Feet Don't Fail Me Now (EP)

by Elvis Orbison and Alanna Lin (Fascinoma)

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In 2011, with a baby on the way, I commenced in earnest my desire to get this and a new album's worth of other tracks finished. I'd been fiddling with the demo for a few years, hunting and pecking and "Feet" is the latest in a long line of original songs that have been gestating for anywhere from about 5-10 years. I set up shop for a weekend at Tracy Chisholm's Del Boca Vista Studios and starting tracking drums and bass for several songs. I brought in the lock-step teamwork of funky drummer George Bernardo and bassmaster supreme Jason Chesney and made comps of their best takes. Tracy helped us get a really nice dry sound, and from there, I started adding elements from the demo like the swirling synth hook, some funky guitar "chanks" and some rudimentary string parts as well as most of my lead vocal. Thanks George, Jason & Tracy.

My next stop was chameleon keyboardist Mike Feldman's house where he tried two ideas. He gave me about six passes that were all pretty sweet. I assembled two comps of his best parts, moving around a few sections, but for the most part keeping those lines nice and honest. One is a perky Hammond keyboard solo and the other, an equally stoney Rhodes solo. They were both excellent comps but how was I going to use both without overburdening the listener (or myself)? I was concerned I might have to lose some of this sublime goodness but then it occurred to me- why not to create one shorter 'single' version and a longer, jam band version with all the stuff I can't fit elsewhere? Bam. 'Problem' solved. If you really want to hear Feldman shine, check out the longer "Sax" version of "Feet" featuring some great extended keyboard parts. Thank you, Mike.

I'd been loving my recent collaborations with Fascinoma's Alanna Lin ("Chung King Summer") and I felt like this tune could really benefit from a good strong female hook. This is a formula straight from my love of Death Row producers like Dre and Daz Dillinger. I set her up in front of the mic and recorded her freestyling various phrases and melodies. For inspiration, she grabbed a nearby Storm Thorgerson photo book of much of his iconic album artwork. This is the guy responsible for many of Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd's most famous album art designs, including "Dark Side of the Moon", "Houses of the Holy", "Physical Grafitti" & "Wish You Were Here" and many, many more. In retrospect, how appropriate that she would grab THAT book since, from the outset, I had always intended this to be my "Floyd" record. And so she stood in front of the mic, book in hand, conjuring phantom melodies inspired in part by Strom. There's all sorts of interesting vocal outtakes from these Alanna sessions, but the "keep it in the desert" line really stuck with me. That line takes some very interesting turns. I love it so much that I built an orchestral string part to mirror her vocals. It marries her vocal to the track in a way that kind of seals the deal for me . So thank you, Alanna Lin.

As if this all this goodness wasn't enough, I still had a saxophone solo from the demo that I couldn't let go of. Way back in 2007, Javier Vergara popped in for a visit to lay down some sax for the Evangenitals' "Sun Is Shining." We had a few extra minutes so I asked him if he'd lay down something on "Feet." In 2012, I took a closer look at his sax track and felt there was definitely something there that oozed 1970's psychedelia, but tend I agree with Courtney Love in that you have to be careful with the saxophone- it's really easy to fall into cliché and ruin a good rock recording with that instrument. But, Floyd did it, and for this record, it seemed wildly appropriate. But it still needed something extra. I'd never heard a backwards saxophone before so I tried grafting Javier's forward-moving intro line with another segment of his performance which I rendered backwards. It makes it a little freakier. Can you spot where I made the switcheroo? But as with the Feldman keyboard parts, the backwards sax solo could be too much information for one song that has literally no chord changes and so I left it off the single version. You can hear Javier's excellent contribution on the "Sax" version of this song include on this EP. Thank you, Javier.

Once I had all these elements up on the canvas, I realized I still had an itch that had yet to be scratched- moog. I kept hearing a super low burpy moog synth note to play underneath those sweet Alanna hooks. Now THATS Floyd. But I can't tell you hard hard it was for me to manifest this sound from my head. Until I contacted Michael Marquesen, who always brings the secret magic spice. Moog! Thanks, Michael.

Written by Brett Lyda & Alanna Lin
Produced by Brett Lyda
Mixed by George Bernardo
Recorded by Brett Lyda, Tracy Chisholm,
Mike Feldman & George Bernardo

Single Version:
Brett Lyda: Vocals, Guitars, Synths
Alanna Lin: Vocals
Jason Chesney: Bass
Mike Feldman: Hammond, Rhodes
George Bernardo: Drums
Michael Marquesen: Moog

Sax Version (same as above except):
Javier Vergara: Saxophone

Demo Version:
Brett Lyda: Vocals, Synths, Gtrs
George Bernardo: Drums
Javier Vergara: Saxophone

credits

released February 28, 2014

Brett Lyda: Vox, Gtrs, Synth, Strings
Alanna Lin: Vox
Michael Feldman: Rhodes Keyboards
Jason Chesney: Bass
George Bernardo: Drums
Javier Vergara: Saxophone
Michael Marquesen: Moog

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Elvis Orbison Los Angeles, California

It’s humid. There are hundreds of mosquitoes taking samples of you. The water flows languidly, almost tumbling over itself in heaps. Even the grass is despondent. What can you do?

If you’re Brett Lyda aka Elvis Orbison, you wait. Patiently. Sooner or later something will move, letting you know it’s time. Time to move your index finger from the B string to the G. Then you wait some more.
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