One would think that of all the long-distance collaborations you could do, working with someone who's in space would rank up there as one of the most difficult.
Not so, says Barenaked Ladies' Ed Robertson, who wrote the song "I.S.S. (Is Somebody Singing)" with astronaut Chris Hadfield, which will premiere on Feb. 8.
"We actually communicate all the time," says the singer.
In the video clip above, Hadfield talks about how working with Robertson, and working in the music studio in general, is not much different than working on the International Space Station.
And below you can read on as Robertson talks about what it was like working with Canada's most connected cosmonaut.
The technology of today has made this collaboration seem like I'm working with someone who's in L.A., honestly. We email stuff back and forth, I'm sending ideas to him, he’s sending me his thoughts on them.
It’s actually really bizarre. We’ll get off on some other tangents, like I bought an old truck and he was telling me his dad restores old trucks and has just completed a beautiful restoration of a 100-year-old Model A Ford. It’s gorgeous. He sent me the photo, and I was like, "You just emailed a photo of a 100-year-old truck in a hangar in Milton, Ont., but you sent it to me from space!"
As far as the music goes, Chris has been doing his vocal parts and sending them down to me, and the producer has been mixing them into the rough demo we have. I've been sculpting my harmony and counter-melody ideas, so now I can scratch a version and send it right back up and ask him what he thinks. It’s really quite amazing.
Although, sometimes the two don't always see eye-to-eye, as was the case with the rather wordy chorus.
"He made a lyrical suggestion and tried it out in one of the passes," says Robertson. "We listened to them side by side, but ultimately we went with the one we liked. It’s a line in the chorus that I wrote, 'If you could see our nation from the international space station.' Chris always felt that it was a real mouthful, and it is a real mouthful, but that’s what’s cool about it.
"His alternate was 'From way up here on this space station.' So I said, you just sung the exact same number of syllables and haven't changed the meaning of it. You just didn’t say International Space Station, which is this awesome place where you actually are, so I really want you to sing that line."
In the end, Hadfield went with Robertson's advice and stuck to the original line. Although when it comes time for the astronaut to put an official name on the full album he's working on while in space, we're not so sure he'll go for Robertson's suggested title: "How about, Turns Out in Space Lots of People Can Hear You Scream?"
Ed Robertson takes us behind the writing of 'I.S.S. (Is Somebody Singing)'
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From Rush to Leonard Cohen, Chris Hadfield talks musical influences
on Feb 06, 2013