Last week we posted the version of “Hydra Fancies” that appears on We Bumped Our Heads Against The Clouds, the new Believer CD curated by Wondaland Arts Society creative director/Janelle Monáe producer Chuck Lightning. In the name of context, I mentioned Monáe’s “Make The Bus,” featuring Kevin Barnes, and that she appears twice on on Montreal’s forthcoming False Priest. Since then it was announced of Montreal’s touring with Monáe this fall. Continuing the association: Outside of “Hydra Fancies,” Barnes appears on Lightning’s comp as a Prince-like featured guest for “Depraved Valet,” a smooth slow jam by Wondaland-associated artist Roman GianArthur. I was curious about all these W.A.S. overlaps, so I asked Barnes a few questions. Read his responses and then check out “Depraved Valet.”
STEREOGUM: Janelle Monáe sings on False Priest‘s “Enemy Gene.” Is this how you met Chuck Lightning? Or did you meet Janelle via Chuck? In either case, how did that collaboration take place?
KEVIN BARNES: Actually, my clone met Janelle’s clone at a ski resort in Colorado a few years ago and they were the ones who introduced us.
Meeting the W.A.S. was a major influence/inspiration on False Priest. I’m so happy to have Janelle on a couple tracks on the record. I feel like she is the best vocalist and performer alive right now. So it’s a major blessing to have her involved in our world.
STEREOGUM: In Chuck’s liner notes to the new Believer CD, he mentions you sending him a “Hydra Fancies” demo. Did he have any suggestions for it? Did you send him anything else from False Priest?
KB: I sent chuck a bunch of False Priest works in progress over the course of the writing process. His input was very important to me. It was great to have someone like Chuck to present my new songs to, ’cause he got all of the musical references. He also turned me on to a bunch of things, like Parliament and Philip K. Dick, that had a major impact on my creative process.
STEREOGUM: In those notes, Chuck also mentions what he thinks Jon Brion brought to the track. How’d working with Jon shift your original demos or your general aim? Or did he help you achieve/crystallize a certain sound/goal?
KB: Jon played a huge part in the making of False Priest. Without him it would’ve been a different listening experience for people. He helped me create a fuller and more intensely emotive sound. I learned so much from him. He was an absolute angel to work with.
STEREOGUM: “Hydra Fancies” strikes me as a radio-ready love song. (Even the psychedelic exit — it reminds me of prime vintage Beach Boys.) Can you imagine of Montreal “crossing over” with this one?
KB: Ha, I hadn’t really thought of it. I guess that would be cool. I don’t see it happening though. It’s not 1967, after all.
STEREOGUM: What’s the deal with Roman GianArthur?
KB: Roman GianArthur is gonna be the story of 2011, he is a musical genius, a brilliant arranger, writer, performer … he’s probably a good cook as well. Just you wait Henry Higgins, just you wait — when his album drops, people are gonna drop their groceries!
Chuck’s thoughts on the song:
The days at Wondaland start when Roman GianArthur sits down at the grand piano and plays his morning selection. Sometimes it’s Debussy, sometimes it’s Stevie Wonder. Other mornings, he plays songs like this one. Georgie Fruit (a.k.a. Kevin Barnes) might join him. How can one piano take so much funk?
Get more info about We Bumped Our Heads Against The Clouds at believermag.com.