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?
We’re TRP.P – based in Toronto, Canada.
How, when and where did you start making music? Are you primarily a musician or a producer, or do something else?
Truss: I started making music as a solo artist and producer in 2012 after I took this Music & Computers course in high school. I was producing most of my own songs, still collaborating with people. Eventually I met Phoenix in 2015 and we started making music together, polishing some demos she had started creating. Now here we are 🙂 I do wear the producer hat mostly but I’ve been singing and writing again lately.
Phoenix Pagliacci: I started making music at the age of 6. I formed a group with my cousins called “Carribean Gems” and we performed West Indian folk songs at weddings, banquets and birthdays. I began writing my own songs at that age and haven’t looked back since. I’m primarily a singer/songwriter but Truss definitely brings the producer side out of me sometimes…
Who would you consider some of your biggest influences when it comes to your “sound”?
Truss: I grew up in church; I was in the choir and played the piano there, so stacking harmonies and those gospel chord progressions are inescapable for me. But I love Hip-Hop – I love heavy, swinging, bouncy drums. So there will almost always be a splash of either of those elements in the music I make, even when I try to experiment with different sounds.
Phoenix Pagliacci: My biggest influences don’t get much bigger than Stevie Wonder. I love him so much. His writing, his passion, his heart through song. What a guy. I definitely borrow from his songwriting. And Lauryn Hill is also an influence on my sound, with her raw emotion and complex simplicity.
Explain your creative process? Do you have a routine?
Truss: I think because I work as an audio engineer full time, I have a routine (coffee, a joint & listening to something different than what I’ll be working on for the next couple hours) by default but I think some of my best creations come from spur-of-the-moment type inspiration. Sometimes the words come first or a specific sound I like turns into a beat and then we write to that. But I actually love creating in the morning, early sessions are my favourite way to set the tone for the day. AND SLEEP IS IMPORTANT. No allnighters for me (unless the vibes say so), I’m done with school.
Phoenix Pagliacci: I have a routine for my creative process, but ask me if I ever stick to it lol. I really do try, but my creative bug always calls when I’m pre-occupied, like in the shower, or driving. That’s when I get out the phone and save a voice memo. Once I get back home, I can play out the idea, and 9 out of 10 times, it ends up on the album. Usually, it starts with the music, then the lyrics speak to me through the music.
What is your “studio” setup?
Truss: We have access to a studio but we also have a home studio setup that’s been holding us down since the beginning of us working together. The Yamaha HS5’s, Steinberg UR22mkII interface (but it might be time for a bigger box now, which is a good problem to have!), and a RODE vocal microphone. We recorded most of this new album at home, and brought the files to the studio to mix to access more toys 🙂
What is your process when working with other people? How is collaboration different in the studio vs working remotely?
TRP.P: We love collaborating with people in person, of course, but remote creative sessions have been pretty cool. I’ve been doing research with other musicians about the different platforms that make virtual sessions easier for artists. There are so many out there like Pedal, SyncSpace via Jamulus or Jack Trip, and old faithful Zoom with their built-in interface. So there’s cool technology out there but nothing beats jamming in person, sharing stories, food & vibes.
At what point(s) are you comfortable letting other people hear what you are working on?
Truss: Because I do the mixing, I’m always sharing mixes, even as early as the demo stage of a song to hear what people get from the song in its skeleton stages. It even helps me with going into the mix. But if I make a fire beat, I gotta share that too. LOL!
Phoenix Pagliacci: I’m always listening to the demos or songs we make as soon as Truss sends it, so if anybody happens to be around or in the car with me, they’ll hear the exclusive by default. But I can’t say I’ve ever intentionally shared works in progress with anybody unless it’s someone we’re reaching out to collaborate with.
Do you share your work in progress (streams or downloads)? Any technical frustrations?
TRP.P: We actually haven’t released works in progress. I think there might be one remix out there somewhere, but all the demos stay in the drive. So far DSP’s have been gracious to us, I can’t recall any technical issues. My only frustration would be the time it takes if you want to make a change to an upload or the time it takes to upload songs to DSPs in general.
How do you know when a track/album is finished?
Truss: It’s easier for me to realize a track is completed verses when the album is finished. But ultimately, when the songs flow into each other effortlessly, that’s when I know it’s done.
Phoenix Pagliacci: I just have to trust Truss (lol) when he says it’s done or not. Sometimes I’ll think the song is finished, and then he’ll send another 4 mixes before he says it’s done.
How do you listen to the final mixes/mastered work?
Truss: I listen everywhere. I run it in the different studio rooms, in the car (the ultimate test for me personally), in different headphones, at home on the HS5’s and our bluetooth speaker. EVERYWHEREEEE!
How important is pre-release security when sharing new work?
TRP.P: We think it’s very important, not that anybody is out there trying to leak our music (that we know of) but of course no parent wants a stranger to reveal their baby to the world. Thankfully nobody’s tried us, but we don’t advise anybody try now… LOL.
Who on your team gets to hear the final versions first and why, what formats do they each need?
Truss: We are the team. It’s us and our wonderful manager. So as soon as I finish a master, I send it to Phoenix. If Phoenix approves, it goes into the google drive where our manager can also listen. But I got my close friends that lend their ear and advice whenever I need it to help make it better.
Outside of your inner circle who are the people that will need to hear the new tracks next?
You, the audience! 🙂
Anything you are working on, anyone you are working with and want to share?
Truss: Mirror Soul is out now, but I’m also working on some solo projects and another joint album with some friends of mine on the way soon!
Phoenix Pagliacci: I’m also working on a solo album and the both of us are working with different types of artists to provide the soundscape for their projects.