ProFile: Come on in My Kitchen | Theresa Anderson

THERESA ANDERSON COOKS, LITERALLY AND FIGURATIVELY, IN HER STUDIO
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Theresa Andersson
Photo: Miranda Penn-Turin

The kitchen is often considered the heart of a home, but for Swedish-born New Orleans transplant Theresa Andersson, it has become the heart of her music as well. With the helping hand of fellow Swede singer-songwriter and producer Tobias Froberg, Andersson cut tracks in her kitchen-based studio for both the demo and the final version of her latest CD, Hummingbird, Go! (Basin Street Records, 2008). The final recording features duets with legendary New Orleans producer-composer Allen Toussaint and Norwegian singer Ane Brun (Brun was recorded by Froberg in Sweden). Andersson's CD has received critical acclaim, bolstered in part by her DIY video of the song “Na Na Na” on YouTube, which has had more than a million views.

Andersson played all the instruments on the project, utilizing elements from her surroundings — some of which were created literally from kitchen trash. That lo-fi creative process is typified on her song “Japanese Art” (see Web Clip 1). “You can hear me walking through the kitchen in my clogs. I stomped all the way through the track (which is tricky to stomp [on] only the upbeats), recorded with an AKG C-12. I wanted a xylophone sound, and improvised one by attaching water-filled root beer bottles hanging from a broomstick across two chairs. Because we wanted the natural kitchen sound, a lot of the microphones were far away. And as a result, you can hear the refrigerator humming, birds chirping, sirens wailing, and helicopters flying by. It all became part of the sonic fabric.”

“Birds Fly Away” (see Web Clip 2) was inspired by a Smokey Johnson drumbeat, played through a portable Numark record player and a pair of small, cheap speakers. “I set the MacBook up a few feet away on the kitchen table, and recorded a few bars into [Apple] GarageBand to create a loop. Since this was my first solo experience with any kind of multitrack recording or sampling, it was very trial and error. For the [final] recording, we kept that loop and pretty much followed the road map I had demoed.”

For the final, Froberg recorded directly into Digidesign Pro Tools in Andersson's kitchen. “Everything was, more or less, ready to put down on tape when I came to New Orleans,” Froberg recalls. “The lyrics were not yet finished, but the song ideas were there. For Theresa's vocals we used a Sony C-37a through a Teletronix LA-2A, and a no-name Neve-clone preamp that sounded really good. I used a bit of filter for the high end on her vocals, but that was it. I actually got to use some old, lovely Neve 1068s and a Pultec EQP1A-3 at the end of the session. But because we'd already found the sound with the other gear, we used that instead. It's not every day you choose not to go with the classics!”

Andersson's personal highlight was the Toussaint collaboration. “He pulled up to my humble shotgun house in his champagne-colored Rolls-Royce, dressed to impress,” she recalls. “We set up facing each other, with Allen seated behind the Rhodes in an adjacent room and me in the kitchen with Tobias. I was prepared to get this in one take, thinking [Allen might] not want to stick around for very long. But he graciously dug into the song, and we lost ourselves for the better part of an hour. At one point he stood up and I thought, ‘Uh-oh, he's leaving.’ But he just took off his jacket and sat down again. The Rhodes squeaked a bit, and at the end of the song, you can hear his approving grunt.”

THERESA ANDERSSON

Home base: New Orleans

DAWs used: Digidesign Pro Tools LE, Apple GarageBand

Key hardware: Boss RC-50 Loop Station

Web site:theresaandersson.com