BILL FRISELL AND VINICIUS
Cantuária have crossed paths numerous times
over the years, including working together in
Frisell’s groundbreaking world-fusion ensemble
the Intercontinentals in 2003, and appearing on
each other’s recordings—but until the advent of
2010’s Lagrimas Mexicanas [EOM], they hadn’t
actually recorded and performed an album’s
worth of material as a duo. Cantuária contributes
seductively rhythmic nylon-string work,
tastefully layered percussion, and deeply emotive
vocals in multiple languages, while Frisell
interweaves gorgeous counterpoint lines, harmonies,
and atmospherics with his electric.
Did you do anything differently for this project
then you had done when you worked together
Frisell: We began with the title and the
basic concept, but otherwise it was wide
open. Also, the album was recorded in Seattle,
where I live, which was a luxury for me
because I was able to use a bunch of the guitars
and amps and pedals that I have at home,
rather than just bringing a single guitar to the
sessions as I usually have to do.
What are a few of the things that you had at
Frisell: It is hard to remember, but I’m
sure I brought some Telecasters, and a reissue
Fender Bass VI baritone guitar, and a toy Tele
that’s tuned up an octave. I also used a Jack
Anderson 1x12 combo and a vintage tweed
Gibson GA-18 Explorer, often recorded in
stereo. Effects included several fuzz boxes, some
exotic pedals, and a wah, which I rarely use.
Cantuária: I brought a lot of percussion
instruments and a guitar, but would
up using Bill’s Ramirez nylon-string acoustic
on everything. It is an inexpensive student
model that he bought at the Ramirez
shop in Madrid, but it is a really good one.
What was the recording process? Did you
just record together live to get the basic tracks
and then overdub the other parts?
Cantuária: Normally, I would record
something like a shaker, and then we would
play the two guitars together, building the
music from there. And we would usually be
together as we added new layers.
What’s making that ring-modulator-type
sound on “Mi Declaracion”?
Frisell: That may be a Line 6 DL4 delay
pedal. By creating a backwards delay and then
speeding it up really fast it makes this sort
of ring-mod sound. It may also have been a
Z.Vex Ringtone TT sequencing ring modulator.
There are some really intense fuzz sounds that
are mixed low on a few songs. What made those?
Frisell: They might have been made with
a Z.Vex Fuzz Factory, though I didn’t use it
much as it is so extreme. They also might
have been made by a Fuzz-Stang pedal, which
has a really grainy sound.
To what extent was the music composed as
opposed to improvised?
|Frisell (left) and Cantuária plugged and unplugged, respectively.|
Cantuária: We would work out the basic
form before recording—this is the intro, the
middle, and the end. And we would do quite
a lot of improvising as we were working out
the parts. In that sense, everything was an
improvisation. But by the time we recorded
there was a structure, and we played the entire
piece from beginning to end. Sometimes we
would punch in a fix here and there, but they
were mostly one complete take.
Frisell: Some of the things that may
sound spontaneous were actually built into
the songs, whereas others were just fortunate
Given the overdubs on the album, how do you
decide which are the essential parts when playing
Cantuária: I play the basic chords and
rhythms on the acoustic guitar, and Bill is
free to choose what he wants to play on the
electric. Although the essence of the songs
remains the same, when we are playing them
live there is a lot of improvisation, and we
never play them the same way twice. When I
play with Bill the music is just so rich. There’s
something special there, and we just fly!