But ever since I heard the most amazing noises I’ve heard in my life – those incredible utterances that emanate from my first child Harry, I had to record them and use them in a piece of music.
It was Mrs. Monday who recorded most of them with her iPhone and it was a challenge to trawl through the hours and hours of coos, gurgles and shreaks without dying of an overload of cute.
The other difficulty with sampling baby noises is to avoid sounding mawkish, and I hope that by using the big fat funk groove and keeping it short and sweet I largely avoided this.
I suppose this tune is a little self-indulgent, and it might only work for me and Mrs Monday, but one of the points of this project is to do what I feel like, and I just had to give it a go.
But whatever you think about the finished piece I’m sure you’ll agree that my son Harry has a great future ahead of him – the quality of his vocal is simply stunning and you’ll have to take my word for it that he’s definitely got the moves. Watch out Justin Timberlake.
Is it its ability to touch many people? Or that it stirs strong emotions? That its technically clever? Simple? Does it fulfill a function well (such as making you dance)? Is it original? Shocking? Fashionable? Timeless? Maybe it perfectly sums up the Zeitgeist?
All are valid reasons to decide that a piece of music is good, and depending on who you are, your judgement of its quality will depend on which combination of these are most important when you listen to it. Why we think of a piece of music as good is complicated, and crucially not the same as liking it. I don’t like much music that I know is objectively “good”.
The reason I’m talking like this is that I’ve been asking myself this question constantly this week. I wanted to do something more carefree than the last couple of tunes, and had this piano idea saved in my sketchbook since late 2008 which I thought would make a good starting point.
I spent four days adding to it, changing it, trying to make it more clever, powerful or original. But every time I altered it, the next morning I realised that my initial idea (that if my memory serves me took me about an hour to put down) was better – or closer to “good”.
You see, there’s a few criteria that have become important to me as a producer. Originality, emotion, and how technically complex or clever (while still sounding effortless and simple) the piece is make me think what I’m doing is objectively “good”.
But Old Joanna doesn’t tick any of these boxes. Its simple almost to the point of being naive and certainly couldn’t be described as cutting edge or original. But ironically that’s what I found appealing about it and throughout this week I confronted this disconnect between what my mind and my ears were telling me.
So – is it any good? I have no idea. But I like it.
Posted by: Mike Monday on August 26, 2010 @ 10:12 PM
Posted in: Free Downloads
Good friend Paul Harris of Dirty Vegas fame is offering a stream and download of his August 2010 promo mix. Full of big room tech house, this August Mix is perfect for the 2-5am hours. Besides working on a new Dirty Vegas album, Paul recently has combined forces with Alex Tepper producing high quality tech and tribal house. Stream or download the mix below.
“Less is more”. Easy to say, incredibly difficult to implement.
I often blithely bandy this phrase around, but in the final analysis rarely put it into practise in my music. I’m not confident enough to do it. To make something really simple you need an unshakeable belief that your ideas will speak for themselves in their most basic form. In short you need balls.
But at the half-way point of 10 tracks 10 weeks I’ve realised that one of the projects unintended (but very welcome) consequences is that I’m growing some.
(Of course this might turn out to be a bad thing as it’s possible that my “fear” is in fact an innate quality control device.)
While writing an unashamedly emotive track like “Lullaby” I’ve discovered what I knew already but never really followed through: using few parts makes the whole sound bigger.
So I spent many hours working on very little. For instance, the whole of Tuesday morning I just practised the piano part so that I didn’t have to quantize it. I wanted to retain a live human feel to the piano, essential if this track was to work. This was particularly difficult given that I don’t have a decent weighted keyboard, just a synth, which is like playing a bag of cotton wool.
I also focussed on the rhythm track for hours and experimented with different techniques for mixing it. The whole rhythm track consists of only five parts and rather than adding to it I worked hard on making what I had sing. I do confess to a wasted Wednesday of trying some extra rhythms, melodies and fluff but scrapped all of it, realising that if I was to get away with a tune like this it needed to be simple.
It’s ironic that after adding so little, “Lullaby” is the most expansive and symphonic sounding track I’ve produced. The result is what I imagine a power ballad written by Vangelis and Sebastien Tellier might sound like. It seems that less really is more.
Click here to get “Lullaby” in any format and any quality for free until September 27th 2010.
Posted by: Mike Monday on August 16, 2010 @ 9:07 AM
Posted in: Free Downloads
Check out J-Boogie’s Night Fever mix recorded live at the Scoot Inn in Austin, TX for the Wax Poetics Issue 42 release party. Jam out with J-Boogie as he explores the soul classics from Curtis Mayfield, Skull Snaps, Bill Withers, Al Green, Shalamar, The J.B.s and more. Big ups to Brooklyn Radio, J-Boogie and Beatsauce crew for sending this through.
Night Fever: The R&B edition
Curtis Mayfield – Give Me Your Love
Barry White & Love Unlimited Orchestra – Playing Your Game, Baby
Teddy Pendergrass – Close the Door
Shalamar – This Is For The Lover In You
Erykah Badu – Turn Me Away (Get Munny)
War – Night People
Parliament – Supergroovalisticprosifunkstication
Undisputed Truth – Undisputed (How & Why Disco Edit)
The J.B.‘s – (It’s Not The Express) It’s The J.B.‘s Monaurail
Charles Wright & The Watts 103rd Street Rhythmn Band – Express Yourself
Skull Snaps – It’s a New Day
Bill Withers – Lovely Day (DJ Eleven do-over)
Al Green – Let’s Stay Together Remix
Stevie Wonder – cheri amore remix
Gwen McCrae – Funky Sensation rmx
Zhane – Hey Mr. D.J. [Remix]
Leela James – Good Time
Faith Evans – Love Like This
Chic – Chic Cheer
Roy Ayers – Love Will Bring Us Back Together Again
In order to be this prolific I’m learning how to let go fast.
After a total meltdown on Saturday afternoon, I faced the very real possibility of releasing something on Monday that I wasn’t particularly enthusiastic about.
This goes against every fibre of my being. But to follow through on what I’ve very publicly set out to do, I sat there attempting to finish something I wasn’t sure about. This is in stark contrast to my experience so far.
I didn’t even know whether this lack of enthusiasm was due to the music being pants or my state of mind/level or tiredness at the time, as (to coin a phrase) “my mind was telling me no but my body was telling me yes”. So I went and had a freak out on the ever sympathetic Mrs. Monday before pulling myself together and attempting to get back to it.
When I sat down I indulged in a little procrastination and followed a tweet to this article on how to be prolific. While the tone of the post irritated me, the underlying thrust of it changed the way I thought about what I was doing. For the better.
This project as a whole is more important than the sum of its parts. If I end up writing something that I’m not 100% happy with, then so what? I’ve another chance to write my masterpiece the following week. Its more important to get something out, anything, than nothing at all.
And with this new understanding I promptly nailed this weeks track “Crush” within 24 hours, and ended up loving it. Its one of my favourites so far. Isn’t it amazing what a little targeted procrastination can do?
From Fred Everything: This is the first part of my humble tribute to my favorite record store in the world who, sadly, closed its door 2 weeks ago. I was fortunate enough to be a part if this store as a salesman in the mid/late 90s and continued as a customer until they closed. This mix focuses on the 96-99 sound, one of my favorite time for House Music. Thx to Christian Pronovost for the years of dedication and to my good friend Phil Larochelle for helping down memory lane with the tracklisting of this mix. This was all done Live, 2 turntables and a mixer. Recorded on a friday afternoon, our weekly Record store day in Montreal. Enjoy!
2.Nuyorican Soul-Mind Fluid-Nervous
3.Faze Action-In The Trees-Nuphonic
4.Salt City Orchestra-Issue One-Paper
5.Mateo & Matos-NYC Style-Spiritual Life
6.Idjut Boys-Beatin’ On Dave-UStar
7.Mutabaruka-Dis Poem (Reel Houze)-Guidance
8.Black Science Orchestra-Save Us-JBO
10.Jedi Knights-One 4 Maw-Global Communication
11.Moodymann-I Can’t Kick This Feeling-KDJ
12.Mood || Swing-Do It Your Way-Groove On
13.Todd Edwards-Save My Life-I
15.Atmosfear-Dancing In Outter Space (MAW)-Disorient
I’m told that if you’re on the right path in life you won’t procrastinate.
But I’ve never believed it until now. Before I could start on this weeks track I had to complete some other studio work (the increasingly rare kind that pays money) and procrastinated terribly until I could no more and just about hit the deadline on Friday. While doing this work I felt listless, uninspired and that irresistible urge to catch up on the goings on in Ramsey Street and Summer Bay.
Contrast that with my demeanour from Friday onwards where I couldn’t wait to get into the studio. We all have to do stuff that we’d rather not, but the difference in my attitude and general work rate was startling.
I’ve yet to work out what part of this project is getting me so energised, whether its immediacy, the freedom I’m allowing myself, or the feedback, but I think for now I’ll just go with it. This music lark is fun innit?
So when I finally got around to it on Friday my challenge was to write a piece of music that would appeal to a house or techno DJ but which would also work on a home listening album. The problem I have with most albums by artists who usually write for the dancefloor (and I include myself as one of them) is that what works in your average house or techno club simply doesn’t translate well to the home stereo. Unless you’re having a party in your kitchen.
So why bother writing any house or techno for this album at all? Or why bother writing an album, why not stick to writing tracky tracks?
Because if I’m to follow through with what I said in my style vs genre piece, it should be possible to write house or techno that fits my vision. And with “Contains Nuts” I feel I have, or at least gone some way in getting there.
Stuff I Learnt This Week
1/ Writing music is like being in love. You know when its right because you won’t care about anything else.
2/ The number of hours spent writing or producing a piece of music is not proportional to its quality. Its more likely that the opposite is true.
3/ Too much leaves one wanting less. On Sunday I wasted a good few hours undoing what I had done on Saturday evening. I must continue to stop myself from over-producing. And yes, I’ve said it every week so far.
Two different mixes this week, the album version is of course completely free and you can get the extended club mix (specifically tailored for high-volume night-time use in front of a sweaty mass of baying punters at your local discotheque) for 99p.
Listen & Download: Mike Monday “Contain Nuts (Album Version)”(Download via Mikemonday.com Here)
Posted by: Mike Monday on August 2, 2010 @ 10:37 PM
Posted in: Free Downloads
Co-founder of Classic Recordings (along with Derrick Carter) and Freaks member, Luke Solomon, has been busy in the studio. He recently helped to co-produced and co-write a handful of tracks from Damian Lazarus’s last album. Download his latest mix titled, “Some Songs Have Words Vol. 3”.