After wrapping up Kintsuku’s track “Enough” on Thursday by adding some light electronic undertones and mixing, Mike Shinoda gave fans a sneak peek at the third and final new track of the week, “In Defiance” from Matt Heafy, fellow Twitch streamer and member of the band Trivium. The song was originally an unreleased demo over six minutes in length, containing multiple instruments and vocal tracks. Commenting on Heafy’s original metal song and the direction he wanted to take the song, Shinoda said that he wanted to find a balance between Heafy’s style and something different and a little crazy, but he didn’t want to move away from the heaviness the song had.
“I don’t have a warrior’s outfit … I don’t have like a helmet and a shield and a sword … but you need a whole suit of armor with a shield and flaming sword to listen to this [Heafy’s] song … Before the metal heads in the chat get excited—I’m not doing that. I like that, but if you want that then listen to Trivium, listen to Matt. Like if you want that, that’s what they do … I’m deciding right now if it should be more ‘industrial’ or if I should full on go, almost like ‘what’s the Kpop version of that?’ ”
Trying to decide which other styles to mix into the track, viewers in the chat recommended a variety of different genres, ranging from J-pop to reggae to dubstep to polka. While preparing to work on the track prior to the stream, Shinoda created a few clips of different sounds, some that were very different from Heafy’s typical sound. This included four different guitar loops to be used in the heavier parts of the track, which Shinoda created by chopping up Heafy’s original guitar and altering it by running it through a chain of effects. Shinoda also created his own clips containing what he describes as “goth Nintendo” sounds, that fit with the dark tones of the song, but that also sound modern.
“I can’t do that [Heafy’s original track] better than him … if this exact thing is the thing you love, great … so what we’ll have to do today, the challenge is to … take pieces of that and change it and do something different with it. So for hardcore Trivium fans, take off your Trivium hat for today and enjoy just doing something crazy with it.”
Diving right into Heafy’s song, Shinoda approached this production stream as more of a remix, especially as the song was much more filled out then the previous songs he’s produced on Twitch. Experimenting with Heafy’s first verse, Shinoda used a vocoder on Heafy’s vocals and adjusted their pitch, along with overlaying the darker Nintendo sounds over the vocals. He then focused on the beginning of the track, creating a unique “Gameboy organ” intro which then went straight into Heafy’s main riff, followed by the first verse. Figuring out the structure of the song, Shinoda continued with a short instrumental section taken from Heafy’s chorus, then the second verse and a complete chorus, followed by the riff again. In an effort to keep the energy of the song up, Shinoda added more Gameboy beats, drums, and auto tune and Midi effects to the vocals.
“Here’s a Rick Rubin trick. When we were working on ‘Minutes to Midnight’ … he told me at one point, especially if you’re doing a metal song, or a song with a lot of different parts or sounds … if you’re changing tempos or changing grooves, then in the transition where you go from tempo or groove number one to number two, that little transition, that little fill or moment, the two ways to get there are either to completely drop out so they [the listeners] get a moment to realize that a change is going to happen, or use the tempo of ‘B’ before ‘B’ happens … so if the next section is going to be double time, then your fill should be double time.”
After adding so many effects to Heafy’s original tracks and creating his own sounds, Shinoda faced the challenge of blending all these different sounds and tracks in order to help the song’s flow. This was especially important when trying to figure out how to get reintroduce the chorus after a long instrumental section in the middle of the song. Shinoda then added another section of the Gameboy organ into this blended part, as well as darker, church bells into both the blended section and the outro of the song. After he was satisfied with the progress he had made on the remix for the day, Shinoda then played it in full at the end of the stream, stating he’d touch it up and mix it a little more over the weekend and possibly even work on it more next week.
What do ya think so far of the #shinodaxheafy tune?? It’s frickin insane.
— Matthew kiichichaos Heafy (@matthewkheafy) February 5, 2021
Matthew Kiichi Heafy is a largely self-taught singer and guitarist of Japanese-American descent. He is most well known for his work with the heavy metal band Trivium, which he auditioned for at a very young age. He was accepted into the band as lead guitarist and eventually became Trivium’s lead singer. Heafy has been a part of all nine of Trivium’s studio albums and has featured on other collaborations as well, including lead vocals on Capharnaum’s album Fractured. Heafy is also an avid Twitch streamer, streaming twice a day Monday through Friday, playing his original music, cover songs, playing video games, and more on his Twitch channel.
If you weren’t able to see Matt Heafy’s “In Defiance” be produced live by Mike Shinoda, you can still watch the Twitch replay below! Make sure to check out Heafy’s music, as well as Shinoda’s previous production sessions. Stay tuned to Shinoda’s Twitch channel weekdays around 10 a.m. PT as he will be doing more live production, starting with a new track, “These Dreams” by Jordin Laine on Monday, February 8!
As a special announcement, another one of the tracks Shinoda produced live has a release date set! “Bones” by artist Alex McMillian will drop Friday, February 12 and is currently available for pre-save here on Spotify and iTunes.