Digging into the creative process, Byta speaks with artists, musicians, producers, DJs and anyone involved with music creation. A conversation about how they create, collaborate and share music. From studio setups to routines, and the first person to hear about the next 'big' work.
Where are you based?
Ben here. I’m based in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. My two outstanding collaborators are, on drums: Poyraz Aldemir and Noah Rott on keys. All Brooklyn based.
How, when and where did you start making music? Are you primarily a musician or a producer, or do you do something else?
I was playing covers and constantly straying from how the songs were originally played. I was so inclined to do my own thing and finally, I realized I had to put out my own songs. So that’s where the bug for writing my own music came from. I needed production help and that was already in Ian’s wheelhouse so the pairing came about naturally. He’s also a terrific songwriter so having him to bounce ideas off of has been great.
Who would you consider some of your biggest influences when it comes to your “sound”?
I’m influenced by the Strokes, Fleet Foxes, and Bob Dylan. Some of our tunes definitely adopt a “Stroke-sy” feel and melodically sometimes I find myself in Robin Pecknold territory (Fleet Foxes) with the way I’ll hang on a lyric.
Explain your creative process. Do you have a routine?
Normally the process begins with me and an acoustic guitar. I find an idea that makes sense melodically and if I like how it interacts with chords and rhythm or strum pattern I’ve got for it, then I’ll share it with Ian and Poy and Chris (who collaborates with us sometimes), and we take it from there. Ian comes in and programs the drums – that’s usually when I’ll add a second verse or get the chorus locked in (if I haven’t already). We definitely work in spurts, three fours at a time. Go for a walk. Share a meal. Then make our way back to the music.
What is your “studio” setup?
My home studio is nifty. I’ve got my Nord electro 6D, 61 keys. My Fender American Ultra with noiseless pickups. Love this thing. I play through an Apollo x4 and a UA 610 I just bought. Keep it simple with mics. I have an SM7. There’s no waste with my setup. It gets the job done. Oh, and my Fender blues junior. It’s small but it’s a workhorse of an amp. Sounds great.
What is your process when working with other people? How is collaboration different in the studio vs working remotely?
Remote work is becoming the norm. It’s good for mapping out songs and the high-level architecture stuff, but I’m still working out the kinks for the real listening and mixing that goes into getting a song all the way there. There’s this new plugin called “Listen TO” you throw on your master buss. It lets whoever you collaborate with hear your stuff remotely.
At what point(s) are you comfortable letting other people hear what you are working on?
I’m comfortable sharing right away because even if the song is unfinished I feel like there’s potential if I’m holding on to the idea. I’ve said this before but it bears repeating: I make an effort to avoid being too precious with my stuff. Don’t get me wrong. It has to be great. But I don’t want to let that get in the way of sharing and advancing. It’s a balance.
Do you share your work in progress (streams or downloads)? Any technical frustrations?
I’ll post videos to my stories to let people in on what I’m doing. It’s nice getting small notes back and giving people a window into my process.
How do you know when a track/album is finished?
Usually when I have asked enough people I respect and I don’t get any notes or I get notes about stuff that feels arbitrary to me.
How do you listen to the final mixes/mastered work?
I have to trust the folks around me who mix and master to give their blessing.
How important is pre-release security when sharing new work?
This hasn’t been an issue but we’ll cross that bridge eventually, I’m sure.
Who on your team gets to hear the final versions first and why, what formats do they each need?
The final versions go to friends and family. They know we’re putting in the time and they’re supportive behind the scenes so they deserve first dibs on the listens.
Outside of your inner circle who are the people that will need to hear the new tracks next?
Our team at the Syndicate is definitely number one on that list. They’ll nudge us toward a release order for singles.
Anything you are working on, anyone you are working with and want to share?
I definitely want everyone to know about our latest release(out last June): Clap If You Can, our fourth album in two years.