We caught up with multi-instrumentalist and producer PVD, one half of a collaboration with rapper 8thW1 that bred the ‘Lux DeVille’ project. Their music is a cross-breed that walks the line between masterful rap lyricism and the type of groove bred of live instrumentation and rhythms that make your body’s timekeeping duties shift from internal to external. Take in the record with some insight from the man who made it happen.
So what’s the backstory on this project?
8thW1 and I have been doing records together and intermittent studio work for probably six or seven years at this point. We used to have a bi-weekly show called The Electric Relaxation right outside of Newark, New Jersey. That ran for about a year-and-a-half. Then we were doing a bunch of live shows at the Blue Note, S.O.B.’s, and some other places.
8thW1 was part of that A-OK Collective with like Homeboy Sandman, Fresh Daily and those guys. But for the past few years he’s kind of stepped out and hasn’t really done much. Recently we started working on some new material together that was originally supposed to be for an 8thW1 record. One thing led to another and before we knew it, we had fifteen or sixteen joints, so we decided to make the long overdue Lux DeVille record. It all happened real naturally. He’s the type of dude who, if he feels like writing, he’ll come back five or six songs deep and ready to record. It more or less happened over the course of six months. The record was done by about September or October of last year, but it was a matter of finding the right home for it, finalizing the mixes, mastering it, and that type of stuff.
Going into the record was there an overall artistic vision?
As far as the lyrical content, I definitely think for him it was a more mature and introspective type of vibe. He stepped back for a minute and was kind of looking to make records that meant something as opposed to just records for the sake of making records. I definitely valued that and thought it was a huge step in the right direction.
For me, music-wise, it was really all over the place. There’s stuff on the record where beats were made on a sampler. There’s stuff on the record where it’s myself playing all of the instruments. There’s stuff on the record where it’s a live band setting. Honestly when we first started picking tracks that he was going to write to, I was concerned that the record wouldn’t have a cohesive sound. I wasn’t sure how we were going to tie it all together, but the fact that his lyrics are on the entire record ended up really pulling it all together. At the end of the process I felt like it really did come together. It has a unique sound; I don’t think it sounds like a typical rap record coming out in 2013.
You recorded the album in your own studio as well, right?
Yup, the record was recorded in my own studio. All of the instrumentals and all of the vocals were recorded there. It was mixed by a cat named Alessandro Perotta who has got credits on Amy Winehouse’s first record. He was an engineer at Bennett Studios in Jersey for a long time until it closed. He’s engineered records that have won Grammys and he is actually a friend of mine since we were kids.
It was the type of thing where initially I was just going to have him help me mix some of the vocals, but one thing led to another and we worked out a vision for the entire record. I gave him some reference mixes and he worked from there. I couldn’t be happier with the way it sounds.
When you say “reference mixes,” do you mean material you had mixed or other material that you wanted it to sound like?
I would send him a song that I had spent hours and hours mixing [laughs]. It was really hard for me because I am kind of a control freak. So it’s hard for me to step back and say, “Here are the Pro Tools files; go for it.” I was like, “Alright I spent two hours EQ’ing the kick drum. I’m not going to give you the raw file.” I really had strong thought about how each element should sound. Initially we butted heads a little bit. I feel like a lot of people hire certain mixers because they want that person’s input. While I did want his input, I was really after his ability to produce clean, radio-friendly mixes. I had very strong feelings about how each song should sound. Whether it’s 30 elements or 3 elements it’s about getting everything to sit in the right sonic space. All in all I couldn’t be happier about how Al mixed the record though. It was definitely a process though.
How was the album physically recorded—favorite gear, essential software?
Well the instruments that I use are a Fender Jazz Bass, my custom made drums, a Rhodes, a Wurlitzer, a Moog Prodigy, and some other gear. I recorded the entire record in Ableton Live actually. I used a few sounds from Ableton—I really just started getting into that. I’ve always been more of a hardware type of guy in that I would record audio information as opposed to MIDI. But towards the end of the record there are some sounds that I grabbed from Ableton. The main thing for me though is just getting the instruments to sound the way I want them to in the room before we even think about putting them into the computer.
8thW1 is an excellent performer in that there are no punches on this record. We did it until he got it right and that only took one or two takes. By the time we were ready to track the songs, he was ready to go. I recorded most of the music on my own in the studio before he got there, so whether it was one take or 50 takes, I wanted to get it right. There were a few other musicians on the record as well. Any of the solo keyboard parts are either Jesse Fischer or Dave Stolarz.
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Interview by Eric Sandler (@ericsandler)