All about the sound
At the Zurich Sessions, we bring together highly acclaimed musicians from all around the world and from different musical genres. Peter Baumgartner and Bulldogfish Productions are the arrangers behind the Sessions. The Zurich Sessions are a unique experience for artists, organisers and fans. Our goal is to create a matchless event you will never forget.
Interview with Peter Baumgartner
What has attracted you to the Zurich Sessions idea?
I have been fascinated by the idea of the Zurich Sessions as a platform to bring together unusual and experimental musical setups. The Zurich Sessions don’t follow the approach of conventional pop music productions of today’s music industry, instead the ‘session nature’ of the recordings allows for the individual artists to actively contribute to the final result. You don’t find this type of recording very often these days – this is why I became interested in the concept.
Do you feel like a pioneer of a new idea?
I don’t think there is anything pioneering to it. It’s rather a kind of revival of a past recording culture. I don’t want to sound like a nostalgic songwriter reminiscing about the good old times, but indeed the Zurich Sessions are a refreshing alternative to conventional productions of today, reviving values of the more traditional recording days and celebrating the talent of the musicians involved rather than the processing power of the computers. Funny enough, going back to the roots does kind of sound new again…
You still got some industry heavy weights in your production team…
Yes, I couldn’t think of a better fit than Dani Schaub. Our approach has been very demanding: We didn’t have all the time in the world to try around until we were happy. All we had were a few days of studio time with a bunch of talented individuals – we had one go at it. This is demanding for a producer as you need to conduct an orchestra following a script that is in the making as you go, to use an analogy. Or in other words, the production is to a large degree the session itself, with minimal overdubs and post-production efforts – and thoughtful mixing and mastering that retains the spirit, dynamics and vividness of the original sessions. A challenge for any producer, but a job well done!
You really seem to be happy with the outcome.
I really am. It makes the sound feel so much different than if I had recorded my band one after the other in isolated recording rooms of the studio. I had done this enough in the past and the thought of going down that route again didn’t interest me at all.
But you also need the trust and support of a label that believes in you. Can you tell us about the role of Bulldogfish Productions?
I’m lucky. Bulldogfish Productions gave me the ‘carte blanche’ for the 2013/14 Zurich Sessions and I welcomed the opportunity with a lot of enthusiasm: It gave me the chance to gather some of my long-time friends as well as new inspirational additions to the ‘Peter Baumgartner Band’ to interpret new as well as some of my old material with a fresh approach. It allowed me and the Executive Producer, Dani Schaub, to draw on the massive talent, diverse musical backgrounds and huge experience of a group of A-list artists and sound engineers that is unique and remarkable by any international standards.
What have been your major challenges?
Working on a musical production the way the Zurich Sessions do, there is always an experimental component to it that no one can foresee the outcome for. Especially if you work with such sophisticated artists who all bring their own expectations, views and of course egos… and you give all of them their space to involve themselves very directly. This uses a lot of your energy and you are taking the risk of ending up in complete failure. You don’t know what you are going into and the outcome is open and only partly under your control. Sleepless nights, I can tell you…
So the outcome must be even more rewarding?
Absolutely. Very enjoyable and rewarding if you start to realize how well it works. Listening to ‘Peter Baumgartner & Friends – The Zurich Sessions’, one can literally feel that it was more than just individual talent in one room. Without the fun and excitement we all as a team felt throughout those days, it wouldn’t have been possible to create this musical feeling for the recorded songs. We clicked instantly and the band harmonized perfectly together. In one sense it was an experiment that worked even beyond my own expectations.
What comes next?
I was back in the studio recently finalizing my vocals on the remaining tracks and some minor guitar overdubs. Thomas Fessler will do again the mixing at the 571 Recording Studios in Zurich before Tom Coyne will be mastering the music at Sterling Sound in New York. If all goes to plan, I should be able to release a next song in a few weeks from now already.