Jessy Lanza has released her new album All The Time. Done with her creative partner Jeremy Greenspan (you will hear more from him later on), the LP is her moving closer into the mainstream, combining alt-pop, an kaleidoscopic 80’s influences and alluring R&B, all with an experimental edge and shimmering touch to it.
All The Time is soulful, joyous, bubbly, at times pensive and all around fun. The album was made using various pieces of modular gear that helped to take Lanza’s voice, edit it and re-pitch it. A lot of the sounds were done live with experiments done on the semi-modular/modular equipment.
To get a better sense of how this album was made, we asked Jessy Lanza and Jeremy Greenspan to take us into their studio and show off some of the gear used to create this record. They explain some of the vital modular synths, pre-amps, mixing desks and more that all helped give this album the shine and color it has.
Get your copy of the album now via Hyperdub and listen as you read.
Jessy Lanza Gear:
I used the Timefactor in my live show throughout 2016 but found it was really fun to use in the studio too when I started working on All the Time. For the songs "Badly" and "Alexander" I did live vocal takes with the Timefactor and tweaked the delay parameters on the fly which produced some bizarre sounds and pitch-shifts. Layering the wet signal of the Timefactor with previously recorded dry takes created really nice textures and movement in the vocal.
Prophet 6 Module
The Prophet 6 is another instrument that made its way from my live show into my studio setup once I took a break from touring to work on my new record. I think a big part of the sound on All the Time is the textures in the synth arrangements which Jeremy and I achieved with lots of layering (and lots of effects too). Whenever I wanted to build texture in the synth arrangement I would double up chord patterns or synth pads with the Prophet 6.
Universal Audio Solo/610
For my first 2 records Jeremy Greenspan lent me his Solo 110 preamp which I liked a lot but since I was moving to New York it was time to buy my own dedicated vocal preamp and I decided to try the Solo 610. I’m always worried that my voice will sound thin on recordings but using the Solo 610 brings warmth and depth to the vocal. I sing really quietly so continuous gain control with a low noise floor on the 610 is really useful and suits my singing style.
There’s a subtle quality the preamp brings to my voice that I really like so I used the 610 as a dedicated vocal preamp for all of the vocals on All the Time.
Jeremy Greenspan's Gear:
The Eurorack is at the heart of my studio in many ways. Often I will record many passes of some ideas on the modular creating rhythm ideas or often basslines and sequences. I usually radically cutup the ideas that have been recorded, and discard huge amounts of material. By doing that, there is often a feeling of tiny moments that enter a song that come in for a second and then are gone. Although the Modular is filled up with multiple individual modules, on this album I often was using the Synthesis Technology oscillators or the Cynthia Zeroscillator patched into Make Noise low pass gates. I also was often cross patching the Eurorack modular into a Roland System 100, and you can hear that on songs like "Anyone Around" and "Over and Over."
Yamaha DX7 & Reface DX
I own many of the DX series synths including the DX7, DX11 and DX100. The new reface DX has a nice layout and makes some of the editing a lot easier, but in truth I always prefer the DX7. The DX7 is a notoriously difficult instrument to get your head around. It has taken me many years of fiddling to be able to consistently achieve desired results with it. Any form of additive synthesis is difficult for those of us who grew up accustomed to subtractive synthesis, but the DX7 also has a number of idiosyncratic editing parameters which makes it extra mind numbing. I used the DX7 or the Reface DX on virtually every song on the album. It is hard to come up with specific examples, although I often relied on the classic electric keyboard type sounds with bits of changes, so it shouldn't be too hard to locate on most of the songs. I think it is most effective in creating weird digital drones like in "Baby Love."
SSL XL DESK
The album was mixed on the SSL XL DESK. This is the second Jessy Lanza album mixed on this desk. The desk is remarkably flexible considering its small size. I like mixing analog for both its sonic quality and the ability to port out audio to outboard equipment in real time. Because the console is only 24 channels, and given the high track count I usually work with on Jessy Lanza songs, I have to sum most of the individual tracks inside of the computer and port busses onto the console. I have three sub groups (4 if you count the master buss) on the console and I often will assign a pair of EQs (I have a pair of API, a pair of Harrison and a pair of SSL) to one of those busses for different flavors. On this album however I almost always had one sub group with an Eventide H3000 harmonizer inserted so that I could send things over for chorus effects.