The Process Behind: Beginnings Project – RICKY LEGEND
I remember at the beginning of the project brainstorming, Troy suggested to do an EP/Album of songs that would represent beginnings to me. As great of an idea that was and one that I definitely was interested in, I knew that was going to be too much work since I do everything myself, from songwriting, recording, performing, producing, arranging, mixing, and mastering. If I would’ve bought premade beats or something, that would have made the album possible, but I like to do everything myself. I didn’t realize that was not a known fact until Simplex Minds co-writer, Jocelyn, asked me what I did on that project exactly and was impressed when I said, “everything.” So yeah, guys, I never usually mention it because I'm so used to always doing it, but I do everything in my songs, so it’s a tedious process for sure. Knowing that, I chose to do only one song instead, which was very doable for me.
My songs have been having a space theme and I wanted to keep it consistent, so I decided to call this project ‘Big Bang’ even before the song was written or thought of. One day, while I was in the shower, a melody idea came to mind and while in the shower, I grabbed my phone that was right next to my bathroom speaker (we all got to have one) and opened the voice memo app and recorded right then and there. You never know when ideas might strike, and you got to be ready for them. I watched a whole video that explained why good ideas happen in the shower and had to do something with the brain waves changing. Anyways, here’s that original voice memo, which actually is in the song, tucked away in the background. It’s hard to hear but it’s there.
So, the way I started to make the song was that I grabbed that recording, imported it into my recording software and started adding stuff to it. It took me a couple days to get some inspiration, but I got a nice idea in the end. That was the very first demo which is here:
After I was finished with this demo, there was something that was bothering me about it. I liked it, it wasn’t a bad idea, but it felt a little dull, lifeless, or maybe just not authentic since I just put sounds together just to meet the deadline without really putting my heart into it. It bothered me, I knew I could do better, but more than better, it could be more authentic. So, I did something crazy, especially for a project with an upcoming deadline…I deleted everything I did and started from scratch. This time I made sure my heart was in it and I was fully present in the process of making the song. The song went from this reggae fusion idea to something that sounded more like my usual style of music, with completely different instruments sounds, chords, and vibes. Right away, the song was way better than that first demo and was really happy about it. There’s a lesson here...ALWAYS TRUST YOUR INTUITION. My gut was telling me that what I originally had wasn’t it and trusted its advice regardless of the possible failure and the pressure of having it done on time. Thanks to that crucial epiphany I got something was I more excited about. Here’s the very first demo of that intuition change.
From there, I kept working on it. I added more production to the song which included samples, sound effect, strings, percussion, etc. You can hear it come to life here. The demo before was a nice foundation but this new demo that I’m about to show you has more excitement and sounds fuller. Sounds more like a finished product.
Since I’m a guitar player, I had to add a bunch of guitars to it. Here’s a demo of all the guitars that I added to the song. Even though the song could have done without them, it does have a little more drive to the song and in my opinion, it gives it that funky vibe that I love. Here’s that demo with added guitars:
Like any other song, it needed some structure. So far, I only had a couple bars looping but now it needed to feel more like a song that has its ups and downs and that it’s a lot more organized. I like for the song to build up, so the final hook (usually the catchiest part of a song) is the most exciting part. It did need an intro and I took DAYS just figuring out the very beginning of the song. I wanted it to be unique and exciting. I came up with this filtered intro that sounded like it being played from an old radio, then it went into this huge sub growl that leads to a little tease of the chorus. It took a little too long to come up with, but it was worth it in the end. Here’s that demo with the intro and the structure.
Of course, after that you need the vocals. This is a process that I’m still not that good at, so I struggled a bit coming up with melodies. What I did was come up with a bunch of different melodies and sing them using gibberish. Improvised dozens of takes (multiple recordings of the same part of the song that later, the best recording is chosen in the final song) with different melodies. I never have considered myself a singer so I’m not that good at coming up with vocal melodies or rather they don’t come as easy to me. After recording I chose my favorite melodies and I cut and pasted and made this sort of Frankenstein’s monster that became the one big vocal idea for the song. Here’s that demo with the gibberish and poorly sung melodies.
I wrote lyrics for the verses and that was about it. The deadline came and I still had no lyrics for the hooks and obviously need to record all the vocals plus making a little video for its release. All in a couple hours. I spent all morning finishing up the lyrics which was more difficult than I expected but got it done. Then after that. I recorded the vocals really quick. Usually, I take days recording my voice, because like I mentioned, it’s not my forte and I’m usually really picky. I had no choice but to just record it and go with it without much editing. Then I had to mix it! (Mixing is grabbing all the different sounds in the song and making them sound good together, making sure nothing is too loud or too quiet and making sure you can hear everything pleasantly.) Again, this process usually takes me days, but it was due in a couple hours. Luckily, the demos sounded very good that I barely had to do anything to the music and just focused on the vocals. Even though it’s not my best vocal performance, I like the sound or the tone I got from mixing the vocals. The final step is mastering, which is grabbing that mix and giving it a final polish before it’s released. That can be a tedious process but this day it needed not to be that. The song was finally finished. To present it in a video, I found a free space vector image and I animated it into this cool looking loop to have while the song is playing. Once again here’s my beginnings project and the lyrics:
Lyrics: I’m tired of hiding away A fire inciting my name, yeah Desires dying to say A new beginning is underway Welcome to the… Big bang Lay back and just let it happen Don’t stress It’s all gonna be fine Blast off Don’t forget to strap in ‘cause A brand new start Is waiting to charge in Forget Everything you knew about me Excel Make sure to be legendary Relax Hey just ask and it is given Dream so big Do you see what I see? Won’t sign the line for my life It’s time I try to defy, yeah Collide the sky with my light 3, 2, 1 an explosion so bright Welcome to the… Big bang Lay back and just let it happen Don’t stress It’s all gonna be fine Blast off Don’t forget to strap in ‘cause A brand new start Is waiting to charge in Forget Everything you knew about me Excel Make sure to be legendary Relax Hey just ask and it is given Dream so big Do you see what I see? I’m tired of hiding away A fire inciting my name, yeah Desires dying to say A new beginning is underway Don’t you know that
This version is exclusive to Simplex Minds. I do plan to release the song on streaming platforms but first I’m going to tweak the song to my liking now that I have the time. I might change the key (pitch of the song), the tempo (the speed of the song), and I might even change some lyrics. For now, enjoy this version and please be on the lookout for a different version of the song in the near future.