Gear Talks: Sløtface

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Gear Talks: Sløtface

Words by Lewis Noke Edwards

The internet has inspired some otherwise impossible collaborations, including this one between an Australian rock band and some Norwegian punks.

Sløtface, formerly known as, and still pronounced as Slutface, is a Norwegian rock band with a taste for punk influenced riffs and melodies. Vocalist Haley recently teamed up with Australian band The Buoys, co-writing the single “Fight Back Time” over Zoom.

We had the chance to chat to Haley Shea about the writing process, and using technology to facilitate it all while being on opposite continents!

Read up on all the latest features and columns here.

Haley, congratulations on the release of “Fight Back Time”. How did writing begin for this one?

Hey thanks! “Fight Back Time” time started with me, Paul Whalley and Michael Champion at Tileyard in London. It was my first time writing with those two, and as a big fan of a lot of their work I was pretty nervous and excited to get to work with them, but was worried I wouldn’t be able to bring my A-game as we had a pretty late show the night before.

Luckily things went so smoothly and they were so chill and sweet. We started off listening to some references where HAIM and Maggie Rogers and Fleetwood Mac were big ones for me going into that session, and I really wanted to write a song that was as immediate and fun as Maggie Rogers’ “That’s Where I Am” where I was especially obsessed with the chopped intro.

Michael started riffing on a bass line with a bass plugged right into Paul’s interface, and then the sampled intro came pretty quickly after that with a sampler Paul had been playing with lately. A good example of how whatever gear you happen to be excited about at that moment in time will end up being a big part of whatever you’re working on. We had the whole rough demo, minus the bridge in maybe 4 hours and it just felt super easy and free. 

What made The Buoys the right choice for this collaboration?

I knew I wanted to team up with an Australian band/artist for this release as there’s always so much good stuff going on in the music scene here that I love. The Buoys got suggested and sent to me in an e-mail and I was instantly smitten with their sound and energy. I also loved the idea of doing a collaboration between two bands as I heard the chorus being really big and layered with different voices, and I thought both bands could meld their sounds in a cool way in the instrumental.

How do you think working via Zoom affected the overall outcome?

I think using Zoom and having to make the song in such different places all over the world made the track feel really spontaneous, easy and surprisingly organic. Zoe and I first met up to hash out the last lyrics after The Buoys had added a bridge and recorded some more guitar ideas, programmed some more MIDI drums and sent the ideas over, then we picked out our favorite bits of the new ideas with Paul.

We used [Microsoft] OneNote to add notes, thoughts and edit ideas which was such a game changer when we were working through such different time zones. I am in love it OneNote now as it lets you timecode feedback, A/B listen to different versions and chat with everyone else working on a track. Highly recommend for anyone working with people internationally! I also think the fact that we were all kind of left to work on our own bits before showing it to each other let us all add our own tastes into the song.

How were parts produced, recorded and finished while living on other sides of the planet?

We kept a lot of stuff in from the original demo that had some drum samples, synth, guitar, bass and stacks of vocals in it. All pretty quickly and straightforwardly recorded with Paul being the mastermind of the sounds and plug in choices.

After that Zoe and The Buoys recorded more guitar ideas, programmed some MIDI drums and added bass as well as some rough vocals, especially focusing on adding a bridge. After that Paul edited our favorite ideas together from this and we had our kind of V2 of the demo. Next Nils, Sløtface’s drummer, recorded the live drums himself in our rehearsal space in Oslo using the mic set up we’ve been using lately where we try to get a bunch of different room elements that we may or may not use. A Golden Age mic for room, as well as some really fancy Coles courtesy of our guitarist Simen. Paul edited the drums into the track with some options from Nils, and Zoe and I recorded our own vocals with all the dubs and harmonies separately in our own home studios.

I used a really simple SSL interface and I record vocals in Ableton Live with just a really simple compression and EQ chain on it to leave things as open as possible for Paul to process, and Zoe uses Logic. Finally we all got together on Zoom to try to pare things down as we had a pile of elements, and worked on finalizing the production and mix (Paul did both) via Zoom, just sharing sound there which always leads to some technical challenges, and then OneNote to finish the track.

Did working remotely present any unique challenges? Why? Why not?

I think the only weird part was the big time differences, and my feeling that the track would kind of leap ahead without the same amount of time passing as I’m used to. I’m so used to sitting in a room with a producer having all the elements in the track in a project in front of me and being able to zoom in and out of everything, and since I was really only working on my vocal sections with a big bounce of the tracks and some of Zoe’s vocals it was weird not to be able to have a full overview of all the elements going on. I think it helped us make intuitive decisions though, and Paul was amazing at making all the different files from all the different places work really well together.

Thanks for your time! As a closer have you got any funny stories you can share about the making of “Fight Back Time”?

We did have a little bit of a struggly Zoom session when Paul and Zoe and I were trying to put finishing touches on the production. We started off strong by getting the three time zones confused – easy to do, and then spent a good chunk of time doing the “can you hear this now?” thing with Logic via Zoom. I also know Zoe had a hard time tracking her own vocals while holding a blanket over her head to improve the acoustics in her living room and I was camped out on the floor of my closet sweating and in a mess of cables recording my vocals. But all in all I think the process was surprisingly smooth considering we had so many different sources, files, DAWs and people involved, most of that is to Paul’s credit.

Keep up with Sløtface here.