/ˌdiləˈtänt, diləˈtäntē/, noun
a person who purposefully dabbles in many different pursuits.
Songs by Nell Balaban
Dilettante is a collection of songs I’ve written and recorded over the last 10 years or so.
I'm excited to share them and will be releasing them
in this space one at a time over the next couple of months.
Welcome to week 6!
We could call it a record, an album, or a playlist.
All the tunes were produced and recorded in Canada in various locations; wherever Tim Thorney (the great!) has had his studio, Villa Sound, that’s where I’d go, from Toronto to the lovely Blue Mountains of Ontario.
It's time to share a song from the most recent batch I've recorded. And that means I get to talk about a woman who for me, puts a capital 'D' in Dilettante: the one and only Hill Kourkoutis!
The last time I went to record with Tim and Adam-- now the studio has moved to a 300 year-old farmhouse in the hamlet of Singhampton and it's wonderful-- Tim thought I should have another voice besides my own on the background vocals and he says he knows this Hill Kourkoutis who has a studio in Toronto who'd probably do it and he sang her praises, etc, etc. So even though I like to do all my own bg vocals, I was...slightly open to the idea. Hill and I e-met and exchanged some electronic messages, like ya do. And then I checked her out online, like ya do, and I immediately thought, " wow, she is so way cool".
I don't have enough space here to describe some of her music, her films or videos, but let's just say that the creativity and artistry were in abundance.
But I still wanted to do all my own backgrounds. Because it's fun. And I guess my ego likes to say I did them. So I did them. Cut to a few months later when the songs were mixed. Then mixed again. And then mixed again by a very patient and collaborative Adam Fair. It wasn't only about the backgrounds per se, but the songs didn't quite feel like themselves yet somehow. Finally Tim said it out loud-- he didn't think they were what they could be--I agreed--and he just couldn't rest until they felt righter. So he had Jimmy Creasy, a great guitar player, add some cool parts to all the tunes. And we had the wonderful Sandy Chochinov who'd played on some of my other songs add some new bass parts. And they were sounding good! But Tim still wasn't totally satisfied. Finally he said, "Let's send 'em to Hill". Yep. Good call, Thorney.
What she brought to the 3 or 4 songs she dug into is hard to describe. Oh, it's not hard to list some of the musical and technical things she did-- add a tambourine or a keyboard line here, futz with the timbre of the vocal there, maybe strip down a guitar part a little bit on a verse, add more texture to the backgrounds by adding her voice (learn a little musical lesson here, Nell!) -- but the resulting vibe was magic to my ears. The songs seemed to become themselves. They needed attention from someone fresh to the tunes and with a different p.o.v. Hill's was the perfect one at the perfect time. Sometimes I can't believe I got to collaborate with the likes of her. She is inspiring to the heart, mind, ears and soul.
Hope we can do it again sometime, "Hillsie"!
And thank you.
D E S I G N E D B Y J. A A R O N S A N D E R S
Here's OUR WAY TO THE ROAD
Hill doing her magic in the studio on "Our Way to the Road"
A gig in NYC with her band Hill and the Sky Heroes
sitting on a stoop in brooklyn