From left: Ben Folds, Amanda Palmer, Damian Kulash and Neil Gaiman
From April 25-27, the Berklee College of Music and MIDEM, in association with Harvard University’s Berkman Center and Business School, presented the “Rethink Music: Creativity, Commerce and Policy in the 21st Century” conference, which sought new models for creating and distributing music. One discussion panel—Amanda Palmer, Neil Gaiman, Ben Folds and Damian Kulash—challenged the norms of pop music production and distribution in the hours before their scheduled appearance. “All four of us are well known for using the Internet creatively,” Palmer says. “I came up with the idea that we should do some non-traditional collaboration.”
The four decided to write and record eight songs in eight hours—naming their collective 8in8—working on April 25 from 4 p.m. to midnight.
They decided to bring in a producer to oversee the project—Sean Slade, with whom Palmer had worked—and to complete the project in Mad Oak Studios (myspace.com/madoak) in Allston, Mass., with engineer Benjamin Grotto. “They have all sorts of fun, exciting toys, like Mellotrons and strange old organs,” Palmer says. “I knew it was going to be much more of a playground. The engineers made sure that everything was ready to go.”
8in8 asked their fans to submit lyrical ideas via Twitter; delivered a live Webcast of the entire session; set up album sales and distribution on Bandcamp.com at Rethink Music; and presented the results of their project at Rethink Music the following morning. In the end, 8in8 completed six songs in 12 hours. “Once we finished basic takes, [one] team would mix in the control [room] while we cranked on the next song. We listened to mixes to hear what we had done, but [not] to go back and fix anything. It was a fantastic test of everything I ever learned in a recording studio in the last 12 years because you had to trust your instincts.”