Sound Session: Talking to the collaborators of D-Tension’s ‘Secret Project,’ out this Saturday @ Middle East

 
 

After nearly a decade in the plotting, scheming, and finally, making, D-Tension’s Secret Project is finally seeing the light of day. The longtime Massachusetts music producer first approached Aaron Perrino of the Sheila Divine about eight years ago if he wanted to collaborate on a track that was less about D-Tension’s usual hip-hop vein and more in line with electronic dance music.

From there, the seed was planted — D-Tension would work with a handful of singers and musicians to create a full album of collaborations. “I wanted to work with singers that I am a fan of,” D-Tension told us back when the album was announced in October. “From there I sent them music that I thought wold fit their style. I asked lots of people, some said yes. It took a year and a half to get the songs done because of scheduling and timing. Plus they had to write the lyrics and melody to my music which was very challenging. I actually wrote some of the songs for them.”

Now the Secret Project is ready for public consumption, and is released this Saturday night at the Middle East in Cambridge. Perrino, as well as Jason Dunn of The Luxury, Liz Enthusiasm of Freezepop, Alex Stern of the Sterns and Big D & The Kids Table, Frank Morey, Jen Kearney, and others will join D-Tension on stage. Also on the bill are Drab, Parlour Bells, and Streight Angular. It’s co-presented by us here at Vanyaland and our sister site, Do617.com.

We reached out to a few of the Secret Project players to get their take on working with D-Tension, who else they’d like to collaborate with one day, and what’s coming up next. Dig in…

Aaron Perrino, the Sheila Divine, Dear Leader

What was it like working with D-Tension?
It was pretty easy really. I’ve known him for while from working with ‘FNX so much in the past. He always asked if I would sing on a track and after a while he sent me a few. After I procrastinated for a month or two I picked one and that was that.

Who would you love to collaborate with in the future?
Locally I’d love to do something with Andre Obin or Marissa Nadler.

Who would you have loved to collaborate with before they died?
Blind Lemon Jefferson or Skip James.

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Alex Stern, The Pomps, Big D & the Kids Table

What was it like working with D-Tension?
It was very easy; I never had to see him or hear his voice. I just delivered lots of audio files of me doing whatever I wanted.

Who would you like to collaborate with in the future?
Morrissey and Johnny Marr. I can replace Craig Gannon. (YOU BLEW IT CRAIG!!!)

Who would you have loved to collaborate with before he or she died?
Joe Strummer.

Alex Stern is currently working on his debut four-song solo EP.



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Ad Frank, Ad Frank & the Fast Easy Women

What was it like working with D-Tension?
D was really persistent, which was good because I had no idea how to approach the project. He just sent me a track with no clear verse chorus bridge pattern. It sounded cool but how to you make a song out of that, especially since the track was a done deal — no opportunity to splice it up and make it fit whatever I came up with. But he kept after me and finally I listened to it enough times that the title came and the rhyme scheme just sort of emerged. The rest was easy.

During the recording he was super easy to work with. Probably too easy — he should have cracked the whip and beat some of those flat notes out of me. No, honestly. It was a lot of fun. Kerri-Ann [Richard, of Apple Betty] was there finishing her track and the three of us went through a large-ish bottle of Jack Daniels and have been friends ever since.

Who would you love to collaborate with in the future?
On a realistic level, I am hoping to do something with Valerie Forgione (ex-Mistle Thrush) someday. Also, hoping to collaborate with Chris Ewen on a song. Also also, D has been talking about doing some more stuff, which sounds great. If that happens, I’d love to get Jen Kearney involved. Her track on the record is amazing. On a less realistic level, if Ivo Watts-Russell ever decides to do another This Mortal Coil Record, I want in on that.

Who would you have loved to collaborate with before he or she died?
For dead people, I would have loved to have had Tony Thompson and Bernard Edwards as my rhythm section on album.

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Liz Enthusiasm, Freezepop

What was it like working with D-Tension?
The whole recording process was really easy. Honestly, the most difficult part of the whole project was being an extra in the “Can You Stand It” video, which involved hanging around in a freezing, dirty basement in men’s underwear. But we got pizza, so hey.

Who would you love to collaborate with in the future?
Giorgio Moroder, but I’d imagine that he’s “kinda busy” after the whole Daft Punk thing.

Who would you have loved to collaborate with before he or she died?
Andy Warhol would have been pretty exciting.

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Jason Dunn, the Luxury

What was it like working with D-Tension?
Easiest collaboration ever. Dee sent me a bunch of mixes of instrumental tracks he had been working on and asked me if I’d like to write and sing a song over any of them. I didn’t know what to expect, but one of them was dark and electro and perfectly suited a whole year’s worth of anger I needed to vent, so I said yes. I have a studio as well, so it was easy to put bits and pieces together and really expand the song as much as I could with just my voice. Two years later, I’m a different man with far less in the way of vitriol to spit out, so… he may have caught me at a good time?

Who would you love to collaborate with in the future?
So many people that I’ll probably never meet. I’d love to write an anthem with Noel Gallagher, stack some harmonies with Glen Phillips, smoke some hash and space-jam with Richard Ashcroft, or just collaborate over a big bottle ‘o’ red with Derek Dick, or Fish as he’s called. Actually I have met a couple of those guys now that I think about it. Didn’t record it though.

Who would you have loved to collaborate with before he or she died?
Phil Collins.

The Luxury are releasing their third record, and first in five years, later this year. “It’s huge and immersing, and if we were a more interesting demographic I’m sure we’d be thousandaires because of it,” says Dunn.

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Jen Kearney, Jen Kearney & the Lost Onion

What was it like working with D-Tension?
It’s always great to work with D-Tension. We’ve been friends for a long time and he was part of the first recording project I ever did when I moved to Lowell for college. Over the years, we’ve collaborated on each other’s music many times, so it just felt like second nature.

Who would you love to collaborate with in the future?
Man… so many people. I love collaborating, especially on music that’s out of the norm for both collaborators. I’m sure I’ll be working with more Boston area people in the future, but as for musical icons, I’d say Prince, David Bowie, Radiohead, Carol King, Nikka Costa, Bjork, Q-Tip, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott.

Who would you have loved to collaborate with before he or she died?
Again… I don’t know if you’re looking for musical icons, but if so: Freddy Mercury, Otis Redding, Donny Hathaway, Jeff Buckley, Elliott Smith, Eddie Palmieri, J Dilla.

Jen Kearney has a new record coming out this spring, with the release party May 23 @ Church in Boston

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