Thursday, December 24, 2009

Further Down the Rabbit Hole

I made a post back in September where I talked about how excited I've been this year to collaborate with a number of different artists. There's just something genuinely special about pairing up with someone who has their own unique set of ideas, skills, etc. and creating something. I'm very proud to say that I've had yet another great collaborative experience with one of Chattanooga's brightest singer/songwriters, as well as a good friend of mine.

Ryan Oyer has been working on an album for months, and he's been giving out demos from those sessions to give people the chance to hear how it's progressing. In early November we were talking and he said he had the demo playing in his car when someone pulled up at a light next to him blasting some Hip-Hop. His song "Rabbit Hole" matched up with the beat and it got him thinking about possibly doing a remix. He kicked me the idea and wanted me to come up with something.

Around that time, I was experiencing writer's block (it is real) really heavy, so I wasn't sure when I'd be able to bang something out as far as lyrics go. I ended up taking a trip to Macon, GA for my cousin's wedding, and while I was there, I was fortunate enough to start writing a verse. What I wrote wasn't anything special, but it was a start. Over the next week, I forced myself to write, edit, delete, etc. two full verses and a hook. Fortunately, I beat myself up about each detail of the verse, every word and how it would be delivered, and eventually, I managed to get the lyrics to a satisfactory point. I felt confident enough to kick what I had for Ryan when I next saw him.

When Ryan heard what I'd come up with, he seemed really excited. After that, we talked about how we'd piece the remix together, and we mentioned getting a drummer. However, since I had a car to die, thus, leaving me with limited mobility, I got an idea. As some of you know, I've produced Hip-Hop/dubstep/etc. over the years, and the notion struck me to try to come up with a working track for the song. It would give Ryan and I the chance to arrange the song how we wanted it and go from there. I proceeded to sample the guitar riff from his demo, and then craft some other components around it. I added some 808 kick drums, some subs, etc.

I was fortunate enough to present the beat to Ryan just to see what he thought, and he enjoyed it so much that it kind of became the working version of the song. I went back to the lab and started balancing things out. Ryan had a local musician add some violin to his album, and he mentioned that he'd like to try to incorporate that onto the remix, so he e-mailed me the tracks. I chopped them up, added effects to them, and before too long, the Rabbit Hole remix sounded like something that the RZA might have done back in 1997.

From there, the new version of the song has seemed to kind of grow its own legs. People have been hearing about it and I think there's been a mutual excitement shared between those who are familiar with the original version who want to see it done in a different light, and between Ryan and I deciding when and how to execute this thing. It's been a joy, needless to say.

On Dec. 13, at the end of my set at Give 5, Ryan and I debuted a version of the song, and the reaction was very positive. We switched things up on the 21st at the Speakeasy by taking the completed track, and performing the version we've been tinkering with for weeks. It's a tremendous pleasure to be able to post that performance here. Mr. Shawnessy Cargile is responsible for the interesting camera techniques, by the way. You might want to have an air-sickness bag at the ready.


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