Although a lighter drumline album was the plan, a full-blown infusion of hip-hop and marching band sounds gave birth to Hip-Hop Drumline (MX388). Pendulum Music producer, Ryan Franks details on how the balance that he and co-producer Scott Nickoley struck between hip-hop and layered marching band instruments to create this bangin’ album for Megatrax.
Megatrax: How did you start working on this project?
Ryan Franks: We met Derek Jones, who runs Track Distillery, through a mutual friend who was hosting a composer meet-up. Derek wanted to hear something so we put together a little sample track for him to check out. We had some fun layering up the percussion, and it got bigger than we intended initially. Even though it was a bit much for the Track Distillery sound, it worked perfectly for a Megatrax album.
MX: Was there any kind of special approach that you took to creating this drumline album?
RF: Since we weren’t in a position to bring in an actual live marching band to record in the studio, we had to look at what would serve the songs and play to our strengths without leaning on a twenty-person brass section. We ended up doing a combination of samples and live playing. We layered trumpet, trombone, alto horn, and baritone horn – using each sound as the basis for the more organic tunes.
MX: What were some challenges with making this album?
RF: Finding a balance between hip-hop and the more organic elements was challenging. On the hip-hop side, there’s electronic/sampled drums, basses, and synths, whereas the organic marching band elements include- bass drums, snares, tenor saxes, various brass, and percussion elements of the marching ensemble. We would get focused on coming up with a cool groove or something and follow that down the rabbit hole until suddenly we’d find there was a full-fledged electronic production. Those moments didn’t leave a lot of room for an entire marching ensemble. The same would happen with all of the hip-hop elements as well. That’s when we’d have to go back to the drawing board and figure out what should stay, what should go, what should come forward and what could sit back in the mix.
MX: Switching gears, you have some pretty big scores under your belt. What was your favorite to work on?
RF: Even though it was one of the more harrowing, I’d have to say the 2015 animated film, Hell & Back was one of our favorites. Unfortunately, that movie didn’t take off as we’d hoped it would, but the first time we saw it we loved it. It has a cast of not only great comedians like Greg Proops, J.B. Smoove, Paul Scheer, Maria Bamford and Brian Posehn, but some awesome comedic actors and improv folks like Bob Odenkirk, Kumail Nanjiani, Danny McBride, TJ Miller, Jennifer Coolidge and more. The cast was unbelievable. We were so excited to be working on a project where we could add our sound to their performances in the quirky, bizarre, and beautiful stop-motion world that was designed and built by our friends over at ShadowMachine.
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