1. What the Swag Do?
This song was the result of a melody I had stuck in my head, sharing it with Gardner, and then allowing him to do Gardner things with the beat. It had to be only a few days later when Gardner was back in my apartment playing it for me. The original sound I had in mind was a piano that was a little more drawn out. I was immediately hooked when I heard those strings with the melody tightened up, and then when the bass came in, I knew that was it. We were going crazy. My buddy, Josiah Greiner, who also helped in the writing process for some of the tracks, was in the apartment with us. I remember him being so hyped about it. From there the hook just came to me, and that rarely happens. We got to do a little test of it when we did the live performance at The Bridge in December, and that’s when I was sold on it.
As far as artists go, I originally planned for there to be way more features, but as things started to become more difficult with lining things up, I decided to take it down to three that I knew would be solid. There was no question that Gardner had to be on it. From there, I knew I needed Drew on it too. I may be a little biased being friends with Drew since high school, but I would put him up against anyone in the Indianapolis scene. He has an effortless, high energy flow that has yet to disappoint on every project we’ve worked on.
For the Speak feature, I saw a random video on Twitter of this guy who looked like Jesus doing an insane freestyle on LA Leakers. As a joke, I quoted the tweet telling him I needed a feature. He responded to my tweet with, “Hit me.” The rest is history.
This was the first single released from the album, way back in September. I had the piano progression saved to a random Garageband file, having no intention to do anything with it, and I randomly pulled it up this past summer and started working with it. From there, pieces just kept being added. I added the synths, hit up Alex Negròn for the guitar licks, Mikey G. of course for the bass, and got Gardner to help with bridge switch up. The beat filled itself out pretty naturally, which is always such a fun process to witness.
For features, I knew I wanted a packed lineup to fit the theme of the song. Having worked with all but two of these artists before, I was super excited to get my dudes Riley Reimschisel and Lo Vibez on the track.
Looking back on it all now, it’s so funny how things come to fruition. I had heard of Lo Vibez from him going to a rival high school and knowing my cousin and brother-in-law. He had also recently released his first single, “Hideout,” which is an absolute bop. I reached out to him to record the hook and he got me in contact with his manager, Eddy Blake. I met up with Eddy over the summer to discuss the Lo Vibez feature as well as some music video business. A little over half a year later, I’m currently in the works of shooting Eddy’s second music video and we’ve been working on music ever since. We text each other every day. Eddy is my dude. And now Lo Vibez is on two tracks on the album and is the lead actor in my senior narrative film.
I met up with Riley and Keys to record over the summer at Taylor, which they both had verses written already. Riley ended up scratching his whole verse and free styling the majority of it, with a few fixes here and there. Legendary.
With a few months left to finish out this album, I knew I needed at least two more new tracks to feel good about calling it a new album and not just a small collection of pre-released singles. The chord progression for this song was the result of countless sessions of me sitting in front of Garageband with nothing to show for it. This was definitely the toughest part of the process, honestly feeling like the creative juices had run dry.
I took piano lessons for a semester this year. Beyond that and just messing around on the piano here and there, I have zero musical knowledge. I just know what I think potentially sounds good. Rollercoaster was the lucky result of finding the right synth, random chord progression, and presenting it to Mikey G. As soon as we listened to it in his apartment, he listened to, The Cure for some inspiration, and immediately put down the bass and guitar tracks. It was a magical night. We had both been dealing with some creative blocks and life stress. Being able to meet up and make that happen in one session was so special for both of us. It was a sound that we had never come up with before. An 80s pop song. I’ll always remember that night.
From there, we moved to the writing process. This was a several week process, but I think the breakthrough came from the result of me, Mikey G., and Gardner sitting in my apartment one night trying to think of what the sound made us think of. I think we all centered around the idea of our childhood summers. It made Mikey G. think of the amusement park he would go to back home called Kennywood. From there, “Rollercoaster” was born.
To fit the 80s style, we knew we needed a certain sound for vocals. I contacted my dude, Connor Robertson, the drummer of Leland Blue, early in the week and we drove up to Michigan that weekend to record. We also brought a whole crew up to shoot a promo for their album releasing on April 26th. My favorite memory from that weekend was Ben Robertson, the lead vocalist and guitarist for Leland Blue, trying to figure out a guitar solo to put at the end of the track. Ben and Connor are brothers. After a few minutes, Ben wanted it to just be him and Connor. When I came back down to the basement a few minutes later, it was completely finished, and it was insane. That was such a fun weekend.
4. Yellow Walls (Interlude)
Earlier on in our relationship, Bailey told me that she had written a song for me. The only music knowledge I had about her was from hearing her sing in the car with me and her telling me about choir being a big part of her high school experience. I still remember the first time she played and sang the song for me. Not only did she have a beautiful voice, but her writing was unbelievable. I knew that it had to be included on the album.
As I’m writing this now, we recorded the song two days ago. I knew that I wanted to limit the amount of takes, because I wanted it to be authentic as possible. We recorded it in less than an hour.
Something I love about our music is how many features we are able to include from song to song. This one is special to me because it’s just me and her. Just me and the person I love.
5. See You Again
This song was one of the most stretching process I’ve ever been involved in. We started producing and writing in September, recording in October, and didn’t have a mastered version until April. It also makes it one of the most special songs on the album.
Like most of our songs, it started with a melody that I shared with Gardner. The “doo doo doo” melody was something that I had stuck in my head and I knew that I wanted to incorporate just that into the song someway as well. I also had a rough idea for the chorus before we officially started the writing process. We worked on the beat together, Gardner working his usual magic bring my ideas to life, and we brought in Mikey G. to record the guitar. I believe the guitar is what really took the sound to the next level.
I invited Eddy up to Taylor one night, and him and Gardner knocked out all of the verses in a matter of a few hours. Their energy and the way they fed off each other made for a really special night.
Back in October, we had our first recording session at Azmyth Studios in Indianapolis where we got Gardner’s verse recorded as well as the choir. After figuring a few things out, we moved to City Dump Records in Indianapolis for the next few. We brought on Lo Vibez to do vocals and Eddy’s friend Peteyboy to do background vocals. After several more sessions to make sure everything was sounding like we wanted it to, we finished tracking at City Dump. Months later, we got in touch with Ash Matthews from Smart Boy Studios in Dayton, Ohio, and he brought everything together with his mixing/mastering ability. There was a total of 48 tracks that we sent over to Ash, with no context to the song whatsoever from previous sessions, he was able to deliver exactly what we needed.
I conceptualized the hook for this song in the beginning stages of a new relationship, a relationship that has changed my entire life for the better. Both Eddy and Josiah helped flesh it out, and I am so thankful for that. For all of these reasons, this song means a lot to us.
6. Enjoy the View
Along with “Rollercoaster”, this melody came in the midst of a really tough creative drought. It was brought to life by the guitars of Mikey G. and Connor, and I love how subtle yet impactful this track turned out.
Beyond that, I know it was a tough, yet special experience for Gardner who wrote his verse after the unexpected passing of a friend. I think every part of this song is impactful and intimate, but when I heard the last verse right after Gardner recorded it, I knew there was something different with this song. Gardner is a special dude. Not only is he a musical genius, but his positive outlook and attitude towards life is something that everyone could appreciate. I’m so proud of him for having the ability to take a really tough situation in his life and turn it into something positive and uplifting.
This song is special in a lot of ways. Being the last track, I think it really sums up what the theme of this album is all about. In a period of life where everything is geared towards the next step with graduation, looking for jobs, places to live, etc. I’ve really come to realize how important it is to enjoy every experience and be present in the moment.