Monday, March 12, 2007

Uncommon Folk: David J of Novi Split

Uncommon Folk is a feature in which artists we admire talk about the music and other media that inspired and influenced their own work. Pink in the Sink is the second album by Novi Split, the first to be released on Portland's Hush Records. Novi Split leader David J might be familiar from recent Kind of Like Spitting records and tours - and Pink in the Sink opens with "You Got Served", the J-penned track sung by Ben Barnett on KOLS' The Thrill of the Hunt - but Pink in the Sink is a different animal entirely, thanks in part to...Rod McKuen? Read on.

Pink In the Sink picks up where Out of the Mist ends. Out of the Mist was a movie i was trying to make showing the duality between my life and the Frogs' It's Only Right and Natural album. Now, the movie stinks and i shouldn't have worked on it as hard as i did, but i can't start a project without finishing another.

Visit the Frogs audio archive

Anyways, it was the period in my life where the small-town boy moves into the city to find himself. But what he really finds out is that he's just gotten robbed, kicked out of his house, and stranded in a Best Western on the California/Oregon border due to a freak blizzard watching infomercials, dead broke.

So the album officially starts back at my mom's house. I write all my songs on the toilet of one bathroom. When I write I usually turn off the lights and spark up one of those old wall space heaters with the burning coils and stare into it while I mumble words and strum. And those chords and mumbles which I then sing into my phone become the starting points to all my songs.

Looking back on it now, the first year of trying to write this record was a mess. I was broke, freaked out by a batch of bad Salvia, getting dressed up in rayon shirt to go chase tail at the local 80's club. But I remember coming home every night and listening to Rod McKuen's The Single Man on a loop, which sort of steered the direction of the album into the genre of soft rock. The Single Man spoke to me on multiple levels and told me what I needed was a gentle touch, a softly spoken voice, and poorly played viola. And so after that terrible summer I bought a viola, a few new drum-breakbeat LPs, moved into a house of strangers and started the whole miserable process of making a record by myself.

The subject matter of the record was to deal with multiple forms of humiliation. Should've taken me a week and a half, tops. But three and a half years later here we are. The problem is that every time I was inspired by different music, I would want to be that band. So over three years I added to and gutted out all the songs on the record, and there are countless hours of audio to prove it. These artists are responsible for turning the record into an ongoing project that kept me up for nights at a time. Like I said before, one of my greatest influences is The Single Man by Rod McKuen, but i would also like to say that the songs "If You Go Away" and "Jean" are really amazing as well. You've heard his songs your whole life. Johnny Cash, Dusty Springfield, Frank Sinatra, Nina Simone, Neil Diamond, and Scott Walker all cover McKuen. Rod McKuen owns a copy of Pink in the Sink. I kid you not.

Listen to Rod McKuen at MySpace

I like everything Bill Fay does. He has a way of making you love overproduced, underdeveloped music in the worst way. He somehow can sing about his love of God, record after record, without making you feel like he's trying to convert you. "I Hear You Calling" and "Tell It Like It Is" make you feel like drinking wine coolers at temple. Any unnecessary explosive endings to any song on the record have Bill Fay to blame.

On the other side of the fence I'd like to say I really like that first Knife record, the 13 & God record and the second Kanye West record. All those records are bedroom-made when you get down to it. Preproduction must count for at least 80% of those records, and that gets me excited about never having the opportunity or want to step into a "real" recording studio.

One last thing. I have to say that Tanita Tikaram is also very beautiful to me. The first time I heard one of her songs was on a bus going to the airport. It was playing over the speaker system on the bus and I had to record it with a hand held voice recorder after I thought I was hearing an unreleased Will Oldham song. After losing a bet I found out that Ms. Tanita sounds just like a young Will Oldham. They should duet together. The song was called "World Outside Your Window", and tell me she doesn't sound like Will Oldham during the chorus. I guess you'd have to hear it on a bus.

::

MP3: Novi Split - Leaving It
MP3: Novi Split - California Skies

Pink in the Sink is out tomorrow on Hush.

See also:
Novi Split at Hush
Novi Split page (with more downloads)
Cloak and Dagger Feature (with downloads of Springsteen, Pink Floyd, Material Issue and Robyn Hitchcock covers)

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