Yellowgold

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

In Detail: Only Two

"Only Two" finished Pro Tools project

Whaaaat’s happenin’.

Let’s talk about the second track on the album called Only Two. This is one of the more electronically infused productions on the album and it all went back to a feeling I had early on that I wanted to try to create an album that merged the two styles I’ve spent the most time with in recent years: My guitar oriented rock and my house and dance oriented electronic music. I created house music as Raygun from 2000-2009 and ultimately, I got totally bored with the paint by numbers approach that my production in electronic music led to. It was uninspiring to me on a creative level and ultimately I decided to retire that production shortly before we had our first daughter in 2010. Not to mention, blasting thumping dance music from the studio didn’t make a lot of sense when a baby might be upstairs trying to sleep! Let’s just say that genre ran its course with me and I was happy to move on.

But I have also been intrigued by the idea of merging the things I learned in electronic and dance music production with the progressions and sounds frequently making their way into my Yellowgold tunes. The two styles seemed like they would merge nicely, especially if I was trying for a particularly ethereal and effects laden sound. At an early point in the production of Fever Dreamer (long before I had picked that as the name), I wondered what an entire album of Raygun/Yellowgold tunes might sound like. As result, I underwent a solid 8-10 months of production that resulted in tunes that fell into that category. Only Two was the first to follow that train of thought. Two other tracks happened within that period and neither made it to the final album, at least not in those dancy forms. I promise to share those with you here at a later date so stay tuned on that!

 The War on Drugs: Lost in the Dream

The War on Drugs: Lost in the Dream

As for Only Two, I was initially inspired for the sound of the song after listening to one of the few new artists who’s sound inspired me to write in recent years, The War on Drugs. There is something captivating to me about their unique mix of electronic elements, traditional and catchy guitar riffs, deep delays and reverbs, and awesome vocal treatments. It all combines into a nice soupy mix of awesome to my ears.

So when I first sat down to create a new song, I had nothing concrete in mind other than “War on Drugs” as a general direction. I had been spending some time getting to know the Native Instruments virtual synth called Massive that has so much variability to it. It’s a very easy synth to get lost in and has a ton of pretty modern as well as classic patches to begin with.

I worked on a few synth loops along with the standard 4/4 kick snare hat combo and started to lay out a rough outline of a song progression to give a foundation for some off-the-cuff vocal stuff. In the first night of work, I ended up with a very basic but intriguing (to me) foundation off of which to work. Here’s that first night’s rough draft.

Over the course of the next week, I filled my Evernote scratch pad with an insane amount of ideas, permutations, vocal melodies,and ultimately lyrics to fit a vocal pattern that, at least early on, seemed to be a lock for how the song would be in its finished state. I would later completely change the vocals from the ground up, but here’s that early idea.

In the end and over time, that particular vocal delivery just got kind of boring to me. Not sure what it was exactly but I found myself losing interest in the song and after trying and trying to get it right, I finally realized that the vocals just weren’t working so I did what I often do in this instance: I deleted the vocal work up to that point and decided to approach it with fresh ears. As they say, sometimes the best way to move forward is to remove what isn’t working instead of trying and trying to fix it and make it work. I can’t stress enough how important this can be. Some of the stuff I’m most proud was born out of intense frustration and an attempt to overwork something that just wasn’t clicking. It’s when I finally let go of this idea that THIS was how it needed to be that my mind was freed to explore how it COULD be and very often, that ends up being better. If anything, it gives my mind something new, something fresh to focus on that doesn’t have all of that baggage attached to it… that new “something” revitalizes things and allows me to move forward, and better yet be INSPIRED with new ideas to bring to the table.

Anyways, that’s exactly what happened with Only Two. I’ll be honest, of all the tracks on the album, Only Two gave me the most problems. I hit so many stages throughout its production where I was nearly ready to give up on it. When that happened, I reminded myself that no idea is sacred, and I’d kill the thing that my gut told me needed to go… that freed me up to analyze it through a different lens and push through. And I’m happy I stuck to it but MAN it was a challenge. I worked on this track in a very focused way for more than a year off and on.

Near the end of the production of Only Two, I scrapped ALL of my vocals and re-recorded them with a less layered, more simplistic approach. It brought clarity to the parts and brought the sound of the song together. The result of that is what you hear on the album. And I’m happy I got it there after all that work!

Here’s the final product from the album:

Lyrics:

Here she comes to say
oh the weather's nice today
Simple storybook day
Where the world encircles and fades away
Made a choice with her voice as the dust flies through
Throws her hands in the air as she makes him choose
Here she comes today
It's love or so they say
Butterflies in disguise as she settles in
Looks around laying down as she makes him grin
Only two
Now is the right time
You're on the right side of love
So make it the right time
You're on the right side of love
Stand as one today
Connected for eternity
Only two