Delicate Steve guides us through his new album This Is Steve

A few weeks ago, we sat down with Delicate Steve and listened to his new album start to finish, talking process and inspiration.

This Is Steve launches with a riff straight from the gut. Day 1 in the studio, he walked up to the mic and thought, “Tame Impala is a big band,” and let it rip. After 5 years, 3 studios and still unsatisfied with the results, Steve Marion, aka Delicate Steve, had arrived at Outlier Studios in June of 2015 intentionally cold with nothing written, embarking on a journey of automatic writing, musical free association.

He’d come to realize he felt most happy with the first Delicate Steve album, and it had been recorded with the simple goal of finishing an album within a set period of time. Thus was the mantra at Outlier. “I’m going to go up there and just do the first thing that comes to mind. I need to finish this album because I know if I don’t finish it, I’ll get in my head.”

We were floored by this idea. Jeff literally stopped the record, exclaiming, “Are you kidding me? That’s f’ing crazy? Are you hearing this?” Obviously this could have easily backfired, and you end up like Some Kind of Monster-era Metallica standing around in the studio without a single lick. We are often trying to remember that place in the mind where the songwriting spark happens. It’s hard to recall, vague and illusive, but here it is captured on tape.

For a young man, there is a great deal of wisdom in creating this framework so he could get out of his own way and channel his true voice. It’s a fizzy record, not dark. Optimistic. An authentic expression of Steve’s personality. He wasn’t in any dark places at the time as he has been in the past, not in this moment. He was there having fun, recording music, and nothing that had happened before or after mattered.

Most of the time when an artist gets to the studio, they are recording the songs of the past year or the past 5 years, often a heartbreak or life change has happened to inspire all those songs. This album expresses the emotion of that day, that hour, that minute as he started each song fresh without attachment to any one song or idea. If the song wasn’t working, no problem, simply delete it and onto the next.

He gave himself 11 days at Outlier to record the entire record, assisted by Outlier owner/ engineer and dear friend Josh Druckman—and he stuck to it. No additional overdubs were recorded after the fact. He mixed the record himself on his bed in his Upstate New York cabin, listening through the white iPod headphones and referencing the mixes in his car.

Each song manifested along its own unique path. Some started with drums. “Cartoon Rock” was built around the ZZ Top “Got Me Under Pressure” drum beat. I really liked his visual reference on “Tomorrow” referring to the drums as windshield wipers, a term he gets from Damon McMahon of Amen Dunes—everything happens between the kick and the snare.

Other songs originate from a single guitar riff, a loop of chords or even a simple pattern on the piano, but all with a defined point of view, set of rules, or a certain artist he’s channeling. With one of the riffs in “Winners” he explained, “I’d never made a riff that doesn’t make a lot of sense. How do I make something that’s not soulful, that’s robotic?”

Often Steve imagines one artist channelling another, so Beck doing JJ Cale or combining someone amazing with something arguably terrible—example George Harrison and a ’90s DJ. Steve laughs that he likes referencing the worst parts of the ’90s. For Steve the guitar needs some reference point, often crossing the lines from instrumental to singer, as in the song “Help” he bends the chords to say “help me somebody.” In other moments he’s pushing his tone and cadence to sound like a specific singer’s voice.

Together we listened to the full album and discussed each song in detail, and you can hear the conversation above.

DELICATE STEVE ON TOUR
MAR 09 UNDERGROUND ARTS, PHILADELPHIA, PA
MAR 10 METRO GALLERY, BALTIMORE, MD
MAR 11 GREY EAGLE, ASHEVILLE, NC
MAR 12 THE EARL, ATLANTA, GA
MAR 13 HIGH WATT, NASHVILLE, TN
MAR 14 SIBERIA, NEW ORLEANS, LA
MAR 20 SISTER BAR, ALBUQUERQUE, NM
MAR 23 TREEFORT MUSIC FEST, BOISE, ID
MAR 24 TREEFORT MUSIC FEST, BOISE, ID
MAR 25 MISSISSIPPI STUDIOS, PORTLAND, OR
MAR 26 FORTUNE SOUND CLUB, VANCOUVER, CANADA
MAR 28 TRACTOR TAVERN, SEATTLE, WA
MAR 30 INDEPENDENT, SAN FRANCISCO, CA
APR 01 TERAGRAM BALLROOM, LOS ANGELES, CA
APR 02 SODA BAR, SAN DIEGO, CA
APR 04 BUNKHOUSE SALOON, LAS VEGAS, NV
APR 06 MOE’S, ENGLEWOOD, CO
APR 07 REVERB LOUNGE, OMAHA, NE
APR 08 FIRST AVENUE AND 7TH STREET ENTRY, MINNEAPOLIS, MN
APR 09 LINCOLN HALL, CHICAGO, IL
APR 10 CLUB CAFE, PITTSBURGH, PA

This entry was posted in TVD New York City. Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.
  • SUPPORTING YOUR LOCAL INDIE SHOPS SINCE 2007


  • Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text
  • Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text Alternative Text