Jillian Rae: Punching in on recording is like getting a nose job

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While the name Jillian Rae is new to the dividers at the record store, the fiery violinist has built up quite the résumé over the years. Currently, she is working with local acts such as Brian Just Band, Corpse Reviver, the Blackberry Brandy Boys, and even a project featuring Ryan Young (Trampled By Turtles) and Nate Sipe (Pert Near Sandstone). While narrowing down the multitude of bands with whom she appears with on stage and on recordings, Jillian has been working on a debut of her own.

While taking some time to thaw from the frigid Minnesota weather, Jillian sat down to talk with Gimme Noise about her upcoming release show at the Cedar.


Gimme Noise: It looks like you have an exciting lineup, which includes playing with the Honeydogs. 

Jillian Rae: Yeah. I'm still kind of starstruck that they're playing/opening for me. It's ridiculous if you think about it. When we set the show up and [Adam Levy] said he wanted to do it, I was just so excited. Everyone was asking if they were going to headline and it would just be our CD release show and that's what I assumed. So I started talking to Adam a little more in depth he was like, "No, we're opening for you! I'd figure we'd have an opener (Gallupstar), then we'd play and then you'd play." And I was just like, "Shut the front door!" I'm going to be dorking out about it until Saturday. 

You're a pretty in-demand violin player. How many bands are you currently working with? How are you able to fit your solo project in between these? 

About a year ago, I was in nine bands at the same time. That's when I really started to evaluating them [so I could] start my own stuff. I narrowed it down to about six. I'm having a hard time with [fitting everything] right now, but I'm thinking once the CD release dies down it will get better. This is my first time ever doing my own thing, but I've been playing out for a really long time. Some of these songs are really old and they've kind of happened over time; one of these songs on the record, I wrote like two weeks before we went into the studio. It was a nice difference between the areas in my life. A lot of the songs sound different, it genre hops, but I think it's totally me. If it's a reflection on who I am as a person into who I am as a musician, that's exactly it. I listen to a lot of music and I like to play a lot of different music. So mixed with super old and super new songs, that's how it all ended up coming together. 

With all your other gigging and recording how long did it take you to get everything for your own project ready? 

It's like going into [the Terrarium], I was pretty prepared from experience: good times to schedule, how long is it going to take to mix,when do I get my final CD. I actually thought I would release my album in October. A lot of people were asking why I waited so long when I had my CDs in hand the first week of August. I thought I didn't want to even book the show until I had them. I've experienced that [not working out]. I also wanted to hold out for the Cedar, which was just a silly thing on my part.

Recording at the Terrarium, did the environment of the studio effect your creativeness? Did you track everything live or seperate?

If I had never recorded a day in my life and just walked into the Terrarium, I would be beside myself. And I already was, it's such a beautiful space. It's awesome! Terrarium is pretty big, especially their main room, but the way they everything set up for that Allison Scott video, that was my first impression, it made it look like there were all sorts of different rooms. But it was just that main room with different dividers.

Going into the studio for this record, everyone in the band has their opinion. It was really important to me to try to get as much of a live sound as we could even though we're not going to be in the same room. We had some iso's and the guitar amps were out in a different room. We were all kind of in the same room and we tracked everything live for two days. It was ten tracks, but those two days went by really fast because we were playing the whole time. Every single song on the record, there was nothing that I had to overdub or fix because even though there were a couple little quirky flaws, that to me makes it more beautiful when you can tell it's real. The whole "Let's just punch in here and get one little thing"? Ah! It's like getting a nose job. 

I think you're right, there is a certain sound to a lot of modern music that sometimes get's a little too digitized and overly polished. 

I think that's what sets apart a certain era. I'm obviously a fan of the Beatles and Led Zeppelin and Hendrix. That stuff sounds to me, I don't want to say so much better, but yeah better than a lot of stuff. It's just raw and real. In order to do some of the effects we just easily do now, you'd have to press the tape and slow it down as you're recording live. I think that's incredible and it's such a cool art form that's getting a little bit lost. There's some people that realize that and can notice the difference and want that sound that isn't so grotesquely perfect. 

Aside from it being the first song on your record, why did you choose to title the album Heartbeat

That was one thing when I was figuring out which groupings of songs to put together. I had no idea what I was doing. I want it to fit together somehow but it didn't really sonically. Some songs are really country, other really aren't. Lyrically I felt like they were all songs from the heart, good or bad. That's kind of another reason I went with the name "Heartbeat." I just loved that song. I was so proud of writing that song I was just thinking "That's got to be the one." It was funny because it that how I ended up figuring out what [songs] to put together. I didn't really figure it out until that song was finished. I had been working on it a long time, but there's that middle break down, I wasn't too sure how we should go about it. When I was making the song list that's when I realized that's what these are all about, that's how I'm going to tie these together. I was so worried about whether I should pick my country songs or my rock songs. They're just heartbeat-related songs. 

Speaking of the opening song, where did you get the idea to do the slow Eastern-European style bridge in the track "Heartbeat"? 

I've had it in my head, not with that specific song, but I've always wanted to do that with a rock song. I'm a violinist first and foremost so I love gypsy music and that Eastern-European kind of deal. It's just a different way of approaching a minor scale. So I knew I really wanted to do that someday, but I think when the song really started coming together, I really figured out the chord structure. I wrote that song in Loring Park, actually. It was one of those summer days when I had time to kill and I'm just sitting outside eating, writing, and people-watching. The melody was there but I just couldn't figure it out. Then a few days later I just wrote all the music. I think it just happend. I knew it was a song that could have the breakdown.


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