YELLOW GIRL ( 6 min 02 sec • DV • 2004 ) shot, directed, produced & edited by Julie Chow
WHEEL OF FORTUNE
(or, NARCISSUS & THE ECHO) (2004)
01 Red Like Wine 02 Orange (La Verité) 03 Yellow Girl 04 Bathroom Floor (Green Lights) 05 Blue Elephant 06 Bring Me Down (Purple Sweater) 07 Pink Scarf (Artificial Love) 08 Black and White Paintings (Acoustic)
All tracks written, produced & performed by Julie Chow.
"I guess it came together on an Amtrak ride back from Alameda to Davis, CA. I'd been toying with the concept for Wheel Of Fortune for a while, but it was on this train ride that the bulk of the album was formulated. The songs "Orange" and "Yellow Girl" literally leapt from brain to computer screen, and for the next hour and a half, I typed manically, sorting out melodies under my breath.
"This album came together in pieces, so in a lot of ways, I'm kind of surprised how it ended up. "Red Like Wine" had been hanging around since late 2002, but had never found an appropriate outfit; "Pink Scarf" was written in late 2003 and had established a reputation for being difficult to record. "Blue Elephant" similarly came in pieces, and didn't collect itself until the album was nearly half-completed. The only track that didn't go through any major development was "Black And White Paintings"—I nearly didn't include it because of its prominence, but the other tracks demanded its presence, so I included its grittier alternative to flesh out its rawness.
"This album is definitely a conceptual album—and by "conceptual", I mean that it was written with a particular theme in mind, rather than spontaneously and whimsically. For all the albums prior to this one, I've written songs, then compiled them to figure out what the narrative was. Not so with Wheel Of Fortune. The idea to write a record based on a color theme came on that very train ride from Alameda to Davis, and it was then I realized that I was halfway through. Tracks like "Bathroom Floor" and "Purple Sweater", "Orange" and "Yellow Girl" were all written specifically for the album—I wrote these tracks simply by responding to what came to mind in reaction to the colors, and then the songs would develop on their own.
"A lot of development also came during the recording process. Unlike with SoundRecorder, the program I used to record the last album, Audacity gave me a lot of freedom to experiment and play around with effects. As a result, I'd like to think this record reflects more influence from the miscellaneous artists I shuffle through my DiscMan: Radiohead, Rufus Wainwright, Björk to name a few... Experimentation was definitely an aspect I wanted to explore with this record, and I feel very fortunate that finally songs with French and Chinese lyrics made their way into the creative process. Whether the inclusion of such languages is effective is ultimately up to the listener's tastes—but I'm excited enough that the lyrics are even there.
"The title Wheel Of Fortune is not entirely sarcastic, although the mood of the album might suggest as such. After coming up with a color theme, I nearly titled the album Color Wheel, but then decided that title was too bland. Wheel Of Fortune was the next phrase that came to mind—the word "wheel" was what triggered it—and so it stuck. The subtitle, "Narcissus And The Echo" fitted itself to "Wheel Of Fortune" during the recording process. I started adding reverb and echo effect to some of the vocals, and then was reminded of the tale of "Narcissus and the Echo"...
"I'd like to think I've succeeded in created a "different" album, at least one that is not like the previous three that have surfaced. It's quite a selfish album (I won't deny that), but hopefully some of it can be recognized as tongue-in-cheek and not as somber as the others have been. Quite frankly, through all the musical collaborations (with ROMANIE GARCIA, NEURON-NEST and JESSE DAVIS) and film projects this year, I wasn't really expecting to record another solo record. This album came as a surprise, but also as a kind of relief, too.
"Kudos to all the cool cats who've supported all the miscellaneous dabblings in film and music this past year. And also those who kept telling me to push rather than rot in the mud. I probably would have imploded without you. Hopefully these songs provide a colorful palette (okay, lame joke) to the soundtracks of your imagination. (If not, then maybe next time...)"—JC, July 2004