Welcome to the first installment of my new series, Beat Of The Week! Every Thursday I'll take you inside of my creative process for creating drum grooves, and show you the inspiration, gear, and production process for each beat. And the best part? You can download the loops and the full, multitrack session (in Logic, Ableton, Pro Tools and Studio One, depending on the beat). Just look for the download link at the bottom of the page. Oh, and be sure to click here to subscribe to the YouTube channel for all future videos.
Ready to dive into some beats? Let's go!
#1: The Spark
Every creative endeavor is fueled by something. Some call it inspiration. Tenacious D call it insparado. I like to call it "the spark". And the spark can be anything: a song you hear, a happy accident when exploring plug-ins and VSTs, artwork you see in a museum, or in this case, a guitar hook.
And the guitar hook for this Beat Of The Week comes from the incredibly talented Ella Feingold. Her resume is pretty insane. She's played with many of the top acts in the music industry including Jay-Z, Bruno Mars, Kanye, Frank Ocean & Alicia Keys (just to name a few).
The spark hit me when I was scrolling through some of her Analog Funk guitar loops, looking for something to practice with (I always play to loops instead of playing to a metronome... it just feels better to lock-in with another human).
Once I found a loop that felt right for that day, I decided to dive deeper into her catalogue and find a second guitar loop that worked as a nice rhythmic counterpart to initial, melodic loop.
From there, I thought it would be cool to add some percussion before diving in with my drums. And the first person I thought of was Ben Aylon aka One Man Tribe. Ben recently joined the Yurt Rock family, and his first release, Tape Drums Vol 1, seemed like the best place to start digging. If you're not familiar with Ben, he plays a unique, hybrid drum kit that incorporates African, Middle Eastern, and Indian percussion. He's a master of his craft, and is one of the true innovators in the drum world.
It didn't take me long to find the perfect, complimentary percussion loop. It was at this moment that I decided to not just practice, but record myself playing along to Ella and Ben. Hence, the spark that not only started this beat, but this very blog and video.
#2: The Production Process
When listening to these 3 loops together, I decided to record using my Gretsch USA Custom drum kit. It's a "bebop" sized kit, with smaller sizes, including an 18" kick, 12" tom, and a 14" floor tom. My other "bigger" kits seemed like they would bury all of the lower frequencies coming from Ella and Ben, so the Gretsch was the right kit to properly sit in the mix.
I use a variety of DAWs, but for this groove, Logic Pro seemed like the right choice. I ran 7 microphones through a variety of API and Universal Audio preamps and started to play along and search for a drum groove that not only sounded "right", but also felt right.
And to get this certain feel, I imagined what the legendary drummer, James Gadson might do. James is known for his "in-between" feel, where he plays with a certain swing and funk that is between straight sixteenth notes and triplets. If you were to quantize any of James's beats, you would hear all of the life and magic being immediately sucked out.
After a few takes, I finally found the beat that I thought worked best in the context of the session. On top of my live drums, I programmed a few kick and snare samples, just to highlight certain elements of the groove.
Using a slew of Waves plug-ins on each drum channel and a heavy dose of XLN's RC-20 Retro Color on the drum bus, I was able to mix a drum loop that had a certain "vintage" flavor, which was a nice accompaniment to the warmth of the guitar and percussion loops, which were all recorded through tape and analog gear.
The result? A 4 bar groove that's a mix of hip hop and classic r&b, with a tinge of African rhythms (thanks to Ben):
#3: The Free Download
Just click the icon below to receive your free download. Make sure that you're downloading from a laptop or desktop computer (not a mobile device). Enjoy!