Brooklyn, NY-based Violens recently released its second album, True, on Slumberland Records, unleashing another flurry of doomy guitar pop, drenched in reverb like a latter-day Longwave. Spearheaded by Jorge Elbrecht, the trio has been on the road in Japan and elsewhere, taking it far from the local environs where the album was developed. While Violens is Elbrecht’s act, he’s also an emerging producer/engineer, having worked on releases by Lansing-Dreiden, Chairlift, Devon Williams, Class Actress, Diego Garcia, Sebastian Blanck and others. With that in mind, we sat down with him to find out about True, recording and more.
Did you take up production out of necessity or is it something you see as an extension of your musical creative process?
A little of both. I've been "recording" and "mixing" since I had a four-track as a teenager, but got into learning microphones and studio equipment when working on the Lansing-Dreiden albums.
Is Static Recording your own space, or simply one you prefer working in?
It's my home studio and I work there 95 percent of the time, both mixing and producing. I tend to do things like drums and loud amps, etcetera, at other studios in New York City and Uniform Recording in PA.
So would you say producing other acts illuminated or altered how you approach producing your own work?
Absolutely—it has made me a more detailed listener, and more patient with my own recordings, particularly with vocals. I feel like one of my strengths as a producer is recording and comping vocals—getting the right take. I would have never known this had I not spent hours and hours working with other singers.
Got any “go-to” pieces of gear or mics that you turned to for recording the album?
It's really whatever gets the idea across. But I love my API 512c pres, Purple Audio MC77 compressor and modified Neumann U 87.
Any unusual or different approaches to recording True? Any unexpected turns of events, like the pizza guy wound up playing tambourine or something?
Not anything that would stand up to the history of recording, I'm afraid. It was pretty straight-forward and mostly about enjoying the process this time; I think that's the main difference between this and the last record. One thing that we did that was unusual (at least for our process) was to start some of the songs with a run through—just bass or guitar and kick-snare—to determine the tempo variations between the song's parts. Once we thought we got a take that had the right energy, we then made the grid adapt (bar-by-bar) to the variations within performance. Subsequently all editing, time-based effects and overdubbing was forced to answer to that map. "When to Let Go" was done like that.
In 2011, you took on a project where Violens released a single every month for nine months. What did that entail? Were any of those songs used on the new album?
Yes, four of those songs are on the album, but drums were re-tracked and they were therefore also re-mixed to a great degree. The nine songs we put out entailed fleshing out demos we had laying around, or jumping on new ideas and imposing time restraints. We had a pretty good time doing a lot of those, [and it was] also good that it denied us the ability to tamper with things too much.
Here's a goofy question: Is the cover of True an allusion to the cover of Washed Out's Within and Without?
No not at all. I actually just saw that album cover on vinyl while at Amoeba Records and realized how there were similarities--particularly the back of that album. But no, Washed Out's album are was nowhere in mind when we conceived of and shot our cover. Jack Smith's 60s photo stills were! I think Ernest and what he does is great though.
Now with the release of the album, what’s next for Violens?
We will be playing a lot of shows and meeting up to jam on new ideas. I will also be pretty busy producing and mixing other projects this summer.
To close things out, any advice for folks just starting out in production?
Learn as much as you can about every aspect of making a record, from writing and playing music, to placing multiple mics on complex sources, to mastering. Any decision along the way is going to affect the next stage, so it's best to be able to have a clear sense of how these roles interact. And don't stop absorbing information (books, online tutorials, college courses—whatever) until you feel like you are making records exactly the way you want to be making them.