yMusic in the studio with Ben Folds.
FW: How do you foresee the live interpretation of the album? Will it be difficult to recreate on tour?
CC: We recorded the entire record live in Ben’s incredible studio in Nashville. The arrangements were crafted by Ben, Rob, and myself in the mornings each day, and then the ensemble would come in and record what we had worked on. The engineering of the record was incredible and the room at RCA Studio A is one of a kind, BUT we will basically be performing the arrangements from the record in the live setting (with a few surprises) so it should be a seamless transition from recording to live performance.
FW: I’m sure you guys have heard it a bit by this point: Son Lux is a super interesting choice to produce a yMusic album. What did he help to bring out on Balance Problems?
CC: Son Lux is incredible. We have all worked with him in a variety of contexts over the years, and he wrote us our first-ever yMusic piece [the title track off yMusic’s 2011 debut, Beautiful Mechanical]. We wanted to find someone who could create a sonic landscape completely unique to classical chamber music recording, BUT whose decisions would be solely informed by the score. On this record he really is our seventh member. He makes a lot of very bold decisions as producer on this record, but he can back up each of them through an analyses of the score. I am so proud of the sound of this record that Son Lux and our engineer Alex Venguer created together. We wanted an ambitious, modern, and unique sound and mix of this record, and I really feel like we achieved it.
FW: You and your yMusic cohorts have collaborated with folks like St. Vincent, Bjork, Beck, Sufjan Stevens, Bon Iver, The National, and Dirty Projectors. Bands like ELO helped to cultivate an orchestral rock style initially in the ’70s, but the last decade or so has seen the popularization of orchestral elements incorporated with indie rock and folk. Any theories on what spurred and sustained the boom?
CC: We feel so lucky to be a part of this period in music where listeners are excited to hear orchestral instruments in bands. It’s been happening for a while now, and I think it’s probably a combination of both the access to quality music education in middle schools and high schools and a general shift in the music business. I see young kids in music schools today who graduate with a degree in classical cello or french horn, and their number one career goal is to play in bands.
yMusic has always approached our collaborations with bands with the same seriousness and attention to detail and nuance as we were taught to approach playing Bach, and has tried to bring the same energy and spirit that we feel when playing pop music to our performance of classical music. In our upcoming tour with Ben, we will be playing our regular yMusic rep alongside classic Ben Folds songs and our collaborative record material, and nothing could be more natural or exciting for us!