It's hard to pinpoint when this journey began, but the earliest point I can think of is when Kurt Kurasaki contacted me to do a studio session in the winter of 2004. The session turned out to be a product demo for a microphone preamplifier based on the schematics of the legendary Abbey Road mixing console used to record the Beatles. Being a huge Beatles fan, I was thrilled to be a part of this sonic experiment. I immediately fell in love with the sound of the demo, and a fortuitous opportunity allowed me to borrow a prototype of the preamp and a nice mic from a good friend to start recording demos.
My first album, "Daylight Savings" was greatly influenced technically and musically by Elliott Smith, who allegedly recorded his first albums in solitude on a 4 track cassette deck and a radio shack microphone. Inspired (and poor) I used really cheap gear and recorded alone too, but with no knowledge of proper recording techniques and a sense of recklessness. Kurt, a former studio owner and electronic music guru, really opened my eyes and ears to what was sonically possible with the right gear, techniques and environment. There is a huge sonic leap forward with Ulysses, not only because I was using the best gear possible, but also because I had an ensemble backing me up on about half of the tracks.
The recording sessions that make up this album span four different studios, (five if you count the one that we did some botched tape transfers at, and seven if you count my room and Kurt's home studio). Kurt and I booked two days at The Hangar studios in Sacramento to record basic tracks in November of 2007 with my good friend and frequent collaborator Tim Bulkley (drums), and two of his musical friends, Adam Shulman (keyboards) and Justin Miller (bass). Han and Sadie of the band The Invisible Cities (of whom Tim and I are a part of) came by on the second day to hang out and add some vocals. Most notably, Sadie on the "Section of Sky." I needed bass parts for two of the songs, so I enlisted the help of my friend Wil Hendricks to lay some parts down at home and mail them to me. Nothing like getting some bass in the mail!
A lot of the songs on the album were created close to the end of Daylight Savings between 2003-2004, in particular, "Suitcase," "If You Want Me Too," and "Section of Sky." Others, like "Red Balloons," "Shoulder," and "Where Did They Go" where completed shortly before being mixed.
We recorded the tracks digitally to Protools, but at my persistence/insistence (and Kurt's slight dismay) transferred the tracks to 2" analog tape when we went to Tiny Telephone studios in February 2008 to mix. The main reason, other than the fact that Tiny Telephone has some beautiful tape machines, was that I had the good fortune of getting analog tape guru and sonic genius Scott Solter to mix the album. Getting the tracks from computer to tape was no easy feat though, as we had to call Stephen Jarvis, who is one of the top digital audio guys in the bay area, to rent the converters needed. Stephen was kind enough to drive up to San Francisco from the south bay to help us hook everything up and get us going.
To quote Kurt, from his blog entry about the mixing session:
"We were working with Scott Solter who took the tracks and started shaping the mix into something completely different than what we originally expected - in a great way. The tape mixes had such a different feel from pro tools renders, and Scott gave us a "Bro Bounce" to 1/2" 2 track which just sounded amazing. Ulysses seems like an apt title for this project. The production has been a epic tale taking us all over the place and meeting bizarre freaks who still align heads and splice tape."
Fast forward a few months and a few mixing sessions later, I gave the tapes to Mike Wells to master and put the finishing sonic touches on the album. I was lucky to have artist Nathalie Roland to do the artwork, and Brian Kobashikawa put everything together to do a full blown 8 panel digipack with a 20 page booklet with pictures and lyrics. My childhood friend, Richard "The Animal" Chang wrote some great liner notes to round it out and bring it back home.
- Goh Nakamura
vocals, guitar, bass on "Somewhere" and "Red Balloons"
- Tim Bulkley
drums, percussion, bells, balance board
- Adam Shulman
- Justin Miller
- Wil Hendricks
bass and prettiness on "Section of Sky" and "Flowers"
- Sadie Contini
vocals on "Somewhere", "Section of Sky", and "Flowers"
- Aya Nakamura
vocals on "Flowers"
- Music & Lyrics
Kurt Kurasaki & Goh Nakamura
Kurt Kurasaki, Bryce Gonzales, Lee Ray, and Scott Solter
- Recorded at Shabby Road, The Hangar, and Open Path Studios
- Mixed at Tiny Telephone by Scott Solter
About Goh Nakamura
Goh Nakamura is a San Francisco Bay Area based musician who writes ditties about parking tickets, impossible crushes and faraway dreamlands.
With one foot in the traditional troubadour world and another in the digital age, he performs at venues small, large, and virtual, to an enthusiastic and ever growing audience. A fortuitous 2007 feature on YouTube's front page brought his music videos over a million views and earned him a huge new fanbase from all over the world.
Goh's talents have also found a home in the film industry. Goh's vocals and guitar work are featured prominently on the scores to Ridley Scott films A Good Year and, most recently, American Gangster. His song "Daylight Savings" is included on the soundtrack to the Robert Benton film Feast of Love, starring Morgan Freeman and Greg Kinnear.
For more info, contact: goh at gohnakamura.com.