The music industry is a people industry. Connecting with people that want to make great music is part of the reason I love doing what I do. Often times my wife will joke about how I become really good friends with my clients because creating music together is an intimate process and the time spent together creatively can really lead to close friendships. This was, and still is, the case with Jeff Canada.
Jeff was a friend of AJ Santana, a previous client who did an EP Project with me last year. He heard the work that AJ and I were doing and reached out to me about making his own music. Jeff is not only a successful entertainer, but he is also a successful businessman (and also my neighbor).
He is a live entertainer, playing covers and originals all around the Houston area, and he runs a booking company that helps restaurants, bars, clubs, etc. book musical acts.
He has got a lot on his plate for sure.
WHAT IS YOUR MUSICAL VISION?
We met together initially and discussed Jeff’s vision for what he wanted to do. He had a handful of songs that he had written and recorded at another studio a long time ago, but those recordings fell short. He even told me that the studio hard drives got corrupted and that studio lost all his files!
Jeff started scheduling studio sessions with me most Monday nights, and we started working on these first few songs. He eventually decided to release these songs as singles. The first one that made it to the finish line is a song called “Bystander.”
This song stood out to me because of it’s acoustic/singer-songwriter vibe. Jeff played the song for me in the studio. I made a few suggestions here and there, but overall the song was great.
The whole song builds into what is the final big chorus. It technically only has one chorus, but it is very unique and cool that way. It keeps my ears interested, and I think it translates well.
FAKE DRUMS? WHAAAT?
I’ve talked about this before, but many people feel like sampled or programmed drums are somehow second class citizens to the real deal. Although we could have definitely recorded a live kit for Jeff’s music, we decided to program everything. The technology these days is amazing. The samples we used are high end and sound great.
What makes sampled or programmed drums great?
Well, you have to know how to use them. You have to know what the song calls for. You have to experiment and find the right groove, know how to adjust those beats, and in the end, know how to properly mix.
Basically, it comes down to having a producer/engineer that can do such things. While I’m not trying to give myself a compliment, I do know that, although I’m a bass player by trade, I’m a drummer by heart. I think about groove and feel constantly, play drums on my steering wheel regularly, and feel like if I was to do life over again, I would be a drummer instead of a bassist.
The song went through a few drum variations. We had a more rock drum thing going on for a while, but we both felt like it wasn’t working and didn’t sound original. We went back to the drawing board and decided to do a snare brush groove for most of the song that led up to a very percussive heavy and maybe “tribal” sounding ending with the big chorus.
We also landed on this heart beat drum idea that would start and end the song. It makes the song very contemplative with this heart beat pulse that compliments the songwriting very well.
BACKGROUND VOCALS CAN TAKE IT TO THE NEXT LEVEL
All of the clients I work with are very talented, but there are times where I get to work with someone particular that really blows me away. The raw talent is just soooo good.
For this track we knew we wanted to add a background vocal that would give the vocals texture and layers. Jeff and I brought in a local friend of ours named Jeremy Swanke. Jeremy is a full-time cover song entertainer like Jeff and is an amazing singer.
I didn’t really understand how good of a singer he is until he came in for the session. Jeff and I often times just looked at each other like “dang, he’s so good.”
His smooth angelic-like vocal really adds a beautiful texture to Jeff’s vocals, which are more gritty and raw.
Jeremy is the kind of guy that knows music so well that he has multiple ideas that sound great. He is not the guy that can only do harmonies by singing the third of everything. He gives us options, and at the end of the track, you can really hear it come through and take the last chorus to another level.
COMMUNITY IS THE KEY
A final word about this single is the community that was involved. Not only did we have Jeremy come in to do background vocals, but we had Nick Whittington come in for all the amazing electric guitar work (the swells during the verses are super cool).
We had Andy ? help us develop and finalize the drum ideas, myself on bass and piano, and Bob Boyd mastered the track.
I continue to believe that projects are always better when multiple people can come in to build the track. It is important to find the right people, but everyone involved on this track made it what it is. Jeff and I are very proud of how the song turned out.
You can check out Jeff live by checking out his schedule here.
You can listen to the song for free below or also on Jeff's site. If you think it's good and would like to go further to support him you can purchase Bystander here.
FULL SONG: Produced, Recorded & Mixed & One Fifty Media House