How To Sell Your Hit Song In 7 Days: An Interview With An Atlanta Music Producer

Wiz Khalifa
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Yeah, focus on performances. I work on the melodies of the songs. I work on the feel. It really starts when we do pre-production; tightening up the arrangements. And then, pretty much part by part I go through and figure out, for example, if the bass and drum parts are locked together, if they have the right feeling.

We always record everyone playing together. But I want to have the energy of the live band playing. And you want to have it where the groove is not conflicting with the melody. Earlier you were talking about recording to analog tape. Is that something you normally do, or are there projects where you start with Pro Tools and stay all digital?

It really depends on the band. On a visual level, if you look at a session recorded to tape versus a session recorded directly to Pro Tools, the waveforms look completely different. If you look at a Pro Tools session with the drums recorded all digitally, and then you see the same drums recorded on tape transferred to Pro Tools , the waveforms are much more complex. Plus, you get the editing power of Pro Tools and no need for tape emulation plug-ins. Some of them sound good. Some of them sound like tape. Do change the way you approach tracking when you work entirely in the digital domain as opposed to analog?

You can hear these out-of-tune artifacts in vocals, especially if people have used auto-tuning or Melodyne.

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You have to use really narrow-band filtering to get rid of those out-of-tune, piercing tones in the voice that you just never would hear on analog records. I agree with that completely. You always have to filter out things.

I filter the kick drum and the bass guitar. The Heritage Audio duplicates the Neve modules down to the component and build techniques. I guess that answers my next question, which is that I assume you mix outside the box, yes? It really depends on the project. But it depends on the project. I would say, start with local bands. I began helping friends out while I was playing in a band, and that quickly led into producing full records. I had gotten a call from a friend who was recording his band in his basement with Alesis ADATs, who asked me to help them out with melodies, and I wound up producing the whole record—and it took off from there.

Well, it helps to be a musician these days. Because production is so competitive, you really need to have the skills of a songwriter, an engineer, a mixer, and a producer.

THE INTERVIEW

Atlanta hip-hop producer Richie Souf on his beats for He recently stopped by Red Bull Music to give us the down low on slow tempo but TYO did his thing on it and obviously it became a hit. it was like a throwaway [beat] — and the artist makes the song, that's I make different types of beats a day. To get hot, Toronto producer Murda Beatz made friends (with PartyNextDoor, Drake, and Migos) Then I wanted to get my music into Atlanta.

You need to have a broad knowledge base of all the instruments. The more instruments you play, the better off you are. The more things you can do, the more options you have as a producer. I also mix all the projects that I do, so you have to be really capable in all these different areas to be successful these days.

Jumping around a bit, I hear have a number-one hit with the band, Parmalee. I did not produce. I wrote the song with them a few years ago and they recorded it in , and it came out in Their drummer had been shot in a robbery attempt while they were working on the album, so they took about eight months off while he recovered.

They released the song a year ago January and it was number one for two weeks in December of Honestly, reading magazines, books on recording, and asking people questions. You mentioned Daniel Lanois earlier—are their any producers that have been influential in your style of production? I like the old-school producers, such as George Martin, Glynn Johns, Andy Johns; a lot of the guys that made the classic records that I grew up listening to—I love the production on those old records.

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I like people like Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois. Basically, anyone that grew up listening to the same records I did. Plus, I have a lot of combo amps. Every project will require a different type of setup.

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I usually run two amplifiers that will be in two different rooms with two different speaker cabinets, each with two mics on them: The SM57 will get the midrange bite, and the will round out the sound, getting the low end along with a nice top end. By the time you're done, every sound has hit 12 transformers and been to tape and then gets mixed down to tape. This is on all the old albums that we heard that sounded great. So, the complexity of a sound that hit all these different things is not there like it was in the old days. It gives you what I think is a fat, pleasing sound to the ear.

I use one mic to get the bite and one mic to fill out the rest of the sound. I might run it through a plate reverb, spring reverb, or delay. A lot of times you can just use the distance mic as part of the sound, or you can use it as an effect. If you have a tube compressor, just running through it without any compression gives you a different vibe.

How do you get that big, in-your-face guitar sound in a mix? Another thing to do is use some type of square wave sound, such as fuzz. Something that generates a square wave gives the guitar much more aggression. You might have an AC30 Vox amp playing the same part, but with more clarity.

But once the stuff is in the mix and layered, it sounds huge, fat, and has definition. The real key to punchiness is having that definition. Please tell me the first piece of equipment that comes to mind. The s that Rick uses were originally taken from vintage Neve consoles and repackaged. The modular version of the Heritage Audio is an exact replica of those found in vintage Neve consoles.

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