For any follower of Francis Harris's studio emissions across his various pseudonyms - from his club aimed and critically acclaimed, adultnapper and lightbluemover projects to his own self-titled productions - will be familiar (and quite possibly in awe of) the scope of what he creates. Last year's Minutes of Sleep album, with its blues pinched vocals and orchestral undertones peeled off deeper emotional layers, took listeners beyond the jacking beats of adultnapper and also employed a whole new range of tones that in production terms, were impressive in their earnest engineering to say the least.
For us, it's always interesting to gain insight into what goes on behind those closed studio doors and to peel away the layers of mystery that surround the finished records so we asked Harris to let us in through the doors of his Brooklyn studio that he shares with Scissor & Thread cohort Anthony Collins as we look forward to the pair joining us in Room Two this coming Saturday night…
So where in the world is your studio?
Down to business – what makes up the core of your equipment set up?
Synths - Prophet 08, Sequential Circuits 6 track, Nord Lead 2, Studio Electronics SE-1. Drum Machines - MFB 503, MFB 522, Compressor DBX 160 Urei 1178. EQ/Distortion - Tube Tech, Thermonic Culture Vulture, Mic Pre, 2 Skibbe Electronics 736-5. Monitor Control/Summing - Dangerous D-BOX. Soundcard - Digi 002, Guitar AMP, Vox British Guitar Pedals (will need all cables for these) Earthquaker White Light, Empress Super Delay, Death by Audio Echo Dream ,Korg Tone Works, Patch Bay, DBX PB-48.
Any favourite pieces?
For the writing process, the SE-1 is the most essential piece. There is no other synth that can produce the type of sub range frequencies that have become a quintessential component to our sound. This, and our newest addition, the Thermonic Culture Vuluture Dual Discrete Distortion Unit. As a drum buss, nothing beats it.
Can you tell us a bit about your working processes?
It really varies. Often times we come up with ideas on the road, then take them into the studio to flesh them out properly. My process (francis) is a bit more home based, as the studio is in my home, as is my piano, guitars, and other acoustic instruments. Often times, Ill find melodies or musical themes that we then transform into something more substantive.
Do you often work together? What’s the dynamic like between the two of you like do you each have your own specialities and talents?
We work together at some point. Its a bit of a funny joke between us actually, as I (francis) am a bit shy when writing music. I often clam up and have no melodies or harmonies in me when others are around to see me write, so I send anthony out with my dog and by the time he is back, the music is there. In the end, we all have our strengths, so we try and play to each others. I have often called anthony the master of the edit. He has an incredible ability to visualize how an arrangement will play out and literally within an hour, the song is complete.
Does it play any role in the label at all? like do you make a point about inviting signees to come there to record?
With the exception of Black Light Smoke's material, who is also an accomplished engineer, all the records on S&T come through our studio. Its a special aspect that we we believe is a core to the ethos of the label.
Working with an artist in not only a studio, but home in Brooklyn, a unique bond is created that we believe is evident in the music.
What are you both working on at the moment?
The Frank&Tony long player, out this fall.
If money were no object what would be your dream acquisitions?
A Flickinger Mixing Console