Production memo 2 / A Liking Song

Production memo 2 / A Liking Song

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Composed by Jani Lehto

Lyrics: Jani Lehto

Arranged and produced by Jani Lehto & Pekka Tuppurainen

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Markus Perttula: Vocals

Jani Lehto: Acoustic guitar, banjo mandolin, piano, synthesizers and glockenspiel

Pekka Tuppurainen: Electric guitars, electric bass, marching bass drum and glockenspiel

Ville Pynssi: drums

Laura Turpeinen : Viola (pizzicato)

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Background

The forming of Sans Parade was Jani’s and Markus’s initiative, but the outcome has developed to be more “shared”: already 8 musicians have contributed their skills to the project. Jani and Pekka have worked together since 1999 and one of the acts was semi-successful Déclassé (formed and led by Jani and Juha Virta) – a group that can’t be dismissed when describing Sans Parade’s evolving. Liking Song was originally meant for Déclassé, but as the circumstances changed the song ended up for Sans Parade instead. The “Déclassé-sound”, consisting of soaring and dominant synthesizers, is clearly apparent in Jani’s first demo:

Production phase 1

Vice versa as with Sans Parade, the Déclassé productions did not cause so much openly heavy discussions between the participants: all the members were (and are) keen on for example Pet Shop Boys’ and Depeche Mode’s music – a fact quite apparent when listening to the albums of Déclassé. But with Sans Parade the budding electronic influence of those groups can’t be too clearly audible. Usually this causes some flaming discussions between Jani and Pekka: Pekka would like to hear more synthesizers and Jani would like to hear even more acoustic instruments. Actually a strange issue because Jani is more experienced and associated with electronic music production (and instrumentation) and Pekka with acoustic music production (and instrumentation) instead. Markus is a very talented songwriter and a hell of a singer. His role keeps him mostly out of these tense discussions, not least because of the fact of that his takes require the least of editing (because of the high quality he delivers). So: even though creating the most demanding and important part of the production(s), it could be said that Markus goes in and out from the studio (almost) in a blink of an eye. Jani and Pekka stay and twist the arm more often instead.

Jani produced the charming Liking Song on his own, continuing the production in “Déclassé-style”. Both the melody and lyrics of the chorus were remade to have a more positive feeling, which brought some pop catchiness into this song. Then Jani recorded new vocals with Markus. The drums had been already recorded in Helsinki with Ville (on top of the first demo). The newly produced audible outcome, with Markus’s fresh vocals, was a combination of Déclassé’s and Sans Parade’s soundscapes:

Production phase 2

But for once everybody agreed that the song, now rich in fine production details and great sounds, was still somehow sounding too indeterminate: the instrumentation was left in between of the two groups and the result did not sound actually like anything particularly. Jani took a different approach and recorded techno-inspired and constantly beating quarter note chord rhythm with a largely out of tune piano. This changed the piece’s atmosphere totally and hereby also the original drum recordings were shelved. Jani had also intensified the chorus’ with a rhythmic glockenspiel-sequence (adapting the vocal melody’s notes) and added an electric guitar to the verses:

Production phase 3

Pekka arrived for a complementary recording session and got the idea of adding a Jónsi-inspired bass drum stomp to the song. They recorded acoustic bass drum hits from a close distance (played with a soft mallet) and then also overdubbed the digital glockenspiel-sequence with four different acoustic glockenspiels and a vibraphone. These four glockenspiels give the arrangement the childish quality that suits perfectly with the openness of the lyrics. The production was now sounding heavy and stiff: several instruments were emphasizing the same things and we needed to clear up the arrangement. When trimming the thick harmonies they shelved most of the synth-sequences and cut away the existing electric guitars. Instead of the electric guitar, they added an acoustic guitar rhythm on top of the piano rhythm. But still the result gave an impression that something was missing.

Then Pekka played this one tone electric guitar melody by controlling the pitch (portamento) with a vintage pitch shifter-delay and Jani adjusted the knobs at the mixing desk simultaneously. The resulting melodic guitar line consisted of:

  1. Ascending perfect octave (from C#1 to C#2)
  2. Then descending perfect fourth (to G#1)
  3. Finally descending a perfect fifth back to the ground tone of the key (= C#1).

This melodic line proved to be well-related and functional second voice to the vocal melody and appears in the intro and during all the chorus’. The sound also worked in connection with Markus’s voice: this had to be executed cautiously, as the vocals and the guitar were now constantly overlapping each other at the same pitch register (in the chorus). One more accompanying guitar-take (this time in relation to the melody in the verses), few banjo mandolin accents and the whole sounded much better already. As the original drum takes were shelved, Jani and Ville then recorded new drum takes during the last drum recording session in Espoo. This is how the last demo version sounded, before we made the album version (which is better…):