Because who isn’t partial to some whumpy synth and boinky bass?
I’m a big believer that the best ideas are often the simplest, but executed well. From a technical perspective, ‘Not Every Weekend’ is a piece of piss. It’s literally two chords throughout the entire song. And yet, to my ears, it’s still quite a bop. From my experience so far in songwriting and production, the most interesting ideas are not necessarily how many chords you can fit into a song. Simpler is usually better. As Canadian chef Matty Matheson wisely said when making his perfect cheeseburger, “all the best things in the world are simple… like a hot babe on the beach”. ‘Not Every Weekend’ is my hot babe.
But how do you make something that’s simple but isn’t boring? For me, it’s the way those simple ideas come together – the way they gel and bounce around each other to form a song structure. That’s where I find the joy in this songwriting process.
‘Not Every Weekend’ is a good example of working with simple ideas to create something groovy. I started with a fairly basic four-on-the-floor kick / clap drum kit. Easy enough, but a bit boring. Where it got interesting was through filling in the gaps, like adding a cheeky off-beat cowbell or an additional snare. Having the ability to draw patterns on a visual grid in Ableton makes this process far more intuitive. And quite quickly, I’d concocted a much groovier rhythm.
With a solid beat in place, I wanted to add some synth. Playing on the beat was predictable, so that’s where I got the idea to play off-beat. It instantly sounded way more complex, despite being just two chords and drums. Getting these foundations tight AF is the key. You can spend hours trying to add stuff later but if the basic idea sucks, you might as well go home.
The bass equally bounces around the beat and synth, occupying its own place in the frequency spectrum. It’s a playful little number that adds some low end melody to the track. And as a final foundational element, I added a dreamy lead sound using a patch I made on Ableton’s Operator synth. The washed out vibe contrasts quite nicely with the relatively dryness of the other instruments.
With the foundations established, the next phase involved adding the flourishes. In other words, extra bits and bobs which help flesh out the track. For example, I deployed a cheesy reverse cymbal to mark a build to the chorus. I find it a really effective way to signal change.
At this point I’ll start structuring my track into sections, working out which parts will work as a verse, chorus etc. By the wonders of modern music production, this process can be super quick.
The last big piece before mixing is the dreaded vocals. I will often have recorded a sketch vocal to capture the general melody, but the actual thing requires a lot more time. Vocals are arguably the most important part of pop music. If you don’t get that tight, the rest of your track is kind of ruined. So it’s super essential to nail the vocals.
And finally I’ll mix the shit out of it. This part I’m still learning along the way, but one lesson I’m taking away is that at some point you’ve just to to stop tinkering and get it out there. Ultimately, if a tune is good, people won’t care if you think the snare is a slightly too loud. Let the ideas speak for themselves.
Anyway, I hope this gives you an idea of how this track, and many others like it, come together in my bedroom. Thanks for supporting me, stay safe, and stay tuned for more x