Live electronic group PillowTalk have released their new album All People. The project came after a period of transition when Shane Duryea entered after longtime member Ryan Williams took a sabbatical year while his wife was pregnant with his first child. It was created over a period of three years along many stops around the globe. It was made in 12 different studios, in 18 different countries, molded on "countless flights" and even managed to visit "no less than four dimensions" during the process. So if this album sounds that far out to you. It is because they went to four of them to get this mind-altering sound. PillowTalk go above and beyond for their fans.
In honor of All People, we asked PillowTalk to give us a track-by-track breakdown of the album instead of us spitting some word vomit at you about the album. Take it straight from the source. Stream the LP below or pick up a copy here.
When you’re on a 9 hour flight home and feel like killing some time by cracking open your laptop for an isolated air studio session, the possibilities are endless. You think back to the foggy shenanigans that took place on tour and say to yourself... “Yeah, we’ll be alright.” We find writing music on planes to be a happy place with no cell phones, wifi, social media distractions. Just thoughts and creative ideas. The original skeleton of this song was not enough to consider it an opening tune, but after tracking out the vocals twice, in two different studios and completely flipping the end arrangement, we felt it won its way into our hearts and to the top of the album list.
Hell, two days before mastering in Berlin, we decided to re-record the sampled electric bass with a live bass from our dear friend Jake The Rapper who nailed it in one session. Good old one take Jake. The end product being a classic disco cut with all kinds of good feels to start the LP. “After all this crazy shit we’ve been through, I can say that we’ll be alright.”
2. Been A Long Time
The first nugget of this one was conceived over three years ago on Mikey’s 36 birthday when our good friend and long time collaborator Derrick Boyd AKA Tone of Arc, Ryan and Mikey spent a late night at the old Moulton Studios in SF. Derrick recorded a bunch of guitar licks that night that we noodled around with for a while. Later, Shane and Sammy joined us at the Pillowtalk Nest in BK and we just kept tweeking it until we put together a framework that resonated with us. We would put it away for a little while, but kept going back to it everywhere we went. Ryan and Shane’s keys really pulled it all together and along with Mikey’s drums and, eventually the arrangement seemed to just fall into place. Finally, Hannah Noel joined us on backing vocals on this, which really took it to another level. It’s a melodic song about realizing true intention; a theme we touch on a lot with this album.
3. Pearl District
On its first play, these lyrics pretty much speak for themselves. We don’t really want to get to deep into this one, because it’s written for one person in particular. The backing beat is a classic soul shuffle with a Hammond organ with the Leslie amp over the top. The verses flowed naturally, adding closure to a chapter in our lives. Once we completed the bridge, it opened up the song for the dreamy chorus which tied the whole thing together. We wanted to create a more classic song structure with a radio style arrangement here. This is a special one for us.
4. After The Fall
While experimenting with a more live, organic sound for the band, we thought about wise words that were once imparted to us; K.I.S.S. - Keep It Simple Stupid. It’s easy to get carried away in the studio, but here we wanted just the purest elements of a rock song. Drums, bass, guitar with a dash of keys, a sprinkle of synth and a side of hooky vocals, make for a timeless family secret recipe. Joined again by Derrick Boyd on Guitar and Bass we were able to really nail that less is more vibe of this song.
5. All People
"All People" is for all people. Whilst listening to Gil Scott-Heron on repeat in the studio, Mikey was inspired to write a dance song that not only moved your feet, but shared a positive message. For this one we tried to do as much live instrumentation as possible. We were lucky enough to get a few days in The Bakery, an amazing studio right next to the old PillowTalk Nest studio in Williamsburg, BK. It’s a beautiful space, designed specifically around recording live instruments, and we made the most of it. The Rhodes, upright piano and the Hammond B3 with the Leslie, were all recorded live there. When Greg Paulus from No Regular Play joined us to add his live trumpet, we knew it was a wrap.
"Safety" was inspired by the Brazilian sounds of Sergio Mendez and the latin percussion of Tito Puente, one of our all time favorite Salsa artists. We started this song on a little farm studio in the middle of Ibiza, three summers ago. It really embodies the island’s warm beach vibes. The track starts out with a voicemail recording from our friend Anna Scott to Sammy welcoming him back home to SF. Ryan’s organ lead married with the impeccable trumpet of Greg Paulus drive this one. This song was “making something, out of nothing.. doing our thing.”
7. Beside My Heart
It’s hard to explain how this funky monkey got out the box of our friend Brian Brewster AKA Aquarius Heaven’s studio in Berlin, but it sure as hell resonated with the throbbing house sounds coming from the underbelly of Wilde Renate downstairs. Ryan came in jamming out the bass lines on this is our housiest cut on the album, a solid dance track done PillowTalk style.
What do you do when you have a bangin’ house beat in the box along with a standard Latin Acid Bass line? You roll with it. This track sat on the chopping block so many times until one day, Don Julio met Novation’s Mininova vocoder. We noodled around some fun vocoder melodies that eventually married well with the style and vibe the song needed. Have a crack at the lyrics if you must: “If there’s a way to be low, we could be high all again!”
9. Hold Me Down
This was one of the last songs we finished, and the first single off the new album. We started this one in Mikey’s NY studio in Brooklyn “The Nest.” It was in a late night session with our dear friend Corey Baker behind the wheels as Ryan and Mikey tag teamed the AKAI AX80, JUNO-106 and the newest toy at the time, the Dave Smith Prophet 6 Sequential. While Mikey and Corey vibrated to another plane, Ryan finally got to work his way into the driver's seat to compose his own instrumental arrangement. We revisited this much later in San Francisco at Secret Studios in SF, and finally again at The Bakery in BK when we added Hannah’s amazing three part harmony.
10. The First Time
This track started with a chord progression that is one the first things Ryan ever wrote. He’d been keeping it in his pocket for many years, waiting for the right time the flush it out. This track went through a lot of iterations. We knew we had something, but it was hard for us to put our finger on the direction it should take. We were definitely channeling some old soul and The Beach Boys on this one. We loved it, but didn’t want it to be just another dance tune. In the end we completely flipped it. We played Ryan's chord progression in reverse and stripped down the drums. This is all about those pretty cords juxtaposed against the dirty synth bass that makes this one a real humdinger.
11. 1000 Faces
This is what happens when you throw away a song because it doesn’t quite fit the vibe, only to realize it was never supposed to be a dance track in the first place. We wanted to keep this track on the album, because the lyrics were another good representation of the meaning behind “All People.” We must have tried 1000 times to get this one right, but the rhythm was never good enough. Then it occurred to us that this didn’t need to be another dance song. It was more powerful without a beat. Especially when we brought back Greg Paulus on trumpet again, adding that special something to bring this on home.
12. Taking Care Of Us
Another late night jam session at the “Nest” in Brooklyn turned out to be a Roland synth battle, with bass lines screaming from the SH-101 and chords shooting from the JUNO-106. As we all pranced around this tiny studio hitting our heads on the 5 foot ceiling from joy, it sparked the mantra: “Taking care of us, taking care of each other.” It was a funny hook which won its way into the foundation of the vocals to this track. Then Sammy came to NY for a show, and raved at Members Only for a day or two, and came back with the verses to this family sing along.