A picture of Kate Tempest
Kanye West spends hours tinkering the sound of individual snares, Alex Turner literally jets off into the desert to record a new album, and Bon Iver lived in a self-imposed exile without wi-fi for months to record his debut. But Dan Carey, head of Speedy Wunderground, only needs 24 hours.
Dan has produced records for everyone from Kylie Minogue and Yeasayer through to TOY and Chairlift. The idea behind Speedy Wunderground is to capture the essence of spontaneity, recording, producing, and often, entirely writing, a track within 24 hours. We’re premiering a new one, with Kate Tempest, which you can listen to below. In the meantime, I called up Dan to give a bit of background to the project.
YNTHT: Hey man, what’s up?
Dan: I’m in the middle of a take. Do you know Only Real? I’m just doing a session with them.
Awesome. I’ve got a couple questions for you. Can you talk me through the Speedy Wunderground process?
It’s to do with making music that is as spontaneous as possible and getting it out as quickly as possible without any chance to go back and adjust it after it’s done.
Are the artists going in there with a pre-made song and recording it? Or writing it on the day? How does the 24 hour process work?
It’s somewhere in-between those two things. For most of them we’ve had an idea for the song that hasn’t been completely finished. But the first one with TOY and Steve Mason, we had the basis of the song but we worked a lot more on the day, arranging it and recording it. The Kate Tempest one, that’s the furthest I’ve gone into the unknown because she literally turned up and we were like what shall we do? We literally came up with it on the spot.
Just like that?
She had a set of lyrics that she’d been working on and we started making some beats. She started putting things over it, and was like "I’ve got this", and read out the lyrics. That track has been the most sort of extreme example… It’s the first time I’ve done it without having anything in mind.
And why the decision to make it as a label, rather than a one-off project or online only thing?
It’s a really refreshing thing to do. I wanted it to be something that we’d do regularly. Every other month we’ll make something no matter what, and doing it as a label, we know that we’ll sell some vinyl at the end of it.
So there’s a plan to put out one big vinyl with all the releases?
Yeah, come February, we’ll put all the tracks and remixes, and a special track, on a vinyl.
This process is specifically 24 hours. But outside of it, how long does it take, on average, to produce one track?
A lot more than that. It may be more like five or six days on the track. We might spend a day recording it, maybe even three by the time the vocals are done, then a day editing, and a day to mix it.
24 hours makes it so much more instant.
Yeah, when you hear music that has been made like that. When you hear stuff that’s overworked, it doesn’t sound as interesting. If you have to, at the time, it’s weird to leave mistakes and stuff in.
I like it, keeps the emotion in. What’s the ten point manifesto?
I like working within parameters. It’s my own thing. I made up the rules, and I’ve put them up in the studio. There’s one rule which is only one overdub per person, because I don’t want the track to become cluttered with loads of multi-tracks of guitars. One of them was having no lunch.
If you push lunch back, sometimes it makes it easier to work hard. Lunch is the reward.
I do, too. But it varies from person to person. After the second day, everyone was like I’m so hungry, I can’t do anything. We had to ditch it.
What’s the most surprising track you’ve released as part of this series?
I like the TOY and Natasha Khan one. I found an Iranian pre-revolutionary psyche tune from 1969 or something, and I thought it’d be good to do a cover of. We were recording the new TOY album and we listened to the song and started jamming it. Natasha turned up, took one listen, and started doing the vocals straight away. I couldn’t believe it. She really really hit the lyrics so hard. It was a real surprise
Lastly, who’d you most want to do one of these with?
GOAT and Nick Cave. It’d be really frightening.
Follow Ryan on Twitter @RyanBassil
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