Listen up, because this blog is a true story based on my own experiences. For any musicians or artists reading this who are creating and writing their own music, this is a tale of woe that I hope you take note of.
If you haven’t used a virtual musician yet to remotely record parts for your song, then hopefully this story will spur you on to make it happen and order your live drum tracks with one of our drummers today…
A few years ago long before Kollab was born, I was releasing EDM and house tracks as an artist. I had a small publishing contract and even a record deal at one point, and at times I was getting lots of requests to get tracks out quickly.
Most of the releases I was working on fell into the long forgotten nu-disco genre. Who remembers nu-disco? Not many people probably, as this hybrid of house, disco, electro and a sprinkling of funk never quite gained enough momentum or substance to really last. Still, it was fun at the time…
An opportunity arose to remix a song by one of my favourite old school funk/disco bands, Kool and the Gang. Naturally, I jumped at the chance, and couldn’t wait to get to work on this, and even though it was one of their lesser known songs (‘Misled’, in case you were wondering), myself and my writing partner got stuck in, adding glossy synths, fat Moog inspired bass-lines and all the other good stuff that came with a nu disco remix.
For the beat, we wanted to use something different from the nu disco drum loop pack we had been generously applying to everything else. I wish I had considered live drum tracks but remote recording was, at the time, a costly and frustrating process.
Although the loops I’d purchased were decent quality, they lacked any individuality, and with only a handful of reputable loops website around at the time you were sure to hear the same drum loops appearing everywhere.
Worse still, the very notion of loops encourages laziness in arrangements – most people who used the loops (myself included I am sorry to say) neglected to edit the loops enough to make them their own, and there’s nothing worse than hearing a loop or sample you’ve used on someone else’s joint.
We ended up finding a sample that was a really, fat beat that just annihilated any drums we had used before. It sounded huge, and had a natural swing that we didn’t get with the other loops. In hindsight, this beat had probably been played in by a live session drummer, as opposed to programmed. Although it was subtle, it made all the difference and the track sounded great for it.
After spending a good three months working tirelessly on the track, we sent it to the label for approval. We knew that it was a banger, but then came the bad news that unfortunately the sample we had used was copyrighted (unbeknown to us). This was not only a blow to us from a professional point of view, but by the time the label got this information back to us the deadline had gone and we had no time or chance to re-work this.
So what is the moral of this story? To check that a sample you use isn’t copyrighted? Nope. What I took away from this the most was the difference a live drummer can make to a track. Even in a genre such as dance music, where it’s expected to hear programmed drums, live session drummers are becoming more and more common. You can see this trend continuing with many big dance acts such as Nero and Rudimental gigging with live bands as opposed to DJ sets.
There is simply no substitute for a human, or virtual musician, who can listen to your track, interpret it and play a track for you that has real emotion attached. After my Kool and the Gang disaster I started employing drummers to record live drum tracks for my music, and it made all the difference.
Of course, it was a lot more hassle even a few short years ago to get a session drummer to record live drums for you, which is part of the reason we started Kollab in the first place.
Take our advice and consider live drum tracks for your music – for recommendations on some of our top players who are available right now get in contact and take advantage of our free personal recommend service.