Bonus Song: “Bitter Dancer” – Fleet Foxes Cover

Since last week’s song is still in progress, I thought I would share this Fleet Foxes cover song I recorded this past weekend. Jeff Schwinghammer and I went out into the fresh snow on Sunday and found an awesome spot to shoot a music video:

Behind the Song

It was a pretty slow night on Friday, so I decided to finally record a Fleet Foxes cover. I had learned “Montezuma” a while back, with the intention of doing a one-take recording. But I decided instead to try out my favorite moment in the entirety of their new album Helplessness Blues: “The Plains / Bitter Dancer.” I really wanted to learn these beautiful three-way harmonies.

Production-wise, I tried to keep things simple. I recorded the main fingerpicked guitar line on my electric, then laid a couple other guitar lines on top of that. The “cha-ka-cha-ka” rhythmic section after the first verse is actually muted electric guitar strumming. I ran it through a vocoder noise effect to make it sound a little like a snare drum.

Ableton Live's vocoder effect in "Noise" mode.

Behind the Video

Jeff and I brainstormed ideas for the video on Sunday morning. Our first plan was to greenscreen three of me lined up and singing together. But that idea seemed way too gimmicky after seeing some of the naturally beautiful footage Jeff shot outside.

When we started our journey outside to film, we didn’t have any idea what we were going to shoot. We just hoped there would be something cool around the lakes in Minneapolis. Sure enough, we spotted the awesome Kenwood Park Water Tower on our trip around Lake of the Isles.

With this iconic image in mind, we spent the next couple hours grabbing shots that we could edit together into an abstract story. Don’t ask me what it means. It’s so mysterious it just defies all explanation.

To add to this mystery, Jeff shot me singing in our dungeon-like basement, in near darkness. I have to confess I imagined myself looking pretty dorky singing this song, but Jeff’s lighting was like magic. He really did an excellent job with this whole video. I’m thankful he was willing and able to work with me on this and finish it up in just two days.

You can check out more of Jeff’s work and say hi on YouTube, Twitter, and at

One thought on “Bonus Song: “Bitter Dancer” – Fleet Foxes Cover

  1. You sound great, and I like the idea of a cover of the week song. I found you because of your Pinky and the Brain cover, which is just what I needed. Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.