When the Shelter in Place order took hold, Julie Cornett and Steve Beck, the chief songwriters and musicians of Needle reunited to work on new music. While some of the tracks had been on the shelf for a while, they also worked on completely new songs. This collection of tracks has become their new EP The Long View. We sat down with Needle to talk about the new EP, their music and much more!
OSR: What first inspired you to start making music?
Needle: We both dabbled in songwriting and playing prior to connecting and forming Needle. Julie grew up plucking away at piano and guitar and started memorializing her creations when she bought a 4-trak recorder in early 2000. Having assembled quite a few compositions over the years, she put out her feelers on Craigslist and Steve responded as he had just set up a recording studio and we met up. Over the next few months, we got together regularly and recorded some of Julie’s and some of Steve’s compositions creating our first album Song Your Mother Never Sang You.
OSR: How do you feel your sound has evolved over time?
Needle: We’ve always been lo-fi in terms of instrumentation and production. We like using actual instruments (Steve travelled to Bishop to record an old giant pipe organ in a church for some tracks on our EP St. Timothy’s, for example); however, some of the newest songs were composed using GarageBand and you can hear some more electronic elements. We would then import them into Pro Tools to dial in the sound and edit as we see fit. Over time, we’ve perfected the process and feel it is evident on The Long View.
OSR: The Long View is a collection of new and older songs, why this combination?
Needle: This wasn’t an intentional strategy on our part. Life happened and time got away from us but we’d meet up and get inspired to capture a track here and there. We always intended to eventually put these songs out and, over the years, a few new ones were created. Then the stay-at-home orders with COVID-19 gave us both the time and space needed to curate and finalize The Long View.
OSR: What is your favourite and least favourite song on The Long View?
Needle: It’s really hard to pick a favourite but we tend to gravitate towards ‘Her’ when people ask. It’s such a personal song and the saxophone orchestration from Dana Colley is hypnotic. It’s impossible to pick a least favourite song though our least favourite aspect of the album is that we could have made it longer!
OSR: Is there a theme to the collection?
Needle: It’s a very reflective collection and one theme is waking up from dormancy with a purpose of reclamation and acceptance. We encourage you to listen to The Long View as a whole.
OSR: If the band were pack animals, what would they be and why?
Needle: We’d both be careful and deliberate sloths, taking our time to leisurely enjoy the process.
OSR: What is your creative process?
Needle: We send each other rough compositions, take a listen, and then connect via Zoom to discuss. Steve discovered a streaming program where we’ve been able to jointly listen to tracks and make real-time modifications just as if we were back in The Noise Room studio in our early years. Privately, Julie sits down at her piano or grabs her guitar and lets the feelings come out in melody.
OSR: How has COVID-19 affected your ability to produce your music?
Needle: Oddly, it gave us the needed time and space to finally focus on completing this latest project. It would have been more ideal to get together like old times in the studio; however, we made it work using Zoom and the aforementioned streaming program.
OSR: If you could collaborate with any artists, who would it be and why?
Needle: David Byrne because of his genius compositions; Beck because we hear some similar lo-fi and heartfelt folky-ness; Lucius because we can hear them singing the harmonies on ‘Awake’ and some other harmonious tracks.
OSR: What can we look forward to from Needle in the next 12 months?
Needle: We’re not sure what the world will look like over the next 12 months, but we are trying to work on some remote videos to expand our audience. We also have a remix of ‘Outskirts’ from Los Angeles-based Elle Belle coming out late summer/early fall.