3 Years ago, when the band had just split up, leaving Emily MacLaren on her own, pretty much about to pack it in, Michel Esteban invited her to come to his house in the South of France to try to set up a studio and record songs for a future release on ZE Records.
The idea behind this recording was based on a frustration about what seemed to be standard production for most modern albums. A production where every instrument sounds punchy and powerful, where there is a bland democracy in the mix which renders everything clear and equally present, no mistakes or even happy accidents (which is, in fact, what people love in music, for example, Bowie correcting his bassist in the Gean Genie to, "get back on it...").
Emily : " Some of my favourite records have organs that sound like guitars and vice versa, or guitars that sound as if they were playing in the next room (some of this, as on early Studio One singles, was out of necessity due to tiny studios which displaced pianos or horn sections to the back garden), or underwater (as in the recordings of Joe Meek), or by handicapped children (as in The Shaggs)... "
So, even though we were recording everything onto computer, the idea was to stay away -as much as possible- from using it to clean up any live takes, quantize drums, or add sound effects. Instead, we just placed microphones all over the room - which, in a 500-year-old villa, was incredably vast and reflective -, in the piano, in cardboard boxes (the first take for the album, before we had any equipment in the studio, was a packing-bo being played as a hand drum for " In the Red "), on pillows, etc., and then just keep recording until we got the right take and then leave it at that, warts and all.
Emily MacLaren : " I was lucky to be given the opportunity to work with ZE (as I still recall Michel Esteban advising me at the start of recording to, "think of yourself as a sniper..."), as they didn't try to nudge me into any current musical milieu, but rather encouraged me to find my own sound and go with that. I always found the label to be a label of mavericks and misfits, who couldn't be easily categorised and perhaps got by on humour and character as much as on musicianship, and I suppose that's the only category I could ever really fit into. "
Beyond the fact that Emily MacLaren is a pure musical genius : writing, composing, and playing almost all instruments on the album, she never set out to write music in any particular style, as a listener she gravitates towards fingernails-on-chalkboard guitars of the Birthday Party just as much as sentimental Roy Orbison ballads, just trying to let each song have its own style.
It's academics that try to dissect it and classify it to fit a particular style or even worse, target ; Michael Dracula just does its own music. Equally fortuitous was the fact that Michel Esteban, Michel Bassignani (ZE' Sound Engeneer) and Emily MacLaren all share the same obsession with music, especially for the Velvet Underground, David Bowie, Iggy Pop or Brian Eno, and the same priority that, although we wanted there to be a unique "sound" to the album, there were actual songs underneath that sound, and that those songs should each have a unique personality.
Emily's only other priority was contradiction: " I love music which is as charming as it is menacing (that usually goes for people, too...) and have always been inspired by the Kenneth Anger film ‘Scorpio Rising', and how those songs, which to some might seem innocent, bubble-gum doo-wap, are rendered so haunting and sinister in the film ".