Jonathan D. Haskell’s work as Seven Saturdays is informed by the desolation of afterhours Los Angeles. From dimly lit Mulholland Drive to the isolated streets of Downtown, it is in these quiet moments symphonic landscapes emerge; coming together to form the headphone-centric Seven Saturdays.
Seven Saturdays began as a creative concept in 2010 when Los Angeles musician/producer Jonathan D. Haskell wanted to sharpen his engineering skills on off days during the recording of his first two EPs (Seven Saturdays – which Stereogum described as “gripping and mellowly epic” – & The Snowflakes That Hit Us Became Our Stars).
Over seven consecutive Saturdays, Haskell challenged himself to write, play and record an entire song each day. Not only did this exercise lead to the band’s namesake and a full-length album (2011’s Love In The Time Of Anticipated Defeat), it also grew into something Haskell had not anticipated. “It was really cathartic because not only did a fully realized ambient record emerge from this experience, but that vision ultimately expanded the boundaries of what I initially thought my musical direction would be,” Jonathan explains, “whereas the first EPs were more structured and orchestrated, these ‘ambient’ recordings were free and sonically expansive.”
On the eponymous new Seven Saturdays album due out in May, Haskell merges these two creative approaches—the structured and the ambient-- into one holistic vision. “The fusion really played a part in the recording of the new record,” explains Haskell, “It is a combination of structured orchestration with continuous loops and arithmetic glitches—and vocals layered throughout.” The addition of the human voice is a significant change from Haskell’s past work. “The way I approached Seven Saturdays in the beginning was to build the most dense, sonically adventurous sound possible.” Jonathan states, “Occasionally instrumental work can feel detached. I began to notice the minute a voice was introduced, I felt a more profound resonance with the music. For Seven Saturdays, the thick beds of ambient noise needed to be there on my end, amped up as much as possible, while the vocals needed to be front and center to really emphasize that human connection to the underpinning of the instrumental base.”
Haskell recruited more than just guest vocalists for Seven Saturdays. The list of collaborators on the new release is vast, and rich with talent; it includes Daniel Farris (St. Vincent), Colin Stetson (Tom Waits, Arcade Fire), Rain Phoenix (papercranes), Rachel Stolte (Great Northern), Dan Schwartz (Sheryl Crow, Jon Hassell), Jerry Marotta (Peter Gabriel, Hall & Oates), Jim Evens (Helen Stellar), Vanessa Fernandez (Octover), Alex Lilly (Bird and the Bee), Matt Rollings (Lyle Lovett, Billy Joel), Genevieve Artadi (Pollyn), Jacqueline Santillan (Wait.Think.Fast), and Mike Garson (David Bowie, Smashing Pumpkins).
For Haskell personally, this Seven Saturdays album will forever be a signpost marking a significant turning point in his life. In the middle of recording of the album Jonathan left Los Angeles to pursue a MBA at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, planning to continue to work on the album remotely. It took ten days to drop out and return to LA to finish the record. Says Haskell, “Seven Saturdays required everything I have in me physically and emotionally to complete. I needed those ten days to reaffirm my path and realize that music is where it begins and ends. My only regret is that it took me ten days longer to finish the record.”