GELBISON FRONT MAN EDO KAHN AND SYDNEY ELECTRONIC PRODUCER SOLON COLLABORATE TO BRING TO LIFE POSTHUMOUS SINGLE ‘THE JEWEL’ BY EDO’S LATE WIFE VAANI
All proceeds from the track go to the charity
‘A Sound Life’ which Edo & VAANI founded
In January 2015, VAANI was working on a debut album of songs which integrated her singer/songwriter talent with her spirituality. In the course of touring the conscious-living festival circuit, she crossed paths with English electronic musician SOLON, who was DJing and curating yoga events on the East coast. Together they collaborated to finish and release VAANI’s debut single ‘The First Ray’. Less than nine months later, she tragically passed away from cancer, leaving a treasure trove of unfinished songs in the memory bytes of her laptop.
Before he left for India to process the loss, her husband Edo shared some of VAANI’s unfinished tracks with SOLON , who picked up the rough-hewn draft that was ‘The Jewel’ and turned it into the track that’s just been released: a song of lush organic instrumentation, a bed of sampled beats, a celebratory vibe and above all VAANI’s voice radiating from front and centre.
“VAANI’s message in the song is simple”, says SOLON. “At the heart of all of us lies something unique, something special, something that each of us has to share. Life is about finding it and realising it. Jo embodied this approach to life. She spent her last six years sharing what she had to share – with no doubt, no hesitation – just full commitment. “The Jewel” captures that spirit in which she lived. She was and continues to be an inspiration.”
Jo (VAANI) & Edo
Talking to 301, Matt Singmin (A.k.a. SOLON) shared his involvement in this amazing project.
Tell us the story behind ‘The Jewel’
Early in 2015 I worked with singer-songwriter called Jo Mall-Kahn (a.k.a. VAANI) to produce an electronic remix of her debut release ‘The First Ray’ – turning what was an acoustic ballad with a Norah Jones style, into a darker/sparser neo-soul track inspired by Portishead / James Blake / Nicolas Jaar.
Tragically a few months later she was diagnosed with cancer, and within 2-3 months she’d passed away. It was a real shock to everyone – she was young and living super healthy, and also devoting her life to helping others through the charity that she co-founded ‘A Sound Life’. It was just one of those things that doesn’t make any kind of sense.
After the funeral, Jo’s husband Edo (lead singer of Gelbison) left me with the files for some of her unfinished tracks, one of which was the rough cut of ‘The Jewel’. When I heard it, I instantly knew that it was a magic song and that I could do something with it and help bring it to life. So while Edo spent a few months in India processing the loss of his wife, I got to work remixing the track and by the time he got back we had a version of the track ready for final tweaks.
Edo Kahn and SOLON working to bring “The Jewel” to life
How does the original mix of ‘The Jewel’ compare with the remix you worked on?
The original mix had a more of a world music vibe – lots of Indian / ethnic style drums and densely packed with organic instrumentation. The first step I took was to strip all the instrumentation back so that Jo’s vocal could have more space to come through. The only instruments which remained from the original mix were the harp and piano, but I ended up re-recording the piano to make it better fit with the new online mix. The original arrangement was longer with extended choruses to reflect the way in which Edo & Jo would perform live, with the call and response sections that are the hallmark of devotional music (a.k.a. kirtan). I cut these back to give the track a more traditional song structure and to ensure that every section of the song kept pulling the listener in. In terms of the sound, a strong influence was a track called ‘Sapphire’ by Bonobo from his latest album ‘The North Borders’ – solid and snappy beats, a tight groove, delicate organic instrumentation and the way that every sound has its own place, were all things that were inspired by ‘Sapphire’ and that I worked to bring to the ‘The Jewel’ remix.
How did you go mastering with Ben Feggans?
It was a fantastic session. I always prefer to attend mastering sessions and have an input into the final eq, compression and loudness decisions. Ben is really receptive to feedback and takes the time to understand the vision for the track. We spent a lot of time listening to two reference tracks – ‘Sapphire’ by Bonobo and an early Coldplay track called ‘Warning Sign’. I talked about the elements of those tracks that I was inspired by and looking to capture – and he totally got what I was after.
He enhanced the low end with the API EQ and added some top end sheen with the Sontec. The Knif Pure-Mu took care of compression and tucked the kick drum under the rest of the track – solid and thick but not detracting from the rest of the instrumentation. One of the most surprising aspects to the session was the impact that the Analog to Digital converters had on the track. We listened to two options: the Prism AD2 and the Lavry Gold. I was shocked at how much of a difference there was. While I have no doubt that Prism is extremely accurate, the Lavry Gold sounded deeper, had better separation and gave the track the kind of sound that you hear on so many world-class records – a kind of high-end richness. I was really happy with the results.
A Sound Life sounds like a fantastic organisation with some high profile supporters in the music industry – tell us more.
All proceeds from ‘The Jewel’ are going to A Sound Life, the charity set up by Edo and Jo to help bring music and yoga to those in need (e.g. people in hospitals, aged-care, mental health and disability facilities). We managed to raise over $4000 in the first week from “donations for download” which was really encouraging for the charity as well as for the music.
The organisation has managed to create a wonderful community of musicians and yoga teachers, and with Edo’s network through his past life in Gelbison, a number of fairly high profile muso’s have come on board – Sally Seltman was at Sydney Children’s Hospital last week with Edo, and Ben Lee has been volunteering for them for some time now. If you are a musican and want to make the day of somebody less fortunate than you by just turning up and doing what you do, check out http://asoundlife.org/give/
The Jewel (SOLON Remix) is out now and available to download at: