NASA reveal details of working with MIA, Tom Waits

Squeak E Clean discusses elaborate self-funded project

American producer/DJ Squeak E Clean (aka Sam Spiegel) has recruited a dream team of artists including Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Red Hot Chili PeppersJohn Fruscinate, MIA, CSS‘s Lovefoxxx, Tom Waits and David Byrne for his latest project, NASA (North America South America).

Speaking exclusively to NME.COM, Spiegel revealed what is was like working with these musicians and the unique circumstances that brought them together during the four years he and co-collaborator DJ Zegon (aka Ze Gonzales) have been working on the album.

“One really fun thing about thing about the record is I got to go travel around and go to a lot of really cool places and different people’s studios,” Spiegel told NME.COM.

“It seems that almost everyone I’ve asked to be on the record has been really down for music just for inspiration, it’s not about cash or anything. It was like, ‘Oh cool, I like this music, I wanna be involved.'”

Spiegel said that working with MIA was a lucky accident that occurred when Spank Rock‘s Naeem Juwan came into the studio to lay down vocals on a NASA track.

“I played them the track and they were feeling it, and before I knew it, (MIA‘s) Maya (Arulpragasam) was in front of the mic saying, ‘Gimme a track. I wanna try a chorus.’ And I was like, ‘Fuck, that’s awesome,'” said Spiegel.

Spiegel said he had to hunt down Waits in his northern California studio in “fucking farm country in the middle of nowhere,” but it was worth it.

“He got so fucking into it,” Spiegel said of Waits. “I’ve never seen someone pour their soul into a performance as much as he did. His pinkie toe was going into that performance.”

Spiegel also said that when funk legend George Clinton came to Spiegel‘s home studio in Hollywood, he came with a full entourage and did “some crazy shit” in the vocal booth.

Spiegel funded the entire project himself through his commercial scoring business, without the aid of a record label.

He’s also working on a mini-documentary about the making of NASA, as well as animated shorts for each song with storylines co-written by his famous director brother, Spike Jonze (‘Being John Malkovich’, ‘Adaptation’).

The hunt is on for a record label to release the as-yet untitled album, which Spiegel said he hopes to put out later this year.

–By our Los Angeles staff.

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