6 years in production – Nelly Furtado’s new album

Found this Interesting insight into the making of an album
(originally appears in BBC News article)

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It’s been six years since Nelly Furtado’s multi-platinum album Loose, which featured the smash hit single Maneater and collaborations with Justin Timberlake and Chris Martin.

She followed it up with a Spanish language record that missed the UK top 100 altogether. So, as she returns to a commercial pop sound, the Canadian star has everything to prove.

“If you wait this long to put an album out, you’d better be sure you tried your best,” says Nelly Furtado.

In fact, the 33-year-old devoted so much time to her new record that producer Salaam Remi accused her of being “three years pregnant” with it.

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These days The Videographer is very important

Every moment of the recording process has been carefully documented on video, with weekly “webisodes” being posted to YouTube.

What the videos illustrate is that, unlike some pop stars, Furtado is directly involved in the creative process.

One clip (above) shows the singer improvising a melody while producer Salaam Remi taps out a beat on a music stand. With the quick addition of some tape-slap reverb, the track gets a name – “popsicle jam” – and is pencilled in as an interlude on the album.

It’s a common part of music marketing these days – alongside free downloads, Facebook pages and endless “teaser” clips previewing forthcoming music videos.
“It’s become a content-hungry universe,” says Furtado. “The most important person on your team nowadays is your videographer because they’re constantly filming you. “But I’m quite private, so I get a little bit nervous about that stuff.”
The pressure to document recording sessions was particularly difficult. “At first, I wasn’t able to write a song with the cameraman in the room,” she says.”

taken from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-17943124

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The album has gone through two titles, half-a-dozen producers, and a mountain of songs – both old and new.

“In the final stages I was getting really anal about it,” says Furtado.

Why did she get so obsessed? The singer calls it “devotion to my fans”, but the reality is that she’s been absent from the charts for too long.

Furtado’s Spanish record was largely ignored in English-speaking countries but won a Latin Grammy
After the career-defining urban pop of her 2006 album Loose, Furtado followed her own path – getting married, establishing her own record label, and recording a Spanish-language album.Mi Plan sold well internationally, allowing the Canadian artist to tour South America for the first time, but she has been absent from the US charts for five years.

So it’s no surprise that The Spirit Indestructible revisits the pop hooks and colossal beats of Maneater – a song so incendiary it literally started a fire in the recording studio.

Furtado says the new material has “swagger in spades”. The lead single Big Hoops (Bigger The Better) rumbles like a volcano as the singer recounts her teenage love affair with hip-hop over a warped bassline.

“I’m channelling my 14-year-old self,” Furtado says. “She’s thinking about putting on her big hoop earrings and baggy pants and going to the mall downtown.”

The lyrics quote Salt-N-Pepa, A Tribe Called Quest and Blackstreet – bands the teenage Furtado listened to in the suburbs of Victoria, Canada.

“Hip-hop was super-exotic to us in Canada,” she recalls. “Because we were near the south, we could get some of the radio stations from Seattle.

“I remember attaching a wire clothing hanger to the antenna of my radio in my bedroom, so I could get the frequency and get that station and listen to the top 10 every night.”

“It was very liberating, finding that confidence through the music. And that’s what Big Hoops is about.”

Furtado took “six months off Twitter” to clear her head before writing the album
Nostalgia is a big part of the album. Parking Lot touches on similar themes to Big Hoops (“let’s dance in the rain”), while Waiting For The Night is based on a diary Furtado wrote as a “smitten sixteen-year-old” on holiday in Portugal.

To help recapture the sound of that era, the singer sought out Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins, one of the biggest R&B producers in the 1990s.

Jerkins worked with many of the bands Furtado name-checks – playing keyboards for Blackstreet and writing hits for Michael Jackson, Aaliyah, Beyonce, TLC and Kanye West.

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Making of the video for “Bigger the better”
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“One track that he did that I loved was The Boy Is Mine with Brandy and Monica,” Furtado says.

“He was telling me about the ad-libs – how they had to be equal and fair.

“They had to count out the number of lines to make sure everybody had the same amount.”

“I love hearing that kind of stuff.”
‘Content-hungry’
The singer’s own fans won’t have to wait so long to hear the secrets behind her songs. Every moment of the recording process has been carefully documented on video, with weekly “webisodes” being posted to YouTube.

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It’s a common part of music marketing these days – alongside free downloads, Facebook pages and endless “teaser” clips previewing forthcoming music videos.

“It’s become a content-hungry universe,” says Furtado. “The most important person on your team nowadays is your videographer because they’re constantly filming you.

“But I’m quite private, so I get a little bit nervous about that stuff.”

We’d only work ’til midnight at the latest. Rodney has two little kids – so he doesn’t go to bed very late”
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Working with Producer Bob Rock

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Nelly Furtado, on her decidedly non-rock ‘n’ roll working hours
The pressure to document recording sessions was particularly difficult.

“At first, I wasn’t able to write a song with the cameraman in the room,” she says.

“I’ve always admired people who can write like that. I’ve been there at hip-hop sessions where Kanye West will walk in and write in front of all 20 guys in his team. I’d be like, ‘oh my God!'”

“But on this album, the videographer would stay in the room and I eventually forgot he was there. It takes practice. It’s another creative relationship.”

MORE VIDEOS AT http://www.youtube.com/user/NellyFurtado

text © BBC 

DYNAMIC RANGE DAY

MARCH 16th is ‘Dynamic Range Day”


see: http://dynamicrangeday.co.uk

According to this campaign,”The Loudness War is a sonic “arms race” where every artist and label feel they need to crush their music onto CD at the highest possible level, for fear of not being “competitive” – and in the process removing all the contrast, all the light, shade and depth – ruining the sound.”
(taken from dynamicrangeday.co.uk)

THIS VIDEO EXPLAINS MORE

Big-name CD manufacturers are distorting sounds to make them seem louder. Sound quality suffers.

What is Dynamic Range Day ?

The “Loudness War” is built on the idea that “louder is better”. However this concept is fatally flawed. The goal of Dynamic Range Day is to reveal this flaw and spread an alternative message:

The fatal flaw of the “Loudness War” sound

In a nutshell: it doesn’t sound good.

Research shows there is no connection between “loudness” and sales
People don’t notice loudness when comparing songs
Dynamic music sounds better on the radio – here’s the proof
Modern music players undo loudness by using ReplayGain
Most listeners just turn loud music down !
So – “loud” music on CD has no benefit on the radio, online, on an mp3 player, or in your CD player. That’s why I call it a legend – the “Loudness War” makes no sense, in 2012.

US Intern, Neal Stein

During the month of February we have the pleasure of Neal Stein’s company. Neal is a student of audio and music at Minnesota State University, Moorhead and is with us to complete his internship credit as is required by his course. Neal’s duties include mentoring student projects, assistance during seminars and workshops along with the transfer of skills and knowledge.

Neal’s specialism is music production after spending time playing guitar in rock and metal bands – his chief interest is tracking. He says: ‘My main working philosophy revolves around getting a good sound at the source. I also believe in the importance of maintaining a good atmosphere for musicians to stay inspired while tracking. The studio can freak out even seasoned performers since things can sound so different compared to playing on a stage’. Neal has also recorded jazz projects and plays 5 string banjo in a folk group.

Neal seems to be enjoying the relative warmth of 0˚C Lincoln after the recent -25˚C of Fargo. Hopefully it will be a lot warmer when he welcomes the arrival of a group level 3 Audio Production students to Moorhead in March.

You can hear Neal’s work here: Soundcloud.

Traps

Level 2 Audio Production student Luke Pickering’s new band on Bandcamp. All tracked and mixed by Luke at the University’s studios.

Luke’s At It Again!

Level 2 Audio Production student, Luke Pickering has formed a new band with members of his previous, now defunct, two bands! Traps have been recording in the university studios and are currently mixing their latest EP.
Luke says: “Traps formed late 2010 after our bands Prisms/Mute broke up and have been gigging since our first show in Sheffield mid-February. We’ve got a 5 track demo on our soundcloud/myspace for anyone to download which I just did in my bedroom so had some songs to get started with. Now halfway through mixing the EP, which we’ll send to independent labels and promote over a summer tour or two later this year”.
The line-up is:
Luke Pickering – Guitar, Lead Vocals
Ben Wilson – Bass, Vocals
Guy Chater – Drums, Vocals

Listen to the tracks recorded at the university here:
Traps: Nasty Little Man by audioproduction

Traps: Diagnose Me by audioproduction

Myspace
Soundcloud