In the past, I’ve done all my production in my home studio. Lately, I’ve been trying to get used to working on a laptop so I can be more mobile. The transition has not been the smoothest. I’ve realized that my home setup is vastly superior to a laptop – at least for my working style. When I’m on my laptop, I have one screen, a track pad, and headphones. When I’m at home, I have two screens, a mouse, a midi keyboard, and good speakers. The dual screens and mouse allow me to work faster. The speakers let me hear an more accurate rendition of what I’m working on. The keyboard lets me be more creative – I can play ideas out instead of trying to hear them in my head. For while, as I tried to make songs exclusively on my laptop, I kept running into dead ends. I would get good starts, but then I couldn’t figure out how to move the tracks forward.
The Time Lapse Boogie started out the same way. I put together some drums, bass, and a few other instruments to make a decent foundation. At a certain point, I couldn’t add anything to the song even though it sounded very incomplete. After many failed attempts to go on, I finally tried working on it at home. As soon as I sat down at the setup that I spent years perfecting, the ideas started flowing. If my laptop is a toolbox, my home setup is a full workshop. I can get a good amount of work done with the toolbox, but nothing beats the full workshop experience. After realizing this, I continued to work on The Time Lapse Boogie on my laptop, but I also regularly worked on it at home. Here is the final result.
This is one of those songs that came after many false starts and unproductive sessions. Sometimes trying to find the right idea – musically or lyrically – is like casting a fishing line. The first few throws may amount to nothing, but finally, you feel tug and you have something to reel in. What I finally reeled in is a song about a subject that, as an artist, I frequently find on my mind. Lyrics are after the break as usual.
Maculele is a Brazilian dance/mock-fight performed with sticks. I’m not going into detail about the dance, but if you’re interested, there are plenty of videos available on Youtube. Several of the stories of its origins tell of a boy named Maculele who died fighting an enemy tribe that invaded his village. Several years ago, when I wrote the lyrics to this song, I had heard a basic version of the story but was unable to find many details, so I made them up. Now that there is more info about the dance available on the internet, I see I got some of my details wrong, but lets just call that artistic license. The music in this song borrows some elements from the music used for the dance, but the tempo and instrumentation give it more of a hip-hop feel. Lyrics are after the break.
I was looking through my archives and I found this unreleased track. I made That’s Dirty several years ago as a favor for DJ Dirty of Sundae Philadelphia. This one was made with the dance floor in mind because DJ Dirty wouldn’t have it any other way. Unlike most of my music, I did use a sample in this song. It’s a well known bit from Funkadelic’s Not Just Knee Deep. I didn’t try to obscure the sample in any way, but hopefully this should be a completely new way for you to hear it.
Sometimes when I start a song, I have a vision. Sometimes by the end, that vision is realized, and other times it isn’t. The idea behind Pinocchiobot was that all the the vocals would be performed by a computer voice. I figured that I would write some lines, stick them in a text-to-speech program, and then do some chopping to make them fit into the song. Instead, I ended up proving that even a monotonous, emotionless human voice is difficult to replace with a machine. I gave up on the text-to-speech idea and made Pinocchiobot an instrumental track.
Though the computer voice was left out of the song, as I worked on it, I imagined words a machine might by saying. This song is about a machine that moves and acts according to the whims of it’s puppeteer, but craves the type of attention a real boy would receive.
Lyrically speaking, Summertime Rain is an odd song for me. Instead of trying to tell a story, when I wrote this, I was trying to tell a particular feeling. If you mix feelings of expectation, uncertainty, mortality, and happiness, you will have the feeling I was trying to capture. Musically, I was going for something that’s kind of funk and kind of calm at the same time. This is a song that is easy for me to see imagine as a video. Maybe someday . . .
I started this song aiming for something calmer than the others I’ve posted so far, so before I laid down a single note, I set a slow tempo. Proving that music is never simple, this song ended up being relatively energetic anyway. Once I realized what was happening, I made no effort to change it because it seemed the song was trying to go someplace in particular. My task was to figure out where. Well, here’s that someplace. As usual, lyrics after the break.
I guess it’s normal for me to come up with music first, then start writing words that seem to fit it. Life of a Mouse started that way. A few lines in, the idea for the final song started forming and I ended up rewriting the lines that had come before the idea. File this one under angry hip-hop. Read on for lyrics.
Valentine’s day is coming up, so I figured I’d do a song about love. Really Sad Love Song is about an artist who realises that many of the best songs aren’t about happy love. The music is made up of some of my favorite musical elements – a deep, smooth bassline, lots of keys, and a back-to-basics type hip-hop beat. Click read more for the lyrics.
To come up with the music for Monster, I just added and removed instruments, notes, and parts until I came up with the basis of something I liked. At that point, I had to listen to it a bunch of times before lyrics started coming to me. I didn’t know what the song was about until the first verse started forming in my head. Hit the read more link to read the lyrics.