Music is all around us, whether you’re an avid consumer or not. Whether you’re listening to your iPod on your morning bus ride or ignoring the Celine Dion that’s playing in the elevator, we are constantly surrounded by music that’s presented in many different forms.
As a guitarist, and a particularly stubborn individual, I was very quick to judge electronic musicians and producers as true artists. I would look at my idols like the guys from Led Zeppelin or Stevie Ray Vaughn and think, “That’s how you create art.”My shallow-minded approach to what is art and what isn’t has changed thankfully, and today I’m going to share my thoughts on the beautiful and infinite world of producing.
As I’ve started to create my own songs, I’ve become more curious as to the actual methods of song writing. Meaning, what equipment do they use, what instruments make what sounds, and what type of sounds I’m capable of making with the equipment I already own. The science and art of creating a funky beat or a hot track is much more involved than I had thought.
For example, think of a classic rock song. Usually there’s a guitarist, maybe a rhythm guitarist, a bass guitarist, drummer, and a singer. That’s five instruments, and to me that meant five tracks. But in fact, a classic song can contain anywhere from four or five different layers up to around twenty. If you don’t believe me, listen to The Rain Song by Led Zeppelin and try to count how many instruments are layering together.
The most prominent place that I’ve noticed great producing is in the Hip-Hop genre. Right now I’ve been listening to a lot of Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Chance the Rapper, Action Bronson, and Wiz Khalifa to name a few. All of these guys are amazing rappers but they also work with some of the best producers in the American music industry. Sledren, Swiss Beats, P. Diddy or Diddy, and Pharrell Williams are some of my favourite producers. These guys aren’t just pressing buttons or adding drum beats. It takes an amazing ear and knowledge of music to master some of these songs. Adding songs together and making remixes are some of the most challenging skills to gain as a musician. A lot of producers say that their ear for music came naturally at a young age.
Kevin Parker from Tame Impala is also one of my favourite producers. He plays all the instruments and produces the albums for his Australian psychedelic rock band. He recently remixed a new song called Waves by Miguel, and I’ve included the link because you need to experience this.
Don’t judge a book by its cover, and don’t judge a musician just because they work on a computer instead of a guitar. All music comes from a place of creativity and inspiration, and some of these producers in the game today are the most creative and inspiring musicians that I’ve been fortunate to find.