August 7, 2017
For this episode, I remixed a track by Bleachers called "Don't Take The Money." Bleachers is the project of Jack Antonoff. He is also a member of the band Fun and has written songs for some pretty big names in pop music including Lorde, Taylor Swift, and Carly Rae Jepsen. His new album, "Gone Now" came out earlier this year.
The remix I did was for a contest put on by indabamusic.com. I was given 13 isolated tracks from the original recordings. The rules were that I had to use at least part of the vocal tracks and I couldn't incorporate samples from other songs for copyright reasons.
I began by trying to program a new beat using a drum machine application in Pro Tools but I wan't satisfied with anything I was coming up with. Typically most remixes are electronic but I decided it was better to play to my strengths and take it different direction by going with a folk rock sound. I ended up keeping the keyboard track and 4 vocals tracks I was given and adding 2 acoustic guitar tracks, 3 electric guitar tracks, bass, organ, 3 cajon tracks, tambourine, and handclaps.
I'm pretty happy with the results. I think the existing vocals fit surprisingly well with the sound and the new instruments keep the song upbeat and high energy.
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July 24, 2017
Today in Utah, we are celebrating Pioneer Day, which marks the day when Brigham Young and Mormon pioneers first arrived in the Salt Lake Valley. To commemorate the occasion, I'm going to share with you a performance from when I was a part of the Men's Chorus at Brigham Young University. This performance took place April 2007 at the LDS General Conference, which is a meeting the church hosts twice a year. The live audience in the building would have been around 21,000 but it's estimated the worldwide audience watching on TV, streaming on the internet and listening on the radio would have been around 2 million so, this is by far the largest audience I've ever performed for.
The name of this piece is "I Love the Lord." It shares the same music as the hymn, "Be Still My Soul." The music was originally written in 1899 by the Finish composer Jean Sibelious as the Finlandia Hymn and has been adapted for many uses including a national anthem and a school song. Our version was arranged by the BYU choral instructor, Ronald Staheli. The words for "I Love the Lord" where written by John Tanner and are adapted from a passage of Mormon scripture known as "The Pslam of Nephi."
I think it's a beautiful piece and sums up my feelings about the gospel better than I ever could.
Visit http://jakehaws.com/ep-56-song-i-love-the-lord-byu-mens-chorus to watch the video of this performance, download a free mp3 of the song and read the passage of scripture the song is based on.
July 17, 2017
For this week's episode, I'm joined by a guest collaborator, film composer and good friend of mine, Micah Dahl Anderson. The topic we randomly drew was "Write a song about a movie that doesn't exist." What you'll hear next is our conversation while writing the song (with the boring parts edited out), the process of recording it, and the finished song at the end.
For the recording, Micah sang lead vocals, played acoustic guitar and drums. I sang harmonies, played bass, organ, and electric guitars.
I'm pretty happy with the results. I think it's a really epic sounding song and collaborating made it better than it would have been on it's own.
Micah's website: micahdahl.com
Download "The Door" on Bandcamp
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July 10, 2017
This week, I'm sharing a live recording from my old band, Declaration. This is from 11 years ago recorded at a club I owned at the time called Muse Music. For this show, we were opening for Neon Trees, who were just starting out at the time and have since gone on to have huge success with several hit records and have toured the world. Listening to again really brings me back. It was a fun show to play. I hope you enjoy it.
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June 26, 2017
This one is an oldie written when I was around 15 years old. I was going for an R.E.M. feel and I think I achieved that with the guitar part, which mimics Peter Buck's picking style.
The intro kind of has a spaghetti western vibe with the tambourine, shakers retro organ and overdrive guitar. The lyrics are about feeling like your life is passing by.
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June 14, 2017
Here's a brand new song I recently submitted to a contest put on by the podcast Song Exploder and a website called Splice. Basically, Splice is a subscription site which contains a large library of samples you can use for your songs. For this contest, I was given a collection of 50 samples and tasked with creating a song using at least 4 of them. If my song is selected, I'll win a one year subscription to Splice, a Song Exploder t-shirt, and have my song featured on both the Song Exploder and Splice websites.
In the spirit of Song Exploder and the Making Music podcast, I thought it would be fun to break down the song a bit and talk about how it was made. I ended using 13 samples for this song but I'll just point out a few of them.
Most of the song revolves around this bassy synth line which I think sounds really cool. Reminds me a little of a Moog synth. The beat I choose was the wrong tempo so I had to speed it up to match the bassy synth. I also added other samples like a piano line, strings, ambient sounds and a buzzy synth.
After I started piecing together some of these basic elements, I came up with a melody and some lyrics. At first, I couldn't decide what the song should be about. I went to website with a song idea generator, clicked the submit button, and got the response "Write a song about your physical condition." This spurred the idea to write a song from the perspective of someone with cancer who is about to die and some of the feelings they might be going through, including trying to find hope in a dismal situation.
I'm please with how the whole thing turned. I'll keep you posted about the contest and let you know if I won.
June 4, 2017
For this week's episode, I was was digging through some of my old tapes and found this instrumental piano piece I wrote back when I was around 14. I believe it might even be the very first thing I ever wrote. I submitted this tape for a school contest called "reflections" and won for my age category. It's not the best quality recording but I think it still captures the mood nicely. I'd love to see it in a movie. I think it would make a great film score. Maybe one of these days, I'll get around to re-recording it on a nice piano with quality microphones but for now, here it is.
Download "Turned Away" on Bandcamp
May 30, 2017
This week marks the 50th Episode for me of doing this podcast. I started it about a year and a half ago and It's been a lot of fun so I'm excited for the many more episodes to come.
This week also happens to be the 50th Anniversary of the Beatles classic album "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," which is regarded by many as one of the greatest albums of all time. To commemorate the occasion, I recorded a stripped down acoustic version of "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds," which is one of my favorites from the album.
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May 22, 2017
Today’s episode is a song from my “50 songs in 50 weeks” series.
This is one of my first songs I ever wrote, written back when I was 14. It's about a time when I went to a school dance and the girl I went with pretty much ignored me the whole time so I was pretty bummed. They said, write what you know, don't they. Come I was I was 14.
I tried to copy a little bit the style of Dave Matthews Band, particularly the song, "Jimi Thing."
I decided to just keep the production sparse and just do an acoustic guitar and a single vocal. Honestly, I'm a little embarrass by this one because it's kind of corny song but I felt like sharing something the represented my early songwriting.
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May 16, 2017
This week, I'm sharing a track called "Elephant In The Room" from my upcoming album, which should be out this fall.
Most of the time when I write songs, I start off by playing something on the guitar or piano, then come up with some sort of melody on top of it, then add lyrics. This song is a little different, in that I had the melody in my head and come up with lyrics before I even picked up a guitar. Then, I kind of figured out what the chords were gonna be after the fact. I think because of this, the melody is a little stronger than some of my other songs.
I always thought the phrase "elephant in the room" was sort of funny expression. The image I get in my head of an actual elephant is sort of cartoony like dumbo or something and I thought it made an interesting phrase for a song. I think most of us can relate to being in awkward situations where people sort of pretend things are normal when they aren't. I also liked the idea of using other phrases that have both a literal image and metaphorical meaning so I say things like "sitting on my hands" and "holding my tongue" and "getting under my skin" - phrases that we say all the time but don't really think about literally but they all kind of fit with the theme.
As I thought more about the arrangement for the studio recording, the Kelly Clarkson song "Since U Been Gone" came to mind. I specially like the guitar strums and drum machine at the beginning and how big and catchy the chorus is.
That was sort of the idolized type of pop arrangement I had in my head. I quickly realized I don't really have the vocal power to pull it off plus the production was a bit outside my usual territory. As worked on it, it sort of morphed into sounding a bit more like Nada Surf.
With those two influences in mind, I think I was able to come up with something fairly catchy that both fit my vocals and stayed true to my sound.
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