West coast band "on dolphin" has just released their debut album "Layers". Drawing on multiple creative writing environments, the ensemble has a nice polished collection of songs that are nicely produced with lush vocals and catchy instrumentation. Singer Melissa Lyn states "Drummer and producer Ryan Clark has a great ear for what works". This is apparent on Layers because the album flows as smooth as the San Francisco bay on a calm day. The tracks were recorded at their home studio as well as Hyde Street Studios, where classic albums from Creedence, CSNY, and The Grateful Dead were created. Melissa explains that "San Francisco has many resources for growing musicians, and a great community of friends who all support each other. Layers also came out on limited edition vinyl. I asked Melissa Lyn about the process of making the album.
R.V.B. - Congratulations on your new album Release "Layers". Apart from the wonderful layered harmonies and instruments of the CD... What's behind the title?
M.L. - The theme of Layers has been front and center since coming to San Francisco, layers from my past buried under layers of new experiences, layers of clothes required to get through a foggy summer, and peeling away layers of expectations to get to layers of truth.
R.V.B. - In the opening track "More Good Days", the lyrics state that you need to see, feel and be everything. It's a great attitude. Do you have a constant yearning for exploration?
M.L. - More Good Days is partly about exploring, making new paths, driving down a road you’ve never been down before… it’s also about being in the moment wherever you are and feeling a connection to what’s around you.
R.V.B. - Track 9 "Slowdown" features wonderful fingerpicking and soothing instrumental nuances... does everyone need to slow down and enjoy one thing at a time?
R.V.B. - On "Worth the Drive" I noticed beautiful instrumental arpeggio's. Tell me a little bit about the production work that went into making this collection of songs.
M.L. - Ryan Clark is the drummer for on dolphin, he also produced and recorded our debut album LAYERS. He’s got a great ear for what works, what doesn’t and how to highlight a song’s best features. He created the arpeggio bass line for Worth the Drive late at night, and recorded it as a demo so he wouldn’t forget the part before going to sleep… after hearing it the next day we decided to keep it on the record.
Scott McDowell engineered the drums at Hyde Street Studio C (the same room many classic rock albums were made. CCR -cosmos factory, Grateful Dead -american beauty, and part of CSNY -deja vu to name a few).
Everything else was recorded in our home studio in San Francisco. On Worth The Drive we have acoustic and electric guitars, xylophone, bass, violin, cello, keyboards and layers of vocals. Once tracking was finished we headed to Buzzbomb Sound Labs where Paul Miner mixed the album. Shelly Steffens mastered the album before sending it off to Pirates Press to package the vinyl.
We were honored to work with many talented friends to create the additional layers. Ryan really connected with each musician to get the right sound and feel out of their instrument.
R.V.B. - Visiting New York is always a lot of fun and can be a little overwhelming with all the things you can do and see. I get the feeling in this song that it's hard to leave the excitement and go back home. Was this true for you?
M.L. - New York is literally about being stuck in an airport. Maybe that takes away from the romance...
R.V.B. - Can you tell me about some of the band members and how they helped on this project?
M.L. - Anderai and Nathan joined the band this summer. The songs continue to evolve and adapt for live performances and we are working together on new songs for the next album.
R.V.B. - How do you enjoy the musical vibe of the San Francisco area?
M.L. - San Francisco has many resources for growing musicians, and a great community of friends who all support each other. it’s a pretty small town in that way.
R.V.B. - I read in your bio that some of the songs were born in a barn and others in a more cramped space. Did the different environments create a different outcome in the writing process of a song?
R.V.B. - Did anything come from your trip to Africa that may have made it into your music?
M.L. - Worth the Drive and Layers both started as poems written on a bus while driving across Tanzania. I spent a lot of time on the road there, lots of time to appreciate the journey across a new continent, and the journey in and out of my head.
R.V.B. - What are some of your live performances that stick out for you?
M.L. - We just played our album release show at Neck of the Woods in San Francisco in July. The energy there was great. We shared the bill with a few of our favorite local bands; SEED LING and Mayya & The Revolutionary Hell Yeah! as well as Valley Queen who were touring from LA. The room was filled with friends, we all had a good time.
R.V.B. - How did you get involved in music in the beginning? Was there any event or influence that drove you into music?
M.L. - My dad plays guitar, and I spent a lot of time singing in the car on road trips with my grandparents. I played many instruments in the school band before buying my uncle’s sparkly red Epiphone electric guitar. I played with friends in high school and then set it down for a while. Later I picked up a nylon string acoustic and started writing. When I moved to San Francisco, the community here encouraged me to get out and play.
R.V.B. - What are your plans to support the album?
M.L. - We are playing shows around the bay area and putting together a California tour in the fall, we also have a music video coming out soon.
R.V.B. - What is behind the band name "On Dolphin"?
M.L. - We came up with the band name by accident, it certainly wasn’t on porpoise...
Thank you for listening!
Interview conducted by Robert von Bernewitz
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For more information on - on Dolphin visit their website www.ondolphin.com
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