With established producer Tobias Priddle
An insight into how things develop from TAMS/N's at home writing studio to Tobias Priddle's Production Studio.
How the two work together.
Insight into 'You' & 'I'm Alright' Writing &
How I started Writing YOU.
Over the course of 2020 and lockdown I began learning how to use Logic X pro. I wanted to develop from singer/songwriter content to more polished and produced songs, especially in Pop.
I started writing YOU as a learning experiment. I'd been listening to a lot of Tropical Lo-Fi so that's how I started the song. I found a tropical Lo-Fi sample which runs throughout the whole song, a sample of the sound of waves and made a chill trap beat. Then came the Lyrics, melody and harmonies. All up it only took a few hours.
I showed the song to Tobias (Tij) Priddle, not expecting anything from it and he instantly loved the idea and wanted to develop it.
Whenever we go into production land we're always in the room together, hashing out ideas.
As Tij knows I'm extremely hands on and usually know how I want something to sound.
But Tij (Tobias) is really great at bringing ideas to life as well as adding his own flare that sets him a part from other producers.
A little anecdote about making the ice-cream truck sound in the song.
I had just moved in to a new house where an Ice-cream truck would circulate everyday at around 5pm. I was so happy about my new place and the nostalgia - the sound of the ice-cream truck gave me. I remember thinking how cool it would be to put that into a song somehow. Anyway I ended up forgetting about it till Tij and I were in the studio. He began making this iconic sound on a synth and we went through and picked which plugin to use to change the sound. When I heard it in the song I realised it sounded like an Ice-cream truck and I had a little giggle at the serendipitous moment we had where it was like musical telepathy.
Adding in the dance section at 2:38 was really fun for the both of us as we rarely ever get the chance to dive deep into pop sounds as we both tend to go down the alternative route. But it's now my favourite part in the song, with the ice-cream truck sound bringing nostalgia in the distance.
A quote from Tobias (Tij) Priddle:
"Definitely feeling some Frank Ocean elements in the production on this, a bit of James Blake as a reference for minimalness.
The ice-cream synth sound was a Yamaha DX7 ran through A Roland Dimension D rack unit that has noisy chorus chips in it (This broken element of the rack is also the 'white noise' sound that goes from left to right throughout the track).
The modulation in pitch and panning is created through an XLN plugin called 'Retro Colour' pretty much a one-stop-shop for creating lofi sounding parts.
The 808 sub bass was a single 808 kick ran off a Roland tr-s, intro a dbx 160x limiter then sampled using UVI falcon software to pitch it up and down.
The vocals in the bridge section (2:38) were sections cut out of the chorus and then format shifted up and down, processed and loaded into a sampler mapped using midi to give it that Fat Boy Slim vibe."
Similarly to YOU, I started working on this as an experiment.
'I'm Alright' is actually a cover of one of my own songs 'Pour it Down' which is from my EP 'Sin'.
I really liked the song, but because I wrote it on guitar it sounded a little too folky and singer/songwritey.
I felt the song had more potential.
As I said before, I was learning how to use Logic at the time, but a lot of the sounds I used while I was learning production made it in to the final version.
I was listening to 'Blond' The Frank Ocean album a lot and I think subliminally that inspired me a lot in the making of 'I'm Alright'.
The Chorus of the song is actually from the only take I did using a direct mic and a VT4 - Vocoder, which kind of gives your voice that alien like quality, amongst other features.
Sounds that I generally like to keep in my songs are ones that sound a little off. A little dis-jointed. I had a badly strummed guitar sound pinging through the chorus that I made a serious point of keeping. although I think we ending up re-recording it I made sure it still had a slinky off sounding vibe.
There's an out of time drum beat with an "AHHH" sample sound over it which breaks up the verse to the chorus. This was also one take. I was learning how to use a midi-controller with a drum sample and recorded this out of time beat that I thought was funny and sampled a logic loop of an "ahhh" sound. At this point, nothing I was doing was serious, just all for fun. But these sounds made it into the final version as we
(Tij and I) both believed they made the song so special.
A quote from Tobias (Tij) Priddle:
"The production inspo for this song was the demo TAMS/N did + used tracks off Lana's 'Lust for Life' Album as inspo. There's definitely elements of pop punk bands in some of the guitar playing on the track which I'm super into.
The intro/outro sound was played on a Juno 60. The voice calibration is way off and paired with the onboard chorus it gave it a weird, wrapped broken tape machine vibe. There's quite possibly a Waves J37 tape emulation on there as well to pull it even further out of whack.
Then it was printed through an old Space echo RE-101 to further make it feel like it's being played off a dirty vhs machine.
The bass is all played on a Juno 106 from memory,then driven through a sansamp to give it some grit."
Inspo and production detail
My (TAMS/N) initial intention to writing 'Fallen Angel', came from the feeling that I'd been falling behind my peers due to stunting trauma.
It reminded me of the 'Kill Bill' plot line where she gets revenge on those who have wronged her, as her way of healing (But in an epic samurai sword badass bitch way).
For production style, I used Inspo from Nancy Sinatra's 'BANG BANG' and of course some early on Lana Del Rey to achieve that witchy/western vibe I was going for.
The build up of the song with tension and release was meant to feel as if you were watching a film and following a story. So although the structure is unconventional it was what I was going for.
Quotes from Tobias Priddle:
"My production inspiration came with the vibe of the song, old Tarantino soundtrack guitars style guitars married in with modern trap elements but everything had to be run through vintage hardware to give it a certain grit and darkness.
Also worth noting that all of the string and orchestral parts were played on a Mellotron plug in from Arturia - I'm not one for using sampled strings and trying to pass them off as the real thing. While the original Mellotron might be an earlier form of sampling, it brings with it a certain warmth, colour and familiarity but also doesn't feel perfect due to the fact that the tapes inside the machine weather and stretch over time detuning it terribly - but in the best way.
The drum machine parts are a mix of a Roland 808 and pots and pans from the kitchen recorded through guitar pedals and 1176 outboard compressors.
All of the vocals were performed on an Sm7b run through an Avalon 737 preamp and then through a LA2A compressor."