For the past week or so I’ve been working on a new song which thus far I’m pretty happy with. It’s got a rather tasty groove and is all about the supposed merits of having a day job. I’ve managed to write a first verse and chorus, but I’m now stuck on what to do for the next verse.
When this happens it’s usually a good idea for me to take a break and not get frustrated. I find if the inspiration isn’t there in that moment to not push it and be patient (usually that’s easier said than done, lol). So I thought a good temporary distraction would be to record a cover song, as I’ve not done one in a while and I always find them oodles of fun arrange and record.
For those of you that don’t know, I usually like to pick songs that are the complete opposite of my own style and do acoustic versions. Some of these include Will Smith’s Boom! Shake the Room and Warren G’s Regulate (have a listen on my Soundcloud account that I set up just for cover songs: www.soundcloud.com/
This time around I just couldn’t make up my mind what to try. I hopped onto YouTube to try and get some inspiration. There were loads of great tunes but nothing that really got my creative juices flowing. Then, from out of nowhere I came across this one. It’s had a rather mixed reaction from other peeps, some are super excited about me trying to cover it and others think it’s a terrible idea. Me? Well, I love a challenge… and also this song.
So I’ve decided to cover Bomfunk MC’s Freestyler.
To complete this mission I’ll be arming myself with Tara (my Takamine TAN16c acoustic), Kartha (my Schlagwerk CP404 cajon), Elmo (my Lovely old 1950s Eko bass) and of course my vocals. It’s going to be tall order, but hopefully I can pull it off!
What I love about this tune is it’s full of energy and has tons of tasty riffs. I know the bass lines have lovely synth effects on them to fill out the sound, but I’m planning to follow the lines with both bass and guitar and hopefully it’ll sound both phat and funky.
My other idea is to layer up my vocals (especially in the chorus) to help fill out the sound and hopefully add some dynamics. We’ll see…
But first things first… let’s get some lyrics.
I’ve never really paid much attention to the words in the verses and thanks goodness I was able to print off the lyrics from a website as they really are rather random. I also soon discovered the randomness of the words made it very difficult to get used to them as not only do they not make much sense but they flow in a way that really doesn’t come very naturally to me at all.
But after much scribbling and repeating the original over and over and over again I think I’m there.
So now it’s time to see if my ideas for this tune will work (as there have been many recording sessions that don’t go according to plan by any stretch, lol). I’m going to start with laying down the acoustic guitar part, as this is the main backbone of the song and will hopefully be where I can build from.
I’ve got the song arrangement all written out so hopefully it’ll all be ok…
And after a few takes I’m there, horrah!
Next up is bass. To keep the acoustic vibe going I’m enlisting the help of my lovely vintage friend Elmo who is a 1950s Eko bass.
He’s great because he has a real double bass type tone and is ideal for adding depth without being too invasive with his sound.
His part is going to be very simple just following the guitar riffs to make them sound a bit fuller.
So with the riffs now sounding big n phat I’m just going to add some little frilly guitar bits to the intro and also in the middle where the song breaks down into a sparse section. I always find the rhythmic parts to any song super fun and easy for me to pick up, but my weakness is definitely anything frilly or lead orientated… just doesn’t come naturally to me one bit. And the parts I want to add to this cover are in the ‘no go zone’ on my guitar, which is above the 12 fret and beyond into mostly uncharted territory. Scary stuff….
It took a few goes, but I got it sorted
So there’s just a few things left, the next most important being the Cajon part.
It’s pretty common in many songs for the bass and drums to be locked in nice and tight together allowing the guitar and other instruments to play freely over the top. But in Freestyler it’s the guitar and bass providing the backbone with solid riffs while the drums play a drum n bass type groove underneath. The challenge for me is to be as accurate with my playing as I possibly can. It’s particularly important with any fast drum parts like punk or drum n bass to be as spot on with timing as possible, as one false move and you’ve completely messed up the momentum of the song.
Plus the way my little studio is set up I have to do everything in one take… so no comping, no overdubs, no quantising, it’s just a case of getting through it as best you can and hope you don’t screw up.
No pressure then
This was a pretty tall order and did take a few passes, but I managed to get a take I was happy with (well, sort of lol).
So with most of the parts now recorded it was time to lay down some vocals. I was a bit worried about the rather random verses and phrasing… but after quite a few takes and much swearing I finally got it sorted.
Lastly, I just wanted to add a few little harmonies to the intro and chorus sections and then it would all be finished (Well, after downloading all the tracks to Cubase and doing a bit of mixing!).
And after all that here it is– see what you think: