Michael Buckner | Frazer Harrison, Getty Images Now this is a collaboration that…
- Posted on Feb 5th 2010 3:00PM by David Chiu
"I was thinking I would love to go to some website and go into the world of some of my favorite writers, musicians or directors," Phillips tells Spinner. "Somebody like Wes Anderson, I would love to go and learn about his process and hear him talk about a day of shooting or writing something. I hope people would be interested likewise in the process of recording."
Phillips says she is recording the music as she goes along. So far, she has released two digital-only EPs, 'Hypnotists in Paris' and 'Cold Dark Night.' Three additional EPs will arrive as well as a full-length digital studio album due out in the fall. The money coming from the subscribers (a 'Long Play' membership is $52) will shape the costs in creating the music. "You might hear that things may get a little lush if a few more people join [up]," explains Phillips. "Maybe me on a guitar or a kazoo. So far we've had a great response. We have a lot of fun doing what we do."
This informal schedule of writing, recording and releasing music has given Phillips -- who is known for her collaborations with her former husband, producer T-Bone Burnett -- more flexibility to create. "It gives me a chance to do things that may not be mainstream ideas," she says, "but things that I wanted to do for a while and to do them in short form."
In some respects, 'The Long Play,' which began last fall, can be described as a multimedia experience. In addition to new music, the service also features artwork, journal writings and short films. One of 'The Long Play' categories is 'Phone Booth,' in which Phillips serves as a sort of radio talk show host interviewing other artists, and previous guests have included singer Joe Henry. "Now being on the other side," she says, "I have great admiration for the radio people that I've spoken with and do it well because it's not the easiest thing to do."
Perhaps the unusual highlight of 'The Long Play' is a category called 'Drum Fill of the Week,' in which the listener can hear Phillips or one of the musicians in her band hitting the skins. "I love real drums and I love drummers," says Phillips. "There's nothing like that kind of messy, sloppy and sensual thing of a human playing the drums. We always laugh at the old drum fills that the people come up with. It's the few seconds in a pop song where the drummer gets to express himself."
There is also a forum for 'Long Play' members to post messages. "I hope to hear from the Long Players," says Phillips. "I hope to get requests from them to see if there are old songs they'd like to hear and get feedback from what they've heard so far."
Originally, Phillips saw 'The Long Play' as a one-off project, as she wants to start performing live after the release of the upcoming album. After that, the project's future will depend on the public's overall response. "If people like it, maybe we'll do another year," she says. "Or maybe it will morph into a different kind of thing. I wanted to give it a certain time period. I think that the limitations are interesting. It's making it what it is."