Your production quality is inversely proportional to the distance between your butt and the chair

I started working on my next (second) song Whole Lotta Trouble yesterday. Keep in mind, all songs I work on already have a finished lyric and music, it’s a question of producing them. And I’m backlogged! So, inspired by the reception of a live audience to my trap mix of Woke Up This Morning, on Oct. 26, I decided to make this next one, a what I’m calling, ZZ Trap. Just imagine a minor pentatonic guitar-driven track.

This song is very straightforward as a rock song, pretty brisk at 134 bpm. Also, very easy as a Trance a the same tempo. I know this because I have the folders with those basic draft mixes! But, you know, ya got be with the times, ya gotta have that 808, and that swagger. The mix has to start whimsical and then DROP that 808… and the electric guitar part. Oops!

I went through several, not many, loop kits. Just listened until the first one sounded right. Being lazy, sorry, I just don’t keep trying for something better. You can go on forever doing that. It’s like finding the right person to get married. Just get one that’s damn good and stop looking for others; stick to it and make it stick. Then, bam! I’m hit with a hammer, it just sounds impossible to wed – to keep pushing the analogy – the guitar to them trap beats and sounds. The thing with loops is that often they come kinda of mixed already, with their own space (reverb, etc.).

And we get to the subject of Today’s Post, today’s insight. Sitting in the studio, going nowhere, but just work on it nonstop (OK, so there are some benign stimulants involved, like a drink or two, every few hours). And finally, already close to midnight, after a few hours of tearing that loop apart, particularly the snare groove – how it interacts with the vocal, and it’s all about the vocal – I start getting it! I start feeling the natural high from accomplishing something, or seeing how it’s going to materialize.

May 1999, Connecticut Songwriter’s retreat with Pat Pattison

Then it starts raining and the water over the lake just puts me over the top of awesomeness. And then I realized, just like songwriting, my instructor in the songwriting retreat, Pat Pattison – back in May 1999 (Whoa, that’s 20 years ago!! Fuck!) told us that the quality of your lyrics is inversely proportional to the distance between your butt and the chair. Get it? If you don’t, think about it for a second, it’s worth the trouble.

The great insight for me personally – and I off this to you, is that, while I have firmly believed for a long time, without question, that this is true: to write great lyrics, you just have to spend a lot of time working them, and the more you do, the better they get, I had never believed this for producing a song. Wow, this gives me so much, total confidence from this day/night on: I will be a great producer. Just keep doing this inverse thing between my butt and my chair!

About Cindo Santos

Songwriter, guitarist, singer, performer, a human and social commentator, a fellow traveller. From Florida to Berlin and a lot in between!
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One Response to Your production quality is inversely proportional to the distance between your butt and the chair

  1. David Liz says:

    Cindo, I just got a chance to read your whole blog post. Very insightful, and I think that Pat Pattison’s advice holds true in many artistic areas. Whether it be musical lyrics, movie editing, or anything really; Hardwork is a determining factor in how good your product will be. That being said, you are 1000% right about unlimited options, and if you don’t make a decision you can be stuck in an unproductive loop for a very long time. Indecision can be a crutch, and so I champion your view to make a choice and stick with it and make it work.

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