The process of making ”Ride with me”

Back in September 2005 me and my long time friend Kingen sat down and discussed what could be done with his kind of sound if we were about to make a new record.

We started the preproduction-process, experimenting, sometimes falling into the same used tracks as ”Moby” had been exploring with ”work-song” sounding material blended with electroncs and loops. We soon felt that it had been done before.

Then we stumbled on some stuff on the net from ”DapTone-records” and their 70´s James Brown/Sam& Dave-sound (this was their work with Sharon Jones, long before Amy Winehouse made them a global name).

We felt like ”oh, this is the future” and inspired by that approach, we began writing tailor made songs for Kingens album, this time with some fuzzy ambition on blending the sound of ”The Faces” around 1972, with Outkast, loops, rockabilly, american root-music and motown soul, spicing it up with a few songs produced with…well…Tom Waits-kind of crash-and bang sounds…and so it went on.

In late 2006, we set up a wishlist of musicians, hired a producer and went into the studio for a whole year. Hunting and creating sounds, paying attention to details, carefully shaping and following each song to its destination, wherever it wanted to go. You see, we believe that when a song is written, it already has a shape and sound built into it, it WANTS to become something specific, and we just had to discover what it was, and then realize it in the studio.

We ended up with a record, that is very varied but somehow glued together by ”Kingens” unique voiceperformance and pianoplaying.

Here´s a list of the songs, with notes:

1. Mary-Ann
Here we aimed for a sound similar to Mungo Jerry´s ”In the summertime” but with a lot more compression and a Roland 808-kick firmly pushing the beat as an ”Engine”.

2. ”Ride with me”
This song is as close to a ”work-song-style” we get on this album, only with sligtly naughty lyrics in a traditional american-style. A Tom Waits kind of ”banging snare” and an ever-repeating guitar-riff defined the sound.

3. She´s mine.
An upbeat song in the soul-genre that is the first single in Sweden. Here the producer Björn Höglund blends loops and some programmed stuff with a full band, with horns and female backing vocals. We tried to put as much energy in it as possible, aiming to take it a step beyond the laidback attitude of (for example) Duffy or Winehouse, placing the song in a bit more violent and modern environment.

4. 31-00-54
We waited three months for the right guitarist to be avalible for this song, and we think it payed off! 😀 (His name is Staffan Westfeldt)
We needed an in-your-face-guitar with the kind of shredded sound you often find on recordings from ”The Faces” in the early seventies.
This is one of ur favourites, as it´s a wonderful live ”first take” from the rythm section and then all the other tracks just came on effortless.
(31-00-54 is a model/nickname for a certain old american car)

5. Be-Bop street.
Now, Kingen wanted to have a rockabilly-song on the album, and we discussed it back and forth, beeing afraid that it could easily get a bit cheezy. The producer (also drummer on the album) Björn Höglund then made a basic drummachine-loop on his gear, presented it to us and… well, it just fitted right in. From that point, Björn took complete control of the recording of the song and made it a fun and respectful hommage to the golden age of rock we think, with Kingen playing all the instruments.

6. I don´t wanna lose you
Here, the album makes a 90 degree turn into Curtis Mayfield-land. A duet with Swedish vocalist ”Erica Skogen”. We took some calculated risks with the production and mixing, leaving out all kinds of effect processing except for compressors and eq:s. We just…wanted it that way and we feel it gives the song a strong identity. This song was instantly picked up by the music-placement agency ”Crucial Music” in Hollywood, to be pitched for use in feature films, commercials or TV-series.

7. Why?
Oh…Rockpile, need we way more? 😀 Dave Edmunds was one of our childhood heroes and it becomes very obvious in this track.

8. Misery
Swedish artists Michael and Johanna Klemme joined as a co-writers on this song. Their band ”Marmalade Souls” has been over to the UK playing at ”The Cavern Club” on occation. Go figure. Again, we broke some recording rules on purpose and placed a rythm-guitar in the front of the mix next to the lead vocals, as we felt it simply was the right thing to do.

9. Someone new
The only ballad. Dry, vintage drumsound, 12-string guitars, an old stringmachine. A slight brush-stroke from the sound of Rod Stewarts ”Sailing” but a completly different song all in all of course.

10. Basics
This is what happens when you unleash Kingen with no restraints. Actually a demo that made it on the album because we thought it sounded…right!

11. Tu-ber-ca-lucas and the sinus blues.
A cover! We just HAD to put it on the album with it´s ”four o´ clock in the morning hangover-rehearsal-vibe.” Again, Tom Waits spirit is in the house.
We aimed to make a very commercial album, focusing on the quality of the writingprocess, creating strong melodies and hooks. Then we tried to wrap it in a sound-envoronment that makes it stand out from the slick, streamlined and boring sounds of everyday-commercial format-radio. Making it a little rough and disturbing, just enough to get peoples attention.

Still, we had no intention on letting it fall into the retro-pit completly. Hopefully, we managed to get our intentions across in the production.

Stefan Hallgren
Label manager of Black Cat Songs, recording-engineer and co-producer