Montreal-based electro soul artist Geoffroy has released his new album 1952. Following his Polaris Prize-longlisted debut, Coastline, Geoffroy, started touring with Fakear and Møme. He then settled into his new album 1952, created as a celebration and tribute to his mother who died of breast cancer in 2017. 1952 is the date she was born and she is on the album cover.
1952 hones in on his soulful sound that could be put in the same lineup as the likes of Honne or Tom Misch. Given the context surrounding this album, it is personal at times heart wrenching, but also a celebration of a life well lived. This is all grounded in soulful and soothing production.
In honor of the album, we asked Geoffroy to take us into the studio to explain all of the pieces of gear that worked on this album. The studio is expansive and the record happened in two phases, so listen to the record as you get lost in some gear porn. Get your copy here.
I began the composition process by renting a house with huge windows in the middle of the woods outside of Montreal. No signal, no wifi, just music for a week. My friends/producers Gab and Clément drove up there with me with lots of weed and filet mignon. The intention was to step out of our comfort zone and get inspired by the landscapes, create some kind of energy. We set up our studio/station right in front of the big windows.
That cottage had high ceilings and sounded great, had amazing natural reverb. We recorded with room mics whenever we could, just to use that natural room verb. It's most noticeable in "All Around." You can hear us talking and singing in the back. We composed (well..began composing) "The Fear of Falling Apart," "All Around," "Talking Low" and "Fooling Myself" during that week.
We continued composing and recording of the album at the guys' place in Montreal, called HOMY Studio. This was meant to be the first record to come out of this fresh newly born studio. We spent the entire winter in there, minus the two months I took off to go travel Central America.
Fender Vibro Champ Amp:
We used it for all the guitar parts we could keep from the cottage sessions. It's an amazing amp, small simple, great tone. Our brains were too fried to realize there was a on/off switch for the vibrato in the back so we had a little vibrato on all the parts. That sweet piece of amp wasn't mine and was only available at the cottage :( wish I stole it.
We filled up a lunchbox series 500 with multiple pre-amps and compressors all routed into a Universal Audio twin with a Satellite Octo. The vast open space they were recording in, the selection of pre-amps such as the Neve 1073LB and the compressor Pendulum OCL500 created a magical combination. What was intended to be a pre-production recording ended up sounding so good that most of the original recordings were kept in the album.
Moog Opus 3:
In order to create textures, we used the Doepfer dark energy for metallic rises and swells. Paired with a beat step, this portable semi-modular unit helped us create random sequences. You can also spot that Moog Opus 3, a rare polyphonic synth from 1979, for spooky, rusty pads.
Prophet 6: Polyphonic synths like the Prophet 6 are very present throughout the album. They create such a warm sound. Easy to manipulate and program, the Prophet 6 comes in handy in creative sessions. Its efficiency makes the process more fluid. This is my friend Clément's main weapon.
Ekdahl Moisturizer: For reverbs, we used a MicMix masteroom reverb tanks on drums and a Ekdahl moisturizer on drum machines and samples. That machine can also be used as a LFO or a filter.
The Fairfield Shallow Water is my favorite pedal. It really helped shape the sound of the album by adding random modulation and short time delays resulting in that wavy pitch shift effect.
We used it mostly on a Wurlitzer A-200 and guitars. We must have used it in every song. For me its the most recognizable tone in the record, I love it it's so smooth it makes everything sound better. And with that shallow water..perfect combo.
CHOIR: Throughout the writing process, my wish was to end the album on a hopeful note. I wanted "Fooling Myself" to finish with a gospel choir singing with me. I introduced the idea to my producers pretty early in the process, but finding the right fit was a challenge. Finally the Jireh Gospel Choir of Montreal, led by Carol Bernard ended up being the best fit for this specific song. They did a fantastic job and showed up to our recording session at Studio Lamajeure during a huge snowstorm so kudos to them!