For a decade now, we’ve employed a multitude of artists, photographers, writers, and musicians. By day they use their hands and brains to build ice creams from the ground up. By night they tap their off-the-clock skills to hone their crafts.
Last month—at Jeni’s behest—10 of these people pooled their talents to record songs inspired by the deep space-vibe of our 2012/2013 Flavors From Earth collections. Calling themselves Jeni’s Company Band, the gang settled into a Columbus studio and emerged with Flavors From Earth: The Album.
The four-song album—three originals and a re-tooled version of the Byrds’ classic Eight Miles High—is included as a free digital download in every box of pints shipped now through April, 2013.
Right now, it’s available on iTunes and in the Google Play store, and you can stream it on Spotify. And much to everyone’s delight here at Jeni’s headquarters, it will be available on limited-edition, real-deal vinyl in mid December at all Jeni’s scoop shops and jenis.com (more on the exact date when we know the exact date).
Singer-guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Matt Beckler, of Columbus’ Sable Spurs, wrote two tracks and produced Flavors From Earth: The Album with Drew Bullock and Tim Neely.
Before he began, Matt zeroed in on exactly what he knew he did and didn’t want to hear.
“I knew we didn’t want to write ‘ice cream songs’,” says Matt, who wrote Is It Cold and The Flurries, Wild and White. “I knew I wanted to come up with the opposite of jingles.
“But I knew I wanted to try to capture the element of exploration that is reflective throughout Jeni’s Flavors from Earth concept. I really wanted the sonic landscape to indicate that we were indeed going into a different realm.
“The way Jeni put it when we’d talk about the album at (monthly) company lunches was, like, ‘We’re delivering these ice creams across the country, but we’re also going to be sending these Flavors From Earth out into space, into the atmosphere.
” ‘They’re going to be like little time capsules rocketing into the unknown on a super-long journey.’
“That was a great launch pad for me. It gave me a lot of freedom. So, I just started writing these songs with a spaciness continuing through each one.”
For writing the “least spacey” track of the four on the LP, The Flurries, Wild and White, Matt drew prime musical inspiration from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams’ spot on the map.
“Ohio is conglomeration of North, South, East, and West,” Matt says. “It represents to some extent all of those regions, yet it’s not tied down by any. In that song, I wanted to approach the overall sound from that vantage point. There’s a little bit of old-country and western swing in there, and even a hint a hint of Chicago blues. It channels the spirit of the city streets and country roads I traverse daily.”
To write the words for The Flurries, Wild and White, Matt used as a lyrical guide a poem Jeni shared with him one day, Wallace Stevens’ The Emperor of Ice-Cream.
“It’s about sensing everything around you and just being alive in the moment,” says Matt, “which is what we try to do especially this time of year. It’s really festive and it’s about imbibing what’s immediately in front of your eyes.”
Singer-guitarist Yoni Mizrachi, who leads the Columbus band Maza Blazka, contributed the buoyant Let Go.
“Deep winter and deep space, when I started thinking about those two things, it just seemed that each forces you to embrace the unknown,” Yoni says. “I tried to get across that feeling in the music and the words, just letting go of preconceived notions and embracing what you’re dealt.”
As for the sole cover song, Eight Miles High, Jeni’s Company Band recasts the Byrds’ jangly psychedelic-rock prototype as a warm, slow-burning ember of a tune.“The Byrds’ version has those really tight harmonies,” says Matt, who arranged the track.
“The other songs on the album are pretty upbeat, so I thought it would worked out really great to slow this thing down. It’s got a really deep-space thing going on, and it’s ethereal, almost eerie.”
As a whole, the quartet of tunes draws direct inspiration from the classic singer-songwriterly fare and the fringes of ‘60s and ‘70s rock.
And while each tune was built with a framework anyone familiar with American pop music will recognize, each was created with sonic room to roam for the musicians. A spoken word bit here, a free-form guitar passage there—in each song, every part works together as beautifully as do the ingredients in our most labor-intensive ice creams.
“Flavors From Earth ice creams like Sweet Potato with Torched Marshmallows reflect the late harvest in Ohio, and also the warmth and emotion of Thanksgiving and the holidays,” says Jeni.
“Our album is a perfect accompaniment. It glows with the warmth of whatever fire you’re near, and it evokes the range of emotions we all feel during the holidays and into deep winter.”
Flavors From Earth: The Album
Recorded in October, 2012, at Oranjudio Recording Studio, Columbus, Ohio.
Produced and mixed by Matt Beckler, Drew Bullock, and Tim Neely at Oranjudio.
Mastered by Chris Graham at Chris Graham Mastering, Columbus, Ohio.
- Digital files now available at iTunes and Spotify (and other music outlets).
- Free album download included in each box of Jeni’s ice creams shipped now through April, 2013.
- Limited-edition 12″ vinyl pressed at Gotta Groove Records in Cleveland, Ohio. Available mid December in all Jeni’s scoop shops and at jenis.com.
Jeni’s Company Band:
Matt Beckler, a Chicago native, ex-Nashville resident, and current citizen of Columbus, has played music his entire life. He’s toured the globe, and his music has been used in several TV shows and films. In addition to his work at the helm of Flavors From Earth: The Album, Matt heads up the Columbus band Sable Spurs.
Yoni Mizrachi, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and lead singer in Maza Blaska, hails from Columbus. With family ties to the Middle East that profoundly influence his songwriting, Yoni strives to create singular modern pop songs shot through a filter of traditional music from around the world.
Kylen Franz is a freelance violin and fiddle player now based in greater Columbus. His resume includes more than 20 years of piano, violin, and voice training, and performances throughout the Western United States.
Christine Deye grew up singing Phantom of the Opera as loudly as her lungs and pipes would allow to rapt audiences of corn and soybeans in the flatlands of western Ohio. She since has moved on to manage the best damn creative team in the land at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams.
Paul Duellman, a student of music since childhood, consistently seeks new things to try, appreciate, and enjoy. He performs with the G.O.R.E.E. West African drum and dance ensemble.
Drummer Joshua Hunt, of Columbus’ Sable Spurs, grew up singing with his family and started playing piano, guitar, and drums at a young age. After singing in his first band, he found a passion for drums and continued to play in several bands over the years.
Tears fell from eighth grader Steve Barrish’s eyes as he received his first electric guitar for Christmas. Next came Metallica riffs, Jimmy Page solos, and original rock bands in college, before settling down as the less-than-casual player he is these days.
Prior to his job as Jeni’s Street Treats truck driver, banjo player, guitarist, and singer Arthur Kadlec worked on conservation crews in Durango, Colo., taught tennis in Marblehead, Ohio, assembled Amish furniture in Fredericktown, Ohio, and worked for the Columbus bicycle advocacy group Yay Bikes!
Here’s Art—with producer Matt Beckler and drummer Joshua Hunt—recording vocals at Oranjudio in Columbus (followed by more photos from the recording sessions and the wrap party):
Back-up vocalist Christine Deye, spoken word specialist Jeni Britton Bauer, and guitarist Larry Doyle.
Co-producer Tim Neely at the board, with Kylen Franz doing his beautiful thing.
Maker’s Mark fuels any proper album wrap party.
And then there were three: Paul, Jesse, and Yoni at Jeni’s headquarters.
You know what kind of ice cream this group can produce.
Wait ’til you hear the music they make.
Check out Flavors From Earth: The Album soon in the Google Play store and stream it on Spotify. And next month (details to come), make sure to pick up the album in limited edition vinyl form at our scoop shops and jenis.com.