I think people’s jaws would have dropped

dmc
©David McConnell

“I think people’s jaws would have dropped…. They’d think he was even more profound than they realized, because artistically, the direction that he was going in, he would have definitely had the next White Album, and it would have been the most talked-about thing this year, musically. It would have just been this combination of this insane experimentation with beautiful song structure, everything that’s beautiful about him, mixed with this insane kind of drug-induced, emotionally charged …

There was something else coming out of him on that record, coming from deep inside, something that I don’t witness when I work with most artists. It was definitely magical; it was scary – it was all those emotions in one.”

Describing Smith as an “equipment junkie,” McConnell says the songwriter was searching for a new sonic approach, inspired by the warm tones of ’60s and ’70s albums, and experimented with degrading the sound to make the songs “more human, less robotic.” The pair would regularly record through devices like baby monitor microphones and detune the guitars. He says one drunken experiment of sampling a toy ostrich wound up on the final album. “We forgot about it, and then it ended up on the record!” he says with a laugh. “We just meant it as a joke.”

Nonetheless, the easygoing, quick-to-chuckle McConnell is far from bitter, lightly repeating a recent quip on the final mix delivered by his girlfriend, ’80s new wave vocalist Josie Cotton: “She said, ‘It’s kind of like taking a van Gogh painting and touching up sky because it looks a little off.’ ”

David McConnell

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