Thursday, April 5, 2012 , Updated 12:17 p.m., April 27, 2012
John Dufilho releases solo record filled with big-name artists, many from Texas
Sir Earl Toon of Kool and the Gang; Chris Walla from Death Cab for Cutie; Rhett Miller of The Old 97's: This collaboration is a rocking success.
You know those musicians: They can play anything, write a handful of songs and record them all on their own, making them a certified DIY artist. Dallas’ John Dufilho fits that mold perfectly. Not only is he currently in three bands: I Love Math, The Deathray Davies, and The Apples in Stereo, he’s also releasing a solo record entitled John Singer Sergeant that features tracks sung by a multitude of talented singers that include Ben Kweller, Sarah Jaffe, Will Johnson, Rhett Miller, and Salim Nourallah, to name a few.
Dufilho started writing and recording the tracks for John Singer Sergeant just for fun, sending them off to fellow musicians to add their vocal touches. “I didn’t have any plans to put it altogether on a record. It was more for the joy of recording and hanging out with friends of mine,” Dufilho said. “But I collected enough of them that I thought it would be worth putting out as a full-length.”
John Singer Sergeant promo vid
He said some of the songs have been finished for years, including “Big Distortion” featuring the Denton band Centro-matic’s Johnson, while others were completed just a few months back.
His creative process is quite the undertaking: After writing and recording a song, which includes his vocals and instrumentation, he sends it to one of his friends/musicians to sing on. Once he receives the finished product, he takes out his vocals and adds other instruments before finalizing the track.
All of that time and work in the studio has paid off, as the album is a satisfying journey through a wide range of genres and vocalists. It’s as if your iTunes is on shuffle, needing no attention or effort to make a fluid playlist that carries you through a busy day.
The title is a play on of the name of the famous painter, John Singer Sargent, with a conscious misspelling of his last name. Dufilho came across an art book featuring some of his pieces and thought his style really fit what he was doing musically, due to its dark and interesting nature. He changed the spelling of the last name because he thought it was funny to think of himself as a musical sergeant. “I didn’t want it to sound like a band cause it’s not a band, it’s just me, but I also didn’t want it to sound like a solo record because that usually implies that the artist is the singer with a backup band,” Dufilho explained. “I actually wrote, recorded, and performed all of the songs but then got a different singer.”
The record comes out April 10 and will be accompanied by two shows in Austin and Dallas. Dufilho has gathered as many of the singers from the album as he can to share the stage with him in order to truly re-create the collective record. One of those artists is singer/songwriter Jaffe, who will be at the Dallas show on May 5 at the Granada Theater.
“I think all of these guys are amazing musicians and singers on their own projects, so it made me try that much harder to make a great record,” Dufilho said. “This album is my reverse take on what a solo record should be.”
Here's video of Dufilho's song, "Gone in a Second," recorded in a live session with Jaffe at KXT's studios: