In this episode of Music Therapy I talk with Jason Balla of Dehd and Accessory. We talk about Dehd's new album "Blue Skies" out now on Fat Possum, embracing mistakes in songwriting and recording, how to work past your inner critic, giving up control in collaborating, advice for touring and recording, and lots more!
Chop Shop High School by Jessica Risker
Eyes for Berlin by Accessory
Bad Love by Dehd
[transcript isn't perfect, sorry]
0:00:01.5 Jessica Risker: Why do your recordings sound like ass?
We're gonna talk about that and a lot more on today's Music Therapy!
Hey everybody, welcome to Music Therapy. I'm Jessica Risker, I'm a musician based here in Chicago, Illinois, and I am also a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor. Music Therapy is a mental health podcast for musicians and music fans.
Today, I am super excited to share my conversation with Jason Balla of Dehd. We're gonna get to that in the moment. If you wanna listen to previous episodes or learn about upcoming events or sign up for our newsletter, please visit musictherapypodcast.com, and if there's one thing you can do to help the show, please go to Apple Podcasts and leave us a review.
I hope you guys are all doing well and that you enjoyed your Memorial Day weekend. I'm gonna go ahead and say, We're in summer now, and with that in mind, our first show of the summer with my band is gonna be this Thursday at Cole', that's June 2nd. We're gonna be playing with HEAD out of Chicago and Caley Conway, who's coming down from Milwaukee. That's again this Thursday evening, June 2nd at Cole's.
0:01:14.7 Jessica Risker: So come on out and say Hi, and we also have our next Group Session lined up for next Wednesday evening, that's June 8th with Chicago's art punk band, Spread Joy. I really love their new album, and it's gonna be a really fun group session, so I hope you guys come out to Cafe Mustache next Wednesday, June 8th.
So today, I am talking to Jason Balla. Jason Balla is a musician based in Chicago, he's currently active in the band Dehd, and he has a solo project called Accessory. Dehd just released on Friday, they just released a new album called Blue Skies on the label, Fat Possum. Jason and I cover a lot of topics. One of the things we get into is home recording, Jason records and mixes the Dehd albums.
in the spirit of that, I thought I'd kick it off with one of my own home recorded songs. This song is called Chop Shop High School.
0:04:49.7 Jessica Risker: Alright, that was my song Chop Shop High School, and now, let's turn to my conversation with Jason Balla of Dehd. How are you?
0:05:08.4 Jason Balla: I'm doing pretty good. A little nervous, honestly. Be nervous.
0:05:13.1 Jessica Risker: It's live. Thanks for being on the show!
Jason Balla: Thanks for having me.
Okay, well, let me see if this... If this will ground you, I always start with the first question I ask so we can get a picture of your life these days is, what is a typical week look like for you?
0:05:36.0 Jason Balla: Really different, every week. Last week I was on tour with Bnny doing sound; I'm dating Jessica in the band Bnny. So we went on a little trip. Before I'm going on a trip next week, so this week I've been doing interviews and planning flights and just kind of like boring travel details, like how many suitcases do we have and answering a lot of emails.
0:06:03.4 Jessica Risker: Sounds like your life is not very routine, it sounds like it sounds like it kind of depends on what's going on with touring and music. It's very uneven. Do you work any jobs apart from being in bands?
0:06:19.2 Jason Balla: Kind of amazingly, this is my first year, I can just be a musician.
0:06:26.2 Jessica Risker: Was that the goal?
0:06:27.7 Jason Balla: I guess it's a nice byproduct, at least, 'cause I like doing it...
0:06:34.2 Jessica Risker: Let me say, you gave me of some ideas of things to talk about, and I wanna refer to that list, so you said for Bnny, you were doing sound... Is that.
0:06:47.9 Jason Balla: Right? Anna's what I used to do primarily as a job, and I was... My entree point to Chicago music world was mostly through sound and actually how I met a lot of bands my own age and stuff, or I was working at the antipolo, people had come through. But I haven't done it in so long, it was kind of a real shake the rest of no experience that week, and I was like, I can't really screw this up too much radio this...
0:07:19.9 Jessica Risker: So you also are interested in recording...
0:07:24.3 Jason Balla: Yeah, I've been doing that quite a bit more lately.
0:07:27.3 Jessica Risker: You said you've been working on a new album for Accessory over the winter.
0:07:32.6 Jason Balla: Yeah, I've been working on that. It's kind of funny when you hit me up to do this, that was my whole world basically from kind of December, January, February, and just this week, I've only been thinking about Dehd stuff 'cause of this trip and everything, so it's like... Yeah, all year so far, I've been full Accessory brain, and then just this last week, I'm slowly turning my gears back to thinking about other kinds of music.
0:08:03.5 Jessica Risker: So you've been in multiple bands, but can you give us a short list of the bands?
0:08:09.9 Jason Balla: Yeah, the first thing I really did in Chicago was the band called Earring, which my Instagram is named after. And then soon after that, I started playing in Ne-Hi. Those two things, I ran for a while at the same time, then Dehd started, and then all three of these things were in going at the same time, then I stopped doing... Hearing a NEHA and then it's mostly just been Dehd and Accessory, I guess, which kind of is just filled in some cracks for my own personal explorations that don't really fit into the world of what you would I think of is that at least...
0:08:50.9 Jessica Risker: Yeah, that's actually something that I wanna ask about, is your relationship with being in different bands and... Were there any particular reasons? I know that I like to work on multiple projects at the same time, 'cause I get really frustrated with maybe a slower pace of a group project, so it is nice to be able to do my own thing. But I'm wondering, are there specific things about each of these bands, maybe like the style of music you're working on, or where the bands are playing, or are there different things about each of these groups that compelled you?
0:09:26.0 Jason Balla: Yeah, a lot of it was just kind of like where... It's like I'll kind of just where I am at the time. So like the Earring thing was I started as a solo project and then when I... Alex, who was the other member of the band, it just became a band of... I guess that's kind of how a lot of things have worked out, I mean as were buddies, and then James and Mike and Haas also long friends of James was my first roommate mile down the hall from us. And so it was just really organic kind of like, Oh, we tried thing and then it was just some kind of idea stuck, so then we just kept on down that road. So yeah, I guess with the solo kind of stuff, I think I wind up coming back to it, 'cause there's just a freedom of from democracy or something like that, which is in bands where I'm like, I can just do everything in my own way, which I really love both of those processes because they're view on such different results, and it's also nice to have your ideas changed or even to be like, Oh, my idea isn't good in this situation, or whatever, or listen to other perspectives, and that's...
0:10:39.7 Jason Balla: I don't know, the beautiful thing about life anyways... Or just different ideas.
0:10:44.6 Jessica Risker: Okay, 'cause that was something that you mentioned when you had written down things to talk about is I'm gonna wanna quote what you said is collaboration, relinquishing ego and control, trying to support the best idea rather than an idea that is just mine. It sounds like you've consciously been trying to change a relationship with that and how you operate in collaboration with people?
0:11:14.4 Jason Balla: I think maybe I'm a bit of a control freak or... I don't know in ways. And so it's been a long learning lesson of just 'cause it's my idea, it doesn't mean it's the best, which obviously, but mostly just in the music sphere, but I did have this one moment when I was like 10 years ago and be my friends, but it was during the monopoly and to me and my two of my best friends were building a snowman, and I was completely micro-managing the snowman assembly, and then I was just like, I do it. What does has become... So I think it's been a constant thing in bands to try to let go as much of that as possible and just let things happen.
0:12:00.7 Jessica Risker: Were you a bossy kid?
0:12:03.2 Jason Balla: I don't think so, not that I was aware of at least. But I don't know if I had the self-awareness at the time.
0:12:12.5 Jessica Risker: So if I may ask you to explore that for a second, what do you think that... Letting control. Let it go of control. Why does that feel difficult?
0:12:27.2 Jason Balla: I think 'cause maybe I just have such a clear picture of how it could be in my head, and I'm like, Oh, it's already figured out, I don't know, I guess it's probably mostly that, and I'm like, Oh, I can see the path of how to get there already, but I guess I've just realized that it's like, Oh yeah, that's just one of the paths.
0:12:46.5 Jessica Risker: You also said that there's ego in there, which makes me think that it also maybe feels a little hard to let go of an idea, maybe that's a little bit of a bruise, I'm not quite saying this correctly, but maybe there's a fear there, maybe... It's my idea of the best or someone else's idea of us, what does that mean? About my ideas.
0:13:08.0 Jason Balla: Right, or your worth as a creative person or something like that. Yeah, yeah, I don't know. I think definitely when I was younger, I had a lot more sense of wanting to prove myself or something I was never... For when I was younger, playing music with other people and stuff, I was definitely supporting the role, I just didn't have the opportunity to really feel prove myself or something on the stage. And so then maybe when I got the chance to do that, I was like, Oh yeah, this is my chance. But now I think it's more valuable even to just be able to be helped realize whatever idea and the best form that it could be, and I think that's my goal now, or that's my role in a creative endeavor or recording something, 'cause it's just like... It could literally be anything. You're just starting with a blank canvas, and so to just be a better listener, I think, to what the song is or whatever.
0:14:06.6 Jessica Risker: And let's just take Dehd because that's the group project that you're focusing on right now, what about... Are there moments? I would think there'd be moments where both people think theirs is the best idea.
0:14:20.8 Jason Balla: Yeah, I think in that situation, especially, meaning both seeing lead basically, and we take turns doing that, and certainly in the writing process or basically the process is just like jamming and then whoever can catch like a vicinity first and get to the mic first is... We're like, I want or something, but then I think through all the processes or whatever, both of us have been gotten better at, will each give those things a chance, and then I'd be like, Alright, well, which one really hit the chord writer? Which one felt better? I had more ideas that could fall out of it or whatever, and sometimes something gets talked back around or maybe something I was singing inspired a guitar line that stays, but then my vocals are gone or whatever.
0:15:09.1 Jessica Risker: Do you feel like you guys... I was gonna say, do you feel like you guys trust and that process has grown over time, or does it still feel like something you have to work through?
0:15:21.2 Jason Balla: It's not too much of an issue, but I think it's also... I've just been able to come at it from all this time and at least for my end of it, it's feeling like my goal is to just make the best one possible. It certainly helps, at least on my end.
0:15:37.0 Jessica Risker: Do you ever come to your guys brainstorming sessions with ideas beforehand, or is it all kind of through jamming and just playing out ideas together?
0:15:45.7 Jason Balla: Like 95% jamming, which is kind of nice 'cause I think I have this problem and lots of collaborative things of coming up with an idea, also probably why the Solo project exists is sometimes it's just hard to communicate your idea to someone, or if they don't hear it right away, it's discouraging or something like that. And so I think that kind of works, especially with Dehd, it's just kinda hard to realize it, whoever is bringing an idea, and with the exception of Eric, write songs and then when he happens to kick it to the band, they usually are pretty effortless. It just kinda happened, which is nice, but he's a special creature anyway, so I don't know who's on.
0:16:29.3 Jessica Risker: Frustrates is something, been working on what's coming out of this album to... What is it sounding like? And what are the things to it...
0:16:41.6 Jason Balla: I thought of a really corny way to describe it earlier, but I was thinking like maybe someone who could write about it and be called rhythm and moods or something like that, 'cause it's definitely beat and groove inspired, and I'm just trying to stretch myself... Play a lot less guitar, 'cause that's kind of what I feel like I'm probably known for the most is playing guitar at this point, and I'm like, I'm tired of being a guitar guy, I wanna just have it all be about singing and I've been playing a lot of bass, which I used to do in my very early babd, so it's been really fun to get back to this other kind of instrument and something that's much more just like vibe and feel kind of rather than you have to be these melodies or something, which of the bass is kind of like the instrument that I can have its moment, but then it also is just something that holds it down and makes a song better, so maybe that's kind of... I'm in the bass world right now, so.
0:17:45.2 Jessica Risker: Are you using real drums, are you using samples or what... Or beats coming from...
0:17:51.4 Jason Balla: Kind of a combination. I've been like... I did a couple of days session with Dave Vettraino, which was really fun to work with him 'cause it's been forever, and we used to be in the studio, that's kind of like who I learned how to record from, was him recording different bands that I was in and then to be just obsessively watching over other... Probably uncomfortably close. And so yeah, I did a session with him where I was playing the drums, and then some of those songs, it's my drumming, and then some of it, I'm re-sampling it, the drums I played and then turning them into new beats and stuff like that. I've been really into Mad Lib and real switcher and different kind of like the beat head people, so I've been in trying to take some inspiration from that area.
0:18:41.6 Jessica Risker: Are you working on the bridge...
0:18:45.0 Jason Balla: Yeah, or close to it, I guess, which is kind of like the enemy... It's so hard. You think it's hard. Yeah, I think so, just 'cause it's hard to get the feel right, it's hard not to make it sound too gritty it... Too much math.
0:19:02.4 Jessica Risker: Right? Yeah, I know what you mean.
0:19:04.5 Jason Balla: That's kind of my newest learning lesson that I haven't quite got there fully.
0:19:10.4 Jessica Risker: Do you guys record to a click or do you just play?
0:19:14.8 Jason Balla: Most of the time, it's just playing and we just started using a click more... We did this remix record last year, and had a bunch of people sample stuff that was from a record for Devotion, and it was really funny how many people who had sent tends to be like, Oh, that wasn't on a click was it? And I was like, Wow, you could just tell everyone's trying to loop something and it is probably proving too hard.
0:19:43.6 Jessica Risker: Yeah, well, why are you guys moving towards a click?
0:19:47.8 Jason Balla: I think it just mixes, adding extra stuff in the recording process easier, I'm trying to make things that are more dynamic and textured and stuff, and it's just really hard to... Especially rhythmically and drum stuff with Eric's world, we're messing around with lots of extra textures and things, and it's just... It's really hard to keep it feeling right, if there's just a million things that are kind of off...
0:20:17.3 Jessica Risker: How does Eric feel about the click?
0:20:20.0 Jason Balla: I think he likes it now, so it's always hard 'cause it's just this loud and knowing sound in your head, but sometimes what change it to an instrument zone or I'll quit or something, so it doesn't sound so... I don't know, I just like You're alarm when you're waking up in the morning.
0:20:37.1 Jessica Risker: Right, okay, so that kind of leads to another point that you may have brought up, which was the idea of using mistakes and imperfections as a way to make music and happy accidents that you find when you're playing with those common... What are you thinking about there?
0:20:56.6 Jason Balla: I guess it comes in a lot of ways, like in writing designs, especially, lots of times we'll be jamming on something and I'll kind of figure out a part, but then we'll be playing long enough that I start screwing it up, and then usually that just creates these new maladies that I would never have played 'cause it was like, I wasn't trying to play that, I'm like, Oh, but that has a cooler rhythm or something, so I adopt those and then to just make those... The parts kind of... Yeah, and it keeps it interesting for me 'cause I have been playing guitar for a long time, and I don't know, I hardly scratched the service. I can play guitar, but I feel like I'm kind of an amateur at it, like I don't know a lot of the tech stuff, so I can get intimidated in that realm a little bit... We went to this really fancy studio in Texas recently, we were on tour, or record was getting mixed, but they needed a couple of extra things, and we're in this really fancy studio, and I was just like, Oh my gosh, before we got to work like we were talking to the engineers, I had two assistants.
0:22:04.0 Jason Balla: I was like nine. I had two assistants helping or I've never had this lecture before, it's already so crazy.
0:22:09.6 Jessica Risker: Oh, you were engineering the session. Oh, gotcha, okay.
0:22:14.3 Jason Balla: Yeah, I record all the Dehd stuff.
Jessica Risker: Okay, gotcha.
Jason Balla: So it was just kind of intimidating to have really fancy gear and I have two assistants and all this stuff, and we had... Before we got to work, we're talking about all these people that had just been in there and how all these grades and everyone who's ripping up these sets and stuff, and then I'm like, Alright, let me just find that out for a second, you play that back or just like, not quite right. Alright. Yeah, nothing like being in an intimidating room full of Francine and making sure like... You don't know what you're doing at all.
0:22:47.5 Jessica Risker: You were on protools? This is another thing you brought up while we're talking about production, recording is you were talking about... I'm gonna put you on the spot a little bit 'cause I kinda want an example, you said the concept of production and how to record and arrange songs to do the emotions the most justice. I'm wondering if you have... If anything comes to mind and something you've been working on, where you were like, We made this choice because we felt like it really supported the emotion or what we were trying to convey here.
0:23:25.1 Jason Balla: I think maybe I could actually do the one Accessory song that I say is I Berlin, it's kind of old, so I feel a tented 'cause the stuff I've been just talking about, it sounds a lot different like that, but that's probably the first example when I really started building a song from the song up rather than from the instrumentation or something like that. I wrote that song. I just wrote it one day, actually, I was incredibly hungover and that I had to go to work and I was doing these sound shifts at the BeatKkitchen sometimes for a kids show, and so there would be like various people, the one person who would play sometimes very macaroni, this other person, lots of fun outfits and stuff, and tons of kids screaming and everything, and I had partied in... Stayed up way too late the night before and I had to go to work, and I think I was late for... Almost late for work, so I didn't have my bike and I said, I just walked home from the Beat Kitchen, which is a four-mile walk or something like that, and I just wrote the song in my head, I just had all the words and the melodies and stuff, but then I only had the words in the vocal melody, so then I built it off from there, and that's what I've been doing a lot lately, but it's kind of a new process for me to do that, 'cause normally it's always been like guitar and maybe the whole songs written in the melody is there, but there's no wordst...
0:28:31.9 Jessica Risker: Relating that back to recording and arranging songs to support the emotions.
0:28:37.5 Jason Balla: Yeah, I think that one has a couple of different versions of it, where this is the final one I've done, because it's just like one is just maybe a world that I'm trying to put it in, and that some of that's dictated by what instruments you're using, obviously, and then I guess the other part of it's like maybe put it in the wrong world and then it sounds too fun, or it sounds... I don't know, it's been kind of while since I thought about the other versions of that one, but I was just working on the song actually for a new one, and I've been on six different versions of this track and the first one I made, I was like, Oh no, this sounds like... This sounds like the Backstreet Boys or something like that. And then the next time I was like, This is the ads. I can't quite know it, so I guess... Yeah, I don't know, I feel like I'm maybe not doing a very good job answering your question, but...
0:29:31.3 Jessica Risker: No, I think it's kind of a hard thing to talk about, but what emotion are you trying to convey with this song, or is there a certain... I can outdo the whole song or maybe a certain section, what are you trying to... You're talking about kind of genres, it sounds like this genre, but what if I... Trying to...
0:29:55.8 Jason Balla: At that time, it was mostly just about trying to, I guess, might be getting stuck in this place where you feel super familiar with your surroundings in the world and maybe your life and everything you know, and maybe a little bit forward of it all and underwhelmed, but then being able to see it with the eyes that you have for a place that you've just been for the first time, or when you're fully immersed in this new place, and it's all full of wonder and joy and you're so curious, and it's kind of like longing to have that feeling again, and especially just for your life as it is.
0:30:39.6 Jessica Risker: So thinking about the recording as it is here, what do you think gave it that feeling? Was it certain instrumentation? Or certain chord changes...
0:30:50.8 Jason Balla: Yeah, I think I was trying to do too many chords before and make it too complicated, and I think in this one, it just feels nice and empty, and the TAM brain is kind of nice 'cause it just echoes off forever and it's just kind of like the emptiness of the life can feel like sometimes, I guess.
0:31:09.9 Jessica Risker: Are you into chord theory and that kind of stuff, or are you more like an intuitive... So.
0:31:14.6 Jason Balla: I wish I knew, honestly, I was buying guitar today and I was like, Oh, maybe I could think about the chords and I just get stuck immediately, I think I would like to read a book about it. That happened.
0:31:26.1 Jessica Risker: Yeah, I'm the same way.
0:31:28.7 Jason Balla: It's like a super power that I'm like, It's right there, but I just... I haven't done it, I don't know.
0:31:34.1 Jessica Risker: So I'm always like, Oh, I don't wanna intellectualize the music, I just wanna feel it, that's my rationale for not getting into it.
0:31:40.2 Jason Balla: I feel that too.
0:31:42.5 Jessica Risker: Even though that's totally line, so in my part... So here's another thing that I also find interesting, the quest for hi fi lo fi. What do you mean by that?
0:31:53.9 Jason Balla: Oh man. I mean, it's like the constant battle that I'm torn in, I think maybe everyone goes through this, but with this new Dehd record, for example, I was on the peak of my high fi, I guess, but I don't know, I've always kind of hated stuff that sounds super nice. But I also like, I think as I've gotten older and made more music and made more recordings, I realized the value of it in certain aspects, 'cause it's kind of in one way, it's like effective communication, we're like, Oh, I'm just showing it to you in a way that you can understand, or that it might feel really loud and exciting, but it doesn't, but it just is 'cause of how it is captured or whatever, so trying to use that but then captured dirty things with that effective communication, that's been my kind of goal, and then basically, I may finish making the stead record and now everything, I'm like, I blow up everything in some kind of pre-apertura or again, so I'm back to where I started in the early 2010s, where everything is just smashed through Costa Petrino. Again, when I made the first day record, I didn't have any recording gear, she lent me a console, he's like, Hey, just like this premonition, you blow up, I'm awesome.
0:33:19.6 Jason Balla: So I just blew everything. I was like, Great, I'll just turn it to maximum volume. Awesome, great. And it still sounds cool, I don't know. So I'm kinda coming back around.
0:33:30.9 Jessica Risker: I know he's a bit of a controversial figure, but... I really like his music. Do you ever listen to Ariel Pink?
0:33:36.1 Jason Balla: Oh yeah, yeah. He's great at doing that, I think, although he's kinda gotten, at least from... I haven't heard much of his new stuff, but I feel like he kinda went to a slick realm where it kind of lost the personality for me a little bit.
0:33:47.8 Jessica Risker: That the label made him do that. Oh, really? Oh yeah, but it was interesting. I feel like he's a really good artist to just hear that contrast in the pammi, feel like this were the perfect blend for him, but the going super slick and how that his songs came across versus definitely someone steal stuff anyway, so yeah, finding that sweet aesthetic spot.
0:34:17.2 Jason Balla: It's cool, I definitely love the element of it where it's just like all the mistakes in like in the story line of my obsession with the Earl Sweatshirt music catalog and stuff, I've found these YouTube series where him and the sky knowledge or DJing for our set of just Colson and knowledge is also one of these guys who's super just about the beats and having it be really Rani, the records really worked and buzzed, leave it all and leave all the mistakes, and then they were doing all this commentary in between the songs that's really amusing. And that was one of his slogans. I forget exactly his wording on it, but it's all perfect, it's all the mistakes here, and it's like... That's kind of what I wanna do too, 'cause it's like... I don't know, I just respect that more. I'd like to do it and then be like, Yeah. And have the confidence in that doesn't like speak to quality or your ability or... Aptitude is just like, This is how I like it, and I get a little dirty.
0:35:27.2 Jessica Risker: Yeah, I think it's a certain point, it just becomes your intentional choice of her time... I wanted to sound... Are you guys aligned on the sound of hi fi/lo fi, are you guys on the same page on that?
0:35:46.9 Jason Balla: I'm very fortunate in that position, 'cause they, for the most part, just let me roll with it and then we check in as we're going just to make sure it's all cool, but they give me a lot of freedom to just explore and try it at whatever is kind of going on in my head. Luckily.
0:36:06.6 Jessica Risker: I have a thought and then I rest on this comment, and he said there's something that feels like a song can fall apart, but it doesn't... I think speaking to mistakes and keeping things kind of rough and life. Yeah.
0:36:15.6 Jason Balla: It's exciting. And again, it's like life. Sometimes it feels like that.
0:36:24.5 Jessica Risker: Do you reference albums when you're engineering?
0:36:31.1 Jason Balla: Not too much. I think I try to... On the Accessory record, I have a little playlist that I actually run to as my installers, but that's the first time I've ever done that. Otherwise, I might be into some vents at the time, but I'm afraid to listen to it too much to be too influenced by it.
0:36:49.9 Jessica Risker: So what are some tracks on your Accessory inspiration list?
0:36:53.4 Jason Balla: Oh man. Some good ones. There's a song called The Deep Water by Portishead. Do you know the song?
0:37:01.2 Jessica Risker: Which album is that on? I think.
0:37:04.1 Jason Balla: It might be on 3 in that it's awesome because it's like a ukulele, so... And then there's these crazy old time-y background vocals on it, and then it's really short, the lyrics are beautiful, just kind of about feeling overwhelmed and stuff, and then the next song is a song called Machine Gun. Darius sounds like Michigan. And it's like, Oh, I love that the band put this song here. It doesn't sound like it should be a Portishead song at all, but it makes so much sense in this context... I don't know, I love that stuff. So that's one of my songs, and that's kind of one of my inspirations in general, is just unusual combination and letting things work because they're in context or something like some things are the most straightforward I've probably ever made, but...
0:38:00.0 Jessica Risker: What do you mean by that?
0:38:00.9 Jason Balla: Just some chords and vocals and maybe not a whole life vows up really upfront, and then other stuff is really trashed and short... Other songs that I have on that list, kind of like a guilty pleasure or something that I don't really care for that term, I guess, but... Is this guy, but Carteret the name of the song, but I heard an XR actually, and it's just like the production is really cool, 'cause he's like, he actually got his start from sampling King Krule songs, and then someone picked some major label picked him up and all of his songs are not... I don't really like any of the songs other than this one, and the music video is really bad unfortunately, but the song is really fun, and he's got a great lyric about eyes like mountain their green, his mount and do, and that's great.
0:39:03.7 Jessica Risker: Let's see here. I'm just going over my list. I make notes before we talk... Oh well, yeah. What's the plan for the Accessory led... You had to really stay ureter on it.
0:39:15.5 Jason Balla: I'm trying to finish it by the end of the summer, so see, it's kind of been nice 'cause I was working on it up until I went on Bnny and then I kinda have this little tour here, so I feel like I was kind of obsessing over it for long enough that I take a month off, come back to it and hopefully I can knock it out. Dehd's going on tour in May, so I got April, June, July. That's roughly what I'm hoping. We see then.
0:39:44.4 Jessica Risker: How do you feel when you listen back to albums you've made? Do you like them? Are they hard to listen to...
0:39:50.6 Jason Balla: I haven't done it in a long time. I usually it's kind of a fun trip down memory lane though, I think... Yeah, and maybe I'm like, Oh, this is better than I thought it would be listening back now, 'cause I feel like I'm always learning, so... Especially through Dehd records and... 'cause I'm so closely linked to the recording of them, I'm like, Oh, it's basically listening to my education kind of...
0:40:18.1 Jessica Risker: I'm trying to ask a question about your inner critic, if you have one, if you have a strong one, and how you... I wanna think about this podcast, I think about... Some listeners are maybe musicians who are more starting out or fighting their way through the learning and maybe not achieving the sound that they want to, because you just have to kinda push through it. I'm wondering about your own inner critic, as you've learned and recorded and been in several bands, what is your relationship with that?
0:40:56.6 Jason Balla: Like... I think it was wild. Mood swings, honestly, some days I'm like, Wow, this is the coolest thing, I'm so excited. I can listen to this on 100 times, and then the next day I'm like, This is the worst thing ever. I can't believe that I thought this had any merit, and honestly too...
There's this funny thing, sometimes I watch gear videos, it's like I watched some gear videos during the pandemic, like I'm not even a gear guy, but I got into it a little bit, 'cause I've been building a home studio, so I've been like, I'm trying to learn. And sometimes listen to those people or reading comments, I'm just like, Oh my god, I don't know anything, and then I'm like, Wait, who is this person? Especially in the comment like gear review or something, I'm like, I like this microphone actually, or whatever, it's all arbitrary. So I can kinda... I was getting in a real crazy head space where I was like, Oh, I can't even make a good recording if I don't have a so and so compressor or whatever. And then I was like, Wait, I don't know. I guess it's just a tempting thing to think that there's the holy grail out there, but then really the truth is, it's like you have everything in your head and you have ears, so you can make anything sound good to have you have a read online, which one?
0:42:23.4 Jessica Risker: So all you users thread, just like engineer, no.
0:42:26.5 Jason Balla: Are you kidding me.
0:42:27.2 Jessica Risker: Tindall? Send it to... And I'll put it on the show notes. Its... Yeah, I found it very inspirational. He just is like, all you need are your ears, you don't need fancy Vista, and you just basically gives everybody a boost is struggling with exactly that, it's really...
0:42:48.9 Jason Balla: That's so nice. It's really depressing 'cause especially with the internet, every cool secret, any cool little random niche box that you could ever possibly randomly find it a garage, so it's been blown up, the cover has been blown and they're all four or five 600, it's just like... It just seems like you're like, Oh, I missed the Borodin or something, like I only... I was 20 years ago.
0:43:15.7 Jessica Risker: Do you feel that one?
0:43:17.8 Jason Balla: No, but I think sometimes I do, I guess, but I've worked through it. I think I'm past it now, but...
0:43:25.9 Jessica Risker: Another question I wanted to ask you again, this is kind of coming from asking you as... Oh, I know, I wanted to ask you, when you have those moments where you're kind of getting in your head, where do you turn... Do you put it aside? Do you have other people that you send things too, ask how does it sound? How do you get encouraged or get back into it?
0:44:00.4 Jason Balla: I don't know, I think I just kind of keep plugging along. I guess. Yeah, I don't know, I sent some songs to some friends, I used to have this... I used to live with... At this house for a long time, and there was always this real in case people that live there, but everyone up until the end, most of the people weren't musician people, so it was really nice to play music for them 'cause I was like, Oh, this is great. You'll tell me exactly what you think anyways, 'cause we're all good friends of mine, but also they weren't hearing it with musician years or whatever, or maybe not even particularly interested in the kind of music that I was making, so it was really great. I was like, if you get it, and I feel a little bit better. But I was like, If you get... If you're like, What's this intro? All of that, I'm like, Okay, you're right. That was just like... A little too self-indulgent. Whatever. So there was like that, but I guess... I don't know, I think I just let enough time go and then I kind of get a little bit detached from putting too much in my emotional stake in the success of the song or something like that, and then I can come back to it and be like, Oh yeah, this is good.
0:45:19.4 Jason Balla: Or sometimes it's also not good, which is... Okay. Yeah, and I think just realizing that you can have it shitty songs and you could spend days recording them and then be like, Oh, okay, that was fun.
0:45:32.5 Jessica Risker: It doesn't mean you're a crappy songwriter or a crappy recording artist, it just means it was bad on...
0:45:39.2 Jason Balla: Yeah, and it's a great learning opportunity, so I just try to learn from that stuff, I made so many... I had so many mistakes, whether it's making music or in the music is just doing something that you thought you were supposed to do, or someone was really encouraging you to do, and then you're like, Oh man, just spending a ton of money on a music video, one time when it was like, I don't know. Just not one. I don't think this is a good idea, but you're like, I'm just gonna go with the flow, sometimes I can trust myself, or why are we making this music video or putting this version of the song out or something like that. I don't know if anyone feels so strongly about it, but we feel like we have to do it, kind of like that kind of stuff where you're like, There's these expectations on you and you think you have to do it because everyone is more experienced in... You has been doing it forever. And their time, it's a good idea. But the thing I've been really embracing lightly is the reason why you're there or that those people have the interest in telling you what to do anyways is because you got there already kind of by your own intuition, 'cause you got ears.
0:47:00.1 Jason Balla: So it's kind of like, Oh yeah, remember that you got ears, then you're like, Okay, and heart and a gun, everything else.
0:47:06.7 Jessica Risker: Yeah, trust it. And I think also you're saying take a step back, give it some space.
0:47:13.2 Jason Balla: Especially with the, especially the music stuff, objectivity, 'cause it's just sometimes you just work on something so long and you just can't see it anymore.
0:47:22.1 Jessica Risker: Right. So what is your... I'm really interested in people's relationship with social media, how do you feel about social media these days?
0:47:35.6 Jason Balla: Well, I actually haven't been on it until I promoted this DJ session I just did last week, and then this... So I've been off of Instagram since the end of October and middle October, which has been sick. It honestly has been really easy, and I probably spend about the same amount of time on my phone, but now I just read the New York Times on...
0:48:02.1 Jessica Risker: Does somebody else do all the Dehd posting?
0:48:06.3 Jason Balla: Yeah, Emily does all of that, which is... I'm lucky that they enjoy doing it 'cause I just would find myself... I hated being alone somewhere, or if I was meeting a friend somewhere and I was there early, the immediate impulse to be like, I need to look at this or distract myself, I'm just like, I love looking around and like, I'm just gonna stare at you and I'm sorry, but I'm just like, You guys are around, you blame... More interesting than I went on my phone.
0:48:39.0 Jessica Risker: Yeah, it takes a lot of intention to do that every time on the train, everybody is on their phone, including myself, it's just like, we're all stuck. That's crazy.
0:48:52.8 Jason Balla: But it's easy to. I totally get it, and it's really easy to just like or do that and then, I don't know, not have to talk to yourself or I guess I don't know it. Or whatever it is, maybe I don't wanna think about something, maybe you just wanna be entertained 'cause it's like a shitty day.
0:49:10.3 Jessica Risker: I've been reading a real book and I'll have these urges to put my finger on a word if I don't know it, to highlight it to, you know... You could look it up in the dictionary, it's like, Oh, that's funny. That experience. It's too much one time.
Okay, so a couple of questions, these are sort of geared for, again, people who... Maybe you're starting out, I don't have these kinds of questions for somebody who's been more experienced and you've gone on tour a decent amount, and one thing I'm interested in is, what's your advice for healthy touring?
0:49:52.5 Jason Balla: Well, I guess I struggle with it. Also I have a pretty good routine of running and doing stuff here, but my record for running on to her is one day, and every tour, I bring my running shoes and my store, it's in my whole little extra luggage bag, like a little tote bag of all that stuff, and then I still only go one time, it's just hard, it's really hard to do work in the car, it's really hard to run, which I feel like is the best thing to do because it's free and you can really do it literally anywhere, and hopefully you can get a shower to wash off if you need to, I feel like try to run if you can, but if you just do it once, that's okay too, 'cause it's hard.
0:50:43.1 Jessica Risker: We use to the way...
0:50:45.5 Jason Balla: I think just wanting to sleep mostly and... It's just kind of hard. You're just moving around all the time. I don't really know what exactly it does to your motivation, but I definitely have all the motivation in the world to just drive for eight hours, but for some reason, waking up an extra half hour early to run, I might even be a wake or any... But I'm like, I just don't wanna do it.
I really don't know why, maybe it's just like, I just wanna be comfortable for a little while before I have to just start moving for basically an entire day until you go to sleep again, 'cause it's just like, you're driving, you're loading and then you're soundchecking, and then you're killing time and maybe you go for a walk, a kind of hard to say. I'm gonna... That's my goal this year, run a lot more, but otherwise, I really try not to buy too many... I try not to buy snacks at all unless it's a real kind of like I wanna treat myself in a day from the gas station, 'cause that's where it can go down hill, you buy a bag of chips and it's just like it's gone...
0:51:52.7 Jason Balla: Especially on the long drive, so no snack, and if I can help it, and then... Or.
0:52:00.4 Jessica Risker: How do you eat healthy? That's a big challenge on the road of the things tough.
0:52:04.4 Jason Balla: But it's actually not so bad. I remember going on tour with Earring and The Hecks and The Hecks were vegetarian. It was different, they were two-piece and we were also to be so we're all just in one car, and I was not a vegetarian yet, and I remember how it was so much more difficult to really find food, but lately it's like the options are kind of like everywhere. It's really nice. Especially most cities. I feel like most cities have some kind of thing where it's not just fries or something...
0:52:38.7 Jessica Risker: Yeah, totally. Okay, what advice would you give to someone who's trying to learn recording and engineering.
0:52:50.1 Jason Balla: Just like you could just buy the cheapest interface, I think digital stuff is pretty cool because it's like you can just do... I don't know, you just can explore a lot of different things, you might not have access to compressors and stuff like that, 'cause you can just have these digital plug-ins or whatever, and a lot of them come with whatever you have, and you can at least learn the concepts maybe before, it's like spending all this money to buy something, but also I had a task and tape machine, like a cassette one that was amazing to learn because you really learned, I think a lot more about limitations and the value of a cool overdub or something like that. Okay, buy a 57. Good to get one. 57, it's like 100 bucks. And then just use that for the rest of your life. It's like an amazing microphone.
0:53:47.5 Jessica Risker: Let's talk before we wrap up tonight, there's one more selling the East and to long, this is a Dehd son called Bad Love. You wanna share a little bit about this song?
0:53:57.4 Jason Balla: Sure, yeah, so this just came out last month, and it's the first single for our new record that comes out in May, and this is basically a kind of like maybe the antithesis or maybe the sort of top of the hill that I started climbing with maybe the Eyes for Berlin song where it's like, it's kind of a simple rock and roll song, but there's lots of textures and little moments that kinda happened throughout that, and I made it a little slick, so... And this is just kind of fun to see if you can...
0:56:57.2 Jessica Risker: So when you're adding these textures, is it difficult to replicate those live?
0:57:03.6 Jason Balla: Well, I don't think so. We actually started... I think some of them, obviously, the kind of big thing that always is missing in a Dehd song, if there's two guitar parts, sometimes I'm like, I really wish I could play this guitar line, but I just don't know how, but I think what we make up for it maybe in just energy, and I think that's like something that is magical about live shows anyways, is like you kind of... At least for me, I don't need to hear the record exactly, 'cause it's just a different experience and you're watching these people do this amazing thing, and it's more so just about watching them rather than... I'm like, What is that like a triangle. A hit or whatever.
0:57:50.4 Jessica Risker: Which do you like better? Performing or recording?
0:57:55.6 Jason Balla: I've been doing a lot of recording, so probably performing, but I probably by the end of May, I'll be like, I wanna get back in the studio...
0:58:02.8 Jessica Risker: Yeah, you can go back and forth, just like with your music projects. Yeah, Thank you so much for being on the show. I really appreciate your time and it was really fun to talk to you.
0:58:14.8 Jason Balla: Thanks for having me. Yeah, I'm really glad I got to do it, and this is only my third time going live, and the first two times was with a lot of heckling, so it's nice to do it this way, I was very comfortable and fun conversation.
0:58:29.0 Jessica Risker: Good, cool. So where can people listen to your music and keep up with all the stuff you have coming out?
0:58:35.9 Jason Balla: I guess all of the streaming platforms are good candidates, and the. Dehd website is dehd.horse, whereas Accessory is not really anywhere. It's on Bandcamp and I guess like Spotify and Apple Music and stuff.
0:58:52.6 Jessica Risker: Okay. Thank you so much.
Okay, I wanna thank Jason for his time today. I hope you guys are all hanging in there!
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