Big Thief in Miner Street Studio | photo via Weathervane Music

Brian McTear has overseen over 50 episodes of Shaking Through, the music production documentary series produced by his non-profit, Weathervane Music. But until the latest edition featuring New York quartet Big Thief and guest producer Luke Temple of Here We Go Magic, McTear and his crew had never been so nervous.

That’s because Temple and Big Thief decided to go into the one-day recording project, which worked on the band’s song “Mother,” with basically no preparation or premeditation. Temple returned from Europe the day before the session, and had never even heard the song until he joined Big Thief at Miner Street Recordings here in Philly. So naturally the first step was to expose Temple to the song he’d be producing that day.

“Mother” was the baby of Big Thief vocalist Adrienne Lenker, so first she sang it solo with only her acoustic guitar. Then the band joined her for a more full rendition, leaving Temple with the decision of which direction he wanted to take. Of course, he took the easy way (or hard way, depending on how you look at it) out of it and opted to use both the solo and big band approaches.

I am no audio/recording expert, so I’m not going to try to explain to you the techniques used in the episode. But watch the video and get an up close look at how masterfully musicians can come together in a short amount of time and make something special. It’s a treat to be able to get a peek into their creative process, and it adds all that much more enjoyment to the experience of listening to the finished product. You can hear “Mother” below.

If you’re intrigued by what you see and hear from Big Thief, the band plays Boot & Saddle on Saturday, July 30th in support of Boogarins. For tickets to the 21+ show, head over to the XPN Concert Calendar.