YOU ARE A MULTI-FACETED INSTRUMENTALIST.
YOU HAVE THE ABILITY TO TAKE YOUR MUSIC TO GREATER LENGTHS WITH YOUR PRODUCTION TALENTS. THE NEW RELEASE “STIMULATING” REINFORCES THAT. DO YOU FEEL THAT RECORDING AND PRODUCING YOUR OWN MUSIC YOURSELF MAKES THE PROCESS EASIER OR MORE DIFFICULT? ARE YOU MORE CRITICAL ON YOURSELF, OR DOES IT ALLOW YOU TO HAVE MORE CREATIVE FREEDOM?
GRAHAM TILSLEY: I typically prefer to do most of my writing on my own. Often I will start with a guitar or bass riff, and come up with other progressions that compliment one another. Vocals/lyrics generally come last. I will come up with a rough draft and then will start to experiment with tones. On my own, I have fewer inhibitions and will take more chances. I commonly record a demo version that is composed one instrument at a time. I look at the song from the point of view of the full band, or big picture, and then I re-record all the instruments with better tones, and with the parts more refined and concise.
But there’s something to be said for collaborating. Sitting in the same room as the songwriter when I add bass, guitar, vocals, percussion… the songwriter gets the chance to communicate and dictate how I should play, or who I should play like (Thundercat, Pino Palladino, Cory Wong…). I like to think there is a sliding scale from “session player” to my full blown character, and the songwriter/producer is in control of that dial. It feels like “I” am being played as an instrument as I deliver the parts they are after. In that sense, recording by myself at home ‘for others’ can be a little tricky. I am absolutely more critical on myself when I am alone. “How many fills should I take? Is this bass line too busy? Should the guitar be more rhythmic or melodic? Are there too many harmonies stacked together?”
In the past, I have recorded 4 different takes on bass. The first being very simple but right in the pocket, the second and third experimenting with a few more lines and fills, and the fourth being significantly busier or more complicated. This gives the songwriter/producer options.
Co-writing is becoming a new love of mine; composing something brand new from a beat and chord progression, and layering different ideas overtop. Writing lyrics in a two or three person setting using a certain word or theme can be a lot of fun. Each person comes up with their own unique ideas, but they all relate back to one another. Different characters, styles, phrasing, and sounds can come from just being in the room with someone else (shout out to Connor Newton and Sammy Folkersen).