Made Out Of Babies: Interview With Julie Xmas And Brendan Tobin

I guess I could see it, the other CDs now sound punky, compared to this.

Julie: Yeah I think that’s probably right.

Did you spend a lot of time on vocal takes?

Julie: No, I don’t think so. Some of the vocal takes are first run, but there was just more to do. It wasn’t that they took me any longer it’s just that, but yeah I just had more work to do. Occasionally there were twice as many, but some of them I just worked on with Brendan alone, and then we would bring them into the recording as they were, so some of it we didn’t do during the recording or Brendan and I did it separately. They probably would have taken as much time comparatively. We’ve also gotten better, faster at doing things.

Four months better?

Julie: Four months better.

Brendan: Next one’s six months.

Julie: It is thirteen weeks better than the last album.

Why isn’t that a pitch?

Julie: Isn’t that already a movie? That’s already a movie. You can’t use that. Somebody will take that as their band name.

I only say because the vocals sound as immediate, they don’t sound particularly doled over beyond the fact that they’re sometimes doubled or tripled.

Julie: Yeah. Even if they’re doubled or tripled they’re still relatively unaffected vocal lines sung by the same singer. There’s only one point in the album where we use a really audible pitch shift. There’s not too much of that happening. Even if there’s a bunch of different vocal lines thrown together, it’s just a way of treating my voice the way the boys treat their instruments.

That’s the first track ‘Cooker?’

Julie: Yeah, that’s the only affected vocal line I think. The one where it sounds like the guy in Silence Of The Lambs in the beginning. And I think in the last song there’s echo on the vocal line that trails out. And there’s some compression in the second song ‘Grimace’ there’s one breakdown where we used a different mic and it was compressed, but there wasn’t too much of that happening.

Brendan: He doesn’t even like to use reverb, if he wants reverb on a vocal he’ll just set up a separate mic far away in the room and he’ll use that as the principal mic, and fade in a little bit of the one he’s singing into. He just wants the real sound of things.

Julie: I’m starting to also feel that same way. It’s something where singers make the mistake of feeling like adding too much to help their singing, but it doesn’t really, it just takes away. It just makes them sound like everybody else. I’m also starting to mirror that feeling in things, where sometimes it’s great, but it’s only great when it adds some kind of atmosphere to the music that’s already there. It shouldn’t be something that covers up for your inadequacy.

I remember when I saw you at a Khanate show, you were talking with me, criticizing the singer. Not to his face, but…

Julie: Oh, I criticized him to his face.


Julie: Oh, totally!

I remembered you walked over to talk to him, but I was just figuring you were going to go, ‘That was good!’

Julie: No, we know each other. I was criticizing him but I also remember, one of my biggest problems with him, and with any frontperson, is when they don’t look at the audience, I don’t really like it. I tend to be a stickler about the performance of the singer.

I don’t remember, I guess he wasn’t.

Julie: No, he stands to the side, looks off into the distance. It’s what most people do. It seems like a natural instinct for most people to not engage. He does have an interesting voice, I would be interested to see what he does with it. I heard some new stuff that they did when I was in Europe last, when I was at Conspiracy Records not too long ago, and I thought it was kind of cool.

Well, this is a good interview about Khanate we’re having.

Julie: (laughs)