Two Fredericton musicians continue to draw inspiration from their monthly recording project.
Last fall, Josh Sangster and Ollie LeBlanc made a demanding decision. Instead of sitting down to record an eight or ten song debut album for their duo project Honey Gut, they decided to commit to recording and releasing a pair of tracks each month for a year. So in October of 2016, Project 45 was born. Eight months later, they’re still at it.
With four months remaining in their ambitious year-long writing/recording adventure, we thought we’d check in with Sangster and LeBlanc to learn about how the project has unfolded and what, if anything, they’ve learn after releasing 16 of their planned 24 songs.
You’ve been doing Project 45 for almost a year now. After eight volumes, how has the project evolved or changed and what effect has it had on your writing and recording process?
Josh: I think it’s made me better at diving into a moment. You’re brain is always digesting ideas at all times. As for recording and production, almost all is in house and I’m always learning something new and figuring out what works. Ollie is an all-around pro, so I learn a lot from him.
Ollie: It’s really quite interesting. Being in the middle of it, you don’t necessarily ‘feel’ the progress quite as much. But it’s quite a bit more noticeable when you dig. What I can say is that, with time, we have become much better at creating what we envisioned in the first place.
I hear sonic improvements with each new release. Have you been able try new techniques with each new recording?
Josh: Absolutely. It seems like we’re always experimenting with the process whether through environment, equipment or style. It’s fun, which is really all we care about and we’ve figured out what we like and dislike.
Ollie: We’ve upgraded some of our gear and our musical chemistry has pretty much taken care of the rest. Fun fact: We very rarely record in the same room. I’d like to add that these songs aren’t necessarily meant to sound like they were recorded in a studio. We are capturing moments. Sometimes, the imperfections are the best part.
Tell me a bit about how you go about choosing the songs and do you actually record two at a time or are you simply picking from a larger body?
Josh: We have the luxury of just going with what we’re feeling. We have a few demos in the bank at all times and let the mood of the month guide us on choosing those, but often we will write a song for the release. The deadline pressure seems to spark creativity.
Ollie: It’s a spontaneous choice. We rarely question ourselves. We’re very fortunate. Everything seems to appear naturally and hit us on the head!
Is it always just the two of you or do you include guest musicians on any of these tracks?
Ollie: We’ve had a few songs come from older recording sessions with Jessy Forsyth (production) and Evan Ferguson (drums). More recently, Laura Perry (synth) appeared on “Franny Wisp”. I was really stoked about that. Laura and I played in a band almost twenty years ago. Things really do come full circle when you least expect them to!
Have you been playing live?
Ollie: We’ve played a handful of gigs since the launch of Project 45. That is definitely something that we’d like to do more. Because we both play a variety of instruments on the recordings, the songs often have to be adapted in order to be played live as a duo. I think that we’re ready!
Do you see this project continuing as a regular part of what you do?
Josh: We’re having a lot of fun with this project but I don’t think our imaginations will let us over stay our welcome.
Ollie: Our initial goal was for Project 45 to last a year and produce 12 releases. As of right now, I’d say that we’re leaning towards focusing on live performance once we’ve reached our goal. But that could certainly change. Sometimes, you just have to ride the wave wherever it takes you.
Check out the first eight EPs: