Can you talk us through your choices for the tracks?
Cosmic Love is one of my all-time favourites. I first heard it when I lived in Dublin and remember dancing uncontrollably to it in my tiny kitchen. The song was written by Florence Welch and Isabella Summers - my two absolute idols - and was produced by Paul Epworth, with additional production from Summers. Florence’s anthem-like vocals, those delicate harp arpeggios and powerful tribal drums have become the main inspiration for my production. I call it the ‘production-triangle’: great vocals, intricate synths and kick-ass drums and bass. The production of the whole Lungs album is just very unique and special. Every song on the album evokes such vivid images.
I love the way Sylvan Esso combines minimalistic vocals with badass beats . ‘Dress’ starts off with a sparse arrangement; stunningly smooth vocals, crisp percussions and a bold bass hook. It then opens up to the chorus, melting a reverby loop and rhythmic vocal lines. I admire them so incredibly much for their combinations of unlikely sounds, for their piercing lyrics and for songwriting that’s different from what you usually hear.
I had never heard such a beautiful symbiosis between eerie vocal loops and haunting synth lines. TĀLĀ’s sound immediately drew me in and inspired me, especially after seeing the way she works at her electronic production workshop for the NormalNotNovelty event at Red Bull Music Studios. TĀLĀ’s production has a tribal feel to it and at the same time a futuristic catchiness in her drum programming and choruses.
What is your working method/ process?
Most songs have been with me for a while, either as just lyrics or as small song sequences recorded on my phone. I usually pick one idea that really speaks to me and start playing chords to it on the piano. After finding a good chord progression, I start recording pieces into an Ableton session, adding a bass or synth line to it until I get an idea of where the song wants to go (tempo, style, feel). From there I start working on lyrics and creating a story within the song. Once the basic structures and blocks are in place, I start focusing on production and effects. That’s one of my favourite parts.
How did you get into production? What have been your influences?
I always played piano and wrote songs. After I graduated, I moved to London to study Songwriting. Studying song structures and working with lyrics created a great foundation, but the more songs I wrote, the more I wanted to get into production. It felt like an obstacle to keep relying on another person to fully understand my vision and produce it with the most intricate nuances. I also got fed up with there always being ‘the producer guy’, I was like, ‘there is no reason I can’t do this!’
What is your favourite bit of gear and why?
Definitely my KAOSS Pad. I can get lost in it for hours, just looping my vocals and creating strange sounds. You can run your vocals through it (or a line-in with other gear and instruments) and create amazing synth sounds through effects. Whenever I go into a writing session I bring my KAOSS Pad with me. It allows you to think outside of the box and you can put down ideas quickly with its sampler.
What is your personal ‘top tip’ for producing and mixing?
Don’t get caught up in plug-in choices. Most DAWs, like Logic X or Ableton, have already everything you need in their basic plug-in set-up. And while some external plug-ins might enhance your workflow, it’s really easy to obsess about them and think you need to have the latest one to make your track sound good. Having said that, I love my Soundtoys and Valhalla Reverbs.
Definitely listen to your mix on different speakers, and if you can, get feedback from another (trusted) person. They might hear small things you might have missed.
What are you future projects?
I have just released my debut single ‘FYA’. I’m incredibly excited to share this song as it’s a very personal one and has been with me for a long time. It is also be the first track I produced myself.
I also just released a cover of Sylvan Esso’s ‘Die Young’. With Sylvan Esso being one of my favourite bands, I loved working with their song and interpreting it into an eerie electro version. The video was shot in Los Angeles in collaboration with FoxForce.