Joy Denalane Song I Produced
Been meaning to upload this for some time. This is a song (“Du Allein”) I produced on Joy Denalane’s 2011 German-language LP Maureen, which dropped in the Spring. Honestly the song and album release fell of my radar for a bit, because the whole process of working on it goes back quite a while.
I actually made this beat some time in 2006. I had previously produced “For The Love” on Joy’s 2006 LP Born & Raised, and was still making a lot of tracks in that same vein. Except at this point I was looking to scale back the hip-hop vibe— particularly the drums— and make tracks that were more palatable for a vocalist to sing on.
In around March or April of 2007 (memory is hazy), I was working as the Technology Editor at Scratch magazine when I found myself on a plane to Frankfurt Germany for the annual Musikmesse convention with the mag’s Ad Director Geoff Martin. It just so happened that Joy had a show in Frankfurt one of the nights that we were going to be in town. Odd coincidence. So I rolled to the show solo that night, popped up outside the venue to Joy’s surprise and watched the show. It was great to hear “For The Love” played by a live band again (I’d heard it just one time previously, when she did her big New York showcase at the Canal Room a year prior). Backstage, I told her I had this one beat that I’d made that was perfect for her. I emailed it to her when I got back to my hotel. Then I didn’t hear anything back for a really long time.
In January or so of 2009, an email hit my inbox from Joy’s manager saying that she’d recorded to the beat and that they wanted to use it on her new album, which she was still working on. We did our due diligence on the business side and everything was ready to go. Except I’d still not heard the song. Then, in June of 2009, she played the completed version of the tune for me in Downtown Studios, in New York. At this point, the song was in English and sounded fucking amazing. I’m thinking, okay, the album should be out soon. But then it just… wasn’t. I really had no idea what was going on with the tune. Eventually I caught wind that she was going to be releasing two versions of the album, one in English and one in German. I happen to have the English-language version of the song sitting on my hard drive, but ya’know, whenever they’re ready. Anyway, the album release just sort of slid by me, cause I’m doing a million and one things and pretty irresponsible like that lol.
In all though, I’m happy the song and album was finally released. I haven’t made that many tracks like this in a while— the demand is low, and every time someone wants to buy one I get slaughtered on publishing with respect to sample clearances— but it brings back a lot of memories for me. Like, I actually remember finding the sample, how I made the beat, how there were two or three different versions with different drums, what it sounded like before all the instrument parts were replayed, etc. It was definitely one of those beats I listened to a whole lot. I really remember what I was trying to do musically at that point. It was a moment in time.
And just to hear another language over it is crazy to me. Maybe that’s a small thing to someone else, but to me it’s cool as shit. I remember around my birthday— maybe it was this year, maybe last year, can’t really recall— I was having a rare conversation with a friend of mine from Staten Island. Somebody who I produced records for in my late teens, early 20s, part of a group I funded and subsequently released thru my own indie production company back when I didn’t really even know what I was doing. Anyway, we were talking and as I often do, I was questioning who I am and what I’ve done in this world. It’s hard not to do that as you turn a year older.
“Dude, didn’t you produce some music for some artist in another country who’s like the biggest thing in the world out there?” he asks me.
“Well, yeah,” I replied, matter-of-factly.
“Out here (Staten Island) people can’t even produce music for someone on their own block, let alone someone who’s actually known in another country,” he said.
“I guess you’re right,” I ceded. “Sometimes I feel like I exist in a space removed from all of that, where it’s almost expected to do those things, though. Ya’know, this has been beyond hobby status for me for some time.”
And then our conversation continued along the lines of that, running down a list of things I’d done and so on. I guess it was kind of cool. Occasionally you get lost in the translation of everything that is going on, and you don’t pause to consider the magnitude of stuff. Like, real shit, I have producer friends in Germany who think it’s a big deal to work with people in their country that even they can’t. Me personally, I just don’t even think about it like that. It’s just something else to do. However, it’s always fascinated me whenever I’ve been involved with anything international. There’s just something about knowing that I was sitting in the garage in my dad’s house making this beat and then it winds up being super personal for an artist, and consequently their fans.
Also it’s kind of a reminder of how long certain records take to come out thru proper channels. I mean, seriously, the process of this all started 5 years ago. One song. 5 years! Crazy when you consider how much music comes out every day.
Well, maybe it won’t mean that much to you— heck, doubt anyone outside of German-speaking folks can understand it— but enjoy.