Wow, what a night. On Friday, Tiesto presented me with the Secret Genius Dance Award, in recognition of the work I’ve done in dance music over the year. This largely is a result of my work with The Chainsmokers. Little did I know this creative relationship would have such a huge impact on my life. I’ve also never had to get up and give an unexpected speech, so that was quite an interesting experience too. I thought I’d rewind just a bit and describe a bit of the process which lead me to Friday’s ceremony.
In late 2016 I began working on what would become The Chainsmokers first album, “Memories….Do Not Open”. We started in October of 2016, working on cutting some songs here and there. A few months later I joined The Chainsmokers in NYC to finish the production on “Paris. It was determined to be the first single so anything less than perfection wasn’t an option. We spent two days at Jungle City Studios dialing in the song. Mostly importantly, Drew’s vocal needed to be perfect. Once we nailed that, Emily Warren added some female vocal layers. From there I recorded a few of my own vocals to fill in some areas, and then I mixed. We finished the song over those 2 days in New York, releasing Paris in early 2017.
Paris became a hit, and meant the album had to be finished pretty quickly. The boys had an upcoming arena tour, their first, in which they were to perform these records, so we spent the next 3-4 months recording, finalizing production, and mixing. Finishing the 12 songs that would become Memories became the singular goal of everyone. Alex and Drew worked tirelessly to give their fans the album they deserved. I’m beyond grateful to have been a part of their musical journey.
I thought I’d also expound a little on what I mentioned in my acceptance speech. I touched on a topic that’s quite important to me, credits. Every music professional has at least once been burned by credits. What Spotify has done with their Secret Genius program is a wonderful thing for all songwriters, producers, and engineers. They’re shining a spotlight on creators behind the scenes, ultimately allowing us to continue to live out our dreams.
Credit was always the way musicians would continue working. Music is rarely, if ever, a hard sell. The artist or label who’s hiring you most often does so because they’re aware of your discography, and feel that your skills would contribute positively to their project. With the introduction of iTunes and now streaming, physical sales along with credits and liner notes largely went the way of the dinosaurs. It became increasingly difficult to determine who did what, and as a result, labels spent less and less time caring about it. Credits are put off to the very last minute nowadays, showing a general disregard for the who, what, where, and how of making a record, and it should be fixed.
We’ve got a ways to go in fixing the problem, but Spotify is working hard to get us there. In my view this is complete credits on all songs (a mandatory requirement), and ideally, interactive credits. Wouldn’t it be so cool if while you’re browsing Spotify and you hear a new song you love, you could immediately see who all worked on it? You could click the name and see a playlist of other songs they worked on? It would bring things back to the the time when you would buy a record, pop it in your stereo, and start reading the liner notes while listening.
Peeling back the cellophane and opening up that crisp album booklet became a part of the listening experience. We need that back, we want that back, and it seems to me Secret Genius is a welcome and necessary step forward to that eventual goal.
To view the press release by Variety, click HERE