This song started off with Tori's idea of writing about “ghosting” someone. It was an awesome concept, and we set out to make the production as creepy/ethereal as possible. Colton started it off with a “creepy sounding synth” he found. Overall, we wanted the track to sound more modern, so I programmed light trap snares throughout the composition. I filtered them down a bit, giving the beat a darker feel. My personal favorite drum sound in the track is the layered “2 and 4” in the pre chorus section. I layered a couple of “block” sounds with a thick clap to build up the track. As a musician, I tend to want things to drastically build and drop, section by section, similar to a live performance. To acheive this, we layered the pre choruses and chorus with uplifters and downlifters. This also helped to modernize the track a bit. These effects are coupled with filters, thus creating much smoother transitions.
The New York Times article on “Ghosting,” was the inspiration for this song. Ghosting is a cultural phenomenon in which a friend, partner, or lover cuts off all communication with you and disappears from your life. Obviously this isn’t something someone would want to experience. While this may not be a totally new thing, it seems to be happening more often in the age of the internet and social media. The article explains that this seems to be happening more today because people have poorer communication skills because they often text or speak on the computer instead of in person or on the telephone. While some people ghost because they are in a dangerous or abusive relationship, others ghost because it is easier - they don’t have to deal with the fallout and emotional baggage of a breakup, or they simply don’t care. After talking about this with a couple friends, I found that many of them had personal experiences of being ghosted themselves. This was happening to them by anyone - from people they had met a couple times to longtime friends that simply stopped communicating with them. It somehow feels more personal in an age when you have access to a person in so many ways and in a constant way when someone decides to "unfollow" your life and relationship.
I told Colton and Brandon about this phenomenon and my idea to write a song from the perspective of someone who has been ghosted. I wanted to capture the essence of the feeling of abandonment, of broken trust, of despair. The beat that they started to make in the session completely encapsulated the ideas I had talked about with them. The beginning of the song starts out explaining the situation that this girl finds herself in. This person has literally become a ghost to them. She questions every moment of the time they spent together - even questions herself for believing in them and not seeing through to his true nature and his eventual actions. However, the second verse is a realization that she has been cheated and treated wrongly. She wants to take back control and reclaim her power. She won’t let his situation define her. She will not become a ghost of who she was.
For anyone starting out or looking for songwriting tips, here are some things that have helped me out:
-Keep a daily diary
- It doesn’t have to be filled with incredible poetry or complete songs. If you make a habit of writing a little bit everyday, it will start to come more easily for you. If you’re ever stuck, you can always go back to see what you have previously written and get re-inspired, or use previous ideas.
-You can write about anything
-Some people say: write what you know. While this is a great tip, you should feel free to write about anything - even if you may not have experienced it personally. The best thing about songwriting and performing is that it gives you the ability to place yourself or the listener in a specific state of mind for the duration of that song. You can escape to someone else’s life or imagine something that you may not have experienced yourself, but can relate to in some important way.
-Write out song titles
-Sometimes it helps to come up with interesting song titles of hooks and then work from there.
-Read a book
-Read a new book, see a new movie, and get inspired from something that you may not have known about before
-Listen to everything
-Don’t knock any genre or artist - they are all tools for learning and crafting your own music.
When drum programming, I often have two main goals….
1- to the create the best feel possible
2 - to choose sounds that are sonically authentic to the composition.
For example, if you’re doing an edm house track, but using nothing but old “boom-bap” samples, it’s going to sound weird if you make it a “4 on the floor” groove. Study what sounds and samples are used in the music you are creating to make the most authentic choices.
However, sometimes in order to think outside of the box or push myself, I’ll mix up drum samples in different types of music. Once you get more practice producing, you can explore using a-typical sounds and make more creative choices. The more I create, the more I learn that there aren’t necessarily any set rules in music production, and you can craft whatever you’re hearing. At the end of the day, it just needs to sound good.
Toplining songs can be difficult, but also very fun, rewarding experiences. Here are a few different techniques and tips for toplining songs
-Listen to the beat a couple times. Get a feel for the sections of the song. What does the song make you feel? Depending on the situation (if you are writing for yourself or hired to write a specific type of song/or message), this step of understanding what the song makes you feel can be important and useful in the long run.
-Get in the vocal booth and record a couple passes through. Even if you don’t have the words yet, sing the first melody that comes to you - it doesn’t have to be perfect. Sometimes, your initial ideas may be the best. Other times, this technique might not work at all. However, you may be able to piece through different ideas that you recorded and put a whole melody together. Or you may hear a certain melisma or phrase that your ear keeps coming back to - and that is usually a good hint of what you should write for the melody.
-Sometimes a lyric or hook will come to me first, and then I will loop that section of the song until I can come up with a melody to fit. Take as long as necessary - sometimes it takes a while, but it is worth it to keep trying out different things until you find what is the perfect fit.
One of the reasons I love Ableton Live is that it was made for live performance in addition to use for home production. I’m constantly learning new ways that I can use Ableton in a live setting. The first and most basic way to use Ableton for live performance is to use it to trigger backing tracks. You would do this by putting your tracks into the clip view. Then on the right side you can set the tempo to switch for every different track. Another way to use it would be to trigger sounds live. A lot of electronic artists do this by using a midi controller and mapping all of the different buttons to parameters in the DAW - which Ableton makes very easy. Another more advanced way to run tracks, which I am experimenting with right now, is triggering tracks in the arrangement view. If you are using tracks as well as running midi keyboards, this technique is ideal for live performance. The main reason is that you can program automation for live so that your midi keyboard will switch sounds whenever you want. The possibilities are endless, as you can automate anything to happen throughout the song. These are just a few ways to use Ableton for live performance. Explore yourself, and see what you might find!