Well… his voice, anyways.
Way back in January, I was invited to two sessions for Disney’s Cheetah Girls : One World, which is being shown on Friday night for the first time. I am singing for a character, except I have no idea who he is or what he looks like. On these sessions, you arrive, you look at a lyric sheet, the composer / producers sing you your part phrase by phrase, and you sing it back to them.
8 months later, you hear yourself again, on iTunes. You’ve been tweaked, edited, tuned, compressed, and EQed to death, but it’s still you. I have taken the liberty of de-DRMing these little clips I downloaded from iTunes this morning so that we can enjoy a little show and tell.
Now… if I seem a little excited about The Cheetah Girls, allow me this one thing: This is the first time in my Disney “Career” where I can actually point to a part of the song and go: “Me.” I’m plain as day. On the HSM stuff I’ve done (on 2 and the upcoming 3) it’s like… “Wait for it… wait for it…. THAT’s ME!” And then people will sorta scratch their heads and go… “Wait… which one was you?” Then I rewind and we play the same scene out 3 or 4 times.
This time, however, you can really hear me.
This first clip was a fun session, because the drive from Thousand Oaks to Brea and back took about 10 times as long as the session itself. The session was for a couple of guys who are hot hot hot right now. Andy Dodds and Adam Watts have songs all over the Disney machine right now, including the tune Switchfoot did for Prince Caspian. We had never met, as the session was booked by someone at Disney, and we hit it off well right away.
I think one of the reasons we hit it off was because I killed the vocal, fast. We were done in 20 minutes flat, like from the first entrance into the booth back to shooting the breeze 20 minutes flat. It’s always a little nerve-racking, as a producer, to meet and work with someone new, and for us, it was cake. We have a bunch of shared experiences (worship leading, etc) and have similar perspectives on CCM vs. Secular music, so we had a good time.
Here’s the result of our wham-bam-thankyou-ma’am session. I’ve edited the track to just include my parts, as not to force you into teen-pop-land longer than normal. This track is called “Feels Like Love,” and I have no idea who the female singer is.
The next session was about a week later, with a lady named Kara DioGuardi. Now, I actually don’t get intimidated in sessions very often anymore, but Kara was intimidating. She has a credit list a mile long. She wrote some big hit songs for some big artists. Rich Girl – Gwen Stefani, Pieces of Me – Ashlee Simpson, Ain’t No Other Man – Christina Aguilera. These are big tunes. Hit tunes. Strangely, DioGuardi also wrote the song Home for Katharine McPhee, a song that we (The Dailies Band) did with her last year.
Now, Kara was perfectly pleasant and professional, but it was not the same instant connection that I had with Adam and Andy. A tricked out Range-Rover was outside. She had a Chihuahua in a recording studio. I mean, she was in a joke band with Dave Stewart. This is not my typical gig.
However, everything went well. I think the thing I’m stoked about on this one is how cool the chorus sounds that I’m on, and it’s all me. The way I edited this is as follows: you’ll hear the first chorus, without me, and then I come in halfway through the verse with the lyric “My Girl is a Drama Queen…” at 0:38 in. Then the whole 2nd chorus is all me, a quad stack on the lead and a quad stack on the low harmony part.
So, here’s the thing. I feel like the whole energy of the track lifts up when I come in. As a singer, that’s my reward. You can edit, tune, EQ, tweak, push, pull, but at the end of the day, if you can’t make it hot, it’s only gonna get so-so in the final mix. I feel like, cheesy as they are, these little tunes are gonna serve me well representing my voice on a major product to future clients, illustrating the difference of what I can bring to the picture vs. a typical session singer.
So, it’s an aok day for me. :) Thanks for indulging my show and tell.