HOW A STRANGER IS MADE began with the production of Queen Song. Recorded on January 8th, 2018 near the Ashokan Resevoir in upstate NY by David Baron & Simone Felice.
The song was inspired by the patterns we pass down through generations and DNA. This particular story was about a matriarchal lineage that passes pain down, from mother to mother, like a thorny crown. Piercing the innocent flesh of a woman I loved dearly. And so came Queen Song.
I sent the demo to Simone Felice in December 2017 and he immediately replied with enthusiasm and support. We met at David Baron's studio and built a cathedral of a song from scratch. I performed everything on it: piano, celesta, wurlitzer, hammond organ, and many vocal takes to create a Gregorian-like male choir out of my voice. Simone slammed away on the toms and he and David were like sonic Shamans coaxing out the Spirit of this song and its story.
Simone and David produced Bat For Lashes' record The Bride and were partly responsible in helping that record win a Mercury Prize. I found it almost magical that I was a Bat For Lashes fan and my song was a dark opera of sorts involving churches and brides of Jesus. So I knew our union was nothing short of a miracle, especially since these guys work around the clock with famous pop artists all year and had a 2 day slot open when I wrote to them.
It was freezing cold and the wind was howling the entire time we recorded this. The studio was positioned on top of a mountain, overlooking the reservoir which looked like a giant shattered mirror. The land was completely taken over by the freezing, dead Winter. It was the perfect condition to invoke this song, and so we did.
Sixteen hours later we were left with a song that sounds the way it felt in my heart that day with my friend.