Production stories behind Dusk At Dawn..
Well, my cat. My cat sneezes a lot. Like, a whole lot. When we got her as a kitten (after she ran away for 18 days a few weeks after we got her, whole other story) I would count how many times she would sneeze in a row. It’s like Olympic sneezing. 26 times. That’s 13 rounds of 1 rep sneezing twice. I take a lot of pictures of her too.
She’s an animal in the studio.
Due to all this sneezing, she would love to sneeze as I’m recording a killer vocal take. I tried to comp out as much as I could, but her respiration-al blasts may be in and out and about.
Oh yeah, the original release date was going to be in March while I was combating the life event which is public education. Of course, there would have been no way with all the busy work of school that releasing it then would have been an accurate representation of the works. So then I finished recording it.
And then decided to re-record everything. I often would fight with feeling totally UN natural when recording and completely overwork my voice because I’d stand in front of the microphone and my brain would flip the switch. Suddenly I’d find myself yelling and blowing my face off and sounding terrible. So at some miraculous moment, I decided to sing naturally the way I would do it live.
Which leads to me completely re-recording World like two weeks before it came out. It is my friend’s favorite song, and she always wants me to perform it for her; when I do, there’s such a beautiful, emotional thingy happening. Then I would play her the song I recorded, and it was underwhelming. Sure the production was there, but I didn’t sense any emotion. Isn’t that what music is, recorded emotion?
Me re-recording World like two weeks before it’s supposed to be released.
While I had no floor due to my bedroom flooding, I decided to re-record the whole song, with no metronome. I just plugged in my guitar to the interface (when I usually record it with my mic) and tried to imagine that my friend was there watching me perform.
I ended up trying like five times and got annoyed with myself and then tried again later. It’s like the fact that you have no time restrictions in a home studio means that you’re less pressured to get it right. So I set a timer.
I set for 25 minutes and said if I don’t get it right within this time then I’m going to leave the old one against my will. And you know what? I got a GREAT take. You know what’s even better? My timer went off as soon as I was finishing the song. It was glorious.
So then to combat the awfulness that is a DI acoustic tone I tried my best with no metronome to follow while standing in very uncomfortable positions to re-record the guitar over the initial one. And I did it again. And somehow… EVERY SINGLE TAKE WAS OUT OF PHASE! I tweeted hastily about such a horrid event.
I almost thought of keeping the song in mono, but I got over myself. At least the takes weren’t canceling each other out.
I then re-recorded vocals without the guitar so I wouldn’t have a poorly mic’d acoustic in the mix from the initial take. I did that three times. I wasn’t about to go back and comp that so then I ended up keeping all three takes and using them to sound like gang vocals. I think it’s rad. Au Naturale.
I wrote this song after having not written a song in my mind for a while due to overthinking it so I sat down and decided to feel the music instead of thinking and analyzing it. It poured out. Turns out
Dusk At Dawn
I remember getting the idea to redo my old EP Dusk At Dawn (2013) (the one you should stay away from unless you own effective earplugs) from logging onto my old PC (it has a broken screen which is only visible if illuminated by a flashlight and it’s keyboard is also broken).
Somehow I mined through this archaic technology that is not a clean and beautiful Mac and dug up the original intro guitars to Dusk at Dawn the song. I used my Squier electric and a cheap practice amp from back in the day and layered like 15 takes over each other. I dreamed of that being the intro to my big live shows some day.
Anyways finding that file inspired me to continue building off it and revisiting various other old files and puking inside when I saw old attempts because I spent all of 2014 getting better at recording and mixing.
However, I didn’t want to re do that electric guitar intro because it wouldn’t sound the same, and things just wouldn’t be the same. THE SAME, SAME.
For the guitar solo, which is actually in the intro hey, ain’t that rad. I had my pal Todd do it up. So I took my mobile orchestra over to his house. In classic style, we used a cheez-it box to hold the mic up to his amp to get a crunchy tone and he presented me with sheet music he made and tabbed out my song. We totally didn’t use it. 30 takes later as he’s improvising a solo we finally achieve success.
Also David, the coolest person ever who took me to meet Adam Young after only meeting him that year, played bass on this song. This song felt like it was lacking so much to me for a long time and a lot of the things I ended up doing was me just joking around and thinking 99.9% I wasn’t going to use it but then did anyway (which happened a lot) in this case was adding strings to this song. Cello plucks and all.
Nothing like a box of Cheez-Its to get that crunchy tone.
I remember writing this song in my old Twilight notebook in this study hall thing in middle school. I even mapped out the chords and where the capo would go all in my head. I tended to finish these album songs in one sitting. It’s amazing that I got home that day and could still remember the melody. There’s this one song I had called Dreaming Wide Awake, and I can’t remember how it goes so if you can let me know how it goes that’d be great.
The writings of Dusk At Dawn and Take Me Somewhere Nice
Speaking of strings, I did use my violin on this song. No sheet music either.
The best part about this song is that I wrote it while coming back from a cold walk in December. I guess it’s about finding and feeling like yourself again after you’ve been tied up in someone else’s emotions for so long. Liberating.
Take Me Somewhere Nice:
I tried so many times to get the bass to sound right on this thing it was a mess. So I opted in for the orchestral bass and it made my heart happy. I remember writing this song in such a dreamy state in my room. I wrote it in my Ocean Eyes notebook. Heh. The chorus lyrics sound like they could be nice tweets or even room decors like I have around here. Make it happen. For a surprise factor this song’s visual was not Take Me Somewhere Nice by Sky Sailing. The visual was my bedroom ceiling. It just happened to be the same title.
I don’t have a gear obsession but.
It started off as a song about being depressed because I haven’t been writing songs but then I realized what time it was so it turned into an anthem for the sleep-deprived.
This production was impossible. My homeboy Joseph and I tried so many things to get it to sound like what it deserved to be and decided to trash everything and keep the acoustic guitar until the last chorus. Heard ya like harmonies. A fuller produced version might be in the works perhaps for another day.
When I was writing this for some reason I had this vision of me like playing on stage at an awards ceremony or some type of charitable event singing about how grateful I am for everything. That’s about all I remember about writing this other than the fact that every single verse has the same rhyme, (rhymes with change) and I almost threw it away because I thought it was too cheesy. And it’s probably the least cheesy song… This was another song that benefited from adding strings and string plucks just to flesh it out.
As you may notice a lot of the things I did was trial and error and a whole lot of error. Like a whole lot. I started adding in delays because I knew nothing about adding in delays so I did it and it was rad. Some reason all the delays would go out of tune and on “Goodbye” the synths would go out of tune and I do NOT REALLY UNDERSTAND BECAUSE I AM WORKING COMPLETELY ON SOFTWARE SO WHAT THE EGGS.
Anyways that was really annoying trying to give myself feedback on these songs and all I heard was those dang out of tune delays. Like I don’t even understand how that’s possible. I think it’s by luck that it stopped. The background vocals were from a pal from instagram who sent me a .wav that blew my face off. Vocal layering, man.
“I don’t make waves, I make .WAVS!”- LYNZ
So like this song was impossible to get right. It’s the most recently written song off this album. My pal Joseph contributed to the production like the main synths and drums. But his laptop died (literally while he was recording material for this song) after he sent me this audio file, which was unmixed, which constrained the synths and the drums.
After his computer got fixed he sent me different versions of the song but this is the one that made it. What made it so complicated is that I couldn’t like turn down the volume of the synth without affecting everything else so it made volume balance tricky.
Speaking of volume balance, I started using my midi controller knobs as a vocal ride fader, and while using Midi Learn to assign things to such, I hit the B key on several occasions probably from my strange producing positions. But I didn’t know this. So I would be playing something, and I hit B, and it muted. I thought the key was dead.
So I spent several days in anxiety frantically googling expensive midi controllers when my full other keyboards work fine and thinking of everything possibly wrong with the controller I have now and almost wasted my money on buying something I didn’t need. And gear shopping gives me anxiety anyways, with people always telling you what their version of “better is” biasedly, so I’m content with what I’ve got.
I emailed support, and they thanked me graciously so much for their time but didn’t answer my question, but they were nice.
After all that panic I plugged it in and used it with garage band.
And IT WAS FINE. So obviously it was Logic’s issue. Then I went to go map my fader and bam
I also left a party early to say I was going to sleep in the car, but the reality is that I perfected the swells and ending with the tape stop instead of socializing.
So I wrote this in June/July 2014. It was after my brother moved to San Francisco. I had like this vision of nevershoutnever in my head while sitting down thinking of lyric and melodic ideas. I don’t know where unrelated these daydream visuals come from but without them I can’t write easily.
So basically it’s told from the perspective of my brother driving from NY to Cali alone towing everything he owns in a trailer and getting there in like 3 days with no hotel stops. It’s like he’s got a crush on Cali, and he’s thinking and reflecting about what he’s leaving behind and what he’s coming into. He also had no phone.
Some people asked me if it’s like a crush on a girl type of song, but I mean playing with perspectives is cool too because I did personify Cali in such a way. He wants to go on a date with Cali. And take a walk through Silicon Valley. Yo.
So when I finished writing it, my mom comes in and spoils my 16th birthday present. A ticket to Cali to see my brother. Awesome.
Too bad I woke up the day off and saw this:
I found an old demo of this song, and it’s so awful because I was so annoyed and irritated because I was over squeezing my voice in unkind ways but I’m glad I can identify that now.
I shipped this song off to iTunes on Jan 15′ not knowing what the heck I was doing, but I did anyways (key to life) it and people liked it. I mean I didn’t know what the heck a press release was or why anybody would care or if I was releasing music too early in my career was a bad thing because you see artists appear out of nowhere with one song and suddenly they’re famous, and then there’s Ed Sheeran who still tells people about his EP he made when he was 12 and still lists it on his website. Goals. You can’t make too much music.
Like, I would love to have the problem of having too many songs to choose from. When quite frankly it’s quite the opposite. I’ve always struggled to gain material for my gigs because I don’t have enough originals. Dusk At Dawn is really it song wise give or take a few. And I’m pretty content with these regarding that my first song I’ve ever written made it onto the album. Time to write a lot more!
“View songwriting as a dirty tap. When you switch on the dirty tap on it’s going to flow crap water for a substantial amount of time. Then, clean water is going to start flowing. Every now and again you’re gonna get a bit of crap, but as long as you get it out of you, it’s fine. It’s the same thing with gigs. You will always play bad gigs in the beginning. The more gigs you do, the better you will get.” – Ed Sheeran
We Are Balloons:
So like I didn’t really officially decide to start being a songwriter or anything miraculous but I was really feeling inspired by Hot Air Balloon by Owl City and somehow I wrote this song. I send the lyrics to my cousin and she’s like “I don’t know that owl city song!?” Yeah, me neither.
It sounds nothing like HAB, but once again my visuals are important.
Someone Like That:
Originally I made this in about 5 minutes on my iPhone with the garage band app in 2013. The original EP literally had that version on it. Obviously, I recreated it in Logic. Production-wise the only thing I added was a dope synth solo and some tele vocals. And rerecorded everything.
Make up your version of whom it’s about.
my brother: go write a song
me: *goes upstairs*
Definitely was feeling inspired by “Alaska” by Sky Sailing When I wrote this one. Once I learned how to play that guitar riff in Open D it just opened up so much to me. Creativity could flow since I was outside my comfort zone of the same old chord shapes.
Lyrically this is the deepest song, and it would have to be inspired by this quote.
“To discover new oceans, one must lose sight of the shore.”
Which translated into:
“We’re about to set sail, onto our dreams, although some have chosen to stay home.”
Songs that inspired Dusk At Dawn: