Studio Sessions | Chris Dennis talks Roddy Ricch recording at home due to Coronavirus, making “The Box,” and an unreleased DaBaby collab
In this installment of “Studio Sessions,” the engineer explains how Coronavirus is affecting Roddy’s recording process, how quickly “The Box” was made, and the artist’s unreleased music with DaBaby. Read here!
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.
One day in early 2019, Chris Dennis was waiting in the studio for the next artist whose session he was supposed to engineer. That artist was Roddy Ricch, and Dennis became the main person who recorded his chart-topping Please Excuse Me for Being Antisocial album.
“We probably did 250 [songs]. We recorded a lot of music. He can hop on anything. We had vibes all over the place… We were working on his album. We were working on features for other artists all year,” Dennis told REVOLT.
In this installment of “Studio Sessions,” the engineer explains how Coronavirus is affecting Roddy’s recording process, how quickly “The Box” was made, and the artist’s unreleased collaboration with DaBaby. Read below.
When did you first link with Roddy Ricch?
I used to work in a big studio in L.A. Then, I left to freelance and ended up doing work with Electric Feel Management. They managed Roddy. It’s Post Malone’s manager’s company. I was doing engineering sessions for them, met Roddy through a session, and then just kept working ever since then. I met Roddy for the first time almost exactly a year [from March 18].
Happy one year anniversary. How long after you met did you start working on songs for his album Please Excuse Me For Being Antisocial?
Pretty much day one. When I met him, he was coming off tour with Post Malone. They had just done the European tour, got back into the states, and they wanted to start working on his album. He had just started the idea of starting an album when we met.
How long would you say it took for you two to record the album?
We spent a solid year on that album changing tracklists constantly and recording new music.
Where did you record it?
We did it in a lot of studios. There were a few out here in L.A. We had Record Plant, Glenwood [Place Recording Studios], Encore, Ameraycan. Then, we were also out of Jungle City in New York City. I think we did “The Box” at Jungle City.
A few months ago, MixedByAli broke down how he mixed the song and the song’s effects. What effects and configurations do have for Roddy?
Well, first, I need to make sure the vibe is right in the room. That’s very important. I make sure the lights are right and everything is ready to go. He doesn’t need a whole lot. I also have a certain recording template that we’ve developed over the year. I’ve been on a lot of Plugin Alliance lately because it’s light in CPU and there’s no latency in the recording on any of the plugins. I also use a lot of Fab Filter, as well. With his vocals, he doesn’t like a lot of effects. He doesn’t like a lot of delay and reverb. He likes his stuff really clean, dry, and in your face. That was the learning curve in the beginning — getting his clean vocals. You also have to work fast because he can record a song in 10 minutes.
Out of all of the songs on the album, which ones did he record quickly?
“The Box” was probably our fastest one. That one probably took 15 minutes. It was insane. It was late in the night and we were basically sleeping at the studio on a 12-, 14-, 16-hour session. We did that one around 6 a.m., and he knocked it out fast. We did “Roll Dice” right before that one. We did “Backseat” in about 30 minutes over at Record Plant. We also did “Boom Boom Room” really quickly.
What’s the vibe for a typical session with Roddy?
It’s really low key. It’s usually me, him, his A&R Keefa [Black], and a couple of close people in his circle. If we’re not recording, then we’re talking and telling stories. We can do a lot of songs in one night. He’s very focused from the moment he gets in. I try to do what I can without interrupting.
What’s his personality like?
He’s a quiet person if he doesn’t know you very well until he gets to know you. He’s insanely smart for his age and really aware. He’s really ahead of a lot of people his age. You can tell he had great mentors growing up: his mom, Nipsey [Hussle]… Also, it’s about the way he speaks about the future. He talks about generational wealth and the things he wants to provide for his family one day. To hear him speak about things, you can tell he’s always thinking ahead.
How involved is he in all the aspects of making music?
For him, he knows exactly what he wants, whether it’s a song or a session. He knows how to run Pro Tools. It was a learning curve for me to be able to engineer, but also step aside and let him step in to do things he wants to do. I’m used to being in rooms and doing everything myself. That makes it really easy for me, as well. It’s definitely a collaborative effort on the engineering side. He’s very involved, especially with arrangements. He’ll go in and arrange a beat himself. He’ll arrange vocals. He’ll record a song, do three or four verses, and then he’ll chop up the verses and put them together into a new verse. If he wants cool effects and doesn’t know how to say it, he’ll ask me.
How did “War Baby” come together?
That was one of the most fun sessions we did. We recorded the choir at Record Plant. We recorded them for a couple of songs and “War Baby” is the one that made the cut. I knew that one would be a timeless record because of the story and everything. I believe it was Roddy’s idea to bring the choir. He’s refreshingly involved in everything in his music. The choir that came in was through Roddy’s cousin. They brought their engineer for that one. You did an interview with him — Sean Phelan.
How many songs would you estimate were recorded during the album’s creation?
We probably did 250. We recorded a lot of music. He can hop on anything. We had vibes all over the place. We’ll start seeing a lot of those other songs come out on other people’s albums. We were working on his album. We were working on features for other artists all year. One that I’m excited about is what we did with DaBaby. It won’t be an album thing, but I’m not sure if you saw Roddy’s post of him in the studio with DaBaby. We did some records with him that night. That was a really fun session. They were both down to earth people that are low-key and stress-free. Their chemistry is great together.
The album came out last December. It’s now in March. When was the last time you both were in the studio together?
Two days ago. We stay in the studio. If we’re in L.A., we’re usually working in the studio. We’ve been on tour for most of the year. I’ve been on tour with him because I do his live vocals, as well. With this whole Coronavirus thing, we’ve had some downtime to get back in the studio heavy.
How has Coronavirus affected you two’s recording process?
We actually set up a studio at his house and we’ve been recording out of his house. The big studios are having trouble getting toilet papers, groceries, and that sort of stuff. So, we were like, “Hey, we’ll keep it in your house.” We did have a month of shows get canceled. We had a lot of college shows get canceled and a lot of other things. We were in Miami a week [before March 18] and that was our last show. We had to stay out there for a day because of the quarantine. We got back to L.A. and were like, “Let’s get in the studio.”