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.
The Audibles — Jimmy Giannos and Dominic “DJ” Jordan — is a production duo who soaks up game and distills it into hits. They’ve even produced bangers the world has yet to hear.
“The song was crazy and was about to come out on [Mary J Blige’s] last album (Strength of a Woman),” Giannos of The Audibles told REVOLT about a certain track that never saw the light of day. “It was a positive song about relationships, but at the time, out of nowhere, she was going through the divorce and didn’t want to use that record on the album because it didn’t make sense for her.”
In this installment of “Studio Sessions,” The Audibles discuss how they ended up on the Chris Brown and Young Thug collaboration project, Snoop Dogg talking to ESPN during a studio session, and virtual studio sessions during quarantine. Read below.
How did you find out you’d be on Young Thug and Chris Brown’s Slime & B?
DJ: Just a few days before the release, Chris Brown’s engineer Pat hit us for the files to the song to have it mixed ASAP and told us it would be on the project. We knew Chris liked the song a few weeks prior, but this was a nice surprise. Everyone involved killed it.
How did the beat for “City Girls” come about?
Jimmy: For “City Girls,” we came with 70% of the beat. We cut the song, our artist went to Chris Brown’s house, played it for him, he loved it and cut it. But, then Chris Brown sent us back notes on a voice memo about changes he wanted to be implemented in the record. We would go back to our studio and rush to get it back to him, so he could hear it. He would say, “I love the melody, but I want you to try a different sound.” We would switch the sound around. There was a lot of feedback. Right now, we’re doing virtual studio sessions as opposed to being in the studio with them because of Coronavirus.
What are these virtual studio sessions like?
Jimmy: We’ve been doing a lot of mixing sessions online. We’ve been FaceTiming and getting mixes right since this quarantine started every other day because we’re finishing a few projects.
DJ: Before the quarantine happened and we were working on the “Intentions” record for Justin [Bieber]’s album Changes, Justin Bieber’s mix engineer Josh Goodwin sent us a version of it, listened to it, and we weren’t happy with the way the drums sounded and the overall mix. We felt we could’ve delivered the sonics better to him, so we went back, tweaked the drums, then pulled up to Josh and loaded the drums in at his studio days before the album had to be handed in. It might’ve been the next day. It was really crunch time. Sure enough, the “Intentions” record is top 10 — not just because of that, but that helped a lot.
What was your first interaction with Mary J. Blige?
Jimmy: Mary has always been an artist we’ve loved and respected. The first session we had with her was funny because when we walked in the studio, her team was talking about how there are not too many special producers anymore and how a lot of them sound the same. They also brought up producers they still loved who were making dope beats like Pharrell. So, at that moment, I was thinking I really hope they like what we’re about to play. So, we pulled up a beat we had made for her the night before and everyone in the room started bopping their head. We loaded it up and Poo Bear started writing, she recorded it, and the record came out really dope.
Did any of the songs you did with Mary come out?
Jimmy: The song was crazy and was about to come out on her last album (Strength of a Woman). It was a positive song about relationships, but at the time, out of nowhere, she was going through the divorce and didn’t want to use that record on the album because it didn’t make sense for her.
What did you notice about her recording process that impressed you?
Jimmy: Hearing her singing in the booth and her classic runs. She did one take on her ad-libs down the whole record. She’s just phenomenal.
Have you two ever made an album with an artist from scratch?
Jimmy: We made The Common Kings whole album in the studio with them, every day, for a couple of months straight. I remember DJ telling them after the first few songs we did, “You guys are going to be up for a Grammy.” Sure enough, they got their first Grammy nomination for Best Reggae Album and we produced the whole album. We produced some of it in Hawaii and some of it in L.A.
DJ: The Hawaii sessions were literally making the songs from scratch in the studio. We had two studios booked out that were conjoined — A room and a B room. Jimmy and I would be in the B room cooking up tracks while Poo Bear and The Common Kings are cutting the other songs. They were really excited about the records. After they get done cutting the record in the A room, they come in and listen to what we’re doing in the B room and go, “This is fire.” Then Poo Bear would come in like, “Load it. Let’s put it in the Pro Tools session.” Then, they’d start working on that in the A room, while we’re in the B room working on another idea for them.
You’ve produced a few records for Lupe Fiasco. What was it like working with him?
Jimmy: The day we met him in person, he came in and told us his album was finished. This was for Lasers. Two days later, he hit Poo Bear saying, “I need an Ibiza-sounding uptempo record.” Then, last minute we snuck “I Don’t Want To Care Right Now” on there right before mastering.
What is it like recording in the studio with Snoop Dogg?
DJ: It’s crazy. It’s legendary. I’ll never forget the day he walked in with a cloud of smoke. It was mystical. He was smoking, and as he walked into the studio session, he walked in with a cloud of smoke. He came with all types of weed in this big…I can’t even call it a cabinet. What would you call it Jim?
Jimmy: I don’t know. It had all of these different shelves you would pull out with these canister things (laughs).
DJ: Yeah, it had different shelves of different types of flavors of weed. He gave us all weed to burn. What’s crazy about him, too, is that he’s a business himself. While we’re in the session cutting a record, he’s doing a live interview on ESPN… He was like, “Hey, nephew. Do you mind if I take some time real quick? I have to just go on ESPN and do this live interview.” We stopped the session and were just watching him on ESPN, while he’s doing this interview on his laptop. It was crazy. That was 2015, I believe.
Did the music you worked on with Snoop come out?
Jimmy: It was a collab record with this other artist we were working with. I think it still might come out.
What do you think are going to be the aftereffects of this pandemic for music producers?
DJ: Ten years ago, this would’ve hurt the music industry immensely. But, the way technology is now, we can do zoom sessions and [have] so many options to work with people remotely. It’s elevated the creativity of the producer ecosystem. Our emails are flooded with all types of producers sending beat packs to work with us. It’s made it a lot easier for creatives to work together in this digital space.
In what studio session did you two learn the most?
Jimmy: One of the first sessions we ever had with Poo Bear. He taught us how to turn a beat into a record, how to format it right, not add so many countermelodies, and leave space for the vocals and the writer to write their melodies.
DJ: We also had sessions with E-40, who is the independent king, and he gave us so much game on how the music business works. He came in and chopped it up with us for hours. Jimmy and I were picking his brain on anything we possibly could think of.