What's better than one song? For NightBus, a band led by British vocalist Hannah Melbourn and Los Angeles musician Jack Kennedy, it's three songs in one.
That's what the group did with its track "When the Night Comes." Using a process it's calling "stereo 3-way," the duo recorded unique left and right tracks, so you can hear three different versions of the song.
If you listen to just the left channel, you'll hear a version of the song sung by Melbourn backed by an electronic dance-style track. If you listen just to the right, you'll hear Kennedy's more traditional pop-rock version of the tune. Put them together and you get a cohesive stereo version that seamlessly meshes both takes into a complete song.
"The idea was to make it sound like two totally separate recordings of the song," the 28-year-old Kennedy, who also serves as the band's producer, told The New York Times, "so that when you listen to them individually they have different vibes, but when they combine they still work, and they don't clash."
The video for the track effectively illustrates the concept by the frequent use of a split screen that shows Melbourn on the right side and Kennedy on the left, holding up giant red and blue earbuds, respectively.
The track is the duo's debut single and it's now available through iTunes, as well as an EP that collects all three versions of the song in full stereo, if you don't want to listen with one earbud. The five-song set is rounded out with the songs "Across the Sea" and "Twofer."
NightBus records for S-Curve Records, the label run by Steve Greenberg, the music executive responsible for bringing us Hanson and the Baha Men. It was Greenberg who came up with the concept after his daughter complained to him that songs sounded lousy when she shared her earbuds with a friend. "The more stereo you put in the record," Greenberg told The Times, "the less each kid gets the full song."
After Greenberg mentioned the comment to Kennedy, the musician took up the challenge and transformed "When the Night Comes" into three different songs after working on the tracks for approximately 70 hours on his computer.
Greenberg compares the "three-way stereo" concept to 3D movies, adding that the technique of splitting the audio makes the sound "jump out" more than traditional recordings.
With "When the Night Comes" does Greenberg have another monster hit on his hands or is this just a novelty, like a bad 3D movie?