“As a musician who gets to write and play the music and sing and produce the album, there are so many artforms that go into it,” reflects Guy Blakeslee, whose project Entrance releases the album Book of Changes this month. “It’s an all-encompassing art project, and at the heart of it all, I’m a writer. But it’s important to realize: The thing that makes you a writer is that you write.”
Blakeslee’s musical ideas flow easily for him, but he says that pleasing lyrics are hard-won. So, he employs a daily writing method popularized by Julia Cameron in her book The Artist’s Way. He writes three pages “automatically” every day—pen to paper till three sheets are full.
“A lot of the lyrics, phrases, rhymes and even whole songs came from that, and it helped me to allow words to come out without me judging them before they could become something,” Blakeslee says.
In the songs on Changes, Blakeslee’s plaintive vocal is at the center of a delicate web of rock instruments and orchestrations. Ten lush songs were recorded piece by piece in more than 11 studios, while Blakeslee toured or switched between his L.A. and London residences. He plays almost every part himself, though he enlisted help from “real” drummers (Derek James, and Will Scott from Wolfmother), as well as strings and horn players, and female backing vocalists.
The studio that saw the most action was engineer Stefan Lirakis’ Ultrasound studio in L.A. “He created the studio and built a lot of the instruments,” says Blakeslee. “It’s a sprawling warehouse space overflowing with cool gadgets and has a real open feel to the room; a lot of the great drum sounds I got are from there.
“Every place we went had different gear, different instruments, different microphones,” Blakeslee says. “So David Vandervelde, who mixed most of the record, helped take everything from these different places and made it sound cohesive. We mixed in Pro Tools at New Monkey Studios [Van Nuys, Calif.], which was started by ElliottSmith. David’s mix was the glue that held everything together.”