What drives the creative forces behind a ¡MAYDAY! track?
If you ever listened to a ¡MAYDAY! song and told yourself “this doesn’t sound like anything I’ve ever heard” then there’s a good reason for that. As Wrekonize explains, the creative process behind a track is completely isolated…
Wrek: When we enter the studio, there’s no outside musical influence. During the process we don’t think or listen to other stuff. The creative process is pretty self-contained.
Bernz: At this point we have a repertoire. There are not that many discussions in order to get on the same page musically. The one kind of thing that we talked about after Stuck on an Island is that we wanted to slow the tempo down a bit. That was kind of the main glaring production note. It was like “Alright, let’s go back to our first, first, first album,” our original self-titled ¡MAYDAY! shit, which was more on the boom-bap side.
The thing with Stuck on an Island is that it was an era where we just kind of started spreading our wings when it came to instruments. That album is plush with just going in on instruments. Add a bridge, add a this and that –just fucking going in. This album was us taking all of that shit that we learned and balancing it with what we always have been.
Wrek: There’s a few tracks that made the album that were from the Stuck on an Island era that we held on to and they managed to fit in. By that point Gianni had started to kick up his production as well. Whereas Stuck on an Island was heavily produced by Plex, Bernz and I, now we also had Gianni to balance it out. Then of course we also had Terrell (LT Hopkins) and Noms (NonMS), who by that point were also able to vibe with the concept.
We were all in agreement – it was seamless. It didn’t feel like more than one person, it was four-to-six of us at a time working as one. It was completely cohesive and I think the only doubt we might have had was how far to go conceptually or how to drive it. We had done Lords Of The Fly practically after Stuck on an Island, but we released it before. We liked the vibe on there with all of the skits and the story. Sometimes it’s hard to decide whether to do that or to just tell the story through the songs.
LT: I think with Take Me To Your Leader we all purposely wanted to make whatever box we exist in bigger or try to escape whatever box we were in sonically. I think drum-track wise this album has quite a bit of a wider breadth of sounds. It’s got a lot better hi-hat work on it and that’s one of those little things that can push and pull a song and really drive it along. You hit with the shank, you hit with the tip, you mix it up, you open the hi-hat, you let it swish, you let it click, you do different things like that and it really adds a subtle element to a drum track that is kind of hard to do in Pro Tools, Reason, or whatever.
Gianni: I wanted to showcase the live instrumentation and give listeners more of the live aspect of what ¡MAYDAY! can do, which can be difficult too because we all have a producer’s mentality. We’ll get our ideas out and then bring them back together and dissect them. I really wanted to get in a room and do things like record live drums. We were able to do that this time around and even more so than we did on Stuck on an Island. This is a more mature sound for ¡MAYDAY!.
NonMS: What I think makes this band so great is that everyone is a leader and due to that, everyone sees different aspects. There were a lot of battles as far as the album and the approach. It’s a much darker and slower sound.
I’ll admit, at first I was somewhat hesitant because I’m not used to ¡MAYDAY! creating that sound. When I first came in, ¡MAYDAY! was very hip hop and full of hard beats. At first I was hesitant, but then when I saw the monster coming together – seeing it as an album and an experience, I started to feel better. It’s a ride. We submitted 40-plus tracks. Now to see it as a full album – it’s so versatile.
Bernz: Noms came to us like a frightened child many times and was like “Hey man, I was just listening to what we just did. Are you sure you want to do this right now?” We had to talk him off of the ledge. There was a lot of that (laughs).