Where The Fence Is The Highest
Something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue. People say you’ll need these four things to have a great wedding and a successful marriage. I’d argue it’s more than that – to us, they were four facets of our latest recording, “Where The Fence Is The Highest” by Danish jazz guitarist Teis Semey.
“Where The Fence Is The Highest” comes from a Danish proverb that one should never take the easy route if they want to achieve anything. The best things come from taking the high road and actively working on getting the best.
“Seeing how important it is for artists to record in an environment they can connect with (…)”
Our something old was the beautiful MCO Studio 2 in Hilversum, The Netherlands. Built in 1929, the Muziek Centrum voor de Omroep has seen the greatest and most legendary jazz artists in
history. It was recently completely renovated, but the great vibe that existed back then is still there in abundance. The acoustics of the studio were perfect for the album, not too roomy but with a nice, lush reverb to it due to the high ceiling. Seeing how important it is for artists to record in an environment they can connect with, MCO Studio 2 was the obvious choice for this album.
The two jazz ensembles, one for each suite, were the “something new” – a new generation of great artists, all outstanding in their field. Japan Suite, for example, a more lyrical suite inspired by Hokusai wood block paintings, was written for and recorded with Teis himself (guitar), Fuensanta Méndez (vocals), Xavi Torres (piano), Niccolo Ricci (tenor sax), Jort Terwijn (double bass), and Guy Salamon (drums). The other suite, titled Armed To The Teeth, was written for and recorded with Teis himself, Mo van der Does (alto sax), Alistair Payne (trumpet), Jort Terwijn (double bass), and Sun-Mi Hong (drums). These are, I’d argue, currently the jazz legends of a new generation.
Then the “something borrowed”. We wanted to combine our ultra-modern, very high-end transparent microphones and preamplifiers with vintage legendary microphones or reissues of them, such as the Neumann U67 and M149 or the vintage ribbon mic on the guitar amplifier, all of which we borrowed from a fellow audio engineer (thanks, Frans de Rond!). Teis was also able to arrange for an amazing vintage Fender amplifier to accompany his Gibson hollowbody guitar. It was a phenomenal experience to combine these amazing pieces of vintage equipment with our modern technologies and high-end equipment.
“(…) these raw, blues-rock influences shine through in both his music and the sound.”
Our “something blue” is rather “something blues” however. Teis Semey, having picked up the guitar at a very early age, listened to and was inspired by a lot of blues music. In an interview he told he started working at a café that had blues jam sessions every now and then, and that he felt inspired by this genre and the freedom it brings. You can hear it especially clearly on the Armed to the Teeth suite, where these raw, blues-rock influences shine through in both his music and the sound.
And there you have it. Something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue. The key ingredients to not just a great wedding and good fortune for a marriage, but to us most of all the perfect marriage between a great recording venue, amazing musicians, and vintage and modern technology. All of that with a healthy dose of the blues.