Westtopher was the winner of Tracklib's Dave East placement competition. After flipping Shuko's "Good Love" for the winning beat, the Charlotte, NC-based producer was flown over to New York City to work with Dave East in a studio session.
Collaborating with Dave East
"Working with Dave East was a very good experience. He's a very cool and down-to-earth person. Not a lot of wasted time between us—we both were ready to work. As soon as he got to the studio, I already had 30 beats prepared for the session. Dave East's manager, a songwriter for Def Jam, and I ran through all of the beats. They were shocked I had that many beats for East! [Laughs] So we made a top 5 of the beats to play for East.
The first two beats he was feeling but once beat number three came on, he said, 'that's hard, let that loop.' The engineer loaded the beat to Pro Tools and let it play as East started to write. As he was writing, I put my headphones on and started making a new beat. Once he was done writing—which was, like, twenty minutes max—he went into the recording booth and recorded the full song."
Producing the beat that was picked for Dave East's "Above Water"
"I took the sample/melody into a plugin called Serato Sample where I chop all my samples. I use FL Studio 21 as my DAW. After chopping the sample to my liken, it was time to figure out drums that would match Dave East's rap cadence. I usually study an artist's catalog before working with them. Even though I was already familiar with his music.
Next, I arranged the beat with space for hooks and verses. Once that was completed. Then a quick levelling, EQing, and mixing. Nothing too crazy—in most cases, it's best to keep it simple so an artist can catch a quick vibe."
"I opened the strings stem and heard this moment that I thought could be cool to sample."
—Tom Misch (Supershy)
I opened the strings stem and heard this moment that I thought could be cool to sample. I heard the bit I wanted to use and chopped it and looped a part. Then I used an envelope filter on the sample to expand it as the track goes on. I've been listening to a lot of filtered French house."
"For a record like this, it's all about finding the hook."
"Once I found a sequence from the sample that I wanted to loop, I built around that. I worked on this with my buddy, Micah. We just wanted to create something upbeat and positive, so we really emphasized the ‘life is good' line. For a record like this, it's all about finding the hook—something that can be repetitive but not overstimulating and finding a way to have it grow and evolve ever so slightly to keep the listener engaged."
"It's not obvious on first listen, but we actually used a TON of tiny chops to create seamless-sounding loops with the best energy."
"I spend hours digging on Tracklib like I would dig through records to find samples. I've set aside a lot of ideas in my Favorites and return to them when I go to create. ‘I'll Stay Right Here' is something Oliver and I pulled from that folder when we went to make this record. We both love sampling and Tracklib makes it fun and efficient.
We initially took First Choice's 'I'll Stay Right Here' and stemmed it out using AI software so we had the freedom to manipulate the parts. This allowed us to chop instruments separately underneath different parts of the vocal to create musical passages that don't exist in the original. It's not obvious on first listen, but we actually used a TON of tiny chops to create seamless-sounding loops with the best energy."
"My goal with the sample was to create a chord progression and establish a tempo. So I found three very small sections I then stretched, reversed, and blended together."
"The sample didn't really have a tempo or main chord progression but the texture of ‘Root Song' made it the one. My brother BNYX took my chop, added some drums and synths on top of it, and sent it out—we work very quickly.
I use Ableton Live myself. By using that I can stretch and condense audio as I please. My goal with the sample was to basically create a chord progression and establish a tempo. So I found three very small sections I then stretched, reversed, and blended together to get to ‘Now' as you hear it today."
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