- Album Songs recorded during this session officially appear on the Egypt Station Official album.
- Henson Recording Studios, Los Angeles
More from year 2016
Some songs from this session appear on:
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“Egypt Station” was mostly produced by Greg Kurstin (with the exception of “Fuh You” produced by Ryan Tedder), and recorded between 2016 and 2018 in various locations, mostly Henson Studios in Los Angeles, Paul McCartney’s personal studio Hog Hill Mill and Abbey Road Studios. The exact recording dates are not known.
From an interview of Greg Kurstin by Rolling Stone, July 3, 2018:
How did you first meet Paul McCartney?
We did a session together for this film. I’m still not sure if it’s happening or not, but we spent one day live in the studio with a full band, a brass section, background singers and everything for this song that Paul had written for an animated film. I don’t know what the status of it is, but I think it was a trial for Paul and me. I think he wanted to see what it was like working with me. That was the first time.
Do you know the name of this movie?
I don’t, to be honest. It’s an animated movie based on a book, but I don’t know exactly what. I really didn’t get that much information on it.
How long ago did that happen?
At least three years ago, if not more. My timeline skills are horrible, but it was at least a year before I began working on the album.
How did that one song turn into you working on a whole album with him?
A year after that session he reached out about working on some stuff. It wasn’t really like an album commitment at the beginning. It just sort of evolved into that. He expressed that he was into the idea of working together on some stuff to see how it went. In the beginning, I believe, it was just him and his band in the studio. He brought in some songs and we started working on them. It felt like a good vibe and we were very comfortable with each other. We’ve worked together since then in little blocks of time in between his tours and stuff like that. It would be two weeks here and then another two weeks there. Sometimes we were in America and sometimes in England. We’d mix it up. This was spread out after a couple of years. […]
So this all happened across a period of two years when he had downtime between tours?
Yeah, during his downtime. I think if you were to add up all the time it would be four or five months. We worked pretty civilized hours. 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. […]Greg Kurstin – From Rolling Stone, July 3, 2018
The “High In The Clouds” session mentioned by Greg Kurstin was held in February 2015. “It was a least a year before I began working on the album” and “this was spread out after a couple of years” suggests the recording sessions for “Egypt Station” lasted from 2016 to 2018.
Still in RollingStone, Greg Kurstin explained how those sessions went :
What shape were the songs in when you began? Did he have demos?
It varied. Sometimes he’d come in with a little bit of piano part with a vocal that he recorded on a phone. Sometimes at the studio in England he would kind of demo a little idea by himself where he’d play a few different instruments. Sometimes they were a little bit more arranged, but most of the time it was just a sketch of an idea. Sometimes he’d work them out in rehearsal with the band.
Sometimes it would just be him with a little seed of an idea and he’d ask me to help arrange the song where I could say, “Oh, maybe that section will go into that section and maybe you’d call that the chorus and that the verse. Maybe cut this section in half.” Other times the same song would have different versions in different states, or we’d just create most of the song in the studio. He’d rehearse it with the band and then we would deconstruct that version and try pulling everything out and turning it into something else. There was a lot of deconstruction in the studio.
This was always his touring band, right?
Yes. His touring band is on the album, but I’d say a lot of it is him playing a lot of the instruments. He’s a great drummer. He played a lot of the drums on the record. And then sometimes he’d have Abe [Laboriel] drum as well. But there was a lot of time where it was just me, Paul and the engineers in the studio and I would occasionally play here or there. The bass, obviously, is pretty much all Paul. He also played piano a lot of the times and sometimes guitar. There’s a few songs that have his band and there’s a lot where Paul is playing most of the instruments. […]
What was it like the first few times you had to give Paul a note or ask him to change something? It must have been odd telling a Beatle how to improve a song.
It was [laughs]. It is strange, but I know that’s what he really wants from me. I just have to take a breath and say it. Sometimes it might not go over very well, but he was always really cool. I remember a couple of times where I might have suggested something that might have been challenging. I can’t remember specifically, but I remember him just sort of carrying on and I’m wondering, “Did he hear me?” Then maybe half an hour would go by and I’d say, “Hey, Paul, what about that idea I mentioned a little while ago?” He said, “Oh, I heard you. I was just pretending to ignore you.” We’d just laugh about it. Then sometimes two days later he’d try the idea and I’d be like, “Wow, OK.” I thought I failed miserably with the idea, but he came back to it and really tried. I think he’s always listening, always absorbing.
I did have to think a couple of times before I’d say something. But then after I got more comfortable with him and got to know him better, I just couldn’t think about it. I’d just throw out an idea and he’d be cool with it. Sometimes I would have to mention something two or three times if I really believed in it. If he challenged me and wasn’t into the idea, I would realize, you know, that this is coming from a Beatle. He’s tried everything at this point. He’s done experimental albums. He’s done pop albums. Anything I could possibly ever want to do in the studio, he’s been there and tried it.
Before you began recording, did you guys talk about the sort of sound you wanted to achieve on the album?
Yeah. He would mention the variety that Beatles records had and he wanted to bring in different moods, different ideas. There are some songs that just rock and there’s some that are more acoustic and there’s a Brazilian-influenced one and just so many different kind of things. Sonically, he wanted to avoid anything ordinary. He wanted to experiment. Take a song like “Hunt” or “Hunt You Down” – I’m not sure of the exact title he ended up using. He’d say, “Let’s pull out the guitars. A guitar is too obvious here. Let’s have a cello doing that.”
He loved to pull everything out and try to be minimal. Sometimes we did have a lot of things going on, but other times we’d strip it way down and say, “Let’s just have drums and one orchestral instrument. Let’s have bass clarinet playing what would normally be a guitar part.” He really wanted to push the arrangement in unusual ways. I was very supportive of that. It’s easy to flip into the usual, “Here’s the band playing the song in a very typical way.” But he wanted to push the boundaries. […]Greg Kurstin – From Rolling Stone, July 3, 2018
Last updated on March 27, 2021