It’s just a year ago that Julie Ann Baenziger, also known as Sea of Bees, first came to our attention with the release of her album Songs For The Ravens. After a very busy and highly successful musical year, Jules is now making a welcome return with a new album, Orangefarben, due for release on 9 April though Heavenly Recordings. We caught up with Jules to discuss the emotional journey involved with bringing the record to life as she walks us through the making of her latest record, track by track. Here’s what Jules had to say, and here’s a stream of the sublime Orangefarben, available to hear in its entirety exclusively here at The Line of Best Fit.
I am feeling quite a lot of emotions and thoughts right now. These songs were just sitting in me waiting to come out (like an old fashioned letter). They are simple songs, direct songs. I’m putting something close to my heart out into existence, and it’s a bit of all my feelings really. I am nervous, I am scared, I am excited and I am grateful for the fans and friends I have made.
[The reaction since the release of the last album has been] really unexpected, everything. Signing with Heavenly and 13 Artists was such a sweet beginning… they are good friends and have been such a huge support to me, I just feel so lucky to have a great team of people on my side. The touring was unforgettable, being away from home for so long and sharing my time with people I will never forget. I am grateful. It was like I was in a movie, and everything was just so unreal and fast. I grew so much as a person and also in my music. I became more inspired, more knowledgeable about how to share my songs. I learned a lot and am still learning. It was a full year! Glastonbury was one of my highlights, the whole scene was like a muddy dream of all the best, loved it.
I had just got home from touring Jan-Aug 2011 and I was ready to write about what was flowing constantly in my heart and mind, and it was about someone close to me. “Orangefarben” was a special word we shared. I did most of the writing in the back studio ‘the B room’, at the Hangar Studios in Sacramento, CA. I would sit in the small room for hours thinking and remembering the past; the good things, the hard things, the experiences, learning, growing and what I wanted for her and what I wanted for me. Melodies would come out and I would have a memory attached with it. There were a lot of differences in this album. It is very direct, about myself and one other person. The last album was everything (laugh). My mother, my father, my friends. This one is about true love. But musically the album is different as well. We had so much time to make Songs for the Ravens, and to experiment with sounds and textures. This one, I kinda knew what I wanted: simplicity. And time, I just didn’t have as much as on the last album, and now things are just getting so crazy busy. But, I am not complaining (smile), you just have to know when to let go of something and say it is good. And I feel really good about this.
[When creating the record] everything, usually for me, just comes along the way. I have a skeleton starting out with the basic pianos and guitars, but then after that we just have ideas and go with them. I hope this record helps people know they’re not alone. The plan for the release is to come out to the UK and do an awesome tour and then come back to the US and do the same. We have some festivals coming up as well. And then after the full long year and things die down a bit, I’ll start my next album. But I don’t want to think about that right now…
“This song is how she won my heart and I did the same with her, but she was broke from things in her past. She was still fragile.
I wrote this song with my acoustic, and then I added electric guitars and simple bass and a tiny bit of Juno synth. My friend and producer, John Baccigaluppi, came up with the 12 string melody part, and I played all the other lead parts. My friend James Neil and I both played drums on this one.”
“I wanted her to be who she wanted to be without doubt, I thought about giving our love my best.
We started with acoustic and picking the strings with my fingers, like Beck on “Sea Change” which is so beautiful. Then we ran some white noise through a synth filter and LFO for the ocean sound in the background and I also hit the spring reverb with my fist! I added a marching drum, and the bass and some guitars. We had my friend Alison Sharkey come in and do some strings for me as well at the end of the song.”
“I felt like she was gone sometimes.
This song started with me on acoustic and then we ran the electric guitar through a Leslie which John played for the beginning. My friend James Neil played the drums on this with me live. I played all the other guitars and the bass.”
“I always loved her teeth. I kept thinking how I shouldn’t think certain thoughts, it was wrong.
I wrote this song at my friend Al’s house in London, I kept singing it over and over. It started out with an electric guitar on this. I did the simple drumming and bass. We wanted it to be sparkly and flowy. We had a friend, Jon Graboff, add the pedal steel.”
“I started out with the acoustic writing this song. I wrote it before touring in the UK for the first time. It was when I first met her, she haunted me in the sweetest way.
The process of recording it was completely different from how I played it live, but that’s how I wanted to do it. I was wanting to play the drums and also experiment with looping some of the parts I played, and the final track is a mix of both.”
“I remember I kept singing this song and thinking of her. Thinking of what she was like as a child. I would hum this tune on tour but I didn’t know the song yet, until I wrote it at the studio.
We did more looping stuff on this one and the funny rhythmic sounds are a high-hat that I played and looped and then put through the modular synthesizer filter. And we ran the nylon string acoustic through the synth too, and then I added the other guitars, bass and piano. This was one of the first songs we finished up and me and John got really excited about it and were all grooving to it in the studio.”
“I wrote this in the studio, it was a hard day and I had been writing all day, but this song came without trying. I thought about her and her past… how she would smile.
My friend Amber Padgett sang on the end of it and so did James Neil who did the brushes.”
“Again this wasn’t trying at all, it was natural. I knew the song. I would sing this to her before I left for anywhere.
We recorded this as a b-side after the record was all done and it only took a few hours, but we were so happy with it, we decided to put in on the album instead of another song. We had to get permission from John Denver’s estate because we added one sentence and we were worried they wouldn’t like it, but they liked it so much they released it as a 7″ for Record Store day. Funny how things work out.”
“I was in the studio and this popped into my head. The melody, it reminded me of Neil Young for a bit and then I added lyrics of how I felt inside.
I started it on acoustic guitar, and again really basic simple guitars and bass. My friend Rusty Miller played drums on this live with me and added some guitar too.”
“This song I wrote in London at Al’s flat. I fell in love with it, recording it was different though. It was hard for some reason? I can’t pin it down. But in the end, I was pleased with it because it doesn’t sound like anything else on the record. Me and James both play drums again on this one. We did another song called ‘Easy’ that sounds even more different but we left it off the album because it was too different and noisy. I really like it though and maybe we’ll release it as a b-side later.
“I wrote this while recording, totally tired one night, it was really late. I was frustrated. John wouldn’t leave the studio until I finished it though, and when I was done recording it, I felt better. It was just me and the old pump organ.”
Orangefarben will be released on 9 April though Heavenly Recordings.