VX1 Session: The Problem
This is a session walkthrough, from The Making of VX1
This song is probably the most personal to me of all of these songs. I have always had trouble expressing empathy, especially in the moment. So I guess this song is about that struggle, juxtaposing what I wish to say against my frustration that I am unable to say the right thing at the right time.
This song was originally built off the hook (👆hear it in track 62 of the playlist “New Recording 345” ):
The hook can be sung as a single voice; the reason it is split into an “A” and “B” is toreally pull-out the tail of “B”. We can let it linger into the next phrase, and make it feel more cohesive. Listen for the “B” high note and how it extends over the phrase:
This loop basically plays the entire song, with only slight edits for specific phrases.
The percussion also loops through the entire song. One additional percussion line is introduced during the bridge, but you’ll basically hear this main percussion loop through the entire song:
Kicks were from my vocal percussion drum machine, and the rest were cut from a spit take.
I spent the longest time on this song on Verse 1 lyrics. These are probably the lyrics I’m most proud of on the album; I think it flows better than any other verse on the album, and there are a few quirky/funny lines tossed in that give it a little more levity. When writing them, I basically just played that hook loop on repeat, went on walks, sang to it, and made voice memos whenever I came up with a good idea. Then I sat down later and compiled all the lyrics.
In the mix, I wanted this song to feel very personal during the verse, so the lead is mostly solo; lead doubles and harmonies are only added a key points to emphasize certain phrases.
The first chorus of The Problem is probably my favorite moment on this album.
One of the things that I really love about this chorus is the constant blending of harmonies with words with more sustained pads:
I really tried my best to constantly switch and feature different vocal “instruments” through the chorus. There is a lot more “through-writing”, rather than loops.
Listening closely to the pads, you’ll hear some hard cuts in order to make space for the “Hook B” to shine all by itself. You can see and hear the hard cuts overlapping with the hook entrance if we examine the pads:
Bridge + End #
To be honest, I had no idea what to do with the second half of this song.
I was trying to write a Verse 2, but nothing really flowed. Eventually, a comment on a mix from my good friend really unlocked the 2nd half of the song, and I think I basically threw it together in an evening.
Again, I’m trying to be fairly intimate with the lead. Although, this one I added some more voices, trying to sound a little less “alone”, and a little more like a warm blanket. I try to do this using some warm harmonies, and singing quietly, close to the mic with a lot of breath.
At the very end of the song, we change this to a very pared down version:
We also have the “riff lead”, which was really really painstaking to double. In fact, the center lead is just my original take, because I couldn’t make it sound as good after.
We add a new pad during the bridge; there is a staccato and legato version.
That’s basically the song!
Next is “Fired Up!”