Recently, I got a chance to work with Reed Ruddy and the Seattle Rock Orchestra at Studio X on a record we’ve been chipping away at for a while now. It’s a collaboration between us and Allen Stone titled Neon Cathedral. You may have heard the track when we premiered it at the sold out Allen Stone concert at the Neptune Theater last month.
For the past couple of years I’ve recorded a lot of smaller string sections, sometimes layering violin/viola from Andrew Joslyn, other times recording more of a string quartet. So, this was a big deal. It’s been a long time dream to record a full orchestra in a room like Studio X’.
I remember seeing Kanye headline Bumbershoot at Memorial Stadium years back with a small string section behind him, then later watching a video of him rehearse with a fairly large group. Adapting his beats to have the life of human beings, replaying his signature string parts in a live setting. It was inspiring. I’ve always been in love with strings. With that said, the lead in to this opportunity was both intimidating and thrilling. Any time you invite 25 people to join you in the studio for a song you’re working on, you don’t want to fuck up.
Being a hip-hop/pop/electronic producer you get accustomed to speaking in a different terminology than most classical/studio musicians. I feel like there are almost different categories of typical studio lingo. You can talk about 16’s, knocking drums, grime, cleanness, brightness, etc. You can have your nerdy producer discussion (which is more like me) about frequencies, compression, dynamics, etc. Or you can be a trained studio musician and be talking about progressions, phrases, scales and circle of 5th’s type of shit. I didn’t play music in high school band and I was never classically trained. I can’t really read music.
Watching DJ Premier in the new movie Re:Generation made me laugh, as I can empathize with his discomfort going in to work with an orchestra. When you’re talking to a conductor/orchestra it helps to have a translator (Andrew Josyln) who you know well, and trust can make changes in the score that reflect what you’re trying to accomplish. I’ve known Andrew for a long time now and he’s extremely talented on his violin, composing and hashing out ideas on paper that I’m trying to explain if they need to be re-recorded. He wrote the score for this Allen/Macklemore collab and absolutely murdered it.
Reed Ruddy was a pleasure to work with. He’s one of the OG’s of Seattle recording, similar to Robert Lang. There’s a lot to learn from just talking to these guys, outside of getting studio time with them. He’s been through all the stages of Seattle music and remains humble and interested to work with a new generation. I appreciate that. I hope to not become an arrogant asshole when I’m old and in the studio working with 20 somethings. The angry sound guy is never a fun person to be around :).
The song will be coming out on the album. I’d love to continue to keep everyone in the loop as I run around on producing excursions trying to make an album. PEACE. - Ryan
Photos by: Zoe Rain Baxter