Daniel Carlson is one of those artists that you can’t help but recognise as a truly creative artist and a generally decent human being.
In the making of his fourth album ‘Not A Drawing’ and arguably a future classic it is worth noting the thought process behind the making of something that, in an age of very transient and mass produced ‘art’, is a wholly refreshing approach, whereupon every detail is painstakingly managed in accordance with the creation of something valuable to cherish.
From the album cover artwork, Daniel explains, “I’ve been working with well known, in the art world – visual artists for my covers from the start. Thus far, they’ve all been people who I’ve gotten to know in NYC. The process is this: I reach out and ask if they’d be interested in doing the art. If they agree, I give them an early version of the (still in-process) record and they’re responsible for both the artwork and coming up with a title for the album. The artist this time around is Nayland Blake, whose work has been shown internationally since the 1990s. I’ve chosen this route because, basically, I think the cover and title – when done well – can really shape how the listener takes in the record. And I think cover art – in general – is mostly a dead art and want to remind people how considered it can be. It’s getting to the point where half the reason I’m making the records is to work with these artists whose work I admire so much.”
On the recording side Daniel says, “Initially, I was going to work with the same crew as “Me You You Me” (all L.A. session dudes – all amazing musicians). But, once I got done with what I thought were the demos, it was clear to me that they had a feel that was worth keeping. So then I thought that maybe I’d go out to L.A. and do some overdub sessions with those guys, but by the time I had time to do it, the songs had evolved even further. At that point, I decided that I’d finish it up in NYC and reached out to famed producer Michael Leonhart to see about him helping me finish, but it didn’t look like he’d have time in the near future. However, we did spend an afternoon listening to what I had and he had a key piece of advice: “less Paul McCartney, more Pink Floyd,” which was where I’d wanted to go anyway (more synths, more dreaminess).”
Daniel adds, “Then there was the Gizmotron. When I was a kid in the late 70s, the local guitar store sold this mysterious device called a Gizmotron. Was totally cool – fit over the strings of the guitar (close to the bridge) and produced a bowing (instead of a picking) sound. Kind of like an early eBow. And that was the only knowledge I had of it (it wasn’t sold for long) until years later, when I learned it had been invented by Godley & Creme (of 10cc fame) and used on their records and so I heard it in that context. Then, last year, I found out that someone had re-introduced it as the Gizmotron 2.0 and I immediately got one and used it extensively on the record.”
Regarding Daniel’s always innovative and enjoyable music videos he worked on the last record ‘Me You You Me’ with Belarusian (but Amsterdam-based) video artist Maxim Tyminko, Los Angeles-based photographer and filmmaker Jim Newberry, Tokyo based artist/photographer Ichiyo Ikezaki, and also directs them himself with Daniel’s visual art collaborator Cathleen Owens. Since that record, Cathleen and Daniel have made three official videos for the ten-time Grammy nominee Meshell Ndegeocello (at Meshell’s request) for her record ‘Comet Come to Me’.