Yellowgold

The official website showcasing the music of Yellowgold, produced by Jason Howell.

In Detail: Control My Gravity

"Control My Gravity" finished Pro Tools project

Hello again! Hope you are enjoying the tunes.

Today I want to talk briefly about the first track on the album, Control My Gravity. It’s kind of fitting that this is the first track on the album because its the first track that I completed (mostly) that lead me once and for all to start focusing on material for a new album.

I wrote the general idea for this song in a much different way than I normally do and it was born out of virtual reality. I’m not even shitting you.

Back in 2015, TWiT employee Jason Cleanthes got himself the Samsung Gear VR. This was right before VR began to become more of a household thing. Don’t get me wrong, VR is still very much for enthusiasts, but this was at the very beginning of the new wave of consumer VR tech. I was asked if I wanted to review the Gear VR for TWiT and I’ve always kind of had a thing for VR… for what it can become someday. Not at all certain we are there yet, but I digress.

"Strangers with Patrick Watson"

So I borrowed Jason’s Gear VR and played around with it for a while. One of the VR experiences was a video called “Strangers with Patrick Watson.” I had never heard of Patrick Watson before, but I saw that this was a 360 degree immersive video that placed you, the viewer, dead center in Patrick’s production studio as he sat at his piano and rehearsed a song. On the floor lays his dog, obviously used to this sort of crooning. I watched this video and I can’t really explain it, but I was engulfed by the song and the feeling of being in the room along with a musician who is obviously in a creative zone of his own. I could recognize in him and that inspiring moment something in myself. I’ve been there before. I’ve never sat third person and watched it quite like this, though.

The song kept running through my mind and I began to realize that what he was doing to create that sound wasn’t entirely outside of my own capability. It was his piano, his ability to play it, and his voice run through a mic that had a nice ethereal lo-fi sound. So I ran into my studio late one night, still inspired by the VR experience, loaded up a piano patch, created a simple vocal effects chain, and just started playing randomness.

This is why I love writing at night. I turn the lights way down, almost to darkness, I turn the headphones up, and I can forget that I’m in a room open to the house. In those headphones, I’m in a different world. No judgments. The isolation IS the inspiration.

With the project I had set up, I began recording my noodling and landed on a few general ideas. This is last piece of that experimentation that doesn’t sound exactly like the track on the album, but you can kind of see where it was headed.

As is often the case, I gave myself a day to let the idea stir in my brain and when I returned the following evening, I had taken that idea and transformed it into something closer to Control My Gravity. This is how it sounded at the end of day two, and you'll actually notice that a few of the elements stayed until the final version.

To be honest, the track came together rather quickly once that happened. Things fell into place. The 3/4 time signature isn’t something I do often either. And I fully admit, I’m not a very good piano performing artist, but for whatever reason that progression and my singing worked with a few hours of rehearsal and I was able to capture it and base the song around it.

You might also notice that the vocal chain on many of the songs on the album is similar. It kind of has a crackly radio spread to it, almost like I’m singing through an AM radio with some delay jitters and ethereal reverb. It all began with that patch I threw together as I set up the project for this experimentation session. It worked for Control My Gravity, and I knew I wanted the album to have a cohesive sound, so it became the chain I used on my vocals for almost all songs on the album. I would play around with them and change small elements on the other songs, but the basis of that effect is the same across most songs on the album. Hopefully that gives things some cohesion. (That was the goal, anyway!)

I can remember driving to San Francisco for Google IO back in 2015 playing this song in the car shortly after finishing it and thinking “if I can make my album sound like this sound, I will have satisfied my commitment to myself.”

Here’s the final product from the album:

Lyrics:

I'm dreaming of one
Reach out my dear
Forever to be near
The window sill
Time chasing a wild one
In salty rain
A heavenly refrain
And never seen again
You were always the one
within the night
When everything is right
And all is quiet
Faded drifting with one
And hold my hand
Intoxicate again
Relieve my whim
Control my gravity
Bestow my rhapsody
I'm breathing in wild flowers
Lay down with me my dear
Control my gravity
Bestow my rhapsody
Control my gravity
Bestow my rhapsody