Artist Profile: Barzin (part 1)

About a month ago, I got the chance to sit down with one of my favorite local musicians, Barzin. We had coffee (I had an avocado sandwich) and talked about touring, his new album, and why we do this. We start here chatting about my H4 Recorder:

When we were touring, our driver had one of these, and he'd record the shows sometime. And the recording quality is pretty good.

Did he go direct to the board with it?

no, he'd just kinda do it hand held.

So, you're working on a 7 inch single, is it something you can talk about at this stage?

Yeah, I met this fellow who runs a label in Spain, who I met on tour. I got an email from him after the tour saying "I've got this idea, it's called a singles project". Basically he gets people he knows to do 2 songs and he releases it on a limited press in Spain, through his label. I just find these kind of things motivate me to write, and be more active, so I said yeah.

So he wants original music? I mean, new stuff for the singles?
Yeah, he wants something that hasn't been released before. So I had a couple songs that didn't make it on the last album, so I said yeah sure.

How many songs did you write for the album?

I didn't write that much, I had maybe 12 songs? I did some recording with Nick (Zubeck) at his house, way before I started recording the album. and it was mainly just see and hear... It's funny, I have to hear songs before I can record them, before I can commit them to an album. So I recorded a bunch of songs, and that gave me an idea of which ones I wanted to record with the band. Then after that stage, we did another pre-production sessions. I listened to those batch of songs before I could fully commit to recording the album. It's very laborious.

So how long would you say it took you to make the album, from the beginning through all the pre-production stuff?

Not that long actually. Maybe a year in total. I was surprised actually, that it took that time. The reason it took longer than I thought it was going to take was because I mixed the album once, and didn't like the mix . So I spent a whole bunch of time after that to re-record a bunch of stuff, find a good engineer.

Sorry, for this album, or one in the past?

For this album. So It should have taken 6 months in total.

Well it's good that you're that focused, and committed to not release a bad product.

Well, it's funny, I think the more you record, you get to a point when you have certain standards, and you just aren't comfortable with that. I find my ear can't seem to listen to a certain thing that I do, unless it has a certain sound to it. And I think it's like that with everybody. I think of the first time I ever heard myself on a 4-track recording I thought it was amazing, that's because I didn't have the experience. The more you do it, the more you realize what you want and how you want yourself to sound. The first mix just didn't sound the way I thought I should sound, it was an instinctual thing.

When does the band come into the recording, the final recording, or the pre-production?

they were involved with the pre-production, I didn't want it to be... just call them, last minute, I wanted them to be involved with the writing process, so they can play their parts with familiarity. That's how it was, some of the melodies that came into the songs were actually written by Nick, and Marshal (Bureau) and Darren (Wall).

So you're pretty open to getting their input?

Yeah, well they're such great musicians, as you know. They do so many great things that I couldn't have come up with. There's a song on the album, it was completely accidental. We were in the studio, and they hadn't practiced this song at all, and we had some extra time, so I said guys, do you wanna try this track? and it took Marshal and Darren about half an hour to work out their parts in the studio, Nick came out with this guitar part, and so did Robbie (Grunwald), it was really nice to see a song come together so quickly, and it made it on to the album. It's pretty cool to see how good those guys can be. Actually I find myself a little too controlling. and when I experienced that it was good to let people do what they do.

Right, you pick the right people and they'll do what they do best. It's a solid band, you pretty much pilfered Nick's band!

Which I think you said you're going to try to get for your album as well.

I'm gonna try to! Once I finally get around to doing it. I'd love to get Nick, Darren and Marshal. Fingers crossed!

And Robbie... Robbie's part of that collective as well. The reason I met Robbie was through Nick, I needed a piano player, and he suggested Robbie. then I found I he played accordion as well, and he plays the vibraphone, he approaches it as a piano player. He's just so fast at learning things.

Where you familiar with Darren and Marshal before you got the band together?

No, Nick brought them in.... I knew about Marshal, from other bands. It's kinda cool of working with people who know each other musically, they have a comfort level with each other. I think that always works for an advantage, and it's great for touring as well, because they're comfortable with each other.

Not getting into any fights

yeah, exactly... although you can never avoid the disputes.

When you're that close to people for that long, how long was the European tour?

21 shows... it was like 25 days in total.

You were saying earlier that the norm was 9 hour drives, that must have been frustrating

It was. I take responsibility for that. It's my fault. My label were throwing dates at me, what do you think of this date? What do you think of that date? And I felt obligated to take on as many dates as possible so that we could pay the label. Because taking 5 people on the road is expensive, and I felt obligated to take as many shows as possible. I didn't really think about it. Days off, or driving. I never even looked at distances. They guys were very diligent, they were looking on line every day, and I thought they might know what we're getting into. But no one realized how much driving we were getting into. Even our driver didn't know!

So you had a driver for the trip?

It would have been insane if we'd done it ourselves. It would have been cheaper, but he's great. So bands do it, drive themselves. But when you're playing so much, with sound checks, and unloading, I can't imagine driving as well.

Sounds exhausting. Was this your second time doing this?

3rd time.

And how'd that come about, you've got a label over there helping, right?

yeah. They set up all the shows. Deal with all the promoters, bookers. It's doable. There are people here who could do it. It's just a lot easier, when there are people there... I kinda feel a little spoiled.

What's the label called that represents you?


And how'd you hook up with them?

Through, Picastro... you know Picastro? Toronto band. I knew Liz the lead singer. She got her first album through Monotreme. I heard it through her. SO when I was looking for labels to release the album internationally, I made a list, and just started emailing them. Making cold calls, would you be interested in hearing the stuff? and they were one of the labels who got back to me.

Check in tomorrow for part 2!!


Sam Allen said...

nice work you two.

Sam Allen said...

nice work you two.