by Mike Thiessen
Sleeping is, without a doubt, the secondary purpose of Courtney Carmichael’s Beausejour bedroom. For the past several years, it has functioned primarily as the practice space and recording studio of sundayclub, an alternative-dream pop duo comprised of Carmichael and Nikki St.Pierre.
sundayclub has spent the past several months recording their debut self-titled album, much of it in this space. “We honestly spent most of the summer down here, not in the sun,” laughs Carmichael. “We did a lot of hibernation.”
The technical aspect of the music is absolutely crucial to sundayclub, as anyone who’s seen them do their own live sound at shows will have realized. St.Pierre, who has been recording since he was thirteen years old, wouldn’t have it any other way. “Every single point of the recording chain is optimized and well-thought-out to be exactly what we need it to be,” he explains.
The guitar built by St.Pierre is a central feature of the band’s new record. “It has a sound to it that I don’t think you could get [with anything else],” Carmichael says. “As soon as he plays something on that guitar, it draws me in, and I automatically feel like I’m compelled to write something.”
“It sounds like me,” agrees St.Pierre.
Their Line 6 Helix modeler is also instrumental to their sound – almost everything the band uses is run through it, both in the studio and when playing live. “Everybody we play with seems to be mesmerized by the Helix,” says Carmichael.
For St.Pierre, it allows him to get the exact sound he wants. “There are a million effects on this thing,” he says, “but I use four. It’s the same four every time.” The day St.Pierre nailed down these four effects, after months of experimentation, was the day sundayclub’s sound really came together, in their opinion. “I stopped using it like a modeler and started treating it like hardware,” he says.
Universal Audio’s LUNA is sundayclub’s DAW of choice, with everything run through the Universal Audio API console, an emulation of the sound desk used by Prince, Fleetwood Mac, and Radiohead. sundayclub keeps the mixing simple, though. “I think with our dense mixes and arrangements, it would be really hard to make it work if the workflow wasn’t fast,” says St.Pierre.
One piece of gear essential to sundayclub’s upcoming album which does not reside in their basement studio is the Mexican P-bass of Kris Ulrich, with whom the band has been working extensively — anything not recorded in sundayclub’s basement space was done at Ulrich’s studio. The duo says that Ulrich, who they met at the 2022 Folk Fest Young Performers Program, has played a major role in increasing their confidence in their own work, as well as in laying down some thoroughly satisfying bass riffs on the record.
The duo is excited to put out the new album, slated for a spring 2024 release, but glad to have postponed coming out with music for such a long time. “We didn’t ever feel like the songs fully represented us, and we didn’t feel like they were good enough to be released,” says Carmichael. “I don’t think we had figured out how work, and we were still in the process of discovering our sound.”
The vast majority of this discovery process happened in this very bedroom studio over the course of the past year. “All of that indecision and jumping back and forth … it was all done in here,” says St.Pierre. “I haven’t really thought about that before, but this space is everything.” Carmichael agrees – “I think the most important thing about a space is being comfortable, and we’re both very comfortable.”