Andy Graham breaks down the process behind his new album on Aus Music.
This was the first track I made for the album, which I must have written about two and half years ago. It was a track fully comprised of plugins, mainly using a GForce Minimonsta plugin. The preset I originally created and ended up hammering, making it my go-to sound every time I would start up a new project or track. [By this point] the sound was sounding really old to me so I only used it once throughout the whole album.
The track slowly builds with scatterings of MIDI [patterns] basically just copied a semitone up and down, giving it a random high-end synth line, which plays the track through until the end. I always think that the best music comes from mistakes, and this felt like it was a continual mistake, which I loved
In The Light
When I started writing this track there was a distinct poppish sound coming out of it. I wanted to explore further, pushing towards something with more of a euphoric feel, giving the album its second opener. The vocals at the end are my own ‘pop end’ scale attempts, working together with the synths to give it quite an epic ending.
The track itself purely consisted of sounds from the DSI Prophet 12 synth apart from my vocals, the vocal samples and the drum hits. Every track on the album features UAD plugins, with a lot of the drums going through a Neve 1073, and also a lot of channels going into a Precision Buss Compressor. This track made use of all of that.
Space In Your Mind feat. Will Samson
Will Samson is a very talented musician. Working with him was very easy as we did every collaboration on the album just by sending stems and ideas through downloadable links online.
The track began from a kalimba idea I wrote down with a simple 4/4 kick. I then sent it to Will, and he added guitar, then a synth bassline using his EKO K2. A few vocal lines were added then edited as the track progressed. We had finished it but I asked Will if he could add a second verse and melody to make the track fit as an actual song. This process gave me more of an understanding of structuring into a song with verse, chorus, etc.
The ‘house’ track of the album. When I DJ, I play house, so the album really had to have something intended further than home listening whilst not pushing it too far. I could have easily ventured further into this track with more synths, but I stripped it back. Originally I had an African chant through it but it may not have worked with how the album was sounding in full. I played a kalimba through it live to give it a looser feel, and I also pitch shifted the kalimba recordings about to keep the track interesting and slightly atmospheric. The drums were again pushed through the Neve 1073 to enhance them and bring more life to them.
This was the last track I made for the album and I think it’s one of my personal favourites. Will Saul and Aus’s label manager, Jodie Ingram, were a massive help throughout the making of the album. The more music I was making, everything seemed to be getting better. Release dates were moved to allow me to keep going, but eventually we had to call it and stick to a final release date. They asked me to get everything ready for mastering but then I started to make ‘Linear’ and within an hour the track was finished. It’s like with anything you make – on occasions the quickest productions end up the best. I was getting a buzz whilst doing it and everything seemed to fall into place perfectly. Giving the album a track fuelled for the dancefloor gave the whole project, dynamically, that bit of life – hopefully it shows the wide range of dynamics I’m able to produce. Again, the Prophet 12 was main source of synth sounds, which had a slightly similar pattern to ‘In The Light’.
The love song of the album. Without trying to be too cliched, music is all about emotions, and this album I think represents that, with a huge amount of ups and downs throughout it. Within the structure of ‘Everytime’, I tried to create space, using the synth melodies – which play off each other – and my vocal, singing in time with the way the synth moves around. Lyrically not the most challenging, but I enjoyed making this one. Logic’s very own ES P synth was used for the main riff, with NI’s Massive copying the pattern throughout, and some layered string samples played through Kontakt 5.
Ancestors feat. Will Samson
In my head, for ‘Ancestors’ I wanted a dub techno track. I wanted Rhythm & Sound oozing out of it, but that never happened! When I sent the track to Will it was pretty much completed, but I wanted his take on it. He sat down with an acoustic guitar and started collecting ideas, roughly using the root notes of the track I had sent him, which then inspired him to write the vocals that you hear. I reverbed out his guitar swells again and delayed them ever further, pitch shifting to create surrounding atmospherics. Drums were added with the Elektron Machinedrum and the Prophet 12 was used for the bassline and synths.
This was another of those one or two hour productions. Quite a while ago now I did a remix of M83 – for some reason while doing this I was reminded of that. The structure was so simple, with not too many parts to it – I used a UAD Neve compressor plugin to sharpen the snare, which comes through nicely. The Prophet 12 was again used for all the surrounding synths that give the track its depth.
Tides feat. Will Samson
‘Tides’ was the first of the three tracks that Will and I collaborated on. It was treated more of an experiment to see if the collaboration would work. I had originally sent Will the drums for him to try out different ideas. At the time, he was working on his own album and he had chord progressions he was trying to use on that but wouldn’t fit, so he tried them alongside the drum patterns I had. That developed with him then layering his EKO K2 bass synth, guitar swells and finally vocals.
The break of the track originally had a static sound – quite overpowering at the time – so I pulled it back and played about with the panning to keep it interesting. I asked Will to sing a second verse and chorus to structure it again as a song and it worked beautifully I think. The ending is another personal highlight of the album, with the static and Will’s guitar swells playing it out.
Exit feat. Daudi Matsiko
I was listening to Gilles Peterson one Saturday afternoon on his Radio 6 show and he played a single of Daudi’s, which I was completely blown away by. I think the track he played was ‘Houston In The Blind’. I ventured further into his music and at the time that was his first EP. I contacted him directly and asked if he would be up for collaboration. At this point I was doing music under a different alias as a kind of trial, to see what response it would get. I wrote a song and I asked Daudi to sing it. We then recorded it at my studio in London, released it as an EP, got a huge remix and it was massively received.
A few months afterwards, I sent Daudi the music of ‘Exit’ and asked if he would sing on it. He came to mine to record and had it finished within an afternoon. The latter part of the track is key as to what music I was listening to and the headspace I was in at the time.
Trails of Gold
This was the second last track I made for the album. I felt as if I had moved ahead again in terms of my production and also the melodies, and the music seemed fresh again to me. Originally, I had my own vocals through it and wanted to make it more of a song, but vocals were fairly prominent throughout the whole album so I decided to take them out completely. The drums were both the Prophet 12 and an Elektron Machinedrum. I think it closes the album off nicely and also maybe gives the sense of more to come.
Sei A’s Space In Your Mind is out now on Aus Music. Find him on Facebook, Twitter and SoundCloud.