Gareth Donkin on his creative process

Hey! My name’s Gareth Donkin, I’m in AS and I like to make music. Music production has evolved immensely over the last two decades – software that was once only available to professional sound engineers has become accessible to EVERYONE on the majority of platforms, including your smart phone! Like most people I know, the reason I personally enjoy creating music is because it comes as the most natural way of expressing myself. Time and time again I think of these crazy,
jazzy chord combinations and ideas which I just need to realise; hence using music production to translate these ideas. Regardless, I still consider myself to be pretty naïve to the whole “production” aspect. Right now, I’d say I’m being quite experimental. I have about 40 scrap projects on my laptop, the majority of which are just tragic. Although I suppose that’s a part of growing and learning as a producer, each project you work on is just another stepping stone to what you aspire to. I’m discovering different sounds and techniques within the DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) I’m using at the moment, which is Ableton Live. At the moment, I’d say my biggest influences in music include Tom Misch, because of his musicality and choice of chord progressions, Kaytranada, because of his drums and J Dilla just because he’s a pioneer in Hip Hop and his sampling game is strong AF. I don’t really know how to categorise my music, I suppose it sits somewhere between Hip Hop and House music with a touch of jazz. I couldn’t tell you why, but I love the combination of jazz and hip hop, there’s something about it that makes it incredibly therapeutic and calming. I want to talk about the creative process and thinking behind two of my favourite tracks which I’ve composed.

HOLLA – (Gareth’s TLC Bootleg)

http://www.soundcloud.com/garethdonkin/holla
In all honesty, it wasn’t my idea to make a TLC remix, in fact SHOUTOUT to David Heal who suggested I remake TLC’s famous “No Scrubs”, I thoroughly enjoyed the process of making this track. My favourite aspect of this track is the slightly swingy, Dilla-Esque beat. I didn’t quantise the drums at all, meaning snapped any of the hits to it’s nearest measure, and that was in order to give it that deliberately loose feel. I always begin my process with laying down the drums, from there I usually pick up a certain vibe and know where I want to go with the track. It was cool because I was able to play with the vocal stem from the original version of “No Scrubs” on its own, therefore I had a lot more freedom of choice with the chords. Usually I select something neutral like a grand piano or a discount rhodes instrument when first placing chords because it’s easy to work with. Then I can begin thinking about the actual synth sound, for the synth I used something called a Saw Wave, which ended up being the premise of the track a long with the swingy beat. Something that I would change is the volume of the bass, I feel like the level of bass could have been heightened at points, but because it was so synth heavy I felt like I lost the bass slightly. One bit in particular that I really liked (excuse my vanity, only because I think you might enjoy it too!) Anyways, see what you think of this one!
COMPETE

http://www.soundcloud.com/garethdonkin/compete
I made this track in Logic Pro actually. For a while I was very indecisive about what software I should use; however Logic is really good at capturing an authentic sound, which is exactly what I was aiming for when I began the process. This track also has a deliberately loose beat (which is something which I would definetely change, now looking back on it), I was going for a direct crossover with hip hop and jazz, a bit like a song from the 90s. It’s has a completely different vibe compared to the first track. I started with the first four chords and then after a while of playing around on my keyboard the piece modulated and and it became EVEN MORE jazzy. That was quite a cool moment because I figured out how to develop something quite miniscule to something pretty nice. In the background I recorded some subtle “Oohs” to fill the texture of the piece, and they were in harmony. The track felt a bit empty beforehand. I considered writing a main melody but I was far too impatient. So it’s likely I will record some in the future but for now I’m pretty happy with it. This is an original, I hope you enjoy it.

That’s all I’d like to show! You can check out the rest of my music and follow me on my Soundcloud page, http://www.soundcloud.com/garethdonkin – I hope this has somewhat inspired you or that you’ve enjoyed what you’ve heard..!

Peace

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