For the second part of the trimester I have been working on a project with artist Billy Mcleod. The project is producing an EP for Billy. He only had vocals and electric guitar in his music so far, though for the first week of the project we had to work together to figure out what drums were going to play in the songs, then we also added some other samples such as egg shakers. This blog post is going to go into depth about comparing to industry standards (comparing to the artists who influenced this project), and also reflect on the aesthetic choices we made on this project. The project is going to be up online by the 14th of December 2017.
The guitar rhythms and effects that Billy uses shows a very distinct sound that lots of indie/lo-fi rock artists use nowadays. The biggest influence that we have expressed from the start of this project is Mac Demarco.
Although there is still a lot of differences between Billy and Mac Demarco’s music there is also a fair amount of similar characteristics. Particularly in the way that Billy plays his guitar and the effects that he uses on the guitar. The first step to getting the sounds that we wanted from the guitar all started from the amp settings. On the amp we’d put reverb, delay, the classic blues setting, and turn a few other nobs. Doing this was the beginning of the process that we needed to get the similar sound to Mac Demarco. As Mac Demarco has a very distinct sound we didn’t want to 100% copy him, so we did have a slight few changes to his amp set-up. It was when mixing that we had to change a few things to make a somewhat original sound out of similar tones to Mac’s guitar.
Changing The Pitch
When mixing the guitar I used the MAutoPitch plugin to help achieve a sound that we were looking for. I took the guitar recording that we had and put it up 1 note that it already was. This gave the guitar a very interesting sound, leaving it with something that was a long the same lines as Mac Demarco. At first I really wasn’t fully positive about this decision, but I still had a feeling it was better when moving it up a pitch, the the original sound that we had.
Looking back at this, I personally think it was a really good choice to make. The pitch of the guitar was at one that had a very versatile sound and made Billy’s music have a interesting tone to it. Thankfully Billy was happy with myself messing around with this and agreed that the pitch was better then original.
When working on the vocals Billy had a major influence from his behalf, the artist is Will Wagner from the Smith Street Band. As I honestly was not a fan of this band I had to listen to a fair amount of their music to fully understand what Billy was going for. I discovered that Billy was more going for the same style in lyrics that the singer aimed for.
Listening to the vocals of the singer I figured that his style of singing was kind of like poetry talking, and not really singing. The style of this was something I was going to copy. The artist would go from talking in verses, then singing in lyrics, and this is something that Billy did in his songs.
To try copy this in some way, I ended up putting more reverb onto Billy’s voice in the chorus’ then it had on the verses. This ended up with an outcome similar to the singer Will Wagner.
Although I also needed to create some room between Billy’s vocals as they sometime seemed cramped up. I ended up putting delay onto Billy’s vocals, not a ridiculously amount so the reverb and delay would clash, but a slight amount of delay really worked with the vocals, and somewhat replicated the vocal rhythm/tones of Will Wagner’s.
The drums were something that we didn’t want to overpower Billy’s vocals. This is also extremely similar to Mac Demarco’s songs. His drums are really there to just fill the space in his songs that would be missing if there were not drums.
As the snare drum and the cymbal were the main parts of the drums being used throughout Billy’s songs, I had their dB levels turned down, below what the guitars were and adjusted their signal waves to a more suitable levels that’d suit the songs. This turned out to be the way that the drums would suit Billy’s songs best, and this is just what they did. The drums really seemed to fill the parts of Billy’s song that were missing, just like Mac Demarco’s.
Overall the result that we have gotten are basically what we wanted. We aimed to get similar sounds to these artists, and we have reached those goals. The guitar ended up sounding different to Mac Demarco’s, but you can still definitely sound the inspiration which we got from Mac Demarco. The vocals that Billy sing in the songs, really stand out in the songs and this is something that we really wanted to happen. All up we are really excited to release this EP to the world, and hope people who listen to Mac Demarco and The Smith Street Band can appreciate the music we have made.