Here’s a song I produced for my friends at CollegeHumor. Directed by Ben Joseph, lyrics by Streeter Seidell, and VFX by the wizards at Gloo Studios.
Before I talk about the track, I just want to give major props to the two amazing singers I brought in for this one: Maurice Smith and his friend Dejah Gomez. I can’t thank them enough for taking the time to bring their world-class musicianship to this ballad about cell phone technology.
You may remember Maurice from his amazing vocal work on the demanding Boyz-II-Men track we worked on a while back. Maurice was one of the first singers I worked with after moving to LA.. and was a real wake-up call to how insane the level of talent is out here. Here’s one of my favorite live clips of Maurice:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yoF6me0yffw#t=1m40s
Dejah is equally stunning… as you’re read in her bio, she’s sung with Justin Timberlake at the Grammys, Al Green, Smokey Robinson, Mariah Carey, and the list goes on. Here’s a hilarious clip of her signing a duet with the great Stevie Wonder:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0tbQ2k1T7Jo#t=2m18s
Making the backing track was fun, too: music-wise, Streeter wanted a RnB slow jam with a sort of sung-spoken approach to the vocals. So, I listened to a bunch of Usher songs and R. Kelly’s infamous ‘Trapped in the Closet’. Usher-y arrangements seems to be all about keeping the drums very tight/dry sounding, and the arrangement pretty minimal as most of the activity is in the vocals. This actually worked out really well in our case since we have a LOT of lyrics in this track and want to make sure they remain the focus. I threw in a musical accent here and there (piano, claps, whooshes, etc) and that seemed to do the trick.
I made a scratch track with some vocal melody ideas but Maurice and Dejah’s parts were largely ad-libbed. Directing world-class singers when you’re not a singer is equal parts embarrassing and hilarious :)
edit: as an added bonus, check out this video Maurice just released: