Break It!

4th September 2015

Do you know what I enjoy the most about producing music? Taking a track and completely turning it on it’s head. In the past I’ve made heavy metal tracks into jazz pieces and made classical concertos into dirty hip-hop tracks. With that, I’m excited to introduce Rebecca Freeman, an extremely talented singer/guitarist/pianist and all-round awesome lady from Northamptonshire. Here’s a quick clip of the un-edited, raw version she sent me:

I fell in love with the track straight away. I loved how raw and honest the music was and I especially enjoyed the syncopated feel of the chorus which subtly flashes a glimpse at Rebecca’s reclusive virtuosity. I had a fantastic idea what I wanted to do with the piece; I wanted to make it slightly more up-tempo indie track with a full band with  double bass and maybe some french horn to be a little quirky. But before you build a house you need to lay the foundations.

Now the first thing that stands out track, which is very obvious, was the irritable squeaking/clicking of the sustain pedal on the piano. This turned out to be an absolute nightmare editing. By removing the frequencies of said noises from the isolated piano tracks also removed way too much of the nuances from the piano making it sound tinny. I even tried to convolute (FFT filters for the win!) an edited and unedited version of the piano, heavily compressing them with specific gain drops on the un-edited track but alas it still didn’t sound right so I abandoned the piano altogether.

Which left me with just the vocal track. It had been recorded to a click so tightening up the timings was a doddle and no correction was needed as the singing was spot on. I laid a quick beat behind the verse and quite liked the feel it was giving. This however stretched problems into the chorus with it’s off-beat feel so I rearranged the timings so it landed on beat 1, giving it a more contemporary feel. After that, well… I went nuts basically! I think I had cabin fever at the time and thought I’d try and be funny giving a sweet, innocent vocal line the most-over-the-top, dirty music I could come up with. And you know what? It stayed.

The first draft I came up with was a bit too “happy” sounding so made it slightly more minor which I think now perfectly reflects the undertones of the lyrics. Bar mixing up the sections I added a little bit of distortion and a smidge of auto-correct on the vocals just to give it a bit more of a digital feel. Which the difference becomes obvious at the end of the track where I pay homage to the original version with having that non-processed feel to the vocals with my own upright piano section.

In the end I was very pleased with the outcome of the track, considering I had no intention in making it into this genre of music, but I consider it to be an extremely happy accident! I also consider this exercise as a learning experience, how I shouldn’t hold back and not be afraid to go wild with music. Now, my only hope is that Rebecca will still speak to me after I’ve decimated her song…

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