It’s kind of a crazy how it developed. My brother, Ricky Hopper (he’s basically family, we grew up together) and I were drinking rum out east in Myakka, FL. There’s nothing but swamp, marsh, and gators out there. Not a soul for miles. So, for whatever reason Ricky starts singing this bass line acapella “radio ina one time”. I added my own vocals on top and we sang this tune for about ten minutes; imagining trombones and drums — everyone just living it up singing along with us!
That song was stuck in our heads even though it had yet to be written. The next day I was in my studio working on music (I primarily produce/mix Hip-Hop) and needed a change of pace. I remembered how Rick had asked the infamous “Why don’t you make real music any more?” the day prior—so I quick knocked out an alternative style song and sent that over to him. He was like “Yeah, this is cool… But you should make that song from yesterday.”; in less than an hour I had this song in his email for him.
It definitely has that Doo-Wop, barbershop style at the core. The whole song is based off of “radio ina one time”. It created the bass line, from which the piano and the horns and vocals were built upon. Then you add in a little swing, a touch of rhythm and blues — with some deep southern soul? I don’t know it’s so hard to say now days. My joke always is I produce “EDM” — I write it electronically, you can dance to it, and it’s music. I’m a better musician than I am a comedian though.
I work in Ableton so it’s hella efficient for on the fly production. I didn’t even change the tempo; just kept it at 120 and got right to work. The first thing I started with was the vocal backbone. I recorded the “Radio Ina One Time” acapella bass line and created a loop around it. I was working quick so I used basically all Ableton stock plugins. I started with a pizzicato upright bass, then I worked in the swing rhythm with the ‘Acoustified’ drum kit to gave it that bounce. From there I layered a piano and a separate pizzicato ensemble with counter melodies. I knew it needed some brass so I added Ableton’s trombones; but I also wanted a nice rich horn section as well; so I went with East West Sounds Hollywood Brass.
Once I had the loop finished I laid out a simple structure (intro/verse/chorus/verse/chorus). I improvised vocals one take through; did my best to translate the words and quick wrote them out on paper and rerecorded one more time through. I then stacked my vocals 4 or 5 times to create a group chant effect at the end. That was so weird cause I’m literally by myself, in my bedroom studio, trying to hype up all my split personalities. Slapped a few neutron drum presets on to tighten them up, and finally added an Ozone master assistant on my master chain.
Thats entirely Ricky. I don’t know how his brain come up with that. It’s the spinal ‘chord’ of the song, everything was based off that vocal line. That kid can literally sing every part of every Beach Boys song and I think it’s just in his blood to come up with fun vocals that are easy to sing along to. That seems to always get stuck in people’s heads after they hear this and it’s just such a fun part to sing along with.
I work in Ableton—It’s so comfortable for live production. I can literally take an idea or concept and have it performed and recorded in less than an hour. Eastwest sounds is great, they have a whole bunch of natural sounding libraries. Xfer Serum I use often, but I’ve yet to find real organic sounds with them. All Izotope products I think are amazing; as well as Waves plugins. My workflow switches up depending on my stage in production. A lot of times I’ll just use Ableton’s stock reverb and equalizer when crafting sounds.
I actually use Mixed In Key all the time to determine the key for certain samples and beats that are sent to me for mixing. I don’t have the classically trained ear to determine scales so it saves so much time on things.
Thank you, I have a pre-made vocal chain that I tweak custom for each vocal I mix. I begin with Waves C1 compressor, Renaissance EQ 6, Renaissance Compressor, Vitamin EQ, DeEsser, and then I threw on a soft saturator in Neutron 2. EQ’d out the highs, then had 2 sends to a Waves Renaissance Reverberator and Waves H-delay.
My Uncle Lee Spinks was actually a huge inspiration to me, he taught me “there are only so many chord progressions one can create; so it’s all about what you put into them and on top of them, that truly makes a song unique.” He was no professional by any means, but that has stuck with me constantly through my production. It’s sort of like my mantra.
Familiarity is good, that’s what connects people to music. That’s why sometimes you’ll swear you’ve heard a song before, then it ends up being your favorite song and stays with you forever. I really admire Kanye West and especially Mike Dean with their production styles. I love the anthemic songs they create together. I know a lot of people disagree with Kanye on a personal level but I think from a production standpoint he and his team are innovators and constantly pushing the envelope within the industry.
I admire Timbaland and I feel I could learn so much by sitting in the studio with him. He’s the one Kanye calls in to get everything sounding right. Timbaland is a genius and he’s so versatile… literally everything he touches is gold. I’d love to meet any of these guys. Can’t forget Brian Wilson either! He’s from a whole other planet, that guy. and honestly Skrillex.. when I first heard him I was blown away. He created something I could never even have imagined, and he’s so versatile as well… he can switch up genres and kill it in his own unique way. He changed the history of music and the structure of traditional songs forever, in my opinion.
Totally agree! We’ve joked about a music video where we’re dressed in overalls and mechanic suits; bangin’ on pianos, hangin’ at the barber shop or local pub. Workin’ on cars and pluckin’ on the upright bass. You know, the type of stuff junkyard boys would do!
I jump all over the place with different styles when producing music; but these style songs come so easy and naturally for me. I have dozens upon dozens of songs recorded on my phone and DAW from over the years just waiting to be finished. They say it takes a life time to write your first album. This style is that which Rick and I grew up creating.
Let’s start with this interview! I used to have my girlfriend read imaginary interview questions I had written up; so this is a great start. Honestly, I just want to have my music shared with the world. Whether I write it for others to perform, or I perform it myself. I will forever write all styles of music — I’d just love for it to be shared with others. My friends and family are the only ones to hear my music outside myself. If I can continue creating heartfelt music and make a career out of it I will be living my dream. To be able to know I can take care of my friends and family. I’d love to be the lead singer of a Rock & Roll band; but I would also love to be part of a team producing some of the greatest songs ever written.
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