Q: Not to be repetititve, but "How are things coming along?
happy to say the "one single per month" plan feels right. At least it lets me relieve stress by working on the release
mix, winding my way around ProTools, and coming up with thumbnail art.
Q: Art for each single?
Steven: It's kinda cool, because I get to rethink
the song, and of course, choose the order.
Q: How does
the art process work for you? How do you get the "right" image?
the beauty of Photoshop. I take a look at the lyrics, the timing of the release, and try to put something together that won't
be "dated." "Fond Farewell" was easy, because the image just had to capture the mood of the instrumental,
and I had tons of landscape shots to draw from. The only one that was "staged" was "Don't Be Alone."
Q:Is that you on the dock?
Yes. I found out about that dock during a visit to my folks last year. Actually, another dock that we couldn't use, but
the same location. My father took about eight different shots, and I chose a few, worked on them, and ended up with that one.
Isn't color manipulation fun?
Q: I wouldn't know. Speaking
of -- why didn't "Nothing's Easier" come out as the lead off single?
ran out of time on my self-imposed schedule, and figured an unlikely starter would be the instrumental. Plus it would change
gears from "Reciprocal" right away.
Q: Any comments
Steven: As I said before, as far as he's concerned, it's done. He's
really had nothing critical to say about my mixes so far. I haven't sent him "Election Day" or "Don't
Be Alone" because the changes were too drastic, and I just don't like starting trouble with the person who basically
helped me get to this "autonomous" state.
Did the friendship suffer?
Steven: I don't think so. When we recorded "Reciprocal,"
it was the same pattern, but this time I sorta took a risk and bought ProTools, etc. I mean, he's told me I've "outgrown"
him, but I think it's just the state of things at the end of a long journey. He's pretty much given me the "it's
not you, it's me" speech.
Q: He dumped you? Steven: I think other pressures were involved. The guy has to move on and earn a living. Me dicking around
with mixes and crap doesn't help him get to his other clients. I mean, if I HAVE to do the next bunch myself, then I'll
find a way, but I'll still ask him for help and guidance.
What about other producers?
Steven: I've heard a lot of "You have a vision!"
"You can do it yourself!" and "You know what you want...just make it happen" talk, and that's fine
and dandy, but I figured if this thing is going to be sustainable, people should be included and have mutual benefit. Maybe
Rob things I smashed his sandcastle or something, but it wasn't about him, it was about refining things back into a shape
I thought was closer to my original idea for a song. Really, personality-wise, I like the familiarity with Rob. Sure, we spent
plenty of time sipping booze and sharing YouTube vids and music, but we also got a lot of tedious work done, and I tried to
be supportive during his editing and mixing session, at least personally. Musically, sure, I questioned his choices because
it's MY voice, and MY approach. If someone paints you as a certain thing, and it's untrue, you speak up, right?
Q: You don't think working with someone else might avoid that?
Steven:Perhaps, but there's the meat and potatoes issues I have to consider. I wanted helpgetting a good recording
done, and practical approaches to things I'd sort of formed when I initially recorded the demos for the songs way back
when; Rob sorta didn't get that. He even tried to use execeptions as examples...and sorta focused on the "something
different" angles, whereas I was just into "something good, with appeal, and memorable hooks."
Q: What's the best track so far?
I want to say "Don't Be Alone," but I dunno. The minute something's released I want another go at it, you
Q: The artist's dilemma. What makes "Don't Be Alone"
Steven: It was written for a person who'd basically holed themselves away, and
then complained about loneliness. I thought it was ironic that I'd just figured out the fallacy of loneliness, so I wrote
the lyric. Oddly enough, once I put down the demo, I thought "What would Robbie do?" and sorta tweaked it a bit.
Q: Did Robbie notice?
Steven: Not so much. He didn't
have criticisms of the structure or anything, but it turned into this "I don't agree with your choices....Oh, I guess
that IS okay...but let's add this...." so there's a Bread-ish guitar track. Everything else stayed the same.
His and my mixes are a bit different, because I had to reduce the number of tracks. For some reason ProTools stalls
if too much is going on at once, so I was forced to economize.
Q: Has it made you leave
Steven: Not so much, but I did realize that three redundant guitar tracks are, well, redundant. I've
had to be very judicious though. In the beginning stages of some of the releases, I've inadvertantly erased tracks, and
have had to recreate stuff from scratch.
Q: Do you still have Robbie's
Steven: Yeah, they're safe from harm. That's why the thought of putting his mixes on the CD made
sense. "Reciprocal" was a Robbie Rist production, so this will sorta bring continuity. Plus it's more of a stance
in the marketplace too.
Q: Are you "enjoying" your trademark and stuff?
It's nice to be protected. I still have to deal with people complaining about me enforcement of it. I've had a bunch
of younglings come up with the "We're young! Come on! What's the big deal?" and ...
Q: But it's business, what does that have to do with it?
Q: Has Slapdash sold out?
Steven: That presumes we're selling, doesn't it? Just because your product is
on the Global Shelf doesn't mean people will somehow know. It is a plus, though, establishing yourself as an entity on
the shelf, though.
Q: Touche' to your first statement. Kudos to your second.
If I'd done my homework, way back when, the whole thing would still be called "Clutter." Not that I mind the
replacement name. I never really dug "Clutter." Sounded trashy.
(interview conducted Jan 3,2011 )