Well if you haven’t already (why not??) go listen to this month’s tribute EP honoring Sufjan Stevens – music.lorenradis.com/album/sufjan-stevens
Let’s talk about it!
I was only able to do two songs this month, there are a lot of reasons for this, but the big one is that Sufjan’s songs are always incredibly dense and they’re just not the same without the orchestration that he creates, so I had to try and figure out a way to emulate that style while making it my own and within my limitations. I wasn’t able to make as stripped down a version of the song as I usually do with these EPs. I learned a lot in working on these arrangements!
It’s been so freeing to work on something like this that isn’t my own song, that I have a very short time frame to finish, and that I have basically no pre-established rules or preconceptions about how it “should” go. I can add in wacky stuff like a midi drumbeat, or use my silly little Melodica or record an E-Bow on an acoustic guitar when they’re usually only used on electric. I even experimented with some weird electronic sounds that I ended up not using, but they were fun (and educational) to mess with.
Anyway, after last month’s Elliott Smith release, I felt the mood was a little… depressing, so I wanted to get to Sufjan’s stuff because the songs are just so fun, especially “Mistress Witch…”. I hoped that would boost everyone’s (including mine) mood.
Chicago is the first song I started working on and I’ve had it in the back of my mind since January when I decided to do this project. It’s my favorite Sufjan song, and it’s the first one that got me hooked on his music. He, himself, recorded at least 3 different versions of it and he plays yet another version when he does it live, so I have a lot of potential directions to go. I ended up settling on something that I hope honors his creation without emulating any one of his many versions too closely. It’s a beautiful song and I have no idea what it’s about, but I love it.
Mistress Witch from McClure or The Mind That Knows Itself (whew…) is another tune of Sufjan’s the meaning of which is pretty much inexplicable to me, but it’s so upbeat and fun sounding, it’s impossible to not start tapping my toes when I hear it. I felt I had a little less room to experiment on this one because I didn’t want to lose that playful feel, but I added a lot of parts that aren’t in the original, ommitted a lot, and added my own little simple drumbeat, I think it came out pretty darn good.
Well thanks for reading, and I really hope you enjoy the songs, tell your friends, have a good day, and don’t forget to give it a listen! – music.lorenradis.com/album/sufjan-stevens