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128: Producing A Dark Pop Song (Behind The Scenes) – With Chris Eriksen (Skov.)

We're super stoked to have Chris Eriksen as our guest on this week's episode!

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Book a free feedback call with Benedikt, the host of the show!

Chris is the artist behind "Skov.", a multi-genre project that blends Rock & Blues roots with RnB & Electronic elements to create a unique Dark Pop vibe.

Skov.'s single "Dark Ice" is featured in our online mixing course "Mixes Unpacked - Vol. 2", where Malcom Owen-Flood opens up his original session and walks you through every move he made while mixing the song.

In this episode Malcom and Chris explain how they built the perfect team and used a hybrid approach of both pro studio sessions and DIY-recordings to produce "Dark Ice".

They are talking about breaking rules, making bold moves, using elements of different genres, things they've learned along the way, engineering tricks and all the little bits and pieces which ultimately lead to the song that's now released.

Check out "Dark Ice" on your favorite streaming service and get Mixes Unpacked - Vol. 2 to learn exactly how Malcom mixed the song!

Mentioned In The Episode:

Silverside Sound (the recording studio they used for drums), Splice (samples they used), Soundtoys Decapitator & Little Alterboy / Waves Vocal Bender / UAD Fender '55 Tweed Deluxe / UAD Apollo Twin (plugins / gear they mentioned)

Chris Eriksen / Skov.:

Instagram

Linktree


This episode was edited by Thomas Krottenthaler.

Benedikt's voice on this episode has been recorded with the Antelope Axino Synergy Core.


Automatic Episode Transcript — Please excuse any errors, not reviewed for accuracy (click for full transcript)

TSRB 128 - Automatic Episode Transcript — Please excuse any errors, not reviewed for accuracy

Malcom: it, incorporates using, uh, like a big studio for a part of it, but not all of it.

It's like this hybrid collaboration of, of different musicians and different setups kinda shows that you can really create something amazing that way. 

Hello, and welcome to the self recording band podcast. My name is Malcolm OOD. I'm recording this podcast solo. Uh, I mean by solo, I mean not with Benny, cuz he's gonna be doing his own. Um, this is a special podcast episode where we are talking to the artist that we are featuring in our new mixes unpacked series. This is gonna be volume two. So I am joined today with my friend and lovely musician. Chris Erickson from the band or the artist who is the artist SCO, how you doing?

Chris: I'm doing well. How about

Malcom: I'm doing great, man.

Chris: Excellent. Thanks for having me on.

Malcom: on, Hey, my pleasure. And thank you for letting us use your tune. so some backstory, Chris and I have been working together for that's what it feels like. It's been a long time. I would wager that's been like eight years. What do you think?

Chris: Yeah, I think that's pretty close. I would say that. I mean, what was the first time? I think it was probably mad. Mona. Would've been our first, uh,

Malcom: Yeah. So yeah, that would've been our first time recording together, but I mean, we've been working on, like, there was definitely some show overlap for longer than that. Um, we've just been in the same scene for, for ages. Absolutely. Um, and then all of your different musical iterations, Chris is the kind of guy that at one point, I think you had 11. Group going 12. 

Chris: I was thinking about this. Yeah. Yeah. It was 12 groups at the same time.

Malcom: That is, uh, truly terrifying.

Chris: it was, it was a lot. Yeah. That's all I did though. You know, I did that. I worked in bars and then I played music, a lot of cover gigs, uh, a lot of original stuff. It was overwhelming. I was tired a lot and it is never really stopped being tired, but uh, less bands now that's for

Malcom: Yeah. You just wanted to be a full-time musician,

Chris: A hundred percent. Yeah. Dove into everything. I was a yes, man. He just said yes to whatever came about. Hey, can you do this? Absolutely. I can. Yeah, no problem. Let me just try and iron it into the schedule, but, uh, yeah, it definitely took over that's for sure. 

Malcom: And, and yeah, that led you to, I mean, like you were, you're a player, you're a musician, you were a hired gun for other people's bands, as well as your own individual, um, original groups. Uh, you also do like. Loose through your work, like guitar repair and set up stuff. I mean, you're, you're, you're avoiding that these days. I understand. But like you're you had your own shop, so like it's definitely in your wheelhouse. Um, what else did you do? You're a producer. Um, you're an engineer. You've engineered for me many times. yeah. Anything else I'm missing?

Chris: I'm now a teacher as well. Uh, I think that's another one that's jumped onto the, uh, you know, of the catalog of things I do is I now teach rock band and recording arts, um, as well as I'm a sound guy for venues down in Victoria, organizing lighting or lighting and sound. And I think that's about it. Um, musician, producer, engineer Lu. Sound lighting and teacher. 

Malcom: Yep. Yeah. You, You, wear many

Chris: yeah. No male modeling yet. That's I think that's next. 

Malcom: coming. Um, so yeah, so, uh, for anybody not familiar mix is unpacked is the self recording. Band's kind of, uh, mix walkthrough course that we offer. Um, we, we did one, uh, just back in March, I think. And, uh, I did, uh, I featured a actually event that you worked with as well, uh, wet future for that one. Um, and, and people actually just yesterday, um, at the time recording this just yesterday, me and Benny hopped on, and we did like a, a Q and a for the people that bought that course, which was super fun. Getting to chat with everybody about their questions, about how the mix worked and stuff like that. but Benny and I are doing another one and I have chosen to do, uh, Chris's song, dark ice by his moniker stove. and, it's like one of my favorite things I've ever worked on. still two years later, I like I'm obsessed with this song. I think more than you are, honestly. 

Chris: percent. .Yeah. 

Yeah, no, you, you definitely love this song a lot and I'm honored. Thank you. I never expected to sound as good as it did, and you honestly have been the person to, you know, Keep this song going and keep it alive. So I much appreciated on that.

Malcom: Thanks buddy. on the previous mixes, unpacked penny and I made a very conscious decision to do something that was entirely self recorded by a band in their like, you know, jam space kind of thing. Um, where on this one, I wanted to find a hybrid song and this song is the true definition of a hybrid because I think it was recorded in every scenario you could imagine. And by the way, I I've provided the song to our editor Thomas. So you might hear a little bit right now, we, went to silverside sound one of our favorite studios, um, with both of our good friends, Luke, McKinna the Douch rums. So big, huge live drum room pro studio thing for that, um, guitars were recorded in three different home studios. I believe. 

Chris: Ye, I think I wanna say two. Um, but maybe three. Um, cuz I know one of the guys came over to my house to record him. Uh, and then definitely the other guy did it elsewhere. Yeah. Uh, but we could have also. I could have sent some home too. I'm trying to rec recollect, but uh, I think at least two, for sure, maybe three. 

Malcom: Two, maybe three, uh, vocals were cut in my little, the, the room pretty much in the room we're standing in right now. You came to my home studio where I do all my mixing and we threw you in the vocal booth for the vocals. Um, and then you did, uh, some like loop work and, and kind of programming stuff. From wherever you were at that time, um, which would've been, you know, somewhere in Victoria, probably. Right. now that's kind of a fascinating part about this at this stage. I remember the pandemic had just hit, uh, so we, we weren't all getting together like we used to in, in large groups and, and just cutting tracks live like at the last song we did first go before this was live up the floor, entire band in a room situation. Um, where this one, we, we didn't really think that was an option. So we're, we're in the heart of the pandemic. It had just hit. So everybody's terrified. And you got really creative and I think you jumped on, uh, on like the splice train, which yeah. Yeah. So splice just a quick, for, for the people not aware it's a program or kind of a website really that you subscribe to and it's got. Thousands and thousands of samples and loops that you're allowed to use in your own production, royalty free kind of thing. And, uh, they're great for just like stumbling upon inspiration or, or whatever you really need. It's pretty cool. I gotta say. And you really took to it and just started pumping out songs like crazy.

Chris: Yeah, it was, it was kind of cool because I guess at the start of the pandemic, you didn't really have anything going on for. Um, you know, I wasn't working, uh, I decided to just kind of jump into producing every single day. And that's how it kind of came about was my roommate was using splice. So I jumped on his splice account, put it on my computer. It's about 10 bucks a month. Uh, and you get, I think 150 to maybe 200 credits a month on it. And those keep adding up if you don't use them. So we had tons of credits. He'd been using it for eight months. He had like thousands of credits. And I, I started creating that way because I didn't have the opportunity to go and record, uh, with all my friends. Uh, so it started kind of getting this creative, uh, stream going where I was able to write a song almost in a day, you know, three hours, four hours move on to the next project. And then still kind of continuously send people stuff and be like, Hey, this is what I've been doing. This is what I've been bored, doing pretty much at home. Uh, and the return on it was, you know, a lot of these spice samples are recorded really, really well. Um, and so with that, it was you're able to make really good sounding tracks, you know, ad plugins to them. make them, your own manipulate them, kind of changed them around. And so it kind of created this new outlet of creativity, uh, for myself. Uh, where, you know, I didn't really need to be the one writing everything. And that's kind of think how this song kind of spawned as well. Being like, you know, I have some great musicians around me. Why don't I get them involved? Cuz I know they record at home as well. And let's see what they come up with. 

Malcom: Yeah, Definitely. Definitely. That's that's great. And if, if I recall it was also kind of the spawn of you experimenting with more pop kind of influences in, in your, your own 

Chris: time. Yeah. At this time too, I think I was starting to work on the Madeline day album, which ended up being one that we recorded with the whole band, but all of the demos were stuff that I created off of splice or recording at home on my own guitar, on my own pianos. Anything like that. Uh, but you know, using the, you know, the aspects of splice to kind of get the songs moving and giving them feel. So we kind of had a better idea while we went into the studio of what we wanted. 

Malcom: right. Um, so yeah, you're like originally we start working together. You're a rock artist. Then we add some R B, R and B in, uh, with the first go song. And then this one, we, I think we coined a dark pop, which, um, I love that term cuz I really think it's that it's like it's moody as all heck, but it has some pop influences. Um, still got some rock influences, obviously. yeah. Cool, cool tune. So. You create this demo? I think it was called black ice is what we, we found, uh, for the original demo. And you sent it around to some people and start getting tracks essentially. Right? Like I think what was Quinn, the first guy 

Chris: I think, yeah, Quinn was the first guy, uh, Quinn was in scope at the time. Uh, before the pandemic, he was one of my main guitar players. He was also in a lot of my country bands as well. great hired gun. and for him, he had just gotten out of university. Uh, this is what he wanted to do. So I decided, you know what, let's give him a shot at this. Let's see what happens. And initially, when it was black ice, I decided to change the name because that's an AC C record. And I was like, well, I'm no ACDC, this is too that's too much. I have no idea where dark ice came from. I was like, what's, you know what could go other than black ice? Oh yeah. Dark ice. You know, so, uh, Quinn was definitely the first one. Uh, I'd also been working with, uh, nate. Which was from the band, the shed monkeys at the time, which are now sleep shake. Uh, and so we were actually working on some projects together too, kind of, you know, pandemic, Hey, we're in our small bubble of people. Uh, I actually don't think I saw Quinn the entire time. I just sent him stuff, being like, Hey, I know you need money. why don't you help me out on this? And I'll see what I can do for you. And everyone was just really keen to kind of jump in, but it was definitely Quinn first. Uh, and he had a lot of like pop kind of John May influence on it. 

Malcom: Right. 

Chris: I think we ended up rerouting the song after that. Uh, and I had to send it back to him after we got Nate involved. 

Malcom: For, we were trying to recall. And again, this was two years ago, at least now. Um, and we. Like we found the old demo, which maybe will get shoved into the podcast right here briefly, essentially the whole progression changed, um, like the chord progression, which is, you know, the foundation of a song, um, that's kind of dictating the melody. You're gonna be singing over it, which actually stayed really close. Um, but you, you changed the whole progression and it like totally changed the mood of the song. Um, and all of these other pieces were already there. Like that drum groove was very similar to what we actually stuck with. Um, and, and the you'll hear. In that demo, the, the like saturated kind of tone of those drums is something we kind of decided to stick with as well. Um, and, but you just like reinvented the wheel. pretty late in the games. I think a lot of people don't work backwards like that. Um, even though that like, it, it made that song from okay. To fantastic in my mind, um, which was pretty cool. Like, I, I think people should be more willing to like kill her, you know, what's, this came up once before on the podcast. Kill your babies. 

Chris: Yeah. Yeah. 

Malcom: okay. Uh, so Chris, for the here's of sum tri. If you listen to my other podcast, year band suck business. Chris was the editor on that for ages. and I don't know if it was that podcast or, or this podcast, but I quoted Stephen King as saying kill your babies. 

It's not what he 

Chris: No, it was definitely on the year band 

Malcom: Yeah, 

Chris: podcast should have seen my eyes and why they would be like, I don't think you're supposed 

Malcom: to kill your I don't, I don't think that's what Stephen King said. Although it does. seem like something you would say, um, I think it was kill your darlings 

Chris: Right. Yeah. That 

Malcom: that's which means like every you're lead characters or, or whatever you're attached to, because that's gonna like really impact the story. Um, and, and I like applying that to songwriting can be really 

Chris: Yeah. Game of Thrones, 

Malcom: your song, boom. Yeah, exactly. Red wedding. That 

Chris: yeah. Oh, absolutely. Yeah. Oh, you know, you start to like it, get rid of it immediately, you know? Yeah.

Malcom: Um, so okay. That, that transformed it. And then we were moving and all of a sudden it was like, because we'd been having long phone calls about getting this done. Um, and. You sent me that demo. And then all of a sudden it was like in motion and you're like, okay, Lucas, McKinnon is going to do some session drumming for me remotely for him silverside. He's pretty much my neighbor. So I went over there and, and just helped out. He said like, do you wanna come engineer this? But I showed up and it was like already biked up drums are tuned. And he's got the part. I was like, okay, I'll just hang out and watch you play drums. Cuz this is great. 

Chris: yeah. Yeah. I think what was cool was that the original splice sample that I used was just. You know, it was this big drum sound. And I think that's what I wanted to stick with initially was that, you know, this like really weird, like Tom fill kind of vibe to the song, like this would be a really prominent piece of it. And I knew Lucas would love it immediately. Like he's just a rock drummer at heart. Uh, he did such a good job on this song. I was blown away by what I got back initially. And I just went like, how did you guys do this with what you had? Uh, it was amazing. And you know, he like to a T I didn't actually give him many notes. I just trusted him to do a really good job. Cause I knew he would and right away I went, yeah. Okay. This is pretty much done. Like, you know, the drums sound great. They're gritted. You guys sound awesome. You're such a, a great drummer Lucas that, you know, your timing's amazing. I didn't have any worries in the world. I wasn't even there, uh, at the session,

Malcom: Yeah. Yeah, it was didn't have to be, it was like the, the first drum session of the pandemic, the artist wasn't even there, not even zoomed in, but like there's a lot of trust in that. And you kind of showed that trust multiple times through me working with you, I've seen it where you just, you choose a team and then you let them do their thing because like, why that's, why you chose them. Right. Absolutely. Um, it's fantastic. 

Chris: your artists and, uh, you know, trust musicians you hire. If you can't then. That's a big part of it, you know, is the people that you hire, you're expecting to do a great job. And if you already know they're gonna do a great job, especially as a producer, it alleviates so much pressure. And I think that's one thing I stick with a lot is just, you know, come up with something. If I don't like it a lot, I will tell you. Uh, for the most part though, you're, you're usually on track. You usually know what I want because of the familiarity that we have and the friendship that we have, that the trust is there and whatever you come up with, I'm probably gonna be okay 

Malcom: Right. Yeah. And, and I like, I've got the, the in return, I feel comfortable trying things and being like, what do you think about this? And, and yada, yada, yada, so case in point drums on this song, it was a loop that like, just for the demo, it was the same loop repeating over and over and over again. Yeah. that was kind of where I got to have some input. Cause like I said, Lucas had already engineered the drums to sound godly and uh, it was kind of like, okay, well how do we make this still sound like a loop, but not be so repetitive. And, and that was a little bit of a, a handshake of, of Lucas. And I figuring out where to place those Tom runs and where not to, and, and how to keep that feel of a loop going. And, and I think it turned out really great. Um, and then as for like a outside of the box idea, That I felt safe and confident that I could do. Cause I just knew that you would love it, that SNA thing. Um, so there's this part in the bridge, uh, where essentially like three more drum kits enter at the same time. It's so 

Chris: so cool. Like it just hits you outta nowhere and the dynamics of it too are just brilliant. 

Malcom: it's really great. And it only work with a drummer as good as Lucas. I got showed it to Lucas. If you need a session drummer, he's an absolute, uh, perfect choice to hire. Um, he does remote drum tracking. So let me know if you want to get in touch with him, if you can't find him. Uh, so. Yeah. I, I was just like, okay, play that narrow. He nailed it. And I was like, all right, now we're gonna play it again. And he was like, why? Like, we're gonna pan him out. We're gonna have a bunch of 'em and it is gonna be weird. And, you know, you never have more than one drummer in, uh, like a normal song. Um, but in this case we totally did. And it's super rad. It's my favorite part of the song. I think it's a total climax. Um, and, but I just like knew you would like it. I was just like, Chris is gonna love this. There's there's no question. It's weird, but it's awesome. 

Chris: I think I listened to that part over and over again. Just being like, what is going on here? You know? I couldn't understand it. Like, it just, it starts out so low and then builds up and it's just like, it's like, machine guns going off. Like, you know, you're just like looking everywhere, being like, and listening everywhere and left and right ears. And you know, the, the panning of it and everything. It's just so neat. And it's just like, okay, this is, this really makes you like dig into this song. And, uh, it's, it was super fun.

Malcom: Awesome. Uh, and then you kind of did the same to us. Uh, so at that point of the song, it didn't have like a climax ending. The ending wasn't really like the highest part. but somehow I don't even know where you found it. you found, I dunno if it was an alternate take of Lucas's that he sent you or something from this, but you found a part where he was like riding the crash, playing the same riff. Yeah. And that didn't really exist in the version I had. So you comped it together and sent it to me and said, just put this over the last course. And I was like like, and get rid of the original drums and you no, no, just, just both

Chris: Yeah, 

Malcom: And so it's like this, the one, one version of him playing the riff on the high hat and one version of him playing it on the crash for the last course. And it's huge sounding. And I, I thought it was like, I'm like this won't work, but it totally did.

Chris: Yeah. Cause I think he decided to go for that. last course. It's a little bit, it's not necessarily Like, a half tempo, but he starts hitting this crash in one of the takes. He gave me where he's just laying into it. And I knew the song needed something more there, like to kind of give it a, a bit more. And I think I just tried it out in my logic session at the time and just went like, you know, dragged it over and dropped it. And I went cool Malcolm to see if you can make this work. Like, I don't know if it will with the kick drums. I don't know if they line up, but I like this vibe 

and, uh, 

Malcom: was awesome. Yeah. Super awesome. I remember like from the mixing standpoint, and you'll see if you pick up the mixes unpacked. Uh, there was some carving out of like those tracks to like try and eliminate some snare and, and kick so that you couldn't hear it as clearly against the other, like the original performance, but it totally worked. and I think It's cool. Like, you can hear the high hat and the crash at the same time. You're like, how did he play that? But 

Chris: yeah, he's 

Malcom: got three yeah. Yeah. We added it next to 

Chris: Yeah. 

Malcom: but Yeah. really cool. It's just kind of a couple rules broken in this song that, I mean, rules, quotation marks, like, more than one drum performance at a time at two instances, I think it's really cool. 

Chris: Yeah. You know, there's gotta be someone else who's done that. Like didn't Stevie wonder do that on, 

Malcom: Oh yeah. Yeah. There's definitely been like, yeah, but that's like two live drummers at the same time. Yeah. Yeah. And, uh, so it's been done, but this is kind of different. This is like we're pretending that it's one . Yeah. 

Chris: Yeah, 

Malcom: Um, that's. Yeah. Yeah, it. was super cool. As we're mixing the song. I, I like, again, love that You trusted me to like distort everything to the, to the level that I, I did. It's very saturated. not, not typical, you know, polished. Perfect sounds right. 

Chris: Yeah, I don't think it really needed that. Uh, I remember the first time that we recorded on the previous song, so cold and I'm pretty sure I told you, I was sitting beside you co a little humble being like. Can you just put a decapitated plugin on, on everything. Let's just see how it sounds like. And, uh, I've always loved that sound. I've always wanted to be like, you know, the dirtiest distorted stuff, because it, you know, it, it adds grit and it's fun. It's fun to listen to,

Malcom: It is. Yeah, there's a certain energy. Um, and I think it's like, it stands out against other recordings in a cool way as well. So that, and that's so key to like the final sound of this song. When I think of the song, I do think like massive distorted drums.

Chris: Oh, for sure. Yeah, absolutely. If you're ever have an issue with anything, just put a decapitated plugin on the whole mix. Like why not? You know, I don't think you did that,

Malcom: but 

Chris: you

Malcom: might have, we did a lot of it. Um, there's yeah. As you'll see if you watch the, the mixing course there's distortion everywhere. alright, so now let's get into guitars. Um, did it go to Quinn first or to Nate first? 

Chris: it went to Quinn first. Uh, so I laid down some guitars myself, uh, in my home studio. Uh, I was using my universal audio twin. I've got a solo twin. Uh, I plugged straight in. I'm pretty sure I used the, the fender 55 deluxe plug in. Uh, super awesome. I had it at the time. I don't have it anymore. Sadly. however, it's a great plugin. you can get it to sound pretty great. Uh, I used my Stelli, you know, the, the strap and tele guitar. That's kind of mixed together, super weird guitar, but it sounds great. Uh, And I laid down some initial kind of just chords, very like you know, uh, two string kind of chimey stuff. just to kind of set, um, a mood, uh, I put in a couple solos as well. in the first course that's me. Uh, and then I sent it off to Quinn and I'm pretty sure Quinn sent me back 16 or actually, I guess, eight stereo tracks. So 16 files altogether, just, you know, here's what I tried. Here's some fun stuff. Here's what I came up with. And I think I actually sent him back some notes. saying like, you know, in this part, can you give me a little bit of more of like a progression where you're playing, you know, all the time, like kind of like eighth notes or 16th notes, right. just to kind of build up this part and he came back with it or he, maybe I told him that initially as well, and, basically he just came back with everything I asked for, you know, gimme a big solo at the end. don't stop playing, just keep building it. and it sounded awesome. You know, his recording at home is wonderful. I always suggest him to, people. If you're looking for someone for a guitar player, who's remote too.

Malcom: Yeah. Yeah. And he, he actually just like sent us, like finished tones, essentially. Um, like they, they were like printed with facts and stuff. yeah, sounded really great. And then Nate came in and Nate is like, I don't know, he's in my top three favorite guitarist period. He's so heavy. He's to say I got tone hands. Um, then he is like a total riff monster. Um, He's so good. So good. And, uh, yeah, let's talk about bringing nate into 

Chris: yeah, So I wanted Nate on this track cause I knew he would bring a lot to it. And actually I think I went against everything that Nate believed at this point. I plugged him straight from his pedal board right into my Apollo. 

Right. And yeah, no amp. And he is like, I need an amp. I need to hear it. And he sat right beside me in my home studio at the time. and I plugged him right in. I said, turn on any fuzz P you want, I don't care what it. is. And it sounded so good coming through my monitors that I think I kind of, convinced him that Hey, maybe you don't need to stand right beside your amp in the room with headphones on, you know, you could do it right here. It sounds great. And I still think he cringes a little bit about that every now and then.

Malcom: Well, I'm pretty sure, I think it's black dog, which everybody fricking knows that song and that riff. Um, I think that was like a distorted preempt, like, right into a Neve or something. Yeah. Um, that's a legend anyways. So like, yeah, that's totally a thing. Um, yeah, I mean, preempts are kind of just really basic amps 

Chris: Yeah. and. you know, nate's tone on it. I, thought sounded so good. I thought it fit really well. Uh, it wasn't super muddy. It was super clean doing his Octa riffs. And I think together, we came up with that main riff, you know, the D Don do, uh, and once he played it I was like, cool. Let's layer that on everywhere. And yeah, he basically came over super open minded, which everyone on this track was uh, he gave his own flavor to it too. you know, being nate, we tried out a bunch of different fuzz pedals. I'm pretty sure we landed on his like original germanium, big Muff. Uh, that was one of the, the tones, uh, as well as he had a, oh, I wanna say that it's like a, it's an old amplifier preamp. that he has as a pedal, like basically the circuitry from an old kind of like old style amp. And we used that right before we sent it into the Apollo and, you know, mono straight into the guitar Jack. Yeah. and it sounded awesome. 

Malcom: It Is awesome. Like it's super awesome. And again, I, I really think he would sound awesome. No matter what you gave him, he's just got the 

Chris: absolutely. He's got tone fingers. Like some of the 

Malcom: does. Um, yeah. So Nate plays for sleep shake. You gotta check them out if you haven't already, I can't say enough. Good stuff about that band. Um, so, good. alright. And then, yeah. And then you had done tracks as well. So what were you, did you do yours first or did you add them later? 

Chris: I think I did mine first initially. Right. And so it kind of was like Hey, you know, here's what I've

done. Um, I did not spend a lot of time on my guitar tracks. I think I've maybe played them maybe twice, three times. I'm kind of the guy where I was like, cool, this is the demo still. Well, it sounds good enough. And then I think I sent it to Malcolm. I was like, I don't know. I think I might need to redo these. And Malcolm always tells me, he goes, no, these are great. Let's just leave it. I was like, I okay, sure. Fine. I don't care. but initially, yeah, I think I did mine first and then Quinn and then Nate.

Malcom: Yeah, I do remember with Quinns tracks, I think you gave me more than I needed and you were like, oh, just mute out sections as needed kind of thing. Totally. Yeah. And that worked out really well as well. Yeah. So, so essentially guitars were all essentially di like, I mean, printed effects through ADI is really what happened, I guess. Um, I, we don't know about Quinn was probably an app capture.

Chris: I think yeah, it was either an app capture or he went straight in too. And, uh, you know, it clean sounded good. You know, I think he used, uh, my favorite pedal he uses. And one of the reasons I go to him is his Tron pedal. 

Malcom: Oh yeah, 

Chris: And, you know, so you get like, it's kind of like a John May style like Ottawa and, he uses it all the, time and I'm like, I love this. Like, keep using it, do whatever you need to with this. and it, it, it's layered in there. It's not super prominent, but it sounds great.

Malcom: Yeah. Yeah. I I do recall the Tron track. It is great. um, alright, so that there's drums guitars. We've cut off bass. Now bass is interesting. Bass is just a loop. Um, that, so that's like, one of the original elements, I guess. Totally. Um, do you remember if that was something you programmed or even played or or found on displays? 

Chris: I believe, uh, it started off as me programming it in logic. So, bringing up, you know, just basically a, a plugin, um, I'm trying to think which one. Can't remember off the top of my head, but I've programmed myself an 8 0 8, uh, plugin. Um, and so I'm just using my little MPK 25 mini whatever 

Malcom: keyboard, right? The Midy 

Chris: Yeah. I basically just wrote the notes in. I think from there, it was either that I liked the progression, but I needed something with a bit of a heavier kind of sound to it. and mine was just kind of like it's a really generic 8 0 8. So it doesn't really have a lot of texture or tone to it. And so that's when I went to splice and I found a single note. Then I pitch shifted from there. And so I adjusted it being like, okay, this is the, the first note of the song. And these are the other notes. And I basically just raised it and, you know, moved it around, changing the pitch of it just by using the, just the logic, like transpose button on the

Malcom: That's awesome. I remember that at the restart of every loop, you hadn't cross fade it. So it had to click and I had to just like go and de click the whole track. 

Chris: Oh, yes, my, uh, my virginity into, uh, you know, cross fading tracks, uh, please cross fade all your tracks. It helps so much. It's one of the things I teach the most, cuz I listen for it now being like, oh, there's pops and 

Malcom: you don't want pops. Yeah. The pops aren't musical. yeah, Uh, but we fixed it, so it was all good. um, yeah. So Lynn, from that, there was, I mean, there was some other loops that, I mean, you really gotta listen to the song to pick up those, but the. On vocals, which is, uh, like our next topic anyways, there is this. Nah, nah, sounds a lot better than that, but yeah. Um, there's this phrase and you, you just told me when you came in this morning to record this, that, that was originally a female vocal loop, right. 

Chris: Oh, yeah, the. the, whoa, whoa, that one. Yeah. Yeah, So that's another splice sample. Uh, it is a female vocal, uh, you know, she's singing it a bit higher. And then again, I took that transpose function in logic and I lowered it down an entire Octa and it kind of gives you this like synthetic, you know, you can get it with a few different plugins too. like, I think the vocal bender from waves, you can also get it from. the little altar boy, um, however, with this one, I just dropped it down and it didn't sound like, you know, there was, anything really weird going on with it, you know, it just kind of fit really well. And I wanted this kind of like low kind of like, you know, almost like a, like a trap sample, uh, kind of thing. And it it just fit in there really well. Uh, so Yeah. female vocal, if you drop it down in Octa, then you get this weird kind of. you know, almost not real, but like could sound like a guy vocal and that's kind of what I was going 

Malcom: Yeah. And it became a theme throughout the song that we used it on. Every course it's kind of the hook in a way. Yeah, absolutely. 

Chris: Yeah. It kind of comes back 

Malcom: around a lot. Totally. So, yeah. Then for vocals, um, you had obviously done the, the scratch track demo vocals at your home studio. But for whatever reason, we decided to cut it together here. Um, at the studio we're currently sitting in my home studio and, uh, I don't really like, there wasn't a lot. to do, but somehow it turned out so good. 

Chris: Yeah. it was actually one of the easiest vocal days I've ever done. the reason why we came here is that I always have a better vocal, uh, day And like do way better in the studio instead of just recording it myself, cuz I always think, okay, that's good enough. And I, I kind of, you know, shit on myself a bit. Pardon of me? I don't know if I'm allowed to swear on here. Um, um, but yeah, basically I knew working with Malcolm that he would get a better vocal, uh, out of me. So having an engineer there. And a producer there being like, Hey, do that again, cuz that wasn't your best take, you know, redo this. And then at the same time they can kind of come up with ideas for you to do. And that's exactly what you did for me. Malcolm was, you know, put me in the right mindset where I didn't have to worry about levels. I didn't have to worry about anything. I just sat in there, sang it. And then you told me to do better or you know, to change it up and do something else. And the speed of it too, I think was the really big thing of, of having a vocal engineer is that they can, you know, hide your tracks away, kind of, you know, get you ready to sing it again right away. Instead of you clicking space or, you know, going back, listening to that one, thinking it's good enough. And then, you know, you kind of get unmotivated really fast 

Malcom: it's a lot more work to engineer your own vocals. I don't envy anybody having to do that for sure. yeah, I was gonna say, like, I remember like the, the idea was really there. So there wasn't a lot of creative choices going on, but most of what we talked about, and one more person to add to our credit list actually was Ian Locke was in the room for this, uh, a mutual friend of ours. Ian. And I, I think like the main thing we talked to you about was sticking with like a certain emotional and tonal, like kind of spot. Absolutely. And just being really consistently in that zone. Um, so if you got too intense or too, like you saying kind of two projected too much, it kind of lost that, that mood. Um, so we were just constantly kind of keeping you in this one little narrow space of, of like you sounding like the same person the whole way through,

Chris: it was probably my easiest vocal day ever, like the least straining. Uh, and you know, basically I was just talking into the 

Malcom: Yeah, softer than usual for 

Chris: Yeah. And I've never done that before. I'm always yelling and I'm a, I'm a yelly person. I can't help myself. But, uh, this one, yeah, it was just very much like, you know, I think I even, no one saw me in there, but I put my hood up, like, you know, I was wearing sunglasses. Like, you know, you gotta be comfortable in your own vocal booth. And like, if you wanna set a mood for yourself, you know, like do it, uh, you know, however cool you feel will make you feel cooler and sing better. I think ,

Malcom: I remember our, the, the, previous song we did, um,

Chris: Oh, God. 

Malcom: it was live off the floor, but this guy takes off his pants. 

Chris: no, no, no. no. So we retracked 

Malcom: the vocal. Oh that's when you took 

Chris: And yeah. Well, I think I took off all my clothes other than my boxers. Uh, cause I . And I, I remember trying to tell you about it. Oh man, this is so embarrassing, but they built me a vocal booth, like completely shut in. And then in the Mica went Malcolm. I'm just, I'm not feeling this. I need to be sexier. Don't come in 

Malcom: here. 

Chris: and, uh, yeah, I'm pretty sure I sang the whole vocal in 

Malcom: my boxers, 

Chris: cuz I was like, you know what? You just need to be free. You know? Like this is like, this is the vulnerability I need 

Malcom: to feel for 

Chris: this. Oh man. Yeah. that was something I don't think I've ever done that since. Cuz I'm always around people and you know, if I took my clothes off at Malcolm's house, someone walked in that would've been pretty 

Malcom: weird, 

Chris: but Yeah, Be 

secluded if 

Malcom: you're doing that. It's probably been done here too. I'm sure it has. Um, yeah, so, so yeah, that went great. I remember we, we came up with like an Okta idea of, of getting the courses to pop. Right. Um, and, and Yeah. pretty, like a very successful, easy and rewarding vocal day. 

Chris: Yeah. I think that was one of the big ones too. Was that Okta on the course? we didn't, I don't know if we originally had that. I think it was just, It sounded kind of laying with just the low vocal and, you know, listening back to it. After we put that high Octa event, I was like, cool. Like, yeah. I, I think that's it, like, I think we're done, you know, that's like, you know, there's no, not a ton of harmony on it. I don't think there's any harmony on this song. I think it's just that, 

Malcom: Yeah. Yeah. I think so as well. And, um, originally we just had it jump without the lo Octa still existing, but then we added that back in, I recall. Um, and, and kind of went with both and yeah, very simple, but effective was kind of the, the motto of the song. Lots of space. and then you had a really cool idea. You decided you wanted some. Audible auto tune, um, in, in the song again, like playing into some more pop influences than, uh, a rock artist typically would. And we hired our friend and colleague Ben Erickson to, uh, do some vocal tuning, one of the best. uh, he he's such a good engineer. and Yeah. you just kind of told him what You wanted and, and he like number one, tuned The vocal to sound great, but then added in these moments where there's like hard tuned Tris and stuff like that. Yeah. 

Chris: I think he sent us back both. I think he said here's like a hard tuned file. Like completely hard tune. Like here's your TPA. And then here's your, Like you know, just your tuned vocal. And, you know, we decided to use both and there's some really cool moments in there where it does give you like, a, a fairly auto tuned moment. And I'm totally okay with that tuning your vocals, I think, is so important 

Malcom: Yeah. Yeah. It wasn't a performance decision. Like it, the, the vocal we recorded was great. It was just a, a creative decision. Like it was entirely about creativity and, and, Yeah, doing that because it sounded tuned. Um, and you know, when a person that's not us hears it, they don't think it sounds tuned. They think it sounds like an effect, like, you know, it's a different experience. that, that was cool. as well. And again, like kind of like a brave outside the box idea. I. and then through the mix, we kind of just kept pushing the production, never stopped on this song. 

Chris: Yeah, it was pretty cool. 

Malcom: um, like every ideas were constantly being added. So in the mix we, we have like these cool lofi moments, um, where we we like literally took out low end And and high end from every track, like in this like start of the last course kind of thing. Um, and kind of swelled them back in like really cool stuff like that. It was such a fun song, man. I'm so happy that we're doing this. 

Chris: so cool.

Yeah. One of those big moments, I think, is that snare roll where he is kind of like it's, it's almost like that affected DJ does where he does the,

Malcom: Yeah. That's exactly what we were going for. Right? Like the, like the, the base drops coming yeah.

Chris: It's, uh, it's super cool. And, uh, you know, if you can do that in your tracks, like, it just adds those moments of like texture, um, which, you know, are important.

Malcom: Yeah, absolutely. And then my favorite part about this is I sent you the mix and you were like, it's perfect.

Chris: Oh, yeah. Yeah, no, it took, it took two lessons through. I was like, great. Yep. Cool. We're done. Yeah.

Malcom: sure we changed something, but, uh, but like really, it was like, all right. Hell yeah. Awesome. And that's always a great feeling. 

Chris: Yeah. I mean, I, again, just that trust thing being like, cool. Well, Malcolm, I think you said it back being like, I love this song. I was like, okay, great. Well, I'm 

Malcom: I'm not gonna change Don't mess with my song, 

Chris: Yeah. I come back with like you know, three pages of notes. So like no, I couldn't do it No, I, uh, it sounded awesome. And yeah, it was just basically the production was there and the elements that I like and that Malcolm, you know, that I like as well, you know, give me distortion, give me, you know, big, loud sounds make it dirty. Make it fun for me to listen to cuz that's, what's really important is that, you know, I wanna be able to listen to it and be like cool. I sound awesome. you know, And I think that was a thing for me. I was just like, Yeah, I'm happy with this you know, bump it in the you know, the car in the headphones, bump it on the speakers everywhere. it just sounded great. Yeah. You know, you gotta do the test everywhere and I did it and I was like, cool, nothing wrong with this track. It sounds so awesome.

Malcom: As long as you got me a lot of work, I gotta thank you for letting me do that one. Yeah. People, people definitely reach out being like, I heard this and want you to mix this, so that's pretty cool. 

Perfect. Yeah. happy 

about this. Yeah, me too.

Chris: Yeah, 

Malcom: uh, yeah, I mean, there, there's so much to talk about in the mixing, but that's kind of what we do in, uh, in the course. So, so grab our mixes unpacked course, if you wanna. Hear how we did it and how we put it together and see the session happen. Um, but I, I thought it'd be really fun to do an episode talking about the, the production behind it, because it's like the perfect example of a COVID tune. It incorporates using, uh, like a big studio for a part of it, but not all of it. It's like this hybrid collaboration of, of different musicians and different setups and kinda shows that you can really create something amazing that way.

Chris: Yeah, you can really do it anywhere. Um, you know, there's definitely elements. You know, obviously having a big studio and having a friend who has that is, is great, but at the same time, you know, it's, it's really easy to record anywhere if you know what you're doing even just a little bit. and you can have a lot of fun doing it. It's super creative, it's laid back, and you know, just make sure that your team is who you want it to be and that you trust them. I think that's a big part of.

Malcom: Totally. Yeah. A hundred percent. Okay, Chris, thank you so much. Thanks for having me Yeah. Uh, everybody go check out scope on Spotify. It's S K O V. Period. Yes. Yeah's very important. Yeah. Find some cool tunes we did together there. All right. Take care.

Chris: You.


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