Desert Television is streaming at Hartzine as of today! This is a new collaborative album I am incredibly excited about. I got the chance to collaborate with an artist I’ve admired for years, Félicia Atkinson. The album comes out August 28 on Beacon Sound, 300 copies of red vinyl with graphic design by the always surprising Bijan Berahimi. Here’s the second song of five from the album, and some text I wrote for our press release:
I’ve been asked many times if there’s a particular artist in the world I’d like to collaborate with. I have often answered: Félicia Atikinson.
I first heard about Félicia in 2008, through her collaborative album with Sylvain Chauveau, Roman Anglais, in which her character is so immediately and intimately revealed as she speaks in free poetry over Sylvain’s soundscapes. This hypnotic and sensual sound captivated me to the point of listening to the album on repeat for weeks, on trains and planes and even in bed, being lulled to sleep by that voice.
By the time I decided to do some online research about Félicia, I found what seemed to me a flourishing artist, prolific in all kinds of mediums – drawing, painting, sculpture, poetry, music – all of which piqued my interest. Through all her various creations I felt a very singular approach, and one which seemed very liberating to me. It looked as though everything she made came out so intuitively and effortlessly, yet the vision of it all seemed so clear and focused. Whether I picked up on Félicia’s intentions or not, my perceptions of her work and how it was made enthralled me, and have been a guiding force ever since.
The world is small, so Félicia and I eventually met through concerts and friends of friends, and we’ve always kept loosely in touch, exchanging records and books, encouraging each other, and through all of that my admiration only grew. So when she told me in Summer 2014 that herself and Bartolomé Sanson (with whom she runs the enchanting Shelter Press imprint) would come and visit at my home/studio on the Oregon coast, I was naturally beyond excited. I was curious if we might make some music together while she was visiting, but in a way also hesitant to shatter my illusion of this artist I’d been following for years.
On the second or third day of her stay, we ended up in the studio together, playing around with all the instruments and sound toys. Without any real goal or intention I set up a couple microphones and started recording as Félicia was already playing away on the rhodes piano. I spontaneously found myself singing along and playing percussion from the other side of the room while the microphones primarily picked up what she was doing. Can you imagine a band going into a studio to record, and while they’re playing the engineer just starts singing along and playing the bongos?
Recording with Félicia proved to be as liberating and soul-filling as I ever could have imagined. We spent the whole day in a steady flow of creation, without stopping to ‘think’ about what to do. At one point I asked her to recite some lines from her poetry book ‘Twenties Are Gone’, which I’d read countless times over the years, and after she left I treated those words as lines of an opera under which to make a ghostly string arrangement. Even as I worked on the songs after she’d left, selecting certain moments of our day and embellishing the improvised elements that were there, I felt that all-too-rare thrill of doing something so meaningful, so pertinent and just right.
In Félicia’s words from a recent email, as we prepare to share our creation with the world: CHE VIVA LA NUIT!