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  1. One Of These Days

    Posted on

    2003

    The story behind “One Of These Days” starts in 2003, shortly after I moved from New York to London.  Singer Katie Lewis had been a contestant on series 1 of the BBC’s “Fame Academy” (Oct-Dec 2002) and her fan club had summoned a group of up-and-coming songwriters to Katie’s home in Bristol to audition some songs and songwriters for a tentative album.  Somehow, I had been invited to join in and made the trip to Bristol.  One of the writers there was a young lyricist from London, Greig Watts.

    Greig and I had complementary skills – he was better at lyrics and I better at music – and both lived in the London area, so we agreed to keep in touch and try to co-write a few songs for Katie.

    One of these songs was “One Of These Days”.

    Unfortunately, nothing happened with Katie or with any of the songs we co-wrote, and after a few months Greig and I drifted apart...

    2011

    Fast-forward to 2011 – I was going through old demos to see if there were any good ideas worth dusting off.  I rediscovered “One Of These Days” – which I had completely forgotten about...  Listening to it with a completely fresh ear, I thought it was really good...

    Well, it had great potential, but there were a number of problems with the demo, and it was very obvious why nothing had happened with it: for one, the vocal track was awful – it was just impossible to hear past it.  The rest of production (for which I take full responsibility) wasn’t great either – it wasn’t bad, but it sounded like a demo... and as everyone in the business knows, a good demo sounds like a record. 

    Finally, I felt that some of the words were a little rough.  But the core of the song was all there, and I felt it was very strong: the title, the story, the message, the melody and song structure were all there, and over the following days, the song kind of got stuck in my head...  I thought it would be a shame not to do anything with it, so I decided to track down Greig.

    DWB & Maria Willson

    As it turns out, Greig had become really successful as part of the DWB Music songwriting and production team, scoring a string of hits, particularly in European and Asian markets (Japan, Korea).

    I sent Greig the old demo and he agreed that the song had potential, but wasn’t sure how much time he’d be able to commit.  Originally, I wanted us to rework the lyrics to make them really great, and I was prepared to take over the rest.  Greig and I did re-write a good portion of the lyrics together, via back-and-forth emails, and got it to the point where we had a great song.

    What ended up happening is that Greig and his production partners re-recorded the song from scratch (I sent them the original midi files but not sure whether any of it was used) and recruited Maria Willson to sing it.

    This is the only song where I had nothing to do with the production, and it was a real kick for me to discover the finished track.

    DWB stayed true to the original melody, chords and song structure, but their arrangement and sound engineering was a major improvement over the original.  They also came up with a new intro and introduced modulations that make it more dynamic.  Maria delivered a great vocal and some cool ad-libs, including the repetition on “one of these, one of these days” in the final section.  I couldn’t be happier with it... now I just hope people hear it and enjoy it.

    Here’s a video of the original demo MIDI tracks against the final recording:

    ONE OF THESE DAYS
    Words by Greig Watts & A. Robin / Music by A. Robin
    Vocals by Maria Willson
    Produced by Paul Drew, Greig Watts and Pete Barringer for DWB MUSIC LTD
    © 2012 – All rights reserved

    I kissed away all the fears
    They were just holding me down
    But I’m too strong to shed a tear
    And I ain’t sticking around

    One of these days I will show you
    That I’ve got what it takes
    Cause even when I go wrong
    I learn from my mistakes

    Chorus:
    One of these days, just wait and see
    Our voice will light up the world
    Make this dream reality
    One of these days, I’ll make you see
    That if I can be myself
    I‘ll find my destiny

    I know that I’ve been given
    A gift that I must use
    I’ve worked to make it happen
    I’ll keep on pushing through

    One of these days I will get there 
    And finally you will see
    Why I had to keep on going 
    When you said just let it be

    Chorus:
    One of these days...

    Bridge:
    And I will keep on going even when I fall down
    I will keep believing till my future is found
    Cause everything I’m learning helps me on the way
    I’m getting so close now, so hear me when I say

    Chorus:
    One of these days...

    (One of these days, I will be the one)
    (Living the dream, lighting up the world)
    (One of these days, I will be the one)

  2. SuperCool-Guy vs. Bryan Adams

    Posted on

    Fantasy vs. Reality

    120201-SuperCool-Guy_vs_BryanAdams

    Illustration by Scott Blair

    Photography by Bryan Adams

    (Neither Bryan Adams nor Pamela Anderson are associated with SuperCool-Guy, supercool-guy.com or have given their permission for their photograph to be used in this composition.  SuperCool-Guy finds the (entirely coincidental) symmetry pretty cool and amusing but is prepared to remove the image at the request of its copyright holders.)

  3. Today

    Posted on

    It’s difficult to write a good rock song on anything other than guitar.  I don’t play the guitar and that’s why even though I’m a big fan of hard rock and heavy metal, the influence isn’t really obvious on most of my tracks.

    But once in a while, I’d like to think that I come up with a good rocker, and I think “Today” is one of them.  Nothing too heavy, nothing angry, just a fun, uplifting, guitar-based rock track!

    Music

    I came up with the gist of the song a couple of years ago – I remember it very well: I was on a train in Germany (what I was doing there is another story for another day!).  As soon as I got off the train, I sung the idea into my mobile phone recorder.  I basically had the main riff, the full verse, the full pre-chorus, and first chord of the chorus, and I knew exactly how it was going to sound. It really felt right and exciting, and over the next few days those elements got really anchored in my brain.

    The basis for the verse is this 3-chord riff (A-E-D) – and of course any 3-chord riff is bound to have been done thousands of times.  I’m sure “Today”’s is no exception, but at least the parentage isn’t obvious.  Plus, the song takes a few different directions from the pre-chorus onwards, so I think there’s enough originality there…

    I wanted the chorus to lift up and I found a melody and another 3-chord progression that did that well, but I wanted to keep going up, and keep progressing, rather than repeat that chord progression 4 times and back to verse, which is what most songs would do… So I managed to take the melody up on the 2nd chord cycle and then instead of repeating the cycle a third time, took the chorus to another chord progression and melody.  To me, it now sounds natural and obvious and the only possible progression… but getting there definitely required challenging my comfort zone, i.e. always looking for the next satisfying chord/melody, and then taking it up one level to surprise myself and the listener.

    After the key changes in the pre-chorus/chorus progression, I couldn’t get back into the verse.  So I found a way to get back by inserting a modulated version of the riff (C-G-F) between the first chorus and second verse that sounds really cool in my opinion: the chorus flows naturally into the modulated riff, then the key change back to original A-E-D riff/verse creates an element of surprise that satisfies the ear.

    The song structure is very standard but works, I think.  There’s no bridge, just a short guitar solo then back to pre-chorus.  The final chorus is extended, once again to one-up the listener’s expectations and create some excitement until the end.

    Lyrics

    Lyrics are always the hardest, but I decided to give it a go on this song.  As always, the original melody came to me with mumbles and sonorities that sounded good with the music but made no sense!  The first word that came repeatedly was “Baby!” – how original!  It sounded good, but you can’t have a song called “Baby”, that’s just ridiculous (well, unless you’re Justin Bieber, sorry Justin, you’re a cool guy!).  So I started to think – what sounds like “Baby” but is slightly more original?  “Today”.  I don’t really know any others songs called “Today” – again, I’m sure there’s a thousand of them out there, but none comes to mind.  And I felt the word “Today” went well with the uplifting music: the word conjures up a host of possibilities: a new day, seizing the day, etc.  It’s full of hope, opportunities, immediacy and action!

    So I told a fun little story about a guy who’s about to take this girl on a date.  Today’s the day, and it’s all about the optimism, anticipation and excitement as he prepares for the date and runs the scenario in his head.  I tried to make it very pure and almost innocent.  It’s a feel-good song and you’re supposed to root for the singer…

    Production

    The core of the production is the guitars.  Ben Treeby played some great parts and I think we got a pretty good sound with just the Line6 Pod, double-tracking and some compression.

    For the guitar solos, I usually let Ben do a bunch of takes, and then “compose” the solo but cutting and pasting the best bits together afterwards – that’s how we did it on “Today” and I think it turned out really cool (you can see on the YouTube video where the cuts are!)…

    I had a lot of fun doing harmonies and backup vocals – which I guess are one of my production “trademarks”…

    Finally the drums… the first version of this track had drums played on the keyboard and using XV-3080 sounds, and it sounded a little limp…  So when I bought my new Roland TD9K2 V-Drum kit last summer, the first thing I did was re-do the drum track by actually playing it live.  I had a lot of fun doing it and I think it came out alright and pretty “realistic”.  I had a really hard time mixing it though, particularly getting a good kick and snare sound.  I spent forever on it, and even then we found some problems at the mastering stage.  Luckily, Jon Astley came to the rescue…

    I think this is one of my best songs.  I suppose it sounds a bit like a cross between Kiss, Bryan Adams and McFly (what do you think?)… so I’ll be paying tribute to those guys in my next few blog entries.

    In the meantime, enjoy the song!

     

    TODAY
    Words & Music by A. Robin
    Produced by SuperCool-Guy
    © 2012 – All rights reserved

    Today
    The sun is out, it's a new day
    I'm gonna try and just maybe
    Get a hold of your love

    Cause baby
    I've been thinking of you lately
    You've got me, you captivate me
    I want a taste of your love

    I turn around and there I see
    Your pretty eyes keep calling me
    They tell me to get there while I can
    You won't be waiting around 

    Chorus:
    I'm gonna see you today!
    And when I see you today will be the day
    For a new beginning
    Something true
    A special feeling between me and you
    Today

    Today
    I'm gonna seize it, it's my day
    You're calling me and I'm ready
    I'm so ready for your love

    I'll pick you up, we'll drive around
    No better time for getting down
    The time is now so take my hand
    We're gonna turn things around 

    Chorus

    I'll drive you home, we'll kiss goodnight
    You'll say "don't go!" and hold me tight
    Show me the things you wanna do
    When there's no-one around 

    Chorus

    Start a brand new story
    Me and you
    We'll make it last cause the feeling is true
    Today


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