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being recorded. Writing the parts as I was recording made it pretty fun. It was a great learning process.” Despite being well versed in the art of making a record with a band in the studio, Shapiro had never before taken the helm as a producer. “I’d done stuff on GarageBand but nothing I’d ever mixed,” she explains. “I needed this push from Hardly Art to make me finish something, and I really enjoyed the process. There was a lot of pressure on me compared to being in a band where you’re making decisions together, but I liked being in control of everything. It’s nice not having that with Chastity Belt because it would change our whole band dynamic and it just wouldn’t be very cool, but it was really nice to have this one thing going on in my life where I felt totally in control. "Sometimes, if you let go of your creative control just a little bit, like handing over songs to engineers, things might not go the way you planned. With this, if something didn’t turn out how I wanted it to it was completely my fault, which made me feel better. It felt really cool to produce some songs that were completely my work. It was mostly me just listening and experimenting and seeing what sounded good as I went along. And it was fun to experiment with some really fucked up sounds in a way that I wouldn’t with the band.” With Perfect Version, Shapiro’s approach to production was largely shaped on the fly, experimenting as she went along and recording ideas as they were taking shape. However, through her experiences with Chastity Belt, she has developed her own definition of what she expects from an outside producer.
“We as a band already have so many ideas and go into the studio with all our songs pretty much ready to go,” she elaborates. “We generally need one extra voice to look at the big picture of things and let us know how things are sounding, because you can get lost when you’re playing a song over and over again. We all have our own ideas, and a lot of them, so we like a pretty hands-off producer but one who still has opinions and can make decisions when we’re having trouble.” So how did it feel to embark on a project without having her bandmates on-hand to provide those additional ideas? “It was liberating, but it was hard at times,” she says. “It was difficult for me to not have someone else to bounce ideas off of, or have someone tell me it’s good. Especially with mixing; I would mix for a really long time and get to a point where I’d stop, come back to it the next day and it’d sound really fucked up. In that sense, I did have some people I’d send the songs to just for some reaction, because I needed someone to say, ‘Yes, that sounds like a song’!” With a new Chastity Belt album also in the works and due for release later this year, Shapiro believes that the lessons she learned during the making of Perfect Version have made a positive contribution to its sound. “We actually just finished mixing the next Chastity Belt album and it was really helpful for me to be able to describe the different tones that I wanted,” she states. “And I thought more about panning and had more of a sense of the things the engineer could do to help us reach the sound I was looking for. The more experience
I have making records the more I hear the next time. “The new album sounds very different to our last record,” she continues. “It’s the most time we’ve spent recording. It’s a bit jammy, there are a lot of overdubs, there are more instruments, there’s violin, cello, trumpet, keyboards and lots more harmonies. It’s more intricate, more dynamic. It’s for sure the one we’re most proud of. I felt that way with every record but with this one in particular we really sat down and talked about exactly what we wanted and made sure everything was very intentional and treated with care. It was different to our past experiences, where I don’t think we really thought much about the process. We thought about the songs but the recording always felt rushed.” Before we part ways, talk turns to the records that have most heavily influenced Shapiro’s producerly sensibilities, as well as those she is currently excited by. “I really like how all the Elliott Smith records sound, and the same goes for Wilco,” she concludes. “Both of those to me have really cool, dynamic sounds. I started listening to music differently when I started making music. And I sometimes wish I could go back to listening to music the way I did before. In school I would listen to something and think, this just feels good. I wouldn’t know why but I like this song. I think that’s how most people who don't make music experience music. n
In for the kill - Up close and personal with the Killing Eve sound crew.