• Gus Harrower

passed me by and demos pt.2

This is one of my newest songs, and I wanted to talk about the production that went into this demo. When I was writing it, I was listening to a lot of Bruce Springsteen and Jackson Browne and I think that this is noticeable in the instrumentation and production style. For me, this style of composition and production suits my music the most at this moment in time. I used only real instruments (apart from the drums) as I wanted it to be easily replicated live and have a natural band feel.

I knew from the get go it was going to have piano, guitar drums bass and an added keyboard and that was all. I wanted the focus to be on the lyrics and melody and keeping the instrumentation simple would allow for this. My Nord Stage 2 has a gorgeous piano sound so I opted for that, cleaning it up with a touch of EQ and compression. Using my recently set-up Tele, I recorded some 70’s style picking parts in the verses and simple strummed chords in the chorus, this contrasted the piano part nicely and added a texture. One of my favourite elements in the song is the ‘choir’ like vocals in the bridge. I’ve always wanted to create a sound like that before and think I found a good formula for doing so. I recorded each part three times, totalling up 12 vocal parts. Panning each of them individually and bussing them to a high passed EQ and Soundtoys Little-Plate reverb. This glued all the parts together and I think it sounds pretty authentic. To pad this out and add a bit of dirt, I put an acoustic rhythm part through a heavy distortion plug in called ‘The Decapitator’ by Soundtoys. I also love the Springsteen-esque keys and glock riff in the choruses. I used a very bright, chorus washed upright piano sample from Addictive keys and thickened it out with a glockenspiel and high strings.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t in a position to be able to record real drums for it so I used one of Logic’s drummer tracks. When using the Producer kits, these can sound great and are fine for demos. They often spring up some nice parts however there’s a few pushes in the song where I would’ve like the drums to play a certain part. You are able to swap the drum track to a midi section thus allowing you to move stuff around and input fills etc so I did this at a couple of points but of course it isn’t quite the same as a real kit and player.

This song is an example of one of my demos to its full standard, the arrangement is there, instrumentation all sits and comes in where I want it to. The only thing I need to change about it is the end. We’ve added a cheesy key change so I’ll need to go back in to re-record that but if I was to take this into a studio, I would know exactly how I want the song to sound and we could probably bash it out in a day or two.

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wrapping up

For me, this blog has been useful to talk about how I think about my music and how others music influences me. From a production standpoint, my knowledge on hardware, plugins, DAW’s etc is pretty limi