MUSIC BOX: Teton Artlab inspires new recording

By on November 4, 2014
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The musicians hark back to their days of bedroom recording at Teton Artlab. Photo Credit: AARON DAVIS

Jackson Hole, Wyoming – Dusty Nichols-Schmolze and Bo Elledge (formerly of Elk Attack) are collectively known as Canyon Kids. Along with The Flannel Attractions’ singer-songwriter Pat Chadwick, the trio has embarked on a DIY recording project housed at Teton Artlab. The album is being engineered and produced by Nichols, with songs written by Elledge and Chadwick.

Planet Jackson Hole: How did the residency at Teton Artlab come about? What is its duration?

Dusty Nichols-Schmolze: Bo sparked up a conversation with Travis Walker about a space to record in, and Travis very generously offered up a room for us to use at the Artlab. His artist residency program is starting on the first of the New Year, so until then the space is available. We moved in there and set up my equipment a few weeks ago.

PJH: What are the pros and cons of the recording space at the Artlab?

Dusty: I think the environment has a big effect on how recordings come out. If the artist is feeling comfortable, and the vibe is good, you don’t need the fanciest equipment to get a great recording. At the end of the day, it comes down to good songs, good performances and good vibe. It’s such a blessing to have a space in town where you’re free to be creative and work on your craft, and the Artlab is just that. With those concrete walls it certainly has some roominess to it, but I like that. It’s unique.

PJH: What’s one of your favorite tunes that you’ve written for this project? What’s the vibe of the music, and lyrically, what’s it about?

Pat Chadwick: “Love Won’t Grow.” It’s a favorite because it switches between three different feels — soft guitar fingerpicking, swampy rock and a bluegrass vibe of sorts — and I think that they work really well together. Lyrically, it suggests that there isn’t “the one” romantically, but instead many potential “ones,” and that convenient timing is a bigger part of a relationship than we like to think.

Bo Elledge: “Valley of the Snake.” It’s sort of a nostalgic song about love and loss. I moved back to South Carolina this past winter and couldn’t get Wyoming out of my mind. At the peak of the song I scream, “Had an old Chevrolet/Had a cowboy on her plate/She took me places I’d never been.” It’s funny how living here for a couple years can fundamentally change you.

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Dusty Nichols-Schmolze and Bo Elledge are recording an album at Teton Artlab. Photo Credit for Dusty & Bo: CHRISTIE QUINN

PJH: What will be the album title?

Dusty: Teton Artlab Sessions by Canyon Kids and Pat Chadwick.

PJH: Who has played/tracked on the album thus far? 

Dusty: Right now only four of us have been tracking. Jake Green has been tracking drums, and he’s doing a fantastic job. So far I’ve tracked bass, some electric guitar and percussion. Bo and Pat have been laying down acoustic guitar.

PJH: What albums have you guys been listening to lately? 

Bo: Shovels & Rope: Swimmin’ Time, the new Shakey Graves album, the new Blitzen Trapper album, Jack White: Lazaretto, and Bob Dylan’s new Basement Tapes.

Pat: Shovels & Rope: Swimmin’ Time, The National: High Violet, The Walkmen: Heaven.

Dusty: Spoon: They Want My Soul, Jack White: Lazaretto, and I think my favorite record of the year is Sun Structures by Temples.

PJH: How does this project compare in scope to previous Canyon Kids and Elk Attack recordings? 

Bo: Dusty and I have collaborated on recording projects every October since 2011. We’ve learned a whole lot about what works and what doesn’t. For the full-length Elk Attack album we had to finish nine songs in four days. The record turned out awesome but it was a tad rushed. Post Elk Attack disbandment, Canyon Kids was recorded over a period of two months and we weren’t as rushed to meet a deadline. We decided to do it again this year except no fancy studio and on the cheap. It’s taking us back to our roots of bedroom recording and making demos. It’s like we are trying to catch lightning in a bottle.

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Photo Credit for Pat Chadwick: CHRIS VOZELLA

PJH: Pat — with The Flannel Attractions playing less, have you had more time to focus on songwriting? 

Pat: The Flannel Attractions haven’t been creating new original music, but members of the band have still been gigging together occasionally, and I could see some of them recording on this project before it’s complete. Still, that free time has helped inspire an influx of new songs. The main difference is that I’ve developed these songs with the help of rock and soul musicians instead of bluegrass musicians, and that has opened up a more dynamic range of options when it comes to rhythm and color.

PJH: Pat — is this your second recording project in Jackson? How is this experience different?

Pat: Yes, that’s correct. With The Flannel Attractions, I was heavily involved in producing our EP, and I would obsess over certain things. This time, there have already been several occasions where Dusty has stepped in to say that a take was actually good when I wanted to keep recording, so I’ve been trying to sit back and trust another set of ears to naturally capture these songs.

PJH: Dusty — what projects have you engineered and produced in JH? 

Dusty: Sneaky Pete & the Secret Weapons’ first recording, Black Mother Jones’ full-length at the studio in the Pink Garter Theatre, my Canyon Kids project at the Pink Garter, an A/B side single release with Maddy and the Groove Spots at Ben Winship’s studio, and most recently I engineered and produced Sneaky Pete’s full-length record, which will be released in December.

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About Aaron Davis

Aaron Davis is a decade-long writer of Music Box, a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, member of Screen Door Porch and Boondocks, founder/host of Songwriter’s Alley, and co-founder of The WYOmericana Caravan.

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