Little Orange Room Sessions is a one-take, one-shot, “living-room”-style performance video series recorded in Eugene, Oregon. Each two-song session is recorded in the 125 square feet that I use for mixing, producing, and sometimes even recording entire albums. Little Orange Room Sessions grew out of my crazy love of music and mixing, a growing curiosity about film and cameras, and a deep-seated passion for performance and the art of song.
Session #3: The Hackles
Astoria, Oregon based folk duo The Hackles are comprised of Kati Claborn and Luke Ydstie (of Blind Pilot). Their sophomore album, A Dobritch Did As A Dobritch Should is due out November 8th, 2019 via Jealous Butcher Records. On their latest tour I was fortunate enough to have them in for a session where they performed two new songs from the album and kindly answered some questions via email.
LORS: First off, the new album sounds amazing. I love your debut The Twilight’s Calling It Quits as well. That album definitely has a DIY – stripped down kind of vibe while this new one feels more polished around the edges. Was this an intentional evolution…something that you thought about while writing the songs or did the songs evolve once you got into the studio?
TH: We went in to the recording of the first album embracing limitation. It was recorded direct to an 8-track tape machine across the street from our house in Adam Selzer’s living room. We gave demos to a handful musician friends and had them pick a few that resonated with them and then recorded over a few days. The folks in the room ebbed and flowed, multiple versions of each song were recorded with different people sitting in. We didn’t rehearse, we wanted the album to be spontaneous and to try and capture what we love about live music. The process was filled with many unexpected musical moments and was just really fun. That said, it was also an exercise in letting go, and being okay with imperfections. When we went into the studio for the second album, we knew we want to allow for both more experimentation and control. Although we didn’t specifically write songs with the recording process in mind, it did allow us to bring songs to the table that weren’t necessarily fully formed, and allow them to take shape as we recorded them.
LORS: In addition to the contrast in sound/production/instrumentation of these two albums, did you consciously approach the writing differently? I could be wrong but on the surface your debut feels more introspective while your new one borders on a concept album – drawing more on characters and narratives.
TH: You’re totally right. It wasn’t intentional, but A Dobritch Did as a Dobritch Should ended up containing a lot more perspectives outside our own experiences. It’s a fun way to write, especially when one’s own thoughts and problems are feeling fairly boring, and seems to be a style that we gravitate to when co-writing, which there’s more of on this record. Of course after you write a song taking on a another perspective you realize it’s relating to your life in a bunch of ways anyway.. I think it’s a pendulum that swings back and forth- maybe we’ll write a whole batch of super personal songs that feel like they need to be really sparse next.
LORS: Has your experience with Blind Pilot shaped your approach to writing, recording, and touring at all? In other words are there things you knew you wanted to do differently in this project? Things you wanted to reproduce?
TH: Blind Pilot has been a huge part of our lives for 10+ years and surely effects everything we do musically. Israel is an evocative and thoughtful songwriter, and has inspired me (Kati) to really focus on connection and communication when I write. As far as things we wanted to do differently in this project, the live, warts and all method of recording that we used for The Twilight’s Calling It Quits, isn’t one we generally use in Blind Pilot, so that was something we wanted to try. This project also gives us the opportunity to experiment with instrumentation and arrangement that are generally someone else’s role in the band.
LORS: Guy Clark sings, “Some days you write the song / some days the song writes you.” Which line best describes you?
TH: Oh, I think we fall firmly in the song writes you camp.
LORS: Any music you’re listening to (old or new) that I should put in my ear holes? Or any good books you’re currently reading or just finished?
KC: I’ve been drawn to a lot of women songwriters lately whose careers were too short- Elyse Weinberg, Tia Blake, Connie Converse. I’m also really excited about If The Evening Were Dawn, an acoustic Jim Sullivan record from 1969 that was just released for the first time. As far as more recent recordings, Buck Meek, The Weather Station, Kacy & Clayton, Andy Shauf, & The Brother Brothers get a lot of play around our house by me. As far as books go, I just finished The Fall by Neil Stephenson and am wrapping up West of Here by Jonathan Evison, both of which are interesting reads.
LY: I also just read those books and then passed them over to Kati, which is usually how we roll. Also I’ve been listening to a lot of the music Kati mentioned because she puts together a folk show every other week for our local radio station, so there’re these nicely curated playlists that I lazily gravitate towards rather than searching out new music on my own. I also listen to Jens Lekman and Kings of Convenience a lot. George Moustaki I’ve been hitting pretty hard. And Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill. The Mighty Sparrow probably deserves the honors of soundtrack of this past summer.