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Eno on voice processing

2005-08-07

The article below points to a topic that Eno has been preoccupied with for a long while. It was discussed in an interview from 1980 and in A Year in a letter to James discussing various ways of extending the human voice as a musical instrument. I’ve always thought that this is something that really became important after having worked with Bowie in the 70s. E.g. Scary Monsters (Eno didn’t contribute to that record) and Outside are tours de force in this respect.

 

BBC JULY 28 2005

ROXY MUSIC’S ENO MAKES SOLO RETURN

Brian Eno – one of the most influential producers of his generation – has told the BBC how
the advent of new technology persuaded him to make his first solo vocal album for 15
years.

Eno’s career dates back to the 1970s when he was a member of Roxy Music and he is
renowned as the creator of ambient music popular in documentaries and advertising.

He told BBC World Service’s The Music Biz that he “gave up” writing songs for a long period
after he “lost faith in the form” – period dating from the early 1990s until his new release
Another Day On Earth.

But recently he was inspired by new technology which enables voices to be used and
manipulated in a way that had not previously been possible.

He describes these “auto-tuning devices” as “altering the gender and the pitch of the
voice so that you could sound mlike a high-pitched female instead of a man with a cold -
which is what I actually am.”

“So suddenly singing started to become interesting to me again.”

“Instead of the singer being somebody presenting their own personality you could be like
a playwright who invents a character and then has them play a part.”

Recording technology…

Eno who has collaborated with U2 Talking Heads and David Bowie in a career spanning
over 30 years said that working on a vocal album has shed light on how important the
instrumental role is.

“For me the recording studio is such an amazing invention " he said.

He believes most people do not realise how a studio works imagining that people “walk
into a room with lots of microphones and sing and play – and that’s how the record is
made”.

But Eno argues that this only happens with about 20% of records.

“They’re more like paintings – they’re made over a long period of time " he said.

“They’re not single performances and they’re made by people sticking things together
adjusting things and changing things.”

Strict deadlines…

He also spoke about the “craft” of creating the record.

While the first song on the album was made in less than a day another was worked on
periodically over six years.

“In order to ever release anything you have to say to yourself ‘by that date I will have a
record out’ – otherwise I’d never release anything.”

“Sometimes you just happen to hit lucky and the ingredients all fall into place and you’ve
got enough excitement to carry the thing through " he said.

Eno has huge numbers of CDs containing tracks he has never released and estimates he
has only released four percent of everything he has recorded.

“I have a huge rejection rate – so when I die they’re going to have a party with all those
posthumous albums " said Eno.

The producer is now working with singer Grace Jones and Tony Allen [radiocitizen:
formerly with Fela Kuti’s band] a drummer who Eno described as “the most important
musician of the last 50 years” who “invented” Afro-beat.

He also believes Arabic pop music will be the “next reggae”.

“It will be the next outside-type music that sweeps the culture " he added. “Everyone will
be listening to it thinking it’s cool.”

For more information about this album from amazon.com go to…
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B0009HL7JM/moredarkthanshar

www.bbc.co.uk

 

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