You asked for it, so here it is – another cover song from La La Land! I’ve had lots of requests to do more La La Land covers and far be it from me to ignore those requests.
This time I’ve recorded a cover of Start A Fire, the song that John Legend performs as Keith in the movie. It’s a catchy little pop song, quite unlike anything else in the film, but it’s been stuck in my head for a while and I figured it was worth a shot!
I really enjoyed putting this video together – while, on the face of it, the arrangement seems pretty simple, there’s actually a few little details which I real fun exploring. The most noticeable of these would be that solo piano intro! I probably spent a good few days alone just trying to nail that scale he plays at the beginning. As the piano is playing solo there’s nowhere to hide if you get it wrong. It had to be perfect or else the mistakes would stick out like a sore thumb.
Similarly the synth solos in the middle of the song were also quite a challenge. I can’t say Bb Minor is my favourite scale to solo in but I did my best to replicate what Ryan Gosling did on screen. I also really like the patch I ended up using for the 70s sounding synth, so you can expect that to turn up again sometime in the future!
I also really enjoyed putting together the little brass stabs in the chorus. I believe on the original recording these were done by some sort of synth brass – presumably to give Ryan Gosling more interesting stuff to do in the keyboards. At least if it wasn’t synth brass it certainly sounded like it. I knew, however, that I wanted to use real brass – there’s no point having Grade 8 in Trumpet if you’re not going to use it after all.
Usually when I end up recording brass it’s a real struggle to get the recording to sound nice. Being such an acoustic instrument you really have to take into account the room your recording in and where you place the microphone… and then where you place the instrument in relation to that mic! Even if you get all that right, EQ can still take years off your life as you relentlessly try to get it to sit well in the mix without it sounding to thin or losing all it’s effect.
This time though, by complete miracle, the brass sounded pretty much perfect straight out of the box! I hardly had to do anything aside of add a little bit of compression and reverb. It sat well in the mix, sounded nice and full and most importantly lifted the song to a new level.
Perhaps this is evidence that my skills in the studio are improving – though I’m still inclined to believe that it was down to sheer luck.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy this video and make sure to check out my other covers when you have a moment. In case you missed it, last week I did a blog post of all the videos I released in March, so be sure to check that out if you want to catch up on my recent videos.