Mood is out now!
Image: Michael Tartaglia.
WAM award winner & multi-instrumentalist Benjamin Witt has unveiled the debut single from his new musical project, Romeo Walker. To celebrate the release of Mood, Witt and engineer Sam Ford (Psychedelic Porn Crumpets, Birds of Tokyo) sat down to interview one another.
“Mood is a modal tune & a sonic sketch of a modern mood. I don’t know why I made it but an orange tree doesn’t know why it makes oranges, it just makes oranges & is indifferent to how it’s oranges are received.“ the musician shares. “I composed the piece in my home studio one night after work whilst appreciating a bottle of red. I then re-recorded all the parts at Tone City Recording Studio with Sam Ford behind the desk & Alex Reid (Grievous Bodily Calm) on the kit. It was a pretty smooth process really.”
To celebrate the release, the musician will launch the single with a performance at Perth's Mojo’s Bar on December 18. Tickets are on sale now!
ROMEO WALKER: Evening Fordy.
SAM FORD: Big dog. You shoot first…
R: Alright. Obviously, I’d destroy you in a cage match. What kind of special event match could you defeat me in considering I would also destroy you in a No DQ match ?
S: I’d take you down in an elite dining experience competition - they wouldn’t even let you buy a ticket to the event - let alone compete.
R: As I thought…. There isn’t one
S: Haha. Do you realise wrestling is just acting?
R: Do you realise you’re acting the right way for a stone cold stunner ?
S: Lol the whole thing can’t be about wrestling… But if that’s what you want, what wrestler best describes Mood? I’d say Vince McMahon
R: That’s a good question. I would have said X-Pac. What piece of studio gear is most like Mankind?
S: I’d have to say…
R: It doesn’t matter what type of gear is most like Mankind!
S: Good one. I’d have to say my 1176 - can be brutal, brings the vibe, filthy, an everyman’s kinda hero
R: Great answer. Should we nerd out for the nerds for a bit?
S: Yeh there’s enough trash talk already. You go…
R: What made you think to track/mix the drums and percussion in Mono?
S: I love to hear a kit as one instrument - having the drums in the centre - especially on a heavily percussive album like yours, it sonically grounds the rest of the track so you can go wild on the sides. I also had a big White Album and Mulatu vibe going into the process which gave me that mono feel.
R: Totally. It was surprising how it informed the rest of the panning. In the past I’ve been a hard left, hard right, straight centre guy, hesitant to go in between. This time round my intuition was to bring things closer to the centre, wanting less separation for a more natural feel, which isn’t something I anticipated.
S: Your lyrics are meticulously put together, very poetic, but they don’t necessarily lead the listener to what you were thinking about. Why do you write like that when the meaning is more obvious to you?
R: I think I get what you’re trying to ask. There are lyrics inspired by particular ideas but what that inspiration was, is not obvious?
S: Yeah, like when you explained some of the lines to me, like “car crash farm” or the “waterfall of chaos”, I had thought they were just cool visual images but there was a much more intentional meaning behind them. It leaves a lot to interpretation which is cool given the substance of the lyrical content.
R: Yeah, I often have two or more interpretations of some of my own lines. On some level I try to write lines that are succinct summaries of ideas that would otherwise take a whole lot of words to communicate and they’d also be without any aesthetic quality. There’s a time & place for being direct but sometimes there’s more utility in painting an image with words & letting the listener live in them. For example, if you were trying to communicate a feeling of anxiety, instead of saying “I’m feeling super anxious” if you were to describe the scene of a nightmare you’d had, where you’re trapped, you’re losing your teeth & there’s a hostile crowd laughing like hyenas, that could potentially communicate the feeling of anxiety more effectively & viscerally.
S: One thing that surprised me about your process is what makes you enjoy or not enjoy a take/mix etc.. Like there wasn’t a whole lot of overthinking when it came to individual takes, it was more about how the track felt as a whole piece, which was really refreshing to me. What was the most exciting part of the recording process and why? Was there a particular tone or recording technique we tried that got you going?
R: Recording drums was really enjoyable, primarily because Alex Reid is such a weapon. Although, I’m not as relaxed at that point because of how integral drums are to how the track will sound & feel. Guitars & Keys are the most fun for me, it’s where I feel most confident & you can really explore sonics. The room mic you put out in the foyer for the kit was an exciting find. That verb sounded rad.
S: Yeah, that was probably my favourite new find. I’d never used that room as a natural verb before. Its also super cool that literally only your record has that ambience. I also really enjoyed the drum recording process. Alex was amazing to work with. I liked that we didn’t tighten things up in post, we let it all breathe and were ok with takes not being “perfect”, makes it feel so much more human and is really refreshing and fun for me.
R: You ever seen that video of Timberland showing Jay Z beats in the studio? He moves to this beat whilst holding some carton of juice or something, and I was thinking of the way he moved when I cooked up the beat on the demo. I wanted the beat to make people move like he did. Mood production is obviously completely different, but it was the feel of the groove I was trying to reminisce. A dope find on youtube if you haven’t seen the video.
S: I have & loved it. What a boss. How you describe the texture of Mood?
R: It’s a pretty warm mix/master we went for. The weird little shakers add a lot of interesting texture. That’s why I set the loose rule of trying to avoid hi-hats and cymbals as much as possible and use percussion instead for the subdivisions. It immediately becomes more texturally unique I think. One of the inspirations for that was some of Moondog’s recordings. He use to build his own percussion instruments and developed these really interesting grooves/vibes.
S: I also think you’re more exposed on this record - vocally. Having your vocals always clear even when the sound itself is fucked up, was huge. It gives the tracks so much more identity in my opinion.
R: Yeah, although on Mood , most of the vocals were sung through the Boss Vocal Transformer lol.
S: Yeah, but they’re up front & clear. There is also a bunch of your clean vocals in there too.. wether you want to believe it or not ahaha. Anyway, shall we give this one the people’s elbow and leave some excitement for the next match?
R: Yep, I’m down for the count.
Mood is out now!