Singer Beck made headlines this past week when he released an EP recorded at Prince’s famed studio complex, Paisley Park. Paisley Park Sessions, recorded for Amazon Music, includes “Where It's At” off Beck’s iconic '90s album Odelay and a medley of Prince classics, all recorded at the Minnesota estate the late superstar built in 1985.
Beck was the first major artist to record at the studio since Prince’s death, and the videographers commissioned to capture that occasion were Dallas natives Cal Quinn and Aly Fae.
The duo made a name for themselves as music photographers in Dallas known for capturing high-energy live shots and the behind-the-scenes candor of personalities like Charley Crockett and the Texas Gentlemen, and championing budding stars like Frankie Leonie. In the last year, after touring with country dynamo Margo Price, the couple signed to creative agency Greyland and moved together to Nashville.
The roster of talent on the other end of Quinn and Fae’s lenses has gotten larger since their move. Just this September, their agency set them up to film another Amazon Music project, Jack White's band The Raconteurs at another legendary studio, FAME, in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.
But Quinn and Fae say they were particularly honored at the chance to shoot inside Paisley Park, as they say they're the first outside crew allowed to shoot inside the space.
“It was pretty insane with all the stars aligning," Fae says. "Paisley Park has literally never ever let a camera crew come in and shoot there. It was incredible.”
The videographers say they were given access to areas that are normally off limits to outsiders.
“We were able to interview Beck on Prince's chair, ” says Quinn, who believes their own experience as artists is the reason they get booked for these kinds of gigs.
“I think they all get that from us, like, 'Cool, they get that we’re creating art here. I can interact with them, I can be open, I can be silly,’” Quinn says.
He remembers one especially memorable studio moment with White: “The Raconteurs were going in to record this song, a favorite of them, that was recorded in that studio, and did their version of it,” Quinn remembers. “We talked to [FAME owner] Rick Hall’s son and he found the last pressing of that vinyl and gave it to Jack. It was this super cool moment and Jack, like, giggled. It was this really cool, intimate moment.”
Quinn says that he and Fae maintained their professionalism at Paisley Park, though they were in awe of the star who once roamed its rooms.
"It was amazing walking in, and you have to kind of center yourself like, OK, this is a gig, you have to be professional, and on the other end, you don’t want to close yourself off to feeling how incredible this is," he says. "The energy is so palpable there, like this is the mecca.”
The estate staff first showed them around the museum, which has Prince memorabilia on display, Quinn says. “They have all of his relics, every iconic outfit he wore, his purple piano. ... It was so moving.”
Fae says the staff told her stories of Prince's last recordings, mostly late-night sessions with jazz players.
“You walk in and it feels like it’s something bigger than yourself,” Fae says of the estate. Quinn agrees. “Even though [Prince] is not there, you feel like you’re in the presence of one of the greatest artists to ever exist," he says. "But then you go into planning mode,” Quinn continues, referencing the setup before filming.
The videographers met Beck the day of the recording and first ran through logistics together with their agency. They say the artist shared funny stories while on short breaks in between recording.
“He’s just really easygoing. He has such a kind nature spirit about him," Quinn says of Beck. "We were doing so many takes. The band wanted it to be perfect. They wanted to stand up to Prince’s standards, and so there would be times that Beck would come check on us, like ‘How are you guys doing?’”
Quinn says they spent about half of the 10-hour day following the singer around with their cameras.
“We were getting a workout," Quinn says of the singer's moving around. “He was very energetic.”
“Seeing Beck and his band flow and just pump out a ton of songs ... a bunch of different versions right in front of you, was really like a crazy experience," Fae says. "It was just like musical masterminds, all of them in the room.”
Beck was happy with how the videos turned out, Quinn and Fae say, in near unison. “He was super thrilled," Fae says of the singer. “We sent him an almost finished cut just to let him know where we were at, and he was like 'Oh my God, that’s amazing, keep it!’
The band was wearing purple, and, as Quinn says, "trying not to geek too hard."
“It was a really amazing combined experience between our crew, the staff and their band,” Fae says.
The pair continues to work on unusual projects, which lead them to remarkable adventures — like spending days in the Joshua Tree desert for Ruthie Collins' album cover, or on a high-speed chase in South Africa when a taxi followed their car because the cab driver mistook it for a clandestine Uber — but they jump at any chance to come home.
Quinn says that it made sense for them to follow opportunity as all the labels are in Nashville, but they are calling for local artists to come through their studio when they visit in December. "Our hearts never left Dallas," he says.
Watch Beck at Paisley Park below:
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