Inside Song: Mixing It Up

A few years ago, after I completed a large, exhausting album, I stepped back and tried to get some perspective on my own work. By observing my own process, it occurred to me that I’d fallen into a pattern of how I wrote songs. It was almost always lyrics with a hint of melody first, followed by chords, and ending with the arrangement, orchestration, engineering and studio production. I felt, however, upon finishing that big album, that I’d played out the possibilities of that particular approach and more or less knew what would happen if I set out to write more songs in that same way. So I determined the songwriting element I usually focused on least of all – rhythm – and decided that for my next project, I would start there.

Collaborating with a percussionist, I built rhythm tracks and wrote music to accompany the beats, recording and producing as I went, essentially composing straight to tape. The very last thing I did was add lyrics. I effectively inverted my songwriting process and came up with extremely different sounding material. Even the types of words I used changed – fewer syllables, less ornate or metaphoric language – since they occupied such a different place in the creative process than they had before. The music I wound up making was something I never imagined I had in me.

Screen Shot 2014-08-28 at 10.51.35 AMSongwriters often vary the types of songs they create and broaden their spectrum as songwriters, simply by varying their creative process. Bob Dylan famously headed down to Nashville and worked with a completely new group of musicians to come up with Nashville Skyline. The Talking Heads sought to break down the perceived relationship of David Byrne as frontman supported by a backing band. They experimented with new techniques and expanded instrumentation to create what many consider their best album, Remain in Light. Paul Simon first split with his writing partner, Art Garfunkel, to alter his sound, then later travelled to South Africa seeking new sounds and different creative approaches to write the wildly successful album Graceland.
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Inside The Collection: Weekly Curator Picks

Artist Debuts

Ryn Weaver

Earlier this summer, unknown 21-year-old singer-songwriter Ryn Weaver uploaded a track called “OctaHate” to SoundCloud. The song became a literal overnight sensation, with over 30,000 plays on the first day and over a million in two weeks. It was produced by Michael Angelakos (Passion Pit) and co-written with British singer Charli XCX.

French Style Furs

Screen Shot 2014-08-25 at 9.23.31 AMFrench Style Furs is a brand new supergroup comprised of the LA-based soul rockers Cold War Kids‘ frontman Nathan Willet and bassist Matt Maust alongside We Barbarians drummer Nathan Warketin. Their debut album Is Exotic Bait was released on the Frenchkiss label with music inspired from 1980s proto-punk and lyrics inspired by the poetry of Trappist monk and mystic Thomas Merton.
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Inside The Collection: Trap & Twerk, Pandora keeps it Trill

If you’re addicted to sub bass, booty shakin’, doing the Miley Cyrus and bouncing to half-time hi-hats, Pandora offers three stations to customize your low-end experience. Trap, Trap Rap and TWERK each showcase a specific sound for our listeners. In a world where hip-hop and EDM fuse together to create a new sound, have you ever pondered the difference between trap and twerk? Want to know what you’ll hear on Pandora’s Trap Rap station? Our curators get to the bottom of the 808.

Let’s take a look at where trap and twerk started, then listen to where it’s going. Both styles focus on samples from the classic Roland 808 drum machine, syncopated rhythms with heavy backbeat handclaps that are influenced by Miami Bass, Southern Rap and New Orleans Bounce.

Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 9.31.49 AMIf you like mind numbing bass, car alarms and festival decibels, Trap is for you. International producers are embracing the sounds of Atlanta to create something new. Artists like Yellow Claw, Flosstradamus, Diplo, UZ and Bro Safari have taken the original sound and connected the dots from hip-hop to EDM. Trap has fewer lyrics, mostly sampled and pitched down with a heavy electro house and dubstep influence. The beats per minute are around 70, but are produced with BPM set to 140 for that double-time feel. You’ll hear plenty of bass drops – and of course it’s best heard on a huge sound system.
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Inside The Collection: Weekly Curator Picks

Artist Debuts

The Vamps

Screen Shot 2014-08-18 at 10.36.06 AMThe Vamps are a British pop band that formed in 2012 and immediately signed to Mercury Records. They have toured as support for artists like McFly, The Wanted, Little Mix and Demi Lovato. Their debut EP Somebody To You features the charting singles “Wild Heart” and “Somebody To You,” with guest vocals by Demi Lovato.

You Me and Apollo

This Fort Collins, Colorado-based band specialize in “…stompy blues and sing along folk rock with hints of psychedelic and soul music.” Their debut album Sweet Honey was produced and engineered by Jeff Powell (Bob Dylan, Lucinda Williams, Big Star, Sharon Jones) at the famed Ardent Studios in Memphis. In addition to playing festivals like SXSW and Hangout, they have toured and supported for acts like Dr. Dog, Brandi Carlile, ZZ Ward, Third Eye Blind, DeVotchKa, Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers and Dashboard Confessional.
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