Books can be written about the mythology around the creation of My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless – and at least one has – but while it’s easy to think of a record as singular and otherworldly as emerging from some extra-dimensional wormhole, it was in fact recorded with conventional audio technology in the late ’80s/early ’90s by normal (relatively speaking) people in various studios around London.
In 2013, legendary producer Alan Moulder reflected on his role as one of the 16 credited engineers on the record for The Polymath Perspective:
And Guy Fixsen, who joined the production about three months in as another of those 16, discussed his experiences with Fast Company in 2014:
Happy compiles a few sources – including ones I’ve included here – into a general overview of the Loveless sessions:
And while an appealing part of the myth is that Kevin Shields disappeared into madness for years after his magnum opus came out, but he only did that a little and instead focused on bits of production and mixing work for other artists. And he was still willing to talk, on occasion, to the media about his work. In 2001, he talked to recording magazine TapeOp about the making of Loveless, still fresh in his mind after just a decade:
In 2004, The Guardian snagged an interview with Shields where he got into his state of mind and recluse lifestyle post-Loveless, the label issues that further stymied his work, and his slow return to making music – with additional colour commentary from former Creation Records boss Alan McGee, though not enough chinchilla insight.
The band officially reunited in 2008 for world touring and released their third album m b v in 2013. With that record – 22 years in the making – done with, Shields turned his attention toward his next project, the all-analog remastering of Isn’t Anything and Loveless. That task was eventually completed in 2017 and in November, Pitchfork ran an extensive interview with him about the challenges of an all-analog remaster of a record that had originally been created partially-digitally.
Around the same time, Rolling Stone talked to Shields about what his plans were next. While he had all kinds of projects on the go, it’s probably not worth mentioning that none of them have come to light yet.
The analog remasters were finally released in January of 2018 and in March of that year, NPR’s All Songs Considered had an hour-long conversation with him about the the challenges of the all-analog remaster process:
And shortly thereafter, Sound On Sound covered the same topic, but got deeper into both the band’s history and the technical nuts and bolts of their recording process and the remaster, focusing on the album’s opening track “Only Shallow”:
So here we are in 2021. It’s no surprise that those two EPs of new material originally promised for 2019 are nowhere to be seen, but more maddeningly for me, those remasters that Shields poured so much time – and money – into have been out of print since their initial run. I admit I blinked on ordering the remasters because of the shipping costs, but would absolutely not do so again. You’d think that an artist who’s had constant money issues over the years would be willing to take some from people who want to give it to him, but so far – nope.
In any case, if all of the preceding was too much for you to wade through, here’s a quick 5-minute video on the wonders of Loveless from Pitchfork, and the three official videos from the record.
Happy (My Bloody) Valentine’s Day!
Update: somehow I missed this 2012 interview at The Quietus with Kevin Shields, interestingly-timed between the completion (?) of the remasters, though years before they’d be released, and the completion and release of mbv:
Uncut posted in full their March 2018 cover story on the band, featuring interviews with the entire band on the making of Loveless:
Guitar columnist Huw Price reflects on his experience as an engineer on the band’s Glider EP: