1. PLAY A HIGH-PROFILE SHOWCASE.
In 2008, Hogan joined Neko Case at an in-store appearance at Amoeba Records in Hollywood. Andy Kaulkin, the head of Anti-, was in the audience. “Andy came up to me and said, ‘I want you to do a record.’ I thought I was being punked,” she remembers.
2. CALL IN FAVORS.
Kaulkin suggested that Hogan ask all the musicians she’d accompanied to write songs for her. “I wanted to call my record I’m Not Worthy,” she says. “I was scared to write people with the request.” The first person to respond was Vic Chesnutt, who wrote “Ways of the World” for Hogan, a song about a precocious girl’s life journey. Songs also came in from M. Ward, Stephin Merritt (of the Magnetic Fields), and Andrew Bird, among others.
3. FIND A PLACE OF INSPIRATION.
Last April, Anti- flew Hogan and her frequent collaborator, the Chicago musician Scott Ligon, out to L.A.’s Eastwest Studio, which once was used by the Mamas and the Papas and the Beach Boys. “It was a magical place,” recalls Hogan.
4. TRUST YOUR BAND.
Hogan recorded 15 songs in five days with Ligon, Dap Kings bassist Gabriel Roth, drummer James Gadson, and legendary soul organ player Booker T. Jones. The most vexing was a heart-wrenching ballad penned by British pop surrealist Robyn Hitchcock—that is, until the band came up with the idea of using Willie Nelson–like chords. “It became this cool country song with this black humor to it,” says Hogan, who made it the title track.
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