I participated in a remix contest for Only Now by Seven Lions featuring Tyler Graves last week. The only way I’ve been able to find to share this so far is to upload the entire .mp4 here and stream it directly.
I do not take songwriting credit for this; the lyrics, melody, and vocals (including most contiguous processing) belong entirely to the original artists. Everything else is my work. I tried to share this through SoundCloud and the copyright drones weren’t having it. Unofficially, sharing is being allowed per the official fan group on Facebook so, if anyone has a problem with me sharing this here, please let me know and I’ll take it down. That said:
Only Now is hands-down my best work to date. I wasn’t selected as the contest winner but for my process that’s really immaterial. This work represents the culmination of a year solid of seemingly running in place musically, unable to finish a single project, and the determination to at least get better at something during that time.
Oh, and many of the other submissions were really fucking good.
Sometimes we cannot see our own progress until we step away and then look back at it.
I’ve tried to remix two songs before. The first was Owl City’s Lucid Dream and I didn’t get past loading the stems into Ableton. I just didn’t have the skills to compete.
I remixed The Glitch Mob’s How Could This Be Wrong (feat. Tula) in 2018. Looking back, there were no clear drops, some of the frequencies just hurt, the mixing is all off, some timing could be better, and the bass is overwhelming but at the time, I learned a lot, had fun with the process, and semi-successfully changed the tempo of the stems I was given (which I did for no other reason than to see if I could without altering the pitch). Still, I’d never imagine listening to this at an event.
In fact, I couldn’t see any of my music being played at an event until Only Now. I know one can dance to it because I can dance to it. I know it’s moving because it moved me. I also know it’s imperfect and that’s the foundation for my future growth.
I’m most proud of my progress on guitar and sound design. I played and recorded the guitar from a Fender Stratocaster, the break melodies on keyboard, and designed the drop bass growls in Serum. I’d rate sound design as my greatest area of growth followed by guitar technique. Every synthesizer and all processing of the acoustic instruments are my design. There’s a lot that didn’t make the final cut including some really filthy basses that will be used in a future track.
Keys… still leave a little to be desired but that’s what quantization is for 🙂
I’m not super happy with what I call the Wooli Yell (the bass growls before the downbeat on the 1st and 2nd phrase of the 2nd drop inspired by Wooli). It just came out flat–despite my best intentions. There are some vocal pops that only became apparent after the 1,000th listen that I just didn’t have the skills to remove.
That’s ok, it’s all part of the process.
I almost didn’t enter this at all. I work in healthcare, we’re in the middle of a global pandemic, and frankly I spent the first three weeks of that in a tailspin. But, like most Seven Lions songs, this one spoke to me at several levels.
First, I want to be able to make music that I like to listen to and that I can dance to. I’ve never been able to say that about a song that I’ve created before. Still Light has a place in one of my playlists but gets skipped often. I’m still listening to Only Now on my short playlist.
So, with 50 hours of full-time healthcare cyber security work, 5 hours of attempting keep myself in shape by
living dangerously going outside to practice wushu, 50 hours of work between the studio and the gamut of 8 different test devices, and a very patient wife who not only tolerated me being inaccessible for an additional 50 hours and a kick drum that will knock shit off the shelves at volume but also gave some very valuable feedback in terms of structure among other aspects, I’ve finally produced something I am proud of, can dance to, and will continue to listen to well beyond the contest end date.
Like most of the melodic dubstep I listen to, I connect hard with Only Now at several levels. For me, the strongest connection was to the concept of the present moment–that all we really have to decide what we want to do is right now. I could have succumbed to the exhaustion and put this off until things got easier in life; in the world. I thought about it.
I pondered this for 3 days and couldn’t shake the feeling that if I didn’t produce this song now, I likely never would. I’d also remain stagnant in my musical growth, experience disappointment, and always wonder what if?
Now, as I listen to the calming acoustic verses give way to several very-danceable drops and ride the intense energy through the song’s outtro, I am left with only one question to myself.