You get what you pay for, and that old cliché certainly applies when it comes to hiring musicians for a recording project.
Chloe Temtchine made an entire album with musicians who worked on the cheap, and the New York-based singer/multi-instrumentalist ended up with what she describes as “terrible stuff.”
“A lot of these [players] were recommendations,” she says. “I [eventually] realized the chain of the recommendations is important. When it starts with somebody who is not as great as can be, then any recommendation coming from him tends to be on the same level. It was this cycle of finding people at a certain level who were so nice to even do this for almost nothing, but it led to nothing.”
Temtchine remembers working with a drummer who was excellent in a live setting but not so hot in the studio.
“That’s when I learned that live performers and studio performers are so different,” she recalls. “We would sit there and I’d think, ‘OK, let him get warmed up.’ And the next thing you know, we’ve lost a day.”
With better quality musicians, Temtchine re-recorded what is her solo debut disc, Between Day & Dream, due Sept. 15. The lessons she learned in making her eclectic album turned out to be a nice addition to her education from Boston’s Berklee College of Music.
“I went there as a singer, a piano player and a guitar player, but I thought, ‘Let me go to this place and learn everything I don’t know to do,’ ” she says. “So I took business courses, I took percussion courses – I took the most random courses I could possibly concoct.”
During her two years at Berklee, she spent a lot of time writing songs and learning how to read music.
“I felt I had to be able to communicate with other musicians and not feel like an idiot when I’m doing these gigs and I’m saying, ‘OK, now play that a little up more,’ ” Temtchine says. “I wanted to be able to say, ‘A flat,’ and write out my charts. So that was a huge goal of mine – to learn the language of music.”
Even after formal training, Temtchine says her natural musical ability and interests that were influenced by her parents’ diverse cultural backgrounds and a wayward period in her early teens haven’t faded away.
“I don’t really believe that you can get rid of whatever it is that’s in you that is the driving force,” she says. “If you fear that, you limit yourself to the possibility of learning. All this stuff is going to feed you, and you can either choose to reject it or not. The learning of anything I never believe reduces the creativity in you.”
Speaking of creativity, catch Temtchine around Manhattan in the coming weeks as she performs on the back of a flatbed pickup as part of her “Where in the Truck is Chloe?” tour.
— By Chris M. Junior
Chloe Temtchine on tour (schedule subject to change):
* Aug. 29: Seventh Avenue between 48th and 49th streets – New York
* Aug. 30: Broadway between 16th and 17th streets – New York
* Sept. 5: Seventh Avenue between 48th and 49th streets – New York
* Sept. 6: Broadway between 16th and 17th streets – New York
* Sept.12: Seventh Avenue between 48th and 49th streets – New York
* Sept. 13: Broadway between 16th and 17th streets – New York
* Sept. 14: The Bitter End – New York
Photo by Laura Crosta