The Lovespies

singing of brightness and beauty

Opposites Attract: The History Of The Lovespies May 20, 2009

Filed under: By Julie,History — thelovespies @ 1:32 pm

Militia

Rob and I come from very different musical backgrounds to say the very least.

In high school, he played guitar in a thrash-metal band named Militia. Their music sounded as lovely and inspiring as their name led you to expect. Which means that you were more likely to want to jump off a building than jump for joy after listening to them. They even had a punk song called “Beat Your Mother Like A Drum”.  Rob’s hair was long and scruffy and he wore leather jackets and Metallica t-shirts.  (Look over there to see what I mean.  That’s Militia and Rob is the one with the cigarette.)

Around that same time, I was listening to The Beatles and any kind of Broadway soundtrack I could get my hands on. I had memorized every word to The Sound Of Music, Annie and Les Miserables.  I also enjoyed my mother’s old records of Petula Clark, Skeeter Davis and The Box Tops, a band my uncle produced.  I took piano lessons every week and loved playing classical music.  I was in marching band for 6 years and concert band for 8 years.  

Julie Band

I wore bows in my hair and could not sing in front of someone without almost throwing up, which means that I avoided it at all costs.  I did love to sing in church, though, where the voices all blended together in delicious four-part harmony and I thought no one could hear me.

We joke that it’s a very good thing we didn’t meet each other for at least another decade or we would have never spoken to each other in a million years.  However, during that decade, we both changed a little.  

Rob studied classical guitar from one of Manuel Barrueco’s students and moved to Nashville to go to college, where he  joined a 70s art-rock band and eventually cut his long, long hair.  He also began experimenting with alternate guitar tunings and writing Celtic-inspired songs.

I went to college, sang in a couple of large choirs, an improvisational children’s theatre troupe and a musical.  Then I  moved to Nashville, learned to play guitar and worked on being brave enough to sing in front of others by myself.  

Our paths finally converged when we met through a mutual friend at The Crucible, a class designed for creative people.  The first time I saw Rob, he was playing one of his Celtic songs with a band that included a penny whistle played by Rob himself.  Being of Celtic descent, I fell in love….with the music.  (The rest would come four years later.)

We became friends and a couple of years later, we were asked to do the wedding music for our dear friends Nina and Moses.  It was our first official collaboration, and while the result ended up sounding ok, the experience was AWFUL!  I thought he was overbearing and arrogant, and he thought I was hysterical and insane.  Granted, I was extremely nervous and very inexperienced, but I was not insane.  I promise.  (Shut up, Eric.)

Fast forward a couple of years:  we magically fell in love one summer and got married on the first day of fall.  The same year!  Musically, he had been writing even more Celtic songs and some gorgeous instrumental guitar pieces.  I had somehow written a handful of pop songs, quite by accident, I think, since I had no intention of singing them for anyone.  

Wedding PicAfter we got married, Rob began writing acoustic rock songs and playing shows with those.  He even won a couple of Acoustic Hero performance contests in Nashville and Atlanta, advancing to the national finals in Chicago.  And thanks to Rob’s encouragement, I was finally brave enough to sing in front of others so thought I would put a pop band together.  However, with the exception of a couple of recordings and one or two tiny shows, my band remained just a fantastic idea in my head.

For a couple of years there, we were also playing together every Saturday at a homeless outreach in an old warehouse near the projects.  Our church sponsored the outreach, and our job was to play some background music that would create a peaceful atmosphere while other volunteers served lunch to whomever came.  We were joined most of the time by our friends Michael, a mandolin player, and Jon, a string bass player.  Occasionally, Javier would bring his djembe and play along if he was in town, and others would join in from time to time.  We would sing familiar hymns sometimes, but most of the time we would make up our own hymns and songs spontaneously and just play whatever we wanted for two hours.

We really enjoyed playing together and after some other similar experiences, we realized we wanted to form a band together.  It would certainly be easier than having two separate bands.  And honestly, I would have never been able to do music if left to my own devices, so there would have really only been one band in the end:  Rob’s.

So there you have it:  the musical history of The Lovespies.  

Who would have thought that a “Sun’ll Come Out Tomorrow”-singing musical theatre enthusiast combined with an ex-thrash-metal/70s art- rock/classical guitarist would sound like this?  

Maybe our band should be named Newton’s Third Law.

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Houston, We Have (Possible) Contact May 18, 2009

Filed under: By Julie,Dreaming,Waiting For You — thelovespies @ 2:10 pm

We are trying to get our song “Waiting For You” in a movie called “The Time Traveler’s Wife”.  A few years ago we both read the book, and it inspired Rob so much that he had to write a song about it.  (I’m sure there will be an upcoming blog entry about that.)  Well, now a movie has been made of the book and it is due to be released in August of this year.

As it happens, we just finished the final recording and mix of our song a couple of weeks ago.  Since then, we have been asking everyone we know if they know any movie people or song pluggers.  Because we live in Nashville, one of the song writing capitals of the world, it turns out that we know quite a few people with the proper contacts.

Today, I got an email from my friend Leslie who has a screenwriter cousin in Los Angeles, and guess what!  It turns out that he knows the movie’s director and will be happy to pass something along to him.  We are just waiting to hear back about what to send.

In the meantime, we are saying little prayers, wishing on stars, crossing our fingers and recording more songs.

***Update:  It turns out that the cousin knows the director well enough that he convinced him to cast the little girl who appears in the film.  Wow.

***Another update:  It also turns out that the movie was completely finished by the time we got anything to them.  O well.  Maybe it could go in another movie.

 

Recording With The Backpack Studio May 17, 2009

Filed under: By Rob,Recording,Technical Stuff,Time Machine #13 — thelovespies @ 8:15 pm

Ok, here’s a posting for those of you out there who want some behind the scenes recording info. I’ve been doing it long enough to forget how interesting it can be. Practically everything today is done digitally, because it’s so darn easy.

Audiophiles can tell you how cold and flat and dead digital recording sounds, but with the right gear and ears, it doesn’t have to sound that way. Plus, the mind blasting advances of the last decade allow you to do most of what the million dollar studios of the 70s and 80s could do, but now it costs less than $2k and fits in a backpack (not counting mic stands).

 

 

We bought my setup about 4 years ago (172.4 in computer years) largely to be able to do remote recording, in particular for a trip to Hungary. It’s a Mac laptop (iBook G-4), with maxed-out memory (barely enough these days) and an updated hard-drive (always full!). I’m running the new Logic Studio (8.0), which my computer is hanging on to by its fingernails, so to speak, but hey, it does the job.

I’m also using an M-Audio Firewire 1814 interface (8 ins, 4 outs), which converts sound into 1s and 0s and puts them nicely on my hard-drive, and a Mackie 1202 mixer, largely for its preamps, which sound better than they have a right to. I’ve got a Shure KSM 27 large diaphragm condenser microphone and an M-Audio Luna mic which I use for stereo imaging on guitars, plus a couple of SM58s. It’s basically enough to record guitars, strings and perc, which conveniently is all I’m recording.

The heavy lifting of the studio world is vocals, and I’m happy to defer to an amazing professional for that, namely Mike Demus. It’s unfair that $5000 worth of mic and mic pre sound so good, but that’s reality for you. Add to that years and years of expertise with compression, reverb, delay and eq, plus a pair of golden ears and a musical genius between them and you have a compelling reason to spend some money with Mike.

Anyway, so yesterday I packed my rig into a couple of backpacks and headed to Javier’s to record the percussion tracks for Time Machine #13. It takes about 30 minutes to set up the ‘studio,’ which is everything you see in the picture plus mics, stands, cords and headphones.

The first thing to record was Javi’s wooden djembe. We ran through the song a couple of times to make sure Javi could hear everything, talked about the feel of the song, then recorded a pretty good take. Javi wanted to do another one, and even though I thought it was just fine, I figured what’s another 4 minutes? I’m glad we did, because that was THE take. Amazing. We added some shaker and a layer of ‘the box,’ a groovy cube shaped perc piece that sounds a bit like a snare drum that Javi sits on and plays with his hands, and then we were done! Two hours total with set-up and tear down.

All that’s left on that one is glockenspiel and vocals, so depending on Mike’s schedule, we could have it done in a week. We’ll let you know when it’s finished!

Rob

 

A Day For Percussion May 16, 2009

Filed under: By Julie,Recording,Time Machine #13 — thelovespies @ 10:04 am

Today, Rob is going to our friend Javier’s house to record some percussion for our song “Time Machine #13”.

We love Javier. He’s an awesome guy and an amazing drummer. He’s got lots of degrees (bachelor & master’s) in drumming, and he has worked as a professional drummer for years and years now. Currently, he is the drummer for The Annie Moses Band, and they travel a whole lot. So it is very nice that he is in town right when we need some percussion parts recorded.

Javier has a house in East Nashville, and Rob just packs up his recording gear and takes it over there. No one disturbs them and they don’t bother anyone else. It’s great!

Javi is an amazingly versatile drummer, and you should check out jazz combo, the JJ Saint James Band.  The singer is another friend of ours, Aynsley McLean.  She recorded one of Rob’s songs on her lovely lullaby album, and you can hear some of it here.   Look for the song Sweet Dreams.

Don’t they sound awesome?  It’s so inspiring to be surrounded by so many talented friends. We’ll be writing about more of them soon.

(P.S.  You can hire the JJ Saint James Band for events if you want to impress your guests with awesome music.)

 

Singing Of Brightness And Beauty May 14, 2009

Filed under: By Julie,Inspiration — thelovespies @ 9:22 pm

I love to read great books, don’t you?  

I started reading when I was four years old, and I have been captivated ever since.  I especially love fiction, with Russian, British and Southern Gothic literature being among my favorites.  

Rob loves poetry, especially William Blake, Wallace Stevens, Seamus Heaney and John Updike.  And we are both head over heels in love with the American poet Billy Collins.  (In fact, he is speaking at a writer’s seminar at a local university next month, and we are trying our best to figure out a way to go.)

So inspiration from books has been always present.  Here’s a quote from one of my favorite books, Cancer Ward, by one of my favorite authors, Alexandr Solzhenitsyn.  

“Her smile was kind, not so much her smile as the lips themselves. They were vital separate lips, which seemed about to flutter from her face like a lark into the sky. They were made, as all lips are, for kissing, yet they had other more important work to do: to sing of brightness and beauty.” 

When I read that years ago in my bed late at night, I had to get up and write it down so I would not forget how important this work of singing really is.  

I think it might be possible to bring brightness and beauty to the world with a song, and if it is possible, I want to do it.

 

The Birth Of A Band

Filed under: By Julie,Dreaming — thelovespies @ 3:14 pm

Hello internets!  

We are The Lovespies, a husband and wife duo from Nashville, Tennessee who try to make pretty music.  Our names are Rob and Julie, and we’ve just mixed the final recording of our very first song.  We are currently working on recording more songs, booking shows, creating a website, joining Twitter and all those other things that smart musicians do in the 21st century.

In this blog, we will try to give you a little window into our world of music.  We hope to talk about the following:   

  • starting a band
  • writing songs
  • arranging and recording those songs, including some techie stuff
  • what inspires us
  • playing live shows
  • selling tons of records
  • getting songs played in movies and television shows
  • making a living on the money you get from playing music
  • touring around the country in a posh tour bus
  • winning Oscars and Grammys
  • retiring to our private island with all our royalties

Ok, so maybe we won’t talk about ALL of those things.  But you never know….   We will go where the music takes us, and we’d love for you to come along and dream with us.  Tell us what you’d like to hear about.  Any questions or suggested topics?

We do think it is fair to warn you of all possible outcomes, though.  We really don’t plan on making shabby music, and we know real people who have had their songs in movies, sold lots of records and have lived on their royalties.  Granted, none of them have retired to a private island, but we were just joking about that part.  

The posh tour bus, though?  We’d like ours in a silvery-purple.