Sean Ono Lennon on remixing father's music: It was therapy

NEW YORK (AP) - Sean Ono Lennon's first experience of revising his father's catalog was terrifying and intimidating, but he had two main goals in mind to keep him updated: keeping his father's message in the songs and the Music by the late icon reached a younger audience.
On Friday, the 80th birthday of John Lennon, “GIMME SOME TRUTH. THE ULTIMATE MIXES ”is released and features 36 tracks handpicked by Yoko Ono and Sean Ono Lennon who are serving as executive producer and producer on the project. The duo worked closely with engineer and mixer Paul Hicks to keep the essence of the songs, which were completely remixed.
Ono Lennon, who has the same birthday as his father and turned 45 on Friday, came out stronger at the end of the sometimes difficult process.
“I knew it was obviously going to be a little introspective to me. I was scared to be honest. I was afraid of messing things up or of being unhelpful or of being too emotionally difficult to keep listening to my father's voice, ”said Ono Lennon. "Double Fantasy in particular triggers a whole time of my childhood that was difficult because then he died. I actually had a lot of resistance while working on this album."
“In the end it was very healing. It was like therapy. In the end it was very therapeutic. I am very happy that I got to do it. Without this project I wouldn't have revisited those songs on "Double Fantasy". It turned out to be some kind of cathartic thing. "
“Give me some truth. THE ULTIMATE MIXES ”contains Lennon's post-Beatles songs from“ Imagine ”to“ Woman ”to“ Whatever Gets You Thru The Night ”and will be released digitally, on CD and on vinyl.
“For me the real motivation is that this music cannot be forgotten. Especially "Gimme Some Truth" for example, with which we decided. I never felt that my father's music was needed more in relation to the message than it was literally this week, as it is now, ”Ono Lennon said of the protest song.
"I think a lot of people who are cynical assume that," Oh, everyone knows these songs. "No, they don't. There are many children who do not know the difference between Ringo and Paul. There are many children who do not know the difference between Mick Jagger and my father."
In an interview with The Associated Press, Ono Lennon spoke about the relevance of "Gimme Some Truth", worked on his father's music and found his voice in the process.
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AP: How was it to work on this project?
Ono Lennon: It was really deep and heavy and beautiful. I've never listened to the original multi-track tapes before. Just hearing my dad's voice or even muting the vocals, just hearing what the instruments are doing was amazing to me. It was great fun. It was a little daunting I think. I am still nervous because when you play with music that is so loved and so classic and immortal there is some pressure there.
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AP: It's almost scary how "Gimme Some Truth" resonates today. Is that why the collection is called “Gimme Some Truth”?
Ono Lennon: At that moment we had no choice. I think "give me some truth" means something now. With that we wanted to lead. I think it's a message that anyone can connect to. Any good person from any city you are in. When you are a good person, what you want now more than anything is a little reality. It just seems like we live in an alternate dimension of cops. I think everyone feels that way. I think that is a very important message.
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AP: What was it like working with your mom on this project?
Ono Lennon: I was in the studio when I was young, so I learned from her how compression works, how delay works, how reverb works, how to play EQ vocals. I actually know a lot about their philosophy. Your main priority when mixing is to make sure the voice is clear.
She said that my father was known not to love his singing. He would refuse a lot. When she made the album Imagine, he would go to the bathroom and she would turn it on again and he would come back and refuse it. ... She really believes that the worst thing you can do is bare your voice. She really wants people to hear the lyrics and she thinks the music has to serve the voice.
When it comes to mixing my dad's things, that's their priority. I think she's right.
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AP: This is your first time working on your father's music - why did you want to do that?
Ono Lennon: I'm just trying to help. That's all it is My mother is the boss and if I can help in any way, I'll be here.
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AP: All mothers are the boss.
Ono Lennon: She can trust me a little more now, after making several albums together and we traveled the world together. I was their music director for years. I think it took me a while, but I think she's so comfortable with me now.
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AP: Your dad wrote "Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)" about you - how was it revising that song?
Ono Lennon: In all honesty, it was my least favorite experience. It's just a little awkward. This song makes me feel like I'm infantilized or something. People always play this song and look at me with a smile like, "Isn't that cute?" I say, “Oh god, I'm an old man. I'm not a smiling baby in a baby food commercial.” To be honest, this song touches me, but as a musician, songwriter, and producer, it's musically my least favorite song because it's so sweet. It is great. I love it. Maybe it is impossible for me to be objective.
"Beautiful Boy" is a very family-friendly sound. It's not my aesthetic. Still, it was a privilege to be able to work on a mixture of a song that dealt with me and is very moving. And yes, I was very touched when I heard my father say my name. It's like "Goodnight Sean" in the end. That always reminded me that he put me to bed. He had some kind of ritual how he got me to bed. He turned the lights on to the rhythm of his voice so it felt like his voice was controlling the lights. Then they would go out. I have memories so it was nice.
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AP: Did working on your father's songs inspire your own music?
Ono Lennon: It's interesting because first of all the songs that are the easiest for me to cover, those of my father's, especially vocally. Whenever I try to sing one of his songs, I feel like I can sing it great. I share a lot of the same chords. My voice isn't as hard as his, but it's easier to sing his songs than others'. It teaches me about how to sing great.
I think I had a lifelong difficulty finding my own voice. I had a lifelong problem finding my own voice because every time I tried to sing great, I sounded more and more like my father. I actually hate my first couple of records because I always tried not to sing like my father and it actually took a lot of effort. I've been singing in this kind of whispery, tearful way that I don't like. That was actually kind of unnatural for me.
Listening to this record ... all of its records, the compilation we put together made me realize that I just have to stop trying not to sing in a way that makes me sound better. I think it will help me with the vocals for the album that I'm working on right now. To just not hold back. Just sing somehow. I fear that if I press my voice I will sound too much like him, but what's the point of singing if I don't sound good?

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