Last month, Methyl Ethel’s Jake Webb teamed up with Hatchie for a rendition of Sophie B. Hawkins’ ‘Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover’. Today, he’s back with another cover, enlisting Los Angeles singer-songwriter Miya Folick for a version of Stereolab’s 1997 track ‘Brakhage’. Listen to it below.
On his Bandcamp page, Webb explained:
I had the great opportunity to see Stereolab play in Los Angeles a couple of years ago. They’re such a great band, an all-time favourite of mine and many others too. For this reason, I really wanted to do something completely different when covering Brakhage. I started off by replicating the song (which is basically two chords the whole time) in a basic way to send to Miya to record her vocals remotely. I’d been listening to a lot of music by the composer Alexander Scriabin and so borrowed this incredible rhythm from one of his piano sonatas for the bass line. I wanted the groove to have an uneven/confusing downbeat, so once this was all together, the rest was just a lot of experimentation. I had the idea of putting some really abrasive classic rock ‘n’ roll riff in there, I can’t really remember why, maybe as a joke. So I just recorded, with a microphone resting on a table in my kitchen, myself playing some white stripes rip off guitar riff with a shitty nylon string guitar and singing it at the same time a la George Benson or something. Once some very obnoxious Ableton distortion plugin was on there, the whole sound came together. The final touches were my references to Stan Brakhage, the eponymous filmmaker of the song. I made the sound of a film projector with white noise and a semi modular synth, a bell tolling and used the recording of my baby as a lazy homage to the artist and the themes most often represented in his films. Miya reading out all of the items literally surrounding her while recording her vocals is another way to use the obvious material as representation. I don’t know why, but I just sort of became interested in using ideas that I’d usually stay away from for fear of being criticised. Miya gave a really wonderful performance of the vocal too, her sweet and nuanced delivery is so perfectly suited and provides a brilliant counterpoint to all the buffoonery squeezed into the song by yours truly. I really love it!
Folick added: “I’m such a fan of Methyl Ethel and of Stereolab, so I was really excited to get to work on this song. I think lyrically, it captures the essence of a fear that I carry every day. All this stuff! Too much stuff. It’s hard not to hear this song as a statement about consumerism, which is both a spiritual and environmental problem. Even more so today than when the song was released in 1997. It’s a good and necessary reminder that we have to do more to curb our consumption, to take better care of our planet.”
Methyl Ethel released his latest album, Are You Haunted?, back in February, while Folick dropped her 2007 EP last month. Read our interview with Jake Webb about the inspirations behind Are You Haunted? and check out a track-by-track breakdown of 2007.