Alias on recording “Justamachine” and “Resurgam” - EMusician

Alias on recording “Justamachine” and “Resurgam”

Alias discusses “shoegaze-y goodness” and recording “Justamachine” and the title track from his latest album, Resurgam
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Oh, the joy of requited love. Alias says he loves Remix, and Remix loves Alias, and now it''s time to show the love for Alias'' latest album, Resurgam (Anticon.).

Although a hip-hop head and in-house producer for Anticon., Alias (aka Brendon Whitney) has a softer, more shoegaze-y side, which can be heard on various solo albums (The Other Side of the Looking Glass and Muted) collaborations (Lillian, as Alias & Ehren, and Brookland/Oaklyn, as Alias & Tarsier) and a remix album, Collected Remixes.

The producer recently relocated from Oakland, Calif. back to his home state, Maine, allegedly to “shake off creative stagnation.” It must have helped because Resurgam is rife with gorgeous sonic landscapes. Below, Alias talks about the beauty and the beat of two of the songs, the title track and “Justamachine.”

And if you''re curious to see an extensive list of Alias'' gear, look no further than the “Band Members” section of his MySpace page at Myspace.com/alias.

“Justamachine”
“Justamachine was one of the first tracks I finished in its entirety for Resurgam,” Alias says. “I was clicking around in Pro Tools and discovered the Beat Detective feature. This track is the first track I''ve ever made without touching my MPC. I was a bit apprehensive at first about doing the drum programming completely in Pro Tools—like it''s an unspoken hip-hop no-no—but I was blown away by the possibilities. I basically recorded a drum break into Pro Tools from my turntable and found the start and end points to find the BPM. Then I Beat Detective''d the hell out of it, cutting and pasting and randomizing bits onto the grid. Once I got the drums all layered up and in a good spot, I started messing around with my Roland JP-8000 run through my Boss Dr. Sample SP-303. I set the tape echo so it was in sync with the BPM and played out some sounds to get a chord structure going. I put quite a bit of reverb on the bass notes. I''m sure some engineers would smack me in the back of the head for that, but I wanted a John Carpenter kind of vibe to it. For the breakdown, I recorded my antique Stylophone using a Rode NT-2 and a Focusrite TwinTrak Pro preamp. Then I layered about three tracks of clapping on the downbeat. After I got all this in, I chopped up a sample from a movie I remembered watching when I was a kid about a family whose mother passes away. To ease the burden, they buy a robotic grandmother that sleeps in the basement and plugs herself into the wall every night. I sampled a little girl saying, ‘They can get them to love you, but I never will! You''re just a machine! Just a machine!'' That is a slight jab at other electronic musicians, who shall remain nameless, who pump out the same album over and over again. Never pushing themselves. They''re just machines.”

“Resurgam”
The title track of the album is based on a track that I had started in 2005 but never did anything with it,” Alias says. “I found it on a hard drive once I got back to Maine and had my studio all set up. I chopped up a break in my MPC and had each drum hit pitched a bit down so the hi-hats sort of had a shuffle or swing to them. All of the synth sounds are from my Novation K-Station. I love that keyboard. It''s so easy to manipulate and shape sounds, and it''s small so you can cuddle with it. I had decided that this record was going to have lots of guitar and acoustic elements to it. That is why it''s the title track, and that is why it has a clear point where everything drops out and there''s just acoustic guitar. I used the SansAmp plug-in on my electric guitar and Waves RealVerb plug-in on my voice during that part. I also ran the electric guitar through my trusty Dr. Sample again with the chorus effect helping out. A lot of this song is inspired by Slowdive, My Bloody Valentine, Windy & Carl, M83 and the like. Odd Nosdam put me up on shoegaze-y goodness a while ago, and I can''t thank him enough for it.”