Nassoons collaborate with Ben Folds
Folds first thought of the project when a friend e-mailed him a link to a video of a Columbia a cappella group performing his song “Still Fighting It.” Folds liked the version and visited youtube.com to look for other versions, finding that numerous groups had created a cappella arrangements of his work.
“To be honest, a lot of the a cappella versions were better than the ones I had to begin with,” Folds said in an interview with The Daily Princetonian.
Folds then announced a contest on his website, open to all college singing groups, to post a cappella versions of his songs on YouTube. Folds then reviewed submissions and selected his favorites for the album. “I thought I’d have only about 40 or 50 to sift through,” Folds said, “but by the deadline I had received about 250 submissions.”
Nassoons president Connor Diemand-Yauman ’10 called the contest “a testament to the growing popularity of the collegiate a cappella scene.”
The Nassoons caught Folds’ attention with their version of his song “Time” from his 2005 album “Songs for Silverman.” The group’s version of the tune was arranged by Nassoons music director Jonathan Schwartz ’10.
“Ben Folds is one of my absolute favorite artists, and so I had already tossed around the idea of making my first arrangement for the Nassoons one of his songs,” Schwartz said in a statement.
Once the Nassoons and 17 other singing groups were selected, Folds set up times to record with each of them. “I only had about two weeks off this whole year, and I decided to spend it doing this fun thing,” Folds said, adding that all proceeds from the CD will be given to charity.
The group recorded “Time” in the Mathey College common room Wednesday afternoon. Nassoon Spencer Case ’09 said Folds was “relaxed and down-to-earth, which made it easy for us.”
Mostly, Folds gave the singing group free reign, but he did suggest that the singers keep dynamics in mind and “add more p’s to our soft and more f’s to our loud,” Nassoon Alex Ulyett ’11 explained, referring to “piano” and “forte,” the musical designations for softer and louder.
When the recording session finished earlier than expected, Folds let the Nassoons decide how to spend the extra time. “We asked him to play piano for us, and he did,” Ulyett said. “It was amazing.”
The Nassoons left the recording session satisfied with their arrangement and recording.
“The combination of Jonathan’s skillful arranging and the strength of our group sound made a really nice final product,” Diemand-Yauman said.
“We arrange all our own music, but before this we’ve never gotten the chance to talk to the actual composer of a song we do,” Case said.
In a small gathering with other Princeton performers after the recording session, Folds said he thought the Nassoons had recorded an ideal version within two takes, but, he added, “all these people had showed up and worked hard, so I figured, ‘Let’s do four.’ ”
Folds said he felt fortunate to be able to take on such a project. “I had never really paid attention to my songs being covered before, until now,” he said. “We had a genuinely fun time, and I can’t wait to hear the final product.”