“Burden”- When Darren (Mutemath’s drummer) sent me the demo of this, I thought it was beautiful already, but I thought adding a good amount of dissonance in the chords could make it even better. So I started building simple chords with the violin and viola, then added in dissonant notes to add tension. This was also reflected in the piano chords I recorded on top of the strings.
Mutemath “Clipping”- The crazy strings you hear at the beginning of the clip, were written by Darren King. He had an idea for the strings, but didn’t know how to explain what he was hearing, so he just sang it to me over the phone. I was going through a phase where I was using ukulele on everything, and I thought, “how cool would it be to play the ukulele on a Mutemath song?!?”. So I recorded the part that you hear in the clip, and they actually loved it.
Mutemath “Lost Year”- I seem to remember that I wrote the strings for this the night before the album had to be turned in. Paul called me around 8 p.m. and told me he was sending me a song, and that I should “just do my thing” with it. So I recorded a draft, and sent it over around midnight. We actually ended up making three more versions before we slept that night. We were having a hard time keeping the strings from sounding too sentimental. By around 6 the next morning, we finally found the sound we were looking for. Simplicity.
Mutemath “Pins and Needles”- This is probably my favorite thing I recorded on the Armistice album. At the time, I had never recorded in such a high register on the violin. I remember it took me hours to get a good take of the high violin part in the clip. It was a turning point for me to learn how to expand what I was doing on the violin sonically, and this opened up a lot of doors for my writing.
Ryan O’Neal is not only a great singer and songwriter, but a great composer as well. There were many times that he would write out the parts through MIDI and send them to me to perform. This was one of those instances. He already had the violin and viola parts tracked, but needed a cello part recorded. He sent me the song the day before it was turned in to the music supervisor for Twilight, and shortly after I tracked the part, it was placed in the film.
Working with Adam LaClave is one of those rare instances where I can never take the string arrangement too far. I created the strings for this intro by using some violins and cellos in unconventional ways. The instruments are used more for “effect” than “melody”. This ended up being the opener for the album.
I actually started working on this song without the band knowing about it. I heard a demo, and really wanted to heard strings on it, so I recorded some. I was trying to combine “quirky” and “cinematic” on this one. This was achieved by having pizzicato and legato strings play off of eachother on each chorus.
I produced this album as a long distance collaboration with Trey George. I recorded all of the instruments myself at my studio, and just emailed drafts to him. We were really going for a raw-ambient (or rambient) feel for this whole EP. I recorded the drums and strings in a big hallway, and did everything I could to make this a really unique and epic song. I really love the melody that comes in with the violas, and is later doubled with the violins.
Ben had basically given me free reign to do whatever I wanted. With most alternative pop songs, the strings sound like they are being played with a keyboard- like a synth pad, and I wanted to avoid that. It was important to me to write parts that could be sung. I feel like a balance was achieved between pop, and unique.
This one of my favorite arrangements I’ve written. As a long time fan of Jon Foreman, I was thrilled when I was approached about doing a string arrangement for this remix. Darren created a skeleton of what he wanted the strings to do, and I built on top of it. I really like how the higher violins seem to wander aimlessly in the upper register throughout.
This was the first of many songs I worked on with Sleeping At Last. I emailed Ryan O’Neal out of the blue (we had never met) and told him I’d love to write something for his upcoming album, and he was kind enough to say yes. He told me they were having trouble calling this one done, and to just run with my instincts on it. This ended up being a game of keeping the strings as a background texture, and just swelling in on occasion where you would usually put a cymbal swell.
Adam LaClave produced this album, and he is someone who is always challenging me to push things further towards the edge of chaos. The chorus’s consist of a high sweeping violin melody, and some complex chords created by the violas and cellos. The strings you hear at the end of the clip were written to sound like everyone in the orchestra was given their own solo at the same time. It was a lot of fun making that ending.