Music To Lyrics – A Unique Production Service
For several years now we have been providing a music production service for lyricists and singer/songwriters who require musical arrangements for their lyrics and song ideas. Every song is different so a fresh approach has to be taken every time. Below are four excerpts from a wide range of songs produced over the past year with notes on how each arrangement was created.
Evamore is a project by Sir Chris Evans who created an album of songs based on letters sent back from soldiers from WW1. The album was a huge undertaking which involved many session singers and musicians. On this particular song I worked out the arrangement based on a rough demo sent over my Chris. This production was done remotely as Chris is an extremely busy globetrotter and couldn’t attend the studio.
I played Acoustic Guitar, Bass and Percussion. Sir Chris played Electric Guitar. Lead vocals were by Steve Balsamo, Backing vocals by Brian Rice & Kirsty McKinna. The strings were orchestrated by Jon Cohen with Violin by Seonaid Aitken. The Harmonica was by Fraser Speirs.
Once the song was established Chris recorded his Guitar parts at home and drop-boxed them to me to slot into the recording,
Tony B is an amazing Nigerian gospel singer with a great ear for music. Tony has done a great job of tracking up his vocals and creating a huge choral effect for this song.
On the track he sang the melody line to me and from that we worked out the tempo and a beat. Then I added drums and a bass line. Tony has lots of ideas in his head and would occasionally hum parts to me, like the bass line, and even ideas for guitar parts although not being an instrumentalist I had to come up with the chords for the arrangement. We worked through lots of beats together for the production. On this track all instruments are played by me.
Imaginary Creatures is the brainchild of Scottish born lyricist David Scott. We are currently working on the third album.
David comes into the studio with music references which are a great way of establishing a song. We don’t directly copy the music but he will typically suggest ideas from records which are a good starting point. David has strong musical ideas and even the instruments arrangements are close to what he has in his head.
On this example the rhythm track and tempo was referenced from a record and the general guitar sound also. The track was then developed by bringing in session musicians Rich Anderson on keyboards and Keith More on the guitar solo. Drums were eventually replaced by Alex Harvey and Michael Shenker drummer Ted McKenna.
Norine Mindeyes is also from Nigeria but has lived in Scotland for quite some time. We have done three songs together. In this example she came into the studio with all the vocal melody parts sang into her mobile phone. I then recorded all the instrumental parts into our music software starting with the Clavinet and a rough rhythm guide. Over a period of time the song evolved into this fully fledged production.
Gavin Blackie is a talented singer and songwriter who recorded his debut album Laid Bare with me here at Offbeat. Gavin comes into the studio with a strong vocal melody and firm ideas of how he wants the track to go. He will suggest references for drum sounds and records that have inspired him. Although these are good starting points we are careful not to directly lift anything from an existing composition. These ideas are just the spark for musical parts that have to be unique for the composition we are creating. On this track all instruments are played by me with backing vocals by Kirsty McKinna.
I’ve have done many tracks and albums with lyricists and songwriters and have found a niche that not many studios or producers seem to specialise in. Understandable as initially it can be a bit nerve wracking sitting with a writer with lyrics and a blank page with no music. You will hear from the diverse range of styles above that there’s not many types of music we can’t undertake here at Offbeat,
Hot News From Offbeat – Kirsty’s Blog
WOW, it’s been a fantastic year so far for OFFBEAT RECORDING STUDIOS with lots of fantastic new talent and interesting projects – the outcome being seven albums of varying styles. from Dance, Hip Hop, Pop, Rock, Folk and even World.
J.A Connor’s composition OPEN YOUR MIND has reached Number One in the Broadjam World Chart. Vocals by Jim, instruments and production by Iain McKinna and backing vocals by me. Jim previously had a no1 in the Celtic music charts with another Offbeat production of his song MYSTERIOUS LADY.
The second album for Imaginary Creatures entitled The Dance Macabre is now well underway. Lyricist David Scott has his ideas interpreted, co-written and produced by Offbeat’s Iain McKinna. Ex Blue Oyster Cult member Joe Bouchard will be guesting on Slide Guitar on this album. Joe covered one of David’s songs from his first album called EVERYBODY GOES INSANE. The album will also feature mega guitarist Keith More (credits include Joe Satriani, McCartney, Tina Turner, Chaka Khan, Michael Shenker band).
Professor Sir Chris Evans has written an amazing album of World War 1 songs for this years centenary. Iain is producing and supporting guitarist Chris musically on the album which will feature Ross Munro, Brian Rice and various other singers and musicians still to be decided. Chris is a leading light in Live Sciences with a great passion for music. He has a lovely guitar style and is a very talented and prolific songwriter. The album which features 15 songs will be completed by November. Here he is at the launch of his Live Sciences hub just last week with his friend Theo Paphitis… more to follow in a special blog about Chris and this great project.
Ross Munro first worked with Iain when he was pipe major for the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards on The Spirit Of The Glen trilogy of albums for Decca Records. The first album reached NUMBER ONE in the UK Classical Charts and the second album Journey achieved a CLASSICAL BRIT AWARD for best album in 2009. Ross is now in the studio recording his amazing new solo album which will be called Twisted Tradition. The sound of his haunting pipes which he has blended in with a whistle on some tracks is truly special, adding to his unique and uplifting sound.
Recently OFFBEAT worked with Hip Hop artist Izz Juvey and edited and mastered a single version of his song MOMENT OF BLACK OUT. Izz, aged 24 and born in Gambia, brought out a music video of M.O.B which was released on March 30th 2014 and released by Uprisin Records. Izz has a positive message to his music wanting to, he says “inspire the troubled youths of today entrapped in social injustice” The timing of his rapping is brilliantly executed, drawing you into the video and with the arty visuals of Edinburgh I certainly felt compelled to watch it over and over! Iain has just finished recording his follow up single Starin At The Mirror. Juvey is busy at the moment organising his future gigs, so its onwards and upwards for this inspiring and very talented young artist. I have recently interviewed him and this will be published in one of my future blogs. Meanwhile check out the video!
Gavin Blackie (pictured right) who won Edinburgh’s Got Talent in 2012 is a fantastic, charismatic and unique singer currently working on his new album Laid Bare at OFFBEAT which he is very excited about, It’s true pop with a twist with some very high energy dance tracks and some moving pop ballads . His vocal range is stunning, adding the right hooks and melodys. He writes and sings mainly about the pleasures and traumas of love but with really catchy choruses you find your self singing them again and again. Gavin and Iain have co-written this album which is due for completion later this year.
Mark AG another truly talented singer,and musician came all the way from Brighton to record with OFFBEAT, he recorded his album Lighting The Way Back Home in stages over a period of six months. The album contain songs about love and various emotions in the style of easy listening rock which Mark wrote on Piano using his Ipad!. The album has been completed just this week and is now ready for release… more to follow in a blog upon release of the record. Here’s a clip from the excellent song Louder which will soon be released as a single. It featores mark on Piano and Iain on Guitar, Bass & drums
David Ell approached his album Welcome To The Ball in a different way by recording all the backing and vocals in his home studio, and what a talent. His 3 dimensional and very underground rock style production hooks you in to each track… blending in the haunting vocals… such a great singer too! He came to OFFBEAT to have Iain mix and master his album which enhanced each track adding depth and quality to the overall sound that makes it a killer record you just want to play again and again. He is also in the process of planning future solo gigs where he is creating video backdrops for each track, this will not only make it really exciting to watch but a show not to be missed. I’m about to arrange an interview with David so watch this space! here is an excerpt from one of the tracks on the album entitled Reach.
Rich Anderson – Extraordinary Keyboard player and MD has been involved with OFFBEAT for many years. He Is currently on tour as MD for the musical DIRTY DANCING in UK and is booked into the studio in August to lay down some pre- recorded parts for the show with various backing singers
Steven Lambert, an American who current lives and gigs in Perth Australia is another ‘remote’ client. He asked us to put together a Hendrix backing track with guitar played by Keith More and Bass and Drums by Iain. Steve has been gigging around South East Asia for the past 20 years having played in Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam doing mainly solo gigs but also with various groups as a backing musician for some regional acts travelling through the area.
Other artists who have been in the studio this year include Nigerian born R&B singer Norine Babs. Singer songwriter Duncan McIntosh who we met at The Voice showcase held at our studio a few months back, Stewart Morrison, Lesley Young & John McKay Clements from Montreal, Rapper RP, Dance and Pop singer Renaud Cmela, Robert Maitland , Hip Hop artist Skinz, Pop Singer Songwriter & Drummer Brian Rice, Jazz Singer Jess Abrams, Hollywood actor Brian Cox, Neil Oliver & BBC producer Samantha Heeler.
If you have a songs, lyrics, instruments, vocals or even backing tracks to record or needing produced just pick up that phone and call us NOW on 0131 556 4882.
Custom Backing Tracks – costing a production.
Whether it’s for theatrical tracks for live shows or backing tracks for performers – minus their parts which they perform live – or studio tracks that artists take into their local or home studios to add their parts – we’ve provided quite a few specialised tracks now for many different uses. But costing a production for a custom backing track can be a tricky process as each clients requirements are so different.
We do however quote for a lot of enquiries which people don’t proceed with as the costs are beyond what they expect to pay, even though our quotes are as competitive as we can possibly make them.
Perhaps it’s not that surprising as you can download high quality backing tracks for a pound or dollar depending on where you are based.
Custom tracks can’t be compared to the costs for Backing tracks that anyone can use and which are recovered over thousands of downloads. At the same time serious artists definitely don’t want to release tracks that anyone can use. When comparing costs it’s best not to use publicly available backing tracks as an example. Instead you should consider how much it would cost to:
1- Hire and rehearse your tracks with professional musicians.
2- Hiring a professional studio with an engineer and a music producer.
Here at Offbeat we can substantially reduce these costs as we have great in-house session musicians and can record in our own studio to make what would otherwise be unaffordable possible.
Having said that we can’t compete with publicly available tracks. If you don’t need a custom track for your own exclusive use we recommend downloading tracks from the many available sites out there or from ITunes or Spotify.
If you need your own exclusively produced tracks we can provide a much less expensive option than you hiring your own musicians and studio. And as our recordings are of broadcast standard you will be sure to receive a professional service.
Check out our Custom Backing Tracks page to hear examples of what we’ve produced.
Shut Up and Dance – Khylune Tham Official Video
Shut Up and Dance, the new single by LA based singer Khylune Tham has received over 40,000 hits since being posted on youtube.
The track was produced at Offbeat last year and was remixed here again earlier in 2013 before it’s final release. After being asked to produce the track by Khy, based on an acoustic guitar demo by co-writer CJ Watson, I created this arrangement playing Bass, Drums, Keyboards and Rhythm Guitars before inviting guitarist Keith More to add the lead lines and Offbeat Kirsty to add backing vocals. I then involved local rapper Sparky to add the middle section which Khy and CJ wrote.
Check out the video.
Read my past blog about Keith More, C.J Watson and Khylune’s foster Dad Artie Mogul, who discovered Bob Dylan and owned United Artists.
Custom Backing Tracks – Jumpin’ Jimmy Reed
In between new and ongoing production projects we’ve been busy putting together original, and covers of backing tracks for singers, instrumentalists. and entertainment companies here in the UK, USA, Europe and as far away as Malaysia and New Zealand.
The range of music has been fairly diverse. Guitarist and vocalist right now I’m putting together tracks for Jumpin’ Jimmy Reed, a Blues/Rock guitarist and vocalist that performs at clubs and outdoor festivals in the Midwest United States.
Says Jimmy, “I was looking for a studio to make custom backing tracks for my live show. I wanted live musicians to play on the recordings as much as possible and still be able to afford them. I had a couple of horrible experiences with other studios before I found Offbeat Music Productions. Iain and the gang have been a joy to work with. The pricing, musicianship, and production quality are exactly what I was looking and I look forward to many future collaborations”.
The first track I’m working on for him is When The Night Comes by Joe Cocker. I pulled in Rich Anderson to do piano and organ and Annie McCaig (who sang on the Songs From The Big Chair album by Tears For Fears, as well s working with Level 42 and Simple Minds) will feature on Backing Vocals along with Offbeat’s Kirsty Anderson and vocalist Brian Rice, who will also feature on Drums. I’ll be on Bass and Rhythm Guitar, Engineering and Production.
Re-creating backing tracks from originals can be challenging but rewarding and it’s a great way to learn different production techniques. Sometimes I can lay the original track onto Logic and work alongside the track, if it happens to be synced to a click. When a client wants a track in a different key, or the original tracks isn’t synced, you can’t just lay your track on top of the original and copy it. Either way it’s a slow process and takes time to get a great result. It’s good to work with guys like Jimmy who really appreciate and understand what’s involved in producing a custom backing track.
Amongst clients we have produced tracks for recently are Peel Entertainment. We have contributed to the production of the musical Piano Man with backing tracks for the live performances of the songs New York State Of Mind and the title track Piano Man for the company. Rich Anderson and I recreated New York State Of Mind featuring sax player Gordon And Piano Man featured harmonica player Fraser Speirs. It’s great to be able to include class musicians in these productions and it definitely adds weight to the finished results.
Jimmy’s track will be completed very soon but meanwhile here’s a snippet of New York State Of Mind with Rich Anderson on Piano & Strings. Gordon on Sax, amd me on Bass & Drums.