The Making of #ProjectELECTRICO

What is #Project ELECTRICO?

#ProjectELECTRICO is the bringing together of musicians from around the world to build a Pop record with international rhythms, flair, voices, and sounds. #ProjectELECTRICO is home to the stories behind the making of my third album, ELECTRICO, with Producer Ronan Chris Murphy (King Crimson, Ulver, Terry Bozzio, Tony Levin). #ProjectELECTRICO is a celebration (cheers, sherefè) and collaboration of dialects, tunings, instruments, life—and the real people behind each voice.

Exploring in Venice, Italy for #ProjectELECTRICO | Kathleen Blackwell (Artist) and Ronan Chris Murphy (Producer) Exploring the Sounds of Venice, Italy for #ProjectELECTRICO | Kathleen Blackwell (Artist) & Ronan Chris Murphy (Producer)
It’s a record (ELECTRICO) where it’s Western pop music, but we are taking a lot of groove and color from different places around the world. ...We’re here in Istanbul because we want the influence of Turkey, so any ideas you have, please tell us, and have fun! Ronan Chris Murphy (#ProjectELECTRICO and Recording in Istanbul, Turkey)

Where is home base for #Project ELECTRICO?

Home base for #ProjectELECTRICO is Austin, Texas, where I currently live, and Los Angeles, California, where Ronan currently lives and operates his studio (Veneto West). Ultimately, home base for #ProjectELECTRICO is anywhere that you are in the world…we’re coming to you. Destination: Global.

Album Cover for ELECTRICO | Kathleen Blackwell | Photography by Mark Guerra | Styling by Leah Moon Album Cover for ELECTRICO | Kathleen Blackwell | Photography by Mark Guerra | Styling by Leah Moon


When I saw on Facebook that Ronan was going to be in Italy and France working on other music projects and doing his Home Recording Boot Camp in Northern Italy at the same time I was going to be in Spain with my fiancé, I dialed-up Ronan while he was still in L.A. and said:

Hey Ronan, I have a crazy idea...let’s do a creative-fun recording project in Italy, or Spain, or Morocco, or Turkey, or Ireland, or…wherever our heart (and logistics, and cultural immersion) takes us. Since we will both be in Europe about the same time, let’s meet overseas and make a global record, let's bring in world cultures. Kathleen Blackwell (KB)

Ronan said:

Heck yeah! I love that idea! ...An electro-Pop record with organic, percussive grooves and instrumentation from other parts of the world…let’s do it! Ronan Chris Murphy (RCM)

I have always loved travel, world cultures, and foreign languages, so doing an album from different parts of the world did not feel foreign to me what-so-ever—actually, it just felt right. I grew up in the multi-cultural city of San Antonio with a Hispanic/Latino, fiesta influence, I learned Spanish in College, took Latin in High School, studied Classical piano (and music theory—it’s own language) for 10+ years, survived the rock-n-roll lifestyle, along with corporate life, living in one of the biggest epicenters for multicultural immersion in the world—Los Angeles, California—backpacked in Europe for a month while in college, traveled to Europe for a month when I was 14, traveled to India, Iceland, Estonia…and needless to say, I am ready to journey the collaborative walk of music-making around the globe.

So, with my love for different cultures and musical ear in tow, our journey for #ProjectELECTRICO began.

Shortly after speaking with Ronan, I flew to Los Angeles for two days of pre-production to start to map out our journey and look at songs. I had been songwriting with Arthur in Austin, TX, so I brought some demos out to L.A. with me (well, I added them in DropBox and shared the folder with Ronan), and while in L.A., Ronan and I etched a basic plan to meet in Venice, Italy to start our worldwide recording trek.

Once in Venice we would then determine where we would go, though we were already loving the idea of going to Morocco, and Tenerife, as well as Istanbul, or various other territories. After a fabulous, insightful discussion and meeting about Moroccan music with Moroccan music expert, Richard Horowitz, while still in L.A., we kept Morocco on our list, but opted out of going to Morocco on this go-round, as we knew we’d be overseas at the height of Ramadan and wanted to be respectful.

So, Istanbul it was! Istanbul is a very cosmopolitan city, bridging East and West, and after recording in Venice, Italy, we went for the experience of a lifetime…visiting a place I had never been, recording with a pro production team at Deneyevi Studio, and with world-renown Saz player, Murat Ertel, in Istanbul, Turkey. Um…awesome!

After Istanbul, we flew back to Italy to record outside of Venice in the Veneto Region (and close to Vicenza) of Northern Italy. Bella! We recorded at Prosdocimi Recording Studio and had a blast!

Northern Italy at Prosdocimi Recording Studio with Mike 3rd, Ronan Chris Murphy (Producer), and Alberto Stocco Northern Italy at Prosdocimi Recording Studio with Mike 3rd, Ronan Chris Murphy (Producer), and Alberto Stocco

The “ELECTRICO” Structure

How are we going about recording for #ProjectELECTRICO? As for the structure of the recording process, our schedule and/or even the music, both Ronan and I have an open heart and mind, and we both understand there is a basic structure for a pop song: Intro, Verse, Pre-Chorus, Chorus, Verse, Pre-Chorus, Chorus, Bridge, Chorus Out. So, that’s where we start, the rest is open territory.

We also both like things to sound really flipping-hot, so we went into this project with the idea that we’d explore, gather, listen, re-gather, listen, get inspired, do some nitty-gritty work, listen again, and ultimately make space for other artists to bring their work, ideas, and inspiration to the table, to add a global element, to provide a unique, cultural influence.

At this juncture, for #ProjectELECTRICO, we are determining that we have 6 phases (1a, 1b; 2a, 2b; 3a, 3b) with 12 subsets from start to finish—from a concept to a record, from a dream to a final product as an artist:

Phase 1a = Gather, Explore, Gather More, Create
Pre-production = Overarching + Minutia

  • Austin, Texas
  • Los Angeles (Venice), California
  • Venice, Italy
  • Istanbul, Turkey
  • Veneto Region, Northern Italy

Phase 1b = Compile, Build, Compile More, Complete, Determine Phase 2a
Post-pre-production = Clean-up, Determine & Renew

  • Los Angeles, California

Phases 2a-6b = Repeat, but with new locations

“ELECTRICO”—the Title Track

One of the demos I brought to the table was a song called ELECTRICO, it’s a song about the whole world having a party under one tent—–one bright, electric sky, the world aglow. ELECTRICO became our symbolic theme song, the anchor to hang our hat on, hence the project title: #ProjectELECTRICO.

Yes, as an early U.2. fan msyelf, if you, too, are a fan of U.2., you might recognize the “word” Bono sang, “electrico,” as track #10 off their Boy album, titled “The Electric Co.” Naturally, when Bono sang the “electric co.,” it sounded like one word, “electrico,” hence the name of my new album, but with an entirely different meaning than U.2.’s “The Electric Co.”:

Here’s a lyric snippet from my chorus:

Salam (Hello) - Marhaba (Welcome) - Salam, bright ELECTRICO! (Hello, bright electric sky) - One tent, the world aglow. - Salam, bright ELECTRICO! (Hello, bright electric sky) - Hands raised, for the show! KB (lyrics to ELECTRICO)

I use Arabic words, “salem,” and “marhaba,” because languages and native dialects (by artists from various parts of the world) are intended to appear throughout the context of my ELECTRICO album.

#ProjectELECTRICO was born in Austin, TX, and thus far has traveled to Los Angeles, California, then onto Venice (Italy), Istanbul (Turkey), and Campagnari (Italy), as well as hit various parts of the world in exploratory form—from Iceland to England (London) to Latvia (Riga) to Finland (Helsinki), and back through New York City and Chicago (Delta Blues).

#ProjectELECTRICO is a celebration (cheers, sherefè) of dialects, tunings, instruments, life—and the real people behind each voice.

Follow the making of #ProjectELECTRICO on Twitter @KatBlackwell #GlobeTrotMusicBuzz.