Jaymie Silk has just dropped his ‘Young, Broke & Fabulous’ album, in which he effortlessly moves from techno to soul to gabba to R’n’B and pop. We asked him to talk us through it, Track By Track.
The story of this album “Young, Broke & Fabulous” goes back to 2018. While I was still living in Montreal, I came to do a mini European tour. During a stop in Belgium, I met the Pelican Fly team during a radio show at Kiosk Radio. You have to remember that I don’t come from electronic music, I had no idea who they were. We kept in touch with Richelle who is in charge of the label and we started to exchange via Instagram, to speak candidly about music. At that time I had in mind a project of an album with 2 or 3 demos already done. Richelle proposed to me to work on an album. It was a lot of back and forth. The process was to make songs, learn to undo them, remove them, redo a version etc etc. Usually each track took me a month. A lot of sound design. And Eric Najar brought his final touch to the mix and mastering The best advice Richelle gave me was to see the music in 4 dimensions, not just in 3D.
When I have an EP or album project in mind, I start by brainstorming it for several months. I see it as a book, with a spine. I like the idea of having an intro and an outro like the albums I grew up with.
The use of microsampling, making my own samples is an integral part of my way of making music. I like the idea of sampling to bring a more organic feel. I started by playing a melody with a free VST Etherealwinds Harp II for the harp sound. Then I added a vocal note to go with it and a sub-bass. That’s all. I wanted an evolving intro, something with a crescendo. Syana is a track about evolution, I wanted to bring some tension. Usually, when I work, I export a lot of my audio sessions to rework them. I find that the workflow is different this way.
I mixed my audio stems and then I tested different effects on the mastering channel, which evolves as the song goes on. reverb, distortion, delay, softclipper.
I assume that if you can’t get a clean sound, destroy it. Mistakes, randomness bring a lot to the organic side of the sound.
DON’T GO featuring LIA
Those who’ve followed me since 2016 know me in addition to my original productions, for my remixes, my edits and my use of tribal sounds or different from traditional electronic music. We find all this on this track.At the beginning, I had made a very simple instrumental and I asked Lia if she could sing on it. Lia writes, sings and mixes her vocals in her own way. The pitched harmonies that you hear on “Don’t Go” are ones that Lia did herself. The song needed another instrumental. So I basically remixed my track. I really had a Pop Club version of this song in mind.
The biggest part of the track was the big percussion that you hear on the song. It was originally structured as a club track, quite long and monotonous, repetitive. It’s the first track we worked on with Richelle I think. He was pushing me a lot to optimise the structure, something that was foreign to me. It was a big step in my understanding of songwriting. Once the structure of the song was done, I had added violins. And Richelle gave me this advice, to find my own sound, to have my own instruments that could remind me of the original instrument. So that pad/violin that you hear on Don’t Go is a violin that I made with Synplant. While sampling the audio, putting it in reverse on some parts to bring intensity.
You know, when they say “Have fun, Don’t take things too seriously”. That‘s it. I tend to come up with wacky ideas when I’m tired and it’s late. One night, in my Montreal apartment, I was inspired by the sampling techniques that Skrillex did back in the days of ‘Skrillex Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites‘. I remember he sampled some screams from a Youtube video. I started with the same idea, getting lost in videos of metal music fans after a concert. I added some church songs that were lying around on one of my hard drives, a gabber kick. I remembered a Gojira show I saw maybe 10 years ago, and the drummer playing the double pedal. Which gives this crazy rhythm. And in 40 minutes I had the track. I sent it to Richelle in the night, really as a joke. He told me “I think you got something, this is crazy” and that was that.
I decided to continue the track by adding noise samples, effects. The rise you hear on the track is made with the plugin Endless Smile, easy to use. And later on, a piano bridge by sampling the outro of the album. I’ll tell you about it later.
THE LIES THEY TEACH
This song is one of the ones I had started doing before working with Richelle. Again, you can hear the Jaymie Silk touch, with the use of my special custom percussion samples, the sample work on the vocals, and a club pop feel. It’s kind of an opera trap track with a danceable groove. I played a lot of club edits in my DJ set at this time in Montreal. Latin influence, Afro, Jersey, vogue beats, like in my own edits of the time. You can feel it in this song.
I did a lot of work on the audio tracks: I had to export the sessions at least 4 times to do some micro editing, to cut tiny parts, add some distortion, to play on the pitch on some places on the samples, reverse it etc. The harp part at the end is a tribute to Pelican Fly and their work with Cashmere Cat on Mirror Maru.
SOMEBODY LIKE YOU
Synplant again on this one, on the first melody. It’s a R’n’B track but with this electronic feeling. This micro editing work on the pre-chorus, it seems really simple but it took me a long time. Distortion on the 808s, panning, noises, reverse sample, fx etc. Eric Najar, during the final mixing stages, took the decision to add a type of bit crush effect at the end. Wonderful. This one may be my favourite on the album, especially considering we did a live video version of this one, where I replaced the 808 by playing guitar bass. A must listen.
YOUNG, BROKE & FABULOUS
The eponymous song of the album, and the one I absolutely did not want to put on the album – I hated that track so much! I don’t know what I had in mind doing this track. Many times a song comes by itself. I just want to push the hybridisation and get out of the box. During the whole creation phase of the album, I sent all my drafts to Richelle. While I hated her, Richelle really liked this track – the mix of French Touch influences, slap bass and Dembow. I didn’t even realize it until he said it. I usually do it and realise the result afterwards. The common point to the songs of this album is, besides the work of making my samples and micro editing, is the structure of the songs. I really wanted to push electronic music out of its rules. By adding bridges, pre-choruses, things that are more found in pop songs.
The outro of the album and one of my favourite songs of the album. I had read about the creation of the song ‘April 14th’ by Aphex Twin. I wanted to emulate a real piano sound. I wanted the listener to feel he was in the same room as the piano and the pianist. This track took me a really long time. I think I did 8 versions for this one. I first played the piano part. Then I added some noises under the piano line. You can hear the sounds of the seat, fingers, wood creaking etc.
Then I exported the tracks and I spent a lot of time to find the right treatment to age the piano sound. I had to mix the sounds and the piano separately. Especially to add the effects on the piano, the micro editing with the bitcrush, the reverse etc. I had to export the piano by lowering the audio quality and I just threw effects on the master channel. I don’t remember what it was, I just tried a lot of things. I think I spent two weeks just for that. I remember that Richelle thought that the track was too long, but it was a real bias on my part to have a song of such a length, to bring this emotion. And this is the song I used as the bridge on the 3rd song of the album ‘Anarkhia’.