Feb 5 • 6M

Smiling Savage album creation podcast, Episode 3

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Appears in this episode

Tom Wanat
Follow along as I work toward my goal of creating and publishing the first Smiling Savage album in 2022. I'm learning Logic Pro and working with musicians to incorporate their feedback.
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The second song is ready for a first listen. I know I want the album to have songs with lyrics, and that presented several first-time challenges, such as writing lyrics and finding a singer.

Diving right in to the creative process, I decided to approach this by grabbing a pen and paper — which is not the way I typically approach writing. In this case I latched onto a word that I’d read a few days ago, “locus” which had been kicking around my head as the sort of word you hear again and again until it doesn’t really have any meaning at all — a “semantic satiation” situation.

I’ve been wanting to make a song with distorted, dark vocals, so I used what I associate as the feeling of that desire to tint my writing, and came up with this first draft of lyrics:

Loci

You tried it their way
paying for the privilege to belong
to believe the right thing
right thing
their locus is power
your leashed mind is contained

Focus drift
Snap to focus
Shift again
Locus unstable

I wrote it in pen so I wouldn’t nitpick it to death, and then decided to figure out what the words would sound like — also so that I wouldn’t obsess about whether it was the right length, or made sense, or any of the things a writer obsesses about.

Readers, it might not surprise you that I don’t have a punk rock singer with distorted, dark vocal stylings at the ready. I decided to step out of my comfort zone and grabbed the microphone to record myself loudly, sternly reciting the verse and then held the mic with two hands as I yelled the chorus.

I could not stop laughing when I heard the tracks back. Each time I played it I laughed out loud. I’m not a singer, and I found it really awkward to hear myself screaming.

I tried a bunch of voice filters and have decided to apply the experimental, “deeper vocal” setting out of the library, adjusted the gain, and applied some EQ and compressor. Take a listen the the vocal’s isolated.

After that I started laying down rhythm and bass, and played with the spacing of the vocals to find some verse and chorus structure. I really like some of the riffs in this first take, let’s take a listen.

There’s still plenty I want to tweak. At this point every time I listen to it I change something about it, but I wanted to freeze a version of it and write about the process of it coming together so far.

I plan to post a video of this version of the song being built in Logic Pro.

For paid subscribers I’ll post some behind the scenes photos, a version of the song without audio commentary, and we can talk in the comments.

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