Collaboration was decades in the making

Old friends reunite for new album

“The Why & How” is the recently released debut album from Dayton-based home recording project Still Life. It features new material written by Scott McKinney or co-written with singer Renee Dubis but, in many ways, it’s the culmination of a lifetime music-making.

McKinney and Dubis were classmates at Centerville High School in the late 1970s and performed together in Borderline in the mid-’80s. However, they hadn’t seen each other in decades when he approached her about collaborating again.

McKinney recently discussed the musical reunion that led to the new acoustic rock project and the first album release of his musical career.

Do-it-yourself: “I always wanted to make an album. I had been in the studio a couple of times over the years with limited money. I’ve recorded stuff with various people, but nothing ever got off the tape. I decided to do it myself, so I got into digital home recording and started throwing money at it. There was a lot to learn so it took a while. I did some other tracks. I’m not a singer so I had other people come over and sing. I also re-recorded a lot of the Borderline originals as I was learning how to do all of this stuff.”

Starting from scratch: “I hadn’t talked to Renee in 25 years. She lived in Chicago for a while and was in Florida for years and then I heard she was back in town at the end of 2015. I showed up at her place one Sunday morning after church. I asked her if she wanted to work on some music and she said, ‘OK.’ I wanted to do the re-recorded Borderline songs but she said, ‘I don’t want to sing those,’ so we started writing.”

Finding a groove: “Renee hadn’t been singing for a long time so she had to get her voice back in shape while I was still figuring out my stuff on the recording end. We had to redo a bunch of stuff because I botched something or whatever so it took about four years.”

Musical reunion pt. 1: “Renee means a lot to me. She was a big part of my life for a longtime. It was very cathartic for us to reconcile personally and some of that shows in the songs. All of what I call the syrupy music is on this record. The idea was to get all of that stuff out first and then do a second album with the faster stuff, but we haven’t had a chance to do that yet.”

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