I left my heart in San Francisco

Well, not really, but that’s the song that went through my head when considering what I’d title this, so there you go. Although I may have left part of my heart at the bottom of my teacup at the Flora Grubb nursery where I took this picture.

The San Francisco leg of my trip consisted of a few days cooking and eating good food, daintily sipping the dregs of multiple liquor bottles, a photo shoot with Tatiana Yurochkina, and working in an expansive well-oiled analog studio with prophei, an impressively decorated studio producer and musician.

I was still sick, as well as being on antibiotics, and processing through some upheaval at home, so it was a pretty low energy kind of experience, even though I spent much of the trip ‘working’ to some degree. Having cats everywhere was a plus.

The musical experience was interesting to me, particularly in that the act of working with another person to create new music forced me to dial into the foundation of how I work, which I’ve never really expressed in that way before.

The process reminded me of learning to teach aerial to beginners, the introspection and frequent duh moments you have to work through to answer even simple questions to explain something that has always come naturally. I learned a lot in the process and the flow was actually really smooth considering the learning curve I was dealing with.

It took me a while to get over my self consciousness, and to figure out where to start. At first, we were going to try to write from scratch, and then we were going to work with one of his songs, and then we were going to record one of my old original songs, and none of it was really jiving or lighting me up. I felt overwhelmed and small.

Until I remembered, I’ve laid down some live concept recordings over the last year, and I actually really like them. Enough that I was considering whether they were finished already, which is probably why I had forgotten. Once we started digging into those, things started progressing pretty quickly.

prophei has an extensive background in studio music production, worked on ProTools for about 9 years, and is on a first name basis with some of the most influential industrial/experimental/ambient/electronic artists of the age, including members of Skinny Puppy and Tangerine Dream (of which my album Point of Origin has been compared to in ancient mp3.com reviews).

As a largely solo musician, or at best an online collaborator, it was pretty amazing to be working in a studio with a person who knows what they are doing technically, thinks and talks like an artist, and also possesses prolific instrumental talents. Just the exposure to what he was trying out himself helped me break out of my shell and try stuff too.

https://soundcloud.com/neevita/michael-dietel-session-sneak

Coincidentally, though I am sure the final versions of this song will have prophei’s instrumentation as well, I played all the instruments in this draft. Clearly, I’m especially proud of the acoustic drums, and feel pretty inspired by how this sounds, particularly being on the heels of my first live band collaboration at Torch Club not long before all this expansion.

The results of working with prophei were like having had a smarter, more talented mini me assistent who is all about helping me figure out how to get the sound I want and add some guts to my work. I could get used to it, and we’ve already made plans for a fall studio session with a stronger focus and more formal goals in conjunction with my third sit in with Mr. December in October.

For now, I am working on a set list for the ukulele – recognizable, simple songs that I can perform in a busking scenario. I am working on 9, so far. I’m also drooling over a new effect processor prophei was beta testing while I was visiting, and thinking I might sell a kidney to get it at some point.



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