decided to ask if we’d be the rhythm section for this first batch of Original Cyndi songs. We’d cut the songs in Knoxville, on our Tascam, and then he could import them into his DAW to do with as he pleased.
This is one of those original batch of songs. I love it. I love all of those songs, in fact. This one is interesting, as Justin only need up releasing a Memphis-recorded version of it. It’s very good, but I always liked our version a lot as well. Here it is.

Jonathan Kelly

This song has a bit of a stranger path than even some of the other songs that Justin recorded with us for the Original Cyndi's album.  At one point, after we transferred the tracks off of the cassette we recorded on, Fred had the idea to add fresh drums, bass, and guitar.  It would be a hybrid version of the song, with Justin's original vocals and organ parts retained.  I think we did that in...2008?
What we ended up with was fun, but we didn't have anything we could do with it, so it was a bit of a curio.  This made it a perfect candidate for the Remix project!  There are several songs that didn't make it on the the Original Cyndi album that could maybe be its own thing in the future.
As for the initial sessions for the project, I have really fond memories of them.  It really felt like a total change of gears for Justin, and the very direct songwriting with melodic and intricate organ parts was really exciting.  

Remix Project #6: Still Ridin'

Written and performed by Million Powers

Recorded by the Kelly Bros. in 2011.  Mixed and MFI 2016.

Fred Kelly:

We had only just met Justin when he recorded this song with us. Jonathan might have known him a little longer, but he and I were still more or less strangers when we started working on “Still Ridin’”. I have to be honest: new clients always make me nervous, and until I get comfortable working with someone, I worry a lot about whether we’re being too overbearing, or not commanding enough, or just not a good fit.
In the case of this track, Justin knew what he wanted (he has a great ear, and a great “mind’s eye” for knowing what he wants), but it was up to us to translate his vision. We added drums, bass, Hammond organ, Wurlitzer electric piano, a smattering of percussion, and backing vocals. It works for me!
Anyway, I didn’t need to worry about being nervous. Justin became a fast friend, and “Still Ridin’” turned out great. I still really love this song, and I’m convinced that it should be part of a Knoxville “Bike to Work or School” campaign. Locally produced, fun and bouncy, and totally about bike ridin’. Maybe one day…

Jonathan Kelly:

Million Powers is what Justin was calling his solo project after I Need Sleep, but I think he already had Marina Orchestra in mind for his next full band thing.  We worked on Still Ridin' for a potential solo release, but by the time we finished it, Marina Orchestra was taking shape, and he decided to put all of his efforts into that.  We began work on Take on the Silence not too long after.
I'm not sure it was intended that way, but working on this song ended up being an audition of sorts for the Marina album.  It turned out to be a really fun collaboration.  When we added more people into the process for Marina, we already had a pretty good working relationship with Justin to build upon.
On a more personal note, I sing a little harmony on this, and in doing so I discovered that Justin is a deceptively intense singer.  He has a very relaxed demeanor (both in person and on recordings), but when I tried to sing along with him, I sounded like I was almost unconscious.  It took a lot of energy and focus just to sing in a way that could stand up to Justin's "free and easy" vocal performance.  Even then he's still dominating.  The phrase I like to use for that is "eating __ lunch."  As in, Justin is totally eating my lunch on this song.  

Remix Project #5: Beast

Written and Performed by Joey English

Recorded by Joey English and the Kelly Bros in 2011. Mixed and MFI 2016.

Fred Kelly:

We met Joey English through a local talent contest, in which he won (among other prizes) several hours’ worth of time in a local recording studio—our studio. Joey already had the structure worked out for “Beast” beforehand, and when we sat down for our first preproduction meeting, he said that he had been working on “Beast” in his own DAW, and wanted to know if we could work off of that. We said no, we couldn’t, and then we immediately said that we were joking and that we could do that with no problem.
Joey brought in a multitrack with a few vocals and both acoustic and electric guitar on it. I think he recut the vocals and some of the guitars, then added more guitars, after which we overdubbed bass, drums, and percussion. The trumpets at the end were particularly fun.
The arrangement worked so well that as a result, there had never been a “bad” mix of “Beast”, but we wanted to put together a more “definitive” mix so it could be considered finished, and so it could be shared with everyone. Joey had another version of “Beast” that he released, so this is a fun alternate version that we like very, very much.

Jonathan Kelly:

Instead of rising and falling, some songs start small and gradually build up to a big release.  "Beast" is one of those songs, and I think it works really well for that.  There are lots of fun little bits and pieces going on, but the vocal performance is the real centerpiece here.
I'm also pretty happy with my drumming here.  The three of us worked it out together: where the kick drum should come in, how the toms would come in, how the snare rolls would work, and how big the release would be.  That's often how I'm approaching drumming in the studio: part performer, part producer.  It's a little nerve wracking, actually.  Writing parts is very different from performing parts, so I'm almost always starting these songs with a really crummy performance while searching for something interesting.  I have to let my performer ego go a little bit while slopping through the song and trying things out.

Remix Project #4: I Need a Shelter

Written and Performed by Jeremy Bain

Recorded by Jeremy Bain, Mike Crouch, and the Kelly Bros. in 2008. Mixed and MFI 2016.

Fred Kelly:

I don’t even remember exactly how we came to record “I Need A Shelter” but I’m glad we did. We had been friends with Jeremy for a long time, and had taken a look at some tapes that his band Slick has recorded elsewhere (and which had some restoration needed), and we’d also worked with Holly Briggs, who was in a band with Jeremy called May Gray. 
Anyway, Jeremy is musically omnivorous, and seems to have no problems with any style or genre whatsoever along a wide musical spectrum. I really like and respect that about him. For “Shelter” he was in a fairly Fleetwood Mac kind of place, and we were only too happy to try to provide that atmosphere for him. Jonathan played drums, then Jeremy layered his vocal, bass, and guitar onto it, and we all added percussion and backing vocals. 
Jeremy’s friend Mike Crouch (also of May Gray, and both a great guy and a great guitarist) came in and put the electric guitar lead lines in the choruses and acoustic lines in the verses (the latter of which was run through EchoBoy to give it a wide, ethereal nature). I love this song, and I’m happy to present it to listeners in a finished form.

Jonathan Kelly:

This song was recorded in our second bedroom (thank you Val!), before we had a dedicated location for the studio.  It's one of those deceptively simple recording.  We were going for something very, very precise, and there's just not a lot of room for error when you do that.
I've always loved the feel of this song.  It was surprisingly challenging to mix, but even after all these years I still enjoy listening to it.  Smoooooooth.