I’ve just started listening to the excellent “Tape Notes” podcast where John Kennedy interviews artists and producers about the processes behind creating their albums. Based on the handful of episodes I have listened to so far, the podcast manages to balance both entertainment and more technical discussion. This allows for informative conversations that don’t end up sounding to stuffy.
One of the first episodes I wanted to listen to was “Bicep,” as I was interested in learning about the techniques they applied to create their music.
It’s great to hear so many musicians and producers willing to reveal what used to be called “trade secrets.” In the past I used to think that keeping your techniques to yourself made sense, as you built your own sound and protected it from others. But the longer I’ve spent working with audio, the less I find this to be the case.
Everyone has their own way of doing things, no matter how much knowledge we have as producers/musicians. So being informed of other peoples techniques will never end up creating the same thing, even if the desire is to emulate another artist. Listening to how different acts and producers create music shows that there is no correct answer for success, as each one handles it differently and yet still achieves great results.
After listening to the podcast, I went back to the Bicep album “Isles” and have listened to it several times this week. “Apricots” is a great example of their sound, which focuses on lush synthetic textures especially in their pad design. “Apricots” also shows that, with careful sound design, production and compositional structure, you can make music that remains rich and exciting, even when the melodic elements in the arrangement are fairly sparse: