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IN Covers: Local Musicians Re-Imagine the History of Hoosier Music
Posted September 14, 2017 by Seth Johnson
WRITTEN BY
Seth Johnson
ON
September 14, 2017
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From the Highlighters to Marmoset, local musicians have put their own spin on many local favorites through Musical Family Tree's IN Covers program. That being said, we are always looking for new voices to take part in the fun.

Our Seth Johnson caught up with IN Covers coordinator Sharlene Birdsong to discuss the ins and outs of the program.

 

Seth Johnson: For those who are unfamiliar, what is the IN Covers program?

Sharlene Birdsong: IN Covers is a program that allows Indiana musicians to tribute local music in a way that they normally wouldn’t be able to by covering another local musician’s song.

SJ: What kinds of artists is the IN Covers program looking for?

SB: Musicians who want a challenge and are encouraged or inspired by music coming from Indiana. Musicians who are creative and who have a drive to stand out locally. I feel like people who are inspired by the music do the best covers and seem to have the most fun with it.

The artist or band doesn’t have to have experience with recording. They don’t have to have a record out. They don’t have to be experienced in recording at all.

SJ: And there are no genre limitations with IN Covers, correct? The program is open to artists of all varieties?

SB: Absolutely not. I would love to have more genres covered, especially outside of rock (i.e. country, hip-hop, jazz, soul, world, etc.). I would love to have different artists covered, and I would love to have different artists participate as well. Right now, we’re working on a couple IN Covers done by hip-hop artists, and producers that have made beats and songs from samples of old 45s.

SJ: Walk me through how an IN Covers recording session unfolds, from start to finish.

SB: Musicians who are interested can hit me up by messaging the Musical Family Tree Facebook page. We talk about what song you wanna cover, and if it has any sort of tie to Indiana at all, it works with me. From there, we’ll schedule a date. Before you come to the studio, you should play through the song. Prepare with whatever instruments inspire you, and get ready to record and play the song through completely at least once.

Then, you come to the home studio, which is really small and more like a practice room. Bring whatever equipment you’d like to the session. When you get there, I’m totally open to trying out something new or trying out equipment that we have to get the sounds that you want. So we’ll do all the tracking there. And once everyone’s happy with the tracking, I’ll mix it. We’ll go through it together and make sure it sounds how you like. While we’re there, we have a photographer and videographer do their thing. And when everything’s finished, we post the song and video, and also do a little write-up on the MFT blog.

SJ: What can artists expect of the studio?

SB: It’s really low-key. It feels a lot like just recording in your bedroom. I just have a Tascam 8-track. We have a lot of great equipment here that we can use to make it sound awesome. But it’s really like a practice space, so people can feel comfortable and at home. We have everything we need there recording-wise, and we have a lot of cool vintage equipment for you to use too. It’s not a studio that you would see in the movies, but it gets us by. And, for people who haven’t recorded before, I think coming to the IN Covers studio is a good first step to see what the tracking process is like, what you have to be prepared for, and what the limitations of equipment are. I think it’s a great first step towards going to a bigger studio or going to a more professional studio. It’s a good way to know what to expect when you go and record a full album. If you haven’t recorded with your band before, it’s a great way to get to know the people that you work with. In studios, it’s high-stress a lot of the time, and you’re paying money to get through a song or get through an album. Recording at the IN Covers studio is a soft entry into that. It’s a small step into getting used to recording at bigger studios and getting to know the people you make music with.

SJ: What is expected from artists in the studio? How should they prepare for their IN Covers session?

SB: I am completely open to new ideas, so I’d say they should have an open mind. Obviously, be prepared to play the song. Be willing to let the creativity flow. Just see what happens and be prepared for an experience that you maybe weren’t expecting.

SJ: You mentioned a videographer comes to record these IN Covers sessions. Can you tell me a little more about that?

SB: We used to just do photos. But we’ve started doing videos, and I feel like it’s a great idea because the musician gets a song and a music video. It’s just a recording of the live performance. The videographer comes and films clips of the action happening. They put it together however they feel, and we put it out as a music video. So far, the artists have been really happy with the videos, and I’ve been really happy with them too. There’s no pressure. It’s not like you have to do a certain thing or look a certain way. You just do your thing.

SJ: If an artist is having trouble picking a song for the IN Covers series, what are some things you’d suggest to them?

SB: There are several great places to find old local music online (links listed below). Musical Family Tree’s archive is obviously the best way to find new local music. It doesn’t have to be a famous, well-known band. It could be any local song that you like.

Midwest 45s

45s from the Ohio River Valley

‘60s Garage Bands from Indiana

“45 must-hear Hoosier 45s” via NUVO

“100 Best Hoosier Albums Ever” via NUVO

 

SJ: At the end of the day, what are some things you’re trying to accomplish with IN Covers?

SB: IN Covers aligns with MFT’s goal of spreading Indiana music. But also, I hope that local musicians see that Indiana has such a rich musical history, and that so much has happened here musically. It’s cool to see your past and to able to see where Indiana music is going. I think it’s important to pay tribute to the musicians who built this state’s music community before we were even here.

Message us here to take part in our IN Covers program.

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