Tree63: In the Studio

Album title: Land
Label: Independent
Release date: Summer 2015
Producers: Tree63
Number of Tracks: 12
Studios: Farmland Studios (Nashville) and Center Street Recordings (Nashville)

For this installment of In The Studio, we reconnect with our South African friends from the band Tree 63. I got wind of their sessions happening just down the road at Center Street Recordings Studios from head engineer/manager Britt Edwards (The Swift) and engineer Chris Cameron. When digging a little deeper and inquiring about any upcoming tour stops for the band, lead vocalist John Ellis stated “To be honest, we’re still a little surprised we even recorded a new album.” But that doesn’t necessarily mean they have backed-in to laying down new material.

“Over the last few years I have been in South Africa writing and recording solo material—I’ve released two albums and an EP. I’ve also been producing quite a lot.” says John, who has also tasked himself with lecturing college English and raising a family during the band’s hiatus. Bassist Daniel Ornellas has continued to live in Nashville area touring with Worship Republic, Brenton Brown, and teaching at the Christian Music Industry Academy. Drummer Darryl Swart has been touring with bands like Friday Night Satellites, The Wisers, and building his chops as a studio engineer and producer in Calgary, Canada.

Despite being oceans apart, it’s easy to see that the band has continued a creative energy that they now collaboratively bring to a long awaited new project. When the dust settles and the final notes have been mixed and mastered, we anticipate seeing where Tree63 will land, and what lies ahead for them as a band in the very near future.

MARKING A RETURN: The last time we were in a studio together was in late 2006, early 2007, when we worked with Joe Baldridge on our last record for InPop, Sunday! The songs on Land are mostly new, but there are a couple of older songs that we always believed in that never made it onto previous Tree63 recordings. We’re really glad to finally have them on an album. There are also a couple of pleasant surprises for some of the more dedicated, long-term Tree63 fans out there—stay tuned!

ALL IN THE FAMILY: We consider ourselves an original band that writes its own material. With the exception of covering a few songs like “Blessed Be Your Name” and “All Over The World” by our friends Matt Redman, we typically keep the songwriting within the framework of the band. We sing about what’s particular to us—this project is no exception. Looking ahead, we’re even going to be writing more as a band from now on.

FROG TRACK: (John) When I arrived in Nashville to begin recording I had come down with strep throat. Throughout the entire recording I could hardly sing a note, which led to us having to record vocals later in a different studio. The guide vocals we tracked early on in the process are all me croaking out unfinished lyrics, which would definitely make for an interesting record in of itself!

THE MEANING OF LAND: Land, as in, “land ahoy!” Sailing a long time on a vast and stormy ocean, full of fear and trembling, and finally land is in sight: safety, surety, an answer to many prayers. The spiritual life is a long journey, full of challenges, but land is in sight and we can trust what we see.

LAND IN FIVE WORDS OR LESS: Hopeful.

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About The Author

Kevin Sparkman
Managing Editor

After both on-stage and front-office experience in the Christian recording industry, (including co-founding Exit 3 Entertainment, Inc. and General Manager of hip-hop label Beatmart Recordings), Sparkman returned to Salem in 2014 from a Dir. of Communications position in the United Methodist Church. He became the Managing Editor of CCM Magazine in January 2015.