Published February 15, 2022
Do you think your music should sound better?
In this episode:
Saphia shares the story of her song "Long Road Home"
The songwriting stages and the people involved
Saph's arrangement tips and tricks
About the studio, Saph and her team built for the recording of the song
How the song changed in Mixing and Mastering
Why 'Save As...' can save your ass
What Saph learned from the Swedes
Saph's take on the use of Social Media
Listen to Saphia Stone: "Long Road Home" on Apple Music
It would mean the world to me if you'd consider giving this podcast a 5-star review. Thank you!
How to Subscribe, rate and review this podcast (in less than 40 sec)
Contact the podcast host Yarn at mixartist.com.au
Podcast artwork by Tom 'Chubbs' Boundy
#HomeRecording, #Microphones, #MixedByYarnTheMixArtist, #MusicProduction, #MixArtistDotComDotAu, #Mixing, #ProductionTalkPodcast, #Podcast, #PodcastProduction, #ProductionTalk, #Recording, #RodeMicrophones, #SelfProducingMusician, #SoundEngineering, #SaphiaStone, #Audio_Girl, #WomenInAudio, #SaphiaSmereka
Disclaimer: The Production Talk Podcast is independent of (and not related to) my teaching responsibilities at SAE.
Transcript (auto-generated by a robot - please forgive the occasional error):
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Welcome to the Production Talk podcast with me, Yarn, of mixartists.com.au. In this podcast series, we celebrate the modern way of producing music. We want to talk about all things related to songwriting, recording at home and music production. So, if you produce your music at home, this is the place to be.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Please subscribe and recommend this podcast to all your friends.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: This is the production talk podcast episode 29.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Welcome back to another episode of the production talk podcast. Before we begin. I'd like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land that the following conversation is recorded on the Arakwal people of the Bundjalung nation and pay my respects to elders past and present. Today in this episode, I'm a very glad to introduce my friend Saphia Stone, who I've known for many years and who I mixed a song for and not too long ago.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Saphia is an amazing multi-instrumentalist. She plays the drums, she plays guitar and she sings. She's an amazing songwriter. And, uh, I'm just very happy to. Talk about this one song in a bit more length. So today we're going to speak about the story of the song, where it started, how it came together. And then in the week after we're going to look a little bit further into the mastering process.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So let's cut straight to the good stuff. Here is my interview with a Saphia. Welcome. And thank you so much for making time today to, to speak to me. And, uh, I'd first like to hear a bit more about yourself. So tell us about your love for music. Some highlights of your career. Introduce yourself, please.
Saphia Stone: Okay. So my name is SAF or it's actually supposed to be Saphia, but no one could ever say that growing up. So most people call me Sophia or Saph. Um, and Yeah.
Saphia Stone: I've always loved music from just at a really young age. I think for me, it was sort of an escape, I think just from the madness of the world, which I became aware of from a young age that the world's a bit of a, or at least it felt a bit mad to me the world.
Saphia Stone: So I think, um, for me, music. Played a good part in being able to escape that, or it sort of made me feel a bit more normal. I think it's something that I could relate to and, um, and just, yeah, it's always been the backdrop to my life. If I'm feeling good. Yeah. Oh bad. I'd always put music on that would reflect that.
Saphia Stone: Um, but usually, yeah, I think I always seem to go for happier music. I think that's always, like, I think you're the same, like reggae and, um, I just sort of really enjoy listening to uplifting music And uh, rather than the love balance or. The more satisfying things. But, um, and so yeah, when I was young, I sort of realized I was quite good at music because my mum put me into music lessons and then very quickly I was able to pick up the instruments better than the people in the class.
Saphia Stone: So they, they actually put me up quite a few years above what I should have been in. And so I sort of realized I can sort of quite good at this. Um,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: old were you?
Saphia Stone: I think. I think it was five when I started playing the recorder, but I don't think that really counts as an
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Oh, well of course it does. Of course it does. That's cool.
Saphia Stone: Not sure about that, but, um, and then I moved on to, I think it was the violin. And then when I was like seven or eight, and then after that, the flu. And, uh, and then I turned 13, I think it was, and I became really interested in like guitar and drums and more sort of like the rock, the rock music and the rock instruments.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Cool. And in addition, you're also an absolutely phenomenal singer,
Saphia Stone: Oh, thanks.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: so you're pretty much an entire band all in one person
Saphia Stone: sort of. yeah,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: sort of. Okay,
Saphia Stone: Um, and the, the singing thing was always, I think I was more shy about singing when I was younger and I that's something I sort of had to really work on And.
Saphia Stone: I'm still working on it to be more confident with my singing and especially. Letting people listen to my singing and singing in front of people.
Saphia Stone: I think that's still something still working on, but, uh, yeah. Put me on a drum kit. I'll play for a million people. No problem. But, uh, I've always found singing quite, um, a vulnerable sort of thing to do.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: It definitely is, but isn't that also the beauty of it.
Saphia Stone: It is, it. is also the beauty. Yeah. But so that's why, Yeah.
Saphia Stone: I'm 36 now. I finally got the courage to release some of my singing music. So that's a bit of a late bloomer there.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Great. Great. And, uh, did you join bands as a teenager? What's what's your musical career like?
Saphia Stone: Yeah, I was. So when I was 16, I had like?
Saphia Stone: a girl band with, um, two of my friends. I think one of them, you actually know Niari she's Decklin Kelly's sister. And she was the drummer in the band. And I sang with, um, another girl and played bass as well. And, uh, we were called gyprock and we had a bit of a, a run there and,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: That's hilarious.
Saphia Stone: So we supplied all the pubs in that. Um, and then I applied in a reggae band called the front with some pretty awesome reggae musicians. That was when I was, uh, I think 21. And, um, and then I just decided I wanted to travel the world and I didn't really want to do anything too much specifically. And I just sort of played music where I could, you know, if that was busking on the street in Hawaii, or just getting up at an open mic night, like in Mexico or NLA.
Saphia Stone: So, yeah, I just sort of did more like freelance. Um, I guess you could call it. Music busking, if that's I mean, that's what busking really is, but yeah. That's yeah, yeah,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: that's really cool. That's really cool. And you also have a significant background in music production. Um, you work in studios in Sydney, is that right?
Saphia Stone: yeah. Yeah. So I first
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: you tell us a little more?
Saphia Stone: for sure. Yeah, so I did my that's how we met, I did my bachelor. Of audio there at SAE and that, yeah, that led to some great jobs. I think the best being the job I got at Forbes street studios in Sydney, which is connected to universal music. So I suddenly, I was, you know, like in a studio with some really big acts like tiger.
Saphia Stone: Um, the guys from NXS, um, Sean Kingston, just, you know, amazing universal artists were coming through. So it felt like a fish, a fish out of water. Um, yeah. And, uh, but that was
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: don't we all,
Saphia Stone: I hope, so
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: occasionally, occasionally.
Saphia Stone: too. We all feel that way. That's good. But yeah. So I think that was, um, the first time I actually felt like, wow, No, I'm actually a proper sound engineer or producer, I should say.
Saphia Stone: Cause I think the, the word engineer, I always imagine someone, you know, who can actually like you, who can actually fix desks and knows what they're doing with electronics. But, um, at least a producer I can say I can definitely do that.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: My kids would call that a nerd or geek.
Saphia Stone: That's
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Good. Just recently you released your song, um, long road home, and I'd love to hear a bit more about the story of this song. How long ago did you write the song?
Saphia Stone: the song was written about, um, three or four years ago. And I didn't actually write the original version of it. It was, um, written by my friend, Scott, who. Mr work in radio and he sort of like late forties and he wrote this amazing song, which I just thought. So, well, like a lot of older women's experience in life, um, like looking for love and not having quite found it yet and wondering, you know, is this gonna happen for me?
Saphia Stone: And, um, so when he showed me the just the lyrics he'd written and he showed me the lyrics and I thought this is such a great song?
Saphia Stone: you know, like this encapsulates my experience better than I could have written it. So I decided like I ended up changing some of the lyrics and we put, um, You know, I, I came up with a melody for it and he put some chords to it and we both love blues.
Saphia Stone: So we decided to make it a bit of a blues, your sound. And, uh, yeah, so I didn't write it myself. I co-wrote it with this guy called Scott Muller. And, um, yeah, that's how it came about. But it's funny cause this, this guy can just write songs that it's almost like he is a woman somehow the way he, they can get into the mind of, um, Of how women feel and think so.
Saphia Stone: Yeah, I think I might try and write some more songs with him. Cause it's nice when you meet someone who can sort of sum up how you feel and think better than, than you can, and you can just sort of rearrange it and add on it.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Well, okay. It's a really touching song so I can, can relate to that. Um, tell me how the song has changed over the years. You know, when we, if we went back, let's say four years, when you wrote it was the song of a different structure, what was different back then and how has it progressed? How has it evolved?
Saphia Stone: Yeah, well, the song, uh, once we recorded it, it pretty much has stayed the same. Um, since then, and I didn't do much with it cause I didn't think it was that great. But then when you actually were offering your free test mixes, I thought, you know what? I want to see what the song would sound like with a professional, uh, mix, uh, doing it.
Saphia Stone: And then when you sent it back, Uh, it was the first time I actually really heard the song as being great. And then that's what gave me confidence to sort of think maybe this actually could be a release. And, uh, so yeah, you, you really played an integral part cause otherwise I think I would have just kept it there in my iTunes library and not done too much with it.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Oh, thank
Saphia Stone: Yeah.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Well, that's really good. That's really good. Um, so you're saying that the song is basically still the same version as it was right at the beginning. When you wrote it.
Saphia Stone: Yeah.
Saphia Stone: So the song itself has really stayed the same. I think it's just more of the, the elements of the mixing and the mastering that has actually brought the song alive. Um, other than that, The, yeah, the songs pretty much stayed the same. Um,
Saphia Stone: just cause I think there's definitely things listening back to it.
Saphia Stone: I'd love to, to add in like a, you know, an organ and, and add an like a few ad-libs to the vocals, but. I just think, and I think again, you actually taught me this, like, sometimes it's just good to leave a song and just put it out there because you could spend your whole life changing things and trying to get it perfect.
Saphia Stone: And then. An obstacle to you actually just putting it out there. Like sometimes it's just better to put it out there and then move on and work on a new song. And so I think, yeah, that, that was actually you, that gave me that pep talk there on the beach, on the park
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: little nudge.
Saphia Stone: And you're like, just put it out there.
Saphia Stone: Um, which I actually, I needed someone to tell me that cause otherwise I'd probably, would've been like. It's not perfect yet. Maybe I'll just wait until I find an organ player and then I can release it. So that thank you for the advice. Cause that actually, that was the thing that gave me the push to, to put it out
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay. Yeah, that's really good. And when you wrote the song, were you fully clear about the instrumentation that you have the full, you know, arrangement and instrumentation already in your mind? I guess you probably just started with guitar and vocals or something.
Saphia Stone: yeah, yeah.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: know, you added additional instruments?
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Uh,
Saphia Stone: The song
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: how did that come to play?
Saphia Stone: Okay. So, um, yeah, the song was pretty much already done as far as the guitar and vocals was concerned. And, uh, at the time I had a recording studio in Surrey Hills with, um, with Declan Kelly who I know, you know, and, uh, this other sound engineer called drew Bessette. And, um, so I said to Scott, like, let's just go and record it and see what we come up with.
Saphia Stone: Um, we actually use. We didn't record live drums. I'm not sure if I told you that, but, um, there's these awesome, like drum loops, you can download off the internet and they've been recorded by like the best dramas and the best studios with the best audio equipment. So we found like a drum loop and beat and sort of made it that we liked it.
Saphia Stone: And then we just started to track the guitars and did like a guide vocal so that we could lay everything down. And yeah, there wasn't really much plan to wait. We just sort of played around with. Even just the microphone positions and recording techniques. And, um, some of the vocals I sort of added later, uh, like the ones in the bridge, I think the ooze that sort of both with the Nice.
Saphia Stone: effects that have been put on it and the things that you added, it's sort of, you're not quite sure if it's a vocal or like, what exactly is that effect?
Saphia Stone: Um, that all just sort of came about, just like, yeah. Playing around in the studio and. Uh, recording stuff and seeing how it sounded. So I think, um, I think that's the beauty of being the producer and recorder of your own song and having your own studio is that you can afford to just mess around and take time to just be like, what does it sound like if I do this, um,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So w when you say you, you had your own studio where you recorded, how can we visualize that? Was that like a professionally fitted studio? Was that a home studio or a rehearsal room, or describe the environment in which the song was recorded?
Saphia Stone: Okay.
Saphia Stone: So yeah, I'd say it's a, so it's called, it's actually still going then Sydney and sorry. Hills is called the nest and yeah, Declan and drew still have it. I think someone replaced my third share of it, but I would say it's sort of like halfway between. Professional recording studio and a home studio.
Saphia Stone: Uh, so we actually, we got most of the materials to build it from like upcycling, like recycling stores and reverse garbage and things like that. You used all that to make the sound absorbers and the, the acoustic panels. So that was pretty cool. Um, and then we just all sort of collectively threw in all the audio gay we had, um, which was actually pretty good that we could use each other's stuff.
Saphia Stone: And, uh, together we sort of had quite a nice collection of microphones and audio preamps. And, um, we had a bit of a, not like an old console that I think no one used, but it looked cool. yeah, I'd say it was, um, Some way between a home studio and a professional studio,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Cool. And you were basically involved in patching it all together and making good work and building the acoustic
Saphia Stone: I think more the stapling of the material onto the sound panels and, uh, painting the walls and shopping for the materials and stuff like that. Um, patching I would love to learn, but I think. I might need to take an another course for that one. still don't understand it.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah, you need to geek for that.
Saphia Stone: Yeah. Yeah. Maybe that's what I need to find a geeky boyfriend, if there's any, any geeks out there, it was single, which I think most of them are, but, uh, um,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay. And, um, okay. And then you started with the drum loops. So did you work in, uh, in a DAW, I guess?
Saphia Stone: Yeah. So as I was working to, so my MacBook pro and logic pro X, and the reason I love to record and logic rather than pro tools is I just find the ability to sort of copy and paste and, uh, you know, time stretch and all those sort of things. It just feels very intuitive to me. So yeah, we just recorded straight, straight into that.
Saphia Stone: And same with the, uh, the drums. I just sort of copied and pasted bits I liked and made it. So it sounded like there was a real drama there
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Fantastic. Nice. Nice. Yeah. Well, logic is super capable. I love my logic, you know, it's it's, it's absolutely phenomenal.
Saphia Stone: It's great. I think once you go to logic, it's sort of hard to go back to protocols. That's at least what I've experienced in talking to people. Would you say that's true?
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Oh, look, you know, I love all of them, you know, they're all good for certain things and you know, not so good for others. And it's, for me, it's all about using the software to their strength.
Saphia Stone: Yeah.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So I don't mix in only one DAW. I just literally choose it according to the problem in front of me. And find the best, best tool for it.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So, you know, nobody really cares how we recorded or what software we use and, you know, once the song is out, that's completely irrelevant. So whatever feels right for you is, is the right tool, I guess.
Saphia Stone: That's very true. Yeah.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Um, okay. And, um, we haven't really spoken about the base yet.
Saphia Stone: So the base, uh, Scott actually played the bass on this one cause he's a phenomenal blues guitarist and, um, he actually can't play. But he just sort of,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: right, Riley.
Saphia Stone: Yeah.
Saphia Stone: it was because he knew his guitar chords, so well, he was like, oh, let me see if I can come up with a baseline. And it just sort of like nailed it the first time. And it was perfect for the song because it wasn't too much. And it just sort of sits in the background. And, um, I liked the fact that it wasn't.
Saphia Stone: Perhaps if I had actually got like a proper bass player to come, they would have played too much. Um, so I sort of liked the fact that he wasn't a bass player and therefore he wasn't sort of, um, doing too much, although I guess any good bass player would also do the same thing. It's like good drummers, you know, good drummers know that less is more and the less you sort of stand out with your instrument on the track.
Saphia Stone: Um, actually, I was just talking to a while back to terrify about that. And he was, they were saying, you know, if, um, if people, if he does a gig and people say, you know, all the drumming was really great. I love to drumming. He actually thinks to himself, I didn't do a good gig tonight because the best compliment you can get is if people say, Oh, wow.
Saphia Stone: the music was great because that means he did his job properly.
Saphia Stone: He made the, the musician sound good rather than trying to be like, look what a great drummer I am. So I think,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah. Yeah, I got
Saphia Stone: yes, I really liked that concept of, you know, trying to, um, if you're playing, I think especially instruments is trying to make the other musician sound good rather than thinking. Do I sound good or, you know, how good am I going to come across with my instrument?
Saphia Stone: So I think, um, yeah, I like that concept. And I think I try to, I try to do that a bit, uh, with my playing. Yeah.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Oh, that's that's really wise.
Saphia Stone: Yeah.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah, it makes perfect sense to me. Great. So, okay. And then you have the drum loops and you know, the bass and the guitars and you set that was recorded to guide vocal. What was that right?
Saphia Stone: Just to we guide.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: At the end of it after you recorded all the instruments, you just check that and replace the vocals.
Saphia Stone: Yes. I think I did a guide vocal and then. Sort of like the rhythm guitars. And then I did like a proper vocal take so that the lead guitar could sort of bounce off the vocal because there is always sort of that, that sort of call and response, I think that happens a bit with the vocalist and the lead guitarist. Uh, yeah.
Saphia Stone: So, and if I had to use the guide vocal than I guess the guitar player couldn't, uh, You know, have really gone off if he doesn't some crazy lick. And then I ended up doing like a different vocal take, it's not going to really work. So, Yeah.
Saphia Stone: So we did the final vocal take and then we sort of added on all the extra league topics.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Fantastic. So you, you sort of recorded the foundation first and then the vocals, and then you edit the extra bits around it. Is that right? That is such a smart workflow. I like that a lot. I actually do that myself when I, when a recorded, which I don't do that much anymore, but you know, that's, that's a really good concept.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: I like that. I like that. Nice.
Saphia Stone: you.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Nice one. And, um, what stage did you know that everything was recorded? You know, did you go through a process where you were rethinking about your performances or were you recording things maybe? Or were you just happy straight away and knew that's it.
Saphia Stone: Um, I think I was never happy with anything really. Um, except for all the bits that I wasn't doing. I loved the guitars and, and the bass and the drums. Um, but yeah, I think it's a bit of that. Um, I'm not sure if it happens to all musicians and singers, but I pretty much hate everything I do. So I think, um, I just recorded lots and then chose the bits that I didn't have.
Saphia Stone: As much, that's it.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Well, you're very critical with yourself.
Saphia Stone: I think I apparently it's quite common that a lot of musicians don't like what they, they do, but they also have,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: I know.
Saphia Stone: they also have this urge to put it out there. So it's sort of like a curse. You hate It but you also have to.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: It produced, it can really help to, you know, make decisions on what's not good enough yet and what's ready. And so sometimes another, yeah. Another person can, can make these decisions better.
Saphia Stone: A hundred percent. Yeah.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: always there, but sometimes. Yeah.
Saphia Stone: it produces crucial. I've really come to realize that like as a, the further I've gone along. Cause it's, you do need someone to. I think, uh, put their input in and yeah. To encourage you or to be like, you know, you're right. That's crap. So, definitely. I think, um, most, I think if you look at most successful artists in the world, they have either co-produced with someone or had an amazing producer or they've had amazing songwriters, like, Um,
Saphia Stone: I was just watching something on Netflix the other day about, um, Most of the songs we hear on the radio are all written by the Swedish songwriter, max Moslem.
Saphia Stone: And most of them were actually like recorded and produced, uh, there in Sweden, at his studio. And like, you you'd never know it because they're so humble, the Swedes and they all have, they all, have you heard of it? It's called like gentle login. It's the Sweden.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: I have never heard about that. Please.
Saphia Stone: Uh, okay. So gender log-in is this thing where you're not supposed to like brag about your successes or talk about really anything you've accomplished or how much money you have, all that sort of thing.
Saphia Stone: So really big sort of like Swedish unwritten law. And, uh, so that's why. Yeah, no, one's really heard of max Martin. Who's pretty, he wrote everything from like hit me, baby. One more time. Brittany Spears to like all the Taylor swift Ariana Grande's songs that we hear on the radio. He's been involved in all of that.
Saphia Stone: And, but because of gender Lagan, he just keeps very humble, very low key, but I think that's why people, um, Enjoy working with him as Well,
Saphia Stone: Cause they sort of get all the credit, um, that, so where was I going with that? I've lost my train of thought. Um,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: That's cool.
Saphia Stone: but yeah, producers are very
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: That's a great
Saphia Stone: Yeah. Yeah.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Cool. Look, you know, producer can be very hung hands-on and very involved or could be just, you know, somebody who just offers a second opinion every once in a while, you know, there's, everything is possible.
Saphia Stone: That's true. Yeah.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: getting a second opinion from, from other people is always a good idea.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: I reckon. I know that's, that's a really good idea from the right people, of course say, um, before you send the, the song or for mixing, um, was there much editing necessary? Did you spend, you know, hours cross fading and you know, moving little snippets and notes around.
Saphia Stone: Yeah.
Saphia Stone: Like not too much. I think I wanted to, especially with the vocal, just keep it quite raw. Um, so I think the, the editing was more a creative element rather than I want it to sort of keep it quite close to the original recording.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yep. Yeah. Nice. That makes perfect sense. I, I guess, you know, in some ways the, the degree of editing or the time spent editing already, um, sets the, the production and in some ways, you know, it's can make it really polished or natural and earthy.
Saphia Stone: Yeah. Definitely.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: I find that long editing sessions can be very, soul-destroying very tiring, very boring.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Uh, I, I don't enjoy, you know, spending a day just editing Thomas or something like this. That's a, um,
Saphia Stone: Yes.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah,
Saphia Stone: drive.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: it's painful. It's so painful. Yeah, I can do it, but I don't enjoy it at all. And it's not always better because you know, things have been edited to death.
Saphia Stone: Exactly. I remember you telling us that story about we'd spent all night, um, editing something and you, because you are such an audio, uh, I don't wanna say nerd, but you're.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Oh, yeah, you can say that. That's fine. I'm good with that.
Saphia Stone: Cause it's such an audio nerd. You timed the editing mark is to the time signature or something that you you'd done some mathematical equation, uh, in line with the mixing. And then you went to bed being like, I'm a genius. This sounds awesome. And then you listen back in the morning with fresh ears and then you're like, oh, I've just wasted a day of my life because it sounds terrible.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: what have I done? Look, that sounds like something I would have done in an earlier life when I was younger. Yes. Yes. Look, I think I learned a lot along the way and I probably learned when to stop and when it's enough, then I had to learn it the hard way. Yes. Yes. I've, I've overdone it more than once and had to backpedal and, you know, go back to an earlier.
Saphia Stone: a hundred percent.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: what I, what I do religiously, whenever I produce is, uh, every once in a while, whenever I accomplish a certain production step, I make a save as version of the session. So, you know, I, I record something and call it, you know, recording session. And then once that's done, it goes into editing. And then once that's done, it goes into mixing or whatever.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And there's always a save in between so that I can go back in case I find myself steering in the wrong direction, which. In all honesty has saved me more than once. I've taken a bad turns and production many times, and it's just really good to have a little library of, you know, previous versions of, of the production to, to fall back onto and say, okay, last day needs to go in the bin.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Let's go back a step. That can be really good. All it takes is a little save ans
Saphia Stone: that's it? yes. I think that the save as has saved many people, I think,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: yes. Yes. That is so true.
Saphia Stone: yeah. The savers has saved many people. I think we all have a tendency to, to over edit and over mix. And usually the earlier ones are quite often the better ones. I.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Mm.
Saphia Stone: as well,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah. Some people say that, uh, the rough mix always sounds the best, which is sometimes true. Not always, but that's, that's also because it's not, it's spontaneous. It's just what happened in the moment. And it's, there's no time for overthinking and, you know, overthinking, I believe, is this a big problem in music production and, you know, with all the technology that we have.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: It's sometimes steers at that as that way, I think, you know, so it's a good reminder to not overthink and just, if it's good, that's leave it. Leave it alone. Record.
Saphia Stone: I agree, I think. Yeah. Yeah.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So tell me more about arranging a song. What makes a good arrangement in a song? How do you know that an arrangement works? Or when do you know that arrangement needs, you know, a bit of refinement? What, what do you look for when you ride songs in, in arrangement?
Saphia Stone: an arrangement. That's a good question. I think that's something I'm still learning about more. Um, I tend to follow the. The generic sort of, you know, I think everyone would like to write a hit song or unless you're just putting music out there that, um, doesn't follow any sort of format, like a, you know, the Bohemian Rhapsody sort of example.
Saphia Stone: Um, I think, yeah, mostly. Most arrangements, I would just like, wait, it's going to do whatever we want would put it out there. But I think, yeah, my songs do sort of tend to follow that hit song arrangement of, you know, Pre chorus, chorus verse pre-chorus chorus, bridge, chorus, chorus. And I think people do that because it works and it seems to be satisfying to listen to and for the brain.
Saphia Stone: And, uh, and generally not longer than three minutes seems to be, although now with all, you know, everyone having add because of Instagram and things, I think as long as they're actually getting shorter, I've noticed people like listened to like. Maybe like a minute and a half of songs. I think songs are actually going to, I think we'll start seeing that songs are becoming, um, shorter now and even like on, you know, talking and these, these apps that, you know, if it's, if it's longer than a minute, you can't even post it.
Saphia Stone: So I think, um, I'm curious to know how that's going to actually affect song arrangement and song time length, but yeah, in
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: that's a really good thought. Hmm.
Saphia Stone: Yeah. Yeah. I think everything's changing, but I think, yeah, arrangement, I just sort of follow the pretty standard generic formula. And as long as I think the emotion comes across well, and it's somewhat creative, I think that's sort of what I'm going.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Okay. And, um, what about the instrumentation? You know, when you write a song, how do you intuitively know that this song needs, I dunno, you know, grungy, a guitar or a more open courts or finger-picking or organs do, where does that come from? What do you experiment a lot? Do you just try different things and see what works?
Saphia Stone: Yeah,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: How do you come up with a good instrumentation?
Saphia Stone: From Bates all over like a philosophical question, I think, because
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah, definitely.
Saphia Stone: where does it come from? You know, often I think a lot of musicians are sort of channeling when they just, you know, pick up a guitar and start playing and something comes out and they say, you know, every guitar has a song.
Saphia Stone: If you pick up a new guitar, playing a song, you'll read that come from. Um, and I think same with music often. Music. I hear things like if someone's playing some chords, I'll hear like a melody or hear a call sort of guitar pick. And, um, and same with dreams. Like I've often heard my songs completely rearranged and with extra instrumentation in my dreams.
Saphia Stone: And I wish I could record my dreams because yeah, I think currently it's quite a common phenomenon that people do. He has songs and, um, and he, they songs and they dreams a bit different or with changes and, um, yeah, I wish there was a dream recorder that we could record our dreams. Cause the songs in my dreams were amazing. So yeah.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: that sounds like something you should invent and make millions.
Saphia Stone: know. I might need your help with that though. Um, cause uh, I
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: wouldn't know where to start. No idea, but well, you know,
Saphia Stone: Yeah. So, Yeah So where does it come from? I'm not really sure. I guess it comes from, um, just the creative, the zone or the, um, some sort of a brainwave frequency. I'm not, I'm not really sure on that. What, what would you say the answer is to that one?
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: about the instrumentation
Saphia Stone: Yeah. Like where does it come from?
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: well, I'm just curious. I think everybody's got a different answer there and, uh, it's just, you know, Find out more about, you know, your thoughts, but, um, look, I don't think there's any wrong or right. It either works or it doesn't. And if it doesn't, you know, gotta do something about it and change it.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: But, um,
Saphia Stone: that's true. yeah,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: yeah, look, you know, workflows are always just a tool and it's certain workflow might fit one person, but might be super inappropriate for somebody else. So it's, it's okay to have different workflows and some people just know it instantly and others need to try everything first before they know.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: There's there's really no wrong or right. You know, as long as you get to the, to a good outcome, I reckon.
Saphia Stone: Yeah. definitely.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah. Good. So, and you know, in the timeline of, of, uh, the production of the song, eventually you got to the point where you, um, passed it on to, to a mastering engineer. I'm very curious to find out more about your thoughts.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: How did the song change when it went through mastering.
Saphia Stone: Yeah. So I think the. The biggest elements I noticed from the mastering is it just sort of sounded finished and polished. And I also was able to hear what you had done on the mics a lot better and the sort of intricate elements and the textures that you had added in which I could hear, but then suddenly it popped.
Saphia Stone: And, um, and then another really big thing is. You know, it's, um, it's radio friendly and it's at the right decibel for, for Spotify playlist. Um, cause I can't remember exactly. Is it 12 or this is testing my memory now. I think it has to be, is it minus 12 DB to go on? No, no, forgot. But maybe you can tell me, um, Yeah. to go onto Spotify and all these playlists that it does have to be at a certain.
Saphia Stone: Uh, decibel frequency, which I've completely forgotten what it is somewhere between 12 and 14.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Yeah, look, the industry actually doesn't agree on anything yet and all that's the problem. The different players use different reference levels for the loudness normalization and, um, Spotify used to be, um, different than all the other services. And eventually. Not that long ago, maybe a year ago, somebody please correct me if I'm wrong with that.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: But they changed their internal measurements to loudness units or L U F S as it's called, which is the modern more modern method of measuring loudness and therefore fell in line with the rest of the industry or followed up or finally followed suit with what everybody else was doing. But the level at which they normalize volume is.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Standardized across the platform. So what apple does is different to what Spotify does and that's different again, to what YouTube does. So there's no simple answer there,
Saphia Stone: Okay.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: the good news is that because loudness is normalized on the playback devices, we don't really need to. Think about it too much. We shouldn't see this as a target that we must fulfill.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Now, I would always recommend to just use the dynamic range for a song that suits the song and for an EDM, uh, high energy, uh, techno song that will be very different than, you know, a film score or definitely a song or what have you. And each song has their different needs. And that's the beauty of it. We can just mix and master.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: For the song for what the song really needs. And if that then B ends up louder or quieter than everything else, the loudest normalization will just balance that out later.
Saphia Stone: Right.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: that's the advantage. We shouldn't see this as a target that we must fulfill, although some people say so, but in my personal opinion, I believe it's it's.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Just do whatever it takes to make the song good.
Saphia Stone: Yes and
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Th that's that's really what it is, you know? And, um, yeah. And then loudness, normalization will take care of the rest, basically.
Saphia Stone: right. Yeah, I like that. And I think that shows you are a true. Uh, artists, mixer and engineer, because most people just try to get these songs on onto Spotify or wherever as loud as possible. And, uh, and there, there has been a big thing about some people having their songs louder than others, um, through various means.
Saphia Stone: So I think that the normalization doesn't.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: really happens these days is the louder. You make it on the, in the production, the more they turn it down and Spotify that's effectively
Saphia Stone: Yeah.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: happens. And there's not much to be won because you know, with high loudness comes negative side effects and they remain, even if they're turning it back down on the other end.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So, um, I think that we live at a time. Judging mastering just by loudness and to making the loudness the measure of how good it is. That's, that's a bit of a foolish thing. That's a thing of the past and it didn't serve the industry well. So instead, just, you know, close your eyes and ask yourself, do I enjoy the song?
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Does it sound natural? Does it sound the way it's I intended it and that's the best question to answer. And it's a good time to be, you know, that's, that's the beauty of our time. And I think that. Well, that's a, what was shaped the sound of, of this decade? I hope it is.
Saphia Stone: Bring back that dynamic
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: people going back to, yeah. Bring back a touch with dynamic range.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: You know, other dynamic range needed for each song. You know, some songs don't need much dynamic range and they just don't want to be loud, start to finish and that's fine. And there's nothing wrong about that.
Saphia Stone: that's true.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Whatever suits the song, I guess. Yeah. I know. It's really hard to get a black and white. Yes, no answer for me.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: I never do that or very rarely. Good. Nice one. Look. I have another interview with the mastering engineer of your song. So which will then air next week. So a little preview here, and we will talk about master mainly, but we will probably steer back to your song as well to some degrees. So maybe we'll hear some more secrets about what was done in the next episode next week.
Saphia Stone: Awesome. I'm
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So.
Saphia Stone: that.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: If you don't mind, I'd like to change the subject a little bit. Um, I know it's so much effort that goes into the writing and performance and recording and editing and mixing and mastering of a song. But that's actually only one half of the entire picture, you know, once you get it back from mastering, that's actually, when the walk starts, you know, now you need to get it out there and publish it.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And that's not good enough either. You need to do not bang the drum and make some noise and draw some attention to the song and promote the song. And that usually happens through social media and. Um, by my observation, you are very out there on social media. You're very outspoken, very omnipresent in many ways.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: So what are your secrets? What, what, what needs to be done once a song is out now? How can one use social media effectively to draw attention to, to, to music?
Saphia Stone: That's a very good question and I'm not sure I have the answer to that either. Um,
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Uh, give me your take.
Saphia Stone: uh, well I think, I think that there's two paths you can go down. This is sort of what I've come to realize. Do all that there are these formulas out there, or if you know how to get your music heard and use hashtags and put it, send it to all these different playlists and pay for people to put it on their Instagram pages and various platforms.
Saphia Stone: And there is sort of like that path. I think you can go down. Um, I'm not really sure what path I'm going down. I think I'm just sort of trying to experiment. Uh, with just seeing how far it can get. Organically, um, which isn't going too well. So I think I'm having, I'm going to have to perhaps implement some of these tips and strategies that these are experts are saying to do, uh, which I actually need to do.
Saphia Stone: Cause I haven't put enough time into it, but Yeah.
Saphia Stone: you're right. It's very time consuming. This, this is the part where the real work, I think starts as easy to. So I think write a song and record it and put it out there, but yeah, to actually get it heard, I think is the harder bit. And I think number one, you know, it has to be a good song because I think if it's a good song, it will naturally people will just be like, oh, listen to the song.
Saphia Stone: And have you heard that? And it will, you know, start getting picked up. Uh, so I think that's number one, have a good product. And then, yeah. Number two. I don't know. I think I tend to be. Silly on social media. I like to often just have fun and make funny things. Um, but yeah, I'm not really sure what I'm doing on that, to be honest, but I'm glad that you think it looks
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Just a natural maybe.
Saphia Stone: I'm not sure about that, but I'm glad that it comes across that way to you.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: well, to me it sounds like, or feels like on social media. You're definitely an extrovert. Yeah, no, you're not holding back. There's always something funny happening at always, always something. And I guess that is already a big part of your, of why you are so strong in social media that you're just consistent.
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Putting things out there.
Saphia Stone: Okay. Let's
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: And that just seems to be your, that seems to be just your natural way of, of dealing with, uh, social media. So that's, that's a huge advantage that you have and to play that card is what I'm trying to say. You know, play that card, use that for, for your, for your music as well.
Saphia Stone: Great. I will. I'll keep doing that. I'm glad to hear that. It's sometimes I wonder if, uh, the things I put out are just ridiculous, but it's good to know that, uh, you find it funny and perhaps that's just my way of, I'm sure there's
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Keep it up, keep it
Saphia Stone: Oh, thank you. Thank you. I think we have to be, um, I think social media has become such a strange and sort of weird place now that we almost have to make it a bit funny in some ways, otherwise, uh, I think if you take it too seriously, it's, it's just sort of, it's a creepy, uh, data. Uh, it, you know, if it's, have you seen the thing on Netflix called social justice?
Jan 'Yarn' Muths: Oh, yes, I have. Wow. Yes. Yes. I read, I recommend everybody to check it out. Um, wow. That's deep, deep and scary.
Saphia Stone: Yes. It's very, it's very scary to think that everything you're putting in has just really been collected for data use, uh, so that I can use it against you to sell you stuff and, and knowing how to pitch advertising to you. I think that they're definitely. May a bit creeped out, but, um, Yeah.