For “Studios Sessions,” we delve into the stories behind the long hours in the studio and all that goes into making an album by talking with artists, producers, engineers, photographers, and more who are intimately connected to the recording process with some of the biggest artists in the world. These are the stories that rarely leave the booth.
Creativity is so complicated that it sometimes occurs under particular circumstances. After recording in a studio enough times, artists begin to know what works for them. Eric David Gabouer, better known as producer Eric G, has been working with Rapsody and Jamla Records for close to a decade and is well aware of the nuances of music creation.
“[Rapsody likes] the lights off and sweatpants on,” Eric G told REVOLT with a laugh. “She likes to order kid’s meals. From my experience, she’ll order a kid’s meal from anywhere. I remember her doing that more than a handful of times (laughs). I always make fun of her for it.”
In this installment of “Studio Sessions,” the 33-year-old Seattle, Washington native explains the process of making Rapsody’s Eve album, impressing 9th Wonder, and how he helped make one of Mac Miller’s best songs.
What is Rapsody like in the studio?
She’s adapted to each person. [When] we’re alone in the studio... she’s in sweatpants while I haven’t showered in two days (laughs). We really just fuck around... It’s fun.
When did you know you were getting brought on to make beats for Eve?
I’m always making beats for her at all times. We had an objective of what [the sound was going to be]. So, I started working on shit like that all of the time. I think I laid most of my beats down [in a month]. It was quick. I had two songs on the album — ‘Oprah’ and ‘Aaliyah’ — and then from there, the other three came after. I was shooting for the right colors. She told me about the idea when the album had a different name in December . We knew what we had to do when it was time. Whenever we do an album, we always discuss what color it is and the feel of the album. We mostly talk about shit like that.
How does the color correlate to the type of music you make with Rapsody?
Picture a sound that when you hear it, you see color. Something can be orange, yellow, with some purple on the corner. It’s a weird thing. For me, Eve is like red and blue.
The album is anchored around the names of great women. Did those titles inspire the music you made for her?
No, I didn’t know the titles before... I’m guessing she had them before she recorded the songs.
Rapsody previously said that she recorded the album by herself. Is that true?
Yeah and she said she recorded herself at home. The first song we did together was ‘Oprah.’ I was at the studio in North Carolina for a week to start the album. I was experimenting and finding out [the right sound] and what wasn’t cliché. I was sleeping and she recorded the first verse or something by herself at the studio. But, she also has a home studio. I woke up and she was like, ‘Check this out.’ We were at the studio at such random times of the day. [On the song,] the stuff that says, ‘Eat with your mama.’ That’s my voice. But, she did the bulk of this thing by herself.
The beats on Eve are not the typical type of production Rapsody is known for. What was your mentality making them?
First of all, I was trying to make this as silly as possible in a weird way. It’s sort of like with the way some of Pharrell’s beats make you go, ‘What is this?’ I was trying to come from that perspective. Also, coming up under 9th [Wonder], having lived [in North Carolina] and being around that whole vibe, I learned what was good.
How involved was she in the beat-making process?
She always sends me samples and stuff to do. But, for some reason, I’m always like, ‘I don’t know what this is supposed to be (laughs).’ I always give it a shot. I did an intro for the song ‘Nina’ from a sample that she gave me. That one worked out, but there was a thing going on with the sample, and they had me do something with it, but then it ended up getting cleared. So, they used the original.
What was the most memorable session with you and Rapsody that exemplifies the relationship y’all have?
‘Oprah’ for sure. I was demoing the ad-libs on the bridge for her to do. We just ended up keeping my voice on there. I don’t remember what time it was. But, we were both groggy as fuck. We just got takeout [food] after that. It was just a random day.
Are there any things Rapsody likes in the studio that helps her make her best music?
[Rapsody likes] lights off and sweatpants on (laughs). Maybe also a kid’s meal. She likes to order [that]. From my experience, she’ll order a kid’s meal from anywhere. I remember her doing that more than a handful of times (laughs). I always make fun of her for it.
Laila’s Wisdom from 2017 was a beautiful album and a different vibe than Eve. What was the process of making that compared to Eve?
For Laila’s Wisdom, we laid the framework for everything and had rough versions of the songs. It was all subject to change. Then, we’d go out to L.A. I went out there a few times. We would go to Terrace Martin’s studio, and he would use just vocoder or keys or sax or whatever. We’d go back and forth between his studio to make it lusher. That one was more detailed.
You’re a part of 9th Wonder’s production team, The Soul Council. How did you, someone from Seattle, join?
I was living in Seattle in 2009 and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to move to New York and [make] music.’ I moved to New York with $1000. I had established a relationship with Jamla through Khrysis and Rapsody after we [did] a couple of songs that never came out. The first time I met him was for an album release party at Fat Beats for Skyzoo’s The Salvation [in 2009]. He was like, ‘You have the best song on the album (‘For What It’s Worth’).’ ...I would send batches of beats to whoever was on the label. I would take the Chinatown bus down to North Carolina to work with them. After that, I was working on beats at my house one night, and I get a call from 9th, and he just said, ‘Welcome to The Soul Council.’ That was 2010 maybe.
One of the most notable songs you produced on was Mac Miller’s ‘2009.’ Did he explain his thought process for that song?
At the time, I was going through something personally involving what the song [means]. We went to the studio in Seattle, where I’m from, and he and I talked about it for two hours. He was super open about his situation. After having this whole conversation, he was like, ‘Play me some beats.’ The first or second beat I played and he was like, ‘Put it in there.’ We just put it in the Pro Tools, he paced around for 15 minutes, and then walked into the pitch-black booth with no phone or anything, and did the whole first half of the song. He came out, paced around a little bit, and then finished the song.
The next day, he texted me that everyone who listened to it told him they cried. I was like, ‘Man, I did too.’ It took him maybe half an hour to make it. Seriously, the first half of the song came out in seven minutes. Rapsody does that sometimes. The studio Mac and I were at had a big orchestra room with drums and pianos. I played some piano. He played drums... Ariana [Grande] was there for the first day. This was around [November] 2016. I have a bunch of songs Mac and I did together. That was just the first one to come out.