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Elliott Smith And Mike Doughty's EDM Collaboration?




This is something I could have never expected! It’s extremely strange to hear Elliott Smith in such electronic dance soundscapes! Mike Doughty has shared three new tracks featuring Elliott on Soundcloud, and there is no other way to put it, he totally went EDM! Seriously, the founder of the band Soul Coughing and Elliott Smith apparently recorded vocals for these three tracks around 1998 and, according to the LA Times, Doughty says they were ‘intended for something hip hop and electronic inspired’:

‘In 1998, Elliott recorded some a-cappella vocals for me, specifically to sample and slice-and-dice over beats. They sat on a cassette for 16 years. I just dug it out and completed our collaboration. To be totally clear–this kind of track is exactly what he and I intended to make’, he posted on soundcloud.

So these tracks sat in the lost and found for years but can finally be heard, there is ‘The Record’ which obviously abundantly samples and distorts the vocals of ‘Bottle Up And Explode’ over beats, drum loops and electronic weirdness, ‘Dogs’ (you can actually hear Elliott talking at the beginning of this one) which samples the same syllable so many times it can get a bit on your nerves, but at least it is quite upbeat, with the same bouncy beats you can hear in many EDM number. And there’s ‘Burn (Aah Fuck)’,… and you know what?I kind of like this one, there’s a certain melancholy and all these fucks are very Elliott. Also, according to some experts, you can hear the lyrics of ‘Real Estate’ in ‘Dogs’ and ‘Going Nowhere’ in ‘Burn’.

So now what? Is it really an Elliott Smith and Mike Doughty collaboration? You have to realize they were finished a long time after the vocals were recorded, but Doughty is formal: ‘To be totally clear — this kind of track is exactly what he and I intended to make!’ and the LA Times thinks ‘it’s proof that he was open to experimenting with novel styles and equipment (like a binaural head microphone) even in his singer-songwriter heyday’. Pitchfork posted a long excerpt of an interview with Doughty that they did for the long homage published at the occasion of the tenth anniversary of Elliott’s death. You have to know that Doughty is a big fan of Elliott:

‘He was in L.A. for some reason. He said, “Oh, I’m doing this thing for this movie.” That’s what he said and it was Good Will Hunting… He downplayed it. He was kind of like, “Ehh, I can’t believe I’m doing this thing.” But I think he was just cool kids-ing it. You know, because he thought I’d be like, “Oh, that’s so lame, dude. It’s a fucking movie.” But I wouldn’t have said anything like that ever.

But anyway, so I just wanted to do something with him. I didn’t wanna do something– you know, a rock collaboration would always end up just somebody doing a backing vocal and you’d be like, “Yeah, well, if you listen really closely, you can hear J Mascis.” Whereas in hip-hop music– first of all, I have to say, we don’t claim that we were running in hip-hop circles; it was just my obsession– someone would come in and do a verse. They would have their own part of the song.

So I was trying to figure out how to do this and what we ended up doing was he just came down to the studio and sat in front of a binaural head. A binaural head– I don’t know if they look different now, but in the late 90s they were grey foam sculptures of a human head with a bone structure and a brow and a nose on it for facial features, with two specialized microphones in each earhole, and when you would listen back to it, it would just be an incredibly realistic stereo effect. really like if you record a street scene and if you close your eyes and have headphones on, you would seem submerged in the street scene. So we sat in down in front of this ludicrous device and he sang two songs, and the idea was I was gonna figure something to do over it and I didn’t have anything good, but I have these a cappella versions. I wish I knew where I put them…’

And he finally found them, but the reception from Elliott’s fans has been a bit cold or even aggressive so far, some are talking about a sacrilege, a punishment, and discussions are in full force on Mary Lou Lord’ facebook page. She is one who doesn’t buy it:

‘This is sort of like the mic they were fooling around with. I have no doubt it’s legit that Elliott and Mike got together and fucked around with a mic and Elliott did those songs, but what I find really hard to believe, is that Elliott wouldn’t have played a guitar and done it a cappella, and that he (and more importantly), that he would have been happy about this. No one can speak for Elliott, but imo, there is just no fucking way ….’ […] ‘There has to be a guitar track that went with these songs’ […] ‘I dont mean to come across as sounding like a dick, but isn’t this borderline illegal? I mean, I know nothing about EDM…I FUCKING HATE IT (EDM that is). and I feel that there’s a big difference between sharing something that is already done, and collaborating your own shit into it? That’s just fucked up.’

There is no way to know if Doughty really tells the truth since Elliott is dead, may be they were effectively goofing around in the studio and Elliott wouldn’t have never wanted these to be released, or may be he would have had a good laugh while listening to them! These tracks are sure not some lost EDM Elliott songs, he never heard the final result and this is entirely Doughty’s work there. Feel free to like it or hate it, it’s not Elliott’s, it’s something else and I certainly can’t speak for him. But I am not someone who could get outraged for this sort of ‘blasphemy’.

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