Junior Prom is a Brooklyn-band music duo comprised of Mark Solomich and Erik Ratensperge, one of the latest additions to the Atlantic Records family and a crowd favorite. The duo took time out of their busy schedule to discuss the making of their debut single, “Sheila Put The Knife Down".
What was the process like recording “Sheila Put the Knife Down”?
MARK: It was fairly simple. We had the song mapped out in Logic w/ scratch vocals and some keys, guitars and drum samples. Then, we rehearsed it for a bit, ironed out all the kinks and recorded live drums at our practice space with 2 mics. Then, I went back to my kitchen and tracked the vocals and new guitars, keys etc. and voila - ready to be mixed.
Rumor has it that portions of “Sheila” were recorded in your kitchen. Tell us a little more about this. Is this where the knife reference comes from?
MARK: It was recorded all in my kitchen except for the live drums. Nothing fancy at all. We only have 3 mics maybe. My kitchen is a big room in a railroad apartment, and I have a little work area with a desk and instruments right there. I know very little about soundproofing, so I kinda just recorded the vocals with a split screen and thats it. No blankets on the walls. Also, remember it was just a demo at the time. Little did we know it'd be our major label debut single! We just did the best we could with the limited means we had, and we think it turned out not too shabbily. And being surrounded by cutlery in the kitchen probably seeped into my subconscious most likely.
By the way, who is “Sheila”? Tell us a bit about how you came up with the concept for this song.
MARK: Sheila is, as they say, a composite character based on a couple experiences I've had, a couple some friends had. There is someone who's name sounds an awful lot like Sheila, but names were changed to save myself any trouble. Plus “Sheila” sings pretty well. It's the “-la” in it I suppose.
How was it translating your acoustic version of this song into a more electro pop track?
MARK: It wasn't hard at all. All of our songs can be played on an acoustic or piano. Sheila is painfully simple. Most of it is 2 chords, G minor 7 and A minor 7. But Erik and I started off playing as a rhythm section, so all of our songs inevitably take a turn towards a nasty groove. That's what happened here. But at the core, we're old school songwriters, we just like to use unconventional sounds and dress 'em up in new clothes.
What types of production equipment did you use while recording? Anything especially odd or unconventional? Do tell.
MARK: Our mantra is do the best you can with what you've got. We don't have fancy equipment but it's really the idea that's king. So we made it w/ a Macbook, an Mbox, an SM58 Shure microphone, a couple guitars, bass and all soft synths. The unconventional part of making the track is how we approach sound design. I recorded a couple chords with my guitar and then chopped it up and put some delay on it to make this kind of jazzy rhythmic guitar part that propels the song. And the keyboards themselves are made from found sounds really. Lot's of pitching and stretching. And some secret sounds I'm not at liberty to divulge!
Tell us anything else interesting that you think fans should know about the making of this track.
MARK: We made this track out of bottom-of-the-barrel equipment with no budget. There's no secret synth or plug-in. It comes down to songwriting. And watching lots of Youtube tutorials. Anyone can make a great recording on their own. Like anything else, it's all down to having a vision and a whole lotta sweat.
Click here to download Junior Prom’s single “Sheila Put The Knife Down” on iTunes.