Last year, in the middle of our work to develop the new TEN7 website, a different kind of request was added to my task list. Our CEO, Ivan, told me we were renaming the TEN7 podcast to ONE OF 8 BILLION, and the podcast needed new theme music. I had created the previous theme music and was excited to take on this challenge. I had no idea at the time that this project would take on such personal significance for me.
I’ve been producing music most of my life, and it’s safe to say part of that passion stems from my dad. My father was the drummer for a group called Band of Thieves. I grew up around music and have always loved experimenting with different sounds and building my own tracks.
When Ivan explained the focus of ONE OF 8 BILLION, and the idea of telling each guest's unique story, my mind immediately went to a track on the Band of Thieves album, a song called, “My Story.” The song came out in 1976, and I decided to sample that song for the podcast theme music.
Deciding on the song to sample was just the start of a unique creative process, in that I had to create theme music to complement a new brand that had not launched yet. I participated in meetings with Ivan and our design partners at Studio Malagón to get a feel for the look, feel and energy of the new podcast. The meetings were helpful, but in the end I had to free myself from the graphics and get back to the music, understanding that my goal was to create something that would simply support the storytelling and represent what the podcast is all about.
To get started I used a source separation library called Spleeter, developed by Deezer. Spleeter allows you to take a fully mixed recording by any artist and separate it into isolated tracks. With some simple steps you can get vocals and instruments all saved as separate files. It’s an amazing library that allowed me to take that 1970s recording of My Story (which isn’t available anywhere digitally) and start remixing it however I wanted.
After feeding the track through Spleeter I found a section in the middle of the song that I wanted to loop. I isolated a vocal part to use and added low-pass and high-pass filters to the samples to get a lofi effect. I added a simple drum loop using a drum machine, which would make my drummer father cringe. I then spent time working on the pacing to match Ivan’s opening statements to the podcast.
It was a pretty quick process once I got rolling with it, but it was really cool to be working with this particular track, thinking about my Dad. I've actually been remixing this album since I was in high school, when I first started getting into music and hip hop and sampling. I have been sampling from this album for all my musical life, but this is a song that I hadn't touched or tried to use in any way before. Working from the original vinyl album felt like I was giving this music a new life, bringing it into the modern world for people to experience.
Getting the chance to blend my passion for music, and my family history, into my work with TEN7 is really cool. I get to make music for a purpose, to generate something new that will help tell stories through the ONE OF 8 BILLION podcast.
I think about the journey of this song: My dad met the leader of the band when he was 17. They became friends and my dad eventually became the drummer. They recorded this song that has been living on a dusty vinyl record for 40 years when suddenly I got the opportunity to give it new life as part of my job.
I think my dad would be happy to see how I’ve been able to build on his work and bring it to a new audience in this way, making My Story a part of a new story.