Midnight Sun: A Breakdown
Midnight Sun - Kreil
Role: Producer, Writer, Arrangement, Mixer, Engineer, Guitar, Bass Guitar, Programming.
“Midnight Sun” started out as a simple demo performed on acoustic guitar and vocals before it bloomed into the massive, 90+ track session it is today. The first sessions we had for the song involved programming a drum groove so the drummer could get a general idea of how the song should sound, figuring out the best key for the vocalist to sing it in, and finally composing a section for the bridge as the melody had no harmonic backing in its original state. Once the drummer had recorded his part, I performed a bass line on the song, recorded on the electric guitars, and programmed a mellotron part in the chorus. In addition, I wrote out a piano part in MIDI that would then later be recorded by an actual pianist. The final ingredients to this song were the acoustic guitar and vocals. While the main melody of the song was okay, I thought it was a little high in the vocalists range. I then wrote a three part harmony where the lead vocalist sang the main part and a lower harmony (which was also doubled an octave down), a backing vocalist sang the main melody and a higher harmony, and I sang the higher harmony as well. This layering of vocals combined with the mellotron and synthesizers created a massive wall of sound that made the chorus the standout section of the track.
This video breaks down the layers of tracks in the chorus to highlight how the arrangement builds off of the vocal melody. We start with the main melody, then add the harmonies into the mix. Afterwards, the instruments that support the harmony are added in. These are strings, a mellotron (labeled "music of Beatles"...inside joke), and electric guitar. We then add the rhythmn section in to demonstrate how the melody and harmony work with the groove of the song. This section includes drums, bass, acoustic guitar, and a shaker. Finally a guitar lead is thrown in to serve as a counterpoint to the vocal melody.
Being a producer also means that I play as a session musician on my client's work from time to time. I got to track guitars and bass on "Midnight Sun" and I had a blast doing it! This is a chopped up collection of clips from a livestream I did while tracking bass for the song. The goal was to find a bass line that grooved and served the song, which meant a good amount of trial and error on my end. It only took about an hour until I had written and recorded a part that was deemed, to quote the client, "funky as ****!!!!"