I recently released my latest single “Anchored” on SoundCloud and wanted to share with you a production tip for this song that I learned online. I found a really interesting YouTube video about creating moments and transitions in production via ear candy techniques, and I decided to implement some in my latest songs. I’d also like to note that I found this video from a Facebook group called TeamVibez, founded by one of my amazing Berklee professors, Rachel Alina, and run by my good friend and brilliant colleague, Skyler Bennett. This group is an inclusive discussion space for all things audio, production, and mixing!
Something that I think was missing from my productions was thoughtful transitions that served a purpose for the story behind the song and didn’t distract the listener. I wanted to implement some of these “ear candy” moments in my latest release because there is a lot of space between the lyrics and a lot of visual concepts in the song that can be utilized in sound design. For example, throughout the pre-chorus and bridge of the song you can hear a tuned and distorted radar sound as though someone is looking for me underwater. Listen at 2:27 to hear that effect.
The moment I want to showcase is at the beginning of my song and can be heard at 0:11. The song is about trying to get someone off my mind who I can’t let go of, and in this transition, I emphasize the lyric “up to the island like a dream.” In the original recording, I don’t repeat the lyric “like a dream,” but I realized a good way to fill in some of the spaces in this song was to pick out some lyrics that are important to the story and create a sort of “call-and-response” effect with them. To connect the first part of the verse with the second, I centered the sound design around the “like a dream” response followed by the same vocal pitched down.
In the image above you can see the sound design build I made. I organized this as though it was a sound effects build in a post-production project like I learned while working at Boom Box Post. For the most part, the tracks are organized in the order they appear, with like sounds being grouped together. The important points made in the Youtube video I watched were to make sure to include both high and low frequencies in an ear-candy moment and to focus on dynamics with level, filtering frequencies, rhythmic movement, and symbolic sound design (for this song that was the radar sound).
I interpreted this by initiating the moment with a boomy 808 and distorted saw bass hit, which leads into the call-and-response vocal. In the first part of this transition, the 808 and bass fill out the low end, but the filtering in the bass contrasts the limited range of the 808 and starts to introduce more frequency range into this section. The follow-up vocal brings in a softer sound and introduces a motivic rhythm that the pitched vocal and bell sound copies. The bell sound occurs twice to reiterate the vocal with brighter frequencies and leads perfectly into the first hit of the next verse. The last part of this transition is a reversed crash symbol leading into an electronic woodblock sound that I use in the chorus of the song, and is supported by another distorted bass hit. I combined this with a small vocal part that I reversed and modified with reverb to create an echoey, anticipatory effect for the next part of the song. I love doing this trick because I often have so many vocals to choose from and can really play around with which time-based plug-in I want to use to get the right effect.
Overall, I was really happy with how this transition came together, and hope it gives you some ideas for your next production. I also proved to myself that I can learn something on my own from Youtube, which is sometimes a daunting task, even when there is so much information out there. In achieving this, I really tried to stay authentic to the song’s message and started getting a sense of how more intricate productions might sound as I develop these skills.