When I was 15 and living in East Lansing, Michigan, I convinced my folks to let my band rehearse in our living room (my sister’s string quartet had already commandeered the basement).
I remember asking the kids in the band to leave their instruments at my house in between rehearsals. I realized only later that this would prevent them from practicing their individual parts in between rehearsals and seriously affect our ability to sound good at gigs. Woods.
Still, it sparked a dream for me: To one day have a space where instruments would be permanently set up and anybody could play them at any time. Oh, and wouldn’t it be killer if everything was pre-wired to record what came out?
I held onto that notion until I finally got the chance to implement it. Just after starting Cherrytree Records in 2005 with the release of Feist’s “Let It Die” album, I took all of the instruments I’d bought over the years and set them up in my office. With the kind encouragement of Interscope Geffen A&M’s Chairman Jimmy Iovine (who patiently tolerated the sound checks from his office down the hall) and the expert help of my good friend and skilled engineer, Tony Ugval, I began recording performances from the talented artists that would visit Cherrytree.
Staff members Andrea, Scott, Kelvin & Brad helped capture the sessions on video and soon we began posting footage of these magical performances at www.TheCherrytreeHouse.com. Requests poured in from enthusiastic “Rec’ers” (members of our http://www.cherrytreerecords.com/ community) to make the audio available so we introduced a series of 3 EP’s entitled “The Cherrytree Sessions.” These were 3-song sets from Robyn, Lady Gaga & Keane (all still available).
To our delight, the more musicians performed at The Cherrytree House, the more creative DNA they left there. It seemed to seep into the instruments and walls and inspire more artists to come play. It was a teenage dream-come-true.
Before long, we found ourselves with an extraordinary collection of recordings: intimate at times, unexpected at others. Then, one day, while chatting with Interscope’s head of sales, Gary Kelly, he suggested we issue these exclusive performances in the form of an album – “The Cherrytree House Sessions, Volume 1.”
As consistently magical as Robyn’s performances are, I still don’t know if a better acoustic version of her song “Be Mine!” exists than The Cherrytree House recording included here. It still threatens to bring a tear to my eye every time I listen to it.
The heartfelt collaboration between Far East Movement and Frankmusik is one of the most emotional renditions of FM’s hit “Rocketeer” and Keane’s poignant “Somewhere Only We Know” performance here is nothing short of breathtaking.
The delicate timbre of Feist’s near-impossible voice enchants on this intimate version of “Intuition” while Mt. Desolation succeeds in using just about every instrument at The Cherrytree House for this riveting take on their “State of Our Affairs.”
I remember the maestro, Sting, gracing us with a lute lesson at The Cherrytree House before diving in to this arresting version of “The Snow It Melts the Soonest” (Me: “How many strings does it have?” Sting: “Too many.”).
Ellie Goulding and Natalia Kills both filled The Cherrytree House with their beautiful and haunting voices on “The Writer” and “Mirrors” (on which I had the honor of accompanying Natalia on the piano).
Kelis and Mohombi both turned their powerful dance songs into driving acoustic pieces with their hypnotic performances of “Brave” and “Bumpy Ride” respectively.
With “The Cherrytree House Sessions, Volume 1,” we’re proud to share what we’ve had the privilege to experience first hand: the generous talent and inspired performances of these amazing artists. Special thanks go to them and the kids in my band who agreed to leave their instruments at my house in between rehearsals.
- Martin Kierszenbaum, Cherrytree Records, Santa Monica, California, April 2011
1) Robyn “Be Mine!”
2) Keane “Somewhere Only We Know”
3) Feist “Intuition”
4) Far East Movement & Frankmusik “Rocketeer”
5) Sting “The Snow It Melts the Soonest”
6) Ellie Goulding “The Writer”
7) Natalia Kills “Mirrors”
8) Mohombi “Bumpy Ride”
9) Kelis “Brave”
10) Mt. Desolation “State of Our Affairs”