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Alana Davis: Can You Hear Me Now?

By Published: March 17, 2005

AAJ: I think a lot of these labels try to apply the same formulas to a lot of artists and it just doesn't work.

AD: Right, but if an artist is an artist hopefully it's about somehow finding that voice. I think it's probably impossible to have an original thought but we can probably interpret it on an original level. So I'm hoping I get the chance to do that. I'm hoping that whatever attention I get might cause artists to go: "Hey, Alana, take care of me" (laughs). I would be a little bit of a tiger, a little bit mama, a little bit protector. I think Its important. If that could be me, that would make it.

AAJ: Yeah, and I'm sure that you would want that if you didn't have It.

AD: Exactly.

AAJ: Can you talk about the new album and the process of recording it?

AD: Sure. It became something I didn't expect it to be. It took longer and was harder, I guess, but only because I had all the freedom to do it the way I wanted so that leaves a lot of room (laughs). You really want to do it the right way, like: here is my objective. So I went in with a simple concept: the vocals, a few cats, no cans, no click, and I got something that, to me, feels pretty natural. And live I don't know If I can really get away with that, honestly, the syncopation - what people really love to hear - the groove, It doesn't really exist in that framework. There's a click and I'm listening and following and Its not really there (laughs).

AAJ: Yeah, you're not really even breathing correctly. It's ridiculous.

AD: Right (laughs). I think so, too. And I realize that's how things are done but every now and then you have to do things differently.

AAJ: I mean its cool if the time flexes a little bit; its gotta breathe.

AD: That's my favorite. starts at 88 (bpm) and ends at 98...and that's why it feels so're going to church. Like everybody got excited, man, and it sped up. It's natural.

AAJ: Yeah, for real. There you go. You must let it be.

AD: Yeah, It's alive; it's not supposed to be inert and perfect.

AAJ: No, that's the take.

AD: That's the take, exactly! So there was a lot of that going on (laughs).

AAJ: A lot of the best takes are the first and second ones.

AD: I know. We'll, we've got some.

AAJ: There's something about not knowing what's coming up.

AD: Yeah, exactly, the abandon. Give it to me.

AAJ: You're just more focused and alert.

AD: And you're listening, your ears are open and you're not really worrying about the parts yet, you're just going. And so much and so often, you're right, your natural inclination is right.

AAJ: With each successive take there's more pressure.

AD: (laughs) Now you're thinking. Totally, totally. That was my concept going in.

AAJ: I think you're right, it's very organic.

AD: Yeah, why not? Organic always taste's better (laughs). Yeah, man, that's it. I mean the cats that I work with, they play their asses off. It's a no brainer. Its red or blue. Its never, "what do you want? I can do this, I can do that, I can do it like this I can do it like that...", hey, you know? (laughs).

AAJ: Did you know exactly what you wanted for each tune or did they kind of fill in some of that.

AD: They filled in some of that. I heard everything but they retranslated everything. There's what I thought I knew I wanted and then maybe they hear something better. And its great. Like when they're coming up with stuff, they're into it and I don't want to get In the way of that process, but the beauty Is we did It over a week or a few days and then everyone went home and I got to do what I wanted. I still could do anything that I heard or wanted to change and it was all live and I was able to be a little bit of a stickler. And that was a great process for me: technology and roots. Why not? Yeah, we can do that. I can sit in my bedroom at 3 o'clock in the morning and come up with a guitar part. This is a gift. And you can call the engineer and he can wake up and do them in the morning!

AAJ: I know...isn't that cool? That's living, right?

AD: Unreal. Blew my mind. And I appreciate Protools mostly as an editing tool but It probably has made things too perfect and taken a lot of feeling out, but If you don't depend on It as the end all be all, It's a wonderful tool.

AAJ: Speaking of your guitar playing... you've been playing quite awhile. Do you ever use alternative tunings?

AD: All the time.

AAJ: Are they of your own making or ones that others like Joni use?

AD: Both. I've stolen some great ones from her. On this record I don't really use many. One cool one—that Fred taught me—do you know him? It's a really simple tuning... but I'd really love to tell you, a guitarist, it's so beautiful. You just tune the high E down to D and play what you would normally play—the very same chord shapes—and you come up with some beautiful colors. I used it for a song called "Jaded" (from Surrender Dorothy). It's gorgeous. I can't wait to do more with it and its so simple, just one string.

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