Production Tips: What’s The Best Way To Produce A Track?

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Production is a weird animal. There are lots of ways to do it, and no real “right” or “wrong” way to make the magic happen. So how do you know if you’re doing it the best way possible? I’ve been producing records for 10 years now, but still feel like I’m learning every day. Nonetheless, I wanted to begin to share some of the things I’ve learned and hopefully help you avoid the mistakes I made.

Figure Out The Song First

Everyone’s different, you’ll need to accept that. Some artists will come in with a killer song that you’ve got jack-squat to change and when that happens – consider yourself to be lucky. It won’t happen often, at least on the indie level. Unless you’re working with bands, most individual artists will have half-finished ideas that need to be completed. Do this first. Help them figure out when the song needs to do, what needs to change or be added or – send them home to do it first if you’re not a songwriter. Hell, don’t even schedule the session if you’re not a songwriter and adept enough at helping artists hone the song. It’s totally ok if you’re not – there are plenty of producers who don’t write but are wizards at ProTools, making sounds, beats, engineering, etc. But get the song nailed down first. Don’t even create a click track unless that song is done, and ready to be produced. You will find yourself in a world of uncomfortable situations and will potentially tick off a lot of clients if the song isn’t done. You will mess things up if the song is not done first. Finish the song first. Period.

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Horns horny horns horns.

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Recording Horns @ Audio Dallas

Had a great day today cutting some horns at Audio Dallas! My good friend and client Charles Collins needed some alto and tenor sax, bone, and trumpet on a tune today, so I got to arrange and cut horns on “People Make The World Go Round” a revised version of the classic hit for Charles’ new upcoming EP.

The song itself is pretty hairy. Lots of meter changes, and the horns play a very important role in the recording. Alto sax took the lead, and then tenor sax, bone and trumpet filled out the vibe. Thankfully I had Randy Lee on sax (whom I’d never worked with before – amazing player) Gaika James on trombone and Keith Jourdan on trumpet. I’ve worked with Gaika and Keith several times before and they’re really solid players; some of my favorite to work with in town. Being a horn player myself (I started on trombone) I’m pretty particular when I’m cutting horns. Although Charles is producing the EP himself, he’ll let me chime in when I hear something weird, not that I had to that often.
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Review: “Got To Have It” by Larry Gee

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Larry Gee is a Dallas-based soul and funk artist who puts on a tremendous live show and who has been carefully crafting new tunes for his new record. “Got To Have It” is his new single, produced by the also ever-talented Beau Bedford.

The song opens with a classic and hypnotic sounding bass and drum, groove. Nice, smooth, and addictive. I love his dry vocals up until 0:35 – that was a great call. The female background vocals by The Affections are by far the catchiest part of the song, and I love them. Throughout the song Larry’s high melodies give me a Prince vibe, and it’s very effective. He’s got a strong falsetto, and it sounds great in this song.
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Groovin in Gruver!

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Man, oh man. Texas is huge. I mean, Dallas is big too, but Texas is a HUGE state. I got hired to DJ and play live at a private event in Gruver, TX with one of my songwriting buddies, Blake Burrow and on the road out to the event I am reminded of how large the state is by the length of time I have to drive…from Dallas it’s a 6 HOUR drive!! I’ve driven further, and at least I can hang with my bros Justin and Griz as they’re playing the gig as well. But for now, this little producer/songwriter will be crammed in the back seat blogging my face off, getting ready to make the crowd dance their asses off to the latest country and pop hits! Until then, friends…enjoy the fact that you can stretch your legs! Cause I. Can. Not. Move. Lol…

– J

Josh Goode is a Dallas, TX based record producer specializing in pop, dance, country, and singer/songwriter projects. Music is his passion, and tex mex is his muse.

Lose Control with Dezi 5!!!

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Get ready for it – this is a BANGING new dance track I just produced with Dallas’ newest pop and dance sensation, Dezi 5!! Dezi’s music is very high energy, and he is a great songwriter and an *amazing*, completely over-the-top live performer as well. The Dallas Observer recently called him one of Dallas’ best kept secrets and hottest R+B acts in town.

Dezi originally contacted me to record vocals for him, but when I heard this song in it’s raw form I HAD to get on it and help out with the production. I had been wanting to work with Dez for a while, so it was an honor and a treat to finally get to sit down and see what his artistic vision looked like and help him get the production to where he needed it to be. Dezi is VERY hands on, and he has a *very* specific vision for what he wants his music to sound like and that’s always great for me in a client.

I always prefer working with people that have a specific creative vision because ultimately I view my job as helping the artist SHINE, not find ways to create my own thing in leiu of what they might want. If I want to make music for myself, I’ll do it alone – it’s not my place to interrupt the creative flow of my artists. I’m your advisor, and I’m your aid to realize your artistic vision, but ultimately this is YOUR music and you have to LOVE it!! If you don’t love it, you can’t sell it. Also if you don’t love it – I didn’t do my job right. However, in Dezi’s case we did a great job and…he ended up loving it! Here’s the finished product and I hope you guys enjoy it too! Listen to it, and go ahead and let yourself “Lose Control.” (See what I did there? womp womp)

– J

Josh Goode is a Dallas, TX based record producer specializing in pop, dance, country, and singer/songwriter projects. Music is his passion, and tex mex is his muse.

Drowning (Cover) by Sarah Sellers

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Everybody hurts. At least that’s what R.E.M. said, right?

Sarah Sellers is one of my favorite artists to work with. She’s highly passionate, immensely talented, and is a fiercely soulful vocalist and performer. So basically she’s your ideal artist to be in the studio with. She’s a total pro in front of the mic, and whether she is singing live or in the studio she always gives it everything she has, until there’s absolutely nothing left but blood and tears on the floor. She and I have played a ton of shows together, and we’ve produced a handful of YouTube videos together as well, some of which you can check out here on her channel. I consider myself very lucky to call her a friend and to work with her as much as I have in the past.

Sarah was going through an immensely rough time personally (you can read her blog about it here), and wanted to do a new YouTube cover. The song “Drowning” by Banks was her pick, and she told me about it a few weeks before we did the cover. If I haven’t heard it before, I typically don’t listen to songs before I do a cover arrangement as I always want to approach it with fresh ears, and give my best inspiration to the recording process. I knew it was a sad song, and that was about it.

She came in that day in fairly decent sprits (not necessarily with the weight of the world on her back) and I listened to the song. It’s pretty easy chord-wise, just a gentle flow back and forth between G, A, and Bm. So, I said “Let’s just get the vocal down, and then we can fill in the track from there.” I took a few minutes to play the chords on a Rhodes patch from Kontakt in Pro Tools, set up the mic and was ready to go.

She took a deep breath, and began to sing. Words cannot describe how magical this moment was, although I’m going to give it a try. Every word was dripping with emotion, and every phrase was perfect. Her entire mood changed for the song. She felt every single ounce of it, and after the first take – I had tears welling up in my eyes, and major goose bumps on both arms. We both did, really. She killed it. It was transcendent. It was one of my favorite moments I’ve ever had, musically. Amazing!! She even messed up a phrase in the second chorus, and we let it stay. Who cares? It was perfect.

I was so inspired I quickly began to produce the track around her stellar vocal, and I think I did the whole thing in about 2 hours, maybe less. I added some light doubled guitar in the second verse, and used Coldplay’s Midnight as a reference on the arrangement, trying very hard to NOT bring rhythm in until it was absolutely necessary. There’s a 4 on the floor bass drum pattern that happens for about 4 bars – and that’s it. All of the guitar tracks are first takes, both electric and acoustic – no edits. I swear this track wrote itself. We completed it all without overthinking, and I think it’s one of my favorite tracks I’ve ever done. I even mixed it – which I never do!

Anyways, give it a listen and enjoy Sarah’s gorgeous performance. This is how it should be: all the emotion happened in a brief moment. It was captured on tape, then left alone. There’s no tuning, little (if any) editing, and the arrangement that shines because of it, I think. Just music, brah. Pure, real music.

 – J

Josh Goode is a Dallas, TX based record producer specializing in pop, dance, country, and singer/songwriter projects. Music is his passion, and tex mex is his muse.