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Shellback/Max article Swedish magazine "Studio"

Started by georg_e, February 19, 2011, 03:40:01 AM

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              Hey, there's an article/interview with Shellback about recording "Raise Your Glass" in this Swedish music magazine
"Studio"   http://studio.idg.se/2.1078/1.368698    I think it's a longer article than what's here......will investigate on how to translate :D           ps...later......translated that page......looks like you have to buy the actual magazine......but looks good ...said they were able to visit Maratone :-)


            An English translation of  all instruments/vocals used on "Raise Your Glass" and some photos from the article......



sounds good, it would be great to read that article, pity it's not on the web.


Okay guys(and girls)!
I bought the magazine, translated it from swedish(which is not my native language!) to english and now it's here for you to read! It wasn't that easy so there may be some spelling errors and grammars..  I have it as an pdf file as well but I'm a not geeky enough to upload it.. There are some images in the magazine and I will scan them once I find the time - The text boxes are not translated yet but I will see to that as well. It features a nice explanation of the 87 tracks in Raise Your Glass.. But enjoy this for the weekend!

Shellback - with Max Martin as mentor

Shellback, or Johan Schuster as he's really named, has got a rocket start on his songwriting career. 4 years ago he was an unknown amateur musician in Karlshamn(town in southern Sweden) - but that was before Max Martin took him as his apprentice. For Studio(the magazine) Shellback tells the story behind the production of Pinks Raise Your Glass.

When Shellback, alias Johan Schuster postponed this interview for the third time he didn't just sound sincerely sorry, now the reason was slightly incomprehensible for him as well. "When I had my little studio in Karlhamn I was used to things breaking down. Back then I could only dream about sitting in a studio like this - and then the exact same thing happens here!".
Max Martins Maratone studio has just moved from Söder to Östermalm in Stockholm, and it turns out that even with all the resources in the world it could happen just as it could in a draughty room in Karlshamn(Note:really hard line to translate as it didn't even make any sense in Swedish). The error turns out to be a conflict between different file formats, an effect caused by a system update which had the studio stand still for a day. With a tight schedule and many large clients the consequences could be serious. Johan Schusters first own recordings were done in his tenths on a double cassette tape deck recorder. Somehow he found out that one could record a drumtrack on one side and then lay a vocal or a synth on the other. The whole drumtrack was recorded on a crappy dynamic mic. The only one he had. "Back then I did Hip Hop and bad Rage Against the Machine imitations". Next step was a 8 track portastudio and two mics, one on the bassdrum and one on the whirl. "I really knew nothing in the beginning. Firstly I didn't have anyone to ask, but also because I didn't have anyone to rely on. I did everything my self. One time someone told me that you got the sound of the drums with the eq, but I didn't get that you had to to turn on it as well. I just plugged the eq on the drums and thought that it sounded better that way. Pure placebo". At this stage Johan had advanced to a pc with Cool Edit Pro in his kid room. Later in high school he got his first studio locale - in an old morque in the basement of a former mental hospital. "I still had school to attend so the only hours I could work were evenings and night. You can say that i cured my fear of darkness in those rooms".
In high school Johan got in touch with Tobias Jimson, a guy from Karlhamn who had moved to Stockholm and had become a successful hip hop producer under the alias Astma.
Astma sent some beats to Johan who recorded live basslines to them in his morque studio, which by now had been upgraded to Logic. "I did, among other things, lay the bassline for a beat used by Promoe(Swedish rapper). That was pretty big. You felt like the king of Karlshamn for a while". Later Johan began, besides being everything from drummer to singer in different hardcore-bands, to try and support himself by recording demo tapes in his studio. It was anything from death metal to singer-songwriter, and he learned himself more and more about the craftsmanship of producing, at the same time he continued to work on his own project: hardcore, some stoner-rock but also journeys into the more advanced mathmatical Meshuggah style(Swedish experimental and extreme metal band that uses a lot of polyrhythm and polymeter). "I wrote hundreds of sounds. Most of them no one has ever heard".

Lucky by Chance
Max Martins Maratone studio has a faq. 5 out of 8 questions are about demo records. The answers to those could easily be reduced to following sentence: "No, no, no, no and no. For gods sake do not send in any material. Period". it stands out quite obvious that Maratone goes by the motto "don't call us, we call you". So how could this totaly unknown metal head from Blekinge(Karlshamns province), get inside the doors at the Sistine Chapel of chart music? As with all other unlikely event: it was by chance.
Johan Schuster has a friend named Julius. A mutual friend to both of them was Max Martin. At some occasion when both Julius and Johan were in Stockholm Max Martin had asked them if they would like to come by his studio and see how he worked. "That wasn't exactly encouraging. My folders were named "Shit Song 1" and so on, his were named "Britney" and "Backstreet Boys" and when you opened them you could pick out from the vocal of Britney Spears".
Musical wise Johan was less impressed. The kind of pop music Max Martin worked with lay several continents from Johan's own tracks. At they were made of a improvised drum track he then built further on instrument by instrument, as some bizarre Mikado game. But at Julius 19th birthday Johan decided to give him a special present. A pop song. After all Julian loved pop music and besides, how hard could it be?
As with everything else one doesn't take very serious it turned out it could be quite good.
When Julius got to hear his birthday song his first reaction was:"Damn Johan, this sounds really cathy!" "Julius has a really great a&r ear. He can't play a lot on instruments but he has an unusually good nose for when songs are a hit or not". Julius' praise had Johan sit down and write a real pop song as a challenge for him self, but he sent the track to Max Martin, who had Johan come to Stockholm and record a real demo. He packed a some t-shirts and a toothbrush and thought it would only be a week in Stockholm. Best case scenario two. That is now 4 years ago and the return ticket to Karlshamn still lies unused.

Became Max Martins apprentice
When Johan arrived in Stockholm in November 2006 it turned out Max Martin had other plans  for Johan than just a demo recording. He became Martins apprentice. "He wanted me to sit silent on a chair in the corner of the studio and watch him do his work. There is no harder thing for me. I love music and have hundreds of ideas in the head all at once and simply can't resist the temptation to get my hands into it". Sometimes Johan was asked to make coffee or run a small errand, but other than that he did nothing in 2 or 3 months than stare in to the back of Max Martin and try to comprehend what music production on this level was about. After some time Johan got to do small tasks like to do an analysis of the top 10 songs on the Billboard chart, and step by step he got closer to the sound board. Literally speaking. "I quickly learned how a pop song is written. To simplify. To use the same melody through out the song but perhaps shift the octaves or just make slightly changes. But I also learned the etiquette of the studio and how to handle artists. Even if you have a really good idea you just don't start shouting it out but wait for the right moment to do it". Some nights it also happened Max Martin would leave early and said to Johan that he could use the studio if he wanted to stay. Experiment with a some drum sounds or test a recording of something. "I recorded some small guitar parts but I was scared to death to change the settings on the board".

Pink loved the song right away
In February 2007 Johan went on a Europe tour with the band he was about to quit a few months later. The musical preferences set aside he would not let go of the chance to work with Max Martin, and before a sound check in Austria he got a really addictive and sticky melody inside his head. He recorded it by singing into his phone and when he returned to Stockholm he produced a demo with the melody as verse and a chorus hook. "After that demo I didn't sit in the corner any longer". When Pink later arrived at Maratone to write songs for her fifth album Funhouse Max Martin thought he would give Johans demo a chance. It turned out Pink loved the song and a half hour later she had the base of the lyrics ready to what would be So What, and she, Johan and Max could finish the track. "Martin suggested hip-hop drums, before that the beat was more like Seven Nation Army, and it transformed the song into becoming Pink".
That was the second song Johan wrote during his first year of apprenticeship of Max Martin, and it went straight to the first place on the Billboard chart. When Johan called his mother and told her, he was number one in the U.S. she got very surprised and wondered why it hadn't been in the magazines. "That's the way it is in Karlhamn. If it's not in Sydöstran(the local newspaper) it hasn't happened". Pinks latest hit, Raise Your Glass, also started as a Johan Schuster demo. He had an idea about a house riff on the guitar. Pink is not a fan of synths, she wants it in the rock style. The chopped up intro G-D-C to C-Em-D is in basic the entire song, and with a riff-like melody and following chords plus four on the floor kicks Johan and Martin finished the song as much as the could without having melody or lyrics fully completed. They brought it to Los Angeles where Pink gave it thumbs up and with her lyrics and vocals, including Max Martins little but very important twist in the E minor chord in the chorus, they finished the track in two days time. "Martin has this amazing ability to see what's missing in a song. He hears right away where the mistake is and often has the right tools to fix it". Johan is also very impressed by Pinks vocal performance. "Pinks is fierce when it comes to record the vocal. When she sings a chorus it's all in one take. And it's spot on. When we do ad-libs with other artist we usually have to sit down try to figure out what kind of ad-lib it should be, how many and so on. Pink just says "go" and the lays everything all in once. She is amazing".
The break down was another thing that came up in Los Angeles. "In the verse and chorus we are really insisting on following our base idea. Those parts are always carefully made up . The surprise(note: might mean catch or break?) can then be made up in the moment". In Raise Your Glass they have added an extra note or bar in the end, so the part consists of 12 bars plus an extra with a drum whirl pick up in the 13th bar, and here Pink does what 99 out of 100 singers would do as well: She starts the chorus with "So raise your" in the 12th bar before she realises her mistake and says "aww, fuck". A mistake the whole world now is familiar with.

The energy is built up gradually
There's nothing complicated about Raise Your Glass, which also makes it perfect as a pop production, but it's not the same to say that it's missing details worth pointing out. The chords are the some through out the song, but you don't hear the E minor until after the the chorus start where the melody lifts just above the E minor and then sticks. The melody is also built up around a sort of densification- or concentration principle, where the energy is built up gradually step by step. The verses are structured but at the same time have a touch of hip hop at some notes. The B-part or pre-chorus is then made up of the same phrase repeated 5 times before the chorus-pickup. The chorus then twist and turns a bit with its double phrases "never be-never be" and "come on and-come on and" which are more or less whipped in. Johan tells that now they never touch Pinks own rhythms. They tried to go in and tighten it a bit when producing So What but it only got worse. The build up also features a pretty obvious on-off structure. Partly the parts with hip hop verses and rock choruses but also in the chorus where you find the same arrangement with the sustain in the first bars of G-D-C, which then lays down on a side chain pumping fade out(note: at least that's what I think it means) in the second half of Em-C-D.
If you just heard the record and didn't pay much attention Raise Your Glass could sound quite simple arranged, which it in some ways also is. The accompaniment to the vocal in the first verse is only guitar and bass drum, but that bass drum is made up by a combination of 9 different kicks on their own channel. Obviously that gives you a unique bass drum sound. "I can't in any way imagine the possibility for someone else to get the identical sound". But you could ask yourself the question whether the target group of the song would be able to hear the difference between 7 or 9 tracks., just as well as you could just capitalize and stand in awe of Johan and Martins sense for precision of the details.

Co work the mix
The mix were finished by Serban Ghenea, who also mixed Pinks hit So What, in Los Angeles. Neither Johan or Martin were in the studio but that didn't mean they had let their hands of the record. "He does the mix in Pro Tools and send his masterbuss to a iTunes at us so we can hear exactly what he does when he does it, and can, in example, tell him to set a guitar fixed, even though he's on the other side of the world doing his thing".
Because the mix is done in Pro Tools Johan and Martin sits with a mirrored desk top of the Los Angeles studio. You don't have to wait for the mix to be send back and forth but everything can be done in real time. Almost just as fast was the stage between mix and release. The master was done Monday 4th of October. Tuesday it was released to radios and on Wednesday as download.


                                     ^    ^   ^

       Wow, wow, thanks so much, RuHa ---  really looking forward to reading this!!!! :D


Thanx so much RuHa for all the translating efforts! This is a fantastic article  :) :)


Thanks so much RuHa, I really appreciate that.

It's interesting to read about Shellback's story.


Quote from: Rebecca on March 04, 2011, 10:40:53 PM
Thanks so much RuHa, I really appreciate that.

It's interesting to read about Shellback's story.



            Just read it......fantastic article, and you did a great job translating it!!!! 

Does anyone know though what is meant here?:
".....including Max Martins little but very important twist in the E minor chord in the chorus, they finished the track in two days time. "Martin has this amazing ability to see what's missing in a song. He hears right away where the mistake is and...."

        I listened carefully, and they're using the exact same progression in the chorus (G-D-C   then C-Em -D)  as in the verses. So I don't see what is meant by the "important twist in the E minor chord in the chorus".      Or maybe it means that originally the whole chord progression in the song left OUT the E minor chord?  (in other words, used a G chord instead of the E minor chord, which wouldn't have sounded as good).   


Thank you very much for you translating efforts!

I also bought the magazine and for people who's into music production, I can tell that it's very interesting to read Shellback's comments for ALL tracks in the production. He explains why they did what they've done on every track. Unfortunately, I'm not Swedish and can't translate it perfectly.


Thanks for the hard work, really well done!!
And I liked it..



Okay I did it again.. This time it's the track by track walkthrough of Raise Your Glass. It gets a bit technical so I'm not that confident in the translation but never the less it should be readable.. Also snapped the images of Shellback from the magazine and will upload them later today if I find the time.. Have a nice weekend!  ;D

Artist: Pink
Title: Raise Your Glass
Songwriters: Max Martin/Shellback/Pink
Studio: Maratone
Production: Max Martin/Shellback
Recording: Martin/Shellback/Michael Ilbert(guitars)/Sal Ojeda(Vocals in LA)
Mix: Serban Ghenea
Mastering: Tom Coyne, Sterling Sound
Publisher: LaFace/Jive

Track 1  Side Chain-Kick
- Here lies a kick on fourths, just used for side chain.

Track 2-4 High Livekick
- Three livekicks from some sound library. Plenty of real room on. These are the most bass cut. They have the most room.

Track 5-8 Hip-Hop Kicks
- Four steady kicks with bottom and punch which stands for the body.

Track 9-10 Hip-Hop Kicks with room
- Two kicks with a little more length that are cut in the bass. All nine kicks lies through the record.

Track 11 Hard Hihat
- This comes in at the pre chorus. There's no snare here but we have a hard closed hihat and the 2nd and 4th beat instead.

Track 12-15 Snare
- Sampled snare in the chorus.
Comes as all other sounds from our sound library. Four tracks that doubles the same thing.

Track 16-17 Clap
- One clap on 2 and 4. The other just on 4. Only in the chorus.

Track 18-19 Tambourines
- Comes in at the pre.

Track 20 Tambourine
- Clap tambourine on 2 and 4. In pre and chorus.

Track 21 Shaker
- Lies off beat. As some how like a house hihat,.

Track 22-25 Hihat
- Four channels open hihats on 4ths. 808 and cut live hihats to get a dirty sound. Just in the chorus.

Track 26-27 Tambourines
- 16ths tambourines that lies left-right. They are a bit side chained so they won't feel so static.

Track 28 Cyms
- Cymbal panting. Comes from a live recording of a another song where we have borrowed it.
Sliced hard in the bottom. Only in the chorus.

Track 29-31 Lasers
- Three laser sounds on the first beat in the chorus. Like house laser. Quite low but never the less makes a great sublte sshhh that leads into the chorus. Three different sounds that plays on the same beat.

Track 32-33 Crash
- 909 - crash. Static. Sounds euro. Plays on 1st in every 4th bar.

Track 34 - Machine hihat
- Plays on 4ths in the break to get a modern twist against the acoustic guitars. Changes to 16ths in the end chorus.

Track 35 - Livedrums
- Sampled. Helps the snare in the last chorus. All bass has been turned down.

Track 36-38 Bass
- The first is a synth bass, Yamaha cs-01 which is turned all the down below 200 hertz to get that twisted sound. Then comes a Studio Electronics SE01. Ilbert usually complains about it: "Use a real Moog instead". It has the right bass. As I understand it's a heritage from Denniz Pop. He always used the SE01'en as bass. Then it's a live bass, Rickenbacker 4001, played through AmpFarm. All bass tracks doubles each other.

Track 39-40 Guitar
- This is the riff you hear most clearly in the intro. A low octave and a high. The guitar is a Fender Jaguar through Waves GTR and it was the first time we tested any thing else than AmpFarm, but Martin fixed a nice sound while I played like crazy.

Track 41 Organ
- This organ is from a studio in Los Angeles. I think we have it in the plug. B3 it's called. Lies only on one note in the chorus and a little later in the bridge.

Track 42-43 Guitar
- Two crunchy Telecasters who also just playing open chords in the chorus. AmpFarm. A Tele that was in the studio in Los Angeles and was really great.

Track 44-45 Guitar
- Gibson Les Paul that plays loops, sustained, in the chorus. Side chained in every other bar so the last note in loop hangs and pumps. Everything side chained is controlled by the kick. One low octave and one high. AmpFarm.

Track 46-47 Guitar
- Two rock guitars just playing fifths in the chorus. Les Paul/AmpFarm. Left-right.

Track 48-49 Acoustic Guitar
- Two lovely Michael Ilbert guitars, left-right, acoustic, that play open singer-songwriter chords in the chorus. Shit tight. Recorded with AKG 451EB.

Track 50-53 Acoustic Guitar
- Acoustic guitar, bridge, left-right. These were recorded in Los Angeles since we didn't had the bridge in Stockholm. Plays on the lowest strings . When the drums come in two guitars come as well that doubles the first with full chords.

Track 54-55 Solina
- The string machine. Lies panned left-right in the chorus. Plays really straight. Gives a little atmosphere.

Track 56 Punk punches.
- These are sampled punches in the chorus: dooooonnggg, with cymbals and everything. And then we just pitched it so they match the chord. Also side chained with every second bar. Gives a nice rock band feeling.

Track 57 Guitar
- Fender Thinline that also plays the loop in the chorus. Also side chained in every second bar. Has an octave pitch upon it that gives a nasty frequency that blows your eardrum.

Track 58 Synth
- Yamaha CS01 again that makes a double in the loop in the chorus. Also side chained every second bar.

Track 59 Synth
- Side chained Roland Juno 106. Comes in at the B-hook in the chorus and sparkles. Really low in the mix.

Track 60-61 Guitar
-Is called "Crazy Guitar". Simple principle where you play as fast as you can on one string and one note and then it's pitched after the chord. Sound a bit like the guitar pick has been but on an air fan. Has delay and reverb and comes in in second pre and lies a little in the bridge and end chorus. On the next channel it's the same guitar fixed pitched to another note. Comes in in the end chorus. Fender Jazzmaster. That's how indie it can be.

Track 62 Solina
- Another solina. Doubles the melody in the B-hook and end chorus. Also side chained every second bar.

Track 63 Guitar
- Is called "Sad Guitar". Also Libert that has recorded it. A Jazzmaster recorded with a real spring reverb in real amps and after that we have bit crushed it and side chained it every second bar. In the B-hook and end chorus.

Track 64-66 Piano
- Two sampled pianos and one Nord Piano. Puts a beat on the first beat in every 4th bar. Is heard really clear.

Track 67 Vocal
- Ad lib-channel. Pinks vocal ad libs. From second chorus. All vocals are recorded in Los Angeles and the vocal-chain is Telefunken ELA M 251 to a Nece 1073 DPA, Urei 1176 Black and Teletronix LA2A.

Track 68 Vocal
- Lead in verse and pre. A little distorded in EchoFarm to make it a little more vintage.

Track 69-70 Vocal
- Two channels that double the end word in every A-verse, "What's the deli-o", "Where's the rock 'n roll" and so on. Panned right-left.

Track 71 Vocal
- Doubles every other sentence in the pre.

Track 72 Vocal
-Lies the vocal in second pre.

Track 73-75 Vocal
-Lead in the chorus and doubles left-right.

Track 76-78 Vocal
-Three channels of a high harmony voice in chorus. Lies center, left and right.

Track 79 Vocal
- I, Martin, Pink and her boyfriend Carey Hart, who stand and sing "raise your glass". "Hockey vocals".

Track 80 Vocal
- This is named "talking shit" and is all the small comments in the song.

Track 81-83 Vocal
- Harmony in the chorus. Center, right, left.

Track 84-86 Vocal
- Three channels where she sings the backing vocals in the chorus. That's the loop with text. Just the last chorus, last 16 bars.

Track 87 Vocal
- Top harmony in the bridge with flanging effect. Sounds like that Led Zeppelin song...

The aux are 4: Number 1 is with a quarter note delay, EchoFarm, number 2 is with another type of quarter note delay, number 3 has a half note delay, and the last is a reverb.

Shellbacks 3 favorite tools
- AmpFarm
This really saves time when you're recording guitars or live bass. Most of the guitars I have recorded on songs are played with AmpFarm. Adam Lamberts Whatya Want From Me is even full pitched a whole tone up in AmpFarm. Sounds really bold and beautiful.
-Waves Chris Lord-Algee Collection
This is Chris Lord-Algees Settings are among others 1178 and LA2. It's purely cheating. A kids game. You just throw a shitty lead on it and then it sounds great. For demoes at least. A really nice shortcut for a pre-song. A new favourite.
-Yamaha CS-01
A kids synth in fact but I love it. It feels like you have found the secret of house. It has five sounds and is really twisty and great. If you try to put two sounds on top of each other they phase out - I don't know why - but is there any sound you need it's usually found in the CS-01.


   Thank you soooo much, RuHa for your work on this  - it is fantastic to read!!!!