When you think about the term starting from square one, you may feel a range of emotions entirely dependent on what exactly you’re tackling. For example, starting from square one binge-watching your new favorite Netflix show would be a well received undertaking. How about starting from scratch on your new music album? Well, that could be a whirlwind of uncertainty, eagerness, excitement, and perhaps paralyzing fear. We can see the massive thought bubble forming as you sit down to figure out who should be involved, the financial aspects, oh yeah, and what about the actual creative content? We imagine you may look something like this.
Trust us, we know it’s a detailed process. In the making of Transference, we couldn’t undermine or overlook such details, no matter how microscopic or how massively obvious. Factoring in all this hard work, we centered our recent Community Education Event on the wisdom we’ve unearthed from this one of a kind experience.
On Wednesday night, Marmoset spotlighted three important artists who contributed stellar music on Transference: Ural Thomas and Scott Magee of Ural Thomas and The Pain, along with Dear Nora’s Katy Davidson.
As Transference was centered around reenvisioning music as old as 100 years old, it seemed the largest task at hand was reconstructing each song’s context. “I searched the titles to find something relatable,” Davidson comments on how they specifically chose to remake “Where the Morning Glories Grow”. “I decided I liked the lyrics a lot but still needed to adapt them so they worked for me.”
With Ural Thomas and The Pain’s “Hot Time in the Old Town”, the challenge was adapting the song’s interwoven storyline into something more modern and relatable. “We took a lot of liberties with this song, we really wanted to take the meaning and change it up,” Thomas says. “The song was originally about a wedding, so we wanted this version to be more about just having a good time.”
Aside from modernizing the music’s central themes, each piece's original composition, rhythm, and chords also needed to be revamped. With Davidson’s process specifically, they wrote a couple different versions of “Where the Morning Glories Grow” after mastering the chords using videos on YouTube. The end product unfolded to be much closer to the original composition, while the lyrics remained timelessly melancholic.
Transference proved to be a prestigious on-taking requiring each artist to embrace fearless reinvention, creativity, and collaboration. It served as an example where music can be molded so intrinsically individualistically, with a consensus that collaborative efforts are only successful with good communication and respect; this spilled over into how the team acknowledged one another's separate creative process. “When it comes down to it, we were trying to reinvent the wheel,” Magee notes. “We looked it as a game, we’d write in the moment. It’s very spontaneous, it’s magical.”
Ambitious as it was uniquely rewarding, the three contributing Transference artists shared how the revamped public domain songs are now proudly showcased in their ongoing performance sets — a stirring realization of music standing the testament of time, a vessel for endless translation and new meanings.