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- Posted on Mar 18th 2010 6:45AM by James Lawrenson
The collaboration seems to have got moving back in January, when Byrne joined St Vincent (Annie Clark to her parents), Bon Iver and Bryce Dessner from the National on stage at the Allen Room in New York.
Byrne said, "At her suggestion, we did a song we'd been writing together, one of about 8 or so. Our collaboration was partly inspired by the Dirty Projectors/Björk thing at Housing Works many months ago that we both attended. We agreed to do something similar there, though there is no timetable. Annie (her real name) has been on tour, on and off, for quite a while, so the collaboration proceeds in fits and starts. It was a good idea of hers to get at least this song up to speed, as it gave us a deadline and allows us to see where problems and musical issues might lie."
He went into greater depth about the process of working with Clark. "Sometimes (as in the song we did at the Allen Room) she'd give me some instrumental tracks she'd done in Garage Band using brass (and other) samples, and then I'd organize those using the music software Logic, and add some stuff of my own. In the case of this particular song I first added a "virtual" acoustic guitar and some percussion - which cemented the nice herky-jerky brass parts she had recorded. I sent these via email to her for approval. After that (she liked what I had done) I improvised a vocal melody on top - thus far without words. She liked that too.
"She sent back some new brass chords and harmonies under one verse section - and that eventually turned into a middle eight (sometimes called a bridge in the US), and she also sent some melismatic vocal improvisations of her own."
Melismatic means 'several notes sung on one syllable' or an "embellishment of melody."
Byrne also adds more detail on his studio set up and other recent collaborations, such as his forthcoming project with Fatboy Slim, and his work with Dave Sitek of TV On The Radio.
On collaborations, Byrne said, "I've done a slew of collaborations over the years - more and more as time goes by, and they are always slightly different from one another, though there are more similarities than differences. One could say that some of the songs co-written with other members of Talking Heads were also collaborations, so the give and take nature of collaborative writing skills got developed early. The Here Lies Love project - due out in a few weeks - was largely a collaboration with Fatboy Slim, and one of the most extensive I've done in while. Not all 22 songs on that project were collaboratively written, but more than half were.
On the status of the songs with St Vincent that are yet to be fleshed out, Byrne said, "It's all still evolving -- where these will end up? We don't know -- and that's a nice place to be in."