Can you talk to us more about your latest single “If You Change Your Mind”? Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
Alzara: If You Change Your Mind was mostly inspired by my day job as a therapist. People often come to therapy because they are suffering, facing demons…struggling to make changes. Sometimes humanity seems beautiful to me at its most vulnerable. When your world turns upside down, you have to re-invent things, gain a new perspective, create new meaning. It sounds cliche, but I do believe there is an opportunity.
The single comes off your amazing new album – We Were Children Yesterday – available everywhere October 1st – what’s the story behind the title?
Alzara: I was lucky enough to have experienced a lot of magic and wonder as a child. The title is an echo of that time and the loss of innocence as we get older.
How was the recording and writing process?
Alzara: The writing process is a bit complex. A couple tracks began with a former music collaborator, but they evolved and became fine-tuned with Brother Spellbinder. Other songs developed more recently. 20 Years Ago is the newest and had just been written. Suddenly it belonged on THIS ep so we postponed things until we had it all done.
As for the recording process…um, embarrassingly slow. We went in and out of the studio every few months depending on everyone’s schedule and what recording studios were available. We have quite a few spellbinders affiliated with the group, so it took a lot of coordinating. The good news is we ended up dividing what we started into two parts. This is part 1 from what we’ve already begun. Hopefully part 2 will be up shortly!
Jamie: The writing happened organically. Alzara had already written all the words and most of the music, but she asked for my collaboration on a couple songs. On “If You Change Your Mind,” she needed help transitioning from the slow, dreamy bridge back to the body of the song. So I started playing around with some chords and trying different rhythms and came up with what you hear in that section. She also wanted a bridge/chorus for 20 Years Ago and asked for input. The chords you hear under the heavenly part came to me quite naturally.
Alzara: Ha, ha, you’re a good bridge builder Jamie!
Jamie: The recording process was like building a house. We started with the foundation and frame, recording drums, rhythm guitar, ukulele, vocals. Oh and the music box you hear in the beginning. Then the walls went up when we added cello and started to fine tuned the lead vocals and added the background vocals. Then we started to paint the different rooms, adding the violin and electric guitar. And the last part is figuring out where to put the pictures and how to arrange the furniture, i.e. arranging, producing, mixing, and mastering.
What was it like to work with Oz Fritz and how did that relationship develop?
Alzara: I needed someone to mix, but I also wanted to work with someone that was going to invest a little more than just mixing and taking instructions. I needed a co-pilot. Someone that’s an artist in their own right with an opinion who can help move us towards a clear vision. I found Oz by accident while looking at who produced local albums I like. When I contacted him, I was immediately impressed by his humble and thoughtful response. It grew from there.
How much did he get to influence the album?
When we connected, most of the tracking had been done, but everything was raw and unedited. He suggested adding percussion to various parts to give it more muscle and we also re-tracked some vocals. We edited together to choose the best takes and solos, but Oz offered definitive opinions about what to use. Honestly, there is enough material from this ep to make 1,000 remixes, not just in terms of sound, but in terms of all the different solos and takes the players contributed. Finally, Oz moved us towards a singular vision by adding a smokey shimmer, depth and ambiance.
What aspect of loss and innocence did you get to explore on this record?
It would take a while to analyze, but here are a couple snippets — When I sing Mandalay, I am in a reverie. It conjures far away lands, true love, adventures. But in the end most people stop believing in fairy tales. Or do they? We are children no more. Contrast that with Woman which came from a very bitter, almost desperate energy. It was inspired by a nasty voicemail someone left me, someone with whom I had also shared a lot of awe and happiness. That brought up questions about what to put our trust in and how to heal when feeling betrayed.
What else is happening next in Brother Spellbinder’s world?
Jamie: Many great shows in the Bay Area. We’ve laid the foundation for more Brother Spellbinder tracks so keep your ears open.
Alzara: Our new single “Ice Castles” off the next ep will be out soon!