It’s a rare producer who develops a style so unique and interesting that he’s recognized by – and his music is recognizable to – your run-of-the-mill music listener. It’s a rarer producer still who is so capable an instrumentalist that the distinction between making and mixing breaks down completely. There’s no better example of this unusual breed than Danger Mouse (aka Brian Burton), the Grammy-nominated producer and Gnarls Barkley founder, who recently released an album with The Shins’ frontman James Mercer, himself known primarily as a songwriter.
So what was their approach to the creative process? As fluid and informal as can be, Mr. Mouse explained in a March NPR interview. Instead of getting carried away by technological bells and whistles, the duo, who call themselves Broken Bells, focused on crafting songs driven by an anything-goes attitude, with “anybody jumping on any instrument” and “no formal way of doing things.” Mercer, shattering a questioner’s assumption that he brought in complete songs for electronic treatment, echoed Burton’s description of every sound on the record as the child of a spontaneous, collaborative studio environment. When it comes to songwriting, that kind of real-time exchange of ideas between two artists is tried and true: we owe A Little Help from My Friends – and undoubtedly numerous other Beatles classics – to the method.
Here’s Broken Bells playing an acoustic version of The High Road, their first single. Ever seen a Mouse play drums?
[…] love/Most of all.” The song was written in collaboration with the one and only Danger Mouse (featured previously on The Acoustic Version with Broken Bells), which makes perfect sense. His influence is apparent in both the composition and the […]