Los Angeles-based brothers Daniel and Andrew Aged formed their music duo in 2010, and released their acclaimed “No World” debut album in 2013. Prior to that, the brothers had already built up resumes of touring and session work in the music world, playing alongside the likes of Robin Thicke and Raphael Saadiq. Their band, Inc. No World (formerly inc.), have released their sophomore follow-up, “As Light as Light“. However, seeing as I’m a fan of their debut album, most of our interview focuses on their 2013 release, though we did touch on the new album also.
Daniel Aged: We’ve never really thought about it that way. I think we just try to follow the song, and allow the elements rhythmically and sonically to suit the composition. I think we were inspired by combining quality playing and live instruments with some elements that are more mechanical or electronic feeling.
Andrew Aged: Just chasing the sounds we hear in our heads.
During your session music days of playing at different studios, which of the audio engineers you worked with did you learn the most from?
Daniel: I think we learned the most from the ones that said, “You guys should do this yourselves”, or from our friends who we share similar tastes with. We’ve been following our ears all the time, not really using specific recording or mixing practices, but more searching and taking chances. Mostly simple things, like starting with a good-sounding instrument. We’ve recently been working with our friend Cole MGN in terms of engineering and production, which is great because we all come to music from a pretty open place.
There seems to be a dwindling sense of devotion to physical instruments among today’s aspiring artists, in favor of MIDI devices and plugins. How were you both able to develop your own instrument skills?
Andrew: We started playing professionally fairly young. Even today, we’re always looking to improve musically, regardless of what’s going on, so it seems like being a musician is an inward search. Prior to touring we both studied jazz and improvisation at the University of Southern California. I had some great teachers including Joe Diorio, and Daniel had John Clayton, Alphonso Johnson and lots of great players at school. So for a good while our emphasis was on our instruments and finding our voice through that.
I read that that the “no world” album was made in a big, rented room near your house. Can you talk me through the process of creating that studio?
Daniel: There wasn’t much we could do in terms of treating acoustics. It had very high ceilings, glass windows and concrete floors. It was inspiring to be in a big open place where sound carries, especially in the process of seeking the songs. We tried to capture the feeling of the room by micing instruments close up as well as far away. But we ended up mixing the album in a different space.
Andrew: We’re looking for a roomy quality and a sort of no-rules approach to recording.
Talk me through your guitars, amps and basses. I’ve seen a few pictures on Facebook of the equipment you have. What are some of your favorites of each category and why?
Daniel: For basses I mostly use a ’78 Jazz Bass, ’66 P Bass, ’75 P Bass, Fender Bass VI and sometimes a new Jazz Bass, pretty much always DI or splitting the signal through pedals.
Andrew: I mostly use a Fender Strat. I also like the 70’s Hofner 12-string. My Gibson Byrdland Midtown Kalamazoo is very versatile, and I use the vintage Fender Silverface Amps too.
You’ve got music videos where you play with a live drummer, yet the album seemed to feature a lot of drum programming.
Daniel: There’s a good amount of live drums on the album, mostly done one drum hit at a time. There are a lot of different ways of taking a sound and building upon it, sometimes on the computer, sometimes with a drum machine, etc.
Andrew: On “no world”, we would record live drums but alter them heavily. On our new record there are live drums in a more natural state.
I see a mixing board and other gear in your pictures on Facebook. Is that your studio?
Daniel: That is where we recorded most of our new album “As Light As Light“. It’s our friend Omar Velasco’s studio, Moon Canyon Sound. He has a few nice tube pre-amps and compressors made by Highland Dynamics. We brought some of our pre-amps as well, like the Neve 1081 and Ampex 350.
What about the various keyboards in the picture below?
Daniel: That is also taken in Omar’s studio. The only ones we ended up using there were the piano and the organ. We also use some electric pianos, one made by Kawai. I’m playing a ’75 Emmons E9 Pedal steel guitar in that photo, which is something I’ve been learning for the past 2 years or so.
I’ve heard you guys handle the recording and mixing of your music, but where do you turn for mastering?
Daniel: We mostly go to Bernie Grundman’s, and either work with Chris Bellman or Bernie.
Andrew: Feeling the Bern.
What were the instruments used for the “no world” album?
Daniel: Most of the guitars were done with a Fender Strat through a late 60’s Princeton reverb amp. Bass was pretty much all done direct through a Neve, mostly a ’66 B bass or a Jazz Bass. Many pedals were used, mostly made by Boss.
Did you record “no world” through a digital board or an analog one? Was it important to be deliberate in that choice?
Daniel: We worked at a few different studios for that album. A lot of it was recorded without a board, but some was recorded through a Neve. Most of the album was recorded a few instruments at a time, so a board was not necessary.
What are your preferences when it comes to mics? Are there certain ones that are reoccuring in your workflow?
Daniel: We use Shure SM7’s for a lot. In the studio we gravitate towards the U47 FET, or any high quality old tube or ribbon mics.
Andrew: The SM7 is my favorite mic to sing into.
The new “As Light as Light” album features music with a different timbre of guitars and less of the RnB-centric beats of “no world”. What are your hopes and intentions for this project?
Daniel: We hope the music gets heard and enjoyed for what it is, without regard to genre. We hope people can feel the intention and appreciate the depth of choices, sonically and stylistically, and in the end find peace and dig the music.
Andrew: We’re always learning new things musically, and our music is a place for us to grow. I spent much of the year before this record playing acoustically and writing with just a guitar in hand. Many of these songs just came through that, so we thought best to leave them as they are. Also Daniel developed his pedal steel playing, and drums which helped form the sound of this record. We just hope to open up our sound and make the music we would want to hear, and also create a record we can play live with instruments and a band.