There’s an eagerness to share when creative minds find themselves in the same room. It’s an unspoken thing, something that happens naturally when small connections are made. This is the essence of Musicbed In Studio, our latest step in creative collaboration.
We invited 30 musicians, writers and composers to Nashville to make music. That’s it. With requests for everything from major motion pictures to commercial soundtracks for brands, ten different groups were given basic information from potential clients who needed a song for their project. The guidelines were loose, and our artists were left to do what they do best.
We don’t get a glimpse into the production process often, and it was nothing short of revelatory to see these talented musicians share their gifts with each other. Here’s Musicbed artist Rebecca Roubion:
“When you’re working creatively in any art form, I don’t think that you can ever replace human interaction. Even with all of the amazing technology we have now, there’s a synergy that takes place when you’re face to face with someone.”
Looking back, we can’t see Musicbed In Studio as anything besides a success. We have the songs to prove it. Our A&R team picked five of them from Musicbed In Studio to share, with plenty more to come, along with some insight from the people who helped created it.
MICHAEL MCEACHERN (PRODUCER MATTHEW BRONLEEWE)
This song was written for a pivotal scene in an upcoming indie film. It’s simple and rich with emotion at the same time, supported by Michael’s vocal performance and Matthew’s spot-on instrumentation. Their strongest song came on day three in the studio, and that, as Matthew points out, was no coincidence.
Matthew Bronleewe: Because it was my studio and I was a producer on the session, the most important thing to me up front was to make sure that the atmosphere is right and everything is conducive to feeling like it’s a safe place musically. Everybody can present their idea without feeling like it’s going to get shut down. On day three, Michael presented a really great idea he’d been kind of sitting on. He probably wouldn’t have brought that out on day one, and maybe even day two, without knowing that it’s OK for him to bring an idea that he may hold a little bit closer. It’s a whole different story to develop a song with other people than it is on your own. We tried to bear in mind that these songs might land elsewhere. So while we wrote to the brief on ‘Back to the Basics’, we also wrote, more importantly, to the emotion behind that brief.
DRAKE MARGOLNICK, MICHAEL FINSTER (PRODUCER JORDAN CRITZ)
Produced for a major car company, this track would fit well on any post-punk record we’ve heard in the past few years. With only a few references in the brief, Drake Margolnick, Michael Finster and Jordan Critz had room to dream on this one. It’s rhythmic, weightless and effortlessly cool.
Jordan Critz: We wrote the song ‘Run’ for a specific commercial pitch. There’s a fine line when you’re writing songs for pitches, because you want it to be perfect for the brief, but you also want the song to be great and stand on its own. We really felt that way with this song. It really worked. The collaboration process with the Flagship guys (Drake Margolnick and Michael Finster) was really natural and things came together pretty easily. Drake started off by playing a cool bass line and Michael programmed the beats. I laid down some guitars and a few other elements, and it came together perfectly.
ANDREW DE TORRES, LARISSA MAESTRO (PRODUCER BEN SHIVE)
Only the creative minds behind Kaptan and Poly would come up with something this unique. As for the brief, they had their work cut out for them. The client, a tech brand, was looking for a 70s-style track with a ‘woe is me’ vibe. The result is beautiful and witty at the same time — with just enough irreverence to bring you in and the beautiful production to keep you there.
Andrew de Torres (Kaptan): I got paired with two people who, as far as writers go, are very different from who I’m used to working with. We got to push each other and try something new. Going into this knowing that I’ve never met the people I’m going to be writing with, I was really nervous. The dynamic was really interesting. Larissa Maestro (Poly) is an incredibly talented musician. She’s a session player and a cellist. Immediately we knew that we wanted to take advantage of that. Her and Ben really took the reins and did a lot on the music side. Because we chose such a unique brief, I’m not sure if it would’ve turned out as great if we weren’t in the same room. A lot of the ideas that ended up in the production, we really fed off of each other quite a bit. As far as the song goes, it was completely out of my wheelhouse. I had never done anything like that before.
ELLERY BONHAM (PRODUCERS MATT WERTZ AND JOSH HAWKINS)
Josh Hawkins describes this soulful, beat-heavy track for an athletic commercial as the result of experimentation. Whatever they tried works. This is slick indie-electronic at its best, capped off by a killer vocal performance by EZA’s Ellery Bonham.
Josh Hawkins (Virgil Arles): Our writing session was pure experimentation. I knew we needed to write a tough, organic song. The brief wasn’t exactly in any of our normal writing styles, so we just had fun with it and didn’t take ourselves too seriously. We recorded lots of weird vocal takes and tried giving the track some nice modern sounds without getting too far from the indie-band vibe. The end result isn’t exactly a fun, carefree song, it’s actually pretty dark, but I think we all enjoyed pretending we had rock-band swagger for a day.
PAUL JOHNSON, REBECCA ROUBION (PRODUCER ZACHARY DAVID)
As Rebecca Roubion points out, this song was pure collaboration — the result of organic discussion between artist Paul Johnson (Canyon City) and producer Zachary David. This song was formed from a prompt for a major animated feature film, and with the emotion and warmth behind it, we think any film would be lucky to have it.
Rebecca Roubion: We were in the same group for three days, so it allowed us to get accustomed to each other’s processes and to flesh out this song. We all came together and agreed that this brief spoke to us the most. Honestly, that part took us the longest. Depending on where you are, what your emotions are at the moment and what touches you creatively — it’s hard to single those out in a three-person group. Once we picked a direction, the process was already underway and we were thinking about where we could take it. It was a wonderful collaboration. I loved the idea of a hero needing someone to save them, a hero needing a hero. I just really like that track a lot. It’s very emotional.
These songs are just a small part of what came from our time in Nashville. Each musician and producer did incredible things with the briefs they were given, and, as a first time for us, we couldn’t have been more happy with the results. As more Musicbed In Studio experiences pop up, keep your eyes and ears open for even more original content coming from our team. We’d like to give a huge thanks to everyone that helped make this collaborative effort possible, and we can’t wait until next time.