The Making of "I Feel Free" - A Story About Admiration, Pizza, and Our Love For Music.
What Del Had Said:
...“And when he dropped that pizza?”
I remember Los Angeles being quiet balmy that day and my allergies were so drastic that my eyes were itching and my throat was undeniably scratchy and on top of that I could hardly breath, to make matters worse, I had procured a hangover that was next level from the night before. I had become a product of my environment and felt as grimy and dark as the smog that filled the sky that sunny afternoon.
We sat in Russell Manning’s makeshift studio in his cozy and tastefully decorated apartment that he shared with his girlfriend at the time. To be honest, I was very intimidated to sing in front of him. I mean, Rush Midnight is one of my favorite bands, and actually Russell (Rush Midnight) is one of my favorite songwriters and by far one of the most talented bass players I have ever encountered. He also was the bassist in my absolute favorite band, Twin Shadow and really helped structure their sound on the first two records, “Forget” is a classic and an album I still reach for to this day. Russell isn’t just a friend but I’m also a huge fan of his work.
Fortunately, I had written some lyrics in my iPhone months ago intended to be a shout out to all of my friends that were DJ’s. I was a little nervous to present them but Najah had already started arranging vocals over the fat, synth drip that Russell composed. Her voice sounded so strong and confident and initially when we recorded the demo she sang well over half the song. I just felt so self conscious and was so disappointed in myself for not contributing more.
“When he dropped that beat though/ I felt like letting go/ I gave it all away/ on the dance floor “ was the original lyric. With Russell’s suggestion we shortened it and it gave the song the hook that it needed. He later teased me with his own version of, “When he dropped that pizza...”which had us all laughing to tears. When he sent us the first version of the demo he called it “Fire Emoji” and I couldn’t have agreed more.
He worked with it a few more times finally coming up with the bouncy house beat that we would use in the final version, but the song definitely went through a lot of changes structurally before he sculpted it into the final track. He basically cut and pasted our vocals together in an aural collage in a way I had never seen done before. Yes, Russ Manning is a genius.
...“You came in hot!”
Working with Qreepz aka Jay Battle to do the vocal take and post production was the easiest 20 minutes of my life. Qreepz is a producer, composer and basically a studio savant! If it has to do with music, he’s on it. Also, he’s the most easy going guy I have ever had the pleasure of being in the studio with. He’s learned in a plethora of genres, from trap to hip hop to alternative to EDM, we talked Deftones, Depeche Mode and Interpol. He’s that fucking cool! He runs his studio out of his warm and comfy home in the Seattle area and he is pretty well obsessed with it, and I’m here for it.
Najah and I came into his studio that chilly evening completely confident, our voices were ready. In fact, I was so overzealous in my delivery that I had belted the first words out from my gut, sending his levels through the roof. “You’re coming in hot!” Qreepz laughed but once he shifted his knobs on the soundboard I proudly nailed it in the second take. Najah’s vocals were so spot on all we could do was listen and smile. Yeah, she killed it without much effort. When we finally heard the mastered version we all knew we had all done something extraordinary.
What I hope you hear when you listen to “I Feel Free” is the pure exuberance of going outside of yourself and feeling the joy of being at one with the music and at peace inside yourself, and that you truly have a chance to let it all go and give it all away.
What Najah Had Said:
It’s hot as I sit in a cute pastel cerulean room, the ice cold water I’m drinking is like nectar as I listen to the beat, my pen and pad heavy and my head fuzzy as I feel the effects of festival hangover convene in my body. Taking a deep breath, I remind myself not to worry or have anxiety, not to give into the intimidation that comes with finally working with a musician who is a friend, but also someone you admire and are in slight awe of - Russell Manning of Rush Midnight and formerly of Twin Shadow. Russell is a friend, amazing bassist, bad ass smooth producer, and bonafide crooner.
I remind myself that I have a message and that it always comes to me if I give it space. And then...it happens! In the quiet cool of my mind. My eyes closed, the beat has embraced my mind... and I hear it. “And when I started to dance / it fell to the floor /and when I started to feel the beat / and move my feet / it all melts away”...This is a sonnet, a proclamation of my love affair with music and how it moves me emotionally and physically. I wanted to capture the dance floor moments. Those moments I forget how my body looks, if my hair is in place, or what I look like and let the music takes over, bringing me elation, peace, and happiness all at the same time.
This version of “I Feel Free” is actually a more cultivated version of the original song we made that was produced by Russell. After putting his magic on it we linked a year plus later with a local studio engineer and beat king Qreepz aka Jay Battle. Battle made our studio time fun, like we had been at it for years. There was an intimate camaraderie and we knew that we had found the right place and the right person to help us give “I Feel Free” the GLOSS that it needed.
When it was all said and done we all knew that we had made something special and we are so excited to share this magic with you.