How do you capture inspiration?
Govales — like many in today’s music scene — grinds on a DIY level. For some, this is a choice based on resources: time, money and space. What makes Govales unique is that, for him, the choice is about keeping control over his music. He perfectly encapsulates the work artists put into realizing their sound, keeping it as close to the original vision as possible.
Based in Brooklyn, NY (Bed Stuy, do or die) and gaining serious buzz around his music, Govales, aged 25, had ‘Doors to Nowhere’, one of his first tracks, featured in the trailer of Spike Lee’s latest film ‘Da Sweet Blood of Jesus’. He’s also working on a project for Speakerbox, MistaJam’s new record label. A chronic collaborator, Govales has songs in the works with some of the biggest names in music. And he’s only just begun.
I came across Govales through my work with LANDR (we make tools for musicians). Recently, I hopped on a Skype call with him and immediately flipped on my recorder because I knew something good was transpiring.
“It’s about the ear, and the heart.” — Govales
Rory: Hey man, nice to meet you! I am a big fan already…
Govales: My pleasure, nice to meet you too..
R: It’s super cool to talk to you. When I first started working on this project, I was coming from the exact same place: mostly recording and mixing music myself, and occasionally working with engineers, people that I really respect and who make great records. But the minute I would give them my stuff, I’d be like: ‘‘No, thats not what I was going for at all!’’. Or in the worst case, hiring some dude at $1000 a day who’s kind of condescending towards you and your music.
G: Yeah, it’s so weird! I’ll tell you a story about ‘Doors to Nowhere’, a song I produced, featured in Spike Lee’s new movie Da Sweet Blood of Jesus. Spike hit me and said he wanted my song in his movie, and that he’d need the mastered version ASAP. Thinking I needed to change the sound of the recording and make it fully ‘mastered’, I ended up using an engineer who completely messed up my original vibe.
He changed my vocal mix and the levels. The vibe on the original mix was totally different. Spike heard the recording in its original form and loved it, too. To this day, I love my original mix — had I met you guys sooner, I would’ve just ran it through LANDR for the movie and soundtrack.
The version that MistaJam, Zane Lowe and Gilles Peterson have all shown support for in the UK and Europe is also my original mix. I can really hear the difference, it’s up on Soundcloud if you want to check it out. I’ve learned to protect my vibe no matter what. Keep control of my sound to the end. It will never happen again.
R: We were really into that Jai Paul record at the office. I can hear a bit of that in your material, maybe you’re trying to get there as well?
G: “Oh my god, ‘JASMINE’? That record sounds amazing, man! I don’t understand how they got it to sound like that at all. The bass isn’t traditional or normal like Drake bass. It’s shaking and rattling, like: what the fuck?!!”
G: It reminds me of a Bollywood film or something from a movie. The bass sounds more like a sound effect and it works so well. I’ve never heard bass sound like that.
R: I don’t think the gap between us and perfection is that big anymore.
G: It’s really not, it’s a weird thing. I do feel like there’s a difference between running stuff through analog gear. I started out making stuff on an MPC and there’s a warmth to it. I can definitely hear the difference from being ‘in the box’ to analog. There’s a weird thing that I encounter with people where I’m like: “Yeah! I wanna mix my own record, do shit myself.” But people are like, “No, why would you do that! You can’t do that.” I just like my mixes more. It’s an interesting thing, I feel like the engineers just don’t wanna lose their work. I understand that.
“Yeah! I wanna mix my own record, do shit myself.”
R: I mean, there are amazing engineers out there, and there are engineers and artists that develop creative relationships that go beyond anything we could imagine.
R: Right!, But I think we’re at a point with technology and with the music industry — the way things are — it’s really important that people can do stuff themselves. Do you know Grimes? She made her first record on Garageband, alone. And she’s one of the bigger things that’s happened [to music] in a while. That’s the way things are right now. There are also people making great records with great engineers, but it’s not either / or, it’s both / and.
“This sounds fucking amazing, where did you do this??!?!” and i’m like “…in my bedroom…”
G: One key thing that the average listener, especially younger listeners just don’t know: the ecosystem is so fast. I have this conversation with musician friends all the time where they say: “I want my music to sound perfect”. I don’t know if there’s such thing as perfect. Some people work on records for months, but nobody pays attention to that stuff. Everything turns around so quickly. You can be hot on a blog, but as soon as four more posts come out, you’re on page two. It’s a weird thing. Going with the current and getting content out, that’s what’s it’s all about right now. Being able to write, record, mix, and master music quickly, and put it out to the world, especially if you want to compete…there’s just so much music coming out. I think this is the challenge for any musician.
R: I think we’re also getting into this weird territory where you can be lo-fi and hi-fi at the same time, largely because of technology. The line between dirty and clean is getting really blurry. You can buy a mic and decent pre-amp, learn your plugins and make something as good as the 1-million dollar studio down the street. I think it’s coming down to the spirit of things, not the gear or process so much. If you can make something inspired and get it out quickly, what more is there?
G: Absolutely. It’s also helped dramatically with collaboration. I recently did some recording with Kaytranada — on a whim — that I’m super excited about. You know, everyone is moving around so much, but in the age we live in, we can start a vibe, send music and thoughts back and forth so quickly. I was able to knock out a few songs in a day after we were introduced, just sending beats and ideas back and forth.
The difference between a recording from a studio, bedroom or DIY set up is getting smaller and smaller. A lot of artists are recording out of hotel rooms and DIY set-ups rather than huge studios. Then maybe mixing in a bigger studio later on, but probably not.
G: For example, the other day I was playing this record for a big engineer in a studio. You know when you’re sitting with an engineer and he’s all: “Do what you do, go ahead and mix”, and I’m like ‘Hey, why don’t we test the mix I did yesterday’ and then he’s says “This sounds fucking amazing, where did you do this??!?!” and in my head I’m like “… In my bedroom…”
We were in Jungle City Studios and you know, you just really couldn’t tell the difference in our mixes. It was this weird moment, because people pay mad bread to be there, and I’m like: “I just did this shit myself… if only he knew”.
It’s really about your ear and your heart, I guess.
Get to know Govales on Soundcloud