Continuing the guest blog series is Long Island native Brian Byrne. You may know him previously from Envy On the Coast, but he has a new project called The Hand That Wields It. His production style retains a very personal, immediate feel, with the single “Blind Or Shade” including heavily affected voicemails from ex and current loves that invoke the stark realities of relationships that weren’t meant to be. His debut EP, The Hand That Wields It, is slated for release Summer 2016. From his own words below, Byrne talks about the process in recording the project.
“When artists say “I recorded everything in my bedroom” there is a certain ‘lazy’ or ‘unprofessional’ connotation to it. It evokes an image of dirty laundry piles, bad posters, and some haphazard recording equipment, and a man (or woman) in their underwear enveloped in dusty light, writing the soundtrack to your indie sensibilities. There is truth to this sentiment.
My project, The Hand That Wields It, was born out of introversion and run-of-the-mill heart ache in the context of a small town where I rented a room in my friend’s house. I take a bit more pride in my sound than the Radio Shack approach to bedroom recording. I have some pretty decent gear. I spend pretty much all my money from my day job on guitar pedals and keyboards, but make no mistake, much of my EP was recorded while I was stoned, in my underwear, at very odd hours.
One of the biggest challenges of bedroom recording, especially when you live with other people, is noise. You can’t fault your roommate for emptying the dishwasher in the middle of a vocal take, unless you’re a real prima donna cry baby. However, a lot of these household noises ended up as musical textures on my EP. In my song “Post Party Depression”, one of the household dogs decided he’d had enough of me messing around on my computer and nosed his way into my room only to let out a nice big yawn/howl. My vocal mic was live, the track was recording, and I ended up re-sampling that beautiful noise into one of the strangest keyboard ‘pad’ sounds I’ve ever heard. The hiss from me gaining that sample up provides a real grit and texture that made the entire song more cohesive than diving through menus of keyboard sounds ever could. Thusly, the beautiful and unpredictable nature of recording in your bedroom.
A lot of my songs begin and end with me taking some sort of naturally occurring sound and processing it until it’s a usable musical texture. Some people need rhythm to start a track, others need a melody, I’m very prone to inspiration from odd textures. Sounds so perverted from their natural state that their origins are untraceable. It’s a bit of alchemy, a bit of luck, and a bit of studio ingenuity. A lot of times there’s weed.
That sort of approach differs quite greatly from my previous musical outlets where I was mainly a guitar player and occasional vocalist. Envy On the Coast and North Korea were decidedly more “rock” oriented, which requires a bit more bravado and testosterone to produce, whereas this project is very subdued and self-aware. There was never a moment during this project’s creative process where I had to look anyone else in the face and give them feedback about their musical contribution, and vice versa. For me, this project was a protracted waiting game of “this sounds good” on Monday, and “what the fuck” the following Monday, for months. Somewhat frustrating in the short-term, but quite rewarding in the grand scheme. All of the musical ideas I put to tape are excruciatingly curated and placed. All of the accidents have been accounted for. For better or for worse, it’s exactly what I wanted it to sound like.”
You can check at more over on the band’s Facebook page. . Listen to the new song, “Receive Much” below.