Producer Vance Powell Talks Phish’s ‘Sigma Oasis’ & More On ‘Under The Scales’ Podcast

By Scott Bernstein Aug 3, 2020 8:57 am PDT

Acclaimed producer, mixer and engineer Vance Powell appears on the latest episode of Osiris Media podcast Under The Scales hosted by Phish lyricist Tom Marshall. Powell and Marshall discussed Vance’s career and work with both Phish and Trey Anastasio.

Vance Powell mixed and engineered Trey’s Ghosts Of The Forest record and mixed, engineered and co-produced Phish’s recently released Sigma Oasis LP. Powell called Marshall from Nashville for a conversation that began with talk of Vance’s early days in music. The six-time Grammy-winning producer recalled how he got into stereo gear in high school and jumped into the world of computer science in college. He started hanging out with a band called A Picture Made and became their front of house engineer. Vance wound up quitting college to pursue music full-time.

Powell went on the road with Jars Of Clay and then was recruited by John McBride to work at the new Blackbird Studio in Nashville. Vance’s recalled his “big break” was mixing The RaconteursConsolers Of The Lonely in 2008, the beginning of a long and fruitful relationship with Jack White. Powell also spoke about working with legendary producer Dave Cobb and mixed and engineered albums for a who’s who of musicians from various genres.

The conversation turned to Vance’s collaborations with Trey and Phish. Powell was connected to Anastasio’s manager, Patrick Jordan through his work with Brandi Carlile. Vance’s first chat with Trey lasted two hours and the pair hit it off. Powell then headed to Anastasio’s The Barn facility in 2018 to work on Ghosts Of The Forest. Powell shared memories of the three-day session that yielded the LP.

After the Ghosts Of The Forest experience went well, Phish called upon Powell to work on Sigma Oasis. Vance explained how important it was for everyone to involved to capture the quartet’s live sound. As such, the members of the band didn’t even use headphones as they recorded the LP. Vance noted his job was to make sure Phish sounded like Phish and to add input into the process when it came to capturing the best take of each song.

Marshall led Powell through a discussion of certain Sigma Oasis tracks towards the end of their conversation. Vance then discussed how Phish originally wasn’t going to rush putting the album out, but then the timeline changed once the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic began. As such, Powell threw himself into the project so that Phish could release Sigma Oasis in early April.

Listen to Vance Powell’s appearance on Under The Scales below:

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