Studio Campfire Stories: ‘ManMade’ Edition – “Tell Me Something New” (feat. Jeanne Jolly)June 4, 2013
In December 2012, I was sitting fairly comfortably with the album….. But the perfectionist in me still felt a bit uneasy. To me, the album as whole was cool… but I needed at LEAST two more joints to make it RIGHT. Not too long after making this declaration to Phonte in a phone conversation one day, I had a drum pattern enter my head seemingly out of nowhere… and the time signature was in 7/4. Hmm, interesting… But I was proud to realize that the patterns and compositions that were starting to pop up in my head weren’t always tied to a 4/4 count (see: “Count To Five“). Creative expansion and growth in that studio is one of the greatest feelings in the world. Another great feeling is recording a drum pattern and having it sound EXACTLY the way it did when you ran it a million times over in your head – accents, fills and ALL. I can remember playing just the recorded drums over and over for about a half hour before I even put my hands on the keyboard to figure in a chord progression. The open hi-hat that I played in the pattern gave it a “smoky” feel to me and the colors I saw for the music were various shades of blue… So, I had the setting and atmosphere already, all that was left was to sit down at the keyboard and play with a progression that matched not only what I was feeling, but also visualizing. I can remember messing around on the keys for about five or ten minutes and coming up with this progression where the bassline seemed to ‘walk up’ the board to accompany the chords being played (this part ended up becoming the intro and hook). Once I demoed it and got an idea of what direction it was going in, that’s when I began re-recording all of the parts separately. The keys were recorded first followed by the bassline. I EQ’d the bass guitar and adjusted the tone on the preamp so that if you listen closely on a few parts in the song, you can actually hear my fingertips on the bass strings… That’s EXACTLY how I wanted it to come through. Maintain the beauty of the music itself, but still keep some of it raw as hell. Hearing fingertips plucking bass strings is always reminiscent of funk players like Bootsy and Larry Graham playing… To hear that on a ‘pretty’ record was just the contrast and texture that I wanted for the song.
Once I added the changes, completed the instrumental, and titled it “Seven Eight Enough”… I hit Phonte with a typical, “Check that gmail” …or a more exaggerated “G muhfuckin MAIL” text, because I KNEW we had something crazy on our hands. He called me back within about 20 minutes and when I picked up, he quoted the great Negro Poet and Philosopher…………………….. Gucci Mane…
Me: “Looks like I just need ONE more joint now!”
And guess who happened to be in the studio with Phonte when I sent the instrumental over to him? …None other than the one and only, Jeanne “If you don’t want the executive producer….. ALL IN THE VIDEOS… DANCIN’… COME TO DEATH ROW” Jolly!!! The two of them were already recording for something unrelated to the album. Before this joint was sent, we were talking about putting Jeanne on the instrumental for what ended up becoming “New In Town (Happy)” (the instrumental was actually titled “Lifaudit”) BUT!!!!….. Since Jeanne was already there, a song was written for her to the brand new music. I mean, why not? …The excitement was completely there and dammit, so was the vocalist. And to be honest, this was one of the greatest examples of “right place in the right time” I have ever witnessed because Jeanne got in that studio and CLOWNED on this track. Phonte sent that joint back to me a couple days later with her vocals and what bugged me out the most was how the tone of her voice MATCHED those same colors I saw a couple days earlier when I ran the drums over and over again. It was like I made the song specifically for her without knowing it in advance. To this day we refer to this joint as her “one hitta quitta” track… She simply came in, took no prisoners for about three and a half minutes …then rolled the hell out. The dope part about it was that she really loved the results. The next time I saw her was at soundcheck for our New Year’s show in Durham with The Foreign Exchange and she was raving about the song, “I looooove the new song! Phonte really wrote some beautiful stuff for it!!” Truth. I am happy with the fact that the song allowed her to show off that vocal ability…
“…This…. is…. my… heeeeeaaaaaarrrr-eraaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrt!!!” *fades out*
I’ve heard this song literally over 300 times and that part STILL gives me goosebumps… Very well done, Jeanne.