Anoushka Shankar’s Traces of Youwas profiled in the February issue ofElectronic Musician. Here, Shankar shares more details about the recording process.
Which songs on Traces of You are Indian classical?
“Moonsoon” is classical, “Chasing Shadows” is classical in content, but the presentation is modern. Indian music has a lot of improvisation in it; that makes it very hard to track musicians separately because people need to respond together. “Chasing Shadows” has improvisations that were established years ago and became part of the composition. All the solos are improvised. The melody was recorded then everyone responded live with their headphones on. So it sounded like we we’re all in a room together.
Where did you record the album?
Nitin Sawney’s studio in London was the home base, and the Brooklyn studio near Norah’s where she records, and Big Fish in San Diego which is near where I grew up. Then at a friend’s studio in Delhi. The Medevil Punditz studio in Delhi too. Some things in Chennai, some in Calcutta. Everyone lives in different places.
Did you and Norah work together in the studio?
Yes. Norah recorded over a track of “Traces of You,” “Unsaid,” and “The Sun Won’t Set” with Norah we’re recorded live. Me, Nitin, and Norah are on “Sun Won’t Set,” then Norah and me on “Unsaid” with cello added in London.
What makes the droning sound accompanying the sitar?
Tamboura makes the drone, “Maya” has intricate breakbeat programming played on keyboards, “Metamorphosis” has string samples where he recorded string players then tweaked it.
Were the instruments isolated throughout the sessions, or was everyone closer as in live performance?
If it’s me and guitar then we used a plexiglass divider, but if I am playing with drum kit I was in iso booth. I usually took the central space in the live room for resonance, I’m only in the iso booth on songs with Norah. The sitar rings out, even when you record it live so it’s nice to have the freedom to redo a note without altering everyone’s performance. So good isolation was really helpful with that.