They were looking back at some of the same records Raphael was inspired by—Howlin’ Wolf and Sly, and all that—and taking elements from them and using them in different ways.
So I was trying to push Raphael to be a little more gritty with guitars and use a little more distortion.” “Heart Attack” is one of several songs on that feature Saadiq playing nearly all of the instruments.
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Of course the easy thing for an artist who is clearly cresting and in-demand—when I interviewed him a few days after the Clift event, our conversation was interrupted by a call from Mick Jagger!
—would be to offer audiences more of the same sound they love.
But on , Saadiq has moved away from the hard-core Motown sound and embraced a whole new set of influences, like the ones mentioned above, and also the more expansive orchestral sound of post-Detroit Motown recordings and the great Philadelphia soul records of the ’70s.
It’s a more eclectic album all the way around, but in the scope of Saadiq’s whole career, just another synthesis of his roots and current fascinations.
Originally from Modesto, in California’s Central Valley, Brungardt got a degree in computer science from the University of San Francisco but fell into the recording world.
Working at a software company by day, he also interned at Moulton Studios in San Francisco for a period and eventually “caught the ear of the producers Jake and the Phatman [Glenn Standridge and Bobby Ozuma], and they worked with Raphael a lot,” Brungardt explains. It was right when he finished the album [in 2004].” Brungardt interned at Saadiq’s Blakeslee Studio in North Hollywood and learned more about engineering there from Standridge and Danny Romero. You have to have the tools you need.” “Before we did Joss’ album,” Brungardt notes, “we are already playing with doing Raphael’s like samples; maybe we’ll put drum machine programming over it.
The process of layering to a create a basic track can be quite fast—literally just a few minutes per part—or take several hours.
More complicated parts and solos generally take more time and involve greater experimentation.
“I ended up working with them for six months to a year, and eventually, when I graduated college, those guys were in L. When Standridge moved in to more of a business role in his partnership with Ozuma (who was mainly a writer/producer), Brungardt started engineering more, and by 2007 Saadiq had brought him onboard to help engineer and mix the album, which Saadiq produced. Because real players are more interesting and dynamic than an 8-bar or 16-bar loop.
(Saadiq has a long production history, too, having presided over his own albums since The Tonys, and helming tracks by The Roots, Mary J. After we’d worked on Joss’ album and we got back to Raphael’s, we wanted to take it in an ‘older’ direction, it became almost like a bet with some of the guys who were saying, ‘You can’t really re-create this old-sounding stuff because the power-flow back then was different, or the way this worked or that worked was different.’ So Raphael and I just locked ourselves in the studio and tried , from bouncing tracks to a cassette tape to get that noise—trying get it to sound dirty and old—to distorting vocals in various ways, because they didn’t have the compressors that we have now; they had slower attacks. We had Motown books and we’d see pictures of the guys in the studio and how their drums were set up, how the mics were placed.
On this one, I wanted to play around with some of the more solid-state gear, like using some Neve pre’s and EQs [1037s and 1272s] and some Scully pre’s.