NPR logo First Watch: John Vanderslice, 'Overcoat'

First Watch: John Vanderslice, 'Overcoat'

John Vanderslice's latest album, White Wilderness, was an ambitious undertaking. For starters, the entire record was captured live in two days at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, Calif. He also made it the most richly orchestrated album of his career, with help from a collective of classically trained musicians called the Magik*Magik Orchestra. The group is led by director Mina Choi.

Our video premiere is for a track called "Overcoat," from White Wilderness. Here's what Vanderslice has to say about the gorgeous, black-and-white shoot:

We recorded the entire record in two days, and the nerve-wracking thing for me is that I hadn't heard Mina's arrangement until two days before the recording. For me, "Overcoat" was the most transformed of all of the demos — the phrasing, the structure, the tempo. I had given Mina 100 percent power in making those decisions. I was in a room of classically trained musicians; those people have been playing their instruments from the time they were 3. A rock musician isn't as flexible or puncturable with a completely exploded song structure, which "Overcoat" really was. Even for me to just do the new vocal phrasing Mina came up with was completely out of my comfort zone. That whole session was so challenging for me, and so inspiring and thrilling, that halfway through the first day, I thought, "This is the way I need to make records — this is it."

When I saw the video, I could see the anxiety on my part, and it might not come though. I'm used to recording in my own studio under a very controlled setting, and this was total anarchy.

Let us know what you think of the video, and the new Vanderslice album, in the comments section.