I flew to London to take a breath of fresh air after living inside the studio for the past five months recording and mixing the “New Amsterdam” EP. When I say “lived”—I slept there—with a bed inside the vocal room, against the wall, surrounded by sound baffles, spare drum heads, and the all-holy Neumann mic we used on a handful of the tracks practically dangling over my pillow. My engineer and co-producer on the record, Sean Kelly, would mix with me around the clock until we couldn’t tell the difference between synths and a car horns. We ate a shocking amount of hummus and also had a sneaking suspicion that the place was haunted after midnight. Tom and Caleb would visit the studio to rehearse for a show or re-track emergency bass and percussion. They hid Miller cans behind my couch and slept at home in Brooklyn like reasonable people.
I had an idea to do a song in the U.K. that was set apart from the EP—we want to release the EP with a label so have just trickled-out one track from it, “Kingston,” on Soundcloud. I did a bit of searching and wanted a smokier, looser sound. Maybe even something vintage and crackly, but not totally lo-fi, that’s way too hip for me. I found JB Pilon’s portfolio online who was working from Wax Studios in London, which is an odd, attic studio inside a far-flung loft building in Dalston. The only odd thing about the studio is the way it looks, the sound was really rich and natural, maybe due to the acoustics of the A-frame. I used JB’s Telecaster Thinline on the record with plenty of delay; the tone was super-clear and almost bell-like. We used a modified SG-style guitar made out of solid acrylic with custom humbuckers on the chorus, which really roared. We reversed amp feedback and manipulated old delay pedals for the intro. I usually do multiple takes of everything and I won’t share how many feedback takes we did—it’s embarrassing. The moodiness in the video is a product of the sole window, a skylight, letting in early, blue, dusk like a laser beam. We got lucky.
The song was a subconscious, automatic one for me, I wrote it in two days and edited over a week. I had another one prepared for the studio and tossed it last minute. I’m glad I did. In retrospect, I think “Fake It” captures the attitude about not quite being there yet—the finish line, the clearing in the woods—whatever. It’s a song that’s aware of loss and denial, maybe a too-late love song for someone who’s not listening anymore, but a stubborn plead to pick up your pieces, your bones, drag your suitcase up a fucking ladder in Amsterdam and turn up the amplifier. It’s a chant and a celebration of the in-between. It’s worth the sweat; we’ll all get there soon.
Words by Nicholas Crown