Today on Audio Saturdays we bring you the newest audio prompt contest and a new track from Brooklyn based singer-songwriter Todd Jackson, winner of the last contest!
A few weeks ago, we put up an Audio Saturdays post containing a random voice memo of ours from years (?) ago and kind of on a whim offered $50 bucks to the first person to create a song out of it. We didn’t expect anything to come of it, and subsequently forgot about it, but boy are we glad that you didn’t, because a few weeks later we received this incredible track from Brooklyn based Singer-Songwriter Todd Jackson called “What the World Thinks”:
We first met Todd back when we were both living in Manhattan, and circling around the East Village open mic scene. He was working a lot with NYC guitar legend Mike Milazzo, and later was writing and performing with another songwriter, Brooke McGowan. Gonna plug an earlier track of his here, because we love it so much: Where’s the Girl Gone? We’ve always admired his songcraft and meditative lyrics, and were psyched to hear that he was writing new music. We caught up with him a bit on email, asking for a little background on the track.
Q: Hey Todd, thanks for submitting your track and letting us feature it. It’s great to hear what friends have been working on. How have you managed to stay creative during quarantine?
Todd: Being locked inside for so long certainly has helped with music since all my other distractions are cut off. The tech these days is amazing and cheap so I’m able to do things that 10 years ago would have involved a lot more money and people. However, I do miss hearing people play live which was always inspiring.
Q: Speaking of home recording, one thing we love about this track is the drum sound and execution. Back in our own singer songwriter days, one thing that always stymied us was recording drum machine tracks. Could never quite get it right. Could you tell us a little about how you put it together?
TODD: I’m always aiming for an organic sound, so I start with rhythm guitar played to a click track. Then, using EZDrummer2, I find a simple kick drum pattern that fits the guitar. EZDrummer then gives you a selection of patterns with that kick drum incorporated. With a large library, I pick the best one that has verse and chorus parts, sometimes editing if I can’t find the perfect one, slowly opening up the hi-hat as the song progresses. Then I add bass to bridge the gap between guitar and drums, layering on from there, I am always refining the process.
Q: We’ve always been a huge fan of your lyrical approach. You always have a real conversational feel without taking the listener out of the rhythm of the song. How to you go about constructing a lyric?
TODD: I read a lot of poetry which helps with phrasing. Normally I’ll find a loose theme to start (prompts are great for this). Then I let my subconscious take the first pass, slowly editing and focusing the meaning while avoiding being too “on the nose.” After that, I refine with alliteration, assonance, hopefully giving the words some music of their own and giving the listener some room for interpretation.
Q: What’s next for Todd Jackson? We want more recordings!
TODD: My goal last year was to start recording some music, leading to a nicely recorded EP with real musicians. COVID has obviously delayed this but I’m hoping this summer I’ll get back on track.
As do we, Todd, as do we! And now – THIS MONTH’S PROMPT!!
Just like last time, submit a song using this prompt and I’ll pick the best one. Winner gets $50 (or $50 donated to the charity of your choice) and a feature interview in this space. This prompt comes to you from our folder 2011 DEMOS. It’s only called “B Minor Demo”. GOOD LUCK!