Let's go on a journey: The Production of Angela McClure's "When the Day is Blue."
Artists need to connect with their audiences visually as much as sonically if they want to keep their attention. In today’s culture, people are watchers and listeners at the same time. As a producer, I want to facilitate creative aggregation between music and video, but I want to do this in a unique way that invites people into the head of the artist – versus the way music videos are traditionally done (though sometimes a traditional video is what is called for).
We’re moving toward an increasingly homogenized society. Nostalgia has become paramount, masking the void usually filled by artistic progress. Technology keeps us "wowed," but we are still alone in a crowd. People are searching for uniqueness. They always have been. The work we are doing at the studio, and with Troubadour Image + Sound, is something different because instigating progress is important to us. We are willing to take risks in order to find what makes our clients and our work unique.
A unique and timeless sound
For “When the Day is Blue,” we wanted to take Angie out of something she had done before. She writes on guitar, and writes from a traditional place. We wanted to combine those traditional elements with something modern, to come up with a unique and timeless sound. To avoid a dated sound, we kept the melody intact but lifted it out of a folksy sonic environment and focused on other instruments that might do what the guitar ordinarily would do.
The song has a drone like quality, with no chorus, so Roberto Riggio (co-producer) and I immediately knew we wanted to let it drone – like a meditation – and let the song unveil, as it got more complex. I then mirrored this with the unveiling in the video, so they both take the listener on a journey. When the song subtlety changes, this represents the changing of the songwriter inside the song.
Combining traditional and modern elements
For the guitar we substituted an Oud, a Middle Eastern lead instrument. The Oud has it’s own sound, and an emotional tone. Then Sean Giddings came up with a counter melody to that on the piano, and Fred did a drum rhythm that worked really well to bring the song to a unique place rhythmically.
Unless you are going for the Andy Warhol/John Cage thing, where you use alienation as part of what you want to get across, you want to keep some familiarity to show the audience how to feel at home. This makes them more inclined to go on a journey with you.
Fighting for Uniqueness
As a producer, fighting for uniqueness is part of my calling. I have a passion for working with artists in a way that provides them with a unique identifier for their work. A way they sound different – a sound they can be known for. No artist wants people to say: “I like that song, but I don’t know who it’s by,” But, unfortunately that is one of the consequences of playing it safe. Usually when you feel this way, as a listener, I believe it’s because the song hasn’t made enough of a unique impression for you to care about who the artist is.
Angela McClure is great to work with on these types of projects. She certainly cares about her audience and wants more people to experience her work, but experimenting is part of what keeps her working and fascinated. Her willingness to color outside the lines is why she has a unique way of sounding. Culturally, we are all craving those innovative and timeless qualities. We just have to have the courage to take the risks required to get to them.
Purchase your copy of "When the Day is Blue" at bandcamp today!