GRAY MATTER #2 - Toplines and Such

I hope everyone is gearing down to relax and celebrate a little bit with friends and family.  As I write this post, I am thinking about presents that I need to wrap and ingredients that I need to get for recipes.  I have really grown to love cooking as you can tell by my Instagram feed, but I may like food a little too much that I can’t seem to narrow it down to less than like 10 recipes for each holiday meal…

Switching gears to last week.  I had a show up in Boston on Tuesday that was a lot of fun and then my last show of the year in Macungie PA.  I had never been there before, let alone heard of it, but it was a cool room, filled with people who knew my music as well as a few who didn’t.  I love playing in a new town and hearing people request songs.. It makes me feel good about going out of my comfort zone of cities, that I know I have fans in, and being surprised to find fans there too.  (I also played Long Hard Day again and am starting to get the hang of it!!)

As far as writing goes, I have been finishing up some recordings that I already had started.  Like I said before, I have been trying to get more familiar with producing and creating records.  It’s really fun when you can find the sounds you want and REALLY frustrating when you don’t.  More on that later.  

The only session that I had last week was with a super talented and very motivated writer that I met a few years ago named Jessica Bennett.  She’s actually from the DC area and has written with a few people that I know.  She now splits her time between Hong Kong and London.  I actually was introduced to her through a writer who lives in London and is signed to the same company that used to manage me when I was signed..  He connected us when he knew she would be in NYC a while back and I live in NYC blah blah blah..  Here's an article that talks a little bit about her.  Click HERE to read..

Anyway, Jessica writes a lot of what’s called “toplines” for Chinese artists (I know it sounds a bit different), EDM DJs like Tiesto and Armin van Buuren and other folks in that world. These DJs have massive amounts of views on Youtube and fly around the world performing for insane amounts of people.. Quite the niche, but once you find that thing that you’re good at… Keep doing it:)  Most of the time, when writing this way, we’ll get tracks that are already done and we will write the melody and lyrics on top of the track, hence the name topline.  Sometimes, they will remix a song that is already done and create a track to go around that song. That is what happened with an artist that I know called Mayeani, who used to work with my manager.  She wrote a beautiful song on the piano called “Nothing Inside”.  Her publisher sent it out and a DJ heard it and loved it and decided to take it upon himself to make a track around it.  It became a huge hit in that world. Take a listen HERE

You’ll notice that he literally paused his track to allow for her song to stay pure.  That RARELY happens, but it’s pretty cool how he did it.  On a side note, my very first topline that I ever wrote was over a track that I got from my manager, same manager I spoke of earlier.  He rarely gets these things, but because he was working Mayeani at the time and she had such success from “Nothing Inside”, he started getting tracks from producers and DJs from around the world.  Mayeani wasn’t interested in writing that kind of stuff, but I said “Hey! Let me try:)” He gave me a track from a French producer named Michael Canitrot who was in a DJ group called Reepublic.  I wrote the “topline” in like 20 minutes and as luck would have it, they released it as their first single.  It made it to #1 on the EDM charts in France and beat out Sia and Rhianna!  L.U.C.K. But I am trying to do that more as it’s super fun and takes me out of my own head of writing for myself.  If you haven’t heard “Turn off the Light” you can listen HERE

Back to Jessica. We ended up trying to do the song before the track idea… And we wrote a super emotional song called “Heart Beat”.  Hopefully it get’s heard by one of her contacts in China so I can become a superstar in China!!!  Anyway, now it’s in my hands to record it and mix it, which I will hopefully be able to do at some point before the holidays swallow me up!  I record all of my vocals in my apt these days and have gotten pretty good at making them sound mixed like a record.. ish.  But my nephews are coming to visit in 2 days and that will certainly not make for a quiet recording atmosphere.  When I have it done, maybe I’ll post a soundcloud link of it so you can hear:)

I hope everyone has a brilliant holiday and a Happy New Year!  Stay safe and be creative, always. x